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Meet Rebecca: An American Girl is the first book in the Rebecca series. It was included with the Rebecca doll when purchased until the release of BeForever and could be purchased separately; it is now part of The Sound of Applause.
- Rebecca Rubin
- Mama Rubin
- Sadie and Sophie Rubin
- Louis Rubin
- Max Shepard
- Victor Rubin
- Benny Rubin
- Leo Berg
- Leonardo Rossi
Only in Meet Rebecca
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: A Sabbath SurpriseRebecca pulled apart her Russian nesting dolls. There were seven dolls altogether, the size of Rebecca's family. The dolls used to belong to Mama when she grew up in Russia, but now they belonged to Rebecca. She lines them up on the parlor windowsill and gathers the attention of her imaginary audience. She drew back the curtain to reveal the dolls, and she pretended one of them was Mama. She had the Mama doll tell the Rebecca doll that since she was so grown up, she could light the candles tonight. Then the two dolls representing her older sisters squawk that Rebecca wasn't old enough and Rebecca has them push the Rebecca doll around. The doll representing Papa said that Rebecca knew the Hebrew blessings perfectly, and she was old enough to light the candles. Before Rebecca could make her brother dolls talk, Mama called Rebecca over to set the table.
Every Friday night, the family had a special dinner together before Sabbath day. Rebecca loved Friday nights, but she wished Mama would have her do something more important then setting the table. Mama, who was cooking in the kitchen with Bubbie, tells Rebecca they needed an extra plate tonight and Rebecca asks who was coming. Mama and Bubbie look at each other and Rebecca repeats her question. Mama explains it was her cousin Moyshe and Rebecca nearly dropped the plates as she exclaims "The actor?" She overheard her parents talking about him, but she never met him before. He usually acted in Vaudeville shows across the country, but sometimes he was out of work and needed to borrow money from Papa. Rebecca always wondered what an actor was like offstage, so she made sure the table was set as perfectly as possible. Bubbie calls out Sadie's and Sophie's names as she pulled out the hallah bread from the oven. The twins hurry, Sadie leading Sophie. Bubbie instructs them to check if the hallah is done and Sophie complains that the loaves were hot. Sadie isn't as timid, rapping her fingers against the crust to hear a hollow sound, indicating the bread was done. Rebecca wondered why Bubbie never asked her to check the bread. She pushes past her sisters and said she could check the bread too. Bubbie lets her try but as she knocked on the bread, Victor sneaks up and raps her head, saying "Done!"
Rebecca tried to swat his arm away when someone knocked the kitchen door. Everyone stared at the door as it creaked open. A man with a straw hat and a cane poked his head into the room. Mama greets Moyshe, but he signals everyone to be quiet. He then began to sprinkle something invisible in the doorway. When Bubbie asked him what he was putting on the clean floor, he looked around nervously and says it was lion powder. When Rebecca asks what that was, he states the powder was to keep lions away. Sadie says there weren't any lions around and Moyshe announces that's how well the powder works. Benny heaved a sigh of relief and the twins shake their heads, but Rebecca bursts out laughing. He smiles and winks at Rebecca as he states that if one can make an audience laugh, they would love the show. Rebecca never thought that Mama's cousin would be this exciting and notes that he even looks interesting. Mama tells Moyshe to come in and close the door, but he states his name was now Max Shepard as an American actor needed an American name. Bubbie grumbles that Americans were always changing their name, but Max shifts his attention to Rebecca. He comments how she grew into a young lady since the last time he saw her and Rebecca beams. Visitors usually fussed over Sadie and Sophie first because they were twins, leaving Rebecca to feel left out. Max turned to Benny and comments that he wasn't even born the last time he was over, yet he was old enough to grow buttons. When Benny states that buttons don't grow, Max pulls out a button from Benny's ear. Rebecca chuckles as Benny looks astonished. Max greets Victor, commenting it was almost his Bar Mitzvh. He then pretended to whisper that sneaking out to play baseball was a lot more fun that studying Hebrew, making Victor grin.
Grandpa then calls out "Good Sabbath!" as he entered with Papa. Papa gives Mama a penny bouquet of flowers, commenting they were almost as pretty as her, and he greets Moyshe. Bubbie tells papa there was no more Moyshe, only Max, and Mayx says any name was okay as long as they didn't call him late to dinner. Rebecca thought that Max was funny and notes how he was nothing like her serious Papa. Grandpa comments that it was a busy day at the shoe store, but now they could relax. Papa took the tin charity box from the kitchen shelf and put his loose change in it, just as he always did every Friday night. When the box filled up, he would take it to the Synagogue and donate the money to help new immigrants. Grandpa adds some change to the box, saying how they should always help those less fortunate. When he held the box out to Max, he had already stepped out to the parlor and started tickling Benny. Mama scolds Max for making Benny wild, then announces it was time to light the candles. Benny dashes to Papa and asked him if he could light the candles. Papa explains to him that only women could light them. Rebecca asks if she could light the candles, adding she knew the prayer by heart, but Sadie states that it was for the women in the family. Rebecca frowned, thinking how this was just like her play earlier. Mama firmly says the twins would light the candles as they were fourteen, and Max jokes they should get a matchmaker if they weren't married yet. Rebecca pokes the dolls on the windowsill and mutters how she never gets to light the candles, but Bubbie instructs her to help serve the soup.
Everyone waited for Bubbie to hang up her apron and join the table. As she sat down, she straightened the lacquer pin she often wore, a keepsake she brought with her from Russia. The picture was from a Russian folk tale titled Clever Karina, and Rebecca loved the picture of the leaping hare. The twins stood before the candlesticks and everyone watched as they lit them and recited the prayer together. Max murmurs it was a beautiful sight and the adults nod in agreement, making Rebecca jealous. Victor then raised the special cup of Sabbath wine and recited the Hebrew blessing. Rebecca felt secretly pleased when Grandpa corrected his pronunciation. Then as the whole family gave thanks for their food, Rebecca spoke loudly as to show that she didn't make mistakes. The family then begun to eat. As much as Rebecca loved the food on Friday night, she was thinking of something else. An idea was begging to form in her mind.
Chapter Two: A Showy Dinner
As Mama set out the food, Max announces there was a new play coming to the Yiddish theater. Grandpa comments it was a long time since they've seen a play, but Sadie states they preferred movies, Sophie nodding in agreement. Grandpa asks why they would want to see people moving in pictures when they could see real people on stage. Sophie states that movies were smooth, and that they were going to see a show tomorrow with their friends. Grandpa asks what smooth meant and Sadie explains it meant something new and exciting. Rebecca, who had never seen a moving picture before, asked if she could come along. The twins reply in once voice hat Rebecca wasn't old enough. Rebecca argues that they always left her out, and Sadie reminds her that they were in high school. Papa declares that Rebecca would have time for movies when she was older as he believed these new moving pictures aren't meant for children. Rebecca fumed, angry that the twins could do everything together and leave her out. Victor turns to Benny and asks if he wanted to catch baseballs for him tomorrow and Benny wiggles with excitement. Rebecca thinks how the twins had each other and Victor and Benny were best friends while she was always left out, even on Friday nights. She recalls how her friend Rose got her own candlesticks and could lit the candles besides her mother every Sabbath. Rebecca's idea starts to form more clearly. If she got her own candlesticks, Mama would let her light the candles. She could preform besides the twins, and then everyone would see she was old enough to preform the ceremony and go to the movies.
Max and Victor start discussing about baseball and the new player Babe Ruth, put Papa says he wanted to hear how his children were doing in school. Sadie and Sophie share that they were reading Hamlet and Max comments it was the very best of theater. Rebecca butts in and announces she got all her answers correct on her arithmetic test. Mama tells Rebecca while she was proud of her, she had to be careful not to boast. She tells all the kids they were lucky to be in school as back in Russia, they never had the chance. Max nods in agreement, stating that life was hard growing up in Russia. He lightly touches Bubbie's pin as he comments he had fond memories of Russia regardless, like his mother telling him the story of Clever Karina. Rebecca knew the store well as her Mama had told it at bedtime.Max then begins to recite the folk tale for the family. Drawn into the story, Rebecca begun to act along as Karina and speak her lines. Max smiles and draped Mama's shawl around Rebecca's head, making her truly feel like Karina. Max continued to tell the story as Rebecca acted out Karina's solutions. When the story was over, the two bowed hand in hand as the family clapped. Max exclaims that Rebecca was a natural actress. Rebecca could hardly breathe after hearing the compliment along with her family's clapping. Max states he was auditioning for a movie studio that week and jokes that maybe he should bring Rebecca along. Bubbie rolls her eyes and says not to give her crazy ideas while Grandpa bursts out that acting was a no-good life for a young lady. Papa states that Rebecca should be a teacher, looking quite pleased with the idea. Rebecca's shoulder's slumped, wondering why her Papa didn't think she should become an actress despite Max saying she had the talent.
Ending the discussion, Papa asks if Victor could work in the store tomorrow. Grandpa says that Victor needed to work on his Hebrew as his Bar Mitzvah was fast approaching. Bubbie shakes her head at Papa and comments it was a shame he was working on Shabbos, but Papa explains that most people went shopping on Saturday. Rebecca thinks that although she couldn't light the candles or see a movie, she could help at Papa's store. That way, she could show how grown up she was. She offers her help and Papa, admitting he really needed the help, allows her. Max asks Papa if he heard from his brother Jacob in Russia, commenting how Russia was starting to draft boys as young as twelve for the war. Papa's face grew worried as he pulled out a letter he got today from Jacob. He reads the letter, which explained how Jacob lost his job due to being a Jew, and how his life was becoming more dangerous. He was afraid to let his sons out of the house in fear they would be snatched up by the soldiers and forced into the army Food was scarce and with Ana sick from hunger, she may not survive another winter in Russia. He adds that a friend would try to smuggle them out, but it would cost all their money. They ask Papa to send them ship tickets so they could join him as soon as possible.
Rebecca notices Victor had a far away look in his eyes and wondered if he was imagining life in the Russian army. She was glad he didn't have to worry about being in the Russian army; Jewish boys were often treated more harshly in the army, and most of them never saw their families again. Grandpa announces they would fill up their charity box for the tickets. Max starts to look embarrassed as he explains he could barely pay the rent for his room with the money he had. He tells Papa that somehow he had to send them tickets right away and Papa irritably explains he's been saving up for them for a long time. Rebecca looked at her food and felt ashamed, thinking she couldn't be buying candlesticks when her cousin was starving. Sadie offers to give up their allowance for the tickets, but Papa shakes his head. He tells the children they needed more money than their pennies, and they were better off keeping them. But he assures them he would find a way to raise the money.
That night in bed, Rebecca laid awake, thinking about her cousin. She thinks that if only Uncle Jacob's family could make it to New York, Ana could get better. She thinks how they could both be like her sister as Ana was exactly Rebecca's age, and they could be twins. Rebecca overhears her parents talking about the ticket prices outside her room. Papa says that the tickets would cost $30 per person and they needed five tickets. Papa says that all of their savings wouldn't be enough. Mama adds that Jacob needed $25 in his pocket in order to enter America. Rebecca adds up the numbers in her head and is shocked that Papa would need $175. She wonders how he would ever get the money. She creeps to hr trunk and counted up her savings. She counts 27 cents and wonders if she should give it all to Papa, but she then remembers Papa telling them they should keep their allowance as pennies wouldn't help. Rebecca notices her nesting dolls strewn over the trunk and she puts each doll back inside, leaving out the Beckie doll. As she goes back to bed, she asks the doll if she was selfish for wanting the candlesticks. She barely saw the doll's painted smile as she went to sleep.
Chapter Three: One for the Money
Rebecca studied the cover of her sister's movie magazines, then looked at her reflection. She tilted her hat so it slanted across her forehead, just like Pearl White's hat. She admired the look and imagined she was on a movie poster when Mama tells Rebecca she was going to make Papa late. Rebecca did a last check over of her outfit before running out to the kitchen. Mama gives Rebecca the leftover hallah and asks her to take it up to Bubbie. Rebecca complains that she was already late, but she runs up the stairs regardless. She sets the bread on Bubbie's small kitchen table. She notices the twins arguing in the parlor about how many embroidered napkins they needed for the wedding chests. Bubbie says they needed to make various items like napkins and pillow cases so they would have enough for when they start on their families. Sadie grumbles that nobody made a trousseau and they didn't need a trunk full of handmade linens to get married. Bubbie goes into the kitchen and gives Rebecca her calico bag she used for her crocheting, commenting she forgot it from last time. Rebecca thanks her and adds she would try making another doily if she shoe store got slow. Bubbie says that crocheting was considered work on Shabbos, but Rebecca adds she was already working at the store. Sadie says Rebecca should take the pattern book, but Rebecca says she already knew the patterns by heart. Bubbie pinches Rebecca's cheek, complimenting her crocheting skills. She tells the twins that Rebecca made more than the two of them for her wedding chest. As Rebecca raced down the stairs, she wondered that if she was old enough to prepare for her wedding chest, why wasn't she old enough to light the candles or go to the movies?
Papa waited for Rebecca on the sidewalk, and he was tapping his foot when she reached him. Rebecca apologizes and tries to explain what happened, but Papa smiles at Rebecca's tilted hat, commenting she would be his stylish helper today. Te two begin to walk quickly, Papa explaining they weren't going to take the trolley in order to save money. Rebecca wondered why Papa didn't want her savings when he was saving only 5 cents by not taking the trolley, but she tried not to think about the ticket money. She had saved up so little, how could she make a difference? The two eventually reach the shoe store and Rebecca dashes across the street. Papa scolds her for not looking out for wagons or automobiles, but Rebecca only grins and asks if she could unlock the front door. The two entered the store, turned over the open sign, and put away their belongings. Rebecca offers to start dusting, wanting to show papa that she could be a big help. She begins to dust the shoes while singing Take Me Out to the Ball Gamewhen Papa jokes if the ball game was over, Rebecca could sweep the sidewalk. Papa gives her a stained canvas apron and worn weather boots to protect Rebecca's outfit, much to her displeasure.
Outside, Rebecca pretended she was auditioning for a movie studio with Max. She was playing a poor immigrant who had to sweep the streets to help her family survive. She was lost in her play acting when she saw Leo Berg, a pesky boy in her class at school, coming towards the store with his mother besides him. Mrs. Berg walked into the store without a glance, but Leo started at Rebecca as she swept. She proudly tells him she was helping with her Father's store, but Leo sniffs that Rebecca was nothing but a street sweeper. Angry at Leo, she tells him sweeping the sidewalk was very important and if he knew how to work hard, he wouldn't have to wear the dunce cap at school. Leo's cheeks turned red as he threatens to leave with his mother if Rebecca wasn't polite. He then goes into the store, slamming the door behind him. Rebecca was angry at Leo but she didn't want Papa to lose a customer, so she put her anger into sweeping.
When she finished, she walked back into the store and to the back room to put on her own shoes. She heard Leo complaining, and she sneaked a look to the front of the shop. Leo was surrounded by rejected shoes, and he grumbled that the shoes were ugly. Mrs. berg explains that they went to every shoe store on Broadway and still couldn't find shoes Leo liked. Despite Leo's fuss, Papa kept a smile on his face and mentions he had a special pair of shoes he'd been saving. He then hesitates, saying the shoes weren't just for ordinary boys, and Leo asks what was so special about them. Papa says the shoes were made with the same leather used for cowboy boots. Leo demands to see them, adding he saw cowboy boots in Western movies every week. Rebecca fumed, jealous that Leo could watch movies despite being her age. Mrs. Berg asks to see the shoes, stating she was willing to pay any price for them if it meant Leo would finally get some shoes. As Papa went into the back room, Rebecca asked him about the cowboy boot leather. Papa winks and says that leather was just leather, weather it was on boots or shoes.
Rebecca took her crocheting bag and walked to the front of the store, ignoring Leo. She begun to crochet near the window as Mrs. Berg looked over the latest women's shoes. She notices Rebecca and comments she didn't know that anyone still learned how to crochet since so few ladies made trousseau. Rebecca wondered if the twins were right when they said no one made linens for their wedding chests anymore. She hold up her doily for Mrs. Berg to see as she explained how she learned to crochet when she was six. She adds her Bubbie told her she had a natural talent for it. Papa tells Rebecca to let Mrs. Berg browse in peace and Rebecca closed her mouth, thinking how she talked too much again. Mrs. Berg took a closer look at her doily and says one couldn't buy such a fine doily for love or money. Rebecca swelled with pride as she thought how much nicer Mrs. Berg was than Leo. Feeling generous, Rebecca took a finished doily from her bag and offered Mrs. Berg one, explaining that she already made so many. Mrs. Berg calls Rebecca a sweet child as she puts the doily in her bag, adding she would love to display it in her home. Papa comes back with the shoes and starts to unwrap them dramatically. He sniffed the leather and says it was the aroma of saddles and boots. Rebecca fought back a giggle, thinking that Papa was an actor too. Leo smelt the shoe as well and put them on. He does a proud strut around the room with his new shoes on, and Mrs. Berg gushes that he looked handsome in them. Leo says he would wear his new shoes home, and Mrs. Rubin could get rid of the old shoes. Rebecca put away the rejected shoes as papa worked the cashier. Before Mr. Berg left, she handed Rebecca something. Rebecca gasped when she saw that Mrs. Berg gave her a whole quarter for the doily. Not wanting Papa to see the money and possibly tell her to return it she put it in her bag.
She picks up Leo's old shoes and notes that they were hardly scuffed. Papa instructs her to put them on the work bench, assuring her they would be put to good use. As she put the shoes on the workbench, she noticed many other worn children shoes among the tools. Rebecca asked what he was going to use the shoes for, but a customer enters before he can answer. An Italian woman with a boy Benny's age enters and explains her son's shoes were too small. She heard from a friend that his shoe store didn't cost too much. Papa took off the little boy's shoes and Rebecca notices the soles were worn all the way through. The woman comments that one would think her son would have plenty of shoes since his father worked in a shoe factory. papa nods, sharing that he used to work in a hoe factory, yet he never had a decent pair of shoes of his own. Papa picked up the old pair of shoes and says he would try to see if he could fix them. As Rebecca crocheted, she noticed the boy look at her and she winks at him, sending him into giggles. Papa returned with a polished pair of shoes as he says he fixed them up so they hardly look like the same pair. The boys tries on the shoes and happily exclaims he could wiggle his toes. Rebecca looked at the shoes and remarked they didn't look like the same pair, but Papa's stern look silenced her. When the woman asked the cost, Papa explains she didn't need to pay for a small fix-up job. She gives him a grateful smile and the two leave the store, the boy hopping down the street.
Papa quietly tells Rebecca he kept old shoes for situations like this. Rebecca asks if the lady knew what he did and Papa nods. He explains that it was best not to talk bout it as no one liked taking charity. Rebecca hugs her father, telling him he did a good thing. Papa explains it was Mitzvah, and they should help others when ever they could. He tells Rebecca her heart tells her the right thing to do, but assumes she already knew that. Rebecca felt bad as she thought about her cousin. Shouldn't she be doing something to help her? As the store grew busier, Rebecca stopped thinking about Ana. She thought about the money Mrs. Berg gave her and wondered if she should bring more doilies with her next week in case she came back. She asks Papa if she could work with him every Saturday and he says they'll see.
Chapter Four: Two for the Show
The next day, Rebecca was trying to clean the candle wax off the candlesticks. She was grumpy that she had the clean them when she couldn't even light them. She thought about how much money it would cost to get her own candlesticks, about $2, and how much money she had saved, 52 cents. She then thought about Ana and wondered if she should give up her savings towards the tickets. But Papa had already refused her money, and he would get the tickets soon, wouldn't he? Sadie and Sophie read Hamlet out loud to each other as Papa read his paper. Benny ran around with his toy airplane and Papa reminds him to keep quiet for his sisters. Victor was out playing stick ball, Mama had gone out and as Rebecca put away the candlesticks, she decides she didn't' want to stay inside. As she heard Sadie and Sophie recite their lines, Rebecca is reminded of her performance of the fairy tale with Max. She then gets an idea: people would sometimes pay to see a show performed on the street. Rebecca puts on Mama's straw hat and a black wool scarf as she announced she was going outside. Before she could run off, Benny asks to come along and Papa orders her to take him with her. Rebecca heart sank as Benny grabbed his marbles and his cap.
The two went down to the front steps of the row house. With the stoop empty and the cared lion's heads on each side of the door, int looked just like a stage. Rebecca tells her brother to get out of the way so she could put on her show, but Benny asks to join in. Rebecca knew her brother would keep on bothering her if she said no. She gave him the role of an organ grinder's monkey, having him collect coins with his cap. Benny begins to screech like a monkey and he asks where the crow was. Rebecca explains the show hasn't started yet as she went to the top of the steps. She begun to sing her favorite song 'Take Me out to the ball Game', but no passersby stopped. Rebecca thought if she kept patient, a crowd would come. But no one had stopped or paid a penny when the song was over. She tilted her hat like Pearl White's hat and begun to sing The Animal Fair. A few people had paused to watch and as Rebecca ended the song, she noticed a man putting a penny into the cap. Recalling Max's advice about making the audience laugh, she started to sprinkle the sidewalk with imaginary powder. She asks Benny to ask what she was doing and he does so. She announces she was sprinkling lion powder and he asks what it was for. More people joined the crowd, trying to see what she was sprinkling. Rebecca was glad the routine was going well. She replies loudly it was to keep the lions away. Benny started to laugh, but he went along with the routine and said the only lions were toe carved ones, getting a chuckle from the audience. Rebecca delivers the punchline and the audience laugh, Benny holding his hat to collect the change.
Rebecca then cried out as someone pinched her ear. Bubbie scolds Rebecca that she was shaming them, adding Mrs. Rossi was even seeing her beg. As she gets dragged away, she asks what she did wrong. She asks why it was okay for Max to earn money in a show, but not for her. Bubbie says Rebecca wouldn't want to be a poor man like Max. But Rebecca really did want to be a performer, and she didn't see anything wrong with putting on a show to earn money. Rebecca whispers to Benny to bring his cap inside. Bubbie led Rebecca into the girls' bedroom and let, closing the door behind her. The twins look up from their book and Sadie laughs that Rebecca wasn't ready for the stage, but the hat suited her. Rebecca flushes an says that people liked her show enough to pay for it. Just then, Benny bursted into the room with his cap and dumped the pennies onto her bed. Rebecca only counted six pennies, but she figured it was better than nothing. She begins to put the coins away with the rest of her savings when Benny complains he wanted some money too. Rebecca argues it was her idea, but Benny mentions he helped with the joke. When she gives him one penny, she whines that Rebecca had more than him. She gives him two more coins, deciding this was better than having Bubbie come in to settle it.
As Benny dashed off, Rebecca felt dismayed that all her efforts only got her three pennies. Sadie closes the book and announces they were going to the park as it was too loud in the apartment. Rebecca flopped onto her bed and thought about her show. It seemed like a good idea, but Bubbie definitely didn't approve. She wondered if the neighbors were laughing at her, but it hardly mattered as she couldn't earn much money singing on the stoop. She thinks how the most money she earned at one time was the quarter from Mrs. Berg. As Rebecca put away her savings into the trunk, she looked at all the linens and doilies she was supposed to save until she was grown up. She knew she wouldn't be able to use all the linens in her entire life, but they give her another idea. Rebecca started to pack the linens into her bag until it bulged. If Papa would let her work in the sore for a few more Saturdays, she would earn all the money she needed. In a few weeks, she would be able to light the candles with her sister and everyone, including Bubbie, would be proud of her.
Chapter Five: Solving a Riddle
For the next month, Rebecca worked every Saturday with Papa. each week she improved her plan to earn money, and now she knew exactly what to do. When Papa was busy in the back room, she would drape some of her linen over a chair. Rebecca would hum and rearrange the pieces as some ladies looked at the shoes nearby. Eventually they'd noticed the work and would ask if it was for sale. Rebecca would say no, explaining she made them herself and it took so long. The lad would offer some money to change her mind and Rebecca would murmur she couldn't since Papa might be angry. That would usually get the lady to pay a little bit more while whispering it would be their secret. They would make the exchange and when Papa came back from the back room, the lady would put her finger to her lips and Rebecca would smile in return. This routine would repeat itself multiple times. Rebecca told herself that she wasn't offering to sell her work, and she didn't even bargain. She discovered that people would offer more money if she simply said the item wasn't for sale. That day, Rebecca was cleaning up the unwanted shoes, avoiding Papa's eyes. She was worried that Papa would really get angry if she knew what she was doing. An elderly man comments to Papa that he had a fine helper and maybe one day the store would be called 'Rubin and Daughter'. papa smiled proudly as he explained that Rebecca was going to be a teacher. Rebecca thinks that she could also become an actress, but she keeps it to herself. papa put the old man's shoes on a glass case near the cash register. The case was filled with some shoe repair items and Rebecca think show it would be prettier to display and sell the doilies there. but how could she tell Papa that without giving away her secret?
As they walked home, Papa comments that Rebecca was unusually quiet that evening. He assumes that being a working girl was more tiring than she expected, but Rebecca wasn't tired. She was thinking about her linen sales. They had sold better than expected, and now she had more than enough to buy her candlesticks. Rebecca was happy with the news at first, but then she realized her trousseau trunk was nearly empty now. Bubbie would be upset to find that she sold her work. She also couldn't stop thinking about her sick cousin Ana. Rebecca asks if Ana was still sick and if she was going to come to America soon. Papa says that he hasn't heard anymore news about Ana and while he has been saving money, they sill needed a great deal more. Papa assures her he would send Uncle Jacob the tickets as soon as possible, but Rebecca felt uncertain. Papa said he didn't want her savings, but now she had much more than 27 cents. While Rebecca still wanted to light the candles, the thought of buying candlesticks had lost it's glow. Recalling Papa's words about Mitzvah and following her heart, she realizes she had to think of Ana and give Papa her money so he could buy the ship tickets sooner. Rebecca was about to make her offer when she realized Papa would ask where she got the money. If he found out she sold her needlework, he might get angry along with Bubbie and Mama. She couldn't tell them what she had done.
As Rebecca and Papa approached their row house, they saw Mr. Rossi washing chalk off the sidewalk. Mr. Rossi cleaned the building in exchange for his rent, but he often acted as if he owned the building. He complains that kids were always drawing chalk marks on the sidewalk as the glowered at Rebecca. Rebecca defends herself and explains she was working at her father's store all day. Mr. Rossi only says that tomorrow it could be her. Rebecca thought he was a grouch and wonders why he was so annoyed about chalk on a sidewalk that he didn't even own. But Rebecca didn't want to waste her time worrying about Mr. Rossi. Her problem was more important than Mr. Rossi's chalk problem.
All through dinner Rebecca thought about her predicament. She then realized Uncle Jacob mentioned Ana may not survive another winter and Rebecca feared that Ana might die. She realized she had to give Papa the money before it was too late, but how could she admit what she had done? Rebecca barely looked up as Max entered and joined the dinner table. Mama asks if Max felt like tea and he jokes that he didn't feel like tea while pinching his arm. He pinches Rebecca's cheek and says she felt more like a rosy peach than tea, but Rebecca couldn't smile. She knew what she had to do, but why was it so hard? Rebecca thought about how much courage Ana would need to escape Russia and if she wanted to help her, she would have to show some courage, too. She begins to tell Papa when Max mentions he didn't just come around to sponge a dinner from them. He explains he saw in a newsreel that fewer ships were leaving Europe due to the war and there was no time to spare if they wanted to help Uncle Jacob and his family. Papa snaps that he was doing the best he could and Max adds he really did to come to help as he pulled out his wallet. He explains that the audition he mentioned last time worked out, and now he was Max the movie star.
Rebecca stared at Max in amazement as Grandpa asked if it was a good job. Max says it was a steady job which he got paid every week for, and he got his first paycheck yesterday. Bubbie gasps as Max pulls out five ten dollar bills from his wallet and hands it to Papa. He mentions he wouldn't need to borrow anymore money and hoped this would help buy the tickets. papa blinks in amazement before he shakes hi head and tried to give the money back, explaining he didn't need to do this. Max refuses to take it back, saying it was payment for all the money Papa loaned to him before. He adds it would also pay for all the dinners he would join in now that he lived in the city as he winked at Mama. Papa shook Max's hand and accepted the gift, admitting it would help very much. He could borrow the rest of the money they needed, even if it took him a while to pay off. Max then asks if it was true there were people in the family who never saw a moving picture. Mama says she was one of them as she winked at Rebecca. Max explains this was his last weekend working as an usher at the Strand matinée and if they came over tomorrow, he could get the family in for free. Rebecca could hardly believe the news. Bubbie and Grandpa exchanged nervous glances, but Max assure them it was just a Charlie Chaplin comedy appropriate for the whole family. He nudges Rebecca as he mentions there was also a Perils of Pauline episode, but Rebecca didn't feel happy. When Papa and Mama would learn what she had done, she probably wouldn't be allowed to go.
Tears in her eyes, Rebecca left and returned with her bag. She says she had something to tell Papa and asks him not to be angry as she pulled out all of her change from her bag. Everyone stared at Rebecca as Mama asked where the money came from. Rebecca's face burned as she explained she old all her needlework at the shoe store. Bubbie cries out that it was such a shame and Rebecca apologizes as she looked down. She answered Sadie's question of how she sold them and tears f shame filled her eyes. Mama shook her head and asked why Rebecca did it. She replies quietly that she wanted to buy candlesticks so she could light the candles on Shabbos as well. Everyone sat in silence as Rebecca wished she could make herself disappear. Mama came over and lifted Rebecca's chin, sighing she was always so impatient. She shares that she was impatient once, and she thought she would never get old enough to light the candles. Mama hugs Rebecca's and Rebecca begins to cry. She sobs that the more she sold, she less important the candlesticks seemed. Papa comments that this was what the secret deals in the store was about and Rebecca blinked in astonishment. She asks if he was angry and Papa shrugs that if his daughter was a successful American business woman, what could a father do but sit back and watch?
Rebecca wiped her eyes as she says all she really wanted was for Ana and her family to come. She says she knew $8 wasn't enough for a ticket but if she kept selling her work, he wouldn't have to borrow so much money. Sophie suggests that she and Sadie had oodles of needlework they could sell and Sadie nods in agreement. Rebecca's face brightened as she suggested they could use the display case near the cash register to display the linens. Bubbie sat silently in thought. She states that if people paid to have doilies, she had a trunk full of ones she didn't us. She offers to sell some of her work as well, stating it was a Mitzvah. Grandpa pats Bubbie's arm, mentioned she didn't need a trousseau if she was already married. Rebecca's heart felt light for the first time in weeks. She was relieve that everything had turned out so well. Papa says that if the plan worked, they would pay for the tickets in no time. He asks Rebecca if she was interested in arranging the display case and Rebecca exclaims she knew she could. Max stood up and said in a stage voice that in true Russian tradition, the youngest daughter solved the family's riddle. Bubbie approached Rebecca and put her pin onto her dress, asking her to keep it to remember she was their own Clever Karina. Rebecca hugs Bubbie, joking she would if she didn't have to marry the tsar. Mama laughs, saying that Rebecca wouldn't have to worry as he would never marry her without a trousseau.
Looking Back: America in 1914
Discusses the lives and immigration of Jewish immigrants during the 1910s. Topics covered:
- The thousands of immigrants that arrived and settled in big cities, where they could live in neighborhoods settled by those from their own country.
- New York City serving as the largest city in America at the time, with their largest group of immigrants being Jews from Russia.
- Mistreatment Jews faced in Russia, where there were laws to keep them in poverty and were subjected to pogroms orchestrated by Russian soldiers.
- The conflicts families faced with celebrating the Sabbath in America, as many felt like Saturday should be a day of rest, despite those who decided to work.
- Yiddish being the language immigrants spoke, with their children learning to speak the language and the newspapers and plays that were translated in Yiddish.
- The popularity of vaudeville shows during the 1910s, where there were a variety of different acts, and was also a starting point for many future movie actors.
- Vaudeville theaters beginning to show movies within their vacillates, and the popularity of movie serials amongst young people, such as The Perils of Pauline.
- The adults that didn't view acting as a respectable way to earn a living, since many actors were poorly made and were mostly out of jobs.
- Rising popularity of newsreels after the start of World War I, especially amongst Jews who had relatives in Russia and were earning money to help them.
The book has a glossary of the various words used in the story, which are mostly Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew.