Hashya stood by the window, looking at the darkening sky. In
the semidarkness, she lowered her gaze to the beautiful
garden and as she looked at the lengthening shadows of the
trees, she felt foreboding and fear. Sadness enveloped her as
she recalled the hasty departure of her dear husband who had
left Rome on a business trip. Now that the children were
already in bed and supper was eaten, she recalled the sad
moments of his unexpected departure. "What is he doing now?"
she wondered. "Probably studying in the room of his inn," she
answered her own question.
"Senora," said the old cook as she came into the room. "What
shall I cook for tomorrow's dinner?"
"Ah, yes..." she said, drawn out of her sad reverie. "First
thing, bring in the lamps; it's getting dark." Hashya
fidgeted as the darkness in the room deepened. She sat on the
couch and tried to concentrate on the menu for the next day's
dinner when suddenly, without warning, loud screams were
heard from the next house. She jumped up in fear.
"There he goes again," murmured the cook. "Our neighbor is
drunk, as usual..."
"But it's so early. He doesn't usually come home before
The cook shrugged her shoulders and moved quickly to the
window, closed the shutters and pulled the drapes across
tightly but to no avail. Loud screams were heard clearly.
Exasperated, Hashya asked the cook to see what food items
there were in the pantry so they could proceed with planning
dinner. She requested that a lamp be sent to the bedroom
where she hoped to escape the growls and violent curses of
their drunken neighbor. But even after she retired to the
bedroom which faced the back, the noise was clearly heard.
The screaming continued sporadically into the late evening
and, tossing and turning in her bed, tired as she was, Hashya
could not fall asleep.
For a long time she listened to the wild ranting until it
finally died down. Still restless and upset, she began pacing
the room in the semi-darkness. I'll go down to the kitchen
and sit a while with the cook, who's always up late. Perhaps
with a hot drink, I'll be able to relax, she thought.
As she entered the brightly lit kitchen, Hashya turned to the
cook, "I don't know why, but I feel very restless. I'll keep
you company here a while, but later I will want some more
lamps brought up to my bedroom."
The cook hesitated for a moment, not wishing to further
disturb her mistress, but blurted, "Senora, something
is wrong. In the quiet of the night, I could hear
running footsteps and through the window, I saw a bundle
being thrown into our garden. I wonder what it was..."
"Is the gardener asleep?" Spurred into action, Hashya set
aside her fears for the moment to face the situation head-on.
"I'd like to talk to him."
"I'll go and call him," said the cook. Hashya was grateful.
She sat by the large wooden table for a seemingly long time,
though it was not more than minutes. At last, the cook and
gardener entered, looking very pale.
"What is it?" asked Hashya in alarm.
The cook put a finger to her lips and whispered, "Come
The moon was bright and the path was clearly illuminated. The
gardener led Hashya and the cook to the bushes by the gate
where the bundle had been thrown in. There on the ground,
half exposed, lay the dead body of a child. Hashya was about
to scream but the cook quickly hushed her. She leaned on the
cook's shoulder weakly. "Who is this child?" she managed to
"It's the infant son of our drunken neighbor," whispered the
cook. "They threw him here. Who knows how he died..."
"What shall we do?" asked Hashya, feeling faint, her knees
buckling under her. "How I regret my husband isn't here
"We can drop the body into the cellar for the meanwhile,"
suggested the gardener.
"Oh, no! That's the worst place! We must think of something
better!" said the cook.
Hashya turned to the gardener, "Bring him into the
The three moved towards the kitchen, the cook wondering what
her mistress had in mind. Suddenly Hashya began laughing.
What could possibly be funny about this? thought the
cook, afraid that the dangerous situation had unhinged her
mistress' mind. "Are you alright?"
Hashya looked at her reassuringly. "Listen! I have a plan!"
She led the way briskly into the kitchen, following by her
servants. "What do you think our neighbor was plotting?
Surely, drunk as he was, he was scheming something against
us. He will soon bring the police here and when they find the
body, we will be accused of murdering him.
"Under the circumstances, hiding the body is not a good idea
and we don't have enough time to get rid of it any other way.
We may be under surveillance already. The police will surely
make a thorough search of the house. My plan is as follows:
we will make preparations for my imminent delivery of a
baby." She turned to the gardener.
"Bring the child upstairs to my bedroom. And you," she turned
to the cook, "boil up plenty of hot water and collect as many
sheets and towels as you can find, then come upstairs. This
will make it look real. Hopefully, Hashem will help us out of
this predicament and save us from this cruel plot."
Hashya climbed the stairs quickly, followed by the gardener
and soon after, by the cook. Soon the whole household was
awake. The cook and gardener kept on going up and down with
towels and pails of water while Hashya kept moaning and
groaning aloud as if in the throes of childbirth.
The police duly made their appearance shortly and a young
maid had to allow them to make their search. They went from
roof to cellar and examined all the grounds outside, but
could not find a thing. All night long, Hashya had been
moaning and wailing throughout a long childbirth, with the
women of the household wringing their hands anxiously. In the
morning, it was announced that Hashya had given birth to a
stillborn child, who was quickly buried in the local
The police were suspicious, however, and kept vigil on the
house, hidden under bushes and behind trees, during the day
and the following night. They did not have long to wait for
when the neighbor returned home, drunk as usual, he began
ranting and raving and cursing his wife vilely. She began
screaming hysterically for help, "Don't kill me like you
killed our son!"
A glass was shattered and she ran out of the house, afraid
for her life. The police were there and arrested her and went
in to seize her husband. The two confessed that after he had
killed the child in drunken anger, they had both plotted to
put the blame on their Jewish neighbors, whom they mutally
despised and envied.
Hashya was also taken in for questioning and soon the entire
story came to light. The couple was duly punished and the
entire Jewish community joined in thanksgiving to Hashem for
having been saved from the terrible consequences of another