Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"Yes, Devil take me, Mr. President, if I expected to find all this!"
"Let us be seated, gentlemen. I am not very robust any more, as you see," smiled Eichenstamm, sinking into the easy chair an attendant placed for him. "Yes, yes! Our people has come upon happier days. But, for me, those were the better days. You know the saying, 'Senectus ipsa morbus. ..' Well, we must take things as they come."
He pointed to the lady who stood beside him, wearing a simple black silk gown. "My daughter Sascha recognized you, and reminded me of that day at the Wailing Wall. Ah, that was a long time ago, my friends... Yes, yes, the erstwhile Wailing Wall."
"Erstwhile?" repeated Friedrich. "Is it gone? Has not even that last fragment remained?"
The President looked at him and shook his head. "You could not have been in Jerusalem if you speak like that," he said.
David modestly drew nearer. "No, Mr. President. These gentlemen have just arrived. They have seen very little."
The President placed his hand on the speaker's arm. "I am glad to see you, dear Littwak. You are always a joy to me-and especially now. You must be steadfast in your fight. You are right. Geyer is wrong. My last word to the Jews will be: The stranger must be made to feel at home in our midst. God keep you as you are, Littwak. ...You have seen little of our country, gentlemen, but you already know one of our best men. I am proud of Littwak hereas proud as if I had had some share in making him so able and so upright."
David flushed deeply. He cast down his eyes like a little boy, and stammered, "But-Mr. President!"
"You mustn't mind my praising you to your face, dear Littwak. I am an old man, with nothing to gain from your favor. ...You see, my friends from afar, I am the outgoing, he the incoming wave. ...Give me a glass of tea, Sascha!" The tea was served him Russian fashion.
When, in the course of the conversation, the newcomers mentioned that they had been absent for twenty years from the civilized world, Sascha asked, "But don't you regret the time you lost? You could have benefited so many people."
"No, madam, we're not sorry at all. We are two seasoned misanthropes. We want to do good to no one but ourselves. That's our program. Eh, Fritze?"
"You're jesting," returned Sascha. "You must be. Good deeds bring more happiness than anything else."
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