Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
A short distance beyond Neudorf, the roadway made a sudden turn-and the lovely plain and lake of Kinneret were revealed in the noon sunlight. Friedrich gave an involuntary cry of delight at catching his first glimpse of the unexpected, magnificent landscape.
Boats, large and small, furrowed the broad, gleaming surface of the lake. Sails shimmered, brass fittings glittered in the sunlight. On the farther shore numerous white villas nestled on green wooded heights. Here was Magdala, a sparkling, pretty new townlet with beautiful houses and gardens. But the car sped on to Tiberias without stopping, taking a southerly direction along the lake shore. The vivid pageant reminded them of the Riviera between Cannes and Nice at the height of the season. Fashionable folk were driving in elegant little equipages of all kinds-mostly motor cars with seats for two, three, or four passengers. But old-fashioned wagons, drawn by horses or mules, were not missing. Along the lake shore the travelers saw cyclists, horseback riders and gay strollers in the cosmopolitan mob that is so typical of fashionable bathing resorts. They were told that the medicinal hot springs and the beautiful situation of Tiberias attracted visitors from Europe and America who had always sought perennial spring in Sicily or Egypt. As soon as first-class hotel accommodations were available in Tiberias, the tourists had streamed thither. Experienced Swiss hotel-keepers had been the first to recognize the climatic advantages and scenic beauty of the spot, and prospered accordingly.
The car now passed some of these hotels. Men and women on the balconies were watching the kaleidoscopic traffic on the lake and the highroad. White-clad young men and girls played tennis in courts behind the hotels. Hungarian, Roumanian and Italian bands in national costume performed on several large terraces. All of which the travelers noted on the wing, their destination being somewhat beyond this point. They drove through Tiberias from north to south, glancing down neat little side streets which branched off from the main thoroughfare. There were vast, silent mansions in beautiful open squares, stately mosques, churches with Latin and Greek crosses, magnificent stone synagogues. The little Oriental harbor teemed with traffic. At the southern end of the town were more hotels and villas on a beautiful thoroughfare stretching along for a distance of half an hour's walk. Everywhere there were gardens. At the end of the thoroughfare at the hot springs came the bathing establishments.
Half-way between the town and the baths, the auto stopped before the trellised gate of a villa half-hidden in foliage.
"Here we are!" cried David, alighting.
The gate was opened, and an old gentleman appeared on the threshold. He raised his skull cap with a happy smile. "Where is he, David, my child?"
Friedrich was overcome, realizing that here, too, in the home of the elder Littwak, his arrival had been eagerly awaited. Nothing strange about it, of course. They had telephoned ahead to announce his coming.
This dignified old man who carried himself so well could he be the wretched peddler to whom he had once tried to give alms in a Viennese cafe! What a remarkable transformation! And yet it had all happened in the most natural way in the world. The Littwaks had been among the first to hasten to Palestine at the beginning of the great new national enterprise, and reaped the rewards of the prosperity they helped so faithfully to create.
Yet the house had its sorrow: Friedrich was immediately taken to an upper veranda overlooking the lake, where the invalid mother lay back in a wheel chair. She reached out her waxen, emaciated hand to Friedrich as he approached, and looked infinite gratitude at him out of her painstricken eyes.
"Yes," she said quavering after the greetings had been exchanged, "yes, dear Dr. Loewenberg, Tiberias is beautiful, and the baths are excellent. But one must come here while there is still time. I came too late. Too late."
Miriam stroked her mother's face. "You are looking better since you came here, Mother. The cure has done you good. You will realize it only after you come home."
Mrs. Littwak smiled wistfully. "Dear child, I am content. I am already at the gates of Paradise. Look at this view of mine, Dr. Loewenberg. The Garden of Eden, is it not?"
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