T he door is opened by a servant. Aster steps into the ante hall; her eyes catch a velvet-covered chair, deep red. Somewhere, the sound of water: the fountain in the garden. She stops, takes a breath, straightens her back.

Papa’s words come to her: All this can be put right.

She steps forward, following the voices.


The rumble of Mose ben Isaac.

Jocef’s clear tones.


At the door of the study she hesitates. Her fingers tremble as she lifts them to the door, pushes it open. The three men stand there, shoulder to shoulder. A circle.

She clasps her hands together, to still her fingers, but the fear only moves upward through her body, and she must hold her shoulders stiff and her back rigid to conceal her shaking. The air is heavy. She reads the men’s faces. In Papa, she sees resolve, the sense of doing his duty. Mose’s face is a moving sky of dark cloud. Jocef looks stricken.

The room is filled with the stillness that comes in the aftermath of some great rift.

Again, she lifts her eyes to Papa, Jocef, Jocef’s father.

There’s so much she wishes she could say and do, but she does not know how. How to fill in the chasm that has opened between them.

It is on her lips to say, do not blame Papa, he is not the guilty party. But saying that would incriminate Jocef. And all he wanted to do was help her, them.

She closes her eyes. Gathers strength. Then she looks up at Mose ben Isaac and says, “It is I. I am the guilty party. Do not blame my father and do not cast the guilt upon your son. The fault lies with me.”

In the silence that follows, a sudden bud of hope is born. Perhaps this is what is needed: All will come to a new understanding. Mose will learn of Papa’s limitations, and also of Jocef’s dedication to her, to her family. Surely he will be moved by the lengths his son has gone to to help them.

A fleet-footed thought: a gold ring, a blanket of softest wool, a newborn wail in the night.

The chance for reconciliation.

On Mose ben Isaac’s desk there is a globus, a map of the world on a sphere set upon a stand. It can be spun and the countries and continents and seas rise magnificently. It is a work of art and mathematics, a masterpiece. Mose made it under the tutelage of his father, Isaac, but they have never sold such a thing. Jocef once told her the reason for this: People are now accustomed to the stretched-out continents, to the warped shapes of the countries that result when you draw a spherical object onto a flat square of parchment.

Mose stands, the tips of his fingers brushing this ball of metal covered in strips of triangulated parchment.

Again she speaks. “It is I you must blame. Not my father. Not your son.”

Mose’s blue eyes stare into the distance. “I have been betrayed by the people nearest to me. My own son. My own son has gone behind my back and is working for someone else.” Red rage climbs up his neck and flushes through his face. “Is this how a son behaves? Is it?” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 570)