Chapter Nineteen - New Sorrows

Translation Copyright 2001 by Morris Rosenthal

Translations from Hebrew

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Copyright 2001 by Morris Rosenthal

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A Righteous Love 

By Sarah Faiga Menkin - Published in Hebrew in Vilna 1880

"What is this! What's happened!" cried Dina as she stepped over the threshold of the house. "Oh, what has happened. Finalia! Where are you?" she shrieked, and clapped her hands [Lam. 2:15]. "Here is a new sorrow come upon our house. Would Finalia go out with John and leave the house empty and wide open? Finalia!" she cried, and moved on, looking in all of the rooms, but she wasn't there. Suddenly, the servant noticed a letter on the table, and he said, "Look here, ma'am. I found this on the table." Trembling with anxiety, Dina took the letter and opened it. But she wasn't able to read it because her eyes went dark after she saw the first few words:

My Dearly Beloved Parents,

Forgive me...

She wasn't able to read any further, and the letter dropped from her hands. She fell to the earth, powerless {Is. 40:29] and fainting. The servant called some people who lived in the house next door to lift her up, and he ran to tell his master.

"Why are you so dismayed, Edward?" asked the minister, looking at his frightened servant.

"Sir. A terrible wrong has occurred in the baron's house just now."

'What is it?"

"When we got there, we found the house wide open and the young baroness and John were gone."

"The young baroness and John weren't there? So why all the confusion!" said the minister. "Surely they went to her friend's house, and John went along as is always his habit."

"No, my lord. The wife of the baron said that she wouldn't do this, that a great tragedy must have occurred. A tragedy you cannot charm away [Is. 47:11 (Heb. unlcear)]. Suddenly she fainted and all of the neighbors hurried to lift her up, and I ran to tell my lord and the baron."

"Behold, this is a characteristic of women, that they faint over every trivial thing," said the minister.

"No, my lord. That isn't it. She didn't faint right away, but after I found a letter spread on the table and she began to read it. Then the letter fell from her hands and she fainted."

"She fainted because of the letter? The minister asked perplexed.

"Because of the letter."

"Go to the coachman and order him to harness the carriage. Then you will go to the house of the minister to find out the state of his wife and to tell her that in a little while the baron and I will be there." The servant bowed and went out.

"I don't know what to do," the minister said to himself. "How can I tell this to the baron." The minister walked slackly about his room, a step this way, as step that way, without order, like a man lost in thought [Ps. 146:4]. Then there was a knock at the door.

"Pray enter," called the minister, and he turned his face towards the doorway. The door opened slowly and the baron appeared on the threshold. In a polite voice he said, "Forgive me, sir, that I interrupt your meditations."

"It's nothing," said the minister hurriedly, because he wanted to hide his perplexity from the baron, lest he be suddenly startled.

"I've been waiting the whole time for my daughter," said the baron, "But when Edward returned and my daughter wasn't with him, and he came running in confusion and fright, I thought it might be something."

"I don't know myself" said the minister, "But when we get there we will know everything." The baron was very frightened and he wished to speak, but the servant came in and said, "The carriage is ready and at the gate."

"Be so good, my friend baron, as to put on your cloak, and the two of us will travel to your house." The baron didn't know what was going on, but his heart informed him that a new sorrow was in store for him. Without speaking, he donned his coat and hat, and he sat next to the minister to travel to his house.

"Oy," said the baron. "Who will tell me what has happened in my house... But why does the carriage move so heavily."

"The carriage isn't performing poorly," said the minister, "It's just that the time is dragging out. If you won't be frightened, I will give you some news."

"I won't be afraid, because I have already prepared myself for this."

"And if I tell you that Finalia..." said the minister.

"If Finalia what? What are you asking?" cried the baron as one insane, and he tried to leap from the carriage which was running along like lightening. The minister grabbed him by the sleeve of his coat and said, "Pray be calm, it's nothing. Edward told me that Finalia and John aren't there. It's quite possible that all of our fears are for naught and that they are just wandering about. But there was the matter of a letter Dina found on the table."

"Woe," cried the baron. "My only daughter is missing." The carriage quickly came to a stop and the minister leapt out, and he pulled the baron along with him into the house. Terrible and threatening was the scene that awaited the baron within his own home. When he had left his house everything was in a proper eye pleasing arrangement , but now all was desolation and destruction. The flowers were wilted, the window curtains were blackened, the whole house was disordered. Here there were a couple chairs grouped together, while another area was entirely empty. The table was not in its place, and neither were the remainder of the household furnishings. The baron's bookcase was covered with dust on every side, but who paid attention to this? From the time the baron had gone to the minister's house and Victor had wandered far away [Ps. 55:8], every spark of happiness had left the house with them. Who noticed the wilted flowers or furniture, and these recent events had added to the mess. The baron went forward with the minister after him. Edward came to meet them, and said, "The baroness is lying powerless on her bed." The baron and the minister approached Dina, and she was lying with her eyes wide open, waiting for them to arrive. Her face was white like plaster, but also reddened from crying. When she saw them she wiped away her tears and lifted her head a little.

"What do have to say about this, Meir," Dina said. "Were our previous troubles so few that we will have new ones? Our last hope is lost, Finalia is gone, and John is also missing."

"Pray relax," said the baron, "We won't despair yet. But where is the letter?"

"Oy!" said Dina, "The letter bows us to the dust." As she spoke she gave the into Meir's hands. He beckoned the minister to the other room to read the letter, but the minister said to his servant, "Go and fetch Doctor Pirot and tell him that I await him." The servant left, and the minister and the baron went onto the other room, and with trembling hands the baron opened the letter. The minister also stood with him peering at the letter, and he read:

My Dearly Beloved Parents,

Forgive me. Forgive your only daughter. Forgive a ungrateful maiden like me. Certainly I will be seen as a rebellious daughter in your eyes, because at the very time you sought to arrange for my happiness and success, and at the time your gentle souls wished to elevate me higher than the skies, I rejected your goodness. I trampled on the kindness of my parents, because my heart followed after my eyes. Therefore I was brought down from the heavens to the earth and my honor will abide as the dust underfoot. If you should ask me why I chose this? Is it not in man's hands to choose good or bad, happiness or tragedy? If you ask me this, I will reply to you, my dear parents, that this is not the way of mankind. A man can fight everything, he is made without dread [Job. 41:25]. No weapon formed against him shall succeed [Is. 54:17], and he laughs at every mishap and injury. He fights against the roaring, pounding waves of the sea, and battles with wild beasts. But nobody can stand against cruel love, which steals the treasures of every man. His wisdom will vanish, his strength will be removed from him, he will be left powerless like an ox or an ass laying down under a load. And if love does this to heroes and men of name, how much more so to a seventeen year old maiden. A maiden such as myself who was raised on her parents knees, upright, with an untouched heart, in the presence of righteousness. But suddenly love stood up against me in the crossroads [Ez. 26:26], and blocked the path of righteousness before me, so I could find no where to turn. I joined forces with her because I could find no other advice to make use of. I knew that the minister loved me, and I could not contradict his will, because he is so honored and did so much for you. For this reason I left your home and I abandoned my dear parents. John allowed himself to be persuaded by my request, and he will go with me until I reach the place that destiny will provide for me. I am thinking about sending a letter to the honest and honorable minister to request that he not be angry with you on my account. Do not cry or be sad, because I am alive, and my soul is clean and pure. My only guilt is that I saw Victor Shonfeld, and from that time my soul and my heart are his. I hope you will not be angry with you only daughter, and maybe I will be get to see your beautiful faces and hear from the generosity of your mouths that you have forgiven the sin of your only daughter.

Fin a l ia Ad e l b er g [spaces in name from original Hebrew]

Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field [Jer. 10:5], the minister stood in his place. His black eyes stared forth in anger and compassion, sometimes at the letter and sometimes at the baron, who was white as death. "Verily nobody can imagine your terrible pain," he said. "But you should still be comforted that she is alive, and that she hasn't fallen into the hands of villains. Victor is an honorable man from a exalted family, so why should you be afraid? Believe me, my friend baron. If I had known about this earlier, when Victor was here, then I would have guaranteed their happiness and success. But they didn't know me, and they thought I would pursue them in hot anger. Therefore they hastened to escape, both their distress and to my own, because I know that it was through me this tragedy came to them."

"What are you saying, honorable sir," said the baron, because these refined feeling touched his heart. "The feelings you express are not those of a man but of the children of God. I thank you and bless you for your kindness to us, but from now on I can no longer accept your kindness. I will remain in my house, and whatever the Lord has in store for me, I will suffer and bear it. I can no longer accept benefits and kindness from your hand, since..."

"Hush! Hush!" the minister checked the baron's speech. "I don't want to hear words like these. As I was faithful with you until now, I will from now on. Maybe even more so, because now I will be acting out of the love of a man for his brother. Therefore I advise you, leave this house, where you will not quickly forget all the things that occurred in it. I will prepare a place for you in my palace, and there you will live until the Lord expands your borders. But now let me ask you, my friend baron, verily the letter is no twin of the signature. Maybe there is some evil hand of treachery in this, and she is innocent and pure. Maybe she is in great trouble."

"That's not it," said the baron energetically. 'The fact that the letter and the signature aren't uniform is because she had already prepared the letter, and she added her signature when she fled. Therefore she was trembling and rushing when she signed, because she is not accustomed to doing things like these."

"But maybe the agents who came from France did this to take out their vengeance on her. I am afraid that they killed John and they carried off your daughter."

"No! That can't be it."

"Do you trust villains more than your daughter?"

"More, because she has done things like them."

"Maybe she is innocent and untainted in all this?"

"I am distracted." [Ps. 88:6 - meaning unclear]

"Have you proof in the matter?"

"I have proof."

"In what?"

"In the letter."

"Did you find things in the letter that were already known to you?"

"I found things."

"Did she know Victor?"

"She knew him."

"Did she already love him?"

"This I don't properly know."

"What will be will be, but I forgive her, and I ask that you also forgive her. Now let us go to your wife to comfort her and see if the doctor has arrived yet. When they went into Dina's room, they found the doctor sitting next to the bed. When he saw the minister, he rose from his place.

"How is the patient doing?" the minister asked.

"The danger has passed, but a weakness of the heart has seized her, and she requires rest now."

"Can we bring her in the carriage to my palace?" The minister asked the doctor.

The doctor stared dumbfounded at the minister and said, "We may."

The baron approached Dina and said, "Dina, my innocent one. Are you able to travel in the minister's carriage to his palace? He wishes us to live there from now on."

"And what will be with Finalia?"

"We will speak about this when your strength returns."

"In the few days that you weren't at home, did you forget your daughter Finalia?" Your only daughter!"

"Did you read the letter that she left?" asked the baron.

"I read it. So?"

"Therefore we can be of no use to her."

"Because of this we will despair of her request?"

"Didn't I tell you that we will speak of this when your strength returns. Now we can't contradict the will of the minister. Come and I will guide you to the carriage."

"Take your daughter Finalia's things and they'll be keepsakes for us," said Dina in a tearful voice.

"I'll take them," said the baron, "But come." The baron and the doctor brought her to the carriage, and they traveled with her to the minister's residence. There they laid her on a bed, and an old woman remained with her. The doctor also remained there. The baron returned to the minister, and found him pulling on his moustache, but when he saw the baron, he awoke from his trance and said, "Behold, I have ordered my servants to take all of the items in the house and to bring them to my home. Now let us travel to go our places." The minister and the baron traveled to their places, and the house was emptied of valuables and furnishings. It remained barren, barren and empty.

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