Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, British Fiction Series)
Moses Ansell accepted poverty as the natural condition of the chosen people. A pious man, he observed all the rituals of his religion; but even his meek wife, before she died, realized that he should have spent less time in prayer and more time working. His family consisted of Esther, a serious young girl, two smaller sons, a little daughter, and their complaining grandmother. The Ansells lived in one room in the ghetto. When the mother died, Benjamin, an older son, had been put in an orphanage.
One night, Esther returned from the soup kitchen with a pitcher of soup and two loaves of bread. She fell at the doorway of their room, and the soup spilled. The hungry family snatched at the bread. Becky Belcovitch came to complain that the soup had leaked through the ceiling of her room on the floor below. When the Belcovitches heard what had happened, they sent up their own rations to the Ansells.
Malka Birnbaum was the cousin of Moses’ dead wife. Occasionally, when the Ansells grew too hungry, she would give Moses a few shillings and berate him for his pious ineptitude. Malka had two daughters, Milly and Leah, by her first husband. Milly was married, and Leah had become engaged to Sam Levine, a commercial traveler.
At the feast of redemption for Milly’s infant son, Sam pretended that he had forgotten to give Leah a present. He took an expensive ring from his pocket and held it up for all to admire. Playfully, he slipped it on the...
(The entire section is 1195 words.)
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