My husband. Look at your beard!

They clasped hands. She wore dark green, and a lighter green bonnet, dark curls at her forehead, that creamy skin, hardly any wrinkles, those shining eyes. People surged around them, stevedores in baggy trousers, fezzed porters in kaftans.

victorian_woman

Ephraim startled and looked to her left, to her right, tried to peer over her shoulder. ‘The porter promised to bring all the luggage,’ she said in the Belarusian of their youth.

‘But where is Sarah?’

‘In the end, she did not come.’ Rachel watched his stunned expression. ‘I am sorry. They kept her.’

It is 1860 and Ephraim has begun as a medical missionary in Saloniki, Turkey  (today Thessalonika, Greece), at last reuniting with the wife he left in Brest-Litovsk ten years earlier. In Chapter 14, A Man Shall Cleave Unto His Wife, the mis-matched couple try for love while Ephraim struggles to convert the local Sephardic Jews to Christianity. And he fumes: will he never be allowed to meet his 12-year-old daughter?

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