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The Jew

From The Shield, by Various.

(1917)

Edited by Maksim Gorky, Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev, and Fyodor Sologub.

Translated from the Russian by author and translator Avraham Yarmolinsky (1890-1975), husband of American poet and critic Babette Deutsch.

With a Foreword By William English Walling.



FOREWORD


This is not merely a book about the Russian Jews. It is a marvellous revelation of the Russian soul. It shows not only that the overwhelming majority of the Russian intellectuals, including nearly all of her brilliant literary geniuses, are opposed to the persecution of the Jews or any other race, but that they have a capacity for sympathy and understanding of humanity unequalled in any other land. I do not know of any book where the genius and heart of Russia is better displayed. Not only her leading litterateurs but also her leading statesmen and economists are represented—and all of them speak as with a single voice.

I am writing on the 16th of March. Yesterday the news reached the world that Russia had probably at last succeeded in emancipating itself from the German-sustained and German-supported autocracy which so long has been renounced by practically all classes of the Russian people. I have pointed out elsewhere that this Second Act of the great drama of social transformation in Russia was to be expected in connection with the present war. It is not surprising that this Act, like the first—the Revolution of 1905—is accompanied by an irresistible demand for the cessation of the persecution of the Jews and other minority races. The first Duma, that of 1906, demanded unanimously that all these races be given absolutely the same rights as other Russians. The rise of Liberalism during the war, in connection with military necessities, had already abolished a number of Jewish disabilities. There is no longer any question that the Jews will be given equality. Without exception the anti-Semitic organisations were supported by the pro-German party, the money which was alone responsible for the pogroms was furnished by these same organisations, and now this Party and these organisations are forever overthrown. It was Dr. Dubrovin, for example, who year by year carried out the murders of the leading representatives of the Jews in the Duma and who almost succeeded in having Milukov assassinated a few weeks ago. Dubrovin was one of the most important of the sinister forces supported by the money of the German Czarina's court party—which was organised by Baron Fredericks and other notorious Germans masquerading as Russians.

The re-birth of Russia which is now taking place cannot be understood apart from the Jewish problem. As Russia's leading Liberal statesman, Prof. Paul Milukov—who is well and favorably known in America because of extended visits here—points out in the article he contributes to the present volume, the anti-Semitic parties coincide with the anti-constitutional parties. At first this seems a strange and unaccountable fact, but a brief glance at the history of other countries will show that the party standing for the persecution of weak foreign neighbours and the oppression of minority races within and without a country has always and everywhere been the party of reaction. As Milukov says, there was no need for an anti-constitutional movement until there was a constitutional movement. As soon as Liberalism appeared, however, and gained support among the masses, it was necessary to fabricate some counter movement, and the governmental bureaucracy fixed upon anti-Semitism as a primitive means of appealing to the masses, and so of bridling them. It may be further pointed out that this systematic propaganda against democracy was almost non-existent in Russia until it had become thoroughly organised and successful in Germany. Both Kovalevsky and Milukov demonstrate in the present volume that anti-Semitism became an important factor in Russian life only after the middle of the Nineteenth Century—that is to say, after the final victory of Prussian Reactionism over German Liberalism in 1849 (a victory which has lasted to the present time)—and still more, after the great military victories of Prussia from 1864 to 1870 had put Prussian militarism in the saddle and had made it the dominating force in the Russian court and Russian bureaucracy.

However, the intelligence, energy, and courage of the Russian Liberals has entirely thwarted this scheme to divide the Russian people. The bureaucracy has gained almost no support among any section of the Russian nation, except its own narrow circles, either for its persecution of the Jews or its oppression of the Poles, Finns, Tartars, Armenians and other races. On the contrary, the anti-Semitic propaganda has reacted against its promoters. A considerable number, though by no means a majority, of the Russian Liberals are Jews, and Russian Liberals do not at all endeavour to hide this fact. The consequence is that the union of the Russian Liberals with all the persecuted races has been all the more firmly cemented. And just as all Russian Liberals are ardent supporters of the war against Germany, so practically all the leaders of the Russian Jews are equally patriotic—in spite of the fact that many forms of persecution have remained, and, furthermore, new forms of persecution have been invented since the war. Though the German agitation in America has won over a large part of the Russian Jews in this country to the German cause, this agitation has had no such success in Russia, unless among a relatively small proportion of the Jewish population.

It is known that the anti-Semitic agitation in Russia has taken hold of only a small proportion of the Russian people among the semi-criminal population of the cities and towns. It is notorious that the pogroms were often organised and carried out by the secret police and the cossacks, and that in other instances they were executed by bands of a few hundred bribed toughs, called by educated Russians "the black hundreds." This social element is what we would ordinarily call in America the "mob," and it certainly does not constitute one per cent. of the population in Russia or in any other country. Gorky refers to it as "the populace": "In addition to the people, there is also the 'populace,' something standing outside of social classes and outside of civilisation, and united by the dark sense of hatred against all that surpasses its understanding and is defenceless against brute force. I speak of the populace which thus defines itself in the words of Pushkin:


"'We are insidious and shameless,
Ungrateful, faint-hearted and wicked;
At heart we are cold, sterile eunuchs,
Traducers, born to slavery.'"


The refusal of the Russian people to be either bribed or deceived into hostility to the Jews is clearly enough demonstrated by the feeling of affection on the part of most intelligent Jews towards the Russian people. The only exceptions are those Jews which come from the Polish cities far within the Jewish Pale and do not know the Russian people except by hearsay. Unfortunately, this is a considerable portion of the total of the Jews in Russia, and it is from these cities and towns in the heart of the Pale that most of our immigrants come. But all the more educated Jews—and a very large part are educated—all those who know Russia either by a travel or through Russian literature and newspapers, feel a deep affection for their country, for in spite of all, Russia belongs to them just as much as it does to other Russians. One of the editors of the present volume, Fyodor Sologub, says:

"Whenever I met Russian Jews abroad, I always marvelled at the strangely tenacious love for Russia which they preserve. They speak of Russia with the same longing and the same tenderness as the Russian emigrants; they are equally eager to return and equally saddened, if the return is impossible. Wherefore should they love Russia, who is so harsh and inhospitable toward them?"

It is useless for Americans to deceive themselves into thinking that the Russian Jewish question is either unimportant or incomprehensible from the point of view of our progress and democracy. Do we not have our negro and Asiatic problems? Do not the English have their Irish and Indian questions? I do not suggest that the parallel is complete, but it is clear that the Russian writers in the present volume are perfectly correct in referring both to our negro question and our question of yellow labour as closely similar to their Jewish problem. Both the brilliant and fascinating discussions by Andreyev and Merezhkovsky will apply almost as well to any other so-called "race question" as to that of the Russian Jews. Says Merezhkovsky:

"We would like very much to say that there is no such thing as the Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Armenian, Georgian, question; that there is only one question—the Russian. Yes, we would like to, but we cannot; the Russian people have yet to earn the right to say that, and therein lies their tragedy...."

"'Judophilism' and 'Judophobia' are closely related. A blind denial of a nationality engenders an equally blind affirmation of it. An absolute 'Nay' naturally brings forth an absolute 'Yea.'"

"That is why we say to the 'Nationalists': 'Cease oppressing the non-Russian element of our empire, so that we may have the right to be Russians, and that we may with dignity show our national face, as that of a human being, not that of a beast. Cease to be 'Judophobes' so that we may cease to be 'Judophiles.''"

Is it not clear from the recent discussion in the British Parliament that the Irish problem weighs like an almost intolerable burden just as much upon the British Empire as it does upon Ireland? Is it not equally clear from England's concession of a cotton tariff to India that she will be obliged for her own sake to make further concessions to justice in that country? And can America ever hope to have any standing in the court of nations as long as our infamous persecution of the negroes and our atrocious attitude towards Asiatics continues? Nations can indulge themselves for a certain period in such gross and stupid crimes, but the longer the settlement is postponed the greater the blood-price that must be paid in the end—and in the meanwhile all our civilisation is poisoned, if not actually rotted, by the network of lies by which the persecutors are forced to defend their infamies—lies which are necessarily more far-reaching and impudently false in a democracy than they are in an autocracy where the existing system maintains itself rather by force than by public opinion.

But few of us educated Americans have the intellectual and moral courage of the educated classes of Russia. We feel that we can avoid our moral and intellectual responsibilities by turning our back on existing crimes. It has frequently been pointed out that in spite of a government even more anti-democratic than that of Germany, the Russian people have been infinitely more democratic than the Germans. In the same way, while the institutions of America are much further developed in the direction of general democracy than those of Russia, the very reverse is the case with public opinion. The educated classes of Russia have the courage and intelligence to call a spade a spade. They realise that they are partly responsible for the sins committed by the Russian nation, even though they have been powerless heretofore to remedy these conditions in the face of an armed and organised autocracy, backed by the moral, intellectual and military force of Germany and by the money of France and England. Andreyev, for example, regards the Jewish problem as primarily a Russian problem. It is one of the chief burdens, if not the chief burden, which has been crushing the Russian nation. In this book he says:

"When did the 'Jewish question' leap on my back?—I do not know. I was born with it and under it. From the very moment I assumed a conscious attitude towards life until this very day I have lived in its noisome atmosphere, breathed in the poisoned air which surrounds all these 'problems,' all these dark, harrowing alogisms, unbearable to the intellect.

"And yet I, a Russian intellectual, a happy representative of the sovereign race, although fully conscious and convinced that the 'Jewish question' is no question at all,—I felt powerless and doomed to the most sterile tribulation of spirit. For, all the clear-cut arguments of my intellect, the most fervent tirades and speeches, the sincerest tears of compassion and outcries of indignation unfailingly broke against a dull, unresponsive wall. But all powerlessness, if it is unable to prevent a crime, becomes complicity; and this was the result: personally guiltless of any offence against my brother, I have become in the eyes of all those unconcerned and those of my brother himself, a Cain."

The new Russia is being born while I write these lines, and intelligent Americans are discussing nothing else except this great world event—comparable in importance even to the colossal war itself. If we wish to understand educated Russia—which has brought about the change—many-sided, large-hearted and intellectually more brilliant perhaps than the educated class of any other nation, we cannot do better than to read and think over what that galaxy of Russian genius that has composed the present volume has written. We must not forget that the educated class in Russia is almost as numerous as in the other great nations, and perhaps plays an even more important rôle in Russia than it does in other countries. What Russia has lacked has been neither an educated class nor masses capable and ready to be trained to any kind of modern employment, but a great technically trained, free and organised "intellectual middle class"—an expression I am forced to coin for my present purpose. It is hardly necessary to prove this assertion. The world is well acquainted with Russian genius in literature, art, music, philosophy, sociology, economics, history, and the higher realms of science. Moreover Russia is not without technological schools, but the proportion of her population employed in the scientific organisation of industry and business is insignificant in comparison with that of other countries—owing, of course, to the backward state of Russian industry and Russian government. But this fact, important as it is, must not obscure the equally important fact that the educated and cultivated class in Russia, speaking several languages, and personally familiar with the civilisation of one or more foreign countries, exercises an influence over Russian society and Russian public opinion undoubtedly stronger than that of any other educated class whatever—with the possible exception of that of Germany. We cannot hope to understand the new Russia unless we understand the character and point of view of the Russian "intellegentsia," and this is nowhere so clearly, succinctly and interestingly set forth as in "The Shield."

William English Walling.

Greenwich, Connecticut.



PREFACE


Published by the Russian Society for the Study of Jewish Life under the joint editorship of three eminent men-of-letters, Gorky, Andreyev, and Sologub, the original Shield saw the light of day last year in Petrograd. The book consists of numerous studies, essays, stories and poems, all these contributions to the symposium on the Jewish question coming exclusively from the pen of Russian authors of non-Jewish birth. In making a selection for the present volume, I have thought it advisable to give decided preference to the publicistic articles of the original collection. Thus, the present version contains practically all the various important studies and essays of the Russian Shield, while most of the stories have been omitted, without great detriment to the book. I have also had to sacrifice, for obvious reasons, all the poetic contributions to the original, signed by such great masters of modern Russian poetry as Balmont, Bunin, Z. Hippins, Sologub, and Shchepkina-Kupernik.

My thanks are due to Dr. Louis S. Friedland and Professor Earle F. Palmer for going over a considerable portion of the present volume.

A. Yarmolinsky.




Mikail Petrovich Artzibashef, the author of Sanine was born in the year 1878 in Southern Russia. He is widely read both in his own country and outside of its borders. In 1905 he took part in the revolutionary movement, and was indicted, but escaped punishment because of the temporary success of the popular movement at the end of that year.


THE JEW

(A STORY)

By M. ARTZIBASHEF


It so happened that the second platoon of the third squad of the Ashkadar regiment found itself completely cut off from the main body of the army, and this without the loss of a single cartridge or soldier.

How this came about, and why a group of men, fifteen or twenty strong, had suddenly become an independent fighting unit, none of them could tell.

At the outset, the entire Ashkadar regiment zealously trudged throughout the long autumn night along an interminable road, leading no one knew where, into the dark, damp, and hostile distance. To smoke or to converse was forbidden. In the dark, the black mass of the regiment, bristling with its bayonets like some huge, porcupine-like creature, crawled steadily onward, filling the air with the shuffling of innumerable feet. The men kept stumbling over each other, and swore viciously in half tones; they slipped in the mud and sank knee-deep into the wheel-tracks filled with cold water. "Some road!" they sighed quietly.

At dawn the regiment was brought to a halt and was stretched along the edge of a wide potato field, which the soldiers had never seen before. It was drizzling with sickening persistence, and the dark-blue distances, mildly sloping and mournful, were blurred in the haze of the rain. On both sides, as far as eye could reach, ranks of grey officers and soldiers were wretchedly soaking in the rain. Water was dripping from their sullen faces and it looked as though they were all weeping over their fate—the fate which had cast them upon this strange, unknown, God-forsaken field. In a few hours many of them will perhaps be lying dead amidst the half-rotted potato stems on the wet soil with their pallid faces upturned to the cold heavens, the very ones which now weep also over their dear, distant country.

Behind, a battery crew was vainly attempting to set the cannon which were sinking into the soaked plough-land. One could hear the hoarse angry voices, the cracking of whips, and the heavy, strained snorting of horses. In front of them lone officers wandered in drenched cloaks in the rain; still farther behind the curtain of rain and the thick fog there rumbled cannons and it was impossible to tell whether they belonged to the enemy or not. At times the shooting seemed to come from afar-off on the right. Then the rumble of the guns was deep and muffled like the sound of heavy iron balls rolling over the ground; at other times, the discharges were quite near and rent the air with a crash, bursting over the men's very heads, as it were.

The commander of the squad stood right in front of his men and kept lighting cigarettes shielding them with the skirts of his cloak. He did it so often that it seemed as if he had been vainly attempting to light the same cigarette for the last three hours. The soldiers were attentively looking at his back and were all morbidly anxious to help him. It was cold and damp, and they felt an incessant, nauseating gnawing in the pit of the stomach. It was not fear but an indefinite anguish, a sort of the-sooner-over-the-better feeling.

Several hours passed in this manner, but towards noon it all changed abruptly. Though the sky was still as grey as before and it drizzled continuously, it grew lighter, the clouds in one spot became white and shining and one felt that the sun was somewhere behind them. But amidst this cold white light a disquieting feeling pervaded the atmosphere and the gnawing anxiety was turning into unbearable agony. Suddenly, an aide-de-camp dashed past on a horse, covered with froth and fuzzy with dampness. Officers began to scurry back and forth; sharp commands were heard; and the bugles resounded.

"Well, comrades!" ... said some one in the ranks in a high, false tone of voice. Every one heard this exclamation and understood it, but no one turned around to see where it came from. The grey mass of people suddenly stirred, gave a sigh, surged like the sea whipped by a gale, and, sinking at each step into the mud, the entire regiment rolled forward, over the expanse of the shoreless fields which now suddenly looked strange and dreadful. The soldiers, their faces haggard and queer, were crossing themselves as they ran. They marched in disorder, and when they were stopped on the hill-crest, they turned the regiment into a confused mob of breathless and perplexed men. Some even forgot to lower their rifles.

Before them the hazy network of rain was still hanging and the distances stretched, strange and hostile. But now the fields were astir with flickering pale flames and a ceaseless scattered cracking of guns. In the grey sky a small black dot was discernible, seemingly motionless, but changing in size. When it grew larger, a faint buzzing was heard from above and made the soldiers turn their grey, ghastly faces upward.... Then a mighty buzzing suddenly resounded behind the regiment, and a Russian aeroplane flew over the heads of the men like a drenched bird. As the aeroplane rose higher and higher, the soldiers watched the distance between it and the small black dot far up in the sky grow smaller and smaller.

Voices were now heard from the ranks and when the black dot was rapidly beginning to grow smaller, sinking, as it were, in the sky and approaching the horizon, those voices became loud and gay.

"He don't like it, what! See him run for his life! Well done! Fine fellows!" ... was heard along the ranks.

The soldiers suddenly became lively and for a moment forgot about themselves and the uncertain fate that was in store for them.

"Why not put you on that aeroplane, Yermilich!... You'd be quite handy at it, wouldn't you!" the soldiers were poking fun at each other.

All at once a confused many-voiced cry and a disorderly crackling of rifles was heard ahead of them; then a crowd of soldiers came running from that direction, at first singly, then in groups, and finally in a mass. They belonged to another regiment of the same division. One could discern from afar their wide-open eyes, rounded mouths, and an expression of frantic terror on their pale faces.

The officers of the Ashkadar regiment, waving their swords and yelling something indistinct, were running over the washed-out field to meet the running men, but the grey crowd momentarily knocked them down, trampled upon them, completely covered them, and mingled itself with the Ashkadar men. And everything that, but a while ago, was so clear and important now became confused and meaningless.

Like the waters that wash off a dam pierced in but a single point, even so did the running soldiers confuse and sweep away the regiment. The Ashkadar men themselves were partly infected by the panic and began to run they knew not why, apparently possessed by that mysterious power which is transmitted from man to man and which pushes one from behind and compels him to run farther and farther, aimlessly and blindly.

The entire mass of men started down the slope, but having encountered the battery with a crew yelling and waving their hands, it swerved aside. Then as this mass ran into the regular line of soldiers, who were rapidly coming to meet them, their rifles carried at charge, it threw itself to one side, then to the other, then backwards and forwards and finally scattered over the fields, filling the air with mad outcries and disorderly shooting. It was at that very time that the second platoon of the third squad strayed from its regiment and its officers. Seventeen in all, instinctively keeping together, they found themselves outside of the battle-field in a narrow loamy ravine overgrown with dwarfish trees. The ravine was deep and had washed-out clay slopes. High above it stretched a muddy, uneven strip of grey sky, which poured an unceasing rain upon the soaked red clay, upon the small wet birch trees, and the group of soldiers, who had lost their way and driven by inertia were hurrying further downward.

The soldiers, all reservists, were thick-set, bearded and pock-marked peasants from the governments of Kostroma and Novgorod and among them, was a dark little Jew, Hershel Mak, who alone thought and planned for the rest of them. All these country people taken right from the plough were unable to grasp how it all happened, and were not even sure whether anything had happened at all. They could not tell whether there was a battle or not, whether it was good or bad to be left without officers in this confounded ravine, and what would come of it all. Only Hershel Mak understood that there was a battle, that the front ranks came right under the crossfire of the machine-guns, that a panic resulted and that the Ashkadar regiment was knocked off its feet by a crowd of runaways. He knew that the regiment was broken up without a shot and that now they were left to their own fate, in a place which might well be within the very centre of the enemy's position. Hershel Mak was well aware of the fact that for the present no one would or could worry about them and that they must alone disentangle themselves from this mess,—and his versatile mind began at once to work to the utmost of its ability.

The rain was rushing in murmuring streams down the slopes of the ravine and along its bottom, and the noise of the water drowned the crackling of the machine-guns and the thundering of the cannon. The ravine extended further down, and apparently into the forest, for the trees were becoming thicker, and on the ground a deep layer of half-decayed leaves was mingled with the clay. Once or twice, a heavy buzzing was heard overhead, and the soldiers involuntarily lifted their eyes, but there was no aeroplane in sight, and one could not tell whether it was the enemy or not.

Hershel Mak was walking behind the others, and was deep in thought.

"What are we going to do when we meet the enemy? When we were with the regiment, we knew what to do.... But we don't know the high military rules! Maybe, we shouldn't fight at all,—maybe, according to the high military rules it is necessary to retreat a bit?... How is one to tell I'd like to know."

Just then on the opposite bank of the stream which in its overflowing formed shallow muddy puddles something dark began to flicker among the trees, and the enemy soldiers in light grey cloaks, and varnished helmets protected with linen covers came forward. This was an enemy detachment which had also strayed away from its regiment. A non-commissioned officer, husky and red-bearded, was in charge of it. The Germans' gait was also uncertain. They walked with rifles carried at charge, timidly looking about and were just going to stop to talk over their situation, when they noticed the reddish-grey cloaks and the bayonets.

"Halt!" yelled out a flaxen-haired Kostroma peasant.

He did it so forcefully that two crows flew off in fright and rose high above the ravine.

Hershel Mak nearly fell into the water. The red and the grey soldiers separated by about fifty steps and a small, turbid, rain-beaten rivulet were eyeing each other with amazement rather than with terror. Thin scattered cries of terror and dismay were heard from the other side, and all at once it grew still with an ominous strained stillness.

"Listen ... eh," ... whispered Hershel Mak, touching the gun of the Kostroma reservist. But at this very moment, the soldiers as if in response to a command stepped back a pace or two, got down on their knees and an uneven crackling of guns rent the damp air.

The flaxen-haired Kostroma peasant and another soldier, a father of a large family, nick-named "uncle," threw up their arms and fell heavily upon the soaked clay.

The first was killed on the spot, but as to the "uncle," he clutched his abdomen, sat up and began to howl in a thin, piercing voice: "Bro-o-thers!"

And the soldiers were seized with a savage anger, immense and terrible, similar to the nervous fury with which one tramples upon a snake. Scattered bullets began flying amidst the wet trees, and wild outcries filled the air. The bullets hissed far over the forest and sank with a swish into the clay; birch leaves, quietly circling, were falling to the ground where three light-grey figures were writhing in convulsions of pain and horror.

The husky non-commissioned officer was the first among these to cease stirring. He lay there with his face stuck in the cold mud of the stream. A volley of bullets, still more uneven than the first answered it, and presently single shots, interrupted by furious outcries of pain, by groans of the wounded and rattling of the dying came from both sides.

Pale flames flickered everywhere; the bark was being ripped from the small birch trees; here and there were seen ghastly distorted faces and shivering hands hurriedly fussing with the guns. The biting odour of blood and gun-powder filled the air, and a bluish smoke rose slowly to the sky, passing through the twigs shivering, as it were, with fear, and under the birches there lay two groups of men, charging their guns, shooting, slaying one another, and strewing the wet earth with crippled, writhing, moaning bodies.


Suddenly the shooting ceased just as unexpectedly as it had begun. There was no one upon the clearing except the wounded, and the dead. The reddish soldiers hid behind the stones and the grey behind the trees.

The fire ceased. The hearts of the men beat rapidly and painfully with a vicious inhuman terror, but no one fired a single shot. An hour passed and then another. The men lay silently behind the stones and the trees, each group eyeing the enemy sharply and closely watching their slightest movements.

"Uncle" alone, his back leaning on a trunk of a tree, was moaning plaintively and softly like a fly caught in a spider's web. And on the other side a young soldier was making severe attempts to lift up his body out of the mud puddle, while the eyes of his pale youthful face were already covered with the film of death. But no one paid the slightest attention to either of them. Each one felt upon himself the keen, merciless eye of the enemy and dared not budge or even stretch out a benumbed foot. A grey soldier attempted once to change his place, whereupon three shots thundered from the other side, and the man only turned over and remained still. Later two men were killed, one on each side, and again everything grew still.

The clatter of the rain alone was heard, as though, invisible to the eye, some one wept bitterly in the forest. The hours were passing, and the nervous tension grew intolerable, assuming the intensity of agony. It was quite apparent that things could not go on in this way much longer, and every one knew that whoever would lift his head would be killed on the spot. Lord only knows the odd and horrible thoughts that were passing in these terror-stricken, muddled minds.

Hershel Mak felt very keenly that he was eager to live; that like the rest of these men, he had a father and mother and also his own little desires, remote from this place and sacred to him alone. He was also sorry for "uncle" and for that dying German, who lay in the puddle, and who had been killed, perhaps by a bullet from "uncle's" rifle.

The hours were passing and the unbearable nervous horror grew, and the inner tension, terrible and so taut that it seemed to be ready to snap every second, was beginning to turn into a sort of nightmare, which makes one shiver all over, which dims one's eyes with red mist, which banishes all fear of death and suffering and turns all that is human into an elemental, savage fury.

At the very moment, when the tension reached its highest point and the nightmare was about to pass in a ruthless engagement, Hershel Mak, unable to control his strained nerves any longer began to pray plaintively in the tongue of his forefathers. "Shma Isroel! Shma Isroel!" ... His comrades did not understand him and glanced at him in terror, as at a madman, but from the opposite side another frightened and plaintive voice answered him in Jewish: "A Jew!... A Jew!..."

Hershel Mak's heart fell within him. The mad joy that took hold of him is indescribable. It was undefiled human joy that filled him to the brim, when from the place whence he expected only death and hatred there came familiar human words. Forgetting the deathly peril, he sprang to his knees, threw up his arms and cried out, as if responding to a voice heard in the desert.

"I!... I!..."

A shot crashed; but it was only Mak's cap, that jumped up and landed in the mud puddle. From beyond the stream and the trees a typical head with ears projecting from under the varnished helmet looked straight at him.

"Don't shoot!... Don't shoot!" yelled Hershel Mak in Russian, German and Jewish all at once, waving his hands frantically. And the other Jew, in a long light-grey cloak was also yelling something to his fellow-soldiers. Now not one but about ten pairs of eyes looked at Hershel Mak, with astonishment and sudden joy. A vague, faint hope was seen in these frightened human eyes, which suddenly became simple and sympathetic. Then Hershel Mak and the Jew in the light-grey cloak rushed to the clearing and, splashing in the water, trustingly ran to each other.

They met between the two ranks of still hostile gun-barrels and embraced each other in a fit of unreasoning human gladness.

"Are you a Jew?" asked the grey soldier. They kept looking at each other like two old friends who met where they least expected to find each other.

In the twilight, after the soldiers gathered up their dead and wounded, they went each their own way along the ravine, now blue with the evening fog. Those in the rear kept looking back at the enemy, suspiciously eyeing them, and nervously clutching with their hands the cold muzzles of their guns.

Only Hershel Mak and the Jew in the light-grey cloak walked calmly. Hershel chattered like a monkey, joining now one now another of the soldiers. He was saying something about his joy, about the great mission of Judaism. But no one listened to him, and one of the soldiers said good-naturedly: "Go to the devil, you dirty Jew."



THE END.

Mikhail Petrovich Artzybashev


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