Chapter Twenty One - The Captive
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
"Where am I! Tell me where I am!" cried the maiden when she returned to consciousness and sensed that she was in a moving carriage. The carriage moved along slowly. "Tell me where I am! Am I a captive of the sword [Gn. 31:26] taken by robbers? Who gave you permission to do this abominable thing!"
"A little longer, and you'll know," the driver replied. He turned his head back to the horses to strike them with his staff of wrath [Lam. 3:1], and to watch their forms closely. Only their neighing and galloping gave him pleasure, this and nothing else. They were his life and his days, he was obsessed with them in dreams and waking. He didn't answer the beautiful maiden, except for a few short, sparse words, in order not to withhold this pleasure from himself for even a moment,. He kept his watch as he had been verbally commanded, in every detail and specific. He stuck the horses and cursed, reproached and scorned every one of them. He dressed himself in haughty pride before whoever he saw, because every time that he struck the horses, they began exert themselves and run in fear. He cursed them and abused them as much as he desired, and even then they didn't open their mouths to reproach him a word, so he truly knew that he was king of the beasts. Therefore this mission suited him, because he didn't set his heart or lend his ears to hear the cries of the captive, which tore the heart of heaven.
"My God! My God!" cried the maiden when she saw that the carriage was moving on and distancing itself from her father's house. You have put an end to the remnants of my father's house! What will be their fate? Can they bear the heavy suffering that You have loaded on their shoulders? Won't they buckle under the load? Who will stand them up?... Verily I am a daughter of death [Ps. 79:11]. I cannot watch the way the driver hits the horses for no fault of their own [Is. 59:3], because they don't want to be counted amongst these evildoers. Because they don't want to go in the way of robbery and murder, they are beaten and tortured! You whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil [Hab. 1:13 - first half], why do You think of me as a beast that You deliver me into the hands of evil, like these horses into the hands of this driver? Why doesn't he beat the horses in the city? Is he not afraid to, because the threats of the officers terrify him, and if he is seen he will be beaten according to his wickedness. How can You look on silently while the wicked devour the righteous." [Hab. 1:13 - second half] Yechidiel sat on the other side of the partition in the carriage in order that she not see him. He heard, but didn't understand her words. Yet he knew that they were something very lofty and unattainable [Pr. 24:7] to him. Thus the maiden spoke bitterly, then she fell back helpless on the cushions of the carriage and slept.
When she awoke from her sleep, within the carriage she saw placed before her grapes, figs and some baked items. She didn't put out her hand to touch any of these, just cried without cease. So the carriage journeyed for several days.
"In a little while we will arrive at our destination," said the driver to Finalia, opening the hatch of the carriage, and the horse began to slow down. Finalia looked out the window [Gn. 6.16 - ark window] and saw that it was the middle of the night, but this she could tell, that she was in a strange city. The carriage stopped by a large house, and Finalia descended from box. The driver led her up the stairs, and when he opened the door he said, "Behold, the daughter of the baron Adelberg." Sitting at the table and eating was a woman of about fifty years, who on hearing the name, rose and came to greet her.
"Blessed is she who comes in the name of the Lord, honorable maiden," said the woman, and extended her hand.
"The name of the Lord be blessed," Finalia responded, and her eyes filled with tears. The woman examined her, but didn't say anything, just showed her to a room.
"This room was prepared for you by the master of the house," she said. Stunned and amazed the maiden stood on the threshold of the room, when she saw the splendor and majesty within, and she couldn't solve the puzzle of what was going on and what the master of the house wanted from her.
She turned to the woman and asked, "Tell me, what is the name of this city?"
"Brodie is the city's name," the woman answered.
"Brodie! I'm in Galicia!" cried the maiden. "God in heavens, what do my ears hear. I'm in Galicia! Now my eyes are opened to see where I stand. Now I know who's hand is in this kidnapping." As she spoke she fell on her bed powerless, and she wailed with bitter tears. When the woman left, she closed the door behind her, and Finalia lay on the bed but didn't close her eyes. At midnight she heard the voice of a man speaking, and he said, "Tell me, mother. Where is the maiden now, and what did she say when she entered the house?"
"She didn't say a thing. But when I greeted her in the name of the Lord, she replied like a man responding to some great misfortune. Afterwards she asked me the name of the city, and when I told her that the name of the city is Brodie, she began to scream and say, 'Ah, I'm in Galicia! Now I know everything."
"I will go to see her," he said. Finalia quickly recognized the voice of Yechidiel, and a great terror fell upon her on hearing he was coming to her room. But when he reached the door and saw that it was closed, he returned to his place and said, "I don't want to disrupt her rest."
"Tell me, my son. What will be with her? Don't you know that she won't speak with you, whether you are kind are harsh? She will only cry, and she is so very delicate that in a few days she'll become ill, and then you'll be forced to set her free."
"No! That won't come about!" he cried in anger. "Here she will live until either she yields to me or dies. That Victor, who I hate in my soul, she will not see again. But don't fear, mother, for she won't cry forever. When she sees that there is no help for her then she will yield to me. If not, I will compel her by force." Thus he spoke in a very terrible rage.
Violent trembling took hold of the maiden and her bones shook with terror when she saw that all hope was lost. All night she thought of ideas to save herself, that maybe she could find an escape and a refuge, but she despaired. "Alas! Alas," sighed the maiden. "The dream I dreamt came to show me what would be with me... He. He is the cruel leopard that lies by the door... when I looked out the window and saw my soul's beloved bound in fetters and I wanted to jump out the window... He fell on me in anger and rage and sought... to maul and to tear open ... the casing of my heart [Hos. 13:8]!" She couldn't speak any further for her strength abandoned her and she fell powerless onto the cushions and slept. When she rose in the morning and the woman came in and asked how she was, she didn't answer her. When the woman left, she tasted a little of the delicacies that had been put before her, and so five days passed. She still hadn't seen Yechidiel because he said, "I will wait until she gets over the first shock," but on the sixth day, he got up in the morning and dressed in his finest clothes. He went into her room, where Finalia was sitting at the table, supporting her head in her hands because it was spinning like a wheel from all of her crying. When she saw Yechidiel, she didn't get up or raise her eyes. Yechidiel stood in his place for a few minutes, but afterwards he approached her and said, "Forgive me, honorable maiden, that I have ignored you for so long, but I was afraid to appear before you until your anger passed."
Finalia rose and stared at him with scornfully, and with heartfelt contempt said, "You seek pardon from me? You will get the other! If you don't reach the seventy years of a man [traditional life span] then I will forgive you. But now you will never know the passing of my anger."
"A beautiful maiden like yourself will not remain angry forever [Ps. 103:9]."
"I am no gentle maiden anymore! Now I stand against you, against he whom my soul hates. Like a skilled champion fighting in his youth, I will fight to the end for my honor and the honor of my father's house against robbers and kidnappers who blood is cursed. I will fight Amalek forever. I will die in this war, but I'll relinquish my honor to nobody."
Yechidiels face turned white from anger and rage, but he hid his temper and he said, "God Forbid that I should fight with a maiden as lovely and educated as you, or with a skilled champion such as yourself who fights only to kill of be killed. Slowly, slowly, I will weave my net around you until you are held firmly in the trap. Then you will be acquainted with me and at peace with me. You will come to know and understand that one doesn't steal a maiden unless he loves her. A kidnapper he is called, but I don't seek evil for you, rather your happiness. You will walk on lilies and possess gold and silver, but independence and freedom you cannot hope for."
"If I see that I have lost all hope because the Lord has delivered me into the hands of a fool, I will put an end to my life. With joy in my heart I will enthusiastically deliver myself to the King, because he will only take my life, and my honor and the honor of my father's house will be saved."
"The words of maidens are like a joke to me because they never fulfill what they promise.'
"If that's the case, I will be the first that fulfills her promise, and the pronouncements of my lips I will not change."
"I don't believe you, because you want to fulfill your promise to Victor if you can..."
Finalia's face paled when she heard the ungodly man raise the name of her lover on his lips, and she became aroused and said, "This you can believe. I will fulfill it if your hand as much as touches me." And as she spoke, she lifted her right hand to swear.
Quick as lightening Yechidiel grabbed her hand and said, "Silence! Silence! What did I do to you?" He turned and left the room, and Finalia breathed deeply when she saw she was alone. She went and closed the door and lay on her bed. She cried and poured out her heart like water until she fell into a trance and slept.