Sample P08 from R. Leslie Gourse, With Gall and Honey. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1961. Pp. 272-276. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,001 words 918 (45.9%) quotesP08

Used by permission of R. Leslie Gourse. 0010-1620

R. Leslie Gourse, With Gall and Honey. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1961. Pp. 272-276.

Typographical Error: a missing [1040]

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Rachel steered me along toward a school for young boys beginning to study the Torah . Bits of trash lay in the roadway . The air smelled warmish and foul .

A young man appeared out of a side alley and walked toward us with quick strides . He wore a long double-breasted coat of a heavy material , dark trousers , and black boots with buckles . His black hat with its wide brim , high crown , and fur trim rode high . With his head erect , he approached , not glancing at us , and passed by with his clear eyes raised and fixed straight ahead . He had a pinkish-white complexion , a small straight nose , a short black beard , and tightly curled paot . I was suddenly conscious of my bare arms . The girls in the market place wore long-sleeved dresses and covered their legs with cloth stockings . I turned and watched him stride down the center of the road . His hands were swinging at his sides , and he passed through the dingy market place with his back straight and , pivoting on his heel , he entered an old stone building .

Rachel had seen me watching the young man . She smiled . `` When your mother was here he must have been a young boy . Like the ones you will see now '' .

I swallowed hard and looked down at my feet plodding along beside Rachel . She led me into a twisting side alley . The dirty , discolored buildings looked boarded up , and their few windows stood high above our heads . Rachel said that schools and synagogues occupied most of the buildings . We entered one where the front door stood ajar and climbed a flight of steep steps to the main floor . An old man with a white beard and dressed in a long shabby coat , baggy trousers , and a black skullcap greeted us . Rachel talked to him . He nodded , clasping and unclasping his hands over his paunch , and flicked glances at me . I thought he would ask us to leave because Rachel and I were bare-armed , but he looked down into his beard and preceded us down the corridor . His toes pointed out toward the walls . He stopped in front of a door , placed a finger on his lips , and , still peering down into his beard , pushed open the door to a classroom . We stepped inside . He left us .

Little boys crowded together on long wooden benches , and in the center of the room sat the teacher . His black beard dripped down over the front of his coat . One white hand poised a stick above his desk . He turned his surly , half-closed eyes toward us , stared for a second , then shouted in Yiddish , `` One , two , three '' ! ! Rapping the stick against the desk . The little boys shrilled out a Yiddish translation or interpretation of the Five Books of Moses , which they had previously chanted in Hebrew . They chanted a fixed tune in time to the report of the stick . Each boy opened his small mouth wide and rocked back and forth on the bench in the way his grandfather and great-grandfather had studied and prayed in the ghettos of Europe . The boys were tiny . They had large bright eyes , the small upturned noses of all babies everywhere , and hair cropped short except for the long ringlets of paot framing their little white faces . They bent over yellowed prayerbooks and looked up only to watch the teacher . Since they did not glance curiously at us once , I guessed that there was a penalty for distraction . The guttural language from the ghetto stopped . The teacher plunged the children into a new portion , this time in Hebrew , rapping the stick incessantly .

One boy who rocked back and forth over his worn book had bright red hair and freckles . His tightly curled paot hung down to his narrow shoulders . In the center of his brilliant curls sat a small black skullcap . His head barely rose above the table . I stared at him for a long time . He did not return my interest . My eyes traveled over the bare walls and up to the one partially open window high above the little figures and back to the boys . Some of them ignored the texts and had apparently memorized the words long ago . They singsonged the portion at the teacher , who accompanied them in an off-key baritone and spurred them on with the stick . The tapping defined the rhythm and kept the boys awake . I could not keep my eyes away from the boy with the red hair . His body pitched back and forth on the bench . His front teeth were missing .

I shuddered and backed out of the room . Rachel followed , looked at me , and clucked with her tongue . We walked down the cool hall silently . From behind us came the rapping of the stick and the high-pitched voices of the boys who would grow to devote their lives to rigid study and prayer .

I said , `` How long do they keep that up '' ? ?

`` All day '' , she said . `` Except for Shabbat , when they are praying all day '' .

I rubbed my hands together . They had turned numb and prickly in the classroom . The old man in the baggy clothes waited at the foot of the steps . He glanced down into his beard and muttered something in Yiddish .

Rachel said , `` He asks for money '' .

She passed by him . I reached into the pocket of my skirt , fingered ten pruta , and dropped the coin . Then I picked it up again and handed it to the old man . He thanked me . I didn't look at him .

I grinned at Rachel . `` Does this bother you '' ? ? I said .

She smiled to herself . `` Most of our Sabras think it's horrible . When we were fighting , a few of our orthodox people were lying down in the roads so we could not pass . They said that we must not fight but wait for the Messiah '' .

I was amazed . You had to have convictions to lie down in the road in all those clothes and appear as though you might wish to turn yourself out of your own home . You had to be stupid or crazy or immortal . And I wasn't . I was American . You had to know , also , that you were going to fail . All of it might have been heroic , but they had done it in the wrong place . I resented them .

Rachel faced me . Her bright eyes were twinkling . She said , `` Sometimes I think they are keeping religion for us while we play around . Your mother hated this way of life . She wished to change much for the children here '' .

I said quietly , respectfully , `` What did she do here ? ? In this section '' ? ?

Rachel clicked her tongue behind her teeth . `` Here , nothing . But when she saw the children you have just visited , she wanted to take them away and put them out in the country , in the kibbutzim . She loved the children . She was a strange woman , your mother . When she loved , it was with a passion that drove her along and carried along with her those things she loved . Nothing was too impossible for her to do when she wanted . She stayed here to work for Aliah . For many immigrants , for many children , the first thing they knew of Israel and freedom was your mother . Sometimes it was dangerous for her '' . Rachel grinned slyly . `` But she loved danger . She took it with her wherever she went ; ; she chose it . And I think she sought out danger as much as she sought out helping other people . She was most strange woman . Ready to follow her impulse . It was an impulse when she was here in Me'a She'arim -- I was with her -- that led her to stay in Israel . Your mother wanted to bring children to Israel so that they could leave their ghettos . Here they did not need to be in ghettos . If she could not take the children out of this section , at least she could take other children out of their countries and put them on the farms . She set out to make sure that no Jewish child anyplace in the world had to live in a place such as this '' .

I said quietly , gaining nerve , ready to ask any question at all , no matter how intimate , ready to be rebuffed , `` Then why did she leave Israel ? ? I'd like to know that very much '' .

Rachel clasped her hands together and slowed her pace . The soles of her sandals reported sharply on the cobblestones . She pursed her lips , then clamped them together so tightly that I thought she was angry with me . But she sighed and her face relaxed . `` Trouble came into her life . She had good friends here , people who liked her . Who loved her . But she had to go out and hurt herself . There was a man here in town . He helped her meet people so she could go out and do the work she wanted . She worked very hard . There was a refugee who was able to come here because of her . He came with his son . At first I thought they were relatives of your mother , but it was not so . This refugee was a middle-aged man , a big , handsome man with a strut to his walk as I have never before seen . He had the black numerals on his arm , so he had been branded in a concentration camp . Yet he walked like a young man . Often he was terribly despondent and talked to no one . Then he would walk off for a few days alone in the direction of Europe . All his family was dead , except for his son . Your mother would always retrieve him when he wandered off , and she would send him home to his son . He loved the son and was always glad to be sent back to him . Then his son did something '' -- Rachel threw up her hands -- `` I don't know what , but something , to an official here -- it was during the Mandate -- and the son was imprisoned . A few hours after the son was arrested , your mother was informed . She ran from a little group of us . We were sitting together , talking . She went to the father and found he had hanged himself '' . Rachel paused . It was silent in the stone alley . Then she continued with energy , `` I myself did not see her until a week after she had run off to find the father . No one saw her except the man Reuveni '' .

`` Yes '' , I said . `` I know him '' .

Rachel gave me a direct , bright-eyed look . She said , `` Reuveni wanted your mother to give up her deep interest in this refugee . He said she would only hurt herself . He complained to me once that I must talk to her . When I did , she shrugged her shoulders and said that Reuveni wanted her to marry him . I asked her if she would , and she said she would not . He had known when he first helped her to meet the right people and work with them that she did not intend to marry him . Anyway , I did not see her until two weeks after the refugee hanged himself . She came to me one day . She was pale and skinny ; ; she was terribly alone . And she said that after this man had been dead for a week she had gone to Reuveni and accepted his proposal . He shouted at her and told her he loved her and couldn't understand why she had upset herself . But now he was happy she would let him straighten out her life and take care of her . He would never let her harm herself again . For one whole week he never let her stay alone . She let him lead her around . He took her to a doctor , for she was run down , nervous , did not care where she was . Reuveni took her with him wherever he went . He did not let her talk to people ; ; he did not let her choose her own food . She was limp and beaten from her loss ; ; she did not care .