evenings come early, so our outings are short-
ened. But that's all right,
because we do get quite
cold. After we've seen Ferdeleh comfortably rein-
stalled in the stable, the Quebec heater blazing to
keep him warm, we hurry
upstairs to the kitchen,
stamping the snow off our boots at the door. I
stand in front of the coal stove, in front of the open
oven. Grandpa warms
his hands over the opened
plates. Annie has heard our return to the courtyard,
and a cup of warm chocolate is waiting. The kitchen
is warm and cozy, with
Mamma, Grandpa, and me.
Winter days. It never rains. So
I can ride nearly
every Sunday with Ferdeleh and Zaida on the sled. Un-
less there is a snowstorm, which is still far too often.
dark and white contrasts lend the streets some
solemnity. The thick vapor
trail of our breathing con-
spires, paradoxically, to bring everything close
farther away. But our trade is the same, and so is
our chant. Though
sometimes we juggle it, just for
Grandpa and I
sing, "Rags . . . Clothes . . . Bot-
tles." Then I sing "Rags
. . ." but Grandpa sings
"Clothes..." and I correct myself,
pa, grinning. "Clothes... Bottles... Rags..."
Where I fail to follow, his face betrays a mild con-
along with the grin. I'm delighted with
this game, myself initiate changes,
and giggle when
Grandpa fails to follow these.
. . . Rags .. ." and I sing "Bottles," but
Grandpa sings "Iron."
And we laugh.
The light is failing. Evening is falling.
And we are
I jump down from the sled,
run to open the gate to
the courtyard, and Grandpa "gee-up's" Ferdeleh
But something is happening. There's some commo-
tion in the yard. A crowd of the neighbors and chil-
dren is gathered in front
of Mr. Baumgarten's shop.
Edna breaks from the crowd and runs excitedly to-
ward us. "Go back ... go back! The police are
here, looking for you!"
I am frightened, but Grandpa gives me a reassur-
and rides on into the lion's den.
The tailor's shop has
been transformed into a
court house. No physical alterations. And no deco-
The city council and the police department,
shape of a small, plump French-Canadian civic of-
ficial and a
big French-Canadian cop, have come to
investigate Mrs. Tannenbaum's complaint
Ferdeleh's stable. Mr. Baumgarten has offered them
the use of
his shop to conduct their inquiries.
In the tailor's shop
are, for the defense, the at-
tractive, youthful Mrs. Murphy and Mr. Baumgarten
And in the right-hand comer, weighing a hundred
and eighty-seven pounds and a half, wearing a blue
dress, the Indomitable,
Mrs. Tannenbaum! Flanked
by her husband, Lou.
one neighbor is complaining. We can prove
it," says Mr. Baumgarten.
"The law is the law," says the little official. He
aspires to an orderly interview, but everyone is talk-
ing at once, and he
and the cop are confused.
"She smells worse than the
stable!" says Mrs.
"We know about you,
Mrs. Bondy! You better
keep your mouth shut!"
know what, you dirty-mouthed English
a minute. Just a minute!" the cop intervenes.
pushes open the door and shouts into the
melee. "Why don't you ask me?
I'm a neighbor!"
Lou Tannenbaum nervously complains
to the cop,
"She doesn't live in the courtyard."
cop pushes Edna out and closes the door on
an interested citizen," complains Mr. Baum-
"She's a whore!" Mrs. Tannenbaum screams.
right! She has nothing to say here," adds
infuriates Edna. She dashes to the window and
bangs on it, shouting, "That
dirty hypocrite! He's one
of my regular customers!" And louder still,
for all to
hear, "Lou Tannenbaum is one of my regular cus-
Lou Tannenbaum is frightened. "A lie. A dirty lie!
Wave after wave of this washes over the
official, and he cries, "Just a minute! Just a minute!
trying to hold an investigation!"
Grandpa and I walk
in. Nobody pays any atten-
tion. Edna is behind us, and stands shouting in
doorway. "It's not a lie! She hasn't slept with him in
She says it's dirty."
Mrs. Tannenbaum is shivering.
"May your insides
rot... may your tongue shrivel..."
the official says, "The issue is the stable."
Grandpa asks, "What about the stable?"
Tannenbaum rants, "May cancer eat
the official looks at Grandpa and asks, "Who
are you?" And Grandpa
answers, "The criminal."
The official takes another
look. Addressing Grand-
pa politely, he-explains that there has been a com-
plaint against the stable, and that the law requires a
stable to be situated
at least a hundred yards away
from human habitations. The stable will have
Mr. Baumgarten asks, "What politician
have to pay off to get out of this?"
says, "I'm not moving the stable."
says, "If that stable isn't moved in
thirty days, you'll be in court."
"The stable has been here for twenty years. No-
making me move it."
And Mrs. Tannenbaum asks, "Am
I to be covered
with horse shit for the rest of my life?"
it you who dumped that stuff on our stairs?"
Lou Tannenbaum asks Grandpa
"Whoever did. I already apologized. Now,
to get my horse out of the cold. . . . Good-bye."
nods to me to follow him, and leaves.
Grandpa leads Ferdeleh
into the stable, and into
his stall. We remove his blanket, brush him down,
and feed him.
The official, the cop, Mr. Baumgarten, Mrs.
nenbaum, and all the rest have followed us.
official hands Grandpa an envelope. "You will
have to find a stable a
hundred yards from a dwell-
a stable a dwelling? Have not human be-
ings lived in stables with their fellow
whom you worship was born in a stable."
gives them a moment's pause. The cop
changes the subject. "That's a very
old horse. It's
time he was put away."
your mother and father get old, will you
put them away?"
It's not the same, eh?"
"That you cannot love
a horse the same way you
can love a person only says you cannot love a per-
son all that much either, Mr. Policeman."
it's not me who's being judged here. It's
says we are all being judged here, be-
cause we don't know what it is we have
to put away.
Our hatreds, our vanities, our sins should be put
those we love."
The tailor is ecstatic. "Mr. Ellas!
couldn't have said it better!"
official and the policeman start to leave. The
official throws a last word.
"That horse better not be
here when we come back in thirty days."
"It will be here. As sure as God is just, it will be
here." Grandpa smiles at me, and gestures again that
I am not to worry.
"Where else would it be?"
Relieved, and very,
very, very proud of my grandpa,
I am content.
Sunday. The sled slides along the moun-
tain road. The mountain is snow-sheathed,
the branches carry silver linings. Covered with warm
we sit on the sled. We are going down a
slight incline, and my snow-white
steed - Ferdeleh is
at least as white as the city snow, though maybe not
as white as the Mount Royal snow - my snow-white
Ferdelah jaunts along, and
the winter bells jingle mer-
rily. But I am not at ease.
says they'll put you in jail if you don't find
won't put me in jail. God will find a way for
us. Remember the story I told
you about the good
little squirrel and the fat greedy squirrel?"
"Yes, the fat greedy squirrel kept stealing the lit-
tle squirrel's hazelnuts."
"And that little squirrel never gave up!"
right. And what did God say about such
a little squirrel that never gave up?"
Brightly I answer, "God said, 'For such a squirrel,
I have to make a miracle.'"
"And," says my
grandpa triumphantly, "He did!"
story, I grow excited, and eagerly
continue, "When that big fat greedy
to steal the hazelnuts again..."
takes over,"God turned them into
me,"And the big fat squirrel broke all his
Grandpa finishes, "And he never stole the lit-
tle squirrel's hazelnuts
again. So ... when people
like us need a miracle ... it happens. I have it
the highest authority."
"Do you believe
in miracles. Grandpa?"
"No, but I rely on them."