TEN DAYS IN NOVEMBER (2014)

 

ANNOTATION

 

The book tells about the life of Julie Watson - an actress in the drama theater of Windsor, a city in the south-west of England. In early November, she buys three paintings of a little-known German artist, dated 1929, 1932 and 1939. Directed by Andrew Gould convinces the actress that there are no coincidences and the canvases fell into her hands for a reason. Julie is trying to understand the hidden meanings of these paintings and wants to learn more about the artist.

In parallel with the main storyline, the touching love story of the author of these canvases, a young doctor, is developing. He and his girlfriend are German Jews living in pre-war Germany.

In the process of collecting information, Julie is increasingly immersed in the past. Great love, monstrous pogroms that have triggered the Holocaust, parting and tragedy - all that this couple had to endure after the Nazis came to power, pass in front of her mind.

 

Russian version of the book on the site: (Amazon>>>  or  Liters >>> ).

 

 

Ten Days in november

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*The first four chapters, for the reader's insight into the book, are translated by Google translate.

 

 

TEN DAYS IN NOVEMBER
 

FIRST CHAPTER

WINDSOR CITY IN THE SOUTHWEST OF ENGLAND, OUR DAYS FRIDAY EVENING

 

- Not bad, not bad! - applauding, shouted a short, dense gentleman of about sixty with carefully combed hair and a well-groomed beard. He was dressed in a three-piece suit, a pocket watch was visible from the vest. “I see Mr. Gould has made some interesting twists on the script.” Now the production looks more dynamic and touching than a month ago.

On stage were two actors - Julie Watson, a thin woman of about forty with brown eyes and dark hair to her shoulders, and Chuck Donald, a thirty-five-year-old brown-haired girl under eighty meters, strong build. A gray wig and beard, worn by him for the role of an old man, gave the appearance of an elderly man. Hearing the words of Mr. Peter Dreyson, the theater director, the actors, smiling, bowed.

“It’s a pity that lately your director, Mr. Andrew Gould, is not feeling well,” said Mr. Dreyson, moving closer to the actors. - He called me in the afternoon and said that he had to skip today's rehearsal. You should know that I treat him and his work with great respect and I see that he also put a lot of effort into this production.

- Looking at the pensive faces of the actors, the director, after a short pause, continued: - But, in my opinion, you still lack the acting revelation. You need to understand that you, as actors, have a primary task, to captivate the audience behind you, to immerse them in the life of your characters. Make it so that they are with you on this stage, and in this performance, which is staged for the first time, and even according to the book of a young writer, this is especially important.

It was stuffy in the hall, Mr. Dreyson once again pulled a white handkerchief out of his pocket, mopped his brow and added:

- In our Windsor with its thirty-thousand population, we rarely indulge theater lovers with premieres, and an unconvincing presentation of the performance can repel our, and so few, spectators. Therefore, haste in this case is not the best adviser.

Julie, who was attentively listening to the director of the theater, tried to express her opinions on this subject during the pause, but the voice of Mr. Drayson, who was about to complete her thought, forced her to wait.

“Therefore, I would not want something to prevent the success of your performance, and critics smashed it to pieces.” You understand that in case of failure we will have to abandon this production, and if you manage to conquer the audience with your play, then the performance will have a long life. - The actors silently listened to the director, and after a short pause he drew a line:

“Therefore, I recommend that you get together and discuss with my Minister Gould my proposal to postpone the play for one month.” Additional rehearsals will allow your director to work more thoroughly on the production, and you better get used to the role.

Julie, who understood the importance of the premiere for Mr. Gould and the director’s unwillingness to shift it to a later date, gathered her strength and replied:

- Mr. Dreyson, I dare to assure you: although Mr. Gould is already seventy and he has not been feeling well lately, he has everything under control. We are almost ready, for the rest of the week we are planning to hold some more rehearsals in his presence, and be sure that by the premiere next Wednesday we will be in great shape.

Suddenly, something cracked, and the scenery for the play, which weighed several tens of kilograms, almost collapsed onto the stage, then came a scream from one of the workers: “Careful!” Mr. Dreyson turned his head in the direction of agitated workers, who had time to pick up the design, and said:

- I ask you to be vigilant and act more carefully. The roof and walls of the theater are weak, and from severe overloads can crack. Chuck, Julie, you see the conditions in which we have to work, ”he again turned to the actors. - See what the walls look like! And all because the performances go with half-empty halls, and the tickets sold are only enough to pay off the bills and salary to the employees.

Having once again looked at the ceiling of the most presentable type, the floor with cracks and walls painted last four years ago, the director continued:

- After in 2011 we, like dozens of other theaters in the UK, lost state funding, we can only hope for philanthropists, as well as for various funds to be afloat. In desperation, for several years now we have been trying to get money from the municipality for the reconstruction and repair of the theater, but all in vain, ”said Mr. Dreyson sadly. - They sent experts, and they issued a conclusion that the theater is not in a critical condition, and it is possible to wait a little with the repairs. You see, they have no extra funds in the budget, and now other priorities are the construction of a palace of culture for concerts. It was as if these bureaucrats did not see plaster falling from the walls, and the theater's roof was completely worn out, and heavy rain could flood everything here. I hope that in the near future we will still be able to find the money.

Chuck and Julie listened attentively to Mr. Dreyson.

- This is one of the reasons why I suggest you wait a little with the performance, because if you have time to prepare well, it will be a successful premiere for our theater, both from a creative point of view and financially, for me, as a theater director, it is important. You yourself understand perfectly well that television and the Internet have to some extent pushed the theater into the background. If the halls are not filled, we will have to close your performance as unprofitable, which I really would not like to do.

To once again convince Mr. Drayson not to transfer the premiere, the actress said:

- I am sure that the performance of Mr. Gould will be a resounding success. He is a famous director. For a long creative career, he has released many good works, and the public knows and loves him.

- Today, nothing can be foreseen, including the reaction of the public. The viewer has become more demanding and capricious, and the fact that he is an elderly director can play a negative role, Mr. Dreyson objected, because people sometimes want to see a fresh look at the tragic works. That is why I have been trying lately to give a chance to young directors, in the hope that they will be able to attract a modern viewer.

“Mr Drayson, let's wait for the premiere,” exclaimed the actress hotly. - Mr. Gould has put a lot of effort into making the spectacle spectacular, and we will do everything to not let it down. He believes in the success of this project and was able to infect us with his faith. We are convinced that he will be able to do the same with the audience, and they will definitely love this production, ”concluded Julie.

The actors were holding their breath, waiting for the reaction of the director, who, after some reflection, concluded:

- Let's do the following: tomorrow afternoon, I will definitely call Mr. Gould to inquire about health, and if he expresses confidence in the success of the production, the premiere, as planned, will take place next Wednesday ... In the meantime, I can highlight the main scene as we agreed, only once a week on Wednesdays, and you can rehearse further here on a small stage. If the performance is successful, then we will move other productions, and you will get another day, ”the theater director summarized, looking at the clock, which showed a quarter past nine.

- Thank! We promise you, we will continue to work actively and will try to show ourselves from the best side at this premiere, so as not to let our theater, you and Mr. Gould.

Wishing the actors success, Mr. Dreyson went to the office, and the actors went offstage.

“Chuck, did you hear what Mr. Drayson said?” - the actress addressed her colleague on the way to the dressing rooms. - Our performance can be closed as unprofitable, if there are few viewers. It is sad to realize that art has faded into the background today, and money decides everything ...

“I agree with you, Miss Watson.” Today, creativity is gradually moving into the background, giving way to box office. Mr Drayson understands this and wants to keep up with the times. As director of the theater, he is primarily interested in box office, how many people will come to the performance, and what kind of director it will be - mature and talented or young and fashionable - it doesn’t matter to him - taking the wig and gray beard off, the actor answered.

“I think Mr. Drayson is overly emotional,” said Julie. - His liberalism and the desire to invite to work in his theater as much as possible of new, as he calls them, “fashionable” directors, can have negative consequences. This season has already closed four performances from last year’s repertoire. If the new production of Mr. Gould fails, he will be another director who has devoted his whole life to this theater, but in the end has remained out of work.

“What to do, the world is changing, and the viewer has become more selective ...” said the actor. “But personally, I don’t want to believe that there’s no place for such a talented director like Mr. Gould.” This, after all, will hit the theater's reputation greatly. After all, theater is a sphere of high art, and not some experiments of young directors.

- You're right. But we, for our part, must do everything not to fail Mr. Gould, ”said Julie Watson quietly.

“Yes, much will depend on our mood,” Chuck agreed with her. - We have been rehearsing for the fifth month already, and I believe that we will be able to perform well as a result.

Tomorrow afternoon I will go to Mr. Gould, and we will discuss the final preparations.

- What else is left to finish? Julie asked. - Well, except for the scenery?

“Almost everything is ready,” Chuck replied. - The scenery promised to finish tomorrow, the costumes finished a long time ago. But you know the character of Mr. Gould, his desire to be accurate even in small things. Previously, he was not satisfied with the costumes, the costume designers had to change the style several times, and now he wants to replace the props that Bill found. He, in his opinion, does not correspond to that era. Mr. Gould says that it’s the details that should convey the atmosphere and distinguish the professional setting from the amateur one. According to the old habit, he is going to pick the right inventory on the flea market himself.

- In this it can be understood, modern critics are ready to find fault with every detail, every little thing.

“Julie, I agree with you, but you yourself know about Mr. Gould’s state of health.” It is better for him to rest for a day than to look for an agent on the rainy November weather at the flea market, but he doesn’t want to listen to it, Chuck said, sighing heavily.

Being well acquainted with Mr. Gould and knowing his character, Julie smiled and told her stage partner:

- This is the whole Mr. Gould, fully devoting himself to his beloved work. I will come to visit him tomorrow and will definitely try to convince a few more days not to break the bed rest, ”said Julie resolutely.

- Miss Watson, let's look at things more optimistically! - before saying goodbye, smiling, the actor said. “Personally, I hope that this production will be successful, and we will play in it for many years,” Chuck said goodbye, going up to the dressing room.

* * *

Julie sat in a chair opposite the mirror and thought. Then, looking at the clock - half past nine in the evening - she was going to immediately wipe the makeup off her face, as there was a knock at the door.

- Who's there?

“It's me, Tom, messenger,” answered the thin boy of about seventeen.

- Come on in, Tom. You're just on schedule. Every Friday with flowers at the dressing room.

The young man did not answer Miss Watson’s joke. Handing her a delightful bouquet of tulips from delicate white buds, he said:

- These flowers are for you.

- And from whom? .. Although why am I asking? - smiling, said the actress. - You still can not tell. Let me guess. Did the sender wish to remain anonymous?

“You're right, Miss Watson, it is,” the messenger replied, embarrassed.

- Miracles. I have served in this theater for twenty years, almost every Friday a beautiful bouquet is brought to me, and from whom it is not known! Tom, can you even hint who is the gentleman who sends flowers?

“Sorry, Miss Watson, but I have to go,” said the young man and, after saying good-bye, he withdrew.

After admiring the flowers and putting them in a vase, Miss Watson began to wash off the makeup.

* * *

Having washed off the make-up, she continued to reflect on the future production. That evening Miss Watson did not want to go home, because no one was waiting for her there. But when she heard the cleaning lady, completing the work, slammed the door of Chuck's dressing room, the actress realized that it was time to get ready. Taking a bag and flowers, she left the room.

Coming out of the dressing room, Julie saw Mrs. Dorati Stevens, an actress of about sixty, walking towards her to meet her after the performance, which took place on the main stage, to meet her.

- Hello, Mrs. Stevens. How was your performance today?

“Good evening, Miss Watson ...” the woman replied warmly. - The performance went well, but at a half-empty hall. We now had an unpleasant conversation with Mr. Dreyson, who is thinking about stopping this production ... But let's not talk about sad things. And how are you doing? How is the mood before the next week's premiere?

- We hope that until Wednesday we will be able to hold some more rehearsals with Mr. Gould and play adequately. On top of that, I want to make one last attempt to get tested for the role of Gertrude in the London Globe. I don’t know how I’ll have it all.

“I’m sure you will succeed,” said the interlocutor. - Our family, yes there - almost the entire city admires your acting talent and beauty, the directors must pay attention to you.

“Really, you flatter me,” smiled Julie. - At the age of forty years, I don’t even want to talk about beauty. It has long been necessary to leave the dream of a big stage, but I still keep knocking on this closed gate.

- And when you have samples?

Julie, remembering the bitter experience of her previous trials in London theaters, sighed heavily and said:

- On Monday. Tomorrow afternoon I will go visit Mr. Gould and try to take time off from him and go. After all, there is not much time left before the premiere, and I don’t know if he will let me go.

- How is Mr. Gould? I have not seen him for a long time. He began to appear less and less in the theater, Mrs. Stevens remarked. - We live next door and sometimes talk to him. So, he always tells me that you are his muse, and only thanks to you his performances have success with the public.

“He exaggerates,” said Julie.

- What do you mean! - exclaimed Dorothy. - You played almost all his productions, and in this he chose you for the main role.

“From the very beginning of my career I was lucky to work under his leadership,” said Julie. - I graduated from drama school, and when I came here for testing twenty years ago, Mr. Gould immediately approved me for the role.

- Probably, he immediately saw your talent! - The woman, narrowing her eyes, slyly looked at Julie.

- I do not think. Most likely, he simply took pity on the twenty-year-old girl who was not taken anywhere.

Mrs. Stevens remembered with nostalgia her first steps in this theater, and her acquaintance with the still young, budding director Mr. Gould, but, throwing the memories aside, she said:

“Unfortunately, lately the halls have started to fill up weakly, and I really would not like that Mr. Gould, like other experienced directors, had to leave our theater for this reason. Mr Dreyson is increasingly relying on young directors, and I don’t even know how to handle this.

Julie was not easy to hear about the possible resignation of Mr. Gould, but, gathering her thoughts, she said:

- Alas, Mrs. Stevens, we live in an era of technological progress, but despite this Mr. Gould does not lose optimism: he believes in his seventy that theater is the highest art that will live forever. But if the performance fails, and he will be forced to leave the theater, then I will follow his example.

- Julie, let's not exaggerate before the premiere and reject pessimism. Mr. Gould is a talented director and, perhaps, he will be able to attract new spectators to our theater, and the hall will be filled again, as in former times.

Dorothy looked at her watch, it was almost ten in the evening. After a short pause, she added:

- I will tell you in confidence: he believes in the success of this performance, and, realizing that the theater has no money for advertising, all the posters in the city depicting you, Miss Watson, and Chuck - paid from their own pockets. But please don't tell anyone that you heard it from me, ”added Dorothy, after talking.

“Mr. Gould never ceases to amaze me,” sighed Julie. “This is so peculiar to him ... Theater is his whole life, and in order for this performance to succeed, he will go for everything.” He believes that this premiere will be a great success.

“I, unfortunately, cannot come, we will have rehearsals, but my son and daughter-in-law have already bought tickets to your performance, and I wish you, Chuck and Mr. Gould a successful premiere,” the actress finished the conversation.

Miss Watson thanked the colleague for the kind words and, after saying goodbye, went home. She loved to walk late in the evenings, and in the fall - even more so. The weather was no longer so hot, and the leaves under my feet rustled pleasantly.

Going on the way to the bakery, she bought her favorite croissants with chocolate and headed home. After dinner, she, as usual, watched TV for a while, checked the mail on the Internet and, after reading the book before going to bed, went to bed.

 

 

SECOND CHAPTER

SATURDAY

The next day, despite the rainy November weather, Miss Watson, as planned, went to the small one-and-a-half-storey house of Mr. Gould in the afternoon. There were many such buildings in the city.

At the door she ran into Chuck, he had already managed to tell Mr. Gould about the latest events and preparations for the premiere. Miss Watson greeted her colleague, and he said that Mr. Gould was very excited because she had high hopes for this production.

“There will certainly be success,” said Miss Watson, and saying goodbye to Chuck, she went into the house.

Taking off his shoes, hanging on a hanger soaked cloak and putting the umbrella in a designated place, she stepped into the office of Mr. Gould, where he spent most of his time. Mr. Gould was a tall, thin gentleman of about seventy, whose head was covered with gray a long time ago. To the left of the entrance to the spacious office was located a rich bi-library; on the right, by the window, there was a desk, and in the middle was a fireplace. Opposite the fireplace there were two armchairs and a small table littered with newspapers and books.

On this Saturday morning, Mr. Gould, as usual, sat in one of the armchairs and carefully looked at the flames in the fireplace, thinking about something until he heard the voice of Miss Watson:

- Good afternoon, Mr. Gould.

Seeing Julie in the doorway, Mr. Gould smiled and even rose from his chair to embrace her.

- You shouldn't get up ...

“Julie, please don't ever say that again!” A gentleman should stand up in the presence of a lady, ”the director replied with a kind smile.

- Mr. Gould, you never cease to amaze me. Even with such hectic, accompanying the premiere, you do not lose the mood.

“Sadness is bad,” the director said instructively. - During my long life I understood a lot and learned a few lessons, and one of the most important is that you cannot be sad and despair. We must rejoice at every moment. It is a pity that the realization of this comes in old age.

The director gestured for Julie to take one of the chairs. Comfortably seated in a soft brown armchair, standing at the library, and waiting for Mr. Gould to take the second, then, behind which he sat before her arrival, the actress said:

- You are right as always, Mr. Gould. I have a difficult fate. In early childhood, I was left alone, and brought up by an aunt, experienced many difficulties, and sometimes there were thoughts to settle accounts with life, but there was always someone who helped to overcome a difficult period. Do you know what I call such people?

- How? - asked the director.

- Angels. Yes, yes, it is angels. Although I am not a religious person, I am convinced that they exist. And they either go on their own, or in human form, come down to earth to help people go through the ordeals. Do you believe in angels? Believe in God?

Mr. Gould smiled and replied:

- You know, in life often there are people who, for reasons unknown to you, try to help, direct to something. And how to call them - angels or otherwise, it does not matter. Regarding your question about faith in God, I was born into a Jewish family in Poland, thirty years earlier than you, and with my loved ones survived the Holocaust. They were all thrown by the Nazis into concentration camps and died, while my mother and I were still alive because we were hid by a Polish family. I do not remember much from that time, but many stories of people who survived the Holocaust often raised a question for me: where was God at that time? Why he did not help those people, why he did not save my loved ones? And because of all such questions, I avoided religion from a young age.

- And now, looking back, did you find the answer? - interested, asked Julie.

Mr. Gould thought about it and, after a pause, continued:

- Probably, except for deeply religious people, no one will ever be able to come up with excuses for what happened in Europe during World War II. And where was God then, even they will not be able to explain to you properly, ”Mr. Gould paused, after which he continued thoughtfully. - Throughout my long life, I was convinced that it simply does not exist, and the man himself is the master of his destiny, but now, looking back, I feel that everything that happens has a certain plan. No matter how sad it is to realize it, but over the years you realize that you practically didn’t manage your life, someone sent you somewhere all the time, you were an actor in a global play called life, and who directed this play - God or some then the other forces - I do not know.

- Why did you take me then, have pity on an aspiring actress?

- No, that would be unprofessional on my part. The director first looks at the person, trying to see his potential, his inner world, and I took you because I thought that you would become a good dramatic actress. And, as you can see from the reaction of the audience, I was right.

“Thank you for giving me a chance,” the director thanked Julie. - Having met you twenty years ago, I began to look at life differently.

- Julie, you must understand that the theater is not the most important thing in your life, you are still young, and you should try to start a family.

“What are you talking about, Mr. Gould ?!” Exclaimed Julie. - I am already forty, and at that age it is difficult to get used to someone. In addition, you know what men have now gone: there are practically no such gentlemen like you and Chuck. - Julie sighed heavily and continued: - You are for me - like a father, and Chuck - like a brother.

Saying these words, Julie lowered her head.

“You are still ahead,” repeated Mr. Gould.

Miss Watson shook her head sadly.

“I’m completely alone and never truly loved.” All I have is work in the theater. My personal life did not succeed: I really liked one guy, he was so nicely courting me. But shortly before our wedding, he met another and, abandoning me, married her. Since then I have been alone.

Mr. Gould did not answer.

“If it were not for you and your productions in the theater, I don’t know what would happen to me now ...” added Julie.

“You are doing a fantastic job in the theater, and I am very grateful to you,” said the elderly director. - You could perform on the best stage, but stayed here.

- You know that I asked for it from you many times, I went to the tests, but I was not taken anywhere.

The director sighed and said:

- I'm already tired of telling you that these snobs have absolutely no taste, they do not understand anything in the theater. You are a wonderful dramatic actress, and if they didn’t see it, it means that they are nonprofessionals.

Julie looked at Mr. Gould, and with a guilty look, shyly, said:

- Mr. Gould, I want to go to London once again and try myself for the role of Gertrude in the new play of the Globus Theater. Honestly, this will be the last attempt.

- Yes, of course, I do not mind, you are a wonderful actress and worthy of working in the best theaters. And when do you want to go? - asked Mr. Gould.

- Samples on Monday, and if I was approved for the role, the rehearsals will begin in January.

- I assumed that the samples will be after the premiere, but you know the role well, so I do not mind.

“Thank you,” Julie thanked the director.

- I'll go in advance in the morning. Samples will be in the afternoon, and in the evening I will have time to come to the rehearsal.

“We rehearse so much and you can take a day off for one day,” Mr. Gould remarked.

- I promise you that this is the last time. If this time they do not take me, I will stop trying. On Monday, my fate will be decided.

“Fate is not decided by theater directors of any kind, but by ourselves, and if they don't take you, that's okay.” Life does not end there. You have a wonderful role of Rachel, and you will be able to please the public for many years, playing it. Look at the programs we have prepared for the play, Chuck just brought them from the print shop.

Julie took a theatrical program, the main page of which was devoted to the announcement of their upcoming performance, looked at it and thoughtfully asked:

- Mr. Gould, are you sure that the performance will succeed? Yesterday we talked with Mr. Dreyson, he doesn’t quite share your optimism, suggests not to hurry and move the show for a month so that we can spend more rehearsals.

Mr. Gould didn't quite like this idea, and he even got up from the chair.

- Peter called me today, inquired about my health and I assured him that everything would pass at the highest level, and there is no need to transfer the premiere.

- And what did he answer you?

- I wished good luck and said that he liked our performance more and more. It has a lot of mysteries, unpredictable turns, and the viewer, who looked at him, will have something to think about.

- By the way, why did you like this particular work so much?

Going to the paper-covered desk, Mr. Gould picked up one of the books:

- Last spring, after one of our speeches, a young man approached me and said that he was a writer. I remember he was so worried that he could hardly pronounce his name. Then he handed me this book and said: "Read, it describes a beautiful love story." She was called “Akiva and Rachel. A great love story. ” - The director flipped through the book. - Of course, I asked the young man what the book was about. He tried to explain something to me in a messy way, but I understood little of his words. I took the book, thanked the young man, and we said goodbye.

Mr. Gould handed the book to Julie. The actress took a weighty volume.

“Before the production of our performance, I did not even hear about this writer,” said Miss Watson, looking at the colorful cover.

- As well as I at that moment ... - the director answered and continued: - So. I put the book on the shelf and completely forgot about it. As you know, I regularly visit bookstores and buy several books that I plan to read in the near future. That very evening I prepared two new volumes to select one of them. I started reading one, and the book seemed so uninteresting to me that I closed it on the fifth page. The second was not impressed either, I put it aside. Rummaging around on the shelf in the hope of finding something new, I came across that young writer's forgotten book. Taking it, I thought: “Apparently, disappointment awaits me here too. It will surely be boring and uninteresting, and I won’t even go as far as page five. ” However, to my surprise, I was so fascinated by the plot that I finished reading at five in the morning with tears in my eyes.

Listening to the director, Miss Watson continued to leaf through the book, at times reading into one passage or another. Then she asked:

- And what, he writes so well?

- He is still young, and he needs to polish the skill, but the very story of the love of the main characters is extraordinarily beautiful. As it turned out, the novel was written based on historical facts, and the love story itself between Akiva and Rachel occurred in Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago. It was almost forgotten, but the author managed to breathe a second life into it, he so intelligently plotted the plot so that the empathy for the heroes grows and increases.

Looking at Miss Watson, who had already finished the book to the very end and began to read the afterword, Mr. Gould continued:

“I don’t know if he will be able to write something even more worthy, but he did this work - he felt the heroes. You know, it is always visible - whether the writer felt about them or not; see his attitude to the heroes. All this is certainly readable ... sometimes, perhaps, not quite explicitly, between the lines — but read.

“I agree with you here,” said Julie. - When a writer does not plunge into the plot, in his characters, no matter how ingeniously the book was written, it is immediately felt.

Miss Watson placed the book on the table and looked thoughtfully at the director.

- After a while I invited him to the theater, and we agreed on a staging ... That's all.

- Is this book sold in stores?

“No,” said the director. - The author has published it in limited edition and distributes to theater directors and producers.

- To be honest, I'm interested. Give a read? Probably very different from the script?

- Yes, I, of course, made some changes to the script to give dynamism, although I tried to bring our production as close as possible to the original. So for now, Julie, at least before the premiere, you should not read it, - smiling, said the director. - And besides, I wanted to read it again to refresh the main accents. And after the premiere, of course, I will give ... And about your question, whether the performance will succeed or not, I think: it will be either a resounding success, or a loud failure.

“We won't let you down,” Julie assured Mr. Gould. - Chuck also does everything to prepare for the premiere.

“Yes, Chuck works a lot,” the director agreed. - If it were not for him, I do not know how I would cope. He reassured me, saying that almost everything was ready for the premiere, and what was left to choose from the props, candlesticks, a couple of mugs and other utensils - I myself wanted to buy at the flea market: after all, you need to pick something special the atmosphere of that era, and nothing suitable was found in the warehouse.

“You need to do this yourself, you could send someone,” said Julie, worrying about the director’s health.

- Julie, you know my method of work, I have to control the whole process, from how to build the light in each act correctly and to the purchase of the missing inventory at the flea market. A good director in every scene should be carefully selected, everything is thought out to the smallest detail, since every detail is part of a big action, and it should not distract the viewer's attention from the main one. I learned this from my theater teachers.

- How many days does the flea market work?

- Only on weekends - on Saturday and Sunday until four o'clock. I was going to go in the morning, just grabbed my heart. - The director put his hand to the left side of the chest. - Now let go - and get ready. Will you make me a company?

“It's three o'clock now, and you look unimportant today,” said Julie anxiously. - You have a red face, probably, the pressure jumped. You rest, and today I have a day off, and nothing to do. I myself will go for the old candlesticks, and you, please, try to observe bed rest.

The director shared the concerns of Julie that if his condition really aggravated, Mr. Dreyson will postpone the play indefinitely.

Without thinking twice, he decided to listen to the request of the actress not to leave the house.

- Good! I, perhaps, in fact, better lie down. I will now write you a list of the requisite props for the performance, and it is advisable to buy it all today, since tomorrow I plan to hold another rehearsal.

- Tomorrow is the day off!

- I will ask Chuck to call the sound engineer, illuminator and other workers, since I want to go through all the material.

- Good. Then see you tomorrow at the rehearsal.

- On the bedside table are money. Take what you need.

- I have. Let me buy, and then you give me.

- I don’t understand how you still have something left of that meager salary that you get in the theater.

- This is art. We are artists and should be good at owning our craft, ”said Julie with a smile.

- So, take the money from the table and do not argue with your director! - Mr. Gould showed his hand on the money. “Otherwise, the pressure from my experiences can be even higher, although, in my opinion, there is no place further.

- You always knew how to work with actors and make them do it the way you want.

They laughed. Then Miss Watson took the money and went to the flea market, which was four blocks from Mr. Gould. On the way she admired the old streets and squares of the city. Going to the place, she saw only two rows, where traders offered old things, coins and other goods. Having bought everything necessary, Miss Watson was about to leave the market, but, passing by an elderly woman selling paintings, suddenly paused. Julie attracted the attention of three unframed canvas frameless.

Miss Watson was interested in painting and had long been going to decorate the walls of her apartment with paintings. Seeing these canvases, she nevertheless wished to realize the dream and decided to start with them. She came even closer to better see the canvas. Noticing the interest of Miss Watson, the woman who sold them said:

- Hello, miss. Which one do you like? If you take all three paintings, make a discount.

But Miss Watson looked at the canvases so intently that she didn’t even hear her. She smoothly moved her eyes from one painting to another, carefully studying them. The first one, called “The Bear”, dated 1929, depicts a clear morning in the forest and a bear chasing someone. The second lot, called "Fish", captured the day and the sun's rays passing through the water. Two fish frolicked in the transparent waves. This picture was dated 1932. The third, from 1939, which bore the name "Owl", depicted the sunset. The sun set smoothly over the horizon, a forest was painted in the foreground, and an owl was sitting on a tree branch ...

Once again, carefully examining the picture, not listening to what the saleswoman said, Julie asked:

- Who is author?

Having unfolded the picture and squinting, the saleswoman slowly, almost syllablefully, read: Harry Schwartz, Mainz.

- You sell paintings and do not even know whose they? - the actress was surprised.

“I'm far from painting, I'm just a milkmaid ...” the woman replied as if making excuses. - My father died last month, and when I was sorting out old things in the attic, I saw these pictures. He hid them from the authorities.

- What kind of authorities?

Ignoring the question, the saleswoman continued:

“He brought them from Germany after the war.” There were still hours, and a flask of a German officer. Take these three pictures, a clock and a flask, all for a hundred pounds ...

“I don’t need a watch and a flask, especially a German officer,” answered Julie. - I only want these pictures. How many ask?

Having thought, the elderly woman said:

- sixty pounds.

Miss Watson did not bargain. After paying the required amount, she rolled up the canvases and, carefully putting them in a bag with other purchases, went home.

After dinner, she once again reread her role, after which she pulled out sheets bought from the flea market. Placing them on the table and pressing the edges with books so that they would not curl again, Julie began to look at the painting with even more attention. She could not understand why these pictures so much she liked. Continuing to carefully study the canvases, she looked at the earliest and read the inscription: "Mainz, Germany, 1929." Gently folding the other two, Julie moved this picture to the center of the table and, again crushing the corners with books, began to study carefully.

 

* * * * * * *

MAINZ, GERMANY, NOVEMBER 13, 1929

 

“Harry, why don't you dance, but sit and be sad?” Your best friend is getting married today! Said a man of about thirty dressed in an expensive white suit with a red bow tie, patting a friend sitting at one of the tables in a luxurious restaurant.

“Klaus, I'm not into dancing now.” I must have fallen in love, ”said a thoughtful young man of medium height and thin build.

- Stop fooling around! Said the groom. - Let's go have fun.

- I'm quite serious. Tell me, please, and who is this beautiful girl?

- What? - not realizing who exactly this is about, Klaus asked.

“A slim, big-eyed brunette sitting alone over there,” Harry nodded toward the table against the wall.

Turning his head and looking at the indicated direction, Klaus saw his young wife's childhood friend.

- This is Leia. She works as a teacher at school and, by the way, she is Jewish, just like you ... but you better forget about her, as she is not here alone.

- And with whom?

- With Paul. He must have gone somewhere now. Although usually he does not move away from her for a second. Creepy bore ... By the way, they are going to get married soon, so look for other girls to meet. See how many there are here?

“Tell me a little about her,” Harry asked.

Sitting at a table next to a friend and pouring a glass of water to quench their thirst and at least a little break from dancing, Klaus Nolde said:

- She moved to Mainz with her parents in early childhood. I can also say that she does not like noisy companies and prefers quiet pastime.

- And who is this Paul?

“I met him on Lei’s twenty-fifth birthday, where Tilda and I were invited back in the spring, and since then I have been avoiding him.” - Looking around and making sure that none of the guests of the celebration could hear him, Klaus continued: - Paul is a physics teacher at the school where Leah works. It’s simply impossible to be in his company: he constantly teaches her, finds fault with everything, even with small things. It comes to what it teaches, how to behave, how to stand, how to sit, even how to pour water into a glass ... But since Leah suffers from all this - it means that he is satisfied with it. So look for another girl. - Pointing to the dance floor, said a friend. - At the German wedding, you are unlikely to meet another Leia, but there are enough beautiful girls here ...

- I want to meet with her. I will never forgive myself if I do not do this ... Klaus, mate, you understand: this girl is my type. Calm, beautiful, gentle, with good manners and also a teacher. She will be a wonderful wife and mother. Do you agree?

“Harry, I now understand why we have been friends for so many years.” The fact is that we like different girls, - Klaus smiled. - We and the university have always chosen different and never argued, and the more so did not conflict on this issue. I'll tell you straight, Leia is not in my taste: I like more relaxed girls, such as Tilda, slender blondes with blue eyes. Well, you understand me ...

“No, I don't understand,” interrupted Harry's friend. - I now do not understand anything and can not think about anything. All my thoughts are just about her.

“And mine’s just that it’s all over as quickly as possible, and Tilda and I are left alone.” And if she sees that I have approached the other ... You know how it can threaten me.

“That's what you’ll definitely be threatening with — if Tilda finds out about having an affair with that blonde woman in Hamburg last summer.” What was her name? Martha, yes? And if you do not immediately fulfill my request, then you will definitely be alone this night, but with yourself.

- Stop blackmailing me with that story! - Klaus muttered with displeasure. “You know that I was drunk ... and if Tilda finds out at least something about it, I don’t hold back.”

- I give my word that I will stop - from the very moment you introduce me to Leia. Please, Klaus, do it for me, I beg of you.

- Are you decided to marry? - smiled friend.

“I don't know yet, but nothing like this has happened to me before.” I have the feeling that I have met a girl from my dreams. - Harry dreamily rolled his eyes. - I have to meet her, and you can help me with this.

- How?

- You know her! You come up and introduce me: "This is my friend Harry, he is my colleague, also a doctor, and wants to meet you."

- And if this bore appears? Klaus asked.

- Then we will pass by and just say hello. Do it for the sake of our friendship.

“You have always been able to find valid arguments,” Klaus sighed, rising from his chair and gaining determination.

“Thank you, friend,” said Harry, also rising, buttoning the top button of his jacket and straightening his hair.

- Just let me think how to do so in order not to spoil the relationship with the bore. - Klaus wrinkled his forehead. - If they get married and we will be friends with families, then he will remind me until I’m old that I introduced you to his bride.

“Don't worry in advance,” Harry grinned. - She can change her mind at any moment.

- Come on, until I change my mind. I will try to help you, but remember that I am doing this only for you, since you are my best friend, and not because of your mean blackmail, ”Klaus emphasized.

When they approached Lee, Klaus introduced them to each other. Harry, having carefully examined the girl and, hearing a tender voice, thought: “Near she is even more beautiful, more gentle and more graceful ... She is the one whom I always dreamed of meeting." 


* * *

After sitting for about half an hour, Julie turned down the third canvas. Putting the canvases on the wardrobe in the hallway, she decided that tomorrow she would certainly take them to the framing workshop to put them in frames. For this, she is ready to part with even the thirty pounds left in her wallet.

 

 

 

THIRD CHAPTER

SUNDAY

 

Despite the day off, the actors and other theater workers, at the request of Mr. Gould, unquestioningly agreed to hold an extraordinary rehearsal on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Gould, who started calling everyone on Saturday afternoon, talking about the urgent reasons for postponing the rehearsal from Monday to Sunday, referred to her improved state of health, but Miss Watson guessed that this was due to her departure.

On this Sunday, Julie, as usual, was a little late for the rehearsal, but nevertheless decided to take the paintings to the framing workshop not far from the theater. Expanding the canvas in front of Wolf, an elderly member of the workshop, the actress said:

- Good afternoon, Wolf. It is good that you are open, despite the weekend.

“Hello, Miss Watson,” said the worker.

- We have a family business, and unnecessary orders will not interfere. How can I help?

- Can you make these pictures in a baguette?

- Of course. What color do you prefer? - turning the canvas, asked Wolf.

- Unfortunately, I do not understand anything in the design of paintings. I would like to completely trust your taste. What are your prices?

- If we start from the size of this canvas, then one frame can cost from seven pounds.

- What do they look like?

- I will now bring you a few samples, which, in my opinion, will be in harmony with the colors on these canvases. And you choose the one that you like the most.

Having rolled up the canvases, Wolf went into the depths of the workshop and after a minute laid out several samples before the actress. Miss Watson chose the baguette she liked and asked how much it would cost.

“That's the way all three paintings are made — forty-five pounds,” answered Wolf. - You have chosen one of the most expensive options, such a baguette is perfect for these paintings. If it's expensive, you can choose, for example, these whites - just seven pounds per picture ...

- No, I liked these ones, and the price is not the main thing here. I have thirty pounds with me, I can give them to you now, and bring the remaining fifteen tomorrow.

“You can pay after the work is finished,” said Wolf, folding the canvases. - Miss Watson, we are familiar with you for more than a year. Although you rarely indulge us with your presence, the poster with your image is always in front of our eyes.

He pointed to the glass door. Through her, Julie saw a sign that depicted her and Chuck. In large letters it was deduced: "Akiva and Rachel", and just below, in smaller type, - "A love story that will not leave anyone indifferent."

“My family and I will definitely come to see you and all the action,” Wolf smiled.

- Come! I promise: you will not regret.

- Thank you, we will certainly come.

- And how long will it take you to all three paintings?

- I have other orders. It will take at least two or three days.

Miss Watson urged the master to finish work on at least one painting by tomorrow evening. Out of respect for the actress, Wolf agreed, and promised to complete the work on the other two on Tuesday.

Thanking the master and giving him thirty pounds, Julie hurried to the exit, but then Wolf asked:

- What picture should be made in the baguette in the first place?

After weighing all the pros and cons, the actress opted for the oldest, with the signature “Mainz, Germany, 1929”.

 

* * * * * * *

MAINZ, GERMANY, NOVEMBER 13, 1929

 

“Thank you for agreeing to dance with me,” Harry said, holding the girl’s tender hand in his palm.

“Klaus was very requested, and on the day of his wedding I could not refuse,” answered the girl who barely reached Harry’s shoulders.

“I told him that you are extraordinarily beautiful and that I cannot fall asleep today if I do not dance with the most beautiful girl in the city.”

Leia was embarrassed and, to change the subject, asked:

- Do you like music? Who is your favorite composer?

“Beethoven,” said Harry. - And which composer do you prefer, beautiful Leia?

- I really like Johann Strauss. In my opinion, his music is light and airy.

“You have great taste,” said the young man, continuing to dance.

After a short pause, Harry continued:

“Leia, let me say you dance beautifully.”

- I studied ballet as a child, but then I had to quit. “After a pause, Leia asked:“ Harry ... is this not a Jewish name? ”

“In your mouth, my name sounds like it never sounded before,” Harry answered, holding the girl’s light camp with one hand.

- If you do not want, you can not answer.

- Yes it is. We are of the same nationality, and the fact that we met here today at a German wedding is fate.

“In our city, to meet, as you put it,“ people of our nationality, ”is not a rare occurrence,” the girl smiled. “It’s not for nothing that our city, Mainz, is called Jerusalem-on-the-Rhine.”

“Let me disagree with you,” Harry continued, trying to defend his point of view. - You still can not convince me about the fate of our meeting. As for Jerusalem-on-the-Rhine, each interprets this in his own way. For example, local Jews say that the city has such an informal name because they settled in Mainz in the early tenth century and founded the largest Jewish community in Germany here, and the Germans believe that this name comes from the fact that the city was the main center of Christianization of the Germans.

“Well, I won't argue with you,” the girl replied.

“That's prudent of you,” Harry joked awkwardly.

After a short pause, he asked:

- How long have you known Tilda?

- I moved here at ten years old. Tilda lived in a neighboring house and helped me get used to a new city, to new people. Since that time we are friends. And how do you know Klaus? Do you work with him?

- We studied at the university together.

- Klaus said that you are a doctor, or is it fiction? - with interest asked the girl.

- Yes, I am a doctor, and I dare say, very good.

- And what is your doctor? A surgeon, like Klaus?

- No, I chose another specialization - dentistry.

- Probably, you have a very interesting job! And I - a simple teacher of elementary grades.

“There are no simple teachers,” said Harry. - This is a very important specialty, as they form the personality of children.

Looking toward the table, where Paul was already reddened with rage, Paul, the girl lowered her head and said softly:

- Sorry, but I have to go.

“It’s because your cavalier is back,” Harry said gloomily, also looking at Paul.

- I really need to go.

- I beg you, let's at least complete this dance. I've never been so good.

Once again looking at the angry Paul, the girl lowered her head and continued the dance. After a short pause, Harry said:

- I hope that you forgive my frankness, but you and he absolutely do not fit each other.

“You forgive me too, but I don’t want to discuss this with you,” Leia replied a little pale.

“Believe me, you are meant for another,” continued the young man.

- And for whom, if not a secret? The girl asked sarcastically.

“You are meant for me,” said Harry confidently. “I understood that from the very second I saw you.”

- I beg you, do not, do not rush into such words. I do not believe in all these fairy tales about love at first sight, - the girl said excitedly. “On top of that, this is all unnecessary, since I will soon be getting married.”

- I am ready to argue with you on the box of chocolates that if you give me a month, I will prove to you that I am exactly the one you need.

Smiling, Leia answered:

- Alas, you do not have a month. After this dance, we will stop our communication.

“Then you have to work under extreme conditions,” Harry joked. - In that case, I will try to convince you during this dance. I hope after my words you will change your mind and do not commit such a rash act.

- You will waste time.

- Are you ready to argue or chickened out? Only - as a decent person and gentleman - I must warn you that at the university, among other things, I studied psychology.

- Well, let's try, only this is all in vain. I have already told you that I do not believe in miracles and will soon be getting married, - having decided to accept the challenge, the girl said seriously.

Harry collected his thoughts and said:

- Answer me, and better first of all to yourself, do you want to spend your whole life next to an unloved person? Live with him, give birth to children, meet him after work, go to bed and wake up next to him?

- Why do you say all this? I've already decided everything, ”Leia said sadly.

But Harry was not going to back down and continued:

- I, in turn, ask you not to do this. Give me a chance to prove to you that you deserve the best that you can love and be loved ...

The girl was embarrassed and lowered her head. Harry squeezed her hand even tighter, closed his eyes and whispered in her ear:

“Leia, perhaps my words will seem strange to you, but I do not want to part with you.” I would like this music to last forever.

“Alas, Harry, as you probably know, everything has its end,” the girl said. - Very soon the last chords will sound and we will say goodbye forever.

Harry didn't give up.

- Leia, answer me, please, doesn't the end of something mean the beginning of a new one? - he continued to speak. “Doesn't the end of the day mean the beginning of the evening, and the end of the evening the beginning of the night?” It’s not at all necessary for us to end this dance. I would like it to be the beginning of the next stage of our acquaintance. You know what, after the dance, I invite you to take a walk. Let's run away from everyone and go through the night Mainz.

Looking again at Paul, who was boiling with anger, Leia answered:

- Thank you for the invitation, but very soon I'm going to leave, and without you. You can invite someone else for a night walk: there are a lot of pretty girls here.

“I don't need anyone but you,” Harry continued to persist. - If you refuse, I will not even look at the other girls at this celebration. With thoughts of you, I will wait for the end of the wedding, and then I will go home and draw, continuing to dance, ”the doctor whispered.

- Can you draw? - interested asked Leia.

“Yes,” Harry nodded. - At a young age, I attended art circles and even took private lessons. I had a lot of sketches and sketches, but today, no matter how symbolic it sounds, I want to start the first serious work.

“And since my childhood I dreamed of learning to draw,” Leia admitted, “but I could not. And what are you going to portray?

- Your dream.

- What? - asked the girl. - Did you say “sleep”?

- Yes, a dream, I saw him that night. I have been looking for an interesting plot for the debut picture for a long time, and this dream has affected me so much that I decided to dedicate my first serious work to it.

“How interesting ...” breathed the girl.

- In general, I rarely dream dreams, especially color. And today's dream, I decided to capture on canvas.

- And what is this dream?

“Oh, it's a secret, and I'm not going to share it with a girl who so cynically refused to walk with me through the night city,” said Harry, hoping to interest Leia.

- Well, that's your right. As you wish.

When the last chords sounded, Harry made another desperate attempt:

- Leia, maybe you agree to meet me tomorrow night? I will tell you about the dream and the process of working on the picture ...

- No, I'm sorry, I have to go. And the music is already over.

“I need to see you again,” said Harry. - Please give me a chance.

- The chances are given not by people, but by He who sits in Heaven, so if we have a chance, we will meet.

“And I believe that people decide their own destinies, and if we decide that we want to be together, then no one and nothing can stop us,” said Harry with full determination to meet Ley again.

- I will not argue with you.

Saying goodbye to Leah and gradually releasing her tender palm from his own, Harry carefully looked into the girl's eyes and said quietly:

- I am very pleased with our acquaintance. That night, drawing a picture, I will think only of you, Leia. 


* * *

THEATER

 

Leaving the framing workshop, Julie quickly went to the theater, where the rehearsal was already in full swing. Entering the hall, Miss Watson saw Mr. Gould making some remarks to Chuck, who, in the absence of her partner, rehearsed her monologue. The director once again wanted to convey to the actor his vision of the main character, so that Chuck could get the role as best he could. He honorably listened to the words of Mr. Gould, and the theater employees at this time arranged the scenery for the first act. The performance itself consisted of four acts separated by one intermission.

Mr. Gould continued to explain to Chuck from his seat in the auditorium how to evoke greater sympathy, sympathy and love by the game, but, having caught the actor’s gaze directed to the entrance, and turning, he also saw Julie standing at the door. Mr. Gould didn’t scold her for being late - he just said: “Change your clothes and run to the stage”.

Julie quickly proceeded to the dressing room, climbed into the robe of a first-century Judah, and went on stage. There was a miserable shack with a haystack inside - the scenery for the first action.

When Mr. Gould made sure that everything was in place, he got up from his chair and, turning to the actors, said:

- You are ready?

Julie and Chuck nodded in agreement as a sign that they were already gathered and ready to begin the rehearsal.

Mr Gould said:

- Please everyone take their seats on the stage ... So, if you are ready, we will begin.

In the first act, Julie was supposed to portray a young girl, Rachel, and Chuck practically of her own age, a thirty-five-year-old illiterate shepherd Akiva. Rachel is the well-bred daughter of one of the richest people in Jerusalem, the Calba Savua. Acquainted with the illiterate shepherd Akiva, working in the estate of her father, she secretly marries him. When her father finds out about this, he extricates them from the estate and deprives his only daughter of the inheritance. Everybody scoffed at the illiterate Akiva, but the kind girl saw him as a wise man, decided that he would make a good rabbi, and against her father’s will, married him.

The searchlight came on and highlighted the actor and actress lying on the haystack. Choosing straws from the girl's head, the young man spoke:

“Thank you very much, Rachel, for the fact that you, the daughter of Kalba Savois, a respected man, one of the richest people in Jerusalem, agreed to marry me.”

- Akiva, I think we will succeed. Do not despair that my father kicked us out of the house and deprived me of the inheritance, since I still married you.

“I can't understand what a girl like you found in a shepherd who, at thirty-five, cannot read or write ...”

“Akiva, do you remember the condition that I gave you before agreeing to be your wife?”

- Yes of course. Go learn to read ...

- Exactly. Akiva, you need to learn. I think that you will be a great rabbi. Despite the fact that you are now illiterate, I am sure that over time you will be able to learn and become a respected person. And I will help you ...

“I hope that all this will not bother you and you will not run away from me back to your father’s estate.”

The girl smiled:

- I look like a fool, ready to leave such a treasure unattended?

“Rachel, have you ever been serious?”

- Be sure, I will not run away from you anywhere, do not even hope. And if you ever want to get rid of me and go to the other, I will grab your leg, since I cannot grab both of them, and I will drag along the land behind you even to the ends of the earth. Understand, if I chose you, it is forever.

The first act lasted about twenty-five minutes, and Mr. Gould was pleased with the play of Chuck and Julie. At his direction, the stage workers changed the scenery, and the actors began to rehearse and follow-up actions, and then the whole performance from beginning to end.

After five hours of work, Mr. Gould let everyone go. Miss Watson proceeded to the dressing room, gently took off her dress, washed off her makeup, and this evening did not linger in the theater, but immediately went home.

She had dinner, turned on the computer and went to the Internet to check mail and once again read the letter received from the Globus Theater, where there was detailed information about the upcoming audition on Monday. Among the ten new messages and spam, she found the same letter. After reading it, the actress went to the site of a book online store and signed up for the last few book novelties with courier home delivery, and then began to rehearse the role for tomorrow's audition in London. Julie played the role of Gertrude for two years in a local theater staged by Mr. Gould, until last summer the performance was removed from the repertoire, and she knew it almost by heart. The actress was afraid that her own presentation of the material or her external data would not appeal to the London director, and thoughts about this depressed her.

Once again, repeating the text, Miss Watson finally went to bed.

 

* * * * * * *

MAINZ, GERMANY, NOVEMBER 14, 1929

 

- Hello! What are you doing here? Leia asked in surprise when she saw Harry the day after Klaus and Tilda’s wedding.

He stood at the school gates and waited for her at the end of the working day.

“I was passing by and something made me stop,” said Harry. - Probably, conscience. She reminded me that I should buy you a box of chocolates.

- I assure you, it is not necessary ...

“But we argued, and I, as a decent person, must keep my word.” If you refuse, then my conscience can torture me, and I will not sleep well. This is for you. ”Harry took out his hand from behind his back and handed Lee a brown box and a small bouquet of chrysanthemums.

“Thank you,” said Leia, confused. “But it really wasn't worth it ...”

- Leia, I have chosen such flowers for a long time so that they emphasize the beauty of your eyes, but I haven’t found anything worthy. And, in the absence of the best, I decided to stay on this option.

- Thank. They are very beautiful, ”the girl said, sniffing chrysanthemums.

- Can I take you? Or will you wait for your beau?

- If by cavalier you mean Paul, then he asked for leave today and left early.

“So will you let me walk you?”

- Yes, let's go.

After they went to her house, which was located a few blocks from the school, Harry, delicately asking for permission to switch to “you”, asked:

- You are not very tired today?

- No, it was a normal working day.

- And I took a day off. You know, I don’t really want to work the next morning after the wedding of my best friend.

- Do you want to come to school with flowers and sweets? Leia looked at Harry through the bunch.

- Yes very.

“About the address and the time when I finish, of course, Tilda told you.”

“Well, yes,” Harry admitted. - I persuaded her, explaining that you need to tell you something very important, and I also said that if I did not see you, I would not survive it, and she could not refuse.

“Yes, this is a weighty argument,” the girl remarked sarcastically.

As they walked along the alley leading to Leah’s house, Harry asked the girl to linger for a few minutes and listen to him. He plucked up courage and said:

- Leia, I thought about you all night long and could not sleep a wink until the very morning. This has never happened to me before ...

The girl was embarrassed.

- I fell asleep at dawn, a few hours later I woke up thinking about you and realized that I wanted to wake up like this until the end of my days. - After a pause and continuing to carefully look into the eyes of the girl, Harry timidly said:

- Marry me.

- Harry! - Leia exclaimed. - We just met yesterday!

- So what? In order to understand whether this is a person or not, one word, one glance is enough.

“Even if I really wanted to, then we would have failed,” the girl retorted. - Our wedding with Paul is scheduled for next summer.

- Why are you marrying him? Harry asked in desperation.

- He has been caring for me for a long time and says he loves me very much.

- Do you love him?

- I do not know. Perhaps, over time, I will be able to experience this feeling for him ...

- Leia, do you understand that you have to live with him all his life? Go to bed and wake up in the same bed? Listening to constant moralizing ... Maybe it will be a stable life, but it will not make you happy.

- And what will make me happy?

- I will make you happy, no one can ever love you the way I do!

Leia said nothing, just carefully watched and listened to Harry who continued to confess his love:

“I have been looking for you all my life, looking for you among the crowd, I wanted our eyes to meet ... Please think over my words and my proposal.” As for Paul, if he really loves you, he will understand and forgive.

Leia stared at Harry carefully, then lowered her eyes, and said in a faint voice:

- I can not answer here so soon, I need to think.

- Think. You have time until tomorrow evening.

- Why until tomorrow evening?

- Because tomorrow night we go to the theater. I already bought tickets.

“Harry, where are you in such a hurry?” Leia asked in surprise.

“Life is too short, and I want to spend as much time as possible with you,” said Harry.

- I promise that I will think and tomorrow I will give you the answer.

Harry, as it were, accidentally took Leya’s palm, and they moved towards her house. On the way, the girl asked:

“Yesterday you never told me about your dream.” Did you start painting a picture?

- Do you understand something in dreams, can you interpret them?

- No ... But I am very interested, please tell me what you saw in a dream, and I will listen.

- Well, listen! It was a clear morning, and the sun was rising on the horizon. I was in a dense forest, admiring nature, listening to the birds singing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a big brown bear appeared. Seeing him, I began to run away ...

- And how, ran away? - Leia laughed.

- To be honest, I was not laughing then. I quickly woke up ...

- And I never remember dreams. I do not know, good or bad.

- You, the main thing, remember that tomorrow at seven o'clock in the evening I will be waiting for you near the theater.

- Well, I will try not to forget, - the girl smiled.

When they stopped near the house, their eyes met again, and for a while Leia and Harry stared at each other. Then the girl quickly pulled her palm out of the hand of the satellite and headed towards the house. Harry said after:

“I will think about you all night and wait for that moment when I see you again tomorrow at the theater.” I will count the hours, minutes, seconds ...

Leia went to the gate and, turning around to say goodbye to Harry, said quietly:

- Till tomorrow.

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

MONDAY

 

The alarm clock Miss Watson rang exactly at eight in the morning. Having put herself in order, having had breakfast, having practiced diction and having previously come to the bank to withdraw money for a trip to London and other expenses, she went to the railway station. The road took Julie a little less than an hour. Arriving in the city, she immediately went to one of the most famous theaters in the UK, "Globus". From the very morning a long queue lined up at the entrance, and even though it was already two in the afternoon, people were still arriving and arriving.

When her turn came, the directors asked Miss Watson to introduce themselves and recite an excerpt from the performance. After that, they thanked the actress and invited the next applicant.

- Do you think I have a chance? - Julie asked one of the committee members, walking around the hall with a list of applicants.

- Everyone has chances, but about who the director chooses will be known tonight. And if it’s you, they will call you.

However, in the evening, when Julie was returning to Windsor, only Mr. Gould called her, deciding to find out how the day had gone. "Whatever choice the directors make, I consider you the best actress," he said. But his words weakly comforted Miss Watson, because she already realized that the dream of a big stage had come to an end.

From the station, Julie hurried to the baguette workshop to pay the remaining fifteen pounds and pick up one picture.

- When can I come for the rest of the pictures? - She asked.

“I think tomorrow afternoon,” the master replied while making out the next frame.

- Do you have time to do both?

- No, only the second. From the third you will have to wait until the baguettes, which you have chosen, are brought.

“But you had baguettes for all three paintings ...”

- Yes, but the material turned out to be defective; I had to order a new batch for the third painting.

“Please hurry,” Julie asked, unfurling the canvases and carefully reviewing both pictures again, she asked: “By the way, you don’t know why the artist wrote the name of the city and the date on the front side, but subscribed to the reverse?”

- Hard to say. Each painter has his own manner of signing pictures and his own considerations on this subject. Perhaps he borrowed this technique from some famous artist ...

“I don’t know why I liked these works so much,” said Miss Watson. - One of these days, I’ll have to ask a carpenter to drive three nails so that the pictures do not gather dust in the closet, but immediately take their place in my salon, I think they will look great there.

— Miss Watson, I see how warmly you feel about these canvases.” Therefore, I will try to deal with the second picture tomorrow morning. As soon as everything is done, I'll call you right away.

Tired after a long and hard day, Julie said:

- Thank you, Wolf.

Taking the finished picture, the actress went home.

Returning, removing the outerwear and putting a heavy bag with numerous printouts of dialogues on the cabinet, Julie went to the kitchen. After a quick supper, she attached a picture on the cabinet near the TV. Then she found in the bag the text of the play “Akiva and Rachel” and began to repeat. After she quickly re-read her role, she decided to put more emphasis on long monologues, mainly in the second act of the performance, but barely found this place, the phone rang. This Mr. Gould, on the pretext of discussing the play, decided once again to cheer on the ward.

- Good evening, Julie! How are you feeling? Have you already started rehearsing?

- Yes, I even managed to quickly re-read all my dialogues.

- The first act you already play great, start better from the second right away, - wanting to help Julia quickly forget today's auditions in London, the director tried to shift her attention to the upcoming performance. Can you read the comments to her?

- Yes, wait a second, - Julie said, flipping through the pages. - Here, I found. “In the second act, after the marriage of Akiva and Rachel, six years have passed. After much persuasion, Akiva finally began to comprehend the letter, having gone to study with his eldest son Joshua when he was five years old. Akive at that time was already forty, at first everything seemed to him to be very difficult. Rachel took care of the house, and the city residents, teachers and children laughed at the poor shepherd, but he managed to overcome all this. When Akiva mastered the alphabet and the basics of Holy Scripture, his teachers, seeing the abilities of Akiva, advised him to continue to comprehend the wisdom of the Torah in Yavne, where at that time there was the largest religious institution in Judea. Akiva hesitated, did not want to study far from home, and there wasn’t enough money, but Rachel convinced her husband of the need to study, promising to get the required amount. ” Mr. Gould, these are all comments to the second act, and only then there is a dialogue where Rachel gives her husband money, and Akiva goes to study ...

- Julie, you must convincingly show Rachel’s emotions and feelings for Akiva.” Imagine - her most cherished dreams are beginning to come true before her eyes! Finally, my husband, at the age of forty, after much persuasion, learned to read and sent to the largest religious school in Judea to continue his studies! Rachel is ready for anything to help Akive.

- I'll try, Mr. Gould. But, honestly, I still do not understand the motives of this heroine. It is difficult to imagine why this young and beautiful girl needs to shoulder the household to send her husband to study, and even at the age of forty.

- Yes, I agree, its motives are difficult to understand for our contemporaries, but you must look at it from a different point of view. In Rachel there was not a drop of egoism, she did not think about herself: selflessly devoted her life to her husband becoming a respected rabbi, and the children learning to read and write.

“Perhaps this is because I have never loved so much.” I hope that you do not have to regret that you chose me.

- You are doing great, and few people will play better than you. You just have to feel and live on stage a few periods from the life of Rachel, divided into four parts in the play. In the first act, she is young, twenty years old, only met Akiva the shepherd. In the second, they got married, and after six years, despite the need, Ra-khel sends her husband to study. In the third, he studies hard, and after twelve years he wants to visit his family, but, hearing the neighbors talk, he turns around and leaves. And in the fourth, where she is fifty, and after many years of mockery, reproaches and hard life, Rachel reaps the fruits of her labor, her husband becomes one of the greatest rabbis in the history of Judaism.

“I'll try,” Julie replied calmly. - The problem is that I have never heard of this man and his wife, about the history of their love.

The director uttered with shame:

- Frankly, before I also did not know about this story. Yes, I read a lot of books about the history of Judea, about the life of the forefathers, about King David and King Solomon, but I have not heard anything about Rabbi Akiva. Nothing - until I read this book.

- Mr. Gould, - the actress spoke hotly, - I promise you: I will try to get more into this role. Today is Monday, and the premiere is on Wednesday evening, and I will reread the script again and again until I can better understand the motives that drive this heroine.

“Julie,” Mr. Gould said with a soft smile, “thank you very much for being so responsible with the role.” You are a wonderful and talented actress, we understand each other perfectly. I am grateful to fate because I met you. I do not know what I would do without you.

“Thank you, Mr. Gould.” Thanks to you, I play such wonderful characters.

“No thanks,” said the director, looking at his watch. - You, the main thing, try to forget about this audition in the theater as soon as possible and focus on our performance. For me it is very important, and I need you to be collected and prepared.

- Well, Mr. Gould, I will try to do everything not to let you down.

After bidding farewell to the director, Miss Watson continued reading the text of the second act, in which Rachel took out money to send her husband to study.

“Rachel got up before Akiva, got dressed, quietly left the house and headed towards the city market. Returning and waking her husband and son, she began to prepare breakfast.

“Akiva, love, will you soon?” You need to hurry.

“Yes, Rachel, I am already getting dressed and coming soon.”

- Hurry up, please, Joshua, he needs to study, and let the little daughter while he sleeps.

Then Akiva, went to the kitchen and, welcoming Rachel, asked in surprise:

- Rachel, what's wrong with you, why are you at home in a headscarf, sick?

- Akiva, you know how much time I get up, and in the morning it is very cold, and I'm afraid to catch a cold head.

- Well done, you have to take care of yourself, now you will be forced to keep house yourself.

Rachel read in the eyes of Yoshua who arrived in time for breakfast, the question about the scarf on her head and, not letting him say a word, said:

- Joshua, rather sit at the table and eat, you should not be late for study.

“What have you got ...” the child tried to ask.

- Do not ask a lot of questions, eat - and run to study.

Then Rachel again turned to her husband:

- Akiva, I entered the market, bought flat cakes, vegetables and fruits on the road, and, by the way, here is the money, for the first time this should be enough, and then I will send more.

“Rachel, why don't you want to answer, where did you get this money from?” Did you borrow from someone?

“Akiva, please trust me.”

- We are husband and wife, there should be no secrets between us.

- If it will calm you, I will answer: I have not borrowed from anyone.

- Thank you for this opportunity to continue my studies, I will try very hard. But you know what I constantly think about? How will you be here without me ...

Rachel exclaims with feigned outrage:

“Akiva, don't you believe in my powers?” - And after a pause, she continued: - Who coped with the whole economy while you were learning to read and then to the Holy Scripture? - Rachel!

- Who milked the goats, looked for chickens, brought brushwood to heat the house? Rachel again.

- Yes, Rachel. You are a smart girl. But I used to be at home in the evenings, but now I may not be able to visit you for months.

- Akiva, know that everything will be fine, you, most importantly, be engaged. I will continue to be able to keep house, study hard and remember that we all love you.

Then, before going on a long journey, Akiva went into the room to pick up things, and Joshua, rising from the table and also taking the bag, headed for the exit. Accompanying her son, Rachel abruptly bent to kiss him, but at that moment the headscarf covering her head slipped to the floor.

The gaze of Akiva and Joshua standing nearby showed a shocking picture - Rachel had no hair on her head.

Akiva looked at his wife for a long time and could not come to his senses.

Then he asked Joshua to wait outside the door and, barely holding back tears, said:

“Rachel, what happened to your beautiful hair?” Why did you cut your hair? Why did you do that?

“Akiva, I told you that it’s summer and it’s hot to work,” Rachel said, lowering her eyes.

“Now I understand where your money comes from,” he sat down on a chair and dropped his bag on the floor, Akiva said sadly. - I do not go anywhere. That price I do not need.

“Akiva, please don't be mad at me,” Rachel pleaded. “Everything I do is for us.” The main thing is that you have the opportunity to learn, and your hair ... they will soon grow back.

Akiva silently looked at the floor and could not understand how Rachel decided to take such a step.

“If you love me at least a bit, then take the bag and go on the road,” the wife continued. - Hair will grow back, and we cannot lose precious time.

- How can I not love such as you! Exclaimed Akiva. - Every person on earth would dream of having such a wife nearby - smart, loyal, courageous. And after all this you ask, do I love you at least a little?

“Everything I do is for us and our children.” We must provide them a decent future. They need to take an example from someone, and if you don’t continue your studies, then the children will begin to treat students with contempt, and in the future others will make fun of them as they used to make fun of you.

“You're right,” Akiva said quietly, “I definitely need to continue my studies.” Thanks for everything you do for me. Thank you for taking this step for me - I sold my hair.

“Akiva, you have no reason for sadness, because what you learn to write and read is more expensive than what I look like.” And by the way, why do I need long hair when you leave? I am only interested in one man on earth, and if he is not there, then for whom then I should dismiss them? Do you want someone else to admire my long hair? - smiling, cast Rachel.

- Not.

“So I don’t need it, I have you, and I want you to admire them all your life all alone.”

Akiva was touched by the act of Rachel. He hugged her tightly and promised:

“Rachel, I will study day and night and will do my best to ensure that your efforts are not in vain.” I give you my word that when I learn the Holy Scriptures and return home, I will certainly buy you the decoration “Golden Jerusalem” in gratitude for everything that you do for me.

Rachel nodded with a smile and said:

- Thank you, darling. I think that by that time my hair will surely grow back and, having dismissed it, I will put on this tiara.

Then Akiva, who was finding it harder and harder to part with Rachel not to change his mind, hugged her tightly, said goodbye and went to the city of Yavne. ”

After several readings of this action and one rehearsal, Julie felt very tired. The morning trip to London to audition also made itself felt. It was half past ten in the evening, and Julie decided to get some rest. Having collected all the sheets from the table, she laid them out in order and put them on the shelf. Then, after going into the kitchen, I took a bottle of orange juice from the refrigerator and, after shaking, filled a glass.

Sitting comfortably on the couch, Miss Watson thought about the words of Mr. Gould - that she needed to love her heroine, try to understand her motives. However, she realized that even after five months of rehearsals she could not fully understand Rachel’s motivation and treat her with due sympathy. It’s good, of course, that everything ended so much in them, but the likelihood of such a favorable development of events is very small ...

Tired of reflection, for some time she was admiring a new picture.

 

* * * * * * *

MAINZ, GERMANY, NOVEMBER 15, 1929

 

- How do you play? Harry asked, handing his overcoat to his beautiful companion.

- Wonderful. I have not been to the theater for so long that I forgot how beautiful this art is, ”Leia said.

- And I often go to the theater. In my opinion, this is the highest art, since direct communication takes place between the actors and the audience in the hall, this is akin to magic. I often sit in the hall and only regret one thing - that I am not a director.

“You're a doctor, and this is no less a worthy specialty,” Leia reassured him.

When the couple left the theater for fresh air, the young man said:

- I really do not want to part with you. Let's go to a restaurant or maybe just take a walk ...

- I am not hungry, and at such a late hour I don’t eat anymore.

“It's only nine in the evening ...”

- After six I do not eat at all, I follow the figure. If you do not mind, I would just like to go. It is a beautiful November evening.

- As you say, maid of honor.

Going down the steps of the theater, they headed towards the city embankment. This autumn evening in Mainz was beautiful weather. Despite the late hour, the embankment was quite crowded, loving couples and parents with children were walking ...

- How do you imagine an ideal family? Leia asked, looking at a couple with children passing by: a child of about five holding his father’s hand, and his mother carrying a stroller with a baby.

A little thought, Harry replied:

- Husband, wife and at least two children running around the house, they make noise, play ... Probably, and you?

- Husband, wife, son and daughter. At least, I have always represented the ideal family just like that.

Harry every minute more and more convinced that Leia was the man he had waited all his life. He stopped, took her hands and, looking at her with a tender look, said:

— Лея, мы с тобой будем прекрасной парой, я буду тебя очень любить, и ты родишь мне прекрасных детей.

— Ты уже так уверенно об этом говоришь? Вообще-то я еще не ответила согласием на твое вчерашнее предложение…

— Хорошо, не будем торопить события. У тебя есть еще несколько часов для раздумья, а пока давай посидим около реки, здесь прекрасный вид и звезды.

Они подошли к скамейке, с которой открывалась панорама реки. Какое-то время они сидели и смотрели на небо, а потом Лея спросила:

— Ты закончил рисовать картину?

— Да. Это моя первая серьезная работа. Мне очень нравится искусство, и хотелось бы сделать целую серию картин и в старости организовать выставку. В глубокой, глубокой старости…

- You talk so romanticly about old age, but I'm very afraid to grow old. Leia looked hard at Harry. - If you had the opportunity, would you like to never grow old and live forever?

- I thought a lot about it, but every time I came to the conclusion that no. In eternal life there will be no development. And since you are constantly pushing yourself to have more time ... And you?

- If we do not take into account the option of eternal youth, then I want to live up to fifty years, while beauty is still preserved. And then - or no longer grow old, or die ...

“I won't let you do this, for me you will remain beautiful at seventy.” External beauty is just a shell. If a person is beautiful from the inside, then it is forever. I assure you, you will retain attractiveness in old age, and even after fifty years, when we have children and many grandchildren, I will not stop looking at you with admiration.

- Have you already planned everything? - With a smirk asked Leia.

“Yes, I decided long ago that I need only one woman to whom I can devote my whole life and, having met you, Leia realized that it was you,” Harry said carefully looking into the girl’s eyes.

- If you say that you have already planned everything to a great old age, then tell me, how would you like to leave this world?

“Well, you have questions ...” Harry scratched his head.

- Have you ever thought about it?

- Probably, like everyone else: in deep old age, next to a loved one.

- And more specifically?

“Wait, I have to think ...” Harry answered uncertainly. - If it is more concrete, then, probably, in old age, looking at your pictures ... In order to play classical music, suppose Beethoven ... And the most important thing is that a loved one is near. And you?

- I often think about it. Most likely in Jerusalem.

- Why there?

- My grandfather was a rabbi. Once in the company of other rabbis, he visited Jerusalem. Grandfather talked a lot about this ancient city, about unforgettable impressions, what emotions he had experienced by joining the old city of Jerusalem and praying at the wall that remained from the Temple.

- I do not know ... I have a neutral attitude towards religion.

“I, too, cannot identify myself as a religious people,” Leia said, “but our homeland is there.” Now is 1929, and just imagine that after two thousand years of wandering, people began to go there and re-occupy these lands. And I think this is a kind of sign.

Harry thought about her words and replied:

- I agree with you, there is some historical justice in this, but to be frank, I do not consider Palestine to be my homeland, even historical. I don’t know why, but I’m not pulling at all. My homeland is here in Germany, in the place where I was born and raised.

Leia looked at Mainz's starry sky and said:

Maybe you are right, the birthplace of a person is where he was born, but I am sure that there is something in that place. If you look carefully, you will see that the shrines of all religions are located in Jerusalem, in a small area. Grandfather said that, according to Judaism, the place where the Temple used to stand was the gateway to the spiritual world. Therefore, this city attracts everyone and is the cause of endless wars for more than one millennium.

Leia continued to look somewhere far into the river and emotionally reason:

- Maybe listening to the stories of my grandfather as a child, I was overly emotional and I had everything in my memory in bright colors. He spoke about this city with such love that it made a big impression on me as a child. Maybe these stories and served the fact that in my understanding of Jerusalem - this is something magical, something unearthly.

Harry listened attentively to his companion, though he did not share her impressions. Continuing to look at her and listen to her soft voice, he again and again caught himself thinking that he was ready to listen to this woman all his life. At that time, Leia continued:

- Grandfather after returning from Jerusalem had one dream, to lead us all to Palestine. He wanted to spend the rest of his life there, buy a small apartment in the Jewish quarter of the old city and from there go to Heaven. But he did not die there, but I would like to leave the world in the very place where our ancestors had sought so many centuries in the old city of Jerusalem.

Harry, waiting for her to speak out, remarked:

- You know, in the old days they believed that one of the signs that a person will go to heaven is if he leaves this world the way he wanted. But honestly, I do not believe that there is something after life.

- I do not know why, but I want to believe that our life does not end here. That my grandfather, who left this world ten years ago, is watching me from Heaven, protecting me, and when I die, I will definitely meet with him.

Tears streamed down Leia’s cheeks.

Harry took the girl by the hand and, gently stroking, said:

- Leia, enough about the sad. We have a whole life ahead of us, and it’s too early for us to think about it.

- Good! Let's hope - wiping away tears, said the girl.

- I am going to live a long and happy life with my beloved woman and children. And if you agree to my proposal, then I will try to make you the happiest in this world.

- Do you think that our life together will be successful?

- I will do everything for this. Pamper you and the children and try to please you every minute. Leia, please trust me, give me a chance, I assure you that you will never be so happy with Paul.

After a pause, Leia said:

“Harry, I don’t know what fate has prepared for me, but today I spoke with Paul and said that everything was over between us.” But he replied that he would still wait and love me.

“You did the right thing,” Harry rejoiced. - Paul must understand that you are completely different people. With him you would just lose yourself, he would crush the person in you. And I like you for who I am, and I don't want to change anything in you. And I would be happy if you could be my wife.

Leia carefully looked at the young man and said:

- Harry, I agree to be your wife.

* * *

It was eleven when Miss Watson took a stack of script sheets from the shelf, carefully put them in her bag and went to bed. In the morning she needed to wake up at exactly ten o'clock, and at eleven to be in the theater at a rehearsal.

 

 

FIVE CHAPTER

TUESDAY

The call from Wolf, who had finished work on the second painting, woke Miss Watson a little earlier than she had planned. The good news drove away the remnants of sleep, and, having washed and had breakfast, Julie first called Paul, the theatrical carpenter:

- Hello, Paul. Can you come in today or tomorrow and drive three nails?

“Yes, of course, Miss Watson,” answered the carpenter, “but where exactly?”

- In the cabin. I bought three paintings and I want to hang them so that the walls don't seem so empty.

- Got it. Today I will definitely come to you after work.

- Thank you, Paul. I finish at three, so I'll be home, but if Mr. Gould gives us another evening rehearsal today before tomorrow's premiere, then you can take a spare key under the rug. Places where you need to drive nails, mark with a pencil.

“Good, Miss Watson.”

After breakfast and putting herself in order, Julie glanced at her watch and realized that she was once again late for rehearsal. Each time she was terribly uncomfortable in front of Mr. Gould, but she could not help herself. Arriving late at the theater and seeing that everyone is waiting only for her, Julie apologized to the director and other employees. And today, Miss Watson did not have time: while preening, time had run out. Quickly throwing on her raincoat, she left the house.

When Julie entered the hall, the theater staff had already prepared the scenery for the third act, which, according to the director, like the fourth, was to take place after the interval. Mr. Gould gave the last instructions to Chuck, as well as to Chris Stevens, the head of his advanced years, who was supposed to play Rachel, an elderly and mischievous neighbor, named Ishra. They were familiar with the director for a long time and were practically the same age.

Mr. Gould, speaking to Chuck, continued:

“So, after twelve years of hard work, where you managed to show your best, you decided to visit Jerusalem — the city where you were once mocked — to see the family after a long separation. However, you involuntarily become a witness to this conversation.

- Mr. Gould, and I will be clearly visible to all viewers, if I get up right here, behind the hut? - Chuck asked, since most of the rehearsals they did on the small stage.

Mr. Gould passed from the center to the left of the hall, looked at Chuck, who was supposed to stand unnoticed by other characters, standing near Rachel’s house, and said:

- It is better to take another step, this scene is wider than a small one, so that they can see your reaction from the extreme rows ...

“Good,” Chuck said, and stepped in the direction indicated.

Mr. Gould returned to his seat in the center of the room, sat down to take a break, and turned to Chuck:

“Chuck, as soon as your character arrived in Jerusalem and turned into his street, going to the house, he heard Ishra's voice ... And then the action begins.” Yes, and make a mark on the stage. The audience should see you, your facial expression, since this is one of the most emotional scenes of the production.

- I will try to convey this, Mr. Gould.

- Good. And you, Chris, playing the role of Ishra, must show that this person is already old, but, unfortunately, wisdom has not come to him over the years. He constantly gloats and tells Rachel, who has taken care of the house, that it is not too late for her to return to her father and start a new life.

- We understand you, - the actors said, and, having gone to places, began to tune in to the role.

Увидев, что мистер Гоулд закончил наставлять актеров, Джули поздоровалась с ним и отправилась в гримерку. Прежде чем начать, режиссер сказал, что сейчас нужно будет пройтись по третьему акту, а вечером они проведут полную репетицию.

Когда все приготовились, мистер Гоулд дал последние указания Джули, которая должна изображать уставшую от тяжелой работы женщину. И сейчас она в саду, что-то сажает, копает маленькой лопатой…

Репетиция началась.

…Рахель трудится в саду. Она уже двенадцать лет не виделась с мужем. Сосед Ишра, который регулярно досаждает ей обидными высказываниями в адрес Акивы, наблюдает за работой со своего двора. В это время к дому подходит Акива. В сумке лежат сладости, купленные для детей. Приблизившись, он слышит громкий голос соседа и останавливается.

- Your father was right to kick you out of the house and deprive you of your inheritance! He knew that it would be so!

- That "so be it"? What do you mean? - asks Rachel, continuing to work.

- That you will work, try, work for him, and this shepherd will leave you ...

“Stop, stop,” Mr. Gould said. “Chuck, you need to show surprise and sadness on your face.” Just imagine: Akiva has not seen his wife and children for twelve years! And, finally, having gone to the market and bought sweets for the children, he set off. Let him not yet be a rabbi, but he has already earned the respect of rabbis and other students of the yeshiva. All the way he thought about how he would embrace his beloved wife and grown children, share his successes with them, and in a couple of days he would return to the yeshiva to continue his studies ... And then there was such a conversation!

“Well, Mr. Gould, I will try to demonstrate it more expressively,” said the actor.

- If everyone is ready, let's start over. So, Rachel works in the garden, Ishra stands at her site and watches her, and as soon as Akiva leaves, everything begins.

When everyone took their seats and Chuck came out from behind the scenes, Ishra said:

- Your father was right to kick you out of the house and deprive you of your inheritance! He knew that it would be so!

- That "so be it"? What do you mean? Rachel asked, continuing to work.

- That you will work, try, work for him, and this shepherd will leave you ...

- Stop talking like this about my husband! He is not a shepherd, he is studying in a yeshiva, ”Rachel replied.

- Unhappy you are a woman! - Ishra said. - And besides, naive. Do you still believe that your husband is studying there somewhere?

“Yes, I’m sure of it,” Rachel said firmly.

- For twelve years, he did not even write a single letter! I am convinced that he has forgotten you and, probably, is having fun with another person with the money that you are sending.

Tears ran down Rachel's cheeks.

“Ishra, I’m ready to listen to anything, but please do not say that Akiva forgot us.” It hurts me to the depths of my soul ... Why do you speak of my husband so much, you don't know him at all! Akiva is the best of men.

“Rachel, it’s time for you to reasonably look at what is happening.” From the young, beautiful girl, the daughter of the respected by all Savva Calaby, you turned into the wife of an illiterate shepherd. With another husband you would have a happy life. Think again before it is too late, if you do not want to live all your life as a widow with a living husband.

Rahel began to cry. She often had to listen to insulting words about her husband, and not only from Ishra, and all the same, every time it hurt. What is the most offensive, she really has nothing to argue with ... And besides the blind belief that her husband really is studying the Holy Scriptures, she had nothing left.

“Please tell me what you want, insult me, but do not dare to condemn Akiva,” Rachel said through tears. - He is the best in the world, and if necessary, I will not hesitate to give my life for him.

Despite the depressed state of Rachel, Ishra continued to insist:

- Return to your father, forget this shepherd before it is too late, and start a new life. Don't you understand that he left you with the children?

Akiva, heard all this and only decided to stand up for his wife, as Rachel's voice rang out:

“You can say and think what you want, but no one knows how I do, Akiva.” I am sure that the day will come, and the husband will return to Jerusalem a respected rabbi, an educated person, and you will be ashamed of today's words. If Akiva had heard now, I would have told him: “Go and learn the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures for another twelve years — I will still wait for you.”

Akiva, having heard Rachel’s answer, turned around and, with a heavy heart, set off on his way back, without seeing his relatives. He understood how hard it was for his wife, how much ridicule and humiliation she had to endure.

Fully sharing the desire of Rachel and realizing that only if successful people understand the choice made by her, he promised himself to work even harder.

* * *

After a day rehearsal, Julie gathered at the baguette workshop for the second picture, but Mr. Gould offered to go for lunch and said that after the evening rehearsal he would take her to the workshop and then go home with the picture. The actress gladly accepted the invitation.

After they made the order, Julie asked the director:

- Mr. Gould, how are you in the mood for tomorrow's premiere?

- We have been rehearsing this performance for the whole five months, and you managed to get used to the role well.

- And how was today's day rehearsal? There were some blunders?

- On the whole, good, but Chris is a little under-fit. He is too kind, and when playing negative characters, there is always some imbalance.

- Why did you approve him for this role?

— Вместо него должен был играть Ричард Лоу, — стал обстоятельно объяснять режиссер. — Но в последний момент он получил главную роль в другом спектакле и попросил его отпустить. Поэтому мой выбор и пал на Криса. Мы давно работаем вместе.

— Все же мне не совсем понятно, почему Акива, так и не повидавшись с семьей, отправился обратно в ешиву… — промолвила Джули.

— Меня тоже мучила эта мысль, и в процессе написания сценария я задал этот вопрос автору книги, — сказал режиссер, вытирая руки влажной салфеткой.

— Молодой человек пояснил, что Ишра символизирует дурное начало, это некая проекция… Акива, покинувший Иерусалим осмеянный, мог вернуться только в случае успеха. И тут услышал этот разговор и понял, что время возвращаться еще не настало. — Мистер Гоулд аккуратно положил салфетку на специальную подставку. — Акива знал, что все окружающие нас люди указывают нам на что-то, и человек не случайно встре-чаешь их на своем пути. И в тот самый момент, когда он вернулся и услышал этот разговор, то понял, что это не какое-то случайное стечение обстоятельств, а некий знак — расслабляться еще рано: «твое время вернуться в Иерусалим еще не пришло, ты еще не победил, возвращайся и продолжай учиться».

— Как все сложно… — тяжело вздохнула актриса.

— Это еще и испытание для самого Акивы. Изменился ли он, и если да, то в какую сторону? Раньше Акива набросился бы на Ишру с кулаками, а теперь смог сдержать эмоции, выслушав такие обидные слова, и это говорит о том, что человек вырос, как личность. Его желание продолжить учебу совпало с желанием Рахель, и это, равно как и диалог с соседом, дало понять, что праздновать победу еще рано. — Мистер Гоулд помолчал и добавил: — И это действительно так: Акива отпраздновал победу только спустя еще двенадцать лет. Двадцать четыре года он постигал премудрости Святого Писания, а его верная жена и дети ждали его. Только после этого он вернулся в Иерусалим — вернулся уже известным раввином, во главе более двадцати тысяч учеников.

— На вечерней репетиции мы будем показывать все или уделим внимание именно этой сцене? — спросила Джули.

“Let's start at the beginning,” Mr. Gould said. - And this is the final, everything should be romantic there.

Julie nodded in agreement with the director and said:

- Mr. Gould, I do not know about you, but personally I like the final scene most of all. Despite the difficulties, they achieved what they wanted, and again, as at the beginning of their life together, they are in the same room, they remember their lives and talk so pleasantly ... Mr. Gould, you know, I like the role more and more. This woman suffered so much, devoted her whole life to her family and eventually achieved her goal. The real heroine.

Seeing that they are already carrying the order, Mr. Gould and Julie laid out napkins on their knees. When the waiter arranged the dishes, wished them a pleasant appetite, and left, they began their meal and continued the conversation.

“Maybe this is not what you dreamed about when you started the career of an actress, but it is possible that Rachel will become the main role in your life.”

“Now I’m just at the age of Rachel, to whom Akiva was going to return after twelve years of study. I, as an actress, with each role, discover for myself new facets in this wonderful profession. Although not all the roles have been able to play, but I am grateful to fate for such a rich creative life.

Mr. Gould carefully looked at Julie, who thought, and then continued:

“At the beginning of my career, I dreamed of playing Ophelia, but, alas, I was not destined to accomplish this, and now I’ll have to say goodbye and have a dream to play Gertrude on the big stage. Sometimes I regret that Hamlet was shut down so quickly in your production, maybe if I continued to play the role of Gertrude even further, now they would definitely take me to the London theater, ”she added sadly.

“Hamlet has been staged so many times that it’s quite difficult to find any new facets in this work,” Mr. Gould seriously replied. - Critics will always compare your statement with others, and, most likely, their sympathies will be on the side of your predecessors.

Mr Gould drank from his glass.

- Mr. Gould, have you always worked in the drama genre? Julie asked, breaking off a slice of bread.

“To be honest, I tried to make comedies, but this is not mine,” smiled Mr. Gould.

“Well, if you decide to take it again, then keep me in mind,” Miss Watson joked in reply.

Chewing finely chopped meat, Mr. Gould continued:

- In each performance, I still try to bring in some elements of comedy. A real director should be able to make the viewer cry and laugh and think about something ... Do you know in which case I think the production is successful?

- In what?

- When the viewer, after watching, does not forget about the play, but continues to discuss it with friends, think about it - maybe an hour, maybe a day, and maybe a week - think about the life of these characters. And if he looked and forgot - it means that it was just entertainment, or even worse - an unsuccessful production.

“Yes, theater is a great art,” Julie agreed. - I hope that tomorrow we will succeed, and critics will favor your production.

- Let's hope, - the director nodded.

- Mr. Gould, isn’t it worth taking a picture now and leaving it in your car? - Julie said, looking at the clock. “We can finish the rehearsal late, when the framing workshop is already closed.”

“Until what time are they working?” - asked the director.

- Until nine in the evening.

- I think we will have time. How many pictures are there?

- Two, but today they will have time to make only one.

- Julie, please explain why such a rush? Make both pictures, then you take them.

- I can not explain it ... They already began to dream about me at night. Imagine, tonight I dreamed an owl, which is depicted in the third figure, - Julie sipped water and continued.

- Waking up, I first opened the Internet to watch the dream book. And you know what this dream means.

- What? - asked the director, carefully listening to the actress.

- In the dream book it was written that the owl is to parting, - said Julie in an agitated voice.

Whether to reassure his companion, or because of disbelief in all paranormal phenomena, Mr. Gould calmly looked at the actress and remarked:

- Julie, you understand perfectly well that different dream books can interpret one and the same character in their own way, so don’t give it much importance.

- You are right, Mr. Gould, interpretations of different dream books may be completely different, but I still can not wait for the moment when I decorate the walls of my apartment with these paintings. I liked them so much that I literally consider the hours until the moment when I take the second, and then the other day, the third picture. It is difficult to explain it, but I seemed to have found something close, dear to them.

- Well, the desire of the lady - the law. Today, today, ”said Mr. Gould, and paid the bill brought by the waiter.

Then, along with Julie, he went to the theater to prepare for the evening rehearsal.

When they finished, Mr. Gould, as promised, gave Miss Watson a lift to the framing workshop. Julie asked Wolf to carefully pack the picture and put it in the back seat.

On the way, Mr. Gould asked:

- Julie, why did you wrap the picture? Afraid to damage?

— Я не хочу, чтобы вы ее видели. Пусть это станет для вас сюрпризом. Когда будут готовы все три картины, сразу покажу, — с улыбкой ответила Джули.

— И когда же случится это грандиозное событие?

— Вольф сказал, что постарается успеть к началу следующей недели, а если получится, то и к концу этой. Вся загвоздка в багетах, мастер ждет их со дня на день и если удастся закончить работу раньше, то он непременно позвонит и сообщит об этом.

— Хорошо, подождем, — сказал мистер Гоулд. — Кстати, я с самого детства увлекаюсь живописью, постоянно посещаю музеи, а вот сам никогда не рисовал. Очень мечтал научиться, но как-то вот не получилось… А то автор этих картин?

— Вряд ли вы его знаете. Это художник из германского города Майнца, его имя — Гарри Шварц.

— А что именно он рисует? — продолжая вести машину, поинтересовался режиссер.

— Первая картина, датированная 1929 годом, называется «Медведь», там за молодым человеком гонится медведь, — сказала актриса.

— Забавно, моя мама могла толковать сны и знаешь, она мне часто говорила еще в детстве, что если за тобой во сне бежит медведь, тот это верный знак, что ты в скором времени встретишь человека, который в итоге станет твоей судьбой. Может, он эту картину написал в канун своей свадьбы. Прости, что перебил тебя, мысли вслух, а как называются другие?

Актриса продолжила:

— Вторая, которая лежит сейчас у нас на заднем сиденье, создана в 1932 году, это «Рыбы». А третья, насколько я помню, написана в 1939 году и называется «Сова».

— Ты не поверишь, но я слышал это имя, — заметил режиссер. — Может быть, я даже видел его картины. Вспомнить бы еще, где… Не знаешь, этот Шварц где-нибудь выставлялся?

— Вряд ли, — ответила Джули. — Эти холсты хранились на чердаке одного крестьянина. Когда вы в субботу послали меня за декорациями на блошиный рынок, я купила все три. Заплатила за них шестьдесят фунтов, не торгуясь, и еще около сорока — за багет, солидная сумма для актрисы небольшого театра. Вчера вот внесла оставшиеся пятнадцать фунтов.

Когда подъехали к дому, мистер Гоулд предложил помочь донести картину. Джули поблагодарила, но отказалась, сказав, что справится сама.

Зайдя в квартиру, она быстро сняла туфли и плащ и распаковала картину. Увидев, что Пол уже вбил гвозди, аккуратно повесила первую из картин на крайний левый гвоздь, который располагался ближе к окну, а вторую — на центральный. Джули долго сдвигала их то вправо, то влево, пока не убедилась, что они висят ровно. Сев на диван, она стала внимательно рассматривать приобретения. Еще раз тщательно изучив первую картину, актриса переключила свое внимание на вторую, с изображением рыб…

* * * * * * *

МАЙНЦ, ГЕРМАНИЯ, 24 МАРТА 1932 ГОДА, БОЛЬНИЦА

— Проходите, фрау Шварц, доктор Хармс готов вас принять, — сказала секретарша.

— Спасибо, — тихо произнесла Лея и встала со стула.

— Лея, Генрих Хармс — лучший гинеколог в Майнце, и он сможет нам помочь, — попытался подбодрить жену Гарри.

Лея пребывала в депрессии из-за того, что у них уже более двух лет после свадьбы нет детей.

Когда она зашла в кабинет, Гарри не мог найти себе места. Молодой человек ужасно нервничал, — настроение жены становилось все хуже с каждым днем. Но и в этот раз гинеколог сказал, что с медицинской точки зрения никаких нарушений нет, и нужно набраться терпения. Лея, уже не раз слышала эти слова от других врачей, вышла из кабинета гинеколога и в удрученном настроении они отправились домой.

По дороге, вытирая слезы, Лея сказала мужу:

— Гарри, я очень люблю тебя, но все это просто невыносимо. Не знаю, сколько лет нам еще ждать детей и будут ли они вообще.

— Конечно, будут, любимая. Ты, главное, не отчаивайся.

— Уже опускаются руки, и я не знаю, что делать, — тихо проговорила Лея. — Этот гинеколог сказал то же, что и другие врачи: «Наберитесь терпения и ждите». Не хочу ждать, я устала, и если в скором времени у нас не будет детей, нам придется расстаться.

— Пожалуйста, не говори так! — в отчаянии воскликнул Гарри. — У нас все получится, я сделаю все, чтобы у нас были дети. Если понадобится, я покажу тебя лучшим врачам в мире, но у нас будут дети.

— Зачем тебе все это? — Лея посмотрела на него.

— Ты еще молод, создашь семью с другой женщиной, и она родит тебе много детей. А меня ты можешь бросить. Я не обижусь, честное слово. Ты же сам понимаешь, что без детей наша жизнь никогда не будет полной и счастливой, и я не вижу смысла продолжать так жить.

Гарри, пытаясь не выказать отчаяния, сказал:

- We are still young, the whole life ahead. We will definitely have children, just do not despair. I've now appeared with my parents after three years of marriage; perhaps our children will be born after three, four or five years ... I am ready to wait as long as necessary, and I will never stop loving you.

“Thank you for supporting me,” Leia smiled weakly. - And for the fact that you are so busy with me ... I am very tired, but probably you are even more difficult.

“People create families to love and support each other,” Harry answered. - I am the happiest person in the world: you are next to me, and children will definitely be there, and they will complement our happiness.

Despite the support of her husband, Leia continued through her tears:

“Harry, sometimes such a horror rolls over me at the thought that we will never have children!” Understand: I'm tired of waiting, tired of being afraid ...

- Just do not despair. You must understand that I will always be there, will support you and will never leave you. Doctors can not yet determine what the matter. It is possible that you are all right and the problem is only in me.

- Please do not calm me down. When I was sitting in the gynecologist's office, I decided that if we had no children for another year, we had better leave. I don’t want to make you or myself unhappy - after wiping away tears, Leia added: - Harry, I love you very much, but I simply can’t imagine my future life together without children. After all, children are the meaning of life. Only for their sake should continue to live ...

Harry put his arm around her shoulders and she, burying her face in his chest, began to cry again.

Harry, after visiting the gynecologist and the subsequent conversation with his wife had to work the second shift. He was very worried. After taking Leia home, he went to work. With friends and acquaintances, he made inquiries about the best clinics in Germany and Europe. He decided to do everything in his power, and to use all the chances, even those that previously seemed elusive. Immediately after the working day, I went to the synagogue to consult with the rabbi. This rabbi and his family were Harry's patients and often turned to him on some issues. Harry himself grew up and was raised in a secular family, far from religion, and asking for help from a rabbi testified to the extreme degree of despair.

On the way to the synagogue, Harry scrolled through his morning conversation. He understood that Leia was on the verge, and if they didn’t have children, the marriage could really break up. When Harry saw a two-story building with six-pointed stars on the glass behind the fence, I realized that this was a synagogue, and walked into the courtyard. He opened the door and, going inside, asked the first man he met to talk to a rabbi, and he kindly escorted him.

The rabbi was glad to see Harry Schwartz.

- Hello, Doctor. I often visited your clinic and finally, after so many invitations, I see you in the walls of our synagogue, ”he said, seating the guest on a chair in his office.

“Dear Rabbi,” said Harry, “I decided to take advantage of your invitation ...”

- What brings you here, and how can I help you? - asked the rabbi.

- I would like to consult on a personal matter.

“I listen to you attentively,” said the Rabbi, looking at the doctor.

Harry looked down and said:

- My wife and I have no children for a long time, and we do not know what to do. You see, I am far from religion and came here to you ... because medicine is powerless for now.

“Yes, religion often serves as the last hope for people ...” said the priest. - How long have you been married?

- Recently two years old.

“Well, it's not scary,” the rabbi assured the interlocutor. - I met couples who have not had children for five and ten years.

- It doesn’t bother me much, I’m ready to wait longer, but I’m worried about my wife. She is very upset by it, and, I am afraid, as if Leia did not finally become disillusioned with this life and did not leave me. We love each other very much, and I don't want to part with her ...

There were tears in Harry's eyes. The rabbi looked at him and was silent.

- Tell me, are there any special prayers so that we can produce children? - asked the young man.

The rabbi thought and said:

Of course, there are prayers, but whether they will have an effect is the question.

- And what should be done to effect? - recovering himself, asked Harry.

“You know, there is no universal formula,” remarked the rabbi. “We don’t know the ways of the Most High, only He knows everything in advance.” You must understand that for every thing there is a time. Perhaps you need to try again, and do not despair.

Harry said nothing, he lowered his head and listened.

- Many events occur to check the family and strengthen them. This period is the real test. Weak vapors disintegrate, like a flame, extinguished from the first whiff of the wind, and the real vapors become even stronger, like a fire, which is only gaining strength from the wind. If medicine does not help you, then you can ask for help from the Almighty. Perhaps He will hear your prayer and send offspring ...

- How to do it? Harry asked in desperation. - What do you need to say? How to properly pray, apply, ask for help?

- The most important thing is that the prayer - an appeal to God - comes from the soul. It does not have to be any special text: you can contact Him in any form. The main thing, as I said, is that it is sincere, and then the prayer will be heard.

— А где я могу помолиться? — настойчиво продолжал расспрашивать раввина Гарри.

— Вечерняя молитва уже закончилась. Вы можете пройти в зал, расположиться в одном из кресел и, обратив взгляд к шкафу, где лежат свитки Торы, произнести молитву.

Поблагодарив раввина, Гарри отправился в зал синагоги, где уже практически никого не осталось, кроме двух молодых ребят, что-то изучающих в правом углу. Он подошел поближе к шкафу со свитками, сел в кресло и, закрыв глаза, начал свое обращение к Всевышнему.

- Forgive me, please, but I do not know how to contact You. You probably know that my name is Harry, I am a dentist, and the name of my spouse is Leia, she is a primary school teacher ... I visited the synagogue several times in my early childhood when my grandfather was alive. But I grew up in a secular, intelligent family, where religion was neutral. I have never addressed you with requests before, but they probably correctly say that people come to God when all other options have been exhausted, and now I have such a moment.

Harry collected his thoughts and continued:

My wife and I really want children and we are doing a lot for this, but so far we have not succeeded. We have a lot of gynecological friends, we turned to them, but did not hear anything definite - just shrug and advise to hope and wait ... Leia and I love each other and really want to have children. Perhaps I don’t deserve it in your eyes, but give us a child, if only for Leah’s sake. She is very attentive and caring, and if I can’t give her a child, I’ll become the most unhappy person in the world. At first, our relations were warm and friendly, but without a child we are increasingly moving away - each to his own corner.

Harry sighed, looking at the cupboard with the Torah scrolls.

“Yes, I admit that I don't want children as much as Leah,” the young man continued his prayer. - I am tormented by thoughts of the incessant crying of children, of sleepless nights, of the fact that we can no longer be free, as before, but I promise that I will be corrected. Maybe when we have a son or daughter, I will change and will love them more than life.

Tears streamed down Harry's cheeks. He, without taking his eyes off the cabinet, said:

“I don’t know why you are punishing us so much and why we are guilty, but please forgive us.” Forgive at least for the fact that we love each other very much, and everyone is ready to do everything for his second half. Yes, we are still young, and I would have waited, but my wife really wants children, because she does not see the further meaning of her existence without them. I constantly reassure her that we still have a whole life ahead, but Leia is tired of waiting. You yourself know that for her I am ready for anything, I’m not so afraid of children crying and sleepless nights. - Harry took out a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face wet from tears. - Doctors say it can take years or even decades, but believers believe that you are omnipotent and nothing is impossible for You. And if you give us children, know that we will take good care of them and love them very much ...

* * *

Julie looked at the pictures and caught herself thinking that she could admire them for hours. However, it was already too late - it was over ten. She brewed tea and, seizing it with raspberry jam, began to repeat her role. Rereading and refreshing the script, went to bed. A very important day came for her - the premiere of the play “Akiva and Rachel”.

SIXTH CHAPTER

WEDNESDAY

The day of the premiere turned out to be very exciting for Mr. Gould, Julie, Chuck, Chris and the theater director Mr. Peter Drayson. In the morning, the director held a dress rehearsal with the actors, where Mr. Gould could point out mistakes and give final instructions. All this months-long work was not in vain, and the premiere of the play “Akiva and Rachel” took place successfully with a full hall. The audience applauded for a long time standing up - impressed by the brilliant play of the actors and the skill of the director. After the performance, Mr. Gould gathered the actors and thanked them warmly for their work. Mr. Drayson was surprised by this success and also hurried to congratulate everyone, after which the artists went to the dressing rooms. As usual, the young messenger delivered flowers to Julie from an unknown admirer, and all attempts to find out who this gentleman was and whether he was present at the performance today,

Having washed off the make-up, having thought about life and having recovered from the noise of applause, extremely tired, Julie went home. Her most cherished dream at the moment was to sit down on a sofa and stretch her legs, and even better - for a while to lie down and rest. She was very tired of the tension that accompanied this premiere, and it was necessary to be alone.

* * * * * * *

MAINZ, GERMANY, NOVEMBER 4, 1939

Leia has been married to Harry for ten years. Their relationship became even stronger and warmer in 1933, when exactly nine months after visiting the synagogue, they had children. With the birth of the twins Monica and Helen, who should be six years old on November 5, 1939, the lives of Harry and Lea became even more beautiful, despite the fact that the situation in Germany deteriorated with the Nazis in power in 1933. Seeing everything that happens, they gave them German names so that in kindergarten, and then in school and university, girls would not have to face anti-Semitic manifestations.

- Mom, mom, when will dad come? We want to show him our new dresses! - pulling the robe of a woman who was preparing supper for her husband's arrival and periodically looking anxiously out the window, little blond girls, who were alike as two drops of water, screamed cheerfully.

- Soon. Have you already cleaned your room?

“No, I'll clean everything tomorrow,” said Monica, she was an hour older than her sister.

Like the twins are very different. The older, Monica, had a stronger character and loved her father more, while the younger, Helen, always wanted to please her mother, was very attached to her and constantly tried to be with Leah.

“I’ve already tidied everything up and even learned the poems,” Helen said quietly, gently holding her mother’s hand free from cooking.

- Good girl, Helen. Monica, have you even managed to learn a poem? Frau Yvon warned that everyone would be asked tomorrow, and those who did not tell would not be admitted to the first class next year.

- I will not go to kindergarten tomorrow. It's my birthday and I'll stay home. - Monica crossed her arms and stamped her foot, like all naughty children do.

- I'll go. Tomorrow we will sing and recite poems, ”Helen said, looking at Leia.

- Well, go and tell me, and I will stay at home or go to work with dad.

Leia, preparing dinner and realizing that Monica was about to raise her voice to her sister, said:

“Why bother dad at work and distract him all the time?” Tomorrow you will go to kindergarten together, and only then return, and we will congratulate you. I will definitely ask Frau Yvon how you behaved. She often complains, says that you are making a noise and offending other children.

“Tell our Frau Yvon that she’s a big sneak,” said Monica.

- Monica, the father taught that this is not the way to talk about adults. Frau Yvon is a good teacher, ”said Helen gently.

- I will speak, I will speak! Our teacher - sneak!

Having finished washing the dishes, wiping her hands, Leia turned to face her daughters and said gently:

- Monica, I never cease to be surprised: you and Helen are twins. How can you swear and be so different?

- So what if we are twins. I'm older by an hour, which means more important. And your Helen is the same as Frau Yvon, the sneak.

“Monica, stop it now!” Go to the room and tidy up, so that everything is done by my father's arrival, ”Leia said in a stern tone. - And you, Helen, help: you are sisters.

“Okay, mom,” Helen replied, and the girls went into the room to collect toys from the floor and arrange them in places for the arrival of the pope.

They are almost finished when the bell rang. Leia took off her apron, removed the dinner from the stove, and walked to the door. She warmly greeted her husband and, taking his coat from him, asked:

- Harry, why are you so late? I already began to worry a lot ...

— Я ведь просил не беспокоиться. Сегодня я принимал после обеда. Было много пациентов. Не мог же оставить все и уйти, — рассудительно ответил Гарри, снимая обувь.

— Перенес бы прием на завтра… — недовольно сказала Лея. — Сколько раз просила тебя возвращаться домой пораньше. Сейчас рано темнеет, и как только наступают сумерки, я считаю минуты до твоего прихода. Несмотря на то, что после тех ужасных еврейских погромов минуло около года, я все еще не могу прийти в себя после этого.

— События Хрустальной ночи уже в прошлом, и вряд ли они повторятся в таком масштабе, — заметил Гарри. — Кроме того, я известный в этом городе врач, меня многие знают и относятся ко мне с уважением.

- Do you think this crowd will be interested, are you a doctor or a pianist? For them, this does not matter ... I worry when you go to work, and even more afraid when you come back at night. Who knows what might come to their mind ...

Their conversation was interrupted by two fair-haired girls who ran out of the room, they also hugged Dad: one for the left leg, and the other for the right leg.

- Dad, what did you buy us?

- Today - nothing, when I returned home, all the shops have already closed.

- Have you forgotten that we have a birthday tomorrow?

Harry laughed.

- I remember evrything. Tomorrow you will receive your gifts.

“Monica, Helen, let my dad take off my jacket and tie,” Leia told the children. - Go wash your hands already and sit down at the table.

The girls stepped aside and watched the father look offended.

“We missed Dad and want to talk to him.”

“Wash your hands and sit at the table,” Leia repeated.

- Mom, can we show dad new dresses?

- I bought these dresses, so you went tomorrow to kindergarten smart. And now we sit down to have dinner, and you can stain them or mash them.

- We do not want to eat. We want Dad to see our dresses ...

“You can wear them all day tomorrow.” First - in kindergarten, then - at home, and in the evening - at a birthday party, in the presence of grandfather and grandmother.

- And what time will grandfather and grandmother arrive tomorrow?

- Daddy will meet them tomorrow at the station at six in the evening, and will immediately bring them to us.

- I do not want to wait until tomorrow evening. Can we put them on for at least a minute and show dad how beautiful we are in them? - asked Monica.

Leia looked at Harry, who did not touch the soul in the twins and was ready to join her daughters' request this time, nodded approvingly. The girls ran into the room to put on new dresses. Meanwhile, Harry washed his hands and sat down at the table.

“I'm so scared for you,” Leia said, sitting down next to her husband.

“No need to worry,” Harry reassured his wife.

- I worked a lot today so that we could afford to buy girls a birthday cake. You understand, this is a private dental office, and earnings, now and so small, depends on the number of patients. Therefore, I sometimes linger. But do not worry so much: after those November events a year has passed, and the situation began to improve.

- Harry, you're a big optimist! - Leia smiled sadly. - What does it mean to "improve"? Jews were deprived of all rights, after the Nazis came to power, I was dismissed from the civil service, and you from the hospital. And if it were not for your private practice, I don’t know how we would live.

“I think everything will be over soon,” Harry tried to calm his wife. - Jews live in this city together with the Germans for hundreds of years, and pogroms occurred before.

“But then they weren’t provoked by the authorities,” Leia objected. “The Nazis want with all their might to force us out of Germany, and it is no secret to anyone that the Crystal Night is organized in order to intimidate the Jews, to make us understand that our presence here is undesirable. The authorities didn’t try to stop the rioters, but they didn’t even arrest any of them.

“The authorities are changing, but people remain,” said Harry, hugging Leia by the shoulders. “They are trying to indulge the nationalists in order to have even more support in the country, but all this cannot continue.

“But, Harry,” Leia replied, freeing herself from the embrace, “there are still rumors that pogroms occasionally flare up in different cities of Germany.” Think of me, of the children, finally. Don't you understand that things are heading towards a big war? We need to follow the example of your parents who moved to live in Holland after the Nazis came to power. They write that we will be better and safer there too.

“All of Europe is in the grip of nationalist and anti-Semitic hysteria, and you cannot get away from it,” said Harry coldly. - Mainz is a small city where almost all residents know each other. Why should we leave the places where we grew up and studied?

- I urge you to weigh everything again. Tomorrow, when your parents arrive for our twins' birthday, we will definitely return to this issue.

“You still won't be able to convince me, and I don't want to move anywhere,” Harry snapped.

At that moment Monica in a black dress came into the room, and after her - Helen in white. Harry's tense face immediately smoothed out, and he smiled.

“How beautiful you are,” said my father.

“Dad, tell me I look better in a black dress than Helen in white.”

“You are both very beautiful: you are in a black dress, and Helen is in white.”

The girls spun around the kitchen for a few minutes in new clothes, until Leia finally sent them to the room to change clothes.

- I am more beautiful, I am more beautiful! - shouted Monica, running around the room.

* * *

Returning after the premiere, the first thing Julie put flowers in a vase. And then the phone rang. Of course, it was Mr. Gould.

- Julie, thank you so much. You played so well that the female half of the audience simply could not contain emotions and burst into tears in the final.

“It's all your credit,” Julie said into the phone with a smile. - You put the right accents. I do not know how you do it, but you notice those things that I don’t even pay attention to.

“This all comes with experience,” Mr. Gould joked.

- The hall applauded so vigorously ... Yes, this is a success. Even Mr. Dreyson had no choice but to recognize your high talent, said the actress.

- Well, it's still too early to talk about success, you need to wait for critics in the morning papers. You know, no matter how paradoxical it may sound, but these few people are now deciding whether our performance was a success or not.

- Critics, after all, are people too. I think that the performance will not leave them indifferent ...

“We’ll hope, but I’m looking forward to the morning papers anyway,” after a short pause, Mr. Gould asked: “Julie, what are you going to do tomorrow night?”

- I don't know yet. Tomorrow I have a day off. I read a little, admire the pictures, and then I will go to bed and I will sleep.

- Let's go to the fish restaurant. “I've already booked a table for four,” Mr. Gould suggested. - I do not want to while away the evening alone, and you do not need to sit alone. I invited Chuck and his wife. On top of that, I have an important conversation with you.

- With pleasure, Mr. Gould.

- Well, then tomorrow at ten to six, I'll pick you up.

© GertzDavydov.com

 

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