3.5 Sunday is Yesterday

John McCarter cast an eye over the simple Christmas tree and returned to his books.

Year’s income: $780. $300 out in cash to Ignacz for salary: his other $100 advanced by Mrs McCarter. Minus: electric (lighting); printer’s bills; travel; hall rental, tithes. Minus: postage and stationery for reports to the church; blankets; towels and soap. Then his salary for his own family: rent; food; clothing; coal; taxes; garden tools and seeds; the thatching.

He couldn’t make this.

Ignacz sat before him, Sunday night. Before he could get the words out, McCarter was in tears.

“Tell me what is wrong,” said Ignacz.

“I have decided to retire. It is the only decision. I shall be make a gift of the Mission to the Church, under your care.”

“But Reverend McCarter, John, surely there’s a way. The Church—“

“—Made you their only donation. Forgive me. Oh, but I have had a good innings; forty years in service to God. I leave under a magnificent year, yes?”

“Let me talk to them again. Perhaps they will see reason.”

“You can try. I will be recommending to the board you take my place here,” said McCarter.

“They have obstructed us at every turn. I must try,” said Ignacz. “if the Mission is to live.”

 

 

Margarethe watched his entry, shoulders slouched, briefcase in halfway dangling down.

“Welcome home. Oh, dear. The job is still not what you expected.”

She put a hand on her belly as she got up from the couch. His face was inscrutable.

“Look Ignacz! Julius is learning to walk!”

The Presbyterians didn’t care. Maybe he could talk to Scrimger. He couldn’t rely on them. Up the ladder; write to the Diocese. Let them see who is abandoned here, and the hope. McVicar at the college: no, take it to the Archbishop.

His thoughts ran as fast as the toddler underfoot. Julius hit the ground on his chest. Ignacz finally noticed him and said nothing. The child howled. He lifted him without love, and looked to the hall and noticed Margarethe at his side. He pushed the boy into her hands, toddler’s trousers pissing. Ignacz frowned. He hadn’t let go of his briefcase and so slapped it up upon the dining table.

“I don’t want to hear him. Go.” He clapped his hands. “GO.”

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Image attribution: The Feast of John Scrimger, Neatnik 2009

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.

3.4 Travelling Preachers

John McCarter had led the mission alone, but kept from his door the reasons for its closure. Now he had Ignacz. Ignacz who’d convinced the Presbytery and was able to converse with the Jewish immigrants from Roumania and Russia. Nearly nine o’ clock, he gathered the papers and books to his suitcase, met his partner in the hall. They prayed on the tram. They took the bus for the village of Cardinal. John passed Ignacz his mail. Inside was a letter from McGill University, where he’d sent ‘Essay on the Evidences’, a theological treatise. Their response was the offer of a scholarship and twenty-five dollars. Excited, Ignacz talked more than usual.

Cardinal was a hundred miles away; Eastern Ontario, several hours only. The road took them along the border, the St. Lawrence River which faced John McCarter on his punctuated awakenings. It was beautiful in sunlight. His slumber:  each nod awake preceded by dread thoughts on financing their operation.

North of Dundas Street they were received at the Presbyterian Church. Ignacz led the small congregation from his favourite Song of Songs.  Thought their hosts advertised, only one Jew attended. He left as resistant as when they encountered him.

Cardinal, John heard, was founded by a Revolutionary War hero for whom everything went wrong. After his life, the village grew to a present population of a thousand.

They prayed and were shown their beds. John’s mind wandered to the following days’ lectures: just over the border in Ogdensburg, New York; another in Iroquois on the way home. He had to admire Ignacz’s village tour plan. He wished he could see more. His apprentice was ready.

 

Featured image attribution: A Digital History of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, Canada. Bytown.net

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.

3.3 Ignacz the Missionary

McCarter and Ignacz discovered together: Old Vieux near the docks; Jacques Cartier Square; Peel Street; the souls of soldiers and tailors ready to receive Christ. Ignacz improved his English and French while clearing Hebrews for Heaven in Griffintown. The Lord has armed them with flyers, demon traps in prayer groups, scheduled many evenings. McCarter guided, but also was awed by the courage of the boy from Budapest. Depending on the audience he was Trebitsch or Timotheus, as baptised. McCarter called him TImothy. He spoke in tongues: Yiddish and Hungarian, to anyone: Polish, Lithuanian, Irish and Ukranian. The street grew quiet.

“Reverend McCarter, it has been so busy,” said Ignacz with hurry.  “I have contained my excitement. The telegram arrived from Captain Kahlor. He agrees and has booked her passage to Montreal. I would like to ask you to do the honour of marrying us.”

A smile spread over the Reverend’s face. He nodded agreeably and took his apprentice’s hand warmly. The moment didn’t last.

“Mind your own business! Pair of demons!”

“Steady now,” said his friend, older, adorned in caftan robe. “Why do you come here to take good men from God’s path?”

Ignacz rounded on the two Jews. “It is only through Christ a man may know the Lord…”

“You’ve been told before.”

“And be absolved of sins, such as anger,” said Ignacz.

“The Tankah clearly states we are God’s chosen people,” said Caftan man.

“Yes,” said McCarter. “But have you heard? The good news is that you’re not alone. God sent his only son—“

“Have I heard? I’ve been hearing it all my half century! It’s hardly news!”

 

The bridal chorus from Lohengrin stirred Ignacz. His eyes seemed to pop from his face, into the baptismal font. McCarter looked out beyond the empty pews. Ignacz was fine with the privacy, he’d said. Margarethe was a small woman, moving cautiously in a white dress too big. Her left eye glanced subtly at it, he right was locked into moving forward. Her tiny mouse face met Ignacz’s mad grin at the altar.

“We are called here today in sight of the Lord to marry these two people…”

McCarter’s words were all a jumble. He would have known how to speak to people on the boat to New York. Margarethe didn’t even understand Ignacz Trebitsch sometimes. She’d lived in Hamburg all her life.  Ignateus Timotheus Trebitsch. Margarethe, not Kahlor, Trebitsch and Julius too. His employer was Scottish. So many languages.

“Margarethe,” said McCarter again.

Ignacz broke his silence. “Margarethe, say ‘I do’.”

“I do?” she said.

McCarter pronounced them man and wife.

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.

3.2 Get McCarter

A tram took him downtown to the Presbyterian College. He sprang through halls and knocked jubilantly on Scrimger’s office. When called, he met the professor and McCarter with warm, excited hand-shakes.

Scrimger said, “Reverend McVicar sends his apologies.”

“I heard it said he is an exemplary professor and I know how much the Mission means to him,” said Ignacz. “Might I begin in asking the Lord to bless us today?”

Scrimger agreed. Ignacz kneeled on the floor. McCarter felt his sixty-eight years as he followed him down; nothing he wasn’t used to.

“Our Father, bless our meeting here today. Grant us wisdom and take us from sin, purify our hearts and possess our SOULS.”

His voice rose and McCarter opened one eye. Ignacz’s arms were outstretched and shaking. Then he brought them in, his hands clenched in front of his chest, eyes closed so tightly.

“IN YOUR NAME WE ASK GUIDANCE, and compassion, to spread forth your love, and work in your name. AMEN.”

“Amen,” said all.  Scrimger took a seat his desk. “Thank ye both for coming. When Reverend McCarter reached out to the Presbytery, they looked hard at his eight years service; to them, to the mission to the Jews. Funds are in short supply they said. Then he forwarded your proposal, Mr. Trebitsch.”

“Yes, we have been corresponding for two years, before my baptism in Brecklum and while I studied in New York.”

“Ignacz would be a valuable asset,” said McCarter. “A bargain, I’d say.”

Ignacz slapped his knee and a smile took over his face. He looked at McCarter, chuckling as well. Scrimger nodded. His Dumfries accent was heavy but Ignacz had already figured him out.

“The Presbytery Committee and the College agree. Good news, eh? Mr. Trebitsch is invited to enrol , finish his studies here and draw a wage as an employed assistant at the Mission.”

Ignacz nearly shook McCarter’s arm off. Then he was over the table clutching Scrimger’s elbows.

“Thank you,” said McCarter.

“Yes,” said Ignacz. “I hope we can begin right away: this moment. There are souls to be saved. Praise God! May he light the path before us!”

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.

3.1 Montreal

[Previously]

December 1900, Montreal

The Old Port bustled by two kilometres of the St. Lawrence River. Heavy cargo ships lowered their wealth by crane. Containers lined the streets with smoke and brine. Longshoremen shouldered crates along the wharf to the railway tight against it. Horses and carts queued in the roads. The lucky ones travelled a mile north: past Dominion Square, Mount Royal, and to the Golden Square Mile. The rebuilding drew on those old, narrow streets of Montreal but became something much more audacious. Great trees and orchards, handsome cut stone buildings; and among them, the men who made Montreal a key producer for the Empire. Fifty men there held seventy percent of Canada’s wealth. It was a coveted trip, to those country houses and cottages, the vineyards, stables and conservatories. The main street was a Little London where F.E. Smith or Max Aitken might be seen; fond of the local hospitality, happy to tip.

Most went further than a kilometre or two, south-west to Griffintown. From Nazareth Street to the Lachine Canal were they worked, there was over-crowding and squat boxes. The immigrants stopped here: a Jewish and Irish quarter. There was plenty of work for women and children in textile plants. The men went to the sawmill, back to the docks or the train and new tram. They came back with infected facial tears and a paid roof over their heads.

Griffintown’s population over-flow went across the Lachine Canal locks to Pointe St. Charles. The streets were wider; lines branched between poles over commercial and residential.  The first electric streetcars ran past the brick duplexes, flats one on top of another. With an ear to the French and British tongues, the newly baptised Timotheus bobbed with glee. He was also deep in thought, composed for opportunity.

Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.

2.5: The Watch Thief

“I want to get out of here soon. How was London and Hamburg?” Jozsef asked.

“I was only briefly—“

Lajos interrupted them. “You should stay and finish your studies, Jozsef.”

“We can’t all be big academia stars,” said Jozsef.

Ignacz laughed. “Yes. Not every academy is so responsible. I have been accepted by Reverend Frank of the Hamburg seminary. Perhaps Jozsef can come and visit me when he’s of age.”

“Our parents are struggling,” said Lajos. “He’ll need to pay his fare, not lie about all day.”

Lajos lifted the sheet of paper from Ignacz’s mattress and read aloud, “’To the glory of Israel.’ Is this more of your spiritualist journalism?”

Ignacz shifted uneasily and took the page back. Bending down, he put the page back with the jotter. “It’s a letter to my beloved, Margarethe. But yes, my journalism is rewarding.”  He re-covered the coins and jewellery.

“Does it pay my rent?” said Lajos.

“What do you care?” asked Ignacz. “Aren’t you a Socialist?”

“I might go that way,” said Lajos. “The party are very keen.”

Jozsef laughed. “The Professor wants to be Mayor!”

Ignacz laughed too. “You can improve the city’s health and educational standards.”

“Clean up all the crime,” said Jozsef.

“It has been bad,” said Lajos. “There are more street muggings, even some house break-ins.”

“The man taking the watches?” asked Jozsef.

“Same person as two years ago,” Lajos told them. “One of my students in the know says the constabulary have identified him.”

 

The year went by, and Captain Johann Kahlor and his wife got used to the visitor. Johann noted he spoke respectfully always, was engaging, even wonderful company, but there was a streak of…impetuousness? Condescension? Fakery? He was serious about his ministerial training. Johann followed him to the Hamburg College a few times. He knew his scriptures.

Their daughter, Margarethe, took in all his promises of love and a life by his side. The girl’s tiny face shifted around her glasses, black curls bunched off her smiling cheeks when he came by. She defended his anger and his absences. The child made her fiercely protective of their futures: five minutes better parenting in Ignacz than the bastard who abandoned her. Johann and his wife saw he was good with Julius Tut. Julius wailed and bawled and Ignacz took him in his arms and everything was good. It would be good.  Ignacz would become a minister, and look after their daughter and grandson. He was practically family.

Two years went by. At the dawn of a new century  Ignacz arrived alone, off the boat to Montreal.

 

Image attribution: Afraid Of Global Warming, Ebay.
Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.

2.4: Return to Whitechapel

The hours went by. Chaim Lypshytz in his office thumbed bibles and ledgers: dusted a cross, sipped copper water. Ignacz took to the theological texts, took to the prayer books and took them away.

The days went by. Ignacz lost his temper, accused of stealing a towel. Lypshytz, amid the arguments, heard a third man say his silver chain was away as well. Ignacz compared this to the trumped up charges laid before Christ by disgruntled Roman soldiers.

Two weeks went by. The departure left dashed hopes and a fear for his safety, as it was so sudden. Another matter was biting the back of Chaim Lypshytz’s mind that day. A fixture of his desk was a present from his wife of a gold watch and chain. It had been moved from the corner where it lay, dependably. He searched the table by the door, the shelves and floor. His day was devoted to the work of the London Jews’ Society home, but he continued looking. Early evening came. He thought it moved by invisible forces testing faith. Or had it maybe been stolen? The latest batch of way-wards were mostly good men. Chaim had barely time to reprimand himself when there was a knock on the door. Gaunt Joe, face of bones, tugging on his front locks. Joe was a stench of worry. The Reverend sat him down but he was already out with, “My passport is missing. I left it under the pillow. Old Bill are still looking for the Ripper! Have you seen my passport?”

The months went by. Near the Danube’s early evening streaming, Professor Lajos Trebitsch turned the key in his ground floor flat. Ignacz was laid on a mattress under Lajos’s bed, his whole skin writing. He harrumphed at the call of his name.

“There’s someone here to see you,” Lajos called.

The items, removed from his pocket, were hastily gathered and put under the open notebook. The bedroom door swung open.

“So this is where you’ve been hiding,” said Jozsef.

He rose to meet his brother and kissed him on both cheeks.

“He’s grown since you’ve been away,” said Lajos.

“Quite!”

 

Image attribution: London Methodist
Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.