chapter  XXIV
9 Pages

A Dog, a Cart, and a Woman

Of the acquaintances I made in the gallery, Schluesselberg became my friend. Already as a child friendship had been something sacred to me. Father often talked to us on the subject. He taught us that to have a friend or to be a friend was a wonderful piece of good fortune. Friendship is a sacred thing, and has its own laws, and reaches further than kinship and family, he used to say. Because you are born into a family, but friendship is something that you find. The family is like the earth: you live upon it and it nourishes you; but friendships are like precious stones and veins of gold and other treasures: hidden deep in the earth and rare; and only very fortunate people find such a vein of gold—a friendship. And it makes you happier to give friendship than to receive it, but the finest thing is when the friendship is equal on both sides. Father considered Jus Fedorkiw, who was a Christian, his friend, and nearer to him than all his coreligionists who prayed to the same God and spoke the same language and had the same traditions and customs. He used to point to the relations between us, his children, as an example. We respected our older brothers and sisters and obeyed them, but, in general, we were merely “brothers and sisters.” But between some of us there were real friendships, as between Schachne Eber, the eldest, and funny Jankel, or between Leibzi and me.