Once, in the “good old time”—oh, about thirty years ago—Shklov was not aware of newspapers. The lone copy of Hamelitz that came to the apothecary was the only source of news. Half-willingly, half-unwillingly, the Jews of Shklov used to drink at this suspect spring. (When a man lacks an ethrog, he blesses with a potato.)
As they went through so many Jewish hands and mouths, those news items in Hamelitz acquired a distinct Jewish complexion. When the Prince of Wales arrived in Marienbad, Shklov somehow comprehended that, beyond any doubt, the Prince was in Marienbad because he had really lusted for a piece of that gefillte fish for which the kosher restaurants in Marienbad were famous. When Tolstoy began to strike up an acquaintance with our Talmudic lore, Shklov immediately learned that the Count was at such and such a place in the treatise “Benedictions” and, if not today, he would be converted tomorrow. When Rothschild floated a loan to the Turk, Shklov understood that he was buying Palestine.
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