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The Tug Of Love
by [?]

When Elias Goldenberg, Belcovitch’s head cutter, betrothed himself to Fanny Fersht, the prettiest of the machinists, the Ghetto blessed the match, always excepting Sugarman the Shadchan (whom love matches shocked), and Goldenberg’s relatives (who considered Fanny flighty and fond of finery).

‘That Fanny of yours was cut out for a rich man’s wife,’ insisted Goldenberg’s aunt, shaking her pious wig.

‘He who marries Fanny is rich,’ retorted Elias.

‘”Pawn your hide, but get a bride,”‘ quoted the old lady savagely.

As for the slighted marriage-broker, he remonstrated almost like a relative.

‘But I didn’t want a negotiated marriage,’ Elias protested.

‘A love marriage I could also have arranged for you,’ replied Sugarman indignantly.

But Elias was quite content with his own arrangement, for Fanny’s glance was melting and her touch transporting. To deck that soft warm hand with an engagement-ring, a month’s wages had not seemed disproportionate, and Fanny flashed the diamond bewitchingly. It lit up the gloomy workshop with its signal of felicity. Even Belcovitch, bent over his press-iron, sometimes omitted to rebuke Fanny’s badinage.

The course of true love seemed to run straight to the Canopy–Fanny had already worked the bridegroom’s praying shawl–when suddenly a storm broke. At first the cloud was no bigger than a man’s hand–in fact, it was a man’s hand. Elias espied it groping for Fanny’s in the dim space between the two machines. As Fanny’s fingers fluttered towards it, her other hand still guiding the cloth under the throbbing needle, Elias felt the needle stabbing his heart up and down, through and through. The very finger that held his costly ring lay in this alien paw gratis.

The shameless minx! Ah, his relatives were right. He snapped the scissors savagely like a dragon’s jaw.

‘Fanny, what dost thou?’ he gasped in Yiddish.

Fanny’s face flamed; her guilty fingers flew back.

‘I thought thou wast on the other side,’ she breathed.

Elias snorted incredulously.

As soon as Sugarman heard of the breaking of the engagement he flew to Elias, his blue bandanna streaming from his coat-tail.

‘If you had come to me,’ he crowed, ‘I should have found you a more reliable article. However, Heaven has given you a second helping. A well-built wage-earner like you can look as high as a greengrocer’s daughter even.’

‘I never wish to look upon a woman again,’ Elias groaned.

Schtuss!‘ said the great marriage-broker. ‘Three days after the Fast of Atonement comes the Feast of Tabernacles. The Almighty, blessed be He, who created both light and darkness, has made obedient females as well as pleasure-seeking jades.’ And he blew his nose emphatically into his bandanna.

‘Yes; but she won’t return me my ring,’ Elias lamented.

‘What!’ Sugarman gasped. ‘Then she considers herself still engaged to you.’

‘Not at all. She laughs in my face.’

‘And she has given you back your promise?’

‘My promise–yes. The ring–no.’

‘But on what ground?’

‘She says I gave it to her.’

Sugarman clucked his tongue. ‘Tututu! Better if we had followed our old custom, and the man had worn the engagement-ring, not the woman!’

‘In the workshop,’ Elias went on miserably, ‘she flashes it in my eyes. Everybody makes mock. Oh, the Jezebel!’

‘I should summons her!’

‘It would only cost me more. Is it not true I gave her the ring?’

Sugarman mopped his brow. His vast experience was at fault. No maiden had ever refused to return his client’s ring; rather had she flung it in the wooer’s false teeth.

‘This comes of your love matches!’ he cried sternly. ‘Next time there must be a proper contract.’

‘Next time!’ repeated Elias. ‘Why how am I to afford a new ring? Fanny was ruinous in cups of chocolate and the pit of the Pavilion Theatre!’

‘I should want my fee down!’ said Sugarman sharply.

Elias shrugged his shoulders. ‘If you bring me the ring.’

‘I do not get old rings but new maidens,’ Sugarman reminded him haughtily. ‘However, as you are a customer—-‘ and crying ‘Five per cent. on the greengrocer’s daughter,’ he hurried away ere Elias had time to dissent from the bargain.