Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
There was a slight rustle in the salon. Mr. Gruen had entered. He was a long, lanky man with a reddish beard and ears that stood off from his head. Blau called his rival's ears "unseamed," because they did not fold inward over the muscle at the upper edge, but lay flat.
Ernestine's mother amiably reproached the famous jester. "Why so late, Mr. Gruen?"
"Because I could come no later," replied he smartly. His hearers smiled in approval. A shadow flitted over Gruen's face. Blau had entered.
Blau was about thirty years old and of medium height. His face was clean shaven, and a pince-nez was set on his sharply curved nose. "I have been at the Wiedener Theater," he reported, "attending a first night performance. I left after the first act."
His announcement aroused interest. Ladies and gentlemen gathered around him, and he proceeded. "The first act, to everyone's surprise, did not fall flat."
"Moriz," called Mrs. Laschner imperiously to her husband, "I want to see that play tomorrow night."
"The librettist's friends also enjoyed themselves immensely," continued Blau.
"Is the operetta so good?" inquired Schlesinger, representative of Baron Goldstein. "No, so bad!" explained Blau. "The playwright's friends enjoy a production only when it is bad."
Dinner was announced. The spacious dining room was overcrowded. There was barely elbow room at the table. Ernestine sat beside Mr. Weinberger. Friedrich and Schiffmann had to take seats at the very foot of the table.
At first there was more clatter of dishes and silver than conversation. Blau called across the table to his competitor, "Don't eat so loudly, Gruen. I can't hear my own fish."
"Fish is no food for you. You ought to eat cutlets made of jealousy." Gruen's adherents laughed; Blau's thought the joke dull.
Attention was diverted from the humorists when an elderly gentleman sitting next to ,Mrs. Loeffler remarked in a slightly raised voice that things were becoming worse in Moravia. "In the provincial towns," he said, "our people are in actual peril. When the Germans are in a bad mood, they break Jewish windows. When the Czechs are out of sorts, they break into Jewish homes. The poor are beginning to emigrate. But they don't know where to go."
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