Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"That is why I am working to open up Africa. All human beings ought to have a home. Then they will be kinder to one another. Then they will understand and love one another more. Understand?"
Mrs. Gothland murmured the thought in the minds of all the others. "Professor Steineck, God bless you!"
The party had left the Steineck Institute in a solemn mood, but grew more light-hearted on the return journey to the town. As they were passing the bathing establishment, Reschid suggested that they get out for half an hour to listen to the music in the gardens. They rambled through the well-laid-out grounds, where they saw the usual Kurort crowd, sitting, strolling, listening to the orchestra. Gossiping, flirting, commenting on the passersby -as is their way in all the world-these people sat about in groups on wrought-iron benches beneath the palms.
"Ah, here they are at last!" jeered Kingscourt, grimly pleased. "The Jewesses with the diamonds, I mean! I really missed them. I had said to myself that this whole thing must be a hoax-that perhaps we were not really in Jewland at all. Now I see it's real. The ostrich feather hats, the gaudy silk dresses, the Israelitish women with their jewels...Don't mind what I say, Mrs. Gothland. You're different."
The lady assured him that she did not take offense. Steineck roared with laughter. "We don't mind at all, Mr. Kingscourt. There was a time when such remarks hurt our feelings. But not any more. Understand? Fops, upstarts, bejeweled women used to be regarded as representative Jews. Now people realize that there are other types of Jews also. Go ahead and criticize this riff-raff all you please, esteemed stranger! When night falls, I'll curse along with you!"
Their merry little group attracted attention. Many of the people in the gardens evidently knew the Professor, and there was much craning after his distinguished-looking companions. In trying to escape the stares of the curious, Steineck led his friends into a by-path, and there walked directly into the very thing he wished to avoid. In a circle of bushes sat a group of men and women engaged in lively chatter. One of the men jumped up boisterously and ran toward Friedrich. "Doctor Loewenberg! Doctor Loewenberg! Guess whom we've just been talking about? Yourself! I'm so happy!"
The happy gentleman was Schiffmann. He drew Friedrich into the circle, introduced him exuberantly, and pressed him into a chair. The whole thing happened so quickly that he had no chance to resist, even had he not been dumbfounded at suddenly seeing the love of his youth. Ernestine greeted him with a glance and a smile before she spoke. He himself found no words.
In the meantime, Schiffmann had hurried over to the Professor, whom he knew. He made the entire party to come forward, like a street barker forcing people to come into his shop. The Professor obviously did not care to accept the invitation, but Kingscourt pointed out that they could not leave Friedrich in the lurch. "Captured together, hang together!" he declared. Schiffmann, who was dragging chairs forward for the newcomers, laughed ingratiatingly at the ambiguous pleasantry. He introduced his friends: Mr., Mrs. and Miss Schlesinger, Dr. and Mrs. Walter, Mrs. Weinberger, Miss Weinberger, Messrs. Gruen and Blau, Mr. Weinberger.
Friedrich saw and heard everything as in a mist. Old times rose hazily to his mind. He saw himself again at the betrothal party at the Loefllers. Here were the same impossible people he had then fled from in desperation. All had aged, and yet all had remained the same. Only the presence of the two young girls indicated another generation. That dainty girl looking at him so blankly was the very image of the youthful Ernestine. He was so much enthralled by his old memories that only confused echoes of the talk reached his consciousness.
Gruen, the jester, was holding forth. "Well, Dr. Loewenberg, and how do you like it here? What! You find no words! Perhaps you think there are too many Jews here!"
Laughter. "I am frank to say," remarked Friedrich slowly, "that you are the first person to have made me think so."
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