Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Karl Emil Franzos' Leib Weihnachtskuchen and his Child

“Mendele Shadchen!” he suddenly exclaimed, and it was as if a weight had been lifted from his breast. That was the answer! It had to be done quickly, immediately. And he dashed off to Halicz and through the wretched alleyways of the little town as though Janko were pursuing him brandishing a club. At last he reached the house with the shining brass plate:


Beauro for Cattle, Hale, People and Fire

German and Polish Advise

Leters Wrote Legul Dockuments

Mendele's two official activities were acting as agent for various insurance companies and giving legal advice. The third and most lucrative, the one his fellow Jews used as his name: shadchen, marriage broker, he didn’t even need to put on the plate. He had more than enough business as it was.

That was something Leib was about to discover. When he entered the first room, a kind of waiting room, Mendele's fat wife — she ran the ‘beauro’ and was sitting behind a massive desk writing — scrutinized him with an arrogant stare and appeared to ignore his softly spoken, humble request to see her husband. Eventually, however, she asked him, “What for?”

“For my Miriam.”

“Aha? I'm afraid you've had a wasted journey. My poor husband wouldn't be able to propose the kind of prince you would expect for your dowry. However, if you still want to talk to him, you must come back tomorrow.” And indeed, Mendele obviously had visitors; from the adjoining room came the sound of several voices all shouting at each other at once. “He won't be finished before evening,” she went on. “An engagement's being arranged in there.”

It was a good thing she had told him, otherwise Leib would have thought it was a divorce. A shrill female voice cried angrily, “The shame will send me to my grave! I won't agree unless you put down another five hundred crowns.”

To this a vulgar male voice replied, “Not one heller. Because your Ruben's such a fine boy?! But if you promise to go to your grave before the wedding, I'll willingly add another hundred crowns.”