Ghetto Wedding by Abraham Cahan
Had you chanced to be in Grand Street
on that starry February night, it would
scarcely have occurred to you that the Ghetto
was groaning under the culmination of a
long season of enforced idleness and distress.
The air was exhilaratingly crisp, and the
glare of the cafés and millinery shops flooded
it with contentment and kindly good will.
The sidewalks were alive with shoppers and
promenaders, and lined with peddlers.
Yet the dazzling, deafening chaos had
many a tale of woe to tell. The greater
part of the surging crowd was out on an
errand of self-torture. Straying forlornly
by inexorable window displays, men and
women would pause here and there to indulge
in a hypothetical selection, to feast a
hungry eye upon the object of an imaginary
purchase, only forthwith to pay for the momentary
joy with all the pangs of awakening
to an empty purse.
Many of the peddlers, too, bore piteous
testimony to the calamity which was then
preying upon the quarter. Some of them
performed their task of yelling and gesticulating
with the desperation of imminent
ruin; others implored the passers-by for
custom with the abject effect of begging
alms; while in still others this feverish urgency
was disguised by an air of martyrdom
or of shamefaced unwontedness, as if peddling
were beneath the dignity of their habitual
occupations, and they had been driven
to it by sheer famine,—by the hopeless
dearth of employment at their own trades.
One of these was a thick-set fellow of
twenty-five or twenty-six, with honest, clever
blue eyes. It might be due to the genial,
inviting quality of his face that the Passover
dishes whose praises he was sounding had
greater attraction for some of the women
with an "effectual demand" than those of
his competitors. Still, his comparative success
had not as yet reconciled him to his
new calling. He was constantly gazing
about for a possible passer-by of his acquaintance,
and when one came in sight he
would seek refuge from identification in
closer communion with the crockery on his
"Buy nice dishes for the holidays!
Cheap and strong! Buy dishes for Passover!"
When business was brisk, he sang
with a bashful relish; when the interval
between a customer and her successor was
growing too long, his sing-song would acquire
a mournful ring that was suggestive
of the psalm-chanting at an orthodox Jewish
He was a cap-blocker, and in the busy
season his earnings ranged from ten to fifteen
dollars a week. But he had not worked
full time for over two years, and during the
last three months he had not been able to
procure a single day's employment.
Goldy, his sweetheart, too, who was employed
in making knee-breeches, had hardly
work enough to pay her humble board and
rent. Nathan, after much hesitation, was
ultimately compelled to take to peddling;
and the longed-for day of their wedding was
put off from month to month.
They had become engaged nearly two
years before; the wedding ceremony having
been originally fixed for a date some three
months later. Their joint savings then
amounted to one hundred and twenty dollars,—a
sum quite adequate, in Nathan's
judgment, for a modest, quiet celebration
and the humble beginnings of a household
establishment. Goldy, however, summarily
and indignantly overruled him.
"One does not marry every day," she
argued, "and when I have at last lived to
stand under the bridal canopy with my predestined
one, I will not do so like a beggar-maid.
Give me a respectable wedding, or
none at all, Nathan, do you hear?"
It is to be noted that a "respectable wedding"
was not merely a casual expression
with Goldy. Like its antithesis, a "slipshod
wedding," it played in her vocabulary
the part of something like a well-established
scientific term, with a meaning as clearly
defined as that of "centrifugal force" or
"geometrical progression." Now, a slipshod
wedding was anything short of a gown
of white satin and slippers to match; two
carriages to bring the bride and the bridegroom
to the ceremony, and one to take
them to their bridal apartments; a wedding
bard and a band of at least five musicians;
a spacious ballroom crowded with dancers,
and a feast of a hundred and fifty covers.
As to furniture, she refused to consider any
which did not include a pier-glass and a
Nathan contended that the items upon
which she insisted would cost a sum far beyond
their joint accumulations. This she
met by the declaration that he had all along
been bent upon making her the target of
universal ridicule, and that she would rather
descend into an untimely grave than be
married in a slipshod manner. Here she
burst out crying; and whether her tears
referred to the untimely grave or to the slipshod
wedding, they certainly seemed to
strengthen the cogency of her argument;
for Nathan at once proceeded to signify his
surrender by a kiss, and when ignominiously
repulsed he protested his determination to
earn the necessary money to bring things to
the standard which she held up so uncompromisingly.
Hard times set in. Nathan and Goldy
pinched and scrimped; but all their heroic
economies were powerless to keep their capital
from dribbling down to less than one
hundred dollars. The wedding was postponed
again and again. Finally the curse
of utter idleness fell upon Nathan's careworn
head. Their savings dwindled apace.
In dismay they beheld the foundation of
their happiness melt gradually away. Both
were tired of boarding. Both longed for
the bliss and economy of married life.
They grew more impatient and restless
every day, and Goldy made concession after
concession. First the wedding supper was
sacrificed; then the pier-mirror and the bard
were stricken from the programme; and
these were eventually succeeded by the hired
hall and the Brussels carpet.
After Nathan went into peddling, a few
days before we first find him hawking chinaware
on Grand Street, matters began to
look brighter, and the spirits of our betrothed
couple rose. Their capital, which
had sunk to forty dollars, was increasing
again, and Goldy advised waiting long
enough for it to reach the sum necessary for
a slipshod wedding and establishment.
It was nearly ten o'clock. Nathan was
absently drawling his "Buy nice dishes for
the holidays!" His mind was engrossed
with the question of making peddling his
Presently he was startled by a merry soprano
mocking him: "Buy nice di-i-shes!
Mind that you don't fall asleep murmuring
like this. A big lot you can make!"
Nathan turned a smile of affectionate
surprise upon a compact little figure, small
to drollness, but sweet in the amusing grace
of its diminutive outlines,—an epitome of
exquisite femininity. Her tiny face was as
comically lovely as her form: her apple-like
cheeks were firm as marble, and her inadequate
nose protruded between them like the
result of a hasty tweak; a pair of large,
round black eyes and a thick-lipped little
mouth inundating it all with passion and
restless, good-natured shrewdness.
"Goldy! What brings you here?" Nathan
demanded, with a fond look which instantly
gave way to an air of discomfort.
"You know I hate you to see me peddling."
"Are you really angry? Bite the feather
bed, then. Where is the disgrace? As if
you were the only peddler in America! I
wish you were. Wouldn't you make heaps
of money then! But you had better hear
what does bring me here. Nathan, darling-dearest
little heart, dearest little crown that
you are, guess what a plan I have hit upon!"
she exploded all at once. "Well, if you
hear me out, and you don't say that Goldy
has the head of a cabinet minister, then—well,
then you will be a big hog, and nothing
And without giving him time to put in as
much as an interjection, she rattled on, puffing
for breath and smacking her lips for
ecstasy. Was it not stupid of them to be
racking their brains about the wedding while
there was such a plain way of having both
a "respectable" celebration and fine furniture—Brussels
carpet, pier-glass, and all—with
the money they now had on hand?
"Come, out with it, then," he said morosely.
But his disguised curiosity only whetted
her appetite for tormenting him, and she
declared her determination not to disclose
her great scheme before they had reached
"You have been yelling long enough to-day,
anyhow," she said, with abrupt sympathy.
"Do you suppose it does not go to
my very heart to think of the way you stand
out in the cold screaming yourself hoarse?"
Half an hour later, when they were alone
in Mrs. Volpiansky's parlor, which was also
Goldy's bedroom, she set about emptying his
pockets of the gross results of the day's
business, and counting the money. This
she did with a preoccupied, matter-of-fact
air, Nathan submitting to the operation with
fond and amused willingness; and the sum
being satisfactory, she went on to unfold her
"You see," she began, almost in a whisper,
and with the mien of a careworn, experience-laden
old matron, "in a week or two we
shall have about seventy-five dollars, shan't
we? Well, what is seventy-five dollars?
Nothing! We could just have the plainest
furniture, and no wedding worth speaking of.
Now, if we have no wedding, we shall get
no presents, shall we?"
Nathan shook his head thoughtfully.
"Well, why shouldn't we be up to snuff
and do this way? Let us spend all our
money on a grand, respectable wedding, and
send out a big lot of invitations, and then—well,
won't uncle Leiser send us a carpet or
a parlor set? And aunt Beile, and cousin
Shapiro, and Charley, and Meyerke, and
Wolfke, and Bennie, and Sore-Gitke,—won't
each present something or other, as is
the custom among respectable people? May
God give us a lump of good luck as big as
the wedding present each of them is sure to
send us! Why, did not Beilke get a fine
carpet from uncle when she got married?
And am I not a nearer relative than she?"
She paused to search his face for a sign of
approval, and, fondly smoothing a tuft of
his dark hair into place, she went on to
enumerate the friends to be invited and the
gifts to be expected from them.
"So you see," she pursued, "we will have
both a respectable wedding that we shan't
have to be ashamed of in after years and the
nicest things we could get if we spent two
hundred dollars. What do you say?"
"What shall I say?" he returned dubiously.
The project appeared reasonable enough,
but the investment struck him as rather hazardous.
He pleaded for caution, for delay;
but as he had no tangible argument to produce,
while she stood her ground with the
firmness of conviction, her victory was an
"It will all come right, depend upon it,"
she said coaxingly. "You just leave everything
to me. Don't be uneasy, Nathan,"
she added. "You and I are orphans, and
you know the Uppermost does not forsake a
bride and bridegroom who have nobody to
take care of them. If my father were alive,
it would be different," she concluded, with a
There was a pathetic pause. Tears glistened
in Goldy's eyes.
"May your father rest in a bright paradise,"
Nathan said feelingly. "But what is
the use of crying? Can you bring him back
to life? I will be a father to you."
"If God be pleased," she assented.
"Would that mamma, at least,—may she
be healthy a hundred and twenty years,—would
that she, at least, were here to attend
our wedding! Poor mother! it will break
her heart to think that she has not been
foreordained by the Uppermost to lead me
under the canopy."
There was another desolate pause, but it
was presently broken by Goldy, who exclaimed
with unexpected buoyancy, "By the
way, Nathan, guess what I did! I am afraid
you will call me braggart and make fun of
me, but I don't care," she pursued, with a
playful pout, as she produced a strip of carpet
from her pocket-book. "I went into a
furniture store, and they gave me a sample
three times as big as this. I explained in
my letter to mother that this is the kind
of stuff that will cover my floor when I am
married. Then I enclosed the sample in the
letter, and sent it all to Russia."
Nathan clapped his hands and burst out
laughing. "But how do you know that is
just the kind of carpet you will get for your
wedding present?" he demanded, amazed as
much as amused.
"How do I know? As if it mattered
what sort of carpet! I can just see mamma
going the rounds of the neighbors, and showing
off the 'costly tablecloth' her daughter
will trample upon. Won't she be happy!"
Over a hundred invitations, printed in as
luxurious a black-and-gold as ever came out
of an Essex Street band-press, were sent
out for an early date in April. Goldy and
Nathan paid a month's rent in advance for
three rooms on the second floor of a Cherry
Street tenement-house. Goldy regarded the
rent as unusually low, and the apartments
as the finest on the East Side.
"Oh, haven't I got lovely rooms!" she
would ejaculate, beaming with the consciousness
of the pronoun. Or, "You ought to
see my rooms! How much do you pay for
yours?" Or again, "I have made up my
mind to have my parlor in the rear room. It
is as light as the front one, anyhow, and I
want that for a kitchen, you know. What
do you say?" For hours together she would
go on talking nothing but rooms, rent, and
furniture; every married couple who had
recently moved into new quarters, or were
about to do so, seemed bound to her by the
ties of a common cause; in her imagination,
humanity was divided into those who were
interested in the question of rooms, rent and
furniture and those who were not,—the
former, of whom she was one, constituting
the superior category; and whenever her
eye fell upon a bill announcing rooms to let,
she would experience something akin to the
feeling with which an artist, in passing,
views some accessory of his art.
It is customary to send the bulkier wedding
presents to a young couple's apartments
a few days before they become man and wife,
the closer relatives and friends of the betrothed
usually settling among themselves
what piece of furniture each is to contribute.
Accordingly, Goldy gave up her work a week
in advance of the day set for the great event,
in order that she might be on hand to receive
the things when they arrived.
She went to the empty little rooms, with
her lunch, early in the morning, and kept
anxious watch till after nightfall, when Nathan
came to take her home.
A day passed, another, and a third, but
no expressman called out her name. She
sat waiting and listening for the rough
voice, but in vain.
"Oh, it is too early, anyhow. I am a
fool to be expecting anything so soon at
all," she tried to console herself. And she
waited another hour, and still another; but
no wedding gift made its appearance.
"Well, there is plenty of time, after all;
wedding presents do come a day or two before
the ceremony," she argued; and again
she waited, and again strained her ears, and
again her heart rose in her throat.
The vacuity of the rooms, freshly cleaned,
scrubbed, and smelling of whitewash, began
to frighten her. Her over-wrought mind
was filled with sounds which her overstrained
ears did not hear. Yet there she
sat on the window-sill, listening and listening
for an expressman's voice.
"Hush, hush-sh, hush-sh-sh!" whispered
the walls; the corners muttered awful
threats; her heart was ever and anon contracted
with fear; she often thought herself
on the brink of insanity; yet she stayed on,
waiting, waiting, waiting.
At the slightest noise in the hall she
would spring to her feet, her heart beating
wildly, only presently to sink in her bosom
at finding it to be some neighbor or a peddler;
and so frequent were these violent
throbbings that Goldy grew to imagine herself
a prey to heart disease. Nevertheless
the fifth day came, and she was again at
her post, waiting, waiting, waiting for her
wedding gifts. And what is more, when
Nathan came from business, and his countenance
fell as he surveyed the undisturbed
emptiness of the rooms, she set a merry face
against his rueful inquiries, and took to
bantering him as a woman quick to lose
heart, and to painting their prospects in
roseate hues, until she argued herself, if not
him, into a more cheerful view of the situation.
On the sixth day an expressman did pull
up in front of the Cherry Street tenement-house,
but he had only a cheap huge rocking-chair
for Goldy and Nathan; and as it
proved to be the gift of a family who had
been set down for nothing less than a carpet
or a parlor set, the joy and hope which its
advent had called forth turned to dire disappointment
and despair. For nearly an hour
Goldy sat mournfully rocking and striving
to picture how delightful it would have been
if all her anticipations had come true.
Presently there arrived a flimsy plush-covered
little corner table. It could not have
cost more than a dollar. Yet it was the gift
of a near friend, who had been relied upon
for a pier-glass or a bedroom set. A little
later a cheap alarm-clock and an ice-box
were brought in. That was all.
Occasionally Goldy went to the door to
take in the entire effect; but the more she
tried to view the parlor as half furnished,
the more cruelly did the few lonely and
mismated things emphasize the remaining
emptiness of the apartments: whereupon
she would sink into her rocker and sit
motionless, with a drooping head, and then
desperately fall to swaying to and fro, as
though bent upon swinging herself out of
her woebegone, wretched self.
Still, when Nathan came, there was a
triumphant twinkle in her eye, as she said,
pointing to the gifts, "Well, mister, who
was right? It is not very bad for a start,
is it? You know most people do send their
wedding presents after the ceremony,—why,
of course!" she added, in a sort of confidential
way. "Well, we have invited a
big crowd, and all people of no mean sort,
thank God; and who ever heard of a lady
or a gentleman attending a respectable wedding
and having a grand wedding supper,
and then cheating the bride and the bridegroom
out of their present?"
The evening was well advanced; yet there
were only a score of people in a hall that
was used to hundreds.
Everybody felt ill at ease, and ever and
anon looked about for the possible arrival
of more guests. At ten o'clock the dancing
preliminary to the ceremony had not yet
ceased, although the few waltzers looked as
if they were scared by the ringing echoes of
their own footsteps amid the austere solemnity
of the surrounding void and the depressing
sheen of the dim expanse of floor.
The two fiddles, the cornet, and the clarinet
were shrieking as though for pain, and
the malicious superabundance of gaslight
was fiendishly sneering at their tortures.
Weddings and entertainments being scarce
in the Ghetto, its musicians caught the contagion
of misery: hence the greedy, desperate
gusto with which the band plied their
At last it became evident that the assemblage
was not destined to be larger than it
was, and that it was no use delaying the
ceremony. It was, in fact, an open secret
among those present that by far the greater
number of the invited friends were kept
away by lack of employment: some having
their presentable clothes in the pawn shop;
others avoiding the expense of a wedding
present, or simply being too cruelly borne
down by their cares to have a mind for the
excitement of a wedding; indeed, some even
thought it wrong of Nathan to have the
celebration during such a period of hard
times, when everybody was out of work.
It was a little after ten when the bard—a
tall, gaunt man, with a grizzly beard and
a melancholy face—donned his skull-cap,
and, advancing toward the dancers, called
out in a synagogue intonation, "Come, ladies,
let us veil the bride!"
An odd dozen of daughters of Israel
followed him and the musicians into a little
side-room where Goldy was seated between
her two brideswomen (the wives of two men
who were to attend upon the groom). According
to the orthodox custom she had
fasted the whole day, and as a result of this
and of her gnawing grief, added to the awe-inspiring
scene she had been awaiting, she
was pale as death; the effect being heightened
by the wreath and white gown she
wore. As the procession came filing in, she
sat blinking her round dark eyes in dismay,
as if the bard were an executioner come to
lead her to the scaffold.
The song or address to the bride usually
partakes of the qualities of prayer and harangue,
and includes a melancholy meditation
upon life and death; lamenting the
deceased members of the young woman's
family, bemoaning her own woes, and exhorting
her to discharge her sacred duties
as a wife, mother, and servant of God.
Composed in verse and declaimed in a
solemn, plaintive recitative, often broken by
the band's mournful refrain, it is sure to
fulfill its mission of eliciting tears even
when hearts are brimful of glee. Imagine,
then, the funereal effect which it produced
at Goldy's wedding ceremony.
The bard, half starved himself, sang the
anguish of his own heart; the violins wept,
the clarinet moaned, the cornet and the
double-bass groaned, each reciting the sad
tale of its poverty-stricken master. He
"Silence, good women, give heed to my verses!
To-night, bride, thou dost stand before the Uppermost.
Pray to him to bless thy union,
To let thee and thy mate live a hundred and twenty peaceful years,
To give you your daily bread,
To keep hunger from your door."
Several women, including Goldy, burst
into tears, the others sadly lowering their
gaze. The band sounded a wailing chord,
and the whole audience broke into loud,
The bard went on sternly:—
"Wail, bride, wail!
This is a time of tears.
Think of thy past days:
Alas! they are gone to return nevermore."
Heedless of the convulsive sobbing with
which the room resounded, he continued to
declaim, and at last, his eye flashing fire
and his voice tremulous with emotion, he
sang out in a dismal, uncanny high key:—
"And thy good mother beyond the seas,
And thy father in his grave
Near where thy cradle was rocked,—
Weep, bride, weep!
Though his soul is better off
Than we are here underneath
In dearth and cares and ceaseless pangs,—
Weep, sweet bride, weep!"
Then, in the general outburst that followed
the extemporaneous verse, there was
a cry,—"The bride is fainting! Water!
"Murderer that you are!" flamed out an
elderly matron, with an air of admiration
for the bard's talent as much as of wrath
for the far-fetched results it achieved.
Goldy was brought to, and the rest of the
ceremony passed without accident. She submitted
to everything as in a dream. When
the bridegroom, escorted by two attendants,
each carrying a candelabrum holding lighted
candles, came to place the veil over her face,
she stared about as though she failed to
realize the situation or to recognize Nathan.
When, keeping time to the plaintive strains
of a time-honored tune, she was led, blindfolded,
into the large hall and stationed beside
the bridegroom under the red canopy,
and then marched around him seven times,
she obeyed instructions and moved about
with the passivity of a hypnotic. After the
Seven Blessings had been recited, when the
cantor, gently lifting the end of her veil,
presented the wineglass to her lips, she
tasted its contents with the air of an invalid
taking medicine. Then she felt the ring
slip down her finger, and heard Nathan say,
"Be thou dedicated to me by this ring, according
to the laws of Moses and Israel."
Whereupon she said to herself, "Now I
am a married woman!" But somehow, at
this moment the words were meaningless
sounds to her. She knew she was married,
but could not realize what it implied. As
Nathan crushed the wineglass underfoot,
and the band struck up a cheerful melody,
and the gathering shouted, "Good luck!
Good luck!" and clapped their hands, while
the older women broke into a wild hop,
Goldy felt the relief of having gone through
a great ordeal. But still she was not distinctly
aware of any change in her position.
Not until fifteen minutes later, when she
found herself in the basement, at the head
of one of three long tables, did the realization
of her new self strike her consciousness
full in the face, as it were.
The dining-room was nearly as large as
the dancing-hall on the floor above. It was
as brightly illuminated, and the three tables,
which ran almost its entire length, were set
for a hundred and fifty guests. Yet there
were barely twenty to occupy them. The
effect was still more depressing than in the
dancing-room. The vacant benches and the
untouched covers still more agonizingly exaggerated
the emptiness of the room, in
which the sorry handful of a company lost
Goldy looked at the rows of plates, spoons,
forks, knives, and they weighed her down
with the cold dazzle of their solemn, pompous
"I am not the Goldy I used to be," she
said to herself. "I am a married woman,
like mamma, or auntie, or Mrs. Volpiansky.
And we have spent every cent we had on
this grand wedding, and now we are left
without money for furniture, and there are
no guests to send us any, and the supper
will be thrown out, and everything is lost,
and I am to blame for it all!"
The glittering plates seemed to hold whispered
converse and to exchange winks and
grins at her expense. She transferred her
glance to the company, and it appeared as if
they were vainly forcing themselves to partake
of the food,—as though they, too, were
looked out of countenance by that ruthless
sparkle of the unused plates.
Nervous silence hung over the room, and
the reluctant jingle of the score of knives
and forks made it more awkward, more
enervating, every second. Even the bard
had not the heart to break the stillness by
the merry rhymes he had composed for the
Goldy was overpowered. She thought
she was on the verge of another fainting
spell, and, shutting her eyes and setting her
teeth, she tried to imagine herself dead.
Nathan, who was by her side, noticed it.
He took her hand under the table, and,
pressing it gently, whispered, "Don't take
it to heart. There is a God in heaven."
She could not make out his words, but
she felt their meaning. As she was about
to utter some phrase of endearment, her
heart swelled in her throat, and a piteous,
dovelike, tearful look was all the response
she could make.
By and by, however, when the foaming
lager was served, tongues were loosened,
and the bard, although distressed by the
meagre collection in store for him, but
stirred by an ardent desire to relieve the
insupportable wretchedness of the evening,
outdid himself in offhand acrostics and witticisms.
Needless to say that his efforts
were thankfully rewarded with unstinted
laughter; and as the room rang with merriment,
the gleaming rows of undisturbed
plates also seemed to join in the general
hubbub of mirth, and to be laughing a
hearty, kindly laugh.
Presently, amid a fresh outbreak of deafening
hilarity, Goldy bent close to Nathan's
ear and exclaimed with sobbing vehemence,
"My husband! My husband! My husband!"
"My wife!" he returned in her ear.
"Do you know what you are to me now?"
she resumed. "A husband! And I am
your wife! Do you know what it means,—do
you, do you, Nathan?" she insisted, with
"I do, my little sparrow; only don't
worry over the wedding presents."
It was after midnight, and even the
Ghetto was immersed in repose. Goldy and
Nathan were silently wending their way to
the three empty little rooms where they
were destined to have their first joint home.
They wore the wedding attire which they
had rented for the evening: he a swallowtail
coat and high hat, and she a white satin
gown and slippers, her head uncovered,—the
wreath and veil done up in a newspaper,
in Nathan's hand.
They had gone to the wedding in carriages,
which had attracted large crowds
both at the point of departure, and in front
of the hall; and of course they had expected
to make their way to their new home in a
similar "respectable" manner. Toward the
close of the last dance, after supper, they
found, however, that some small change was
all they possessed in the world.
The last strains of music were dying
away. The guests, in their hats and bonnets,
were taking leave. Everybody seemed
in a hurry to get away to his own world,
and to abandon the young couple to their
Nathan would have borrowed a dollar or
two of some friend. "Let us go home as
behooves a bride and bridegroom," he said.
"There is a God in heaven: he will not forsake
But Goldy would not hear of betraying
the full measure of their poverty to their
friends. "No! no!" she retorted testily.
"I am not going to let you pay a dollar
and a half for a few blocks' drive, like a
Fifth Avenue nobleman. We can walk,"
she pursued, with the grim determination of
one bent upon self-chastisement. "A poor
woman who dares spend every cent on a
wedding must be ready to walk after the
When they found themselves alone in the
deserted street, they were so overcome by a
sense of loneliness, of a kind of portentous,
haunting emptiness, that they could not
speak. So on they trudged in dismal silence;
she leaning upon his arm, and he tenderly
pressing her to his side.
Their way lay through the gloomiest and
roughest part of the Seventh Ward. The
neighborhood frightened her, and she clung
closer to her escort. At one corner they
passed some men in front of a liquor saloon.
"Look at dem! Look at dem! A sheeny
fellar an' his bride, I'll betch ye!" shouted
a husky voice. "Jes' comin' from de weddin'."
"She ain't no bigger 'n a peanut, is she?"
The simile was greeted with a horse-laugh.
"Look a here, young fellar, what's de
madder wid carryin' dat lady of yourn in
"When Nathan and Goldy were a block
away, something like a potato or a carrot
struck her in the back. At the same time
the gang of loafers on the corner broke into
boisterous merriment. Nathan tried to face
about, but she restrained him.
"Don't! They might kill you!" she
whispered, and relapsed into silence.
He made another attempt to disengage
himself, as if for a desperate attack upon
her assailants, but she nestled close to his
side and held him fast, her every fibre tingling
with the consciousness of the shelter
she had in him.
"Don't mind them, Nathan," she said.
And as they proceeded on their dreary
way through a sombre, impoverished street,
with here and there a rustling tree,—a
melancholy witness of its better days,—they
felt a stream of happiness uniting them,
as it coursed through the veins of both, and
they were filled with a blissful sense of oneness
the like of which they had never tasted
before. So happy were they that the gang
behind them, and the bare rooms toward
which they were directing their steps, and
the miserable failure of the wedding, all
suddenly appeared too insignificant to engage
their attention,—paltry matters alien
to their new life, remote from the enchanted
world in which they now dwelt.
The very notion of a relentless void abruptly
turned to a beatific sense of their
own seclusion, of there being only themselves
in the universe, to live and to delight
in each other.
"Don't mind them, Nathan darling," she
repeated mechanically, conscious of nothing
but the tremor of happiness in her voice.
"I should give it to them!" he responded,
gathering her still closer to him. "I should
show them how to touch my Goldy, my
pearl, my birdie!"
They dived into the denser gloom of a
A gentle breeze ran past and ahead of
them, proclaiming the bride and the bridegroom.
An old tree whispered overhead its