The idea that the slightest dereliction of her penance would be accompanied with a curse upon her children
may have impressed itself upon her mind. Mothers will understand better than other persons what this mother
suffered from her penalty of silence.
Thus a part of those years sped away which we are wont to call the best. She still flourished in her wonderful
beauty. Her maiden daughter was beside her, like the bud beside the full-blown rose. Suitors were already
present from far and near, who passed in review before the beautiful girl. The most of them were excellent
young men, and any mother might have been proud in having her own daughter sought by such. Even then
Veile did not undo her penance. Those busy times of intercourse which keep mothers engaged in presenting
the superiorities of their daughters in the best light were not allowed her. The choice of one of the most
favored suitors was made. Never before did any couple in the gasse equal this in beauty and grace. A few
weeks before the appointed time for the wedding a malignant disease stole on, spreading sorrow and anxiety
over the greater part of the land. Young girls were principally its victims. It seemed to pass scornfully over the
aged and infirm. Veile's daughter was also laid hold upon by it. Before three days had passed there was a
corpse in the house--the bride!
Even then Veile did not forget her penance. When they bore away the corpse to the 'good place,' she did utter
a cry of anguish which long after echoed in the ears of the people; she did wring her hands in despair, but no
one heard a word of complaint. Her lips seemed dumb forever. It was then, when she was seated on the low
stool in the seven days of mourning, that the rabbi came to her, to bring to her the usual consolation for the
dead. But he did not speak with her. He addressed words only to her husband. She herself dared not look up.
Only when he turned to go did she lift her eyes. They, in turn, met the eyes of the rabbi, but he departed
without a farewell.
After her daughter's death Veile was completely broken down. Even that which at her time of life is still
called beauty had faded away within a few days. Her cheeks had become hollow, her hair gray. Visitors
wondered how she could endure such a shock, how body and spirit could hold together. They did not know
that that silence was an iron fetter firmly imprisoning the slumbering spirits. She had a son, moreover, to
whom, as to something last and dearest, her whole being still clung.
The boy was thirteen years old. His learning in the Holy Scriptures was already celebrated for miles around.
He was the pupil of the rabbi, who had treated him with a love and tenderness becoming his own father. He
said that he was a remarkable child, endowed with rare talents. The boy was to be sent to Hungary, to one of
the most celebrated teachers of the times, in order to lay the foundation for his sacred studies under this
instructor's guidance and wisdom. Years might perhaps pass before she would see him again. But Veile let her
boy go from her embrace. She did not say a blessing over him when he went; only her lips twitched with the
pain of silence.
Long years expired before the boy returned from the strange land, a full-grown, noble youth. When Veile had
her son with her again a smile played about her mouth, and for a moment it seemed as if her former beauty
had enjoyed a second spring. The extraordinary ability of her son already made him famous. Wheresoever he
went people were delighted with his beauty, and admired the modesty of his manner, despite such great
The next Sabbath the young disciple of the Talmud, scarcely twenty years of age, was to demonstrate the first
marks of this great learning.
The people crowded shoulder to shoulder in this great synagogue. Curious glances were cast through the
lattice-work of the women's gallery above upon the dense throng. Veile occupied one of the foremost seats.
She could see everything that took place below. Her face was extremely pale. All eyes were turned towards
her--the mother, who was permitted to see such a day for her son! But Veile did not appear to notice what was
happening before her. A weariness, such as she had never felt before, even in her greatest suffering, crept over
her limbs. It was as if she must sleep during her son's address. He had hardly mounted the stairs before the ark
of the laws--hardly uttered his first words--when a remarkable change crossed her face. Her cheeks burned.