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A Rose Of The Ghetto
by [?]

One day it occurred to Leibel that he ought to get married. He went to Sugarman the Shadchan forthwith.

“I have the very thing for you,” said the great marriage broker.

“Is she pretty?” asked Leibel.

“Her father has a boot and shoe warehouse,” replied Sugarman, enthusiastically.

“Then there ought to be a dowry with her,” said Leibel, eagerly.

“Certainly a dowry! A fine man like you!”

“How much do you think it would be?”

“Of course it is not a large warehouse; but then you could get your boots at trade price, and your wife’s, perhaps, for the cost of the leather.”

“When could I see her?”

“I will arrange for you to call next Sabbath afternoon.”

“You won’t charge me more than a sovereign?”

“Not a groschen more! Such a pious maiden! I’m sure you will be happy. She has so much way-of-the-country [breeding]. And of course five per cent on the dowry?”

“H’m! Well, I don’t mind!” “Perhaps they won’t give a dowry,” he thought with a consolatory sense of outwitting the Shadchan.

On the Saturday Leibel went to see the damsel, and on the Sunday he went to see Sugarman the Shadchan.

“But your maiden squints!” he cried, resentfully.

“An excellent thing!” said Sugarman. “A wife who squints can never look her husband straight in the face and overwhelm him. Who would quail before a woman with a squint?”

“I could endure the squint,” went on Leibel, dubiously, “but she also stammers.”

“Well, what is better, in the event of a quarrel? The difficulty she has in talking will keep her far more silent than most wives. You had best secure her while you have the chance.”

“But she halts on the left leg,” cried Leibel, exasperated.

Gott in Himmel! Do you mean to say you do not see what an advantage it is to have a wife unable to accompany you in all your goings?”

Leibel lost patience.

“Why, the girl is a hunchback!” he protested, furiously.

“My dear Leibel,” said the marriage broker, deprecatingly shrugging his shoulders and spreading out his palms, “you can’t expect perfection!”

Nevertheless Leibel persisted in his unreasonable attitude. He accused Sugarman of wasting his time, of making a fool of him.

“A fool of you!” echoed the Shadchan, indignantly, “when I give you a chance of a boot and shoe manufacturer’s daughter? You will make a fool of yourself if you refuse. I dare say her dowry would be enough to set you up as a master tailor. At present you are compelled to slave away as a cutter for thirty shillings a week. It is most unjust. If you only had a few machines you would be able to employ your own cutters. And they can be got so cheap nowadays.”

This gave Leibel pause, and he departed without having definitely broken the negotiations. His whole week was befogged by doubt, his work became uncertain, his chalk marks lacked their usual decision, and he did not always cut his coat according to his cloth. His aberrations became so marked that pretty Rose Green, the sweater’s eldest daughter, who managed a machine in the same room, divined, with all a woman’s intuition, that he was in love.

“What is the matter?” she said, in rallying Yiddish, when they were taking their lunch of bread and cheese and ginger-beer amid the clatter of machines, whose serfs had not yet knocked off work.

“They are proposing me a match,” he answered, sullenly.

“A match!” ejaculated Rose. “Thou!” She had worked by his side for years, and familiarity bred the second person singular. Leibel nodded his head, and put a mouthful of Dutch cheese into it.

“With whom?” asked Rose. Somehow he felt ashamed. He gurgled the answer into the stone ginger-beer bottle, which he put to his thirsty lips.

“With Leah Volcovitch!”

“Leah Volcovitch!” gasped Rose. “Leah, the boot and shoe manufacturer’s daughter?”

Leibel hung his head–he scarce knew why. He did not dare meet her gaze. His droop said “Yes.” There was a long pause.