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Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia

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VI

Joe's story was finished. His last words had deeply touched his listeners.

Kingscourt cleared his throat noisily. "Seems to be a charming fellow, this .Joe. Very charming fellow. Too bad he's not here. Should like to shake his hand. Hope to see him before we move on. There's one thing he's got me excited about-that Dead Sea Canal. Seems to be a kind of world's wonder. When do we get a peep at this myth?"

David promised to take them immediately after Passover. Meanwhile, life was pleasant in Tiberias. Kingscourt ate the unleavened bread valiantly, and swore that he, a Christian German nobleman, was becoming thoroughly "judaized." His most violent oaths were aimed at Fritzchen, whose tyranny grew more exacting from day to day. The little rascal thought, did he that Kingscourt had nothing better to do in his old age than to play hobby horse for him? However, he permitted himself rebellious remarks only when his tyrant was asleep. When the baby woke and called for "Otto," the growling bear became his obedient slave immediately.

When they made plans for the trip through the Jordan Valley to Jericho, David thought of leaving the baby with his grandparents; but Kingscourt interposed all sorts of objections. The boy ought to learn something about the country, just like other people. David would be an unnatural rather if he left him behind. In the worst event, if Fritzchen did not come along, he would forego the whole .Dead Sea Canal and stay with the baby. He was so determined that the parents finally yielded; then he pretended utter indifference. He wasn't at all concerned personally. He had merely taken the part of a helpless child!

In the meantime, Reschid Bey returned to his family, promising to meet his friends in Jerusalem. Steineck (the architect) also went on to Haifa, being much concerned with the elections to the forthcoming congress. Judging both from private and newspaper reports, the Geyer party seemed to be exerting itself mightily. Steineck therefore had to be at his post at the Haifa campaign headquarters, which was in hourly touch with the local committees.

David, however, had some private business to transact in the Jaulan district before he would be free to make the Jordan Valley trip. He invited Kingscourt and Friedrich to accompany him. The latter assented readily, since Miriam and Professor Steineck were also to be of the party. Kingscourt, however, remained in Tiberias because-so he said-he did not wish to let Sarah and Mrs. Gothland travel alone in the motor car to Beisan. His weakness for Fritzchen being already pretty well taken for granted, he was not teased overmuch for this decision. It was arranged that all of them meet at a Beisan hotel (in the Jordan Valley) two days later.

A handsome electric launch was waiting to take the four travelers across Lake Kinneret. Those who were remaining in Tiberias came to the pier to see them off. When Friedrich shook hands with Kingscourt, the latter said, "Do you know, Fritze, that this is the first day we have spent apart in twenty years? Don't get lost on a byroad in the place with the crazy Arab name-or may a thousand salted Donnerwetters overtake you! And you, Miss Miriam, please don't take advantage of the opportunity to turn this boy's head. He's forty-three years old. The most dangerous age! And now God bless you! We'll meet you at Beisan!"

Miriam and Friedrich both blushed at the old man's crude joke, and showed their embarrassment as they entered the launch. Kingscourt winked significantly at Mrs. Gothland, much pleased at his success in discomfiting them.

It was a mild spring day. The yacht skimmed over the waves, which were slightly rippled by a playful breeze. The lovely mansions and villas of Tiberias receded as the steep shores of the eastern side of the lake loomed up before them. They had a magnificent view of Mount Hermon to the north, and enjoyed watching the craft of all shapes and sizes that dotted the lake. The crossing was as fleet as a dream, and the launch soon docked in a little bay. It was only a few yards walk to the electric railway station, where they soon caught a train. Their destination was EI-Kunetra, where David had his appointments. From their seats in the drawing-room car they observed the gradual ascent of the roadbed to the town, which lay a thousand feet above sea-level. EI-Kunetra, as a railway junction between Safed and Damascus, was a town of some commercial importance in Transjordania.

When they alighted from their train, they noticed a train on the next track marked for Beirut. Boyish voices were singing in one of the cars-they guessed the youngsters to be from fourteen to sixteen years old. "Are they off on a little trip?" asked Friedrich. "Yes," smiled Professor Steineck, "around the world!"

Miriam explained the character of this school excursion. It was modeled after the trips which the French Benedictine monks used to arrange a quarter of a century previously for pupils under the escort of their teachers. The young men learned foreign languages and customs on their travels, so that study and seeing the world were systematically interwoven. They were much more mature for their years than the youth of the previous generation. Their education was not only more sound, but less expensive, since they were ready to assume adult duties earlier. The money invested by the New Society in these school caravans soon bore interest.

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