Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"My heart is heavy, Miss Miriam. I see now that I neglected a duty. I could have had, would have been obliged to have a share in all this wonderful work of national restoration. I was an educated man, and ought to have foreseen what was coming. But, no. I was absorbed in my own petty troubles. I ran away, and stupidly wasted twenty years. I can hardly tell you how all this I see affects me. I-I am ashamed of myself."
She tried to comfort him.
"No, Miss Miriam, you mustn't try to console me. Your own life is so useful that you can contradict me only out of the kindness of your heart, and not out of conviction. I am ashamed of my passivity, of my egotism. It was my duty as an educated man to have taken the part of my unfortunate people. I neglected that duty shamefully. Pity me if you can, Miss Miriam, but do not despise me!"
"Despise you! How could I do that?" she returned softly. "You, the benefactor of our house!"
"Please don't mention that again," he begged. "Your praise merely humiliates me. I know only too well that I do not deserve praise. The intellectuals of my time had the duty, similar to the noblesse oblige of earlier days, of working for the improvement of mankind. Each ought to have helped according to his ability and insight. Not all your kindness, Miss Miriam, can make me believe that I have no cause for self-reproach."
"Is it too late, then?" she asked. "You could still join the ranks of the New Society. You would be shown where you might be most useful. You have heard my brother say that we welcome all forces. And how glad we should be to have you!"
"You really think it is not too late, Miss Miriam?" He was overjoyed. "Could I still become a useful human being?"
"Of course!" she smiled.
Hope stirred within him. He felt suddenly rejuvenated. New perspectives opened before him. But after a moment he recalled his situation, and sighed once more.
"Ah, no, Miss Miriam. It would have been too beautiful, I cannot do as I choose. I cannot remain here. I am not free." She paled slightly as she repeated in a voice that trembled, "Not free?"
"No, I am tied to someone for life."
"To whom, if I may ask?" She spoke tonelessly.
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