The Rise of David Levinsky

Author: Abraham Cahan

Chapter VI

IT was Monday afternoon. The week-end boarders and many others had left, and I was still idling my precious time away on the big veranda, listening to the gossip of women who bored me and trying to keep track of a girl who shunned me. My establishment in New York was feverishly busy and my presence was urgently needed there. It was more than probable that Bender had wired to Tannersville to call me home. The situation was extremely awkward.

Moreover, I was beginning to feel uneasy about certain payments that required my personal attendance.

It was a quiet, pleasant afternoon. The boarders were scattered over the various parts of the hotel and its surroundings. Twenty-four of them, forming two coach parties, had gone to see some celebrated Catskill views, one to the Old Mountain House and the other to East Windham. Some were in the village. Miss Tevkin, wearing her immense straw hat, and with her opera-glass in her hand, was looking at birds in the vicinity of the hotel.

Thus rambling about leisurely, she sauntered over to the main road near the grove. A few minutes later she turned into the same path where I had watched her disappear on the morning of the day before. And once more I saw her vanish there

I went out for a walk in the opposite direction. Soon, however, I turned back, strolling with studied aimiessness, toward that spot

What was my purpose? At first I did not know, but by little and little, as I moved along, an idea took shape in my brain: If I met her alone I might force her to listen to me and let her see the stuff I was made of. I lacked courage, however. While I was priming myself for the coup I wished that it would be postponed. I dawdled. There were swarms of strange insects on the road, creatures I had never seen before. At first I thought they were grasshoppers, but they were gray and had wings. Every now and then I would pause to watch them leap (or were they flying?) and drop to the ground again, becoming part of the dusty road. I followed them with genuine interest, yet all the time I kept working on the speech that I was going to deliver to Miss Tevkin

I was lingering at a spot a few yards from the grove on the opposite side of the main road when suddenly twilight fell over half of the valley. I raised my eyes. Behold! an inky cloud was crawling over the mountains, growing in size as it advanced. A flash of lightning snapped across the heavens. It was as though the sky screened a world of dazzling glory into which a glimpse had now been offered by a momentary crack in the screen. The flash was followed by a devout peal of thunder, as if a giant whose abode was in those dark clouds broke into a murmur of glorification at sight of the splendors above the sky. The trees shuddered, awe-stricken. I went under cover. A farmer was chasing a cow. As my eyes turned toward the grove they fell on Miss Tevkin, who was standing at the farther end of it, under its leafy roof, facing the main road. My heart beat fast. I dared not stir

A shower broke loose, a great, torrential downpour. It came in sheets, with an impetuous, though genial, clatter. It seemed as though the valley was swiftly filling with water and in less than an hour’s time it would reach the tops of the trees. I thought of Noah’s flood. I could almost see his dove winging her way over the waters. The storm had been in progress but seven or eight minutes when it came to an end. The sky broke into a smile again, as if it had all been a joke.

Miss Tevkin left the shelter of the trees and set out in the direction of the hotel. I do not know whether she was aware of my proximity

It was clearing beautifully, when a new cloud gathered. This time a great, stern force, violent, vengeful, came into play. A lash of fire smote the firmament with frantic suddenness, shattering it into a myriad of blinding sparks, yet leaving it uninjured. There was a pause and then came a ferocious crash. The universe was falling to pieces. Then somebody seemed to be tearing an inner heaven of metal as one tears a sheet of linen. This released a torrent that descended with the roar of Niagara, as though the metal vault that had just been rent asunder had been its prison. Miss Tevkin ran back to cover. The torrent slackened, settling down to a steady rain, spirited, zealous, amicable again

In a turmoil of agitation I crossed over to her. Instead, however, of beginning at the beginning of my well-prepared little speech, I blurted out something else

"You can’t run away from me now," I said, with timid flippancy

"Please, leave me alone," she besought, turning away

I was literally stunned. Instead of trying to say what I had in my mind and to force her to listen, I slunk away, in the rain, like a beaten dog

The shock seemed to have a sobering effect on me. I suddenly realized the imbecility of the part I had been playing, even the humor of it. The first thing I did upon reaching the hotel was to ask the clerk about the next train—not to Tannersville, but direct to New York. Going to see Fanny was out of the question now

There was a late train connecting with a Hudson River boat and I took it


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Chicago: Abraham Cahan, "Chapter VI," The Rise of David Levinsky in The Rise of David Levinsky (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1903), Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Cahan, Abraham. "Chapter VI." The Rise of David Levinsky, in The Rise of David Levinsky, New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1903, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Cahan, A, 'Chapter VI' in The Rise of David Levinsky. cited in 1903, The Rise of David Levinsky, Grosset & Dunlap, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from