Elizabeth had brought the Book with her. She stood in the hallway of the villa, studying the painting of Samuel Roffe, and next to him, Terenia, feeling their presence, as though they had come to life. After a long time Elizabeth turned and climbed up the ladder to the tower room, taking the Book. She spent hours every day in the tower room, reading and rereading, and each time she felt closer to Samuel and Terenia, the century that separated them disappearing...
Over the next few years, Elizabeth read, Samuel spent long hours in Dr. Wal's laboratory, helping him mix ointments and medicines, learning how they worked. And always in the background was Terenia, haunting, beautiful. The very sight of her was enough to keep alive Samuel's dream that one day she would belong to him. Samuel got along well with Dr. Wal, but Terenia's mother was another story. She was a sharp-tongued virago, a snob, and she hated Samuel. He tried to keep out of her way.
Samuel was fascinated by the many drugs that could heal people. A papyrus had been found that listed 811 prescriptions used by the Egyptians in 1550 B.C. Life expectancy at birth then was fifteen years and Samuel could understand why when he read some of the prescriptions: crocodile dung, lizard flesh, bat's blood, camel's spit, lion's liver, toe of a frog, unicorn powder. The Rx sign on every prescription was the ancient prayer to Horae, the Egyptian god of healing. Even the word "chemistry" derived from the ancient name of Egypt, the land of Kahmi, or Chemi. The priest-physicians were called magi, Samuel learned.
The apothecary shops in the ghetto and in Krakow itself were primitive. Most of the bottles and jars were filled with untested and untried medicinal items, some useless, some harmful. Samuel became familiar with them all. There were castor oil, calomel, and rhubarb, iodine compounds and codeine and ipecac. You could purchase panaceas for whooping cough, colic and typhoid fever. Because no sanitary precautions were taken, it was common to find ointments and gargles filled with dead insects, roaches, rat droppings and bits of feathers and furs. The majority of patients who took the remedies died either of their diseases or from the remedies.
Several magazines were printed that were devoted to apothecary news, and Samuel read them all avidly. He discussed his theories with Dr. Wal.
"It stands to reason," Samuel said, his voice ringing with conviction, "that there must be a cure for every disease. Health is natural, disease is unnatural."
"Perhaps," Dr. Wal said, "but most of my patients won't even let me try the new medications on them." He added dryly, "And I think they're wise."
Samuel devoured Dr. Wal's sparse library on pharmacy. And when he had read and reread those books, he felt frustrated by the unanswered questions that lay between the covers.
Samuel was fired by the revolution that was taking place. Some scientists believed that it was possible to counteract the cause of diseases by building up a resistance that would destroy the illness. Dr. Wal tried it once. He took the blood of a patient with diphtheria and injected it into a horse. When the horse died, Dr. Wal gave up his experiments. But young Samuel was sure that Dr. Wal had been on the right track.
"You can't stop now," Samuel said. "I know it will work."
Dr. Wal shook his head. "That's because you're seventeen, Samuel. When you're my age, you won't be as sure of anything. Forget about it."
But Samuel was not convinced. He wanted to continue his experiments, but for that Samuel needed animals, and there were few available except for the stray cats and rats that he was able to catch. No matter how minute the doses that Samuel gave them, they died. They're too small, Samuel thought. I need a larger animal. A horse or a cow or a sheep. But where was he going to find one?
One late afternoon when Samuel arrived home, an ancient horse and cart stood in front of the house. On the side of the cart a crudely lettered sign read: "ROFFE & SON." Samuel stared at it unbelievingly, then raced into the house to find his father. "That - that horse out there," he said. "Where did you get it?"
His father smiled at him proudly. "I made a deal. We can cover more territory with a horse. Maybe in four or five years we can buy another horse. Think of it. We'll have two horses."
That was the extent of his father's ambition, owning two broken-down horses pulling carts through the dirty, crowded streets of the Krakow ghetto. It made Samuel want to weep.
That night when everyone was asleep, Samuel went out to the stable and examined the horse, which they had named Ferd. As horses went, this one was without question one of the lowest of the species. She was a very old horse, swaybacked and spavined. It was doubtful whether she could move much faster than Samuel's father. But none of that mattered. What was important was that Samuel now had his laboratory animal. He could do his experiments without having to worry about catching rats and stray cats. Of course, he would have to be careful. His father must never find out what he was doing. Samuel stroked the horse's head. "You're going into the drug business," he informed Ferd.
Samuel improvised his own laboratory, using a corner of the stable in which Ferd was kept.
He grew a culture of diphtheria germs in a dish of rich broth. When the broth turned cloudy, he removed some of it to another container and then weakened it, first by diluting the broth, then by heating it slightly. He filled a hypodermic needle with it and approached Ferd. "Remember what I told you?" Samuel whispered. "Well, this is your big day."
Samuel plunged the contents of the hypodermic into the loose skin of the horse's shoulder, as he had seen Dr. Wal do. Ferd turned to look at him reproachfully, and sprayed him with urine.
Samuel estimated that it would take about seventy-two hours for the culture to develop in Ferd. At the end of that time Samuel would give her a larger dose. Then another. If the antibody theory was right, each dose would build up a stronger blood resistance to the disease. Samuel would have his vaccine. Later, he would have to find a human being to test it on, of course, but that should not be difficult. A victim of the dread disease should be only too happy to try something that might save his life.
For the next two days Samuel spent almost every waking moment with Ferd.
"I've never seen anyone love an animal so much," his father said. "You can't keep away from her, can you?"
Samuel mumbled an inaudible reply. He felt a sense of guilt about what he was doing, but he knew what would happen if he even mentioned it to his father. However, there was no need for his father to know. All Samuel had to do was extract enough blood from Ferd to make up a vial or two of serum, and no one would ever be the wiser.
On the morning of the third and crucial day, Samuel was awakened by the sound of his father's voice from in front of the house. Samuel got out of bed, hurried to the window and looked out. His father was standing in the street with his cart, bellowing at the top of his lungs. There was no sign of Ferd. Samuel threw on some clothes and raced outside.
"Momser!" his father was yelling. "Cheater! Liar! Thief!"
Samuel pushed past the crowd that was beginning to gather around his father.
"Where's Ferd?" Samuel demanded.
"I'm glad you asked me," his father moaned. "She's dead. She died in the streets like a dog."
Samuel's heart sank.
"We're going along as nice as you please. I'm tending to business, not rushing her, you understand, not whipping her, or pushing her like some of the other peddlers I could name. And how does she show her appreciation? She drops dead. When I catch that gonif who sold her to me, I'll kill him!"
Samuel turned away, sick at heart. More than Ferd had passed away. Samuel's dreams had died. With Ferd went the escape from the ghetto, the freedom, the beautiful house for Terenia and their children.
But a greater disaster was to befall.
The day after Ferd died, Samuel learned that Dr. Wal and his wife had arranged for Terenia to marry a rabbi. Samuel could not believe it. Terenia belonged to him! Samuel raced over to the Wal house. He found Dr. and Mrs. Wal in the parlor. He walked up to them, took a deep breath and announced, "There's been a mistake, Terenia's mistake, Terenia's going to marry me."
They stared at him in astonishment.
"I know I'm not good enough for her," Samuel hurried on, "but she won't be happy married to anyone but me. The rabbi's too old for - "
"Nebbich! Out! Out!" Terenia's mother was apoplectic.
Sixty seconds later Samuel found himself standing out in the street, forbidden ever to enter the Wal house again.
In the middle of the night Samuel had a long talk with God.
"What do you want from me? If I can't have Terenia, why did you make me love her? Haven't you any feelings?" He raised his voice in frustration and yelled, "Can you hear me?"
And the others in the crowded little house yelled back, "We can all hear you, Samuel. For God's sake, shut up and let us get some sleep!"
The following afternoon Dr. Wal sent for Samuel. He was ushered into the parlor, where Dr. and Mrs. Wal and Terenia were gathered.
"It seems we have a problem," Dr. Wal began. "Our daughter can be quite a stubborn young lady. For some reason she's taken a fancy to you. I cannot call it love, Samuel, because I don't believe that young girls know what love is. However, she has refused to marry Rabbi Rabinowitz. She thinks she wants to marry you."
Samuel sneaked a glance at Terenia, and she smiled at him and he almost burst with joy. It was short-lived.
Dr. Wal was going on. "You said that you love my daughter."
"Y - y - yes, sir," Samuel stammered. He tried it again, his voice stronger. "Yes, sir."
"Then let me ask you something, Samuel Would you like Terenia to spend the rest of her life married to a peddler?"
Samuel instantly saw the trap, but there was no way out of it. He looked at Terenia again and said slowly, "No, sir."
"Ah. Then you see the problem. None of us wants Terenia to marry a peddler. And you're a peddler, Samuel."
"I won't always be, Dr. Wal." Samuel's voice was strong and sure.
"And what will you be?" Mrs. Wal snapped. "You come from a family of peddlers, you'll remain a family of peddlers. I will not allow my daughter to marry one."
Samuel looked at the three of them, his mind filled with confusion. He had come here with trepidation and despair, had been lifted to the heights of joy, and now he had been plunged into a black abyss again. What did they want from him?
"We've agreed on a compromise," Dr. Wal said. "We're going to give you six months to prove that you're more than just a peddler. If, by the end of that time, you cannot offer Terenia the kind of life she is accustomed to, then she is going to marry Rabbi Rabinowitz."
Samuel stared at him, aghast. "Six months!"
No one could become a success in six months! No one, certainly, who lived in the ghetto of Krakow.
"Do you understand?" Dr. Wal asked.
"Yes, sir." Samuel understood only too well. He felt as if his stomach were filled with lead. He did not need a solution, he needed a miracle. The Wals would only be content with a son-in-law who was a doctor or a rabbi, or who was wealthy. Samuel quickly examined each possibility.
The law forbade him to become a doctor.
A rabbi? One had to start studying for the rabbinate by thirteen, and Samuel was almost eighteen now.
Wealthy? That was out of the question. If he worked twenty-four hours a day peddling his wares in the streets of the ghetto until he was ninety, he would still be a poor man. The Wals had set an impossible task for him. They had seemingly given in to Terenia by allowing her to postpone her marriage to the rabbi, while at the same time setting conditions that they knew would be impossible for Samuel to meet. Terenia was the only one who believed in him. She had confidence that he could find some kind of fame or fortune in six months. She's crazier than I am, Samuel thought in despair.
The six months began, and time flew. Samuel's days were spent as a peddler, helping his father. But the moment the shadows of the setting sun began to fall on the walls of the ghetto, Samuel would hurry home, gulp down a bite to eat, and then go to work in his laboratory. He made hundreds of batches of serums, and injected rabbits and cats and dogs and birds, and all the animals died. They're too small, Samuel thought desperately. I need a larger animal.
But he had none, and time was racing by.
Twice a week Samuel would go into Krakow to replenish the merchandise that he and his father sold from the cart. He would stand inside the locked gates at dawn, surrounded by the other peddlers, but he neither saw nor heard them. His mind was in another world.
As Samuel stood there one morning, daydreaming, a voice yelled, "You! Jew! Move on!"
Samuel looked up. The gates had been opened and his cart was blocking the way. One of the guards was angrily motioning for Samuel to move. There were always two guards on duty in front of the gate. They wore green uniforms and special insignia and were armed with pistols and heavy clubs. On a chain around his waist one of the guards carried a large key that opened and locked the gates. Alongside the ghetto ran a small river spanned by an old wooden bridge. Across the bridge was the police garrison where the ghetto guards were stationed. More than once, Samuel had witnessed a hapless Jew being dragged across the bridge. It was always a one-way trip. Jews were required to be back inside the ghetto by sundown, and any Jew caught outside the gates after dark was arrested and deported to a labor camp. It was the nightmare of every Jew that he might be caught outside the ghetto after sunset.
Both guards were supposed to remain on duty, patrolling in front of the gates, all night; but it was common knowledge inside the ghetto that after the Jews were locked in, one of the guards would slip away for a night of pleasure in the city. Just before dawn he would return to help his partner open the gates for the new day.
The two guards that were usually stationed there were named Paul and Aram. Paul was a pleasant man with a genial disposition. Aram was an entirely different matter. He was an animal, swarthy and stockily built, with powerful arms and a body like a beer keg. He was a Jew-baiter, and whenever he was on duty, all the Jews outside the gates made sure that they returned early, because nothing delighted Aram more than to lock a Jew out, club him senseless and drag him across the bridge to the dreaded police barracks.
It was Aram now who stood yelling at Samuel to move his cart. He hurriedly went through the gates and headed for the city, and he could feel Aram's eyes boring into his back.
Samuel's six-months grace period quickly dwindled to five months and then to four months, then three. There was not a day, not an hour, when Samuel was not thinking about a solution to his problem, or feverishly working in his tiny laboratory. He tried to speak to some of the wealthy merchants of the ghetto, but few had time for him, and those who had time offered him useless advice.
"You want to make money? Save your pennies, boy, and one day you'll have enough to buy a fine business like mine."
That was easy enough for them to say - most of them had been born into wealthy homes.
Samuel thought of taking Terenia and running away. But where? At the end of their journey would lie another ghetto, and he would still be a penniless nebbich. No, he loved Terenia too much to do that to her. That was the real trap in which he was caught.
Inexorably the clock ran on, and the three months became two, and then one. Samuel's only consolation during that time was that he was allowed to see his beloved Terenia three times a week, chaperoned, of course, and each time Samuel saw her, he loved her more deeply. It was a bittersweet feeling, for the more often he saw her, the closer he was coming to losing her. "You'll find a way," Terenia kept assuring him.
But now there were only three weeks left, and Samuel was no closer to a solution than when he had started.
Late one night Terenia came to see Samuel at the stable. She put her arms around him and said, "Let's run away, Samuel."
He had never loved her so much as he loved her at that moment. She was willing to disgrace herself, give up her mother and father, the wonderful life she lived, for him.
He held her close and said, "We can't. Wherever we went, I'd still be a peddler."
"I don't mind."
Samuel thought of her beautiful home with the spacious rooms and the servants, and he thought of the tiny squalid room he shared with his father and his aunt, and he said, "I would mind, Terenia."
And she turned and left.
The following morning Samuel met Isaac, a former schoolmate, walking down the street, leading a horse. It had one eye, suffered from acute colic, was spavined and deaf.
"Morning, Isaac. I don't know where you're going with that poor horse, but you'd better hurry. It doesn't look like it's going to last much longer."
"It doesn't have to. I'm taking Lottie to a glue factory."
Samuel eyed the animal with a sudden, quickened interest. "I shouldn't think they'd give you much for her."
"I know. I just want a couple of florins to buy a cart."
Samuel's heart began to pump faster. "I think I can save you a trip. I'll trade you my cart for your horse."
It took less than five minutes to conclude the bargain.
Now all Samuel had to do was build another cart and explain to his father how he had lost the old one, and how he had come into possession of a horse that was on its last legs.
Samuel led Lottie to the barn where he had kept Ferd. On closer examination the horse was an even more discouraging sight. Samuel patted the animal and said, "Don't worry, Lottie, you're going to make medical history."
A few minutes later Samuel was at work on a new serum.
Because of the crowded and unsanitary conditions of the ghetto, epidemics were frequent. The latest plague was a fever that produced a choking cough, swollen glands and a painful death. The doctors did not know what caused it, or how to treat it. Isaac's father came down with the disease. When Samuel heard the news, he hurried over to see Isaac.
"The doctor has been here," the weeping boy told Samuel. "He said there's nothing to be done."
From upstairs they could hear the terrible sounds of a wracking cough that seemed to go on forever.
"I want you to do something for me," Samuel said. "Get me a handkerchief of your father's."
Isaac stared at him. "What?"
"One that he's used. And be careful how you handle it. It will be full of germs."
An hour later Samuel was back at the stable, carefully scraping the contents of the handerchief into a dish filled with broth.
He worked all that night and all the next day and the following day, injecting small doses of the substance into the patient Lottie, then larger doses, fighting against time, trying to save the life of Isaac's father.
Trying to save his own life.
In later years Samuel was never sure whether God was looking out for him or for the old horse, but Lottie survived the gradually increased doses, and Samuel had his first batch of antitoxin. His next task was to persuade Isaac's father to let him use it on him.
As it turned out, it needed no persuasion. When Samuel reached Isaac's house, it was filled with relatives, mourning the dying man upstairs.
"He only has a little time left," Isaac told Samuel.
"Can I see him?"
The two boys went upstairs. Isaac's father was in bed, his face flushed with fever. Each racking cough sent his wasted frame into spasm that left him weaker. It was obvious that he was dying.
Samuel took a deep breath and said, "I want to talk to you and your mother."
Neither of them had any confidence in the little glass vial that Samuel had brought, but the alternative was death. They took a chance simply because there was nothing to lose.
Samuel injected Isaac's father with the serum. He waited at the bedside for three hours, and there was no change. The serum had no effect. If anything, the coughing spells seemed more frequent. Finally Samuel left, avoiding Isaac's eyes.
At dawn the next day Samuel had to go into Krakow to buy goods. He was in a fever of impatience to get back to see whether Isaac's father was still alive.
There were large crowds at all the markets, and it seemed to Samuel that it took forever to make his purchases. It was late afternoon by the time his cart was finally filled and he headed back toward the ghetto.
When Samuel was still two miles away from the gates, disaster struck. One of the wheels of the cart broke in half and the merchandise began to spill onto the sidewalk. Samuel was in a terrible dilemma. He had to find another wheel somewhere, and yet he did not dare leave the cart unguarded. A crowd had begun to gather, eyeing the spilled merchandise with avid eyes. Samuel saw a uniformed policeman approaching - a gentile - and he knew that he was lost. They would take everything away from him. The policeman pushed his way through the crowd and turned to the frightened boy. "Your cart needs a new wheel."
"Y - yes, sir."
"Do you know where to find one?"
The policeman wrote something on a piece of paper. "Go there. Tell him what you need." Samuel said, "I can't leave the cart." "Yes, you can," the policeman said. He cast a stern eye over the crowd. "I'll be right here. Hurry!"
Samuel ran all the way. Following the directions on the piece of paper, he found himself in a blacksmith's shop, and when Samuel explained the situation, the blacksmith found a wheel that was the right size for the wagon. Samuel paid for the wheel out of the small bag of money he carried. He had half a dozen guldens left.
He raced back to his cart, rolling the wheel before him. The policeman was still there, and the crowd had dispersed. The merchandise was safe. With the policeman helping him, it took another half hour to get the wheel on and secure it. Once more he started back home. His thoughts were on Isaac's father. Would Samuel find him dead or alive? He did not think he could stand the suspense of not knowing a moment longer.
He was only a mile from the ghetto now. Samuel could see the high walls rising against the sky. And even as he watched, the sun set on the western horizon, and the unfamiliar streets were bathed in darkness. In the excitement of what had happened, Samuel had forgotten about the time. It was past sundown and he was outside the gates! He began to run, pushing the heavy cart ahead of him, his heart pounding until it felt ready to burst. The ghetto gates would be closed. Samuel recalled all the terrible stories he had heard about Jews who were locked out of the ghetto at night. He began running faster. There would probably be only one guard on duty now. If it were Paul, the friendly one, then Samuel might have a chance. If it were Aram - Samuel could not bear to think about it. The darkness was thickening now, closing in on him like a black fog, and a light rain began to fall. Samuel was nearing the ghetto walls, only two blocks away, and suddenly the huge gates loomed into view. They were locked.
Samuel had never seen them closed from the outside before. It was as though life had suddenly been turned inside out, and he shivered with terror. He was shut away from his family, from his world, from everything that was familiar. He slowed down, approaching the gates warily, looking for the guards. They were not in sight. Samuel was filled with a sudden wild hope. The guards had probably been called away on some emergency. Samuel would find a way to open the gates, or to scale the walls without being seen. As he reached the gates, the figure of a guard stepped out of the shadows.
"Keep coming," the guard commanded.
In the darkness Samuel could not see his face. But he recognized the voice. It was Aram.
"Closer. Come here."
Aram was watching Samuel approach, a thin grin on his face. The boy faltered.
"That's it," Aram called encouragingly. "Keep walking."
Slowly, Samuel moved toward the giant, his stomach churning, his head pounding. "Sir," Samuel said. "Please let me explain. I had an accident. My cart - "
Aram reached out with his hamlike fist, grabbed Samuel by the collar and lifted him into the air. "You dumb son-of-a-bitch of a Jew," he crooned softly. "Do you think I care why you're out? You're on the wrong side of the gates! Do you know what's going to happen to you now?"
The boy shook his head in terror.
"Let me tell you," Aram said. "We got a new edict last week. All Jews caught outside the gates after sundown are to be shipped to Silesia. Ten years at hard labor. How do you like that?"
Samuel could not believe it. "But I - I haven't done anything. I - "
With his right hand Aram hit Samuel hard across the mouth, then let him drop heavily to the ground. "Let's go," Aram said.
"Wh - where?" Samuel asked. His voice was choked with terror.
"To the police barracks. In the morning you'll be shipped out with the rest of the scum. Get up."
Samuel lay there, unable to bring his mind into focus. "I - I have to go inside to say good-bye to my family."
Aram grinned. "They won't miss you."
"Please!" Samuel pleaded. "Let me - let me at least send them a message."
The smile died on Aram's face. He stood over Samuel menacingly. When he spoke his voice was soft. "I said get up, Jew shit. If I have to say it once more, I'll kick your balls in for you."
Slowly, Samuel rose to his feet. Aram took his arm with an iron grip and started walking him toward the police barracks. Ten years of hard labor in Silesia! No one ever returned from there. He looked up at the man holding his arm, pulling him toward the bridge that led to the barracks.
"Please don't do this," Samuel pleaded. "Let me go."
Aram squeezed his arm tighter, so that the blood seemed to stop flowing. "Keep begging," Aram said. "I love to hear a Jew beg. Have you heard about Silesia? You'll be just in time for the winter. But don't worry, it's nice and warm underground in the mines. And when your lungs get black with coal and you start coughing them up, they'll leave you out in the snow to die."
Ahead of them across the bridge, barely visible in the rain, was the stark building that served as the police barracks.
"Faster!" Aram said.
And suddenly Samuel knew that he could not let anyone do this to him. He thought of Terenia and his family and Isaac's father. No one would take his life from him. Somehow he had to escape, to save himself. They were crossing the narrow bridge now, the river running noisily below, swollen by the winter rains. There were only thirty yards left to go. Whatever was going to be done had to be done now. But how could he escape? Aram had a gun and even without it the enormous guard could have killed him easily. He was almost twice as big as Samuel and much more powerful. They had reached the other side of the bridge now, and the barracks lay just ahead of them.
"Hurry up," Aram growled, pulling Samuel along. "I've got other things to do."
They were so close to the building now that Samuel could hear the laughter of the guards coming from inside. Aram tightened his grip and started to drag the boy across the cobblestoned yard that led to the police station. There were only seconds left. Samuel reached into his pocket with his right hand and felt the bag with the half-dozen guldens in it. His fingers closed around it, and his blood began to course with excitement. Carefully, he pulled the bag out of his pocket with his free hand, loosened the drawstring and dropped the bag. It landed on the stones with a loud tinkle of coins.
Aram stopped suddenly. "What was that?"
"Nothing," Samuel replied quickly.
Aram looked into the boy's eyes and grinned. Holding Samuel tightly, he took a step back, looked down at the ground and saw the open bag of money.
"You won't need money where you're going," Aram said.
He reached down to pick up the sack, and Samuel reached down at the same time. Aram snatched the sack of money away from him. But it was not the sack that Samuel was after. His hand closed on one of the large cobblestones lying on the ground, and as Samuel straightened up, he smashed it into Aram's right eye with all his strength, turning it into a red jelly, and he kept pounding at him, again and again. He watched the guard's nose cave in, and then his mouth, until the face was nothing but a gout of red blood. And still Aram stood there on his feet, like some blind monster. Samuel looked at him sick with fear, unable to hit him again. Then, slowly, the giant body began to collapse. Samuel stared down at the dead guard, unable to believe what he had done. He heard the voices from the barracks and he became suddenly aware of the terrible danger he was in. If they caught him now, they would not send him to Silesia. They would flay him alive and hang him in the town square. The penalty for even striking a policeman was death. And Samuel had killed one of them. He must get away quickly. He could try to flee across the border, but then he would be a hunted fugitive for the rest of his life. There had to be another solution. He stared down at the faceless corpse and suddenly he knew what he had to do. He reached down and searched the guard's body until he found the large key that opened the gates. Then, overcoming his revulsion, Samuel grabbed Aram's boots and began pulling the guard toward the riverbank. The dead man seemed to weigh a ton. Samuel kept pulling, spurred by the sounds coming from the barracks. He reached the riverbank. He stopped a moment to regain his breath, then shoved the body over the edge of the steep embankment and watched it roll into the coursing waters below. One hand clung to the sides of the bank for what seemed an eternity, and then the body was slowly washed downstream, out of sight. Samuel stood there, hypnotized, filled with horror at what he had done. He picked up the rock he had used and threw it into the water. He was still in great danger. He turned and ran back across the bridge toward the huge, locked gates of the ghetto. There was no one around. With trembling fingers Samuel placed the giant key into the lock and turned it. He pulled against the great wooden gates. Nothing happened. They were too heavy for him to move. But on that night nothing was impossible to Samuel. He was filled with a strength that came from outside and he pulled the huge gates open. He shoved the cart inside, then closed the gates behind him, and ran toward his house, pushing the cart ahead of him. The tenants of the house were gathered in the living room, and when Samuel walked in, they stared at him as if he were a living ghost.
"They let you come back!"
"I - I don't understand," his father stammered. "We thought you - "
Quickly, Samuel explained what had happened, and their looks of concern turned to expressions of terror.
"Oh, my God!" groaned Samuel's father. "They'll murder us all!"
"Not if you listen to me," Samuel said. He explained his plan.
Fifteen minutes later Samuel and his father and two of their neighbors stood at the gates of the ghetto.
"Suppose the other guard comes back?" Samuel's father whispered.
Samuel said, "We have to take that chance. If he's there, I'll take all the blame."
Samuel pushed open the huge gates and slipped outside alone, expecting to be pounced upon at any moment. He put the huge key in the lock and turned it. The gates of the ghetto were now locked from the outside. Samuel tied the key around his waist, and walked a few yards to the left of the gates. A moment later a rope slithered down the wall like a thick snake. Samuel clung to it while on the other side his father and the others began to haul him up. When Samuel reached the top of the wall, he made a noose of one end of the rope, fastened it to a projecting spike and lowered himself to the ground. When he was safely down, he shook the rope loose.
"Oh, my God!" his father was mumbling. "What's going to happen at sunup?"
Samuel looked at him and replied, "We're going to be pounding on the gates, telling them to let us out."
At dawn the ghetto was swarming with uniformed police and soldiers. They had had to locate a special key to open the gates at sunrise for the merchants who were yelling to be let out. Paul, the second guard, had confessed to leaving his post and spending the night in Krakow, and he had been placed under arrest. But that still did not solve the mystery of Aram. Ordinarily the incident of a guard disappearing so close to the ghetto would have been a perfect excuse to start a pogrom. But the police were baffled by the locked gate. Since the Jews were safely locked up on the inside, they obviously could not have harmed him. In the end they decided that Aram must have run off with one of his many girl friends. They thought he might have thrown away the heavy, cumbersome key, and they searched for it everywhere, but they could not find it. Nor would they because it was buried deep in the ground, under Samuel's house.
Exhausted physically and emotionally, Samuel had fallen into his bed and was asleep almost instantly. He was awakened by someone yelling and shaking him. Samuel's first thought was: They've found Aram's body. They've come to get me.
He opened his eyes. Isaac was standing there in a state of hysteria. "It's stopped," Isaac was screaming. "The coughing's stopped. It's a bracha! Come back to the house."
Isaac's father was sitting up in bed. The fever had miraculously disappeared, and the coughing had stopped.
As Samuel walked up to his bedside, the old man said, "I think I could eat some chicken soup," and Samuel began to cry.
In one day he had taken a life and saved a life.
The news about Isaac's father swept through the ghetto. The families of dying men and women besieged the Roffe house, pleading with Samuel for some of his magic serum. It was impossible for him to keep up with the demand. He went to see Dr. Wal. The doctor had heard about what Samuel had done, but was skeptical.
"I'll have to see it with my own eyes," he said. "Make up a batch and I'll try it out on one of my patients."
There were dozens to choose from, and Dr. Wal selected the one he felt was closest to death. Within twenty-four hours the patient was on his way to recovery.
Dr. Wal went to the stable where Samuel had been working day and night, preparing serum, and said, "It works, Samuel. You've done it. What do you want for your dowry?"
And Samuel looked up at him and replied wearily, "Another horse."
That year, 1868, was the beginning of Roffe and Sons.
Samuel and Terenia were married, and Samuel's dowry was six horses and a small, well-equipped laboratory of his own. Samuel expanded his experiments. He began to distill drugs from herbs, and soon his neighbors began coming to the little laboratory to buy remedies for whatever ills bothered them. They were helped, and Samuel's reputation spread. To those who could not afford to pay, Samuel would say, "Don't worry about it. Take it anyway." And to Terenia, "Medicine is for healing, not for profit."
His business kept increasing, and soon he was able to say to Terenia, "I think it's time to open a small apothecary shop where we can sell ointments and powders and other things besides prescriptions."
The shop was a success from the beginning. The rich men who had refused to help Samuel before came to him now with offers of money.
"We'll be partners," they said. "We'll open a chain of shops."
Samuel discussed it with Terenia. "I'm afraid of partners. It's our business. I don't like the idea of strangers owning part of our lives."
Terenia agreed with him.
As the business grew and expanded into additional shops, the offers of money increased. Samuel continued to turn them all down.
When his father-in-law asked him why, Samuel replied, "Never let a friendly fox into your hen house. One day he's going to get hungry."
As the business flourished, so did the marriage of Samuel and Terenia. She bore him five sons - Abraham, Joseph, Anton, Jan and Pitor - and with the birth of each son Samuel opened a new apothecary shop, each one larger than the one before. In the beginning Samuel hired one man to work for him, then two, and soon he had more than two dozen employees.
One day Samuel received a visit from a government official. "We're lifting some of the restrictions on Jews," he told Samuel. "We would like you to open an apothecary shop in Krakow."
And Samuel did. Three years later he had prospered enough to erect his own building in downtown Krakow and to buy Terenia a beautiful house in the city. Samuel had finally achieved his dream of escaping from the ghetto.
But he had dreams far beyond Krakow.
As the boys grew older, Samuel hired tutors for them, and each of the boys learned a different language.
"He's gone crazy," Samuel's mother-in-law said. He's the laughingstock of the neighborhood, teaching Abraham and Jan English, Joseph German, Anton French and Pitor Italian. Who are they going to speak to? No one here speaks any of those barbaric languages. The boys won't even be able to talk to one another!"
Samuel merely smiled and said patiently, "It's part of their education." He knew to whom his sons would be talking.
By the time the boys reached their middle teens, they had traveled to different countries with their father. On each of his trips Samuel laid the groundwork for his future plans. When Abraham was twenty-one years old, Samuel called the family together and announced, "Abraham is going to America to live."
"America!" Terenia's mother shouted. "It's filled with savages! I will not let you do this to my grandson. The boy is staying here where he will be safe."
Safe. Samuel thought of the pogroms and Aram, and of his mother's murder.
"He's going abroad," Samuel declared. He turned to Abraham. "You'll open a factory in New York and be in charge of the business there."
Abraham said proudly, "Yes, Father."
Samuel turned to Joseph. "On your twenty-first birthday you will go to Berlin." Joseph nodded.
Anton said, "And I will go to France. Paris, I hope."
"Just watch yourself," Samuel growled. "Some of those gentiles are very beautiful."
He turned to Jan. "You will go to England."
Pitor, the youngest son, said eagerly, "And I'm going to Italy,. Papa. How soon can I leave?"
Samuel laughed and replied, "Not tonight, Pitor. You'll have to wait until you're twenty-one."
And thus it worked out. Samuel accompanied his sons abroad and helped them establish offices and factories. Within the next seven years, there were branches of the Roffe family in five foreign countries. It was becoming a dynasty, and Samuel had his lawyer set it up so that, while each company was independent, it was at the same time responsible to the parent company.
"No strangers," Samuel kept warning the lawyer. "The stock must never leave the family."
"It won't," the lawyer assured him. "But if your sons can't sell their stock, Samuel, how are they going to get along? I'm sure you'll want them to live in comfort."
Samuel nodded. "We'll arrange for them to live in beautiful homes. They'll have generous salaries and expense accounts, but everything else must go back into the business. If they ever want to sell the stock, it must be unanimous. The majority of the stock will belong to my oldest son, and his heirs. We're going to be big. We're going to be bigger than the Rothschilds."
Over the years Samuel's prophecy became a reality. The business grew and prospered. Though the family was widely scattered, Samuel and Terenia saw to it that they remained as closely knit as possible. Their sons returned home for birthdays and high holidays. Their visits were more than festive occasions, however. The boys would closet themselves with their father and discuss business. They had their own private espionage system. Whenever one son in one country heard about a new drug development, he would dispatch couriers to report it to the others, and they would begin manufacturing it themselves, so that in this way they kept constantly ahead of their competitors.
As the wheel of the century turned, the boys married and had children and gave Samuel grandchildren. Abraham had gone to America on his twenty-first birthday, in the year 1891. He had married an American girl seven years later and in 1905 she gave birth to Samuel's first grandchild, Woodrow, who sired a son named Sam. Joseph had married a German girl, who bore him a son and a daughter. The son in his turn married a girl, who bore a daughter, Anna. Anna married a German, Walther Gassner. In France, Anton had married a French girl, by whom he had two sons. One son committed suicide. The other married and had one daughter, Helene. She married several times but had no children. Jan, in London, had married an English girl. Their only daughter had married a baronet named Nichols and had a son whom they christened Alec. In Rome, Pitor had married an Italian girl. They had a son and a daughter. When the son, in his turn, married, his wife gave him a daughter, Simonetta, who fell in love with and married a young architect, Ivo Palazzi.
These then were the descendants of Samuel and Terenia Roffe.
Samuel lived long enough to see the winds of change that swept across the world. Marconi created wireless telegraphy and the Wright brothers launched the first aeroplane at Kitty Hawk. The Dreyfus affair captured the headlines and Admiral Peary reached the North Pole. Ford's Model Ts were in mass production; there were electric lights and telephones. In medicine, the germs that caused tuberculosis and typhoid and malaria were isolated and tamed.
Roffe and Sons, a little less than half a century after it had been founded, was a multinational behemoth that circled the globe.
Samuel and his broken-down horse, Lottie, had created a dynasty.
When Elizabeth had finished reading the Book for perhaps the fifth time, she quietly returned it to its place in the glass case. She no longer needed it. She was a part of it, just as it was a part of her.
For the first time in her life, Elizabeth knew who she was, and where she had come from.