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CHAPTER XII.

SOLOMON ISAACS MAKES A PROPOSITION TO RACHEL.

FINDING that Moses Levy would not speak, Solomon Isaacs was compelled once more to break the silence. In an injured tone he asked,

'Ain't you pleased to see me, Mo ?'

enough to let me know the little bit of business you've come upon?'

Thus challenged, Solomon Isaacs turned to Rachel, and addressed her in a tone of whining familiar

ity.

'Rachel, I want to say something

Moses Levy returned a qualified private to your father. 'Adn't you

answer.

'I am always pleased to see my friends.'

'I'd 'ave been 'ere before, but I couldn't find time. I've come now on a little bit of business. Business is always agreeable, eh, Mo? Always agreeable!'

'I didn't suppose you came on a little bit of pleasure,' replied Moses Levy, pointedly waiving the agreeable aspect of the visit; ' though you have been glad to do that, now and then, you remember.'

'Yes, yes,' said Solomon Isaacs, turning his largest diamond to the light, and admiring the brilliancy of the stone; 'but times is changed now, times is changed!'

"They are, indeed,' responded Moses Levy.

'And we must go with 'em; we've got to go with 'em-eh?'

'You know best, Mr. Isaacs.' 'Of course I do, of course I do. I'm a rich man now'-and Solomon Isaacs would have proceeded to dilate upon his riches but that Moses Levy, mildly and firmly, arrested the arrogant current with, 'Never mind that, if you please.' 'Oh, as you like!' blustered Solomon Isaacs; 'I don't want to force it on you.'

better leave the room, my dear?'

Rachel raised her eyes pleadingly to her father's face, and said to him, without uttering a word— eyes can on occasions speak more eloquently than words-' He is going to speak about Leon. Do not send me away; let me stay.'

'Yes, my child,' said Moses Levy, in answer to the silent appeal, 'you can stay. There is not the slightest occasion for you to go.'

As a particular favour, Rachel !' said Solomon Isaacs; 'I arks it as a particular favour!"

Rachel did not look at him; her eyes were still directed towards her father, waiting for a fuller expression of his wish.

'Mr. Isaacs,' continued Moses Levy steadily, 'has been in the habit of coming here night after night, ever since you were born, Rachel; he has been in this room hundreds of times, and never a word has passed between us that I should be sorry for you to hear. What he has to say now he can say before you, if he is not ashamed.'

'Ashamed!' cried Solomon Isaacs.

'You must blame yourself for making me speak the word,' said Moses Levy, with a grave motion of his hands; if I have used it 'Thank you. Will you be kind wrongly, I beg your pardon.'

'But, Mo!' still urged Solomon Isaacs.

'Call me Mr. Levy,' said Moses Levy, with a touch of pride; 'it will sound much better as things are. And as for Rachel, it is my desire that she shall not leave the room. So, as your time must be very precious now that you're a rich man, you had best come at once to your little bit of business.'

It was evident that delicacy of feeling was thrown away upon such an obstinate old man as Moses Levy, and Solomon Isaacs had no alternative but to speak in the presence of Rachel, who had quietly resumed her work.

'Well, then, Mo'

whether his arrows were taking effect.

'Don't say how much obliged to me you are,' replied Moses Levy. Solomon Isaacs felt as though he would have liked to throw something at Moses Levy's head. 'You exarsperate me so,' he cried, 'that I don't know where I am! Where was I?'

'Since you grew rich,' prompted Moses Levy.

'Yes, yes, that's it. Since I've got rich, I've been thinking a good deal. When a-a gentleman ain't got no longer to go out with 'is bag for a living, he can't 'elp thinking of all sorts of things, can he?' A happy illustration occurred to him

'Mr. Levy, if you please,' again here. When a old suit of clothes interrupted Moses Levy.

'Well, then, Mr. Levy,' cried Solomon Isaacs, firing up at Moses Levy's obstinacy, but cooling down immediately at the thought that if he spoke in anger he might not be able to accomplish his purpose. 'It's best to speak plain, ain't it?'

'Surely, surely!' said Moses Levy, with a significant glance at the rich man; 'plain and honest speaking, like plain and honest dealing, is the best.'

'Jist my motto! No 'umbug, you know; come to the point, you know! Since I've got rich-no offence in mentioning it, I 'ope?' and Solomon Isaacs broke off suddenly, thinking he had made a good hit.

'It's no offence to me, if it's none to you.'

'You're very good. I can't say 'ow much obliged to you I am.' 'Don't, then.'

'Don't what?' exclaimed Solomon Isaacs, not knowing, from Moses Levy's impenetrable manner,

is worn out, and you've got no more use for 'em, you throw 'em away or sell 'em, you know.'

'And when old friends,' added Moses Levy, continuing the illustration, are, as you say, worn out and you have no further use for them, do you throw them away or sell them ?'

'Ha, ha!' chuckled Solomon Isaacs; 'you will 'ave your joke, Mo, you will 'ave your joke.'

'My joke!' echoed Moses Levy sadly.

'Among other things,' said Solomon Isaacs, 'I've been thinking of Leon, and what's open to 'im now that he'll come into money.'

He watched Moses Levy's face narrowly, to see how this was received.

'Go on, Mr. Isaacs,' said Moses Levy quietly.

'Well, this is 'ow it is. There's a sort of a-a kind of a-you know what I mean-between Leon and Rachel.'

'I don't know what you mean,'

said Moses Levy; his heart was bleeding in his daughter's cause, but he was at the same time obstinately bent upon compelling Solomon Isaacs to speak plainly. Another opportunity might not be afforded to him of ascertaining exactly how the ground lay. ‘A kind of a-a sort of a-what, between Leon and Rachel?'

'You know, Mo-Mr., I mean -a sort of engagement.'

'I can't say that I exactly understand you,' said Moses Levy, his hands tightly clasped. "There is no question as to the engagement between my daughter and your son. There is an absolute and not-to-be-disputed engagement Rachel, my dear, you can leave the room, if you wish.'

'No, father,' said Rachel, in as steady a voice as she could command. 'I will stay, if you please.' "Very good, my dear; go on with your work.'

He was fearful that if he watched her too closely, she might break down, and he therefore turned his attention to his visitor. He had a clear duty to perform towards his daughter. He was her champion, her defender, her only friend, and his eyes kindled as they fell upon the hard face of the man who sat opposite to him.

There is, as I have said, an absolute and positive engagement between my child and yours. They sat for joy in this very room; you were present the whole of the day, and shook hands with every one who came to congratulate us upon what I hoped would prove the happiness of my child's life. You have no intention of denying this, I suppose?'

'I ain't a-going to deny it. I've

come 'ere for your good, and Rachel's.'

'I hope so, Mr. Isaacs,' said Moses Levy more mildly.

'If you'll only listen to reason! You're old enough to know the ways of the world, but you talk like a babby,—as if you was born yesterday!' (So ill at ease was Solomon Isaacs as he administered this rebuke, that in his nervousness he plucked the button from one of the gloves-colour, invisible green-in which his large coarse hands were incased.) 'Can't you see 'ow it is yourself? When you was poor and I was poor, it was all very well; but now that I'm rich, things is different to what they was. Leon can look 'igher than Rachel, who is a good girloh, yes, a good girl! I'm not a-going to speak agin 'er, for I've always been fond of 'er, and she wouldn't stand in Leon's way. She knows 'er position, and— and

And here Solomon Isaacs' voice trailed off like a clock that had been over-wound, and had come to a gradual stop.

The colour had flushed into Moses Levy's face, and Rachel's head had drooped lower, lower over her work, upon which her tears were falling.

'Yes, Mr. Isaacs,' said Moses Levy, 'Rachel knows her position. You are quite right there. Has that anything to do with the business you have come upon ?'

'Of course it 'as. Rachel's been properly brought up, and 'as feelings; I've thought a good deal of that. Oh, yes-Rachel 'as feelings! Now, what will people say about Rachel when they know that she wants to marry Leon for

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she would have made but a clumsy job of her stitches.

Moses Levy leant forward to her, and with a firm, fond clasp of her hand, whispered,

'Keep up your courage, my dear -don't break down before him. I, your father, will speak for you.'

Then he said aloud,

'When Leon and Rachel were engaged, Mr. Isaacs, there was no question of money between them. It was known that I was a poor man, and I told Leon that Rachel had not a penny-not a penny. He was quite satisfied. He said he wanted nothing with my daughter-he wanted only her.'

F

'That was then,' said Solomon Isaacs testily, and then ain't now.'

I believed-everybody believed -that Leon was quite as poor as Rachel is. If there was any advantage on either side-God forbid I should say there was!-but if calculating persons had at that time reckoned up what they might have considered advantages, the balance of good fortune would have fallen to Leon's share in having won the love of my daughter. It was not a question of moneyit was a question of love.'

'Love!' sneered Solomon Isaacs. 'Rubbish-rubbish!'

'That is your creed-it is not mine. Anyhow, I did not welcome Leon here for anything but himself and his good qualities. I did not ask him to come-which does not mean that I was not glad to see him, and that I did not feel towards him as I would have felt towards a son of my own. He came after Rachel; Rachel did not go after him-although,' added Moses Levy, in the words a patriarch of old might have used, 'Rachel's heart went out to him, and she was ready to follow him, even as Rebecca followed Isaac.'

'I daresay, I daresay,' responded Solomon Isaacs, displaying infinite patience in his conduct of this delicate matter. But then it was water and water; now, it's water and wine.'

'Which is the water, and which the wine, Mr. Isaacs?'

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think of what people 'll say when they know that Rachel wants to marry Leon for 'is money!'

If they know anything of the sort, it will be a false knowledge, and as for what might fall from wicked tongues, under any circumstances-though, out of this room I've heard nothing as yet that Rachel would be sorry to hearyou know, Mr. Isaacs, that you can't keep people from saying illnatured things. There's that man the Vampire, that you had the quarrel with when you tried to sell your bag. You'd be astonished to hear the nasty things he has said. about you since you left Spitalfields.'

'The Irish thief!' cried Solomon Isaacs, in a fury; he tried to swindle me, he did! He may thank 'is stars I didn't 'ave the law of 'im. I could ruin 'im, the thief, I could !'

'Don't you think, therefore,' remarked Moses Levy, 'that we had best leave off talking of what people choose to say of us? Haven't we troubles enough already, without making another trouble of that? The best judge we can have is our conscience.'

'So it is, so it is. That is what I want Rachel to consider.'

'She will consider it; and now, as I suppose you have said all that you came here to say, let us wish each other good-night, and leave everything else to be settled when Leon returns from Germany.'

Moses Levy made this suggestion from his conviction that no good result would be achieved by continuing the interview, and in the belief that Solomon Isaacs had really nothing more to say. He was soon undeceived.

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