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.Or she would lean up against a lamp postwhich stood a few yards away and which had not been lit up for years,and she would watch the children at play, gaze after the passersby whocame and went, intent on their trivial tasks, completely absorbed intheir humdrum, humble lives.Healthy-minded people.They got onwith their work steadfastly, and it never entered their minds to askwhat it was all about.What did they live for and why? Why?V I IThe High Holy Days were over.Gone was the sacred, sweetly mourn-ful atmosphere, and in its stead came trivial, commonplace gloom.Allwas quiet within the tsadik s court; sickly quiet.At times a soft, drowsysing-song issued from the ancient little synagogue, but it sounded asthough a weary mother were lulling her sick child to sleep, or as thougha half-sobered drunkard were wistfully singing to himself.From morning to night innkeepers lay dozing on the benches out-side their establishments, or roamed the streets of the town sighing thatbusiness was bad.The sun shed warmth and light.Ignoring the calen-dar, it blazed away day after day; the sharp cobblestones of the windingTHE DANCE OF THE DEMONS 69 alleys were burning hot to the touch of bare feet, and it seemed asthough the obstinately lingering summer would never make way forwinter.But little by little, time had a telling effect on the seasons.Dawn would be late in coming, the day would rise sluggishly withsticky eyes: drops of dew were poised on every window like tears.Although it would still be stiflingly hot in the afternoons, the sun neverrose high in the sky, but hugged the rooftops as if it were slinkingaway.A dread spirit of hopelessness haunted Reb Avram Ber s home.Quitesuddenly Reb Avram Ber had become the most practical-minded mem-ber of the family.He could plainly see the approach of winter.(Therewas no such season as autumn or spring to Reb Avram Ber s way ofthinking.) Coals were needed, warm clothing and a hundred and onethings besides.Slowly, without haste, the grip of winter was going toclose its hold, and he found himself powerless to lift a finger in self-defense.If the yeshiva had not been burnt down, there might still havebeen a little hope.As things were now, the tsadik could wash his handsof Reb Avram Ber and could leave the family to their plight a sorryplight indeed! And while they had become inured to hardship, RebAvram Ber clearly realized that a new chapter of destitution was open-ing a chapter that would be darker than ever before, for not only wasall their money spent, but their strength, too, was spent.Here wasRaizela so feeble like a guttering candle which needed but a breath ofwind to blow it out.How would she survive it all? Reb Avram Ber wasterribly downcast, and he could only pray to God for mercy.The tsadik, to be sure, had pledged himself on more than one occa-sion to have the yeshiva rebuilt.But that was not much use, when thefamily stood in need of instant relief.Reb Avram Ber, after a lengthyand bitter inner conflict, had again brought himself to approach thetsadik.Whereupon the tsadik had declared that a remedy must besought, that the Lord never forsook any of His children, and, withthese words, the interview had come to an end.True enough, Raizela s father had begun to send in a little moneyfrom time to time.But there is an old Jewish saying that  You cannotfill a torn sack.Winter set in.The rooftops put on their gleaming blankets of snow.An orphaned little tree in the tsadik s courtyard grew stiff; its poor fro-zen twigs pointed like helpless, accusing fingers at the rime foreverlying in the gutter.The cobbles glittered in the coldly brilliant sun-70 ESTHER SINGER KREITMAN shine.And all day long crows kept cawing in front of the windows,lending even greater emphasis to the wintry atmosphere in the homesof the poor.Reb Avram Ber was hardly ever to be found at home nowadays.Raizela never stirred from her couch.She was always reading.Deborahbegan to look haggard and tense, and her expression held something ofnervous fear in it.She was easily exasperated, fretting terribly over everytrivial mishap, while her mind seemed too numb to take in the reallysubstantial troubles.Even Michael had, in the course of a few weeks,turned far too taciturn and grave for a boy of his age and more particu-larly for his nature.If ever he did crack a joke, it was so biting, socynical, it made his companions wince.Quite suddenly he had growninto a man a bitter man of fifteen.Reb Avram Ber tried hard to secure a new benefice, but without suc-cess, in spite of the proverb which he kept repeating to himself Hewho searches shall also find.And, as ill-fortune would have it, the winter turned out to be mostsevere [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]