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The Jewish Girl

Her hair was as black as ebony, and her eyes were dark yet full of brilliant light, such eyes as you see among the daughters of the East. And the expression in the face of the grown-up girl was still that of the child who sat on the schoolroom bench, listening with eager and wistful eyes.

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.

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