Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
At the hotel, where the whole party was staying, an unwelcome surprise awaited them. Kingscourt stood bare-headed at the gate and shouted at the Professor. "Zum Wetter! You might have hurried!"
"What's the matter?" asked the Professor calmly.
"Matter! ...The baby...little Fritz. ..he's sick. Now don't fuss around, but come upstairs at once, please!"
They hurried to the nursery. Fritzchen lay in bed, his cheeks hot and his eyes burning with fever.
"Otto!" he called to old Kingscourt. "Otto" quickly obeyed his small despot. He sat down beside the head of the crib, a post that he was rarely to leave during the next few days. If Fritzchen well had ruled over Kingscourt with a strict hand, Fritzchen sick had unbounded sway over him.
Professor Steineck examined the child and shook his head. He quieted Sarah, who was beside herself with anxiety; but he did not conceal his concern from Kingscourt. The child was very ill. A serious inflammation of the throat. Kingscourt was more frightened than he cared to show. He dragged Friedrich off to a remade room and swore blasphemously. The child's illness would upset all their plans. One couldn't do as one pleased any more. Other plans must be made in the circumstances.
"I understand, Kingscourt," replied Friedrich, who was worried. "You want to leave. Very well, then. I am ready to go."
"Who wants to leave?" shouted Kingscourt, red in the face. "You don't understand me any more. That woman's society seems to have affected your wits. That's the Schlim-mazel of it, as you Jews say. We can't decently leave now. You must think me a fine sort! First accept hospitality, entertainment-like parasites-and once there's a shadow over the house, we run away. No, my dear chap. You may go on to Europe if you feel you can't do without it any longer. I stay here until Fritzchen recovers,-out of sheer decency. There's simply no other way."
The old man was trying to give the usual amusing twist to his vulgarity, but it rang hollow. He did not want to show how worried he was about the little fellow. He watched all night in the nursery with the mother and the nurse. Fritzchen, as if sensing the old misanthrope's remarkable change of heart, clung to him as to no one else. Steineck tried to rationalize the phenomenon. Kingscourt's handsome, long, white beard had captivated the child; or perhaps his jokes and grimaces. Whatever the reason, Fritzchen clung to his irascible friend. As the fever mounted, his little hand held fast to Kingscourt's index finger. From no one else would he take his medicine. No one else was allowed to croon him to sleep. Kingscourt's musical repertory was not large. His Piece de resistance ran like this:
"Wer reit't mit zwanzig Knappen ein
Zu Heidelberg im Hirschen?
Das ist der Herr von Rhodenstein,
Auf Rheinwein will er pi-a-ia-irschen!"
Fritzchen had once approved of the song, and now the Rhodensteiner had to ride unceasingly to the Stag at Heidelberg. Kingscourt's other song was very much to the point:
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