Friday, 31 January 2014

Do the Pagan Gods Still Linger?


The Celtic god Maponos, or as he appears in the later language ‘Mabon’, was the son of the Divine Mother and much honoured in Britain and Gaul during the Roman period. Beresford-Ellis (1992, p. 150) notes that the Romans equated him with their solar god Apollo for he was gifted at music. However he was also bright, a point to which we will return later. In medieval Welsh literature he is known as Mabon fab Modron, which equates to the Gaulish (and earlier British) Maponos son of Matrona. Mabon appears in the story Culhwch and Olwen. (Jones and Jones, 1949/1982) where he is a companion of King Arthur. In this story that Mabon has been taken from his mother three days after his birth and imprisoned by persons unknown. In the story the heroes have to find where Mabon is and they go asking the oldest and wisest animals until the Salmon of Llyn Llyw tells them that he travels up the Severn to Gloucester on every tide and hears the wailing of Mabon from his prison there. Needless to say Arthur frees him without too much trouble. It is thought that this imprisonment below Gloucester represents the Celtic underworld (Annwfn) and because of his time there, Mabon remains forever young (this idea is found in much Celtic mythology, compare the Irish story of Oisín).

Mabon (aka Maponos) was venerated all over Britain and Gaul.He was invoked also in Gaul and there is a sacred spring to Mabon near Savigny on the Rhone. A magical inscription from Chamalieres written in Gaulish invokes Maponos and the gods of the underworld to torment and torture the writer’s enemies (Lambert, 2003). Maponos’ cult was particularly strong in the area which today forms the Anglo-Scottish border. A striking carving found at Corbridge in Northumberland seems to represent him (Laing and Laing, 1992, p. 130). Higham and Jones (1985) note several  Romano-British dedications to Maponos in what is today Cumbria and Northumberland. On one of these at Ribchester, Maponos is again associated with Apollo (Ross, 1992, p. 276). Ross says that Maponos’ name is invoked five times on surviving monuments, all in Cumbria, Northumberland and Lancashire. On four of these he is equated with the Roman god of light Apollo.

To the north of the Roman Wall in Dumfriesshire lies Lochmaben. Because of the lake there it would be tempting to take this name as containing a Scottish ‘loch’ but Roman sources show that the name was originally Locus Maponi – a cult site or shrine to Mabon. Some miles to the south at the head of the Solway Firth lies the Clochmabenstane. This is a prehistoric megalith. The name contains the Gaelic ‘cloch’ meaning a stone, and the Scots, stane, meaning the same. The middle element is the name Mabon. This stone was used as a place of truce and parley during the long centuries of warfare between England and Scotland and Ross thinks (1992, p. 465) that it was always a sacred stone to the god Mabon.

One other significant place-name in this northern area is probably Mabbin Crag near Kendal. This high spot was probably also once dedicated to Mabon.

Not much is known about Mabon’s legend. But in summary, he was born to a divine mother. He was snatched from her when only three days old and imprisoned in the Underworld. Because of this he remains forever young. He is talented at music, was equated with the solar god Apollo by the Romans, and from Welsh sources, was a famous hunter.

And it would seem that he is long forgotten. But is that so? If the god was a figment of the imagination of our Celtic ancestors, then we would expect him to vanish when they converted to Christianity. However, there are some strange stories in this Border area which seem to me to be very reminiscent of this bright youth and which up to now have not been associated with him.

Corby Castle (privately owned with no access to the public) near Carlisle is famously haunted by the Radiant Boy. Corby Castle has been owned by the Howard family since 1611. This ‘Radiant Boy' is said to appear from nowhere within the castle surrounded by a golden light. He smiles gently to those who see him and is not threatening at all. However, according to legend, those who see him are destined to achieve great power but unfortunately come to a violent end.

A number of the Howards have seen the Radiant Boy. One, later Lord Castlereagh, became Foreign Secretary of Great Britain in the great days of Empire, then in 1822, cut his throat when the balance of his mind was disturbed. A local clergyman from Greystoke also saw the Radiant Boy in 1803. He was lying awake in the dark next to his wife when he saw a glimmer in the room which increased to a bright flame. He thought that something had caught fire, but to his amazement he beheld a beautiful boy, clothed in white with golden hair. He had a mild and benevolent expression, stayed for a while and then glided towards the fireplace and disappeared through the wall.

The clergyman lived to be an old man, though not particularly famous, and died in his bed.

A more recent sight of the Radiant Boy was in 1965 when a local postman was cycling to work a while before dawn on a dark winter morning. He looked up at Corby Castle from the road and saw a golden light around the battlements. At first he thought it was the sun rising, but it was too early and besides the castle was to the west of him. He was rather puzzled so he got off his bike and stopped for a while to look. Then he saw the Radiant Boy above the battlements. after that the postman disappears from history and probably lived to a ripe old age.

Was this Maponos?

A similar story comes from Chillingham Castle in Northumberland at the eastern end of the Border. Chillingham has lots of ghosts but the most famous is the Blue (or radiant) Boy. Who is seen in what is now called the Pink Room. Those who sleep there have noted the cries and moans of a child in pain and fear. The noises always came from a spot near a passage cut through the ten feet thick wall into the adjoining tower, and as the blood-curdling cries died slowly away a bright halo of light began to form close to the old four-poster bed. Anyone sleeping there saw the figure of a young boy dressed in blue gently approaching - always surrounded by light. It was in this wall, during the 1920's, that the bones of a young boy, and some fragments of a blue dress, were discovered. It was found alongside the skeleton of a man where the fireplace now is, close to a trap door that opened to the stone arches of the vaults below. To this day people sleeping in this room claim to be awakened by strange blue flashes in the middle of the night. This isn't an electrical fault because there are no electrics of any kind in the wall where the flashes were seen.

Again, is this glowing youth Maponos?

These two ghost stories come from an area where Maponos’ cult was celebrated. The stories of a gentle boy surrounded in light seems to coincide with the bright divine youth. But if these stories do represent Maponos, how could that be?

It seems that there are two possibilities. Firstly that folk memories of Maponos lingered and even though his divine origin was forgotten local people still told stories of a bright youth. Those claiming to have seen him either half remembered these and attributed some perfectly natural phenomenon to a spirit youth, or they simply made the stories up for their own entertainment.

Of course the second alternative is that the god Maponos was real, and lingers still in these remote northern places.


References

P. Beresford-Ellis (1992) Dictionary of Celtic Mythology.  London: Constable & Co.

N. Higham, and B. Jones. (1985). The Carvetii.  Stroud: Alan Sutton

G. Jones, and T. Jones. (1949/1982). The Mabinogion. Amsterdam: Dragon’s Dream.

L. Laing, and J. Laing, J. (1992). The Art of the Celts.  London: Thames & Hudson

P Y Lambert. (2003). La Langue Gauloise. Paris: Editions Errance


A. Ross. (1992). Pagan Celtic Britain. 2nd edn. London: Constable.

Friday, 24 January 2014

A WET DAY by Richard Middleton

As we grow older it becomes more and more  apparent that our moments are the ghosts  of old moments, our days but pale repetitions  of days that we have known in the past.  It might almost be said that after a certain age  we never meet a stranger or win to a new  place. The palace of our soul, grown larger  let us hope with the years, is haunted by little  memories that creep out of corners to peep  at us wistfully when we are most sure that  we are alone. Sometimes we cannot hear  the voice of the present for the whisperings  of the past ; sometimes the room is so full  of ghosts that we can hardly breathe. And  yet it is often difficult to find the significance  of these dead days, restored to us to disturb  our sense of passing time. Why have our  minds kept secret these trivial records so  many years to give them to us at last when they have no apparent consequence ? Perhaps  it is only that we are not clever enough to  read the riddle ; perhaps these trifles that we  have remembered unconsciously year after  year are in truth the tremendous forces that  have made our lives what they are.

Standing at the window this morning and  watching the rain, I suddenly became conscious of a wet morning long ago when I  stood as I stood now and saw the drops  sliding one after another down the steamy  panes. I was a boy of eight years old,  dressed in a sailor suit, and with my hair  clipped quite short like a French boy's, and  my right knee was stiff with a half-healed  cut where I had fallen on the gravel path  under the schoolroom window. It was a  really wet, grey day. I could hear the rain  dripping from the fir-trees on to the scullery  roof, and every now and then a gust of wind  drove the rain down on the soaked lawn  with a noise like breaking surf. I could hear  the water gurgling in the pipe that was  hidden by the ivy, and I saw with interest  that one of the paths was flooded, so that  a canal ran between the standard rose bushes  and recalled pictures of Venice. I thought  it would be nice if it rained truly hard and  flooded the house, so that we should all have  to starve for three weeks, and then be rescued  excitingly in boats ; but I had not really any  hope. Behind me in the schoolroom my  two brothers were playing chess, but had not  yet started quarrelling, and in a corner my  little sister was patiently beating a doll.  There was a fire in the grate, but it was  one of those sombre, smoky fires in which  it is impossible to take any interest. The  clock on the mantelpiece ticked very slowly,  and I realised that an eternity of these long  seconds separated me from dinner-time. I  thought 1 would like to go out.

The enterprise presented certain difficulties and dangers, but none that could not be  surpassed. I would have to steal down to  the hall and get my boots and waterproof  on unobserved. I would have to open the  front door without making too much noise,  for the other doors were well guarded by  underlings, and I would have to run down  the front drive under the eyes of many  windows. Once beyond the gate I would  be safe, for the wetness of the day would  secure me from dangerous encounters.  Walking in the rain would be pleasanter  than staying in the dull schoolroom, where  life remained unchanged for a quarter of  an hour at a time ; and I remembered that  there was a little wood near our house in  which I had never been when it was raining  hard. Perhaps I would meet the magician  for whom I had looked so often in vain  on sunny days, for it was quite likely that  he preferred walking in bad weather when  no one else was about. It would be nice  to hear the drops of rain falling on the roof  of the trees, and to be quite warm and dry  underneath. (Perhaps the magician would  give me a magic wand, and I would do  things like the conjurer last Christmas.)

Certainly I would be punished when I  got home, for even if I were not missed  they would see that my boots were muddy  and that my waterproof was wet. I would  have no pudding for dinner and be sent to  bed in the afternoon : but these things had  happened to me before, and though I had  not liked them at the time, they did not seem  very terrible in retrospect. And life was so  dull in the schoolroom that wet morning  when I was eight years old!

And yet I did not go out, but stood  hesitating at the window, while with every  gust earth seemed to fling back its curls  of rain from its shining forehead. To stand  on the brink of adventure is interesting in  itself, and now that I could think over the  details of my expedition I was no longer  bored. So I stayed dreaming till the golden  moment for action was passed, and a violent  exclamation from one of the chess-players  called me back to a prosaic world. In a  second the board was overturned and the  players were locked in battle. My little  sister, who had already the feminine craving  for tidiness, crept out of her corner and  meekly gathered the chessmen from under  the feet of the combatants. I had seen it  all before, and while I led my forces to the  aid of the brother with whom at the moment  I had some sort of alliance, I reflected that  I would have done better to dare the  adventure and set forth into the rainy  world.

And this morning when I stood at my  window, and my memory a little cruelly  restored to me this vision of a day long  dead, I was still of the same opinion. Oh !  I should have put on my boots and my waterproof and gone down to the little wood to  meet the enchanter ! He would have given  me the cap of invisibility, the purse of Fortunatus, and a pair of seven-league boots. He  would have taught me to conquer worlds,  and to leave the easy triumphs of dreamers  to madmen, philosophers, and poets. He  would have made me a man of action, a  statesman, a soldier, a founder of cities or  a digger of graves. For there are two kinds  of men in the world when we have put aside  the minor distinctions of shape and colour.  There are the men who do things and the  men who dream about them. No man can  be both a dreamer and a man of action, and  we are called upon to determine what role  we shall play in life when we are too young  to know what we do.
I do not believe that it was a mere wantonness of memory that preserved the image  of that one hour with such affectionate detail,

where so many brighter and more eventful  hours have disappeared for ever. It seems  to me likely enough that that moment of  hesitation before the schoolroom window  determined a habit of mind that has kept  me dreaming ever since. For all my life  I have preferred thought to action; I have  never run to the little wood; I have never  met the enchanter. And so this morning,  when Fate played me this trick and my  dream was chilled for an instant by the icy  breath of the past, I did not rush out into  the streets of life and lay about me with  a flaming sword. No ; I picked up my pen  and wrote some words on a piece of paper,  and lulled my shocked senses with the tranquillity of the idlest dream of all.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lazarus - BY LEONID ANDREYEV - TRANSLATED BY ABRAHAM YARMOLINSKY


When Lazarus left the grave, where, for three days and three nights he
had been under the enigmatical sway of death, and returned alive to his
dwelling, for a long time no one noticed in him those sinister oddities,
which, as time went on, made his very name a terror. Gladdened
unspeakably by the sight of him who had been returned to life, those
near to him caressed him unceasingly, and satiated their burning desire
to serve him, in solicitude for his food and drink and garments. And
they dressed him gorgeously, in bright colors of hope and laughter, and
when, like to a bridegroom in his bridal vestures, he sat again among
them at the table, and again ate and drank, they wept, overwhelmed with
tenderness. And they summoned the neighbors to look at him who had risen
miraculously from the dead. These came and shared the serene joy of the
hosts. Strangers from far-off towns and hamlets came and adored the
miracle in tempestuous words. Like to a beehive was the house of Mary
and Martha.

Whatever was found new in Lazarus' face and gestures was thought to be
some trace of a grave illness and of the shocks recently experienced.
Evidently, the destruction wrought by death on the corpse was only
arrested by the miraculous power, but its effects were still apparent;
and what death had succeeded in doing with Lazarus' face and body, was
like an artist's unfinished sketch seen under thin glass. On Lazarus'
temples, under his eyes, and in the hollows of his cheeks, lay a deep
and cadaverous blueness; cadaverously blue also were his long fingers,
and around his fingernails, grown long in the grave, the blue had become
purple and dark. On his lips the skin, swollen in the grave, had burst
in places, and thin, reddish cracks were formed, shining as though
covered with transparent mica. And he had grown stout. His body, puffed
up in the grave, retained its monstrous size and showed those frightful
swellings, in which one sensed the presence of the rank liquid of
decomposition. But the heavy corpse-like odor which penetrated Lazarus'
graveclothes and, it seemed, his very body, soon entirely disappeared,
the blue spots on his face and hands grew paler, and the reddish cracks
closed up, although they never disappeared altogether. That is how
Lazarus looked when he appeared before people, in his second life, but
his face looked natural to those who had seen him in the coffin.

In addition to the changes in his appearance, Lazarus' temper seemed to
have undergone a transformation, but this circumstance startled no one
and attracted no attention. Before his death Lazarus had always been
cheerful and carefree, fond of laughter and a merry joke. It was because
of this brightness and cheerfulness, with not a touch of malice and
darkness, that the Master had grown so fond of him. But now Lazarus had
grown grave and taciturn, he never jested, himself, nor responded with
laughter to other people's jokes; and the words which he uttered, very
infrequently, were the plainest, most ordinary, and necessary words, as
deprived of depth and significance, as those sounds with which animals
express pain and pleasure, thirst and hunger. They were the words that
one can say all one's life, and yet they give no indication of what
pains and gladdens the depths of the soul.

Thus, with the face of a corpse which for three days had been under the
heavy sway of death, dark and taciturn, already appallingly transformed,
but still unrecognized by anyone in his new self, he was sitting at the
feasting table, among friends and relatives, and his gorgeous nuptial
garments glittered with yellow gold and bloody scarlet. Broad waves of
jubilation, now soft, now tempestuously sonorous surged around him; warm
glances of love were reaching out for his face, still cold with the
coldness of the grave; and a friend's warm palm caressed his blue, heavy
hand. And music played the tympanum and the pipe, the cithara and the
harp. It was as though bees hummed, grasshoppers chirped and birds
warbled over the happy house of Mary and Martha.


II

One of the guests incautiously lifted the veil. By a thoughtless word he
broke the serene charm and uncovered the truth in all its naked
ugliness. Ere the thought formed itself in his mind, his lips uttered
with a smile:

"Why dost thou not tell us what happened yonder?"

And all grew silent, startled by the question. It was as if it occurred
to them only now that for three days Lazarus had been dead, and they
looked at him, anxiously awaiting his answer. But Lazarus kept silence.

"Thou dost not wish to tell us,"--wondered the man, "is it so terrible
yonder?"

And again his thought came after his words. Had it been otherwise, he
would not have asked this question, which at that very moment oppressed
his heart with its insufferable horror. Uneasiness seized all present,
and with a feeling of heavy weariness they awaited Lazarus' words, but
he was silent, sternly and coldly, and his eyes were lowered. And as if
for the first time, they noticed the frightful blueness of his face and
his repulsive obesity. On the table, as though forgotten by Lazarus,
rested his bluish-purple wrist, and to this all eyes turned, as if it
were from it that the awaited answer was to come. The musicians were
still playing, but now the silence reached them too, and even as water
extinguishes scattered embers, so were their merry tunes extinguished in
the silence. The pipe grew silent; the voices of the sonorous tympanum
and the murmuring harp died away; and as if the strings had burst, the
cithara answered with a tremulous, broken note. Silence.

"Thou dost not wish to say?" repeated the guest, unable to check his
chattering tongue. But the stillness remained unbroken, and the
bluish-purple hand rested motionless. And then he stirred slightly and
everyone felt relieved. He lifted up his eyes, and lo! straightway
embracing everything in one heavy glance, fraught with weariness and
horror, he looked at them,--Lazarus who had arisen from the dead.

It was the third day since Lazarus had left the grave. Ever since then
many had experienced the pernicious power of his eye, but neither those
who were crushed by it forever, nor those who found the strength to
resist in it the primordial sources of life,--which is as mysterious as
death,--never could they explain the horror which lay motionless in the
depth of his black pupils. Lazarus looked calmly and simply with no
desire to conceal anything, but also with no intention to say anything;
he looked coldly, as he who is infinitely indifferent to those alive.
Many carefree people came close to him without noticing him, and only
later did they learn with astonishment and fear who that calm stout man
was, that walked slowly by, almost touching them with his gorgeous and
dazzling garments. The sun did not cease shining, when he was looking,
nor did the fountain hush its murmur, and the sky overhead remained
cloudless and blue. But the man under the spell of his enigmatical look
heard no more the fountain and saw not the sky overhead. Sometimes, he
wept bitterly, sometimes he tore his hair and in frenzy called for help;
but more often it came to pass that apathetically and quietly he began
to die, and so he languished many years, before everybody's very eyes,
wasted away, colorless, flabby, dull, like a tree, silently drying up in
a stony soil. And of those who gazed at him, the ones who wept madly,
sometimes felt again the stir of life; the others never.

"So thou dost not wish to tell us what thou hast seen yonder?" repeated
the man. But now his voice was impassive and dull, and deadly gray
weariness showed in Lazarus' eyes. And deadly gray weariness covered
like dust all the faces, and with dull amazement the guests stared at
each other and did not understand wherefore they had gathered here and
sat at the rich table. The talk ceased. They thought it was time to go
home, but could not overcome the flaccid lazy weariness which glued
their muscles, and they kept on sitting there, yet apart and torn away
from each other, like pale fires scattered over a dark field.

But the musicians were paid to play and again they took their
instruments and again tunes full of studied mirth and studied sorrow
began to flow and to rise. They unfolded the customary melody but the
guests hearkened in dull amazement. Already they knew not wherefore is
it necessary, and why is it well, that people should pluck strings,
inflate their cheeks, blow in thin pipes, and produce a bizarre,
many-voiced noise.

"What bad music," said someone.

The musicians took offense and left. Following them, the guests left one
after another, for night was already come. And when placid darkness
encircled them and they began to breathe with more ease, suddenly
Lazarus' image loomed up before each one in formidable radiance: the
blue face of a corpse, grave-clothes gorgeous and resplendent, a cold
look, in the depths of which lay motionless an unknown horror. As though
petrified, they were standing far apart, and darkness enveloped them,
but in the darkness blazed brighter and brighter the supernatural vision
of him who for three days had been under the enigmatical sway of death.
For three days had he been dead: thrice had the sun risen and set, but
he had been dead; children had played, streams murmured over pebbles,
the wayfarer had lifted up hot dust in the highroad,--but he had been
dead. And now he is again among them,--touches them,--looks at
them,--looks at them! and through the black discs of his pupils, as
through darkened glass, stares the unknowable Yonder.


III

No one was taking care of Lazarus, for no friends no relatives were left
to him, and the great desert which encircled the holy city, came near
the very threshold of his dwelling. And the desert entered his house,
and stretched on his couch, like a wife and extinguished the fires. No
one was taking care of Lazarus. One after the other, his sisters--Mary
and Martha--forsook him. For a long while Martha was loath to abandon
him, for she knew not who would feed him and pity him, she wept and
prayed. But one night, when the wind was roaming in the desert and with
a hissing sound the cypresses were bending over the roof, she dressed
noiselessly and secretly left the house. Lazarus probably heard the door
slam; it banged against the side-post under the gusts of the desert
wind, but he did not rise to go out and to look at her that was
abandoning him. All the night long the cypresses hissed over his head
and plaintively thumped the door, letting in the cold, greedy desert.

Like a leper he was shunned by everyone, and it was proposed to tie a
bell to his neck, as is done with lepers, to warn people against sudden
meetings. But someone remarked, growing frightfully pale, that it would
be too horrible if by night the moaning of Lazarus' bell were suddenly
heard under the windows,--and so the project was abandoned.

And since he did not take care of himself, he would probably have
starved to death, had not the neighbors brought him food in fear of
something that they sensed but vaguely. The food was brought to him by
children; they were not afraid of Lazarus, nor did they mock him with
naive cruelty, as children are wont to do with the wretched and
miserable. They were indifferent to him, and Lazarus answered them with
the same coldness; he had no desire to caress the black little curls,
and to look into their innocent shining eyes. Given to Time and to the
Desert, his house was crumbling down, and long since had his famishing,
lowing goats wandered away to the neighboring pastures. And his bridal
garments became threadbare. Ever since that happy day, when the
musicians played, he had worn them unaware of the difference of the new
and the worn. The bright colors grew dull and faded; vicious dogs and
the sharp thorn of the Desert turned the tender fabric into rags.

By day, when the merciless sun slew all things alive, and even scorpions
sought shelter under stones and writhed there in a mad desire to sting,
he sat motionless under the sunrays, his blue face and the uncouth,
bushy beared lifted up, bathing in the fiery flood.

When people still talked to him, he was once asked:

"Poor Lazarus, does it please thee to sit thus and to stare at the
sun?"

And he had answered:

"Yes, it does."

So strong, it seemed, was the cold of his three days' grave, so deep the
darkness, that there was no heat on earth to warm Lazarus, nor a
splendor that could brighten the darkness of his eyes. That is what came
to the mind of those who spoke to Lazarus, and with a sigh they left
him.

And when the scarlet, flattened globe would lower, Lazarus would set out
for the desert and walk straight toward the sun, as though striving to
reach it. He always walked straight toward the sun and those who tried
to follow him and to spy upon what he was doing at night in the desert,
retained in their memory the black silhouette of a tall stout man
against the red background of an enormous flattened disc. Night pursued
them with her horrors, and so they did not learn of Lazarus' doings in
the desert, but the vision of the black on red was forever branded on
their brain. Just as a beast with a splinter in its eye furiously rubs
its muzzle with its paws, so they too foolishly rubbed their eyes, but
what Lazarus had given was indelible, and Death alone could efface it.

But there were people who lived far away, who never saw Lazarus and knew
of him only by report. With daring curiosity, which is stronger than
fear and feeds upon it, with hidden mockery, they would come to Lazarus
who was sitting in the sun and enter into conversation with him. By
this time Lazarus' appearance had changed for the better and was not so
terrible. The first minute they snapped their fingers and thought of how
stupid the inhabitants of the holy city were; but when the short talk
was over and they started homeward, their looks were such that the
inhabitants of the holy city recognized them at once and said:

"Look, there is one more fool on whom Lazarus has set his eye,"--and
they shook their heads regretfully, and lifted up their arms.

There came brave, intrepid warriors, with tinkling weapons; happy youths
came with laughter and song; busy tradesmen, jingling their money, ran
in for a moment, and haughty priests leaned their crosiers against
Lazarus' door, and they were all strangely changed, as they came back.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

THE SILENT WOMAN By Leopold Kompert

 THE uproarious merriment of a wedding-feast burst  forth into the night from a brilliantly lighted house  in the "gasse" (narrow street). It was one of those nights  touched with the warmth of spring, but dark and full of  soft mist. Most fitting it was for a celebration of the  union of two yearning hearts to share the same lot, a lot  that may possibly dawn in sunny brightness, but also become clouded and sullen — for a long, long time. But how  merry and joyous they were over there, those people of  the happy olden times! They, like us, had their troubles  and trials, and when misfortune visited them it came not  to them with soft cushions and tender pressures of the hand.  Rough and hard, with clinched fist, it laid hold upon them.  But when they gave vent to their happy feelings and  sought to enjoy themselves, they were like swimmers in cooling waters. They struck out into the stream with freshness and courage, suffered themselves to be borne along by  the current whithersoever it took its course. This was the  cause of such a jubilee, such a thoughtlessly noisy outburst  of all kinds of soul-possessing gayety from this house of  nuptials.

 "And if I had known," the bride's father, the rich Ruben  Klattaner, had just said, "that it would take the last gulden  in my pocket, then out it would have come." 

 In fact, it did appear as if the last groschen had really  taken flight, and was fluttering about in the form of platters heaped up with geese and pastry-tarts. Since two  o'clock — that is, since the marriage ceremony had been  performed out in the open street — until nearly midnight,  the wedding-feast had been progressing, and even yet the  sarvers, or waiters, were hurrying from room to room. It was as if a twofold blessing had descended upon all this  abundance of food and drink, for, in the first place, they  did not seem to diminish; secondly, they ever found a new  place for disposal. To be sure, this appetite was sharpened  by the presence of a little dwarf-like, unimportant-looking  man. He was esteemed, however, none the less highly by  every one. They had specially written to engage the celebrated "Leb Narr,' of Prague. And when was ever a  mood so out of sorts, a heart so embittered as not t^ thaw  out and laugh if Leb Narr played one of his pranks. Ah,  thou art now dead, good fool Thy lips, once always ready  with a witty reply, are closed. Thy mouth, then never still,  now speaks no morel But when the hearty peals of laughter once rang forth at thy command, intercessors, as it were,  in thy behalf before the very throne of God, thou hadst  nothing to fear. And the joy of that "other" world was  thine, that joy that has ever belonged to the most pious  of country rabbis!

 In the mean time the young people had assembled in  one of the rooms to dance. It was strange how the sound  of violins and trumpets accorded with the drolleries of the  wit from Prague. In one part the outbursts of merriment  were so boisterous that the very candles on the little table  seemed to flicker with terror; in another an ordinary conversation was in progress, which now and then only ran  over into a loud tittering, when some old lady slipped into  the circle and tried her skill at a redowa, then altogether  unknown to the young people. In the very midst of the  tangle of dancers was to be seen the bride in a heavy silk  wedding-gown. The point of her golden hood hung far  down over her face. She danced continuously. She danced  with every one that asked her. Had one, however, observed the actions of the young woman, they would certainly have seemed to him hurried, agitated, almost wild.  She looked no one in the eye, not even her own bridegroom.  He stood for the most part in the door-way, and evidently  took more pleasure in the witticisms of the fool than in  the dance or the lady dancers. But who ever thought for  a moment why the young woman's hand burned, why her  breath was so hot when one came near to her lips? Who should have noticed so strange a thing? A low whispering  already passed through the company, a stealthy smile stole  across many a lip. A bevy of ladies was seen to enter the  room suddenly. The music dashed off into one of its loudest pieces, and, as if by enchantment, the newly made bride  disappeared behind the ladies. The bridegroom, with his  stupid, smiling mien, was still left standing on the threshold.  But it was not long before he too vanished. One could  hardly say how it happened. But people understand such  skilful movements by experience, and will continue to understand them as long as there are brides and grooms in  the world.
 This disappearance of the chief personages, little as it  seemed to be noticed, gave, however, the signal for general  leave-taking. The dancing became drowsy; it stopped all  at once, as if by appointment. That noisy confusion now  began which always attends so merry a wedding-party. Halfdrunken voices could be heard still intermingled with a  last, hearty laugh over a joke of the fool from Prague  echoing across the table. Here and there some one, not  quite sure of his balance, was fumbling for the arm of his  chair or the edge of the table. This resulted in his overturning a dish that had been forgotten, causing the spilling of a beerglass. While this, in turn, set up a new hubbub, some one  else, in his eagerness to betake himself from the scene, fell  flat into the very debris. But all this tumult was really  hushed the moment they all pressed to the door, for at that  very instant shrieks, cries of pain, were heard issuing from  the entrance below. In an instant the entire outpouring  crowd with all possible force pushed back into the room,  but it was a long time before the stream was pressed back  again. Meanwhile, painful cries were again heard from  below, so painful, indeed, that they restored even the most  drunken to a state of consciousness.
 "By the living God!" they cried to each other, "what is  the matter down there? Is the house on fire?"
 "She is gone I she is gone!" shrieked a woman's voice  from the entry below.
 "Who? who?" groaned the wedding-guests, seized, as it  were, with an icy horror.

"Gone! gone!" cried the woman from the entry, and  hurrying up the stairs came Selde Klattaner, the mother of  the bride, pale as death, her eyes dilated with most awful  fright, convulsively grasping a candle in her hand. "For  God's sake, what has happened?" was heard on every side  of her.
 The sight of so many people about her, and the confusion of voices, seemed to release the poor woman from  a kind of stupor. She glanced shyly about her then, as if  overcome with a sense of shame stronger than her terror,  and sad, in a suppressed tone:
 "Nothing, nothing, good people. In God's name, I ask,  what was there to happen?"
 Dissimulation, however, was too evident to suffice to deceive them.
 "Why, then, did you shriek so, Selde," called out one  of the guests to her, "if nothing happened?"
 "Yes, she has gone," Selde now moaned in heart-rending  tones, "and she has certainly done herself some harm!"
 The cause of this strange scene was now first discovered.  The bride has disappeared from the wedding-feast. Soon  after that she had vanished in such a mysterious way, the  bridegroom went below to the dimly-lighted room to find  her, but in vain. At first thought this seemed to him to  be a sort of bashful jest; but not finding her here, a mysterious foreboding seized him. He called to the mother of  the bride:
 "Woe to me I This woman has gone! "
 Presently this party, that had so admirably controlled itself, was again thrown into commotion. "There was nothing to do," was said on all sides, "but to ransack every nook  and corner. Remarkable instances of such disappearances  of brides had been known. Evil spirits were wont to lurk  about such nights and to inflict mankind with all sorts of  sorceries." Strange as this explanation may seem, there  were many who believed it at this very moment, and, most  of all, Selde Klattaner herself. But it was only for a moment, for she at once exclaimed:
 "No, no, my good people, she is gone; I know she is  gone!"

Now for the first time many of them, especially the  mothers, felt particularly uneasy, and anxiously called their  daughters to them. Only a few showed courage, and urged  that they must search and search, even if they had to  turn aside the river Iser a hundred times. They urgently  pressed on, called for torches and lanterns, and started,  forth. The cowardly ran after them up and down the  stairs. Before any one perceived it the room was entirely  forsaken.
 Ruben Klattaner stood in the hall entry below, and let  the people hurry past him without exchanging a word  with any. Bitter disappointment and fear had almost  crazed him. One of the last to stay in the room above  with Selde was, strange to say, Leb Narr, of Prague. After  all had departed, he approached the miserable mother, and,  in a tone least becoming his general manner, inquired:
 "Tell me, now, Mrs. Selde, did she not wish to have  'him'?"
 "Whom? whom?" cried Selde, with renewed alarm, when  she found herself alone with the fool.
 "I mean," said Leb, in a most sympathetic manner, approaching still nearer to Selde, "that maybe you had to  make your daughter marry him."
 "Make? And have we, then, made her?" moaned Selde,  staring at the fool with a look of uncertainty.
 "Then nobody needs to search for her," replied the fool,  with a sympathetic laugh, at the same time retreating, "It's  better to leave her where she is."
 Without saying thanks or good-night, he was gone.
 Meanwhile the cause of all this disturbance had arrived  at the end of her flight.
 Close by the synagogue was situated the house of the  rabbi. It was built in an angle of a very narrow street,  set in a framework of tall shade-trees. Even by daylight it  was dismal enough. At night it was almost impossible for  a timid person to approach it, for people declared that the  low supplications of the dead could be heard in the dingy  house of God when at night they took the rolls of the law  from the ark to summon their members by name.
 Through this retired street passed, or rather ran, at this

hour a shy form. Arriving at the dwelling of the rabbi,  she glanced backward to see whether any one was following  hg. But all was silent and gloomy enough about her. A  soft light issued from one of tie windows of the synagogue;  it came from the "eternal lamp" hanging in front of the  ark of the covenant. But at this moment it seemed to her  as if a supernatural eye was gazing upon her. Thoroughly  affrighted, she seized the little iron knocker of the door  and struck it gently. But the throb of her beating heart  was even louder, more violent, than this blow. After a  pause, footsteps were heard passing slowly along the hallway.
 The rabbi had not occupied this lonely house a long time.  His predecessor, almost a centenarian in years, had been  laid to rest a few months before. The new rabbi had  been called from a distant part of the country. He was  unmarried, and in the prime of life. No one had known  him before his coming. But his personal nobility and the  profundity of his scholarship made up for his deficiency in  years. His aged mother had accompanied him from their  distant home, and she took the place of wife and child.
 "Who is there?" asked the rabbi, who had been busy  at his desk even at this late hour and thus had not missed  hearing the knocker.
 "It is I," the figure without responded, almost inaudibly,
 "Speak louder, if you wish me to hear you," replied the  rabbi.
 "It is I, Ruben Klattaner*s daughter," she repeated.
 The name seemed to sound strange to the rabbi. He  as yet knew too few of his congregation to understand  that this very day he performed the marriage ceremony of  the person who had just repeated her name. Therefore  he called out, after a moment's pause, "What do you wish so  late at night?"
 "Open the door, rabbi," she answered, pleadingly, "or I  shall die at once!"
 The bolt was pushed back. Something gleaming, rustling, glided past the rabbi into the dusky hall. The light  of the candle in his hand was not sufficient to allow him to  descry it. Before he had time to address her, she had vanished past him and had disappeared through the open door  into the room. Shaking his head, the rabbi again bolted  the door.
 On re-entering the room he saw a woman's form sitting  in the chair which he usually occupied. She had her back  turned to him. Her head was bent low over her breast.  Her golden wedding-hood, with its shading lace, was pulled  down over her forehead. Courageous and pious as the rabbi  was, he could not rid himself of a feeling of terror.
 "Who are you?" he demanded, in a loud tone, as if its  sound alone would banish the presence of this being that  seemed to him at this moment to be the production of all  the enchantments of evil spirits.
 She raised herself, and cried in a voice that seemed to  come from the agony of a human being:
 "Do you not know me — me, whom you married a few  hours since under the chuppe (marriage-canopy) to a husband?"
 On hearing this familiar voice the rabbi stood speechless. He gazed at the young woman. Now, indeed, he  must regard her as one bereft of reason, rather than as a  specter.
 "Well, if you are she," he stammered out, after a pause,  for it was with difficulty that he found words to answer,  "why are you here and not in the place where you belong?"
 "I know no other place to which I belong more than  here where I now am!" she answered, severely.
 These words puzzled the rabbi still more. Is it really  an insane woman before him? He must have thought so,  for he now addressed her in a gentle tone of voice, as we  do those suffering from this kind of sickness, in order not  to excite her, and said:
 "The place where you belong, my daughter, is in the  house of your parents, and, since you have to-day been  made a wife, your place is in your husband's house."
 The young woman muttered something which failed to  reach the rabbi's ear. Yet he only continued to think that  he saw before him some poor unfortunate whose mind was  deranged. After a pause, he added, in a still gentler tone:  **What is your name, then, my child?'^

"God, god," she moaned, in the greatest anguish, "he  does not even yet know my name I"
 "How should I know you," he continued, apologetically,  "for I am a stranger in this place?"
 This' tender remark seemed to have produced the desired  effect upon her excited mind.
 "My name is Veile," she said, quietly, after a pause.
 The rabbi quickly perceived that he had adopted the  right tone towards his mysterious guest.
 "Veile," he said, approaching nearer her, "what do you  wish of me?"
 "Rabbi, I have a great sin resting heavily upon my  heart," she replied despondently. "I do not know what  to do."
 "What can you have done," inquired the rabbi, with  a tender look, "that cannot be discussed at any other  time than just now? Will you let me advise you,  Veile?"
 "No, no," she cried again, violently, "I will not be advised. I see, I know what oppresses me. Yes, I can grasp  it by the hand, it lies so near before me. Is that what you  call to be advised?"
 "Very well," returned the rabbi, seeing that this was  the very way to get the young woman to talk — very well,  I say, you are not imagining anything. I believe that you  have greatly sinned. Have you come here then to confess  this sin? Do your parents or your husband know anything about it?"
 "Who is my husband?" she interrupted him, impetuously.
 Thoughts welled up in the rabbi's heart like a tumultuous  sea in which opposing conjectures cross and recross each  other's course. Should he speak with her as with an ordinary sinner?
 "Were you, perhaps, forced to be married?" he inquired,  as quietly as possible, after a pause.
 A suppressed sob, a strong inward struggle, manifesting  itself in the whole trembling body, was the only answer  to this question.
 "Tell me, my child," said the rabbi, encouragingly.

In such tones as the rabbi had never before heard, so  strange, so surpassing any human sounds, the young woman  began:
 "Yes, rabbi, I will speak, even though I know that I  shall never go from this place alive, which would be the  very best thing for me! No, rabbi, I was not forced to be  married. My parents have never once said to me *you  must,' but my own will, my own desire, rather, has always  been supreme. My husband is the son of a rich man in  the community. To enter his family was to be made the  first lady in the gasse, to sit buried in gold and silver. And  that very thing, nothing else, was what infatuated me with  him. It was For that that I forced myself, my heart and  will, to be married to him, hard as it was for me. But in  my innermost heart I detested him. The more he loved  me, the more I hated him. But the gold and silver had  an influence over me. More and more they cried to me,  ^You will be the first lady in the gasse f "
 "Continue," said the rabbi, when she ceased, almost  exhausted by these words.
 "What more shall I tell you, rabbi?" she began again.  "I was never a liar, when a child, or older, and yet during  my whole engagement it has seemed to me as if a big,  gigantic lie had followed me step by step. I have seen it  on every side of me. But to-day, when I stood under the  chuppe, rabbi, and he took the ring from his finger and put  it on mine, and when I had to dance at my own wedding  with him, whom I now recognized, now for the first time,  as the lie, and — ^when they led me away— — "
 This sincere confession escaping from the lips of the  young woman, she sobbed aloud and bowed her head still  deeper over her breast. The rabbi gazed upon her in  silence. No insane woman ever spoke like that I Only a  soul conscious of its own sin, but captivated by a mysterious  power, could suffer like this!
 It was not S5anpathy which he felt with her; it was much  more a living over the sufferings of the woman. In spite  of the confused story, it was all clear to the rabbi. The  cause of the flight from the father's house at this hour  also required no explanation. "I know what you mean,"

he longed to say, but he could only find words to say:  "Speak further, Veile"
 The young woman turned towards him. He had not  yet seen her face. The golden hood with the shading lace  hung deeply over it.
 "Have I not told you everything?" she said, with a flush  of scorn.
 "Everything?" repeated the rabbi, inquiringly. He only  said this, moreover, through embarrassment.
 "Do you tell me now," she cried, at once passionately  and mildly, "what am I to do?"
 "Veilel" exclaimed the rabbi, entertaining now, for the  first time^ a feeling of repugnance for this confidential interview.
 "Tell me now!" she pleaded; and before the rabbi could  prevent it the young woman threw herself down at his  feet and clasped his knees in her arms. This hasty act  had loosened the golden wedding-hood from her head^ and  thus exposed her face to view, a face of remarkable beauty.
 So overcome was the young rabbi by the sight of it that  he had to shade his eyes with his hands, as if before a  sudden flash of lightning .
 "Tell me now, what shall I do?" she cried again. "Do  you think that I have come from my parents' home merely  to return again without help? You alone in the world  must tell me. Look at me I have kept all my hair just  as God gave it me. It has never been touched by the  shears. Should I, then, do anything to please my husband?  I am no wife. I will not be a wife I Tell me, tell me, what  am I to do?"
 "Arise, arise," bade the rabbi; but his voice quivered,  sounded almost painful.
 "Tell me first," she gasped; "I will not rise till then!"
 "How can I tell you?" he moaned, almost inaudibly.
 "Naphtalil" shrieked the kneeling woman.
 But the rabbi staggered backward. The room seemed  ablaze before him, like a bright fire. A sharp cry rang  from his breast, as if one suffering from some painful  wound had been seized by a rough hand. In his hurried  attempt to free himself from the embrace of the young woman, who still clung to his knees, it chanced that her  head struck heavily against the floor.
 "Naphtalil" she cried once again.
 "Silence, silence," groaned the rabbi, pressing both hands  against his head.
 And so again she called out this name, but not with  that agonizing cry. It sounded rather like a commingling  of exultation and lamentation.
 And again he demanded, *^Silence silence" but this time  so imperiously, so forcibly, that the young woman lay on  the floor as if conjured, not daring to utter a single word.
 The rabbi paced almost wildly up and down the room.  There must have been a hard, terrible struggle in his breast.  It seemed to the one lying on the floor that she heard him  sigh from the depths of his soul. Then his pacing became  calmer; but it did not last long. The fierce conflict again  assailed him. His step grew hurried; it echoed loudly  through the awful stillness of the room. Suddenly he  neared the young woman, who seemed to lie there scarcely  breathing. He stopped in front of her. Had any one seen  the face of the rabbi at this moment the expression on it  would have filled him with terror. There was a marvellous  tranquillity overlying it, the tranquillity of a struggle for  life or death.
 "Listen to me now, Veile," he began, slowly. "I will talk  with you."
 "I listen, rabbi," she whispered.
 "But do you hear me well?"
 "Only speak," she returned.
 "But will you do what I advise you? Will you not oppose it? For I am going to say something that will terrify  you."
 "I will do anything that you say. Only tell me," she  moaned.
 "Will you swear?"
 "I will," she groaned.
 "No, do not swear yet, until you have heard me," he  cried. "I will not force you."
 This time came no answer.
 "Hear me. then^ daughter of Ruben Ellattaner," he began, after a pause. "You have a twofold sin upon your  soul, and each is so great, so criminal, that it can only be  forgiven by severe punishment. First you permitted yourself to be infatuated by the gold and silver, and then you  forced your heart to lie. With the lie you sought to deceive  the man, even though he had entrusted you with his all  when he made you his wife. A lie is truly a great sin I  Streams of water cannot drown them. They make men  false and hateful to themselves. The worst that has been  committed in the world was led in by a lie. That is the  one sin."
 "I know, I know," sobbed the young woman.  "Now hear me further," began the rabbi again, with  a wavering voice, after a short pause. "You have committed a still greater sin than the first. You have not  only deceived your husband, but you have also destroyed  the happiness of another person. You could have spoken,  and you did not. For life you have robbed him of his  happiness, his light, his joy, but you did not speak. What  can he now do, when he knows what has been lost to  him?"
 "Naphtali!" cried, the young woman.  "Silence I silence! do not let that name pass your lips  again," he demand^, violently. "The more you repeat it  the greater becomes your sin. Why did you not speak when  you could have spoken? God can never easily forgive you  that. To be silent, to keep secret in one's breast what  would have made another man happier than the mightiest  monarch! Thereby you have made him more than unhappy. He will nevermore have the desire to be happy.  Veile, God in heaven cannot forgive you for that."  "Silence! silence!" groaned the wretched woman.  "No, Veile," he continued, with a stronger voice, "let me  talk now. You are certainly willing to hear me speak?  Listen to me. You must do severe penance for this sin,  the twofold sin which rests upon your head. God is longsuffering and merciful. He will perhaps look down upon  your misery, and will blot but your guilt from the great  book of transgressions. But you must become penitent.  Hear, now, what it shall be."

The rabbi paused. He was on the point of saying the  severest thing that had ever passed his lips.
 "You were silent, Veile," then he cried, "when you  should have spoken. Be silent now forever to all men  and to yourself. From the moment you leave this house,  until I grant it, you must be dumb; you dare not let a  loud word pass from your mouth. Will you undergo this  penance?"
 "I will do all you say," moaned the young woman.
 "Will you have strength to do it?" he asked, gently.
 "I shall be as silent as death," she replied.
 "And one thing more I have to say to you," he continued.  "You are the wife of your husband. Return home and be  a Jewish wife."
 "I understand you," she sobbed in reply.
 "Go to your home now, and bring peace to your parents and husband. The time will come when you may  speak, when your sin will be forgiven you. Till then bear  what has been laid upon you."
 "May I say one thing more?" she cried, lifting up her  head.
 "Speak," he said.
 "Naphtalil"
 The rabbi covered his eyes with one hand, with the  other motioned her to be silent. But she grasped his hand,  drew it to her lips. Hot tears fell upon it.
"Go now," he sobbed, completely broken down.
 She let go the hand. The rabbi had seized the candle,  but she had already passed him, and glided through the  dark hall. The door was left open. The rabbi lodged it  again.


 Veile returned to her home, as she had escaped, unnoticed. The narrow street was deserted, as desolate as  death. The searchers were to be found everywhere except  there where they ought first to have sought for the missing  one. Her mother, Selde, still sat on the same chair on  which she had sunk down an hour ago. The fright had left  her like one paralyzed, and she was unable to rise. What  a wonderful contrast this wedding-room, with the mother sitting alone in it, presented to the hilarity reigning here  shortly before 1 On Veile's entrance her mother did not  cry out. She had no strength to do so. She merely said:  "So you have come at last, my daughter?" as if Veile  had only returned from a walk somewhat too long. But  the young woman did not answer to this and similar questions. Finally she signified by gesticulations that she could  not speak. Fright seized the wretched mother a second  time, and the entire house was filled with her lamentations.
 Ruben Klattaner and Veile's husband having now returned from their fruitless search, were horrified on perceiving the change which Veile had undergone. Being men,  they did not weep. With staring eyes they gazed upon the  silent young woman, and beheld in her an apparition which  had been dealt with by God's visitation in a mysterious  manner.
 From this hour began the terrible penance of the young  woman.
 ^e impression which Veile's woeful condition made upon  the people of the gasse was wonderful. Those who had  danced with her that evening on the wedding now first  recalled her excited state. Her wild actions were now first  remembered by many. It must have been an "evil eye,"  they concluded — a jealous, evil eye, to which her beauty  was hateful. This alone could have possessed her with a  demon of unrest. She was driven by this evil power into  the dark night, a sport of these malicious potencies which  pursue men step by step, especially on such occasions. The  living God alone knows what she must have seen that night.  Nothing good, else one would not become dumb. Old legends and tales were revived, each more horrible than the  other. Hundreds of instances were given to prove that this  was nothing new in the gasse. Despite this explanation, it is  remarkable that the people did not believe that the young  woman was dumb. The most thought that her power of  speech had been paralyzed by some awful fright, but that  with time it would be restored. Under this supposition they  called her "Veile the Silent."
 There is a kind of human eloquence more telling, more  forcible than the loudest words, than the choicest diction —
the silence of woman I ofttimes think they cannot endure the  slightest vexation, but some great, heart-breaking sorrow,  some pain from constant renunciation, self-sacrifice, they  suffer with sealed lips — as if, in very truth, they were bound  with bars of iron.
 It would be difficult to fully describe that long "silent^'  life of the young woman. It is almost impossible to cite  more than one incident. Veile accompanied her husband  to his home, that house resplendent with that gold and silver which had infatuated her. She was, to be sure, the  "first" woman in the gasse; she had everything in abundance. Indeed, the world supposed that she had but little  cause for complaint. "Must one have everything?" was  sometimes queried in the gasse. "One has one thing; another, another." And, according to all appearances, the  people were right. Veile continued to be the beautiful,  blooming woman. Her penance of silence did not deprive  her of a single charm. She was so very happy, indeed, that  she did not seem to feel even the pain of her punishment.  Veile could laugh and rejoice, but never did she forget to  be silent. The seemingly happy days, however, were only  qualified to bring about the proper time of trials and temptations. The beginning was easy enough for her, the middle and end were times of real pain. The first years of  their wedded life were childless. "It is well," the people in  the gasse said, "that she has no children, and God has  rightly ordained it to be so. A mother who cannot talk to  her child, that would be something awful!" Unexpectedly  to all, she rejoiced one day in the birth of a daughter. And  when that affectionate young creature, her own offspring,  was laid upon her breast, and the first sounds were uttered  by its lips — that nameless, eloquent utterance of an infant  — she forgot herself not; she was silent!
 She was silent also when from day to day that child  blossomed before her eyes into fuller beauty. Nor had she  any words for it when, in effusions of tenderness, it stretched  forth its tiny arms, when in burning fever it sought for the  mother's hand. For days — ^yes, weeks — together she  watched at its bedside. Sleep never visited her eyes. But  she ever remembered her penance.

Years fled by. In her arms she carried another child.  It was a boy. The father's joy was great. The child inherited its mother's beauty. Like its sister, it grew in  health and strength. The noblest, richest mother, they  said, might be proud of such children! And Veile was  proud, no doubt, but this never passed her lips. She remained silent about things which mothers in their joy often  cannot find words enough to express. And although her  face many times lighted up with beaming smiles, yet she  never renounced the habitual silence imposed upon her.
 The idea that the slightest dereliction of her penance  would be accompanied with a curse upon her children may  have impressed itself upon her mind. Mothers will understand better than other persons what this mother suffered  from her penalty of silence.
 Thus a part of those years sped away which we are  wont to call the best. She still flourished in her wonderful  beauty. Her maiden daughter was beside her, like the bud  beside the full-blown rose. Suitors were already present  from far and near, who passed in review before the beautiful girl. The most of them were excellent young men,  and any mother might have been proud in having her own  daughter sought by such. Even then Veile did not undo  her penance. Those busy times of intercourse which keep  mothers engaged in presenting the superiorities of their  daughters in the best light were not allowed her. The  choice of one of the most favored suitors was made. Never  before did any couple in the gasse equal this in beauty and  grace. A few weeks before the appointed time for the wedding a malignant disease stole on, spreading sorrow and  anxiety over the greater part of the land. Young girls  were principally its victims. It seemed to pass scornfully  over the aged and infirm. Veile's daughter was also laid  hold upon by it. Before three days had passed there was  a corpse in tie house— the bride I
 Even then Veile did not forget her penance. When they  bore away the corpse to the "good place," she did utter  a cry of anguish which long after echoed in the ears of the  people; she did wring her hands in despair, but no one  heard a word of complaint. Her lips seemed dumb for-

ever. It was then, when she was seated on the low stool  in the seven days of mourning, that the rabbi came to her,  to bring to her the usual consolation for the dead. But  he did not speak with her. He addressed words only to her  husband. She herself dared not look up. Only when  he turned to go did she lift her eyes. They, in turn,  met the eyes of the rabbi, but he departed without a farewell.
 After her daughter's death Veile was completely broken  down. Even that which at her time of life is still called  beauty had faded away within a few days. Her cheeks  had become hollow, her hair gray. Visitors wondered how  she could endure such a shock, how body and spirit could  hold together. They did not know that that silence was an  iron fetter firmly imprisoning the slumbering spirits. She  had a son, moreover, to whom, as to something last and  dearest, her whole being still clung.
 The boy was thirteen years old. His learning in the  Holy Scriptures was already celebrated for miles around.  He was the pupil of the rabbi, who had treated him with  a love and tenderness becoming his own father. He said  that he was a remarkable child, endowed with rare talents.  The boy was to be sent to Hungary,' to one of the most  celebrated teachers of the times, in order to lay the foundation for his sacred studies under this instructor's guidance  and wisdom. Years might perhaps pass before she would  see him again. But Veile let her boy go from her embrace.  She did not say a blessing over him when he went; only  her lips twitched with the pain of silence.

 Long years expired before the boy returned from the  strange land, a full-grown, noble youth. When Veile had  her son with her again a smile played about her mouth,  and for a moment it seemed as if her former beauty had  enjoyed a second spring. The extraordinary ability of her  son already made him famous. Wheresoever he went people  were delighted with his beauty, and admired the modesty  of his manner, despite such great scholarship.  ' The next Sabbath the young disciple of the Talmud,  scarcely twenty years of age, was to demonstrate the first  marks of this great learning.

The people crowded shoulder to shoulder in this great  Synagogue. Curious glances were cast through the latticework of the women's gallery above upon the dense throng.  Veile occupied one of the foremost seats. She could see  everything that took place below. Her face was extremely  pale. All eyes were turned towards her — the mother, who  was permitted to see such a day for her son! But Veile did  not appear to notice what was happening before her. A  weariness, such as she had never felt before, even in her  greatest suffering, crept over her limbs. It was as if she  must sleep during her son's address. He had hardly  mounted the stairs before the ark of the laws — ^hardly uttered his first words — ^when 'k remarkable change crossed  her face. Her cheeks burned. She arose. All her vital  energy seemed aroused. Her son meanwhile was speaking  down below. She could not have told what he was saying.  She did not hear him — she only heard the murmur of approbation, sometimes low, sometimes loud, which came to  her ears from the quarters of the men. The people were  astonished at the noble bearing of the speaker, his melodious  speech, and his powerful energy. When he stopped at certain times to rest it seemed as if one were in a wood swept  by a storm. She could now and then hear a few voices de' daring that such a one had never before been listened to.  The women at her side wept; she alone could not. A choking pain pressed from her breast to her lips. Forces were  astir in her heart which struggled for expression. The  whole synagogue echoed with buzzing voices, but to her it  seemed as if she must speak louder than these. At the very  moment her son had ended she cried out unconsciously,  violently throwing herself against the lattice- work:
 "God I living God! shall I not now speak?" A dead  silence followed this outcry. Nearly all had recognized this  voice as that of the "silent woman." A miracle had taken  place
 "Speak! speak!" resounded the answer of the rabbi from  the men's seats below. "You may now speak! "
 But no reply came. Veile had fallen back into her seat,  pressing both hands against her breast. When the women  sitting beside her looked at her they were terrified to find

that the "silent woman" had fainted. She was dead! The  unsealing of her lips was her last moment.
 Long years afterwards the rabbi died. On his death-bed  he told those standing about him this wonderful penance of  Veile. '
 Every girl in the gasse knew the story of the "silent  woman."