The fourth collection of stories by the spiritual heir to Sholom Aleichem, unique in their variety of approach and emotional scope. Singer decorates, infuses his tales with the rituals and talismans of Russian-Polish Jewish folklore, in which Death is a frequent, if often bawdy, visitor. Within the body of a young girl two disreputable dybbuks shriek obscenities at one another, participate in a marriage of convenience; a corpse is sent forth to terrorize his remarried widow; a termagant raises hellfire even after death. In the acceptance of death is a bounding life: only when the knowledge of death is obscured is there the terror of exile. In the title story, an elderly, ill refugee, bemused, visits a medium, but suddenly is forced to accept his own defeat and impotence when a faulty superstructure of life-affirmation crumbles. Men fight their natures with perilous results: a ritual slaughterer, who hates to kill, destroys himself; a man who mimics the life of another comes to grief; a rabbi who could not suppress an unkind thought does penance. In the careful strata of community life the victims sink like stones; the favored ones thrive. Exuberant humor, a somber regard for the sacred mysteries of human destinies, and magnificent story telling.