Chapter Twelve - The Anonymous
Translation Copyright 2001 by Morris Rosenthal
Translations from Hebrew
Copyright 2001 by Morris Rosenthal
All Rights Reserved
A Righteous Love
By Sarah Faiga Menkin - Published in Hebrew in Vilna 1880
"Who could be ringing?" asked Dina, as they sat together during dinner. "Maybe it's the guest from yesterday?"
"It could be," said Finalia, and she rose from her chair thinking it was Victor. But when she asked, "Who's there?" she heard the voice of a strange man asking in Italian, "Is this the house of the baron?"
"Who are you?" she asked him, in place of giving him an answer.
"Pray open up, noble one," said the unidentified man. "Pray, open up. Don't fear, because I'm not here to cause trouble. But don't delay me, for the matter is urgent for me."
Finalia's heart was anxious, but she found strength [Job 10:20] and opened the door. She saw a tall man standing before her, but she couldn't see his face because it was wrapped in his mantle [1K. 19:13]. He asked if the baron was at home, and before she could answer him, he strode in, because he recognized the voice of the baron.
"It is my master," said John to the baron when he heard the voice of the unidentified man from the other room, because he recognized the voice. Before the baron could rise from his place, a man wrapped in a black coat appeared in the doorway. John rose from his place, but the baron didn't recognize him. Dina was taken aback and didn't know what to do. Finalia stood on the sill but didn't venture to continue forward.
"Is there any stranger with you?" asked the anonymous man.
"No stranger is here," answered the baron. "Only the family."
"Good," the unidentified man said.
"But who are you, sir?" asked the baron.
"Is it not for the lover to recognize his beloved?" the anonymous man replied.
"Why has one strength, my mysterious sir," answered the baron. "If not to help the weak and the feeble."
"You are correct, sir baron," said the mystery man. "For this reason I came here." As he spoke he removed his coat, handed it to John, and sent him to the second room.
Dina and Finalia stood astonished and amazed when they saw that the unidentified man was a great and respected official, as witnessed by the ceremonial dress [Is. 3:22, Zch 3:4] he was wearing and all of the shining medals on his chest. "Peace to you, my dear and honored friend," said the mystery man in greeting the baron and held out his right hand.
"Peace to him who comes under the shade of my roof, honorable sir," said the baron. "But what is this? Verily you are wearing the uniform of a District Minister," and he presented his wife and daughter before him.
The minister greeted Dina formally in the manner of a military man, and held out his hand to Finalia.
"I am honored to meet the respected minister in person," said Finalia.
"Is it possible that the honorable maiden has seen or met me previously?" said the minister as he examined the girl, because her beauty, open face and pure heart had found favor in his eyes.
"How could I not recognize our merciful man, whose name we bless seven times a day for the life and kindness he has done for us?"
"Stay, first among maidens, don't praise me without cause. All I have done is to hearken the voice of the friend of my youth, your brother. But if only I had known you also, then I would have done even more, just on behalf of your happiness. Who wouldn't desire to see the lily of the valley [Cant. 2:1] at the height of her beauty and glory? As her leaves unfold, to receive the morning dew and drink, in order that the purple of her eyes be able to stand all day, lest the hot wind and sun strike her."
"Who can stand against the sun?"
"But what if a man wished to shelter her, and his hands built a wall for her?"
"Wouldn't the sun forcefully breach it, to burn her and destroy her freshness, until her face grows pale and her leaves whither and she falls to earth?"
"Is it not within the power of an educated man to build an iron wall and surround her from all sides, to supervise guards protecting her, without commanding her?'
"And who will help in the event the wall is penetrated?"
"He that guards the guards will also guard the lily, because there is one event [Ecc. 9:3] in them both."
Finalia blushed and didn't answer. The minister interpreted the look on her face through his heart, and he hoped that the first arrow hadn't missed its mark. He sat in a chair by the baron, Dina sat on his other side and Finalia sat in front of the minister. Silence reigned throughout the house. Then the minister broke the silence and said, "Two days ago I was summoned by the king to receive the post of district minister. The minister Julius von Piemont, who had been the district minister in Milano until this point, was called to the city of Vanadig to be the district minister there, and with his help I rose to this position."
"In that case, accept my congratulations on your new rank," said the baron and shook his hand.
The minister acknowledged his thanks with genuine good feelings and said, "Know that tomorrow I will have the honor of celebrating my appointment. All of the great men of the city will be invited to the feast and you will also be there. Also you, gentle one, will not hold back from being numbered amongst the beautiful maidens, because through you the banquet will be glorified."
Finalia thanked him with a nod of her head, but she didn't say a word because her heart pounded [Is. 41:7] at the thought that new sorrows were being prepared for her, and with this her thoughts [Ps. 146:4] became confused. The minister realized this but he interpreted it according to his own thinking and he rejoiced, because his love for her was growing by the minute. And he turned to the baron and said, "Do you not remember, sir baron, that you promised to tell me your history, and I yearn to hear it. And know that I have decided that after the feast I will take you to my house to live with me until those wanton men return to their place. They are conspiring against you in an energetic plot to either kill you or bring you back there alive. I will put a guard on you in my house, and John will be in your house to guard the women."
"Many thanks to you, honorable sir, for the growing kindness you are doing for me," said the baron.
"With what can we repay you for your generosity?" said Finalia, "We will be your prisoners of thanks forever."
"With what?" the minister replied. "With your words and your heart only, is it not a little thing [Gn. 19:20]?"
Finalia's face blanched from sudden fear, but she didn't answer.
The minister percieved this, and in order to change the subject, he turned to the baron and asked him to relate his history.