Quote from "The Jewish Girl" (1855)
Every Sunday the sound of the organ and the singing of the congregation sounded from the church, and the tones floated across the street and into the house where the Jewish girl attended diligently and faithfully to her work. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," was her law; but her Sabbath was a day of labor to Christians, and only in her heart could she keep it holy. And that she believed was not enough.
But then the thought came to her soul, "What do days and hours matter in the sight of God?" and on the Sunday of the Christians she had her own undisturbed hour of devotion. Then if the sound of the organ and the singing came across to her as she stood behind the sink in the kitchen, even this became a quiet and consecrated spot. Then she would read the treasure and property of her own people, the Old Testament, and that alone; for she kept deep in her heart what her father had told the teacher and herself when she was taken from the school-the promise he had made to her dying mother, "that Sarah should not be baptized, nor forsake the faith of her fathers." The New Testament was, and would forever remain, a sealed book to her; and yet she knew much of it, for it shone through the memories of her childhood.
One evening she was sitting in a corner of the living room while her master read aloud. She allowed herself to listen, for this was not the Gospel; no, he was reading from an old storybook, so she could remain. The master read to them of a Hungarian knight who was taken captive by a Turkish pasha and yoked with oxen to the plow. He was driven with lashes of the whip and suffered pain and thirst almost beyond endurance.
But at home his wife sold her jewels and mortgaged their castle and lands, while friends contributed large sums to help raise the almost unbelievable amount of money that was demanded as ransom. This finally was collected, and he was delivered from slavery and disgrace. Sick and suffering, he returned home.
But soon there resounded over the countryside the summons to a crusade against the foe of Christianity. The sick man heard the call and could have neither peace nor rest any longer; they had to lift him on his war horse. Then the blood rushed again to his cheeks, his strength seemed to return, and he rode forth to victory. The very pasha who had made him suffer pain and humiliation yoked to the plow became his captive. He was taken home to the castle dungeon, but before he had been there an hour the knight came to him and asked his prisoner, "What do you think now awaits you?"
"I know," replied the Turk. "Retribution."
"Yes, the retribution of a Christian," said the knight. "The teachings of Christ tell us to forgive our enemies and love our fellow men. God is love! Go in peace to your home and loved ones, and be gentle and good to all who suffer."
Then the prisoner burst into tears. "How could I have believed such a thing possible?" he cried. "I was certain I would have to suffer shame and torture, hence I took poison, and within a few hours I shall die. There is no remedy. But before I die, teach me the faith which is so full of such love and mercy; it is great and divine! In that faith let me die; let me die a Christian!" And his request was granted him.
Registered motifs in this quote:
Keywords: History, legend, muslims, turks, war, forgiveness, revenge, arrogance, love, Christianity, Judaism, life, death