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keh coquettishly replied: '“The parasol being a gift of my escort I would consider it a deprivation of great pleasure to relinquish it, be it for ever so short a time. It may sound selfish, but not having been well, and thus prevented from using it, I wish to avail myself of every opportunity.” This declaration sounded sweeter to the ears of Shmerl than the cornet solo of the celebrated Levi, and filled him with courage.
“My dear Malkeh,” he began, “your kind appreciation of my little present, not worth mentioning, fills me with endless joy. Even were I of a jealous disposition, I know not who would grant me the right at this moment to bring this ignoble quality into requisition; but there are periods when the evil spirit conquers the best of men. But am I right to mix up the sublime motive which prompts me to be jealous at this moment with the evil spirit?
Pure, unadulterated love, the essence of my whole being, is the motive. Give me the parasol, I pray, that I may protect you from the sun, of which I am jealous for monopolizing you. I love you, Malkeh! I love you! This is all my feeble tongue can say. And were I to use all the expressions which are at command of all the nations of the world, they would not suffice to utter and describe the smallest fraction of my love towards you, a love which took deep root the moment I first saw you, when you opened the door for me on that Friday night. Oh, how I bless that moment, for it also opened the portals of my hitherto untouched heart, to permit admission of your image to dwell therein forevermore. Say that you love me, and let me drink out of the well of your love at once to balm my aching heart, for every moment of your precious love is an eternity of unspeakable happiness and bliss to me!”
· Malkeh was overwhelmed. She was speechless and sought for breath. She motioned with her parasol toward one of the benches, and Shmerl assisted her until they had seated themselves. For awhile Malkeh, with drooped head, again dividing the sand into the shape of indistinct figures, remained quiet, then looking up she said: “'Life and death are within the power of the tongue,' is one of Solomon's sayings. But one needs not the tongue as an intermediator when one's heart, through its throbbing, speaks louder to another heart than all the tongues could impart. Oh, could I but for a moment be enabled to open my heart to you and let you read by the wounds which your departure inflicted, and the healing crust and balmy graftings caused by your reappearance, you would then know how great .my love is for you. But the God of the universe has apparently not wished to be
stow upon us the power, so He, in His endless wisdom, provided us with tongues and ears to impart and receive the promptings of our hearts and souls. Yes, yes, Shmerl, if the love of an humble Malkeh Shimanowski is worthy of the love of your great soul, I offer it to you! It has been yours since it ever has been, for you are its creator!”
Shmerl, in his bewilderemnt, could only grasp her hand and exclaim: “Holy is the Lord Zebaoth! The whole world is full of His glory!”
It was six o'clock when Chatskel came home from the evening service with the inquiry on his lips: “Esther Leben, are our children not yet back from the park?” Neither of them noticed the plural in which Chatskel instinctively included Moshinski as his child, and in reply the two happiest creatures upon the vast globe of earth entered hand in hand, their faces, the mirror of their souls, betraying sufficient to fill the hearts of the parents and grandparent with a joy which only parents can feel.