Only Yesterday

By S. Y. Agnon; Barbara Harshav | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Tells a Little and Slurs Over a Lot

1

At last, Isaac reached the settlement. Who can describe Isaac's joy when he saw the houses of the Jews in their settlement crowned with fields and vineyards and olive trees and citrus groves. These are the fields and vineyards and olive trees and citrus groves he saw in a dream and now he sees them awake. At that hour, Isaac was like a bridegroom about to enter the marriage canopy and lacks only a best man.

Isaac entered the home of a farmer to hire himself out as a worker. He found him sitting on a glassed-in verandah, drinking tea. The sun settled on the glass and the trees in the garden waved their shadows like a fan and a serene calm was spread over the farmer and his table. The farmer sliced himself a piece of sugar and sucked and drank, and looked with favor on Isaac. Isaac greeted the landlord and the landlord returned his greeting and said calmly, A new man, a new man, like a landlord who gets satisfaction and joy from a guest.

Isaac replied humbly, It has been two days since I was privileged to ascend to the Land of Israel to work its soil. Perhaps there is work for me here in the field or the vineyard or the citrus grove. The landlord sucked the sugar in his mouth and took a sip from his glass and replied calmly, Others have been here before you. Isaac envied the others who had been here before him at work, and was sorry for himself that he had tarried so long because of the hotel owner. At last he put off his sorrow and his envy. Thought Isaac, If I didn't find work with this one, I'll find it with somebody else. And as others have been fortunate, so shall I. He bade farewell to the landlord and went on his way.

-46-

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