Altneuland Book V
By Theodore Herzl
Twenty years before, Kingscourt and Friedrich had entered Jerusalem by night and from the west. Now they came by day, approaching from the east. Then she had been a gloomy, dilapidated city; now she was risen in splendor, youthful, alert, risen from death to life.
They came directly from Jericho up to the top of the Mount of Olives with its wide views. Jerusalem and her hills were still sacred to all mankind, still bore the tokens of reverence bestowed upon her through the ages. But something had been added; new, vigorous, joyous life. The Old City within the walls, as far as they could see from the mountain top, had altered least. The Holy Sepulcher, the Mosque of Omar, and other domes and towers had remained the same; but many splendid new structures had been added. That magnificent new edifice was the Peace Palace. A vast calm brooded over the Old City.
Outside the walls the picture was altogether different. Modem sections intersected by electric street railways; wide, tree-bordered streets; homes, gardens, boulevards, parks; schools, hospitals, government buildings, pleasure resorts. David pointed out and named the important buildings. Jerusalem was now a twentieth century metropolis. Fascinating indeed....but the Old City drew their eyes back ever and again. There she lay in the afternoon sunlight, on the farther side of the Kidron Valley....Kingscourt had put all sorts of questions, and David had answered them all. Now he asked, what was that wonderful structure of white and gold, whose roof rested on a whole forest of marble columns with gilt capitals? Friedrich's heart stirred within him as David replied, "That is the Temple!"
Friedrich's first visit to the Temple was on a Friday evening. David had engaged rooms for the party at one of the best hotels near the Jaffa Gate, and at sundown invited his guests to go with him to the Temple. Friedrich walked ahead with Miriam, David and Sarah following. The streets which at noon had been alive with traffic were now suddenly stilled. Very few motor cars were to be seen; all the shops were closed. Slowly and peacefully the Sabbath fell upon the bustling city. Throngs of worshipers wended their way to the Temple and to the many synagogues in the Old City and the New, there to pray to the God whose banner Israel had borne throughout the world for thousands of years.
The spell of the Sabbath was over the Holy City, now freed from the filth, noise and vile odors that had so often revolted devout pilgrims of all creeds when, after long and trying journeys, they reached their goal. In the old days they had had to endure many disgusting sights before they could reach their shrines. All was different now. There were no longer private dwellings in the Old City; the lanes and the streets were beautifully paved and cared for. All the buildings were devoted to religious and benevolent purposes-hospices for pilgrims of all denominations. Moslem, Jewish, and Christian welfare institutions, hospitals, clinics stood side by side. In the middle of a great square as the splendid Peace Palace, where international congresses of peace-lovers and scientists were held, for Jerusalem was now a home for all the best strivings of the human spirit: for Faith, Love, Knowledge.
Whatever a man's attitude toward religion, he could not escape a reverent mood in the streets of Jerusalem when he saw the quiet throngs exchange the Sabbath greetings as they passed.
Miriam and Friedrich met an old gentleman leaning heavily on his cane, and greeted him respectfully. He stopped to wait for Sarah and David, who then slowed their pace to his. "This old man, too, has found peace here," whispered Miriam to her escort. "You must get my brother to tell you how he found and converted him. David had gone to Paris on business, and met this M. Armand Ephraim by accident. You know our David - people always like him. M. Ephraim was very much attracted to him, more than to his own relatives, who were merely waiting for his death to enjoy his fortune. All his life M. Ephraim had done nothing but earn money and spend it on his pleasures; and then, when he became too old for pleasures, he did not know what to do with his money. But he did know one thing, that he did not want to leave it to his frivolous heirs. David persuaded him to come to Jerusalem. He took him to the Peace Palace, which is an international center for great undertakings. Its activities are by no means limited to Palestine and the Jews, but include all countries and all peoples.
"In the New Society," she continued, "we have found the answers to many of the troublesome old problems. Unfortunately, though, there is still much misery in the world, which can be alleviated only through concerted effort. When a disaster occurs anywhere in the world-fire, blood, famine, epidemic-it is reported here at once. Large sums of cash are always available here for emergency relief, because contributions continually flow into a central fund. A large permanent international council sees to the just distribution of the funds.
"Inventors, artists, and scholars also turn to the Peace Palace for encouragement. They are attracted by the motto over its portals: 'Nil humani a me alienum puto'-'Let nothing human be alien to me.' When such men are found worthy, they are aided as much as possible. M. Ephraim enjoys attending the committee meetings at which appeals for relief are considered, and he always leaves them lighter in heart and in pocket. He is gradually giving away his whole fortune except what he needs for the rest of his life. Whatever is left will go to good works."
"If he carries out that intention," smiled Friedrich, "his heirs will mourn him indeed."
They stopped to wait for the others. M. Ephraim was coughing out the end of a story. "And today I gave five hundred pounds sterling to a seaside home for neglected London children. A hundred thousand francs today "all told. Not a bad day, hoho!-not a bad day! If I were gone, my nephews would have lost as much at the races. As it is, I have enjoyed my money. And they...my heirs...shall not laugh...hohoho ...I am the one to laugh. ..hohoho! And those London tots will laugh, too, when they get out into the fresh air. ...Poor little things!"
They reached the Temple. The times had fulfilled themselves, and it was rebuilt. Once more it had been erected with great quadrangular blocks of stone hewn from nearby quarries and hardened by the action of the atmosphere. Once more the pillars of bronze stood before the Holy Place of Israel. "The left pillar was called Boaz, but the name of the right was Jachin." In the forecourt was a mighty bronze altar, with an enormous basin called the brazen sea as in the olden days, when Solomon was king in Israel.
Sarah and Miriam went up to the women's gallery. Friedrich sat beside David in the last row downstairs. "When the places were assigned," said David, "I chose the very last row. I wanted nothing else."
The great hall resounded with singing and the playing of lutes. The music recalled to Friedrich far-off things in his own life, and turned his thoughts to other days in Israel. The worshipers were crooning and murmuring the words of the ritual, but Friedrich thought of Heine's "Hebrew Melodies." The Princess Sabbath, she that is called the "serene princess," was at home here. The choristers chanted a hymn that had stirred yearnings for their own land in the hearts of a homeless people for hundreds of years. The words of the noble poet Solomon ha-Levy, "Lecha Dodi, likrath kallah!"... ("Come, Beloved, to meet the bride!") How beautifully Heine had put it:
"'Komm, Geliebter, deiner harret
Schon die Braut, die dir entschleiert
Ihr verschaemtes Angesicht."
Yes, Heine was a true poet, who sensed the romance of the national destiny. He had sung German songs ardently, but the beauty of the Hebrew melodies had not escaped him.
What a degraded era, that was, thought Friedrich, when the Jews had been ashamed of everything Jewish, when they thought they made a better showing when they concealed their Jewishness. Yet in that very concealment they had revealed the temper of the slave, at best, of the liberated slave. They need not have been surprised at the contempt shown them, for they had shown no respect for themselves. They crawled after the others, and were rejected in swift punishment. Curious that they had not drawn the obvious moral! Quite the contrary. Those who succeeded in business or in some other field often openly forsook the faith of their fathers. They were at pains to hide their origin as though it were a taint. Those who forsook Judaism denied their own fathers and mothers in order to be quit of it: they must have thought it something low, reprehensible, evil. To be sure, renegades had not got off scot-free, for they were treated like refugees from plague-stricken countries. After baptism, they were still suspect, and remained, as it were, in quarantine. Marranos, the baptized Jews of medieval Spain had been called. Marranoism, then, was the quarantine for refugee Jews.
And all that time Judaism had sunk lower and lower. It was an "elend" in the full sense of the old German word that had meant "out-land,"-the limbo of the banished. Whoever was "elend" was unfortunate; and whoever was an unfortunate sought for himself a nook in "elend." The Jews had thus fallen always lower, as much by their own fault as by the fault of others. Elend... Golus...Ghetto. Words in different languages for the same thing. Being despised, and finally despising yourself.
And out of those depths they had raised themselves. Jews looked different now simply because they were no longer ashamed of being Jews. It was not only beggars and derelicts and relief applicants who professed Judaism in a suspiciously one-sided solidarity. No! The strong, the free, the successful Jews had returned home, and received more than they gave. Other nations were still grateful to them when they produced some great thing; but the Jewish people asked nothing of its sons except not to be denied. The world is grateful to every great man when he brings it something; only the paternal home thanks the son who brings nothing but himself.
Suddenly, as Friedrich listened to the music and meditated on the thoughts it inspired, the significance of the Temple flashed upon him. In the days of King Soloman, it had been a gorgeous symbol, adorned with gold and precious stones, attesting to the might and the pride of Israel. In the taste of those days, it had been decorated with costly bronze, and paneled with olive, cedar, and cypress,-a joy to the eye of the beholder. Yet, however splendid it might have been, the Jew could not have grieved for it eighteen centuries long. They could not have mourned merely for ruined masonry; that would have been too silly. No, they sighed for an invisible something of which the stones had been a symbol. It had come back to rest in the rebuilt Temple, where stood the home returning sons of Israel who lifted up their souls to the invisible God as their fathers had done upon Mount Moriah.
The words of Solomon glowed with a new vitality:
"The Lord hath said that he would dwell in
the thick darkness. I have surely built
Thee a house of habitation,
A place for Thee to dwell in forever."
Jews had prayed in many temples, splendid and simple, in all the languages of the Diaspora. The invisible God, the Omnipresent, must have been equally near to them everywhere. Yet only here was the true Temple. Why?
Because only here had the Jews built up a free commonwealth in which they could strive for the loftiest human aims. They had had their own communities in the Ghettoes, to be sure; but there they lived under oppression. In the Judengasse, they had been without honor and without rights; and when they left it, they ceased to be Jews. Freedom and a sense of solidarity were both needed. Only then could the Jews erect a House to the Almighty God Whom children envision thus and wise men so, but who is everywhere present as the Will-to-Good.
Friedrich watched the dignified, clear-eyed people exchanging Sabbath greetings as they left the great house of worship. He turned to David. "You were right-up there on the Mount of Olives-when you told me the name of this place. It is the Temple indeed!"
The following Sunday general elections were to be held allover the country. That Saturday evening David went up to Haifa in order to take charge at campaign headquarters. The Geyer party was extremely active. Special editions of its papers appeared all day long with confident forecasts of its own success, mingled with vague aspersions against its opponents. One of the yellow sheets made Joe Levy its special target, referring to his all-too unlimited powers over the millions of .the New Society. The writer protested repeatedly that he was not accusing Mr. Levy of anything; his only concern was for the public welfare, the hard-earned pennies of the poor, the security of the beloved commonwealth. The whole article was written in a sweetish vein, piously interlarded with Biblical quotations.
Professor Steineck received this .paper in Kingscourt's presence. He glanced at it and broke into smothered cries of rage. "You carrion...swine...you...you...you Geyer....The scoundrel knows very well that our Joe is integrity itself He knows how Joe sweated to bring the New Society up to its present level. Every child knows it ...the whole world knows. ...And this dog dares to take Joe's name upon his wicked, lying tongue! It's all electioneering. Understand? To influence the people in favor of our opponents. Understand?"
He tore up the paper in a fury, balled the shreds into a lump, and threw it out of the window with an exclamation of disgust.
Kingscourt merely laughed. "Do I understand? Beloved begetter of microbes, I too have lived in the world. I know what low beasts men are. I admit frankly, I have been incredulous about many things in your New Society, despite the evidence of my own eyes. The whole thing was too rose-colored, too Potemkin-like. But now that I see all sorts of rascals in your camp, I begin to believe that the thing is real after all. Now I, old desert-wanderer that I am, must own that it's true."
On the whole, the elections were little discussed in. the Littwak circle, difficult as it was to ignore the current topic, which seeped in through every cranny. David's friends were sorry to see him so deeply involved in political strife, but he would soon have done with it. He declared that, as soon as the voting was over, he would go back to his own affairs. He did want to have a delegate's mandate and to exercise it; but the congress sat only a few weeks in the year.
On election day, in order to keep aloof from the political tumult, Miriam took Friedrich and Professor Steineck to the studio of Isaacs the painter, whose home was in a quiet neighborhood in the eastern section of the New City of Jerusalem. The studio contained many treasures of art, she told Friedrich. And, as he was fond of society, he gave frequent parties at his studio which were famed for their elegance and good taste.
The wall which sheltered the artist's home on the street side gave no hint of the beauty within, and the visitors were the more surprised when they entered the forecourt. The entrance hall, whose glass roof rested upon marble columns, was draped with antique Gobelins, and contained fine copies of antique sculptures. A servant led them to an inner court which was really a roofless salon. Only the blue sky covered it. This court, which was paved with stone, was surrounded on three sides with colonnades, and on the fourth was separated from the garden by a movable gilt trellis that was standing wide-open. The garden, which lay several steps below the court, was not large, but seemed to have a considerable depth owing to a skillful arrangement of bushes. Noble marble statues gleamed here and there among the green palms. Gently murmuring water flowed through the wide basin of the fountain in the court. Comfortable easy chairs of all sorts were grouped cozily in the corners. The broad arcade could be easily transformed into a closed room by raising its glass doors from their grooves along the sides. At the moment, it stood open in the mild spring air. Carved doors opening off the court into various rooms were partly open, and allowed glimpses of magnificent furnishings. It was obviously the palace of a prince of art.
The door of the atelier opened, and Isaacs came out to greet his visitors. With him was a distinguished-looking couple. Steineck introduced Friedrich to the host, who in turn introduced him to Lord and Lady Sudbury. They were staying in Jerusalem while Isaacs painted the portrait of the beautiful Lady Lillian.
The artist was a dignified man of forty or so, who carried himself with charming distinction, and obviously accustomed to meeting great folk on a level of equality, though he had been a poor Jewboy whose present position in the world was won through sheer grace of talent.
Isaacs soon set his guests at their ease. Servants brought in refreshments. The gentlemen lighted cigars. The fragrant weeds, remarked Isaacs smilingly, were Palestinian a fact in which he took obvious pride. This brand was called the "Flower of the Jordan," because it was made from tobacco grown in the Jordan Valley.
While the gentlemen talked over their cigars, Lady Lillian approached Miriam, whom she had previously met at the studio, and whispered some request into her ear. Friedrich noticed that Miriam refused, though with a smile. It seemed to him that she glanced his way as she shook her head. Lady Lillian also sent a fleeting glance in his direction. The two were standing beside the trellis, their slender figures a pleasing sight. Miriam, dark-haired and somewhat the shorter cut no poor figure in her simple gown beside the tall, blonde Englishwoman whose costume bespoke a Parisian tailor. Friedrich felt a vague pride as he observed .the daughter of the Jewish peddler carrying herself so modestly and yet with such dignity beside the great English lady. In the manner of his absent friend he said .to himself, "All the Devils! We've even achieved a modest entree into Society!"
Lady Lillian and Miriam walked slowly out into the garden. Friedrich, who would gladly have followed them, was obliged to remain because the conversation was directed chiefly at himself. They were speaking of things still not known to him,-of the place of art and philosophy in the New Society. Only now, as he was listening to Isaac's mellow tones, did he realize that he had as yet heard nothing on these questions. He had seen the Temple and the electric machinery, the ancient people and its new social order in the Old-New-Land. But how did sensitive souls, the artists and the scientists, come off in all this? The so-called moderns of his day had objected to Zionism, to the idea of the national rebirth of the Jewish people, on the ground that it would be a stupid reaction, a kind of millennial terrorism. And here was Isaacs declaring it to be nothing of the sort. There was anything but intellectual deterioration in the New Society, even though everyone was allowed to find salvation in his own way. Religion had been excluded from public affairs once and for all. The New Society did not care whether a man sought the eternal verities in a temple, a church or a mosque, in an art museum or at a philharmonic concert.
Art and philosophy had their independent places in the Jewish Academy. This institution was no brand-new creation, but had been patterned after the centuries-old model of the French Academy. It was endowed by a rich American who had been among the guests of the "Futuro," and the statutes of the Society provided that, as far as possible, the spirit of the "Futuro" was to pervade it The membership was limited to forty, as in the Palais Mazarin. When a vacancy occurred through the death of a member, the survivors chose the most meritorious successor that could be found. The members received ample salaries, which relieved .them of the cares of livelihood so that they could devote themselves to art, philosophy or scholarship without an eye to any man's favor. It was natural that the forty Jews of the Academy should be free from chauvinism. When the Academy was established, the original members came from various countries whose cultures had been developed in their respective languages; and they united on the basis of their common humanity. Their fellowship thus created a spirit that could not be overthrown, since they chose their own successors. The founder's first condition was: "It shall be the duty of the Jewish Academy to seek out meritorious persons who work for the good of humanity." This duty was obviously not limited by the boundaries of Palestine.
The forty members of the Academy also formed a Jewish Legion of Honor like the French Legion of Honor. The emblem was a knot of yellow ribbon worn in the button hole. Friedrich had seen several persons wearing the ribbon, but had thought it a mere survival of the old foolish honors system. He was the more impressed when he heard Isaacs says that he himself, like Professor Steineck, had the knot of yellow ribbon. "You must not believe, Dr. Loewenberg," he added, "that we were either stupid or vain when we founded our Legion of Honor. Statesmen in the old days recognized that honor needs a currency of its own. Why should we have despised a means whereby so much can be achieved for the common good? We have setup a very high standard, so that the decoration is difficult to obtain. The higher grades are very rare. The grand master of the Legion is the president of the Academy. The" Legion consists of men without private interests of any kind, who, above all, hold themselves entirely aloof from politics. No one, therefore, can win the yellow ribbon for financial or partisan services. That was what made orders so ridiculous in the old society. The erstwhile silly emblem is a token of high achievement among us. The color recalls evil times in our national history, and reminds us to be humble in the midst of our prosperity. We have taken the yellow badge of shame that our unhappy, revered ancestors were compelled to wear, and made of it a badge of honor."
"Understand?" cried Steineck.
Friedrich nodded reflectively.
Dr. Marcus was announced. Isaacs rose quickly to receive the white-bearded visitor. "You come like the wolf in the fable, sir," he remarked, and introduced Dr. Marcus as the president of the Jewish Academy. "I have just been speaking of the Academy. Lord Sudbury already knew a good deal about it, but it was all new to this gentleman though he is a Jew."
"How is that possible?"
Friedrich briefly sketched the circumstances of his life. The old man shook his head gently. "Twenty years ago? Yes, yes! I understand your surprise. Yet everything already existed at that time. You remember the words of Ecclesiastes: 'That which hath been is that which shall be and that which hath been done is that which shall be done. And there is nothing new under the sun.'"
"Pardon me, Mr. President!" shouted Steineck. "That must be taken with a grain of salt. All that now is did not always exist, and all that is to be does not lie behind us... I recall not Ecclesiastes, but Stockton-Darlington. Understand?"
"What about Stockton-Darlington?" asked Lord Sudbury. "Do you refer to the first railway, built by George Stephenson a hundred years ago?"
"Quite so, my lord!" cried the Professor. "A few days ago the Academy decided to suggest a worthy world-wide tribute to Stephenson in 1925. Our suggestion is that at the exact moment when the hundred years are fulfilled locomotives in every part of the world, wherever they may happen to be, shall stop and whistle slowly three times. That is the Stockton-Darlington ceremony which we propose. Passengers in trains all over the world will be obliged to remember Stephenson, the harbinger of a new era. You will admit, dear Mr. President, that between Stockton and Darlington the wisdom of Ecclesiastes goes off the rails, will you not?"
"I admit it the more readily," responded Dr. Marcus pleasantly, "since I did not contradict it. I was thinking only of the co-existence of things, a favorite theme of mine. I meditate on it when I relax, and it calms my spirit. I welcome the years, the months or the days that still remain to me for its sake. It is my comfort that all things which once existed still continue to exist. The future too is already here, and I recognize it: it is the good. Thus, while I start from the same premises as the Preacher, son of David, who ruled over Israel in Jerusalem, I reach a conclusion different from his. Still, Solomon may have meant the same thing, though he said that all is vanity, and inquired what reward had a man for all his toil under the sun. All is indeed vanity if we look at things from the transitory viewpoint of our own personalities. But once we can think beyond ourselves, all is not vanity. Even my dreams are eternal, for others will dream them when I am gone. Though the creators of beauty and wisdom pass away, Beauty and Wisdom are themselves immortal. Just as the conservation of energy is self-evident, so must we infer that there is conservation of Beauty and Wisdom. Has the joyous art of the Greeks, for instance, ever been lost? No, it is always reborn in later ages. Are the sayings of our sages extinguished? No, they still burn, though perhaps less brightly in the daylight of happiness than in the dark night of misery. In that they are like all flames. What follows? That we are in duty bound to increase beauty and Wisdom upon the earth unto our last breath. For the earth is we ourselves. Out of her we come, unto her we return. Ecclesiastes said it, and we today have nothing to add to his words: 'But the earth shall endure forever.'"
After Dr. Marcus had finished, each man gave himself silently up to his own thoughts. Suddenly, the voice of a woman singing, though muffled by the intervening doors and walls, penetrated into the quiet room. All were hushed as they listened.
"Who is that?" whispered Friedrich.
"Don't you know?" Isaacs whispered back. "It's Miss Miriam." He rose and walked down the arcade to the door of the music room, which he noiselessly set ajar. Now the glorious tones were heard in their full strength. Miriam, unconscious of her audience, sang Schumann, Rubinstein, Wagner, Verdi, Gounod, the music of all the nations, for Lady Lillian. The melodies flowed in a ceaseless stream. Friedrich listened blissfully, happy to be among these choice spirits who realized life in Beauty and Wisdom, when Miriam began the wistful song from "Mignon" that he had always loved, "Knowest thou the land," he whispered to himself, "This is the Land!"
The hours at the artist's studio passed like a dream. Toward evening Professor Steineck was called to the telephone. Kingscourt speaking. The Professor must return to the hotel at once.
"Miss Miriam," said Friedrich as they drove back with the Professor, "I want to thank you for revealing yourself to me through your music. Now I feel that I know you."
She blushed and was silent.
At the hotel, where the whole party was staying, an unwelcome surprise awaited them. Kingscourt stood bare-headed at the gate and shouted at the Professor. "Zum Wetter! You might have hurried!"
"What's the matter?" asked the Professor calmly.
"Matter! ...The baby...little Fritz. ..he's sick. Now don't fuss around, but come upstairs at once, please!"
They hurried to the nursery. Fritzchen lay in bed, his cheeks hot and his eyes burning with fever.
"Otto!" he called to old Kingscourt. "Otto" quickly obeyed his small despot. He sat down beside the head of the crib, a post that he was rarely to leave during the next few days. If Fritzchen well had ruled over Kingscourt with a strict hand, Fritzchen sick had unbounded sway over him.
Professor Steineck examined the child and shook his head. He quieted Sarah, who was beside herself with anxiety; but he did not conceal his concern from Kingscourt. The child was very ill. A serious inflammation of the throat. Kingscourt was more frightened than he cared to show. He dragged Friedrich off to a remade room and swore blasphemously. The child's illness would upset all their plans. One couldn't do as one pleased any more. Other plans must be made in the circumstances.
"I understand, Kingscourt," replied Friedrich, who was worried. "You want to leave. Very well, then. I am ready to go."
"Who wants to leave?" shouted Kingscourt, red in the face. "You don't understand me any more. That woman's society seems to have affected your wits. That's the Schlim-mazel of it, as you Jews say. We can't decently leave now. You must think me a fine sort! First accept hospitality, entertainment-like parasites-and once there's a shadow over the house, we run away. No, my dear chap. You may go on to Europe if you feel you can't do without it any longer. I stay here until Fritzchen recovers,-out of sheer decency. There's simply no other way."
The old man was trying to give the usual amusing twist to his vulgarity, but it rang hollow. He did not want to show how worried he was about the little fellow. He watched all night in the nursery with the mother and the nurse. Fritzchen, as if sensing the old misanthrope's remarkable change of heart, clung to him as to no one else. Steineck tried to rationalize the phenomenon. Kingscourt's handsome, long, white beard had captivated the child; or perhaps his jokes and grimaces. Whatever the reason, Fritzchen clung to his irascible friend. As the fever mounted, his little hand held fast to Kingscourt's index finger. From no one else would he take his medicine. No one else was allowed to croon him to sleep. Kingscourt's musical repertory was not large. His Piece de resistance ran like this:
"Wer reit't mit zwanzig Knappen ein
Zu Heidelberg im Hirschen?
Das ist der Herr von Rhodenstein,
Auf Rheinwein will er pi-a-ia-irschen!"
Fritzchen had once approved of the song, and now the Rhodensteiner had to ride unceasingly to the Stag at Heidelberg. Kingscourt's other song was very much to the point:
"Der Gott, der Eisen wachs en liess
Der wollte keine Knechte."
With these two musical masterpieces he lulled his little friend to sleep.
David had not been notified of the baby's illness. They did not want to worry him, since in any case he was returning to Jerusalem the following day. He came out a victor in the elections. The Geyer party had been beaten in almost all the districts where it had presumed to set up candidates. Dr. Geyer himself had achieved a relative majority in only one district, and even there would have to submit to a recount the following Sunday. David, however, had been elected by thirty-one districts. He decided that he would accept only one mandate,-that from Neudorf.
His elation vanished as he entered the nursery. His wife threw herself weeping on his shoulder. "We were too happy, David! Now God is punishing us. Perhaps we were too presumptuous...took our prosperity too much for granted."
"We shall humble ourselves before Him," he replied gravely. "And then we shall fight the disease to the utmost."
And they fought. Specialists met in consultation every morning and every evening. All the arts of healing were employed to save the little life. But the disease seemed to sneer at the efforts of the skilled physicians. The child's condition grew worse rapidly. One evening the physicians left the hotel in a very pessimistic mood. Only the Professo remained, watching in the sick room with Kingscourt and the nurse. Sarah had collapsed from fatigue and anxiety. Miriam and Mrs. Gothland were looking after her. David established himself in a salon between the two sick rooms, and moved from one to the other. Friedrich and Reschid, who stayed with him, admired the calmness I with which he gave his orders, and answered the inquiries of friends. Finally, however, the strain grew too great, and he asked that one of his companions receive visitors in the lobby. Reschid volunteered. The news of Fritzchen's serious condition had spread rapidly in David's circle, and people came in large numbers to inquire after him. The president of the New Society asked for hourly bulletins. The affection and esteem which his fellow-citizens felt for David showed itself at this opportunity. People stood in groups in front of the hotel. Few of them had ever seen Fritzchen; but it was enough for them that he was Littwak's son. Many prayed that the little boy's life be spared for it might well be a blessing for the land in days to come. Upstairs, David was speaking calmly to Friedrich. "See, Dr. Loewenberg, we cannot change the order of things. As they were twenty years ago or two thousand years ago, so they are today. When Job's hour strikes, he must compose himself and say, 'The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away...!'"
Steineck appeared in the doorway of the babies room, and whispered, "Not yet!" But his tone betrayed the slightness of his hopes. "If only the child could fall asleep," he said. "A good nap would be a boon-it might even save him."
"Doesn't Kingscourt's humming disturb him?" asked Friedrich.
"Oh, no! He has to sing whether he wants to or not. Whenever Fritzchen comes out of his doze, the old man has to sing. It's touching to watch him."
David began to weep. From the nursery they heard Kingscourt's hoarse voice:
"Der Gott, der Eisen wachsen liess, Der wollte keine Knechte."
Then on to the Rhodensteiner, who wanted to "pi-a-iairschen" on Rhine wine. But ever more wistfully the lord of Rhodenstein rode to the Stag at Heidelberg. The two men in the salon listened with inheld breath lest the song give out for good and all.
A pause. Silence. Kingscourt appeared in the doorway with his finger on his lips. His eyes were bloodshot. "Hush! He's asleep....Not a sound in the whole house! I'll knock down anyone who makes a noise in the corridor! I'm going to sit out there. ...When Fritzchen wakes, call me!"
The old man seated himself in the corridor before the child's door, and kept guard. He frightened away guests and servants with his fierce glances, growling that there was a patient here, let them go elsewhere!
An hour passed, two hours. Friedrich came out to Kingscourt. The old man jumped up. "Has he called me?"
"No," whispered Friedrich. "He's still asleep." The next instant Kingscourt seized his friend's head between his hands, and whispered in his ear. "Fritze, if that worm recovers, I'll stay here forever. That's a solemn promise. I offer this sacrifice for his recovery, as truly as my name is Adalbert von Koenigshoff...."
Hour after hour passed. Fritzchen slept on until he had slept himself into health. Night gave way to morning. With the sunrise, hope awakened. When Kingscourt was called to the nursery, Fritzchen's eyes were bright again as he cried, "Ottoh! Ottoh!"
"What a rascal!" growled Kingscourt, trying to look cross. He was ashamed of his weakness before Friedrich.
"Now, Kingscourt, go to sleep!" commanded Friedrich. "You need rest. As for what you said in the corridor last night, I heard nothing."
"No, my dear fellow," retorted Kingscourt proudly. "You still know me only by halves. I have sworn an oath, and it stands. ...But I must sleep around the clock. After that we'll see about having ourselves admitted to the New Society. That we shall."
Friedrich still did not know whether the old man was in earnest. To remain was his own most ardent wish. To become a member of the New Society, to participate in its high enterprises, to join hands with its valiant men. There was something else, besides, but he dared not admit it to himself.
Kingscourt, however, kept his word. The very next day, Fritzchen being well and cheerful again, and Sarah recovered from the fright that had been all her illness, Kingscourt himself referred to his plan. Did he guess how much joy he was giving to his comrade of twenty years? It may be assumed that he did,-he, the alleged misanthrope, who had succumbed so wholly to a child's fascinations. When his love for Fritzchen could no longer be denied, he tried to rationalize it. He admitted that he could stand the little boy well enough, just as one is fond of any innocent creature. Fritzchen was not yet a man, and a hater of mankind sacrificed nothing of his principles when he took a fancy to such a little fellow.
"I make you a present of your motivation, Kingscourt," laughed Friedrich. "The fact suffices me. When shall we apply for admission to the New Society?"
Kingscourt and Friedrich decided to join the New Society immediately. They therefore went to call on President Eichenstamm to ask his advice as to how they could best become useful members of the New Society. The presidential mansion reminded them of the palazzi of the Genoese patricians. Just ahead of them was another car, from which Professor Steineck alighted with two elderly gentlemen. The Professor was already on the doorstep when he saw his two friends parleying with the gate-keeper. He waved to them, and the gesture immediately solved their difficulties with the functionary... But the next moment the Professor had vanished.
They asked for Dr. Werkin, secretary to the President. A servant led them to his office, and asked them to wait. After they had spent a few moments in the beautiful, high-ceilinged room, Kingscourt grew impatient.
"I won't stand this another minute. I shall not wait seven years in the ante-room. Talk to one of the minions, Fritze! I don't believe we've been announced."
"There don't seem to be any minions," smiled Friedrich. "But I'll ask that typist there."
The typist informed them that Dr. Werkin had been with the President for the last two hours. Dr. Eichenstamm had fallen ill very suddenly.
"Ah-hah. Now I see. That's why Steineck disappeared so quickly. Can you tell me, honored Mr. Typist, who were the two gentlemen with Professor Steineck?"
"Yes, sir. Two medical professors from the Zion University."
"Kingscourt," said Friedrich, "we'll not stay now. We'll leave our cards for Dr. Werkin, and come another time when the President is feeling better."
The two friends had learned their way about the streets of Jerusalem. They now left the boulevards and turned into a large park laid out in the English fashion. Near the entrance was a large building marked "Health Department of the New Society."
"Look!" laughed Kingscourt. "Here's another copy of a good thing. This is evidently modeled after the Imperial German Health Department. I don't have to ask the natives about it. I know Old-New-Land quite well. It's a mosaic. A Mosaic mosaic. Good joke, what?"
"As good as the rest of your jokes, Kingscourt. And no better...But it seems to me that we don't get at the essential character of Old-New-Land merely by noting that all its institutions already existed elsewhere twenty years ago. It's true enough that all these things did exist then. Natural forces were well understood in those days-well, enough, at least, for their needs here. The technical appliances, also, were available. No educated person of the year 1900 would be surprised by anything we've seen here. Even the degree of social progress achieved here is not surprising. The average decent man of our day realized that the raw egotism of the individual had to be curbed by society. The restrictions are not, indeed, oppressive here, because the New Society compensates the individual in one form for what it takes from him in another. Producers' and consumers co-operatives were well known in our day. Old-New-Land is something more-it must be something more than a fusion of the elements of social and technical progress."
"What makes you say so?" questioned Kingscourt. "I find even this very fine."
"As a jurist and fin de siecle European," continued Friedrich, "I ask myself what it is that keeps this community in equilibrium. I see order in freedom, and yet nowhere do I glimpse governmental authority."
"Ah, Fritze, there's the rub. Legalism and Europeanism obscure your vision. One can get along with very little govemmental authority. If you had lived and loved, as I did, in America, you would know better. No, that doesn't surprise me. But what I do not know how to account for is-these trees. The trees in this park cannot be less than forty or fifty years old. Where did the fellows get them?"
He had spoken so loudly that a passerby overheard him, smiled, and stopped short. Kingscourt naturally spoke to him at once. "Honored passerby, I see that I amuse you. Perhaps you can answer my question?"
"Certainly, sir. I am on the staff of the Health Department, and know something about these things. It has long been known that it is possible to transplant grown trees safely. In Cologne, for example, where I formerly lived, forty-year-old trees were planted in one of the parks. It is very expensive, of course, but we spend a great deal on the public health. We think nothing too costly for our parks, because they benefit the growing generation. However, we did not plant old and expensive trees like these everywhere. For instance, we brought eucalyptus trees from Australia which grew very rapidly. Our first funds for this purpose came from a national tree-planting Society which collected money in all parts of the world. People in the Diaspora contributed money for trees whose shade they were afterwards to enjoy in Palestine."
"Thank you, sir," said Kingscourt. "I understand now. And will you please complete your favor by telling me where all these children come from?" (They were walking past playgrounds where half-grown youngsters were playing English games. The girls were busy with tennis, the boys with cricket and football.)
"They come from the schools near this park. The classes are led out here by turns for athletic games. Physical exercise is considered quite as important as mental development."
"They seem to belong only to well-to-do families," commented Friedrich. "All of them are clean and neatly dressed."
"Not at all, sir. They come from all kinds of homes; we do not permit distinctions of any kind in our schools, either in clothing or in anything else. The only differences are those created by the pupils themselves through effort or natural talent. Our New Society is thoroughly opposed, .however, to any leveling process. To each according to his deserts!
"We have not abolished competition. Conditions are alike for all, as in a race or prize competition. All must be equal at the beginning, but not at the end. Under the old order, it would happen that a man could make his children and grandchildren independent for life through one fortunate business deal, and ensure for them all the advantages of the higher education. Conversely, a man's descendants were punished not only for his sins, but for his business reverses. Once a family became impoverished, it was reduced to the proletariat, from which superhuman effort was needed to escape.
"We neither reward nor punish our children for their fathers' business transactions. Each generation is given a new start. Therefore, all our educational institutions are free from the elementary schools to the Zion University. All the pupils must wear the same kind of simple clothing until they matriculate into the secondary schools. We think it unethical to single out children according to their parents' wealth or social rank. That would be bad for all of them. The children from the well-to-do families would become lazy and arrogant, the others embittered. But you will pardon me. I must go back to my work."
He left them with a courteous bow.
Kingscourt and Friedrich remained for a while to watch the merry, agile youngsters. Kingscourt who, in his youth, had been an excellent cricketer and football player, felt his old passion for games stirring within him, and shouted encouragement to the children. He would have liked best to take a hand himself in their play, but Friedrich drew him away. "Come, you old Ottoh crow! Let's go and see how Fritzchen is getting along. There may be some word about Dr. Eichenstamm at the hotel, too."
Fritzchen was well and cheerful, and greeted his friend with a song in which Kingscourt thought he detected his own "ia-i-a-i-a" of Rhodensteiner fame. The old man and the baby were soon engaged in an intimate conversation understood by no one but themselves.
The reports from the presidential mansion were not good. Steineck had sent a brief bulletin to David: "Hopeless!" When the Professor returned to the hotel in the evening, they read the news in his face.
"He died greatly," he told them. "I was with him to the end. He spoke of death. It was painless, he said, if one contemplated it long in advance. 'I feel,' said he, 'my consciousness gradually growing dimmer. I still hear myself speak, but always more feebly. Probably I shall still have blurred thoughts when I can no longer speak. I have already made my farewells to myself. Too bad that I cannot say a last word to all who were so kind to me.' Then he was silent for a while, staring into space. r had friends,' he began again, looking toward me, 'many friends. Friends are life's best treasures....Where are they now? I had many, many friends. Where are they?'...The end was coming. He murmured something with a wistful glance that seemed to say, 'You see, I cannot speak, but I can still think.' At the last he pulled himself together, and spoke the thought he had repeated so often: 'Let the stranger be at home among us!' His eyes glazed, and I closed them."
So died Eichenstamm, president of the New Society.
On the eighth day after President Eichenstamm's impressive funeral, the Congress was called into session to elect a new president.
Almost all of the four hundred men and women delegates had arrived in Jerusalem by the evening before the first session. Heated discussion was going on in numerous clubs and hotels. As far as could be guessed, the choice lay between Dr. Marcus, President of the Academy, and Joseph Levy, managing director of the New Society, whose chances were about equal. Assuming that minor candidates would divert a few votes on the first ballot-so that neither would receive an absolute majority-a second ballot would have to be taken.
Levy had not yet returned from Europe, but was expected hourly. Some said that he would refuse the nomination for the presidency. Others resented this as a prejudicial rumor spread by the partisans of Dr. Marcus. The usual election excitement was in full swing. And there was the usual partisan noise, quarrels, jests, tricks, etc.
On the morning of the opening of the Congress, David came into Friedrich's room much distressed. "You must go to the session without me," he said. "I have received a telegram calling me to Tiberias. My mother..." His eyes grew somber, and his voice caught, "Miriam and I are off at once. My wife and the baby will come later."
"Shall we go with you?" asked Friedrich, all sympathy.
"Ah, there's no help you can give. I fear no one can. Stay for the Congress. It will be an interesting experience for you. As for me, nothing matters now. Let them elect whom they please."
We shall come up to Tiberias with your wife and Fritzchen," Kingscourt assured him.
"Thank you. Please do not mention my leaving town now to anyone. There are times when even one's friends are superfluous. I should be deluged with inquiries"
"I hope your mother will soon feel better," said Friedrich.
"I know what that 'better' will be," David shrugged hopelessly. "Good-by!"
After Miriam and David had left, they went to the Congress. A large crowd stood in front of the great building, which was decorated with blue and white flags draped in mourning for the late President.
The auditorium was a lofty marble room with overhead lighting from an opaque glass ceiling. The delegates were in the committee rooms and lobbies, so that their seats were still vacant. The galleries, however, were already crowded, and every now and again some delegate would come up to tell his friends of developments behind the scenes. Most of the women in the galleries wore subdued costumes, since the thirty days' period of mourning for President Eichenstamm was not yet completed.
However, in the box next to Friedrich's, there sat several women in very light costumes and striking hats. The party consisted of Mrs. and Miss Weinberger, Mrs. and Miss Laschner, Mr., Mrs. and Miss Schlesinger, Doctor Walter, and Mr. Schiffmann. The humorists Gruen and Blau were also among those present. Friedrich would have preferred to leave his box, but there was no more room anywhere in the galleries. Besides, Kingscourt was so much amused by his neighbors that he refused to budge. They could hear everything that went on in the next box, where Mr. Schlesinger sat in front with the ladies. The witty Mr. Gruen was making puns about the Congress, the point being that he wouldn't want to be in the shoes of the defeated candidate.
"I hear that Marcus will lose," declared Schiffmann.
"How do you know that?" asked the representative of the Baroness von Goldstein. "Entre nous, it's all one to me."
Schiffmann smiled mysteriously." I have my sources of information. Know everything, need nothing."
"Schiffmann has good tips that he plays on the stock exchange," said Blau enviously."
"I should like to know," said Dr. Walter, "what this election will mean in terms of bulls and bears.'"
"That's very simple," thought Schiffmann. "Levy is an enterprising man. If he comes in, there will be more business in the country. Therefore, the bulls win. Marcus, however, is more of the academic type. No business. Hence, bears on top."
"That's brilliant," sneered Blau. "Mr. Schiffmann, if I had as little sense as you, even for twenty-four hours, I should stop worrying for the rest of my life."
"It's well you have more sense than I. Otherwise, you couldn't crack jokes at weddings for a fee."
"Who are those people in Isaac's box?" Ernestine asked Friedrich across the partition. "I saw you bow to them."
"Lord and Lady Sudbury."
"'Pon honor, she looks like the wife of a baronet at the least," broke in Mrs. Laschner. "She certainly had that hat made in Paris."
"The presence of such people proves that the higher classes, also, find our institutions interesting," proclaimed Dr. Walter sententiously.
"When I listen to these fellows," whispered Friedrich to his friend, "I want to go back to our island with you."
"Hoho! You're backsliding. But I've got beyond all that. I know there must be one good monkey cage in every well equipped zoo."
Things were becoming lively in the hall below. The delegates were drifting into their seats. Groups formed on the steps between the semi-circular rows of benches. In one group to the right Mrs. Gothland was talking to some women, evidently electioneering in favor of her candidate. (She was known to support Dr. Marcus.) And whoever watched Steineck, the architect, making violent motions at the foot of the speakers' platform could be in no doubt that he was advocating joseph Levy for the presidency. "Tschoe! Tschoe!" he was shouting above the increasing tumult.
Reschid Bey came up to the gallery to report the latest news from the lobbies. Joe's election was almost certain. He would come through on the first ballot. He was very popular throughout the country, because it was realized that the general prosperity was due to his energy and ability. Marcus, on the other hand, was known only in cultured circles. Joe had already returned from Europe, and would of course come to the Congress.
"Most beloved Pasha," said Kingscourt. "You must point that man out to me as soon as he comes. Must be a very keen fellow. I'm curious to see how he will direct his cohorts."
The "monkey cage," as Kingscourt jestingly dubbed the adjoining box, was indulging in flippant comments. The more impressive the scene below, the worse some of its occupants felt. It was as if this gathering of free, self-respecting men and women were a personal affront to them.
Mr. Schlesinger held forth. "Now then! I see the game. One wanted this post, the other that. Now they have their jobs, and the Jewish problem is solved."
Dr. Walter had been greedily watching the assemblage below, where there was, alas, no room for him. He replied to the distinguished representative of the banking house. "Pardon me, Mr. Schlesinger, if I venture to disagree somewhat. I can see nothing unworthy in a man's seeking the suffrages of his equals. Of course, in individual cases there may be ulterior motives. You are certainly right about that. And I can also understand that a man like yourself, connected with the house of Goldstein for thirty years, would expect a great deal from people. But, after all, why shouldn't a man try for a post in the New Society?"
"If it brings a salary," supplemented Blau. Seeing Schlesinger's smile of encouragement, he went on. "But I believe, Dr. Walter, that you should have rise earlier in the day if you wanted one."
"It's a long time, Mr. Blau," growled Dr. Walter, flushing angrily, "since you had your ears boxed!"
Schiffmann restored peace, summing up rather wistfully what was in all their minds. "It seems to me that we have all been too late. Here we are again, standing behind bars and looking out at free people. That's how it has been with me since my youth. Wherever I went, I met only Schlesinger and Laschner, Gruen and Blau. It is like pitch.."
A bell rang, the signal for the entrance of the presiding officers. The galleries were suddenly hushed. Even the "monkey cage" held its peace.
Delegates crowded in through all the doors. "There's Joe Levy now," said Reschid, pointing downward. "That man with the bushy gray mustache and the bald spot, shaking hands with Steineck."
Joe was a lanky man of medium height, tanned up to the line of his hat, very quick and energetic in his movements. He shook hands with the numerous delegates who came up to welcome him home. To others further away he nodded smilingly, and occasionally waved a salute. He seemed very much at his ease, and not at all stiff or formal.
A prolonged ringing of the bell. All the delegates took their seats. Behind the raised platform both wings of the gilt doors were opened, and the chairman of the congress entered with his whole staff. He opened the proceedings with a tribute to the late President, which was listened to standing. This was followed by the announcement: "We have come here today to elect a new president."
To everyone's surprise, Joe, who was sitting in the center of the third row, rose and asked for the privilege of the floor. "Mr. Joseph Levy has the floor!" responded the chairman.
A murmur ran through the hall as Levy lightly ascended the steps to the platform. What would he say?
"Esteemed congress delegates," he began." I wish to make only a very short statement to you. While I was abroad, some of my friends kindly announced me as a candidate without asking me whether I would accept."
Slight stirrings in the Marcus ranks. "Hear! Hear!"
"Let him talk!" shouted Steineck.
Levy began over again. "I have only a very short statement to make to you. I am highly honored by this nomination. But I do not wish to put the congress to the trouble of voting on a roll call. According to our rules for the presidential elections, each delegate must step up to the platform in person and deposit his ballot when his name is called. This procession consumes four hours. Then comes the count. Two hours more for that. Then, perhaps, a second ballot has to be taken. I cannot take such a loss of time on my conscience. Pity to waste it. Because I am determined, even if I am elected, not to serve."
"Why? Why?" cried his adherents.
"My reasons, ladies and gentlemen, are simple. I feel that I still have much energy to devote to my work. If you are satisfied with what I am doing, let me go on as I am. Electing me to the presidency would mean sending me into retirement. And, despite my gray hairs, I believe myself still too young for that. For the rest, Dr. Marcus will express my views. I caIled on him this morning immediately after my arrival, having heard that he was the opposition candidate. We came to an understanding. We're not so divided as our respective friends. ..(Laughter)... Dr. Marcus will state his own views and mine to you. As for me, I stick to my resolve. Dear friends, many thanks for your good intentions, but please don't elect me!"
There was a stir of uneasiness throughout the hall. From all sides rose cries of displeasure, surprise, and disappointment. As he left the platform, Levy was mobbed with questions by his followers. He smiled and shrugged.
"I like that man," announced Kingscourt. "Talk he cannot, but he seems a fine fellow."
The "monkey cage" interpreted the incident otherwise. Blau suggested that the grapes were too sour.
"His nation is resignation," suggested Gruen wittily.
But Schiffmann said, "Well, now, Mr. Schlesinger! Here is a man that doesn't want to snap up office. What do you say to this?"
"Eh? What I say? Do I know what his present post brings him? He seems able to get along on it. He is a practical man. Who knows what understanding he and Marcus came to? We ought to know that, too, before we can judge."
Friedrich was thoroughly irritated by these comments, though he had met Dr. Marcus only once arid was seeing Levy for the first time. His one wish was that Reschid and Kingscourt had not heard the nasty criticisms. Luckily, they were intent on the proceedings downstairs.
The chairman rang loudly for order. Dr. Marcus had asked for the floor. He ascended the platform a bit heavily, and waited for quiet, so that his feeble voice might carry. There was dead silence as he began.
"Honored Congress! My friend Levy in his efficient way, has spoken of saving your time. I believe it worth while to use some of the valuable time of the New Society in an attempt to understand each other. First let us understand, then decide.
"We have come here not to choose the head of a state; since we are not a state.
"We are a commonwealth. In form it is new, but in purpose very ancient. Our aim is mentioned in the First Book of Kings: 'Judah and Israel shall dwell securely, each man under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba.'
"We are simply a large co-operative association composed of affiliated co-operatives. And this, our congress, is really nothing more than the general assembly of the co-operative association which is called the New Society. Yet all of us feel that more is involved than the purely material interests of an industrial and economic co-operative association. For we establish schools and layout parks; we concern ourselves not only with utilitarian things, but with Beauty and Wisdom as well. For Beauty and Wisdom, too, benefit our commonwealth. We understand that a community must have an ideal in its own interest: let us say at once-an ideal is indispensable. For it is that which draws us on. We were not the first to discover the value of ideals: the discovery is as old as the world. The ideal is for the community what bread and water are for the individual. And our Zionism, which led us hither and will lead us still further to yet unknown heights, is but an ideal, an infinite, endless ideal.
"Do I seem to you to digress? No, my friends, lam keeping to the subject in hand, the elections. He whom we elect as the head of the New Society just be one who will concern himself with the ideal and keep aloof from material things. All his thought must be for the Ideal. He must be a quiet man, just and modest, above the strife of current opinion. We elect him for seven years.
"My friend Levy has refused the office because he feels he can serve us better during those seven years by continuing in his present post. I agree with him. But I too refuse. I am too old. I do not believe I shall live seven years longer. Too frequent elections are unwholesome. They incite too much personal ambition, lead to personal partisanships. Don't elect me. I am too old. My body is no longer flexible; perhaps my mind, too, has lost its elasticity. It may be that I can no longer understand the ideals of younger men. For ideals are always being reborn, and there may be rebirths which a man like myself can no longer comprehend.
"But Levy and I have not come before you merely in order to refuse office. We have a suggestion to make to you. It was Levy's idea, and he is a good judge of men. That. speaks in its favor. And I agree with all my heart.
"The man whose name we shall propose to you is still young,-younger than Levy, very much younger than myself. He is one of the new men who have made this old soil of ours fertile and beautiful again. He walked behind the plow with his father as a boy, but he has also sat behind books. He has a wholesome capacity for public affairs, but. does not let them swamp him. I do not see him here just now. But if he is present, he will be the last to apply my words to himself, so genuine is his humility. He is very capable in his personal affairs, and made his way up from very modest beginnings. If we elect him, we shall not only be honoring a man of high merit, but shall also give our youth an incentive to aim high. Every son of Venice could become a Doge. Every member of the New Society must. be eligible for its highest office."
Enthusiastic applause rewarded these words. "Name! Name! Who is he?" shouted delegates from all parts of the hall. Dr. Marcus raised his hand for silence. "I do not wish to name our candidate for the presidency from this platform," he added, "since it is not our habit to use the election Congress as a campaign meeting. I ask therefore, that the chairman declare a recess."
A recess was declared. The delegates swarmed tumultuously about Marcus and Levy. They named their man. The name was relayed from group to group, and in a few moments winged its way to the galleries: "David Littwak!"
"Thunder and glory!" cried the delighted Kingscourt. Friedrich pressed his hand. "And he is sitting by his mother's death bed. Shall we telegraph?"
"No, my boy, we'll do better than that. The poor fellow is excited enough now as it is. Why plague him with these elections? Suppose he doesn't get in after all? Let's take the next train to Tiberias. We can be there by the time the vote is counted. Then we shall simply come in and ask whether Mr. David Littwak, President of the New Society, lives at that address."
They took Reschid into their confidence, and asked him to wire the results to Tiberias. In the meantime, he was to keep David's whereabouts dark.
In the "monkey cage," David's name was greeted with mixed emotions. Gruen made silly puns on his name, while Blau announced that in his next incarnation he would choose to be nothing but a peddler's son. Mr. Schlesinger asked despairingly, "I ask you now, how can a man join this association? And they call it the New Society!"
Schiffmann, however, was remorseful. "Do you know what we are?" he cried out. "We-are a fine crew a fine crew!"
Returning to the hotel, Kingscourt and Friedrich found that Sarah had hurried after her husband by the next train. They soon caught an express for Tiberias. Watching the landscape fly past the windows of the electric train, they once more reviewed all they had seen in Old-New-Land.
Kingscourt was taken aback when Friedrich suddenly remarked that he would like to run over to Europe.
"How's that, you moody fellow? Are you already fed up with the land of your Hebrew ancestors?"
"No, indeed, my dear Kingscourt. Your wish to remain here makes me only too happy. I can at least try to become a useful member of society. Perhaps I can make some good use of my legal training in the New Society, or fill some administrative post. Nevertheless, I want to run over to Europe for a bit to observe the conditions there. It is impossible that no radical changes should have taken place in Europe in these twenty years. Realizing as I do that all we have found here is merely a new arrangement of things that existed in our day, I am inclined to think that something similar has happened in Europe. Dr. Marcus put the thought into my head when he said that the New Society was not a state, but a large co-operative association..."
"The co-operative association with the infinite ideal," chuckled Kingscourt.
"I ask myself, therefore," continued Friedrich earnestly, "if we are not on the threshold of the solutions to many of the problems of our day. There used to be a good deal of talk about the state of the future. Some spoke of it vaguely, some scornfully, some angrily. To portray what conditions might be like in the future was considered ridiculous by so-called practical people. They forgot that we are always living in future conditions, since today is only yesterday's future.
"They imagined an impossible future state on the improbable ruins of existing society, that is to say, a decline of civilization that only a coward would envisage. First they saw Chaos, and then something which would be a doubtful improvement on the old order.
"Something Dr. Marcus said lately about the coexistence of things has been running through my mind. Old institutions need not go under at one blow in order that new ones may be born. Not every son is posthumous. Parents usually live along with their children for many years. It follows that an old social order need not break up because a new one is on the way. Having seen here a new order composed of none but old institutions, I have come to believe neither in the complete destruction nor the complete renewal of a social order. I believe-how shall I put it? In a gradual reconstruction of society. And I also believe that such a reconstruction never comes about through systemic planning, but as the need arises. Necessity is the builder. We decide to alter a floor, a staircase, a wall, a roof, to install electricity or water supply only as the need arises, or when some new invention wins its way. The house as a whole remains what it was. So I can imagine the continued existence of the old state even if new features have been added. That is what I should like to seek in Europe.
"When we left the civilized world twenty years ago, new forms of life were sprouting everywhere. I understand the Stockton-Darlington jubilee. Everything began with that -it is to celebrate the birth of a new era. It had existed coincidently with the old order for a long time; pervaded it; was influenced by it. But the clever, practical people saw nothing. Though the old boundaries remained, men and goods were moving across the world. Whither had not machinery and railways penetrated? And they created hew conditions wherever they came.
"The co-operatives of the little fellows and the trusts of the big fish,-we knew all that. They existed side by side. Why, in the end, should the co-operatives not have organized themselves into syndicates when the individual manufacturers did so?
"Some sensible employers used to provide of their own accord for the welfare of their workers and the workers' families. Large factories had their own social welfare departments. The larger the factory, the more it was possible to expand such activities. The syndicates, again, could do more-when they chose-to improve the lot of their workers because they were richer than individual factory owners, more firmly established. That I know, Kingscourt, from your own descriptions of the American trusts."
"Quite so. And what do you infer from that?"
"I infer that it was inevitable that the producers' cooperatives should have organized to challenge individual enterprise. Their weakness lay in their lack of working capital. But, on the other hand, they were strong in that they were able also to organize the consumers co-operatively. The co-operative movement was bound to grow with the general spread of education. Finally, it seems to me that the trusts were beneficial because they paved the way for the organization of labor. And the producers' cooperatives modeled themselves on the methods of organization used by the trusts. I see in the New Society nothing but a syndicate of co-operative societies, a large syndicate which comprises all industry and commerce within itself, keeps the welfare of the workers in mind, and fosters the ideal for practical reasons. I should like to see whether the same sort of thing has been developed in Europe."
"So you think a New Society possible in other countries also?"
"Yes, I do. The New Society can exist anywhere,-in any country. Several such co-operative syndicates might even exist in one country. Where ever there are syndicates and cooperative associations, I can conceive transition to the New Society form. Then the old state is not forced out of the New Society which, in its turn, serves, strengthens and supports it. That is the coexistence of things in which I believe."
The train pulled in at the Tiberias station, and the friends hastened to the Littwak villa. When they asked the servant at the door about the patient, he shook his head gravely, and then handed them a telegram which had just been received. It was marked "Urgent."
Kingscourt glanced significantly at Friedrich as he tore open the envelope. There it was: "David Littwak elected president of New Society by 363 votes out of 395. Reschid."
They went upstairs to the salon adjoining the sickroom, where they found Sarah and the elder Littwak. Through the open door they could see the invalid lying against her pillows, her face white as the linen. But she was still alive. With infinite affection she gazed at her children as they spoke to her softly from the foot of the bed. The physician watched her closely.
Without speaking, Kingscourt handed the telegram to the elder Littwak, who took it listlessly and stared at it. The reading gave him a shock. He drew his hand across his eyes, and read again. Then he handed it to his daughter-in-law. "Read it to me, Sarah!" he asked, his voice in a quiver.
Sarah glanced over the telegram, and flushed deeply. Tears streamed from her eyes as she read it aloud to the old man. Then she jumped up and waved the paper as a signal to her husband.
David came out of the sickroom on tiptoe, and nodded gravely to the visitors, who were standing a little apart. Turning to Sarah, he asked with a slight show of displeasure, "What's the matter?"
The old father had risen, and was approaching David with faltering steps. "David, my child! David, my child!"
Sarah handed him the telegram. He read it calmly, and puckered his forehead. "I shouldn't have believed Reschid could play such pranks. I'm hardly in the mood for them."
"It's no prank," Friedrich assured him, and related the events at the congress to which he had been witness.
"No! No! That's not for me. Quite impossible. I was not even a candidate."
"That's just why they elected you," affirmed Kingscourt.
"I'm not fit for it. There are a hundred men better suited than I. I shall not accept. Please write Marcus at once that I decline.
"His father spoke up firmly. "You will accept, David. You must. ..for your mother's sake. It is the last pleasure you can give her."
David covered his eyes.
Miriam came out of the sickroom. "What's the matter?" she asked. "Mother is uneasy. She wants to know what is happening."
They returned to the sickroom and stood beside the bed of the dying roman.
"Mother!" cried the elder Littwak. "Dr. Loewenberg has brought us good news."
"Yes?" she breathed. Her face brightened. "Where is he? I want to see him. Please sit me up."
The physician called Friedrich. Miriam and David supported her slender back with pillows. She looked at Friedrich affectionately. "I thought-so-at once. Then when you-on the balcony outside here... children!..." She groped blindly. "Miriam-has told-me. ..nothing. But a mother...sees! Children!...Give...each other ...your hands. My blessing-my blessing!"
Miriam and Friedrich had to reach out their hands to each other, but they were so hesitant that she took notice. She looked anxiously from one to the other, and whispered," "Or... or....
"Yes, indeed," said Friedrich fervently, and pressed the girl's hand. "Yes," repeated Miriam softly.
Thus a mother, even when weak and helpless, can always create happiness for her child. She leaned back exhausted, her eyes closed, barely breathing. The old man feared she might fall into the last slumber before she could be told of her son's elevation to the presidency.
"Mother!" he called loudly. Once more she raised her lids, languidly. There was regret in her glance at having been disturbed in the beautiful dream she was weaving toward. ..toward the Beyond. "Mother!" called the old man, still more loudly. "We must tell you something very important! Do you know whom they've elected president of the New Society? Our David is president, Mother! Our David!"
The son was kneeling by her bedside, weeping like a child over the bloodless, clay-cold hand. She withdrew it from his grasp and stroked his hair gently, as if to comfort him for the sorrow of her passing.
"Mother!" cried the old man fearfully. "Did you hear what I said?"
"Yes!" she breathed. "My-my David!"
And her eyes closed.
They chanted the ancient Hebrew prayers when they buried her. The venerable Rabbi Samuel of Neudorf conducted the funeral service. There was to be no sermon. David wished none.
But after they had returned from the cemetery, and sat in the seats of the mourners, David himself paid a tribute to his dead.
"She was my mother. To me she meant Love and Pain.
"In her Love and Pain were incarnate. My eyes brimmed over when I looked at her.
"She was my mother; but I shall not see her again.
"She was house and home for us when we had neither house nor home.
"She sustained us in affliction, for she was Love.
"In better days, she taught us humility, for she was Pain.
"In good days and evil, she was the pride, the ornament of our house.
"When we were so poor that we lay on straw, we still were rich: for we had her.
"She thought always of us; never of herself
"Our house was a wretched hovel, and yet it held a treasure. Many a palace has no such treasure. That was she...my mother.
"She was an invalid. But Pain did not degrade her. It exalted her.
"Often she seemed to me the symbol of the Jewish people in the days of its suffering.
"She was my mother; and I shall not see her again.
"Never again, my friends. Never again. ...And I must bear it!"
His friends listened as he poured out his heartache, and were silent.
The room filled up with visitors. All came who had known David and his family.
To divert his thoughts, Dr. Marcus turned his conversation into other channels. The discussion was high and serious.
At last Friedrich put a question, and every man answered it after his fashion. "We see a new and happy form of human society here," he said. "What created it?"
"Necessity!" said Littwak the elder.
"The reunited people!" said Steineck the architect.
"The new means of transportation!" said Kingscourt.
"Knowledge!" said Dr. Marcus.
"Will Power!" said Joe Levy.
"The Forces of Nature!" said Professor Steineck.
"Mutual Toleration!" said the Reverend Mr. Hopkins.
"Self-Confidence!" said Reschid Bey.
"Love and Pain!" said David Littwak.
But the venerable Rabbi Samuel arose and proclaimed: "God!"
...But, if you do not wish it, all this that I have related to you is and will remain a fable.
I had meant to compose an instructive poem. Some will say it contains more poetry than instruction. That it has more instruction than poetry will be the verdict of others.
Now, dear Book, after three years of labor, we must part. And your sufferings will begin. You will have to make your way through enmity and misrepresentation as through a dark forest.
When, however, you come among friendly folk, give them greetings from your father. Tell them that he believes Dreams also are a fulfillment of the days of our sojourn on Earth. Dreams are not so different from Deeds as some may think. All the Deeds of men are only Dreams at first. And in the end, their Deeds dissolve into Dreams.
Source: Zionism and Israel Information Center