**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Answer Of Ludlow Street
by [?]

“You get the money, or out you go! I ain’t in the business for me health,” and the bang of the door and the angry clatter of the landlord’s boots on the stairs, as he went down, bore witness that he meant what he said.

Judah Kapelowitz and his wife sat and looked silently at the little dark room when the last note of his voice had died away in the hall. They knew it well enough–it was their last day of grace. They were two months behind with the rent, and where it was to come from neither of them knew. Six years of struggling in the Promised Land, and this was what it had brought them.

A hungry little cry roused the woman from her apathy. She went over and took the baby and put it mechanically to her poor breast. Holding it so, she sat by the window and looked out upon the gray November day. Her husband had not stirred. Each avoided the question in the other’s eyes, for neither had an answer.

They were young people as men reckon age in happy days, Judah scarce past thirty; but it is not always the years that count in Ludlow Street. Behind that and the tenement stretched the endless days of suffering in their Galician home, where the Jew was hated and despised as the one thrifty trader of the country, tortured alike by drunken peasant and cruel noble when they were not plotting murder against one another. With all their little savings they had paid Judah’s passage to the land where men were free to labor, free to worship as their fathers did–a twice-blessed country, surely–and he had gone, leaving Sarah, his wife, and their child to wait for word that Judah was rich and expected them.

The wealth he found in Ludlow Street was all piled on his push-cart, and his persecutors would have scorned it. A handful of carrots, a few cabbages and beets, is not much to plan transatlantic voyages on; but what with Sarah’s eager letters and Judah’s starving himself daily to save every penny, he managed in two long years to scrape together the money for the steamship ticket that set all the tongues wagging in his home village when it came: Judah Kapelowitz had made his fortune in the far land, it was plain to be seen. Sarah and the boy, now grown big enough to speak his father’s name with an altogether cunning little catch, bade a joyous good-by to their friends and set their faces hopefully toward the West. Once they were together, all their troubles would be at an end.

In the poor tenement the peddler lay awake till far into the night, hearkening to the noises of the street. He had gone hungry to bed, and he was too tired to sleep. Over and over he counted the many miles of stormy ocean and the days to their coming, Sarah and the little Judah. Once they were together, he would work, work, work–and should they not make a living in the great, wealthy city?

With the dawn lighting up the eastern sky he slept the sleep of exhaustion, his question unanswered.

That was six years ago–six hard, weary years. They had worked together, he at his push-cart, Sarah for the sweater, earning a few cents finishing “pants” when she could. Little Judah did his share, pulling thread, until his sister came and he had to mind her. Together they had kept a roof overhead, and less and less to eat, till Judah had to give up his cart. Between the fierce competition and the police blackmail it would no longer keep body and soul together for its owner. A painter in the next house was in need of a hand, and Judah apprenticed himself to him for a dollar a day. If he could hold out a year or two, he might earn journeyman’s wages and have steady work. The boss saw that he had an eye for the business. But, though Judah’s eye was good, he lacked the “strong stomach” which is even more important to a painter. He had starved so long that the smell of the paint made him sick and he could not work fast enough. So the boss discharged him. “The sheeny was no good,” was all the character he gave him.