Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
The ladies in the meantime had resumed their discussion of the latest thing in Parisian millinery. Mrs. Laschner took the lead. She always ordered her things, she said, directly from the Rue de la Paix. But Mrs. Weinberger signaled to Friedrich to bring his chair nearer, and chatted in an undertone. "Yes, this is my daughter. What do you think of her? Pretty? Ugly?"
"The image of her mother," he replied mechanically. "Ugly, then. You naughty man!" She widened her eyes coquettishly. Friedrich was heavy at heart as he looked at the faded, would-be arch coquette. After twenty years, then, the causes of our bitterest griefs looked like this! How could he have suffered so acutely for such a reason. Alas, the wasted years!
Without any notion of what was in Friedrich's mind, the lady frisked on. What did he intend to do now? Was he remaining here, or going on to Europe? If he did stay, wouldn't he be thinking of settling down, courting a wife?
"I?" he answered in surprise. "At my age? I have missed all that, as I have missed many other more important things in life."
"That's not honest. You are still of marriageable age. You look much younger than you really are. Your solitary island preserved you well. ...Let me ask a candid child to guess your age...Fifi, guess how old Dr. Loewenberg is.
Fifi, the candid child, looked at him for a moment, dropped her eyelids and lisped, "In the early thirties, mama!"
"Ah, no, my dear young lady. You have not looked at me closely."
"Indeed I have," she lisped again. "I saw you at the opera with Miriam Littwak."
"Apropos," said Ernestine, "how do you like Miriam Littwak? I don't mean as to outward appearance. She's quite good-looking. But her manner-her pose. She's putting it on a bit thick with duties and all- that sort of thing. She plays at teaching. That's the latest here."
Friedrich was annoyed. "My dear lady, as far as I know, Miss Littwak does not play but actually works at teaching. She takes her duties as seriously as they deserve."
"See, see, how he defends Miss Littwak!" scoffed Ernestine.
"My friend is signaling me.," 'said Friedrich rising. He made his farewells.
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