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The Jewish Trinity
by [?]


With the Christian Mayoress of Middleton to take in to dinner at Sir Asher Aaronsberg’s, Leopold Barstein as a Jewish native of that thriving British centre, should have felt proud and happy. But Barstein was young and a sculptor, fresh from the Paris schools and Salon triumphs. He had long parted company with Jews and Judaism, and to his ardent irreverence even the Christian glories of Middleton seemed unspeakably parochial. In Paris he had danced at night on the Boule Miche out of sheer joy of life, and joined in choruses over midnight bocks; and London itself now seemed drab and joyless, though many a gay circle welcomed the wit and high spirits and even the physical graces of this fortunate young man who seemed to shed a blonde radiance all around him. The factories of Middleton, which had manufactured Sir Asher Aaronsberg, ex-M.P., and nearly all his wealthy guests, were to his artistic eye an outrage upon a beautiful planet, and he was still in that crude phase of juvenile revolt in which one speaks one’s thoughts of the mess humanity has made of its world. But, unfortunately, the Mayoress of Middleton was deafish, so that he could not even shock her with his epigrams. It was extremely disconcerting to have his bland blasphemies met with an equally bland smile. On his other hand sat Mrs. Samuels, the buxom and highly charitable relict of ‘The People’s Clothier,’ whose ugly pictorial posters had overshadowed Barstein’s youth. Little wonder that the artist’s glance frequently wandered across the great shining table towards a girl who, if they had not been so plaguily intent on honouring his fame, might have now been replacing the Mayoress at his side. True, the girl was merely a Jewess, and he disliked the breed. But Mabel Aaronsberg was unexpected. She had a statuesque purity of outline and complexion; seemed, indeed, worthy of being a creation of his own. How the tedious old manufacturer could have produced this marmoreal prodigy provided a problem for the sculptor, as he almost silently ate his way through the long and exquisite menu.

Not that Sir Asher himself was unpicturesque. Indeed, he was the very picture of the bluff and burly Briton, white-bearded like Father Christmas. But he did not seem to lead to yonder vision of poetry and purity. Lady Aaronsberg, who might have supplied the missing link, was dead–before even arriving at ladyship, alas!–and when she was alive Barstein had not enjoyed the privilege of moving in these high municipal circles. This he owed entirely to his foreign fame, and to his invitation by the Corporation to help in the organization of a local Art Exhibition.

‘I do admire Sir Asher,’ the Mayoress broke in suddenly upon his reflections; ‘he seems to me exactly like your patriarchs.’

A Palestinian patriarch was the last person Sir Asher, with his hovering lackeys, would have recalled to the sculptor, who, in so far as the patriarchs ever crossed his mind, conceived them as resembling Rembrandt’s Rabbis. But he replied blandly: ‘Our patriarchs were polygamists.’

‘Exactly,’ assented the deaf Mayoress.

Barstein, disconcerted, yearned to repeat his statement in a shout, but neither the pitch nor the proposition seemed suitable to the dinner-table. The Mayoress added ecstatically: ‘You can imagine him sitting at the door of his tent, talking with the angels.’

This time Barstein did shout, but with laughter. All eyes turned a bit enviously in his direction. ‘You’re having all the fun down there,’ called out Sir Asher benevolently; and the bluff Briton–even to the northerly burr–was so vividly stamped upon Barstein’s mind that he wondered the more that the Mayoress could see him as anything but the prosy, provincial, whilom Member of Parliament he so transparently was. ‘A mere literary illusion,’ he thought. ‘She has read the Bible, and now reads Sir Asher into it. As well see a Saxon pirate or a Norman jongleur in a modern Londoner.’