Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 64 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.
Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications.
Magdiel, Israel 1949
The curtain with the embroidered flowers fluttered in the light morning breeze. Gershon Ludmir was smearing a bit of Batya’s apple jam on a slice of black bread when there was a knock at the door. Batya entered, pulling almost-three-year-old Elisha behind her. “He was crying again,” she said. “The teacher said I should take him home.” She sat the child onto her lap with a scowl on her face and sighed. “What can I do? Berta Greenberg will not be very pleased if I bring him to the sewing shop for the fifth day in a row!”
“I wanna go with Abba to the tractor,” the boy declared enthusiastically.
His father chuckled, and offered his son some jam on a spoon. “No, sweetie. We can’t do that. Tractors are dangerous for little boys.”
“Too bad summer vacation is over. When Miriam was home, there was no problem.” Batya stood up, went over to the pot of soup she’d left, and opened the lid. “If he doesn’t get used to nursery quickly, I won’t be able to go to work.”
“Maybe that will be a good solution,” Gershon said. “I’m not sure your salary is worth the whole thing. When you were sewing at home, alone, you earned more, didn’t you?”
“But how many people come to Magdiel for a private seamstress?” she murmured. “Berta Greenberg works with stores, so it’s better.”
“So you can work with stores also. We’ll buy lots of fabric, if you need it. And a new machine.”
“My Singer is excellent; we don’t need a new one.” Batya tapped her wooden spoon on the side of the pot, letting the thick droplets of soup fall back inside. Then she put the lid back on. “But to sew on an industrial scale, we would need a lot of capital. I mean, how much material can we afford to buy?”
He was quiet for a minute, before saying heavily, “We can take, for now…maybe as a loan, a little bit of Ernie’s money. Even if we take only a quarter of what he sent…”
She gaped at him. Not because he’d mentioned Ernie; the name came up a lot at home. But because of the very idea.