"Then you must make up your mind to start at an earlier hour, for it is Friday to-morrow, and you know the Jews are not allowed to travel after sunset."
"I shall not start a moment earlier than I intended, but you can make your horses travel as quickly as you like."
He gave me no answer, and went out. The next morning I found my Jew, an honest-looking fellow, in the carriage. The first thing he asked me was why I did not like Jews.
"Because your religion teaches you to hate men of all other religions, especially Christians, and you think you have done a meritorious action when you have deceived us. You do not look upon us as brothers. You are usurious, unmerciful, our enemies, and so I do not like you."
"You are mistaken, sir. Come with me to our synagogue this evening, and you will hear us pray for all Christians, beginning with our Lord the Pope."
I could not help bursting into a roar of laughter.
"True," I replied, "but the prayer comes from the mouth only, and not from the heart. If you do not immediately confess that the Jews would not pray for the Christians if they were the masters, I will fling you out of the chaise."
Of course I did not carry out this threat, but I completed his confusion by quoting in Hebrew the passages in the Old Testament, where the Jews are bidden to do all possible harm to the Gentiles, whom they were to curse every day.
After this the poor man said no more. When we were going to take our dinner I asked him to sit beside me, but he said his religion would not allow him to do so, and that he would only eat eggs, fruit, and some foiegras sausage he had in his pocket. He only drank water because he was not sure that the wine was unadulterated.
"You stupid fellow," I exclaimed, "how can you ever be certain of the purity of wine unless you have made it yourself?"
When we were on our way again he said that if I liked to come and stay with him, and to content myself with such dishes as God had not forbidden, he would make me more comfortable than if I went to the inn, and at a cheaper rate.
"Then you let lodgings to Christians?"
"I don't let lodgings to anybody, but I will make an exception in your case to disabuse you of some of your mistaken notions. I will only ask you six pauls a day, and give you two good meals without wine."
"Then you must give me fish and wine, I paying for them as extras."
"Certainly; I have a Christian cook, and my wife pays a good deal of attention to the cooking."
"You can give me the foie gras every day, if you will eat it with me."
"I know what you think, but you shall be satisfied."
I got down at the Jew's house, wondering at myself as I did so. However, I knew that if I did not like my accommodation I could leave the next day.
His wife and children were waiting for him, and gave him a joyful welcome in honour of the Sabbath. All servile work was forbidden on this day holy to the Lord; and all over the house, and in the face of all the family, I observed a kind of festal air.
I was welcomed like a brother, and I replied as best I could; but a word from Mardocheus (so he was called) changed their politeness of feeling into a politeness of interest.
Mardocheus shewed me two rooms for me to choose the one which suited me, but liking them both I said I would take the two for another paul a day, with which arrangement he was well enough pleased.
Mardocheus told his wife what we had settled, and she instructed the Christian servant to cook my supper for me.
I had my effects taken upstairs, and then went with Mardocheus to the synagogue.
During the short service the Jews paid no attention to me or to several other Christians who were present. The Jews go to the synagogue to pray, and in this respect I think their conduct worthy of imitation by the Christians.
On leaving the synagogue I went by myself to the Exchange, thinking over the happy time which would never return.
It was in Ancona that I had begun to enjoy life; and when I thought it over, it was quite a shock to find that this was thirty years ago, for thirty years is a long period in a man's life.