Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"What shall I say to you, Miss Ernestine? ...I wish you happiness. Yes, yes. I wish you much happiness in this betrothal."
But the bridegroom was again at her side. He put his arm around her waist, and drew her away possessively. She smiled.
As he stepped out into the winter night, Friedrich asked himself which had been the more disgusting: the possessive gesture of Mr. Weinberger of Bruenn, or the smile of the young girl which he had hitherto thought so enchanting. What? The "partner of the firm" had knows the lovely one only fourteen days, and yet he was allowed to put his sweaty hand upon her body. Bile barter! Here went one of his illusions! The Weinberger firm evidently had much money. He, Friedrich, had none. In the Loeffler set, where nothing counted except pleasure and the good things in life, money was all. And yet, he himself was dependent upon this circle of the Jewish bourgeoisie. With these people, yet, and upon these people, he had to live: they were his future clientele. With luck he might become the legal adviser of a man like Laschner. It would be altogether too fantastic to dream of a client like Baron Goldstein. Christian society and a Christian clientele were the most unattainable things in the world. What was a man to do? Was he to adapt himself to this Loeffler circle, share their low ideals, represent the interest of dubious money bags? Such noble conduct would bring an office of one's own after thus and so many years, and then he might claim the hand and the dowry of a maiden ready on a fortnight's acquaintance to marry the first man who came along. Or, if all this was too revolting, loneliness and poverty were the alternative.
Lost in these thoughts, he found himself again in front of the Cafe Birkenreis. Why go home so early to his tiny room? It was only ten o'clock. To sleep? Yes, if there were so be no awakening...
At the entrance he almost stumbled over a little body. A child was squatting on the steps. Friedrich recognized him as the same boy to whom he had given those coins a few hours earlier. He spoke to him roughly. "What's this? Begging again?"
The child replied shiveringly, in Yiddish, "I'm waiting for my father."
He stood up and began to hop, slapping one arm over the other to warm himself. But Friedrich was so steeped in his own misery that he had no sympathy to spare for the freezing child. He entered the smoke-filled room, and took his usual seat at the reading table. There were few guests in the cafe at that hour, except here and there, in the corners, a few belated card-players who could not bear to part. Over and over again they announced the last, the final, the unalterably final round, "Or my name's mud!" Friedrich sat staring into space until a gossipy acquaintance approached the table. He quickly withdrew behind a paper and pretended to read. His eye was caught by the advertisement that Schiffmann had found so fascinating, Here it was:
"Wanted, An educated, desperate young man willing to make a last experiment with his life. Apply N. O. Body, this office."
How strange! Now the description fitted himself. A last experiment! He was sick of. life. Before flinging it away like his poor friend Heinrich, he might as well try to make somthing of it. He asked the waiter for notepaper, and wrote briefly to N. O. Body. "I am your man. Dr. Friedrich Loewenberg, IX Hahngasse 67."
As he was sealing the letter, someone approached him from behind. "Tooth brushes, suspenders, shirt buttons please!" Gruffy he repulsed the importunate peddler. The man moved off with a tearful glance at the waiter, who might put him out for annoying the guests. Friedrich, conscience-stricken at having frightened the man, called him back and threw a small coin into the basket. The peddler held out his trash.
"I am no beggar. You must buy something. Otherwise, I cannot keep your money."
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