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Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia

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The two serving maids left the room to bring in the next course. "It is better not to discuss Jewish matters in the presence of the servants," remarked the hostess.

"Pardon me, madam,'" retorted Blau quickly. "I thought your servants knew you were Jews." Some of the guests laughed. "Still," declared Schlesinger authoritatively, "there's no need to shout it from the housetops."

Champagne was brought in. Schiffulann nudged Friedrich. "Now it will come out"

"What will come out?"

"You still haven't guessed?'

No, Friedrich still hadn't guessed. But the next moment he knew.

Mr. Loeffler tapped his glass with the point of his knife and rose to his feet. Silence ensued. The ladies leaned back in their chairs. Blau hastily shoved another bit of food into his mouth, and chewed while Papa Loeffler spoke.

"Esteemed friends! I am happy to announce to you that my daughter Ernestine has been betrothed to Mr. Leopold Weinberger of Bruenn, member of the firm of Samuel Weinberger and Sons. Here's to the bridal pair! Hoch!"

"Hochl" "Hoch!" "Hoch!" All were on their feet. Glasses clinked. The guests moved in a procession to the head of the table to congratulate the parents and the new couple. Friedrich walked in the line with a cloud before his eyes. For a second he stood before Ernestine, touching his glass to hers with a trembling hand. She looked quickly past him.

Good cheer prevailed. One toast followed another. Schlesinger delivered a dignified address. Gruen and Blau surpassed themselves. Gruen strained more syllables than ever; Blau made all sorts of tactless allusions. The company was in the best of humor.

It all reached Friedrich vaguely, as from a distance. He felt as if he were in a heavy fog, where nothing could be seen and breathing was difficult.

The dinner came to an end. Friedrich's one thought was to get away, far away, from all these people. He thought himself superfluous in the room-in the city, in the whole world. Trying to slip away as the guests thronged out of the dining room, he was intercepted by Ernestine.

"Doctor Loewenberg," she said to him, "you have said nothing to me yet."

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