Hope and History, Chaim. Hope and History!
Chaim slowly hobbled past the Café St Catherine. Mildly envious, he paused and sadly gazed at the warm, cosy place of friendship, love and song.
After a while, he went on his way.
Out of the corner of her eye, Bathsheba winked.
“You see this man?” she remarked, almost casually to Francis.
Almost, but not quite.
“Yes, Sheba. Yes, I do,” he murmured.
“How long will it be for him?”
The tall, athletic youth stroked his tidy, modest moustache and said:
“I cannot say.”
Bathsheba scowled and released his hand.
“Aha! That’s convenient.”
Francis lowered his eyes in shame.
“Perhaps… It shall not be so bad then, after all.”
Bathsheba laughed bitterly.
“It’s alright for some.”
Francis gasped and raised his head, his grey eyes piercing those of his stubborn paramour.
“Surely they won’t really go so… so far?” he stammered. “Firstly, the Fuehrer is a buffoon who talks a great deal, and who seems to have done very little so far. Secondly…”
Bathsheba began to shake with laughter.
“Secondly, Sheba, this is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is not Germany. The Huns are a superficially cunning, bookish, reactionary and superstitious foundling nation of interlopers, who are envious of the civilised races. The bitter, mediocre envy and resentment of a long historical inferiority…”
Bathsheba stopped, sat bolt upright, her eyes flaming.
“… Well. Well, then, was it something I said?” he said, his fine hands beginning to tremble almost half as much as Bathsheba’s shoulders had been quivering, before he made his unconscionable faux pas.
Bathsheba stood up, as though she was about to leave.
“Well… well come now,” Francis stammered, endeavouring to be conciliatory.
He tried to reach out a quivering hand, but Bathsheba remained impassive.
Bathsheba turned and faced the window.
Francis followed his gaze, and to his horror, he saw a certain cleric approaching in the distance.
He could not bear to be discovered here.
Bathsheba shrugged and let him go.
He looked back at her despairingly as he made to go.
Bathsheba’s face was set like stone.
Eventually, she nodded towards the door.
Just in the very nick of time, the flustered ordinand ran out of the café.
Father Ignatius didn’t notice.
But when he finally entered the café, he certainly noticed Bathsheba.
Leering greedily at her ample bosom and long, black curls, he was on the verge of making a lecherous comment.
But one dismissive glance drove him into the shadows.
As he penetrated deeper and deeper into the tower of song, the silent on the outskirts grew.
The rivers of Babylon were not foredoomed to cease; not as of this precious, fleeting hour.