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Yekl A tale of the New York ghetto   By: (1860-1951)

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First Page:

Yekl

A Tale of the New York Ghetto

By

A. Cahan

New York D. Appleton and Company 1896

COPYRIGHT, 1896, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. JAKE AND YEKL 1

II. THE NEW YORK GHETTO 25

III. IN THE GRIP OF HIS PAST 50

IV. THE MEETING 70

V. A PATERFAMILIAS 82

VI. CIRCUMSTANCES ALTER CASES 112

VII. MRS. KAVARSKY'S COUP D'√ČTAT 136

VIII. A HOUSETOP IDYL 158

IX. THE PARTING 175

X. A DEFEATED VICTOR 185

YEKL.

CHAPTER I.

JAKE AND YEKL.

The operatives of the cloak shop in which Jake was employed had been idle all the morning. It was after twelve o'clock and the "boss" had not yet returned from Broadway, whither he had betaken himself two or three hours before in quest of work. The little sweltering assemblage for it was an oppressive day in midsummer beguiled their suspense variously. A rabbinical looking man of thirty, who sat with the back of his chair tilted against his sewing machine, was intent upon an English newspaper. Every little while he would remove it from his eyes showing a dyspeptic face fringed with a thin growth of dark beard to consult the cumbrous dictionary on his knees. Two young lads, one seated on the frame of the next machine and the other standing, were boasting to one another of their respective intimacies with the leading actors of the Jewish stage. The board of a third machine, in a corner of the same wall, supported an open copy of a socialist magazine in Yiddish, over which a cadaverous young man absorbedly swayed to and fro droning in the Talmudical intonation. A middle aged operative, with huge red side whiskers, who was perched on the presser's table in the corner opposite, was mending his own coat. While the thick set presser and all the three women of the shop, occupying the three machines ranged against an adjoining wall, formed an attentive audience to an impromptu lecture upon the comparative merits of Boston and New York by Jake.

He had been speaking for some time. He stood in the middle of the overcrowded stuffy room with his long but well shaped legs wide apart, his bulky round head aslant, and one of his bared mighty arms akimbo. He spoke in Boston Yiddish, that is to say, in Yiddish more copiously spiced with mutilated English than is the language of the metropolitan Ghetto in which our story lies. He had a deep and rather harsh voice, and his r's could do credit to the thickest Irish brogue.

"When I was in Boston," he went on, with a contemptuous mien intended for the American metropolis, "I knew a feller ,[1] so he was a preticly friend of John Shullivan's. He is a Christian, that feller is, and yet the two of us lived like brothers. May I be unable to move from this spot if we did not. How, then, would you have it? Like here, in New York, where the Jews are a lot of greenhornsh and can not speak a word of English? Over there every Jew speaks English like a stream."

[1] English words incorporated in the Yiddish of the characters of this narrative are given in Italics.

" Say , Dzake," the presser broke in, "John Sullivan is tzampion no longer, is he?"

"Oh, no! Not always is it holiday!" Jake responded, with what he considered a Yankee jerk of his head. "Why, don't you know? Jimmie Corbett leaked him, and Jimmie leaked Cholly Meetchel, too. You can betch you' bootsh! Johnnie could not leak Chollie, becaush he is a big bluffer , Chollie is," he pursued, his clean shaven florid face beaming with enthusiasm for his subject, and with pride in the diminutive proper nouns he flaunted. "But Jimmie pundished him. Oh, didn't he knock him out off shight! He came near making a meat ball of him" with a chuckle... Continue reading book >>




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