Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"Nothing, Mr. Kingscourt."
"Energy is everything, Dr. Loewenberg. That's what counts. Want a thing with all your might, and you're dead certain to get it. I never realized until I lived in America what a lazy, weak-kneed lot we Europeans are. Devil take me! In short, I was successful.
"But, by the time I had succeeded, I felt lonely. As it happened, a Koenigshoff, a son of my brother's who was in the guards, made a fool of himself. I had the boy come out to me-just at the time I was courting my wife. Yes, I wanted to establish a family, set up a hearth, seek out a wife upon whom I might hang jewels like any other parvenu. I yearned for children so that they might enjoy the fruits of my drudgery. I wanted to be damned clever, and so I married a poor girl. She was the daughter of one of my employees. I had shown her and her father much kindness. Of course she consented. I thought she loved me, but she was only grateful, or perhaps cowardly. She did not dare to refuse me. So we went housekeeping, and my nephew lived with us.
"You will say that was stupid-an old man between two young people who were bound to attract each other. I called myself an ass when I first found out. But, had it not been he, it would have been someone else. In brief, they betrayed me; from the first moment, I believe. My first move was for a revolver, but then I told myself that really I alone was the guilty one. I let them off. It is human to be base, and every opportunity is a panderer. Avoid human beings if you would not have them ruin you. I collapsed, you see. The thought crept into my mind to end the shabby comedy of my life with a bullet. But on thinking it over, I decided that there was always time to shoot oneself.
"To be sure, there was no point in heaping up more money. I had no more desire for gain, and of the dream of a family I had had enough. Only solitude remained as a last experiment. But it must be a vast, unheard-of solitude, where one would know nothing more of mankind of its wretched struggles, its uncleanness, its disloyalties. I wanted genuine, deep solitude without struggle or desire. A full, true return to Nature! Solitude is the paradise which humanity forfeited by its sins. But I have found it."
"Truly? Have you found it?" asked Friedrich, who still did not gather what the American was leading up to.
"Yes, I have found it. I settled my affairs, and ran away from everything and everyone. No one knew what had become of me. I built myself a comfortable yacht and vanished with it. I wandered about the seas for many months. It's a glorious life, you must know. Wouldn't you .like to try it? Or perhaps you are already familiar with it?"
"No, I am not familiar with that sort of life," replied Friedrich, "but I should like to try it."
"Well, then...Life on the yacht is freedom, but not real solitude. You must have a crew about you, you have to put into a harbor occasionally for coal. Then you come into contact with people once more, and that's a dirty business. But I know an island in the South Seas where one is really alone. It is a rocky little nest in Cook's Archipelago. I bought it, and had men come over from Raratonga to build me a comfortable home. It is so well hidden by the cliffs that it cannot be spied on any side from the sea. Besides, ships rarely come that way. My island still looks uninhabited. I live there with two servants, a dumb negro whom I had in America, and a Tahitan whom I pulled out of the water at Avarua harbor when he tried to drown himself over an unhappy love affair. Now I have come to Europe for a last visit to buy whatever I shall need for the rest of my life over there-books - apparatus for physics, and weapons. My Tahitan brings provisions from the nearest inhabited island. He and my negro go over every morning in an electric launch. Whatever else we need can be bought for money in Raratonga, just like anywhere else in the world....Understand?"
"Yes, Mr. Kingscourt... But I do not know why you are telling me all this."
"Why I am telling you all this? Because I want to take a companion back with me-so that I shall not unlearn human speech, and so that there may be someone by me to close my eyes when I die. Do you want to be that someone?"
Friedrich reflected for half a moment. Then he replied firmly, "Yes!"
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