The uproarious merriment of a wedding-feast burst forth into the night from a brilliantly lighted house in the
'gasse' (narrow street). It was one of those nights touched with the warmth of spring, but dark and full of soft
mist. Most fitting it was for a celebration of the union of two yearning hearts to share the same lot, a lot that
may possibly dawn in sunny brightness, but also become clouded and sullen--for a long, long time! But how
merry and joyous they were over there, those people of the happy olden times! They, like us, had their
troubles and trials, and when misfortune visited them it came not to them with soft cushions and tender
pressures of the hand. Rough and hard, with clinched fist, it laid hold upon them. But when they gave vent to
their happy feelings and sought to enjoy themselves, they were like swimmers in cooling waters. They struck
out into the stream with freshness and courage, suffered themselves to be borne along by the current
whithersoever it took its course. This was the cause of such a jubilee, such a thoughtlessly noisy outburst of
all kinds of soul-possessing gayety from this house of nuptials.
'And if I had known,' the bride's father, the rich Ruben Klattaner, had just said, 'that it would take the last
gulden in my pocket, then out it would have come.'
In fact, it did appear as if the last groschen had really taken flight, and was fluttering about in the form of
platters heaped up with geese and pastry-tarts. Since two o'clock--that is, since the marriage ceremony had
been performed out in the open street--until nearly midnight, the wedding-feast had been progressing, and
even yet the sarvers, or waiters, were hurrying from room to room. It was as if a twofold blessing had
descended upon all this abundance of food and drink, for, in the first place, they did not seem to diminish;
secondly, they ever found a new place for disposal. To be sure, this appetite was sharpened by the presence of
a little dwarf-like, unimportant-looking man. He was esteemed, however, none the less highly by every one.
They had specially written to engage the celebrated 'Leb Narr,' of Prague. And when was ever a mood so out
of sorts, a heart so imbittered as not to thaw out and laugh if Leb Narr played one of his pranks. Ah, thou art
now dead, good fool! Thy lips, once always ready with a witty reply, are closed. Thy mouth, then never still,
now speaks no more! But when the hearty peals of laughter once rang forth at thy command, intercessors, as it
were, in thy behalf before the very throne of God, thou hadst nothing to fear. And the joy of that 'other' world
was thine, that joy that has ever belonged to the most pious of country rabbis!
In the mean time the young people had assembled in one of the rooms to dance. It was strange how the sound
of violins and trumpets accorded with the drolleries of the wit from Prague. In one part the outbursts of
merriment were so boisterous that the very candles on the little table seemed to flicker with terror; in another
an ordinary conversation was in progress, which now and then only ran over into a loud tittering, when some
old lady slipped into the circle and tried her skill at a redowa, then altogether unknown to the young people. In
the very midst of the tangle of dancers was to be seen the bride in a heavy silk wedding-gown. The point of
her golden hood hung far down over her face. She danced continuously. She danced with every one that asked
her. Had one, however, observed the actions of the young woman, they would certainly have seemed to him
hurried, agitated, almost wild. She looked no one in the eye, not even her own bridegroom. He stood for the
most part in the door-way, and evidently took more pleasure in the witticisms of the fool than in the dance or
the lady dancers. But who ever thought for a moment why the young woman's hand burned, why her breath
was so hot when one came near to her lips? Who should have noticed so strange a thing? A low whispering
already passed through the company, a stealthy smile stole across many a lip. A bevy of ladies was seen to
enter the room suddenly. The music dashed off into one of its loudest pieces, and, as if by enchantment, the
newly made bride disappeared behind the ladies. The bridegroom, with his stupid, smiling mien, was still left
standing on the threshold. But it was not long before he too vanished. One could hardly say how it happened.
But people understand such skillful movements by experience, and will continue to understand them as long
as there are brides and grooms in the world.