By Ruth R. Wisse (ed.)
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Additional resources for A Shtetl and other Yiddish novellas
The streets were empty, the shutters closed, and the only sound was that of snoring. The young men were with Yekl behind the new cemetery grounds. There they stayed until the sun began to set, its red flames mirrored in the river water. Only then, as the better-off young men of the shtetl, with their delicate faces and their hands thrust into the belts of their caftans, were taking their last proper Sabbath stroll down the main street, did the gang return to town, their arrival heralded by the strains of song.
Gradually the pummeling grew more rhythmic as one side slowly gained the upper hand. A few sighs began to escape from the dark corners. Fists were methodically raised and lowered, and those who had been tearing at a headful of hair now merely held on, as to a pawn. The bated breath of the combatants was finally released, and the very air seemed to quiver, as around a spinning top that is about to topple. As if at a given signal, everyone lowered his hands and looked dazedly at the person nearest him.
The bated breath of the combatants was finally released, and the very air seemed to quiver, as around a spinning top that is about to topple. As if at a given signal, everyone lowered his hands and looked dazedly at the person nearest him. The sight of blood brought them back to their senses. In a moment Itchele was at the door, with his gang all around him and the table leg still in his hand. He stood there hatless, hair rumpled, smiling at the congregants in their tattered prayer shawls. Then someone handed him his cap.