“Where have you been? I thought you’d be back a long time ago,” Golde said the instant I walked in the door.
“I wasn’t feeling well, so I stopped in to see Devorah.”
“You were stalling.”
“Stalling?” I said pointing to my chest as if this were the silliest idea I’d ever heard.
“Tell me what happened in Tel Aviv,” she said, pulling a chair up and sitting in front of me.
“Nothing happened,” I said walking around her. “I went, we talked, I left, and here I am.”
She flipped the chair around and yelled at my back. “Tevye, what did you talk about?”
“I’m tired now, woman. My stomach hurts. Leave me alone.”
“Tevye!” she shouted even though she had leaped out of the chair and was right behind me.
I ignored her and started to change into my night clothes. Golde was hovering over me.
“Do you have to stand on top of me? Go lay down. We’ll talk in the morning,” I said getting into bed and pulling the cover over my head.
It was a relief when Golde’s breath was no longer making the hair on my neck stand up. But she walked around to my side and yanked the covers off. She stood with her arms folded tapping her foot. I was kidding myself if I thought I could go to sleep.
“Well, it was hard to understand him with the cigar in his mouth,” I said sitting up, “but I do recall hearing him say he is a friend of the High Commissioner and that he expects a visit from Rothschild any time.”
“The High Commissioner and Rothschild,” Golde said clasping her hands together and looking heavenward. “As the Bible says, ‘The poor is hated even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends.’”
“Ah, such a blessing You have bestowed on my Shoshana, to be the bride of a boy from such a wealthy family.”
“A blessing,” I mumbled.
“Yes, our house has been blessed.”
“Speaking of houses, what was their house like?”
“It was very big. And it had clocks all over the walls and the tables and the floors.”
“Yes, clocks. Clocks everywhere. I think they had a different one for every hour of the day.”
“That’s the way rich people live Tevye. They don’t like to use anything too much. They wear different clothes every day, they eat on different plates, they even take baths every day.”
“Well, I’ll tell you two things that never change, Danziger’s cigar and his laugh.”
“Who cares about that? Tell me about his wife. Did she have a lot of jewels and beautiful clothes?”
“Don’t be foolish woman. Even in wealthy families, it is still the papa who makes all the arrangements. I didn’t even meet his wife.”
It suddenly occurred to me that it was a bit odd that I didn’t even see the woman. But I wasn’t about to say anything to Golde.
“Go to sleep and stop your nonsense, Golde. We have a big day coming up.”
I slid back under the covers with my back to her.
“All right,” she said. “Good night.”
Suddenly, she leaned over my shoulder. “Did you see any pictures of his wife wearing jewels?”
“Golde.” I was about to shout at her when I remembered the picture in the stairwell. “Actually, I did. She was standing in front of Buckingham Palace in London. She was just coming back from having tea with the queen and was wearing a string of pearls, a fur coat and a hat with a peacock on top.”
Golde sounded as though I’d seen her part the Red Sea. At least the image silenced her. That barely lasted an instant.
“Was the peacock alive?”
“No! Good night,” I said and pulled the blanket over my head.
The last thing I remember hearing was her muttering, “praise God, a rich husband.”
This excerpt is from Mitchell Bard’s novel, After Anatevka – Tevya Goes to Palestine available now in paperback and on Kindle.