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Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia

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"My dear Kingscourt, I wager we shall be happy to return to our quiet island."

"Your wager finds no takers. I hold the same opinion."

The yacht skimmed through the Suez Canal. At Port Said, they disembarked. There was a lively freight traffic in the harbor, but the shabby bazaars no longer swarmed with the vivid, multicolored, polyglot pageant that had once been typical of the town. This had been the crossways for all who traveled from East to West, and from West to East. The most fashionable globe-trotters had been accustomed to pass through Port Said; but now, except for the natives, only a few half-drunken sailors lounged before the dirty cafes.

The two travelers stepped. into a shop to buy some cigars. When they asked for a better brand than was offered, the Greek shopkeeper replied fretfully, "We don't carry that kind. We no longer have customers for it. No one comes here who wants good cigars-there are only sailors who ask for chewing tobacco and cheap cigarettes."

"How is that possible?" asked Kingscourt. "Where are all the tourists on their way to India and Australia and China?"

"Oh, there have been none here for many years. They now travel by the other route." "Another route?" cried Friedrich. "What other route? Not the Cape of Good Hope?"

The dealer was annoyed. "You choose to laugh at me, sir. Every child knows that people no longer travel to Asia via the Suez Canal!"

Kingscourt and Friedrich looked at each other in amazement. "Of course, every child knows it," shouted Kingscourt, "but you must not think us ignorant if we've not heard of this damned new canal!"

"Just get out, will you!" The Greek pounded furiously on his counter. "First you tease me about expensive cigars, and then you make these stupid jokes. Get out!"

Kingscourt wanted to reach across the counter to whack the Greek over the head. But Friedrich drew the old hotspur away. "Kingscourt, big things that we don't know about have happened while we've been away."

"I believe so myself, Devil take me! Well, we must find out about it at once!"

Returning to the harbor, they learned from the captain of a German trading vessel that traffic between Europe and Asia had taken a new route-via Palestine.

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