Friday evening!

The room has been tidied, the table laid. Two Sabbath loaves have been

placed upon it, and covered with a red napkin. At the two ends are two

metal candlesticks, and between them two more of earthenware, with

candles in them ready to be lighted.

On the small sofa that stands by the stove lies a sick man covered up

with a red quilt, from under the quilt appears a pale, emaciat
d face,

with red patches on the dried-up cheeks and a black beard. The sufferer

wears a nightcap, which shows part of his black hair and his black

earlocks. There is no sign of life in his face, and only a faint one in

his great, black eyes.

On a chair by the couch sits a nine-year-old girl with damp locks, which

have just been combed out in honor of Sabbath. She is barefoot, dressed

only in a shirt and a frock. The child sits swinging her feet, absorbed

in what she is doing; but all her movements are gentle and noiseless.

The invalid coughed.

"Kche, kche, kche, kche," came from the sofa.

"What is it, Tate?" asked the little girl, swinging her feet.

The invalid made no reply.

He slowly raised his head with both hands, pulled down the nightcap, and

coughed and coughed and coughed, hoarsely at first, then louder, the

cough tearing at his sick chest and dinning in the ears. Then he sat

up, and went on coughing and clearing his throat, till he had brought up

the phlegm.

The little girl continued to be absorbed in her work and to swing her

feet, taking very little notice of her sick father.

The invalid smoothed the creases in the cushion, laid his head down

again, and closed his eyes. He lay thus for a few minutes, then he said

quite quietly:


"What is it, Tate?" inquired the child again, still swinging her feet.

"Tell ... mother ... it is ... time to ... bless ... the candles...."

The little girl never moved from her seat, but shouted through the open

door into the shop:

"Mother, shut up shop! Father says it's time for candle-blessing."

"I'm coming, I'm coming," answered her mother from the shop.

She quickly disposed of a few women customers: sold one a kopek's worth

of tea, the other, two kopeks' worth of sugar, the third, two tallow

candles. Then she closed the shutters and the street door, and came into

the room.

"You've drunk the glass of milk?" she inquired of the sick man.

"Yes ... I have ... drunk it," he replied.

"And you, Leahnyu, daughter," and she turned to the child, "may the evil

spirit take you! Couldn't you put on your shoes without my telling you?

Don't you know it's Sabbath?"

The little girl hung her head, and made no other answer.

Her mother went to the table, lighted the candles, covered her face with

her hands, and blessed them.

After that she sat down on the seat by the window to take a rest.

It was only on Sabbath that she could rest from her hard work, toiling

and worrying as she was the whole week long with all her strength and

all her mind.

She sat lost in thought.

She was remembering past happy days.

She also had known what it is to enjoy life, when her husband was in

health, and they had a few hundred rubles. They finished boarding with

her parents, they set up a shop, and though he had always been a close

frequenter of the house-of-study, a bench-lover, he soon learnt the

Torah of commerce. She helped him, and they made a livelihood, and ate

their bread in honor. But in course of time some quite new shops were

started in the little town, there was great competition, the trade was

small, and the gains were smaller, it became necessary to borrow money

on interest, on weekly payment, and to pay for goods at once. The

interest gradually ate up the capital with the gains. The creditors took

what they could lay hands on, and still her husband remained in their


He could not get over this, and fell ill.

The whole bundle of trouble fell upon her: the burden of a livelihood,

the children, the sick man, everything, everything, on her.

But she did not lose heart.

"God will help, he will soon get well, and will surely find some work.

God will not desert us," so she reflected, and meantime she was not

sitting idle.

The very difficulty of her position roused her courage, and gave her


She sold her small store of jewelry, and set up a little shop.

Three years have passed since then.

However it may be, God has not abandoned her, and however bitter and

sour the struggle for Parnosseh may have been, she had her bit of bread.

Only his health did not return, he grew daily weaker and worse.

She glanced at her sick husband, at his pale, emaciated face, and tears

fell from her eyes.

During the week she has no time to think how unhappy she is. Parnosseh,

housework, attendance on the children and the sick man--these things

take up all her time and thought. She is glad when it comes to bedtime,

and she can fall, dead tired, onto her bed.

But on Sabbath, the day of rest, she has time to think over her hard lot

and all her misery and to cry herself out.

"When will there be an end of my troubles and suffering?" she asked

herself, and could give no answer whatever to the question beyond

despairing tears. She saw no ray of hope lighting her future, only a

great, wide, shoreless sea of trouble.

It flashed across her:

"When he dies, things will be easier."

But the thought of his death only increased her apprehension.

It brought with it before her eyes the dreadful words: widow, orphans,

poor little fatherless children....

These alarmed her more than her present distress.

How can children grow up without a father? Now, even though he's ill, he

keeps an eye on them, tells them to say their prayers and to study. Who

is to watch over them if he dies?

"Don't punish me, Lord of the World, for my bad thought," she begged

with her whole heart. "I will take it upon myself to suffer and trouble

for all, only don't let him die, don't let me be called by the bitter

name of widow, don't let my children be called orphans!"

* * * * *

He sits upon his couch, his head a little thrown back and leaning

against the wall. In one hand he holds a prayer-book--he is receiving

the Sabbath into his house. His pale lips scarcely move as he whispers

the words before him, and his thoughts are far from the prayer. He knows

that he is dangerously ill, he knows what his wife has to suffer and

bear, and not only is he powerless to help her, but his illness is her

heaviest burden, what with the extra expense incurred on his account and

the trouble of looking after him. Besides which, his weakness makes him

irritable, and his anger has more than once caused her unmerited pain.

He sees and knows it all, and his heart is torn with grief. "Only death

can help us," he murmurs, and while his lips repeat the words of the

prayer-book, his heart makes one request to God and only one: that God

should send kind Death to deliver him from his trouble and misery.

Suddenly the door opened and a ten-year-old boy came into the room, in a

long Sabbath cloak, with two long earlocks, and a prayer-book under his


"A good Sabbath!" said the little boy, with a loud, ringing voice.

It seemed as if he and the holy Sabbath had come into the room together!

In one moment the little boy had driven trouble and sadness out of

sight, and shed light and consolation round him.

His "good Sabbath!" reached his parents' hearts, awoke there new life

and new hopes.

"A good Sabbath!" answered the mother. Her eyes rested on the child's

bright face, and her thoughts were no longer melancholy as before, for

she saw in his eyes a whole future of happy possibilities.

"A good Sabbath!" echoed the lips of the sick man, and he took a deeper,

easier breath. No, he will not die altogether, he will live again after

death in the child. He can die in peace, he leaves a Kaddish behind