Only Yesterday

By S. Y. Agnon; Barbara Harshav | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
The Curtain the Artist Pulled

1

The state of equanimity transformed Isaac's face. Never in his life had his heart been haughty or his eyes arrogant, and when he reached that state, he hung his upper lashes on his lower lashes, like a person whose educated soul has completed its activities and his whole body took on meekness, which was manifest in his walk and his speech and his voice. Once Bloykof looked at him, and said, What is it, Kumer, you've abandoned your world. Another time Bloykof looked at him and said, There's a special quality you've got and I don't know what it is. Too bad you weren't born an artist. Because a person doesn't become an artist unless he is born an artist, but he can learn an art that is an art, so he started teaching him sign-painting. Isaac found sufficient reason not to go to Sonya in Jaffa, and he found a new craft to occupy him.

The very first day Isaac came to Bloykof's house, Bloykof treated him like a brother. Now that he became his pupil, his brotherly feeling was doubled. Isaac savored the taste of friendship as in the days when he was with Rabinovitch. Isaac didn't compare Bloykof to Rabinovitch or Rabinovitch to Bloykof, for even when Rabinovitch didn't have work, he was a practical man, while Bloykof floats in the upper worlds even when he is busy with practical things. But they do have one quality in common, a self-effacing love of friends and affection for comrades.

Bloykof was an experienced teacher and knew how to make his pupils love their trade. When he sat with Isaac to teach him, he told him, Here's a sheet and here are paints. Ostensibly, they have nothing in common, but you want to mate them. So, try to make the

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