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A Rose Of The Ghetto
by [?]

“There sticks something behind,” persisted Sugarman, unconvinced.

Leibel shook his head. “Only her hump” he said with a flash of humour.

“Moses Mendelssohn had a hump,” expostulated Sugarman, reproachfully.

“Yes, but he was a heretic,” rejoined Leibel, who was not without reading. “And then he was a man! A man with two humps could find a wife for each. But a woman with a hump cannot expect a husband in addition.”

“Guard your tongue from evil,” quoth the Shadchan, angrily. “If everybody were to talk like you Leah Volcovitch would never be married at all.”

Leibel shrugged his shoulders, and reminded him that hunchbacked girls who stammered and squinted and halted on left legs were not usually led under the canopy.

“Nonsense! Stuff!” cried Sugarman, angrily. “That is because they do not come to me.”

“Leah Volcovitch has come to you,” said Leibel, “but she shall not come to me.” And he rose, anxious to escape.

Instantly Sugarman gave a sigh of resignation. “Be it so! Then I shall have to look out for another, that’s all.”

“No, I don’t want any,” replied Leibel, quickly.

Sugarman stopped eating. “You don’t want any?” he cried. “But you came to me for one?”

“I–I–know,” stammered Leibel. “But I’ve–I’ve altered my mind.”

“One needs Hillel’s patience to deal with you!” cried Sugarman. “But I shall charge you, all the same, for my trouble. You cannot cancel an order like this in the middle! No, no! You can play fast and loose with Leah Volcovitch, but you shall not make a fool of me.”

“But if I don’t want one?” said Leibel, sullenly.

Sugarman gazed at him with a cunning look of suspicion. “Didn’t I say there was something sticking behind?”

Leibel felt guilty. “But whom have you got in your eye?” he inquired, desperately.

“Perhaps you may have some one in yours!” naively answered Sugarman.

Leibel gave a hypocritic long-drawn “U-m-m-m! I wonder if Rose Green–where I work–” he said, and stopped.

“I fear not,” said Sugarman. “She is on my list. Her father gave her to me some months ago, but he is hard to please. Even the maiden herself is not easy, being pretty.”

“Perhaps she has waited for some one,” suggested Leibel.

Sugarman’s keen ear caught the note of complacent triumph.

“You have been asking her yourself!” he exclaimed, in horror-stricken accents.

“And if I have?” said Leibel, defiantly.

“You have cheated me! And so has Eliphaz Green–I always knew he was tricky! You have both defrauded me!”

“I did not mean to,” said Leibel, mildly.

“You did mean to. You had no business to take the matter out of my hands. What right had you to propose to Rose Green?”

“I did not,” cried Leibel, excitedly.

“Then you asked her father!”

“No; I have not asked her father yet.”

“Then how do you know she will have you?”

“I–I know,” stammered Leibel, feeling himself somehow a liar as well as a thief. His brain was in a whirl; he could not remember how the thing had come about. Certainly he had not proposed; nor could he say that she had.

“You know she will have you,” repeated Sugarman, reflectively. “And does she know?”

“Yes. In fact,” he blurted out, “we arranged it together.”

“Ah, you both know. And does her father know?”

“Not yet.”

“Ah, then I must get his consent,” said Sugarman, decisively.

“I–I thought of speaking to him myself.”

“Yourself!” echoed Sugarman, in horror. “Are you unsound in the head? Why, that would be worse than the mistake you have already made!”

“What mistake?” asked Leibel, firing up.

“The mistake of asking the maiden herself. When you quarrel with her after your marriage she will always throw it in your teeth that you wished to marry her. Moreover, if you tell a maiden you love her, her father will think you ought to marry her as she stands. Still, what is done is done.” And he sighed regretfully.

“And what more do I want? I love her.”

“You piece of clay!” cried Sugarman, contemptuously. “Love will not turn machines, much less buy them. You must have a dowry. Her father has a big stocking; he can well afford it.”