Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"Is certainly not surprising," completed David. "The distance from Europe to Palestine is much less than to America. And the journey is more convenient for people who are afraid of seasickness, since they can come all the way by rail. The network of railways begun in the nineteenth century in Asia Minor was completed long ago. Trains run now to Damascus, Jerusalem and Bagdad. Since the railroad bridge over the Bosphorus was finished, it is possible to travel directly, without change of cars, from Saint Petersburg or Odessa, from Berlin or Vienna, from Amsterdam, Calais, Paris, Madrid or Lisbon to Jerusalem. The great European express lines all connect with the Jerusalem line, just as the Palestinian railways in turn link up with Egypt and Northern Africa. The north-to south African railway (in which the German emperor was interested as long ago as the 1890's) and the Siberian railway to the Chinese border, complete the railway system of the Old World. We are at an excellent junction in that system."
"Devil take it, that's funny!"
"Railways are certainly not new to you, Mr. Kingscourt. There was nothing experimental about it. The Russian Chinese railway was already complete twenty years ago, the Bagdad line was under construction, and the Cape-to Cairo line projected. Palestine, lying at the exact geographical center of traffic between Europe, Asia, and Africa, could hardly have been left out any longer."
"My dear host, that is not what surprises me. But-may I say so-I am surprised that you Jews should have done it. You don't mind?"
"Only we Jews could have done it," replied David calmly. "We only....We only were in a position to create this New Society, this new center of civilization here. One thing dovetailed into another. It could have come only through us, through our destiny. Our moral sufferings were as much a necessary element as our commercial experience and our cosmopolitanism. But enough of this for today. Rest now, and we shall see about entertainment later. Tomorrow, in Tiberias, I shall tell you more.
They could not think now of rushing off to Europe immediately. However, Friedrich felt in duty bound to suggest to Kingscourt that they leave Palestine: The old man could hardly be expected to concern himself with the Jewish destiny. But Kingscourt swore he would stay as long as they would have him. All this was damned interesting; and if Dr. Friedrich Loewenberg no longer cared for his own nation, he, Kingscourt, wasn't that kind of a monster.
When the captain of the yacht presented himself for instructions, he was therefore told to send up a supply of clothing to Friedrichsheim, and to give the crew a holiday.
The guest rooms to which they' had been assisted adjoined one another. Kingscourt in his shirt-sleeves, stood in the connecting doorway, commenting with vigorous gestures on everything they had heard and seen. Friedrich reclined in an easy chair and gazed dreamily out through the open balcony door over the Mediterranean. No more delightful place of sojourn than this could he imagine. What splendid people his hosts were. And how easily they moved in all this high, free affluence. David-cheerful, energetic, self-confident, and yet modest. His wife a picture of happy young motherhood. This splendid girl Miriam, who was devoting herself to much more serious duties than the daughters of wealthy Jewish comes in his day would have dreamed of. For the first time in many years Ernestine Loeffler came into his mind. How madly he had loved her, and how easy she had made it for him to say good-by to the world. Would Miriam be capable of making a marriage like Ernestine's? Amusing thought. Queer it should have occurred to him. No, this girl was a different sort. These people were different from that odious Loeffier set. Who knows would it not have been better, more manly, more dignified, to have striven and struggled than to have run away?
"Kingscourt," he sighed out loud, "I am asking myself whether we did not sheer a false course when we made for our blessed isle yonder? How did we spend twenty beautiful years? Hunting and fishing, eating, drinking and sleeping, playing chess. "
"And with an old donkey, what?" growled Kingscourt, whose feelings were hurt.
"Drop the 'old donkey' stuff," laughed Friedrich. "I could not and would not live without you any more. But, for all that, it's a pity not to have been more useful. Here's the world come along a big stretch, without one's having had any part or achievement in it all."
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