Zayit and Motti discuss what might have befallen Berl and Fisch. Zayit, who is traveling to Yerushalayim, says he will ask Emanuel when he is there.
* * *
Emanuel answered Zayit’s knock immediately.
“Shalom, shalom. Please, come in,” said Emanuel. “It’s good to see you.”
“And you,” said Zayit.
He led Zayit into a little study at the back of the house. “How goes it?” said Emanuel. “What’s the news from Chevron?”
“It seems quiet,” Zayit replied. “There is still only the chalban left. No other Jews. It’s hard to believe we were ever there.”
The two men sat quietly for a moment, remembering the horrific event that brought them to each other.
“And what’s the news on the little immigrants?” he asked, smiling.
“My friend,” Zayit chided, warmly, kindly, “It is no laughing matter. Those boys are in a terrible state.”
“They seemed well the last time we visited,” said Emanuel.
“Perhaps, but their fear runs very deep. Something frightened them terribly.” Zayit reached into his pocket and pulled out the letter from Motti.
My dear brother,
Hope all is well with you.
I am doing some checking into the Sperlings’ background. Do you have the name of the man who contacted you about them? Did they send you any other information?
Regards to our dear parents.
Your loving brother,
“Hmm,” said Emanuel, after reading the letter twice. “Why is he asking about this now?”
“The boys are having trouble settling in. The younger boys are coming along, slowly but surely. But the older one, Kalonymous, he simply won’t bend. I am working with him myself, and I see he is deeply troubled.”
“If you had been on your own at that age with your two younger brothers to watch out for you would be troubled also, I think,” Emanuel countered.
Zayit explained to him about the field he had given to Kalonymous, and the recent conversation they had there.
“Fisch and Berl?” said Emanuel. “I never heard a word about them. They sound made-up. Are you sure they’re real?”
“It doesn’t matter. They are real to him,” said Zayit.
Emanuel sighed, leaned over to his desk drawer and pulled out a small sheath of papers. “This is everything I have. It was sent to me before the boys arrived. I don’t know how much good it will do, but there it is.”
Zayit gave his old friend a hard stare. “Why does this bother you so much?” he asked. “This isn’t like you. You would be the first one to run and help.”
“I did help!” Emanuel replied.
“Of course you did, but not the way you usually do. What is it, Emanuel? Tell me.”
Emanuel exhaled heavily. “It’s Esther.”
“She was very disappointed when Breindl took the children, even though it was obvious that was where they needed to be. We have the three – baruch Hashem, baruch Hashem – and she has my parents to care for, of course, which she does with tremendous devotion. My brother has, bli ayin hara, many children, and Esther thought the boys would get more attention here.”
Zayit nodded. “Is she still making dolls?”
“Not so much anymore. She volunteers at the hospital a few days a week.”
“They can’t leave Breindl now,” said Zayit.
“I know that. I just wonder if there is a way she can be more involved,” said Emanuel.
“Shall I bring it up to your brother?” asked Zayit.
“As you see fit. Meanwhile, give him the papers and we’ll see what’s what.”
Zayit handed him the parcels he’d ordered. Emanuel paid him, then they sat and learned for an hour before Zayit’s departure.
“It was so good to see you,” said Emanuel.
“And you.” He paused then turned to his friend. “Say, didn’t your wife used to grow vegetables out on the window sill? What were they called again?”
“Victory Gardens. Yes, she did, and she still does. As you can see, there are plants and flowers everywhere. Why do you ask?”
“Just thinking,” said Zayit cryptically. “Just thinking.”
Emanuel walked Zayit to his wagon and watched him go, following four steps behind in his honor, before turning back into the house. He found Esther waiting for him in the doorway.
“Esther!” he said, surprise tingeing his voice. “I thought you were out shopping.”
“I wasn’t. I hadn’t left yet, and I’m sorry, Emanuel, but I overheard you speaking with Zayit. I heard what you said. I told you that in confidence. What will happen now if they find out? They will see me as jealous.”
Emanuel was startled by her remark. Esther was one of the kindest people he knew. He hardly believed his brother and sister-in-law would think that way. He was so grateful to Esther for the way she cared for him and his parents, and the children. She was one of those people who could care for many at one time; there was much room in her heart.
To be continued . . .