Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER SEVEN
Isaac Parts from His Friend and Finds Himself a Girlfriend

1

Like most of the fellows of Galicia in that generation, Isaac was excellent and modest. Men friends had Isaac, but no girlfriends. The whole time Isaac lived in his hometown, he hadn't talked with a woman, aside from his mother and his sisters, like the sons of good families who don't know women before they are betrothed, aside from Gymnasium students and university students who broke out of the fold and court girls, and there are girls who respond to them and stroll with them in public. And as Isaac behaved in his hometown, so he behaved in the Land of Israel, he paid no attention to women and didn't seek their intimacy. And perhaps it didn't occur to him that a fellow like him could get close to a girl, even though he saw that some of his comrades did. The habit Isaac had adopted in his youth stood him in good stead in his manhood. And as he got used to it, that was it. The merit of his mother also stood him in good stead, so that he wouldn't behave frivolously in matters where others behave frivolously. And when his mother appeared to him, she didn't appear withered, as she was just before her death, but as she was in his childhood, when it seemed to him there was no mother more beautiful in all the world. Sometimes she appeared to him as on Yom Kippur, wearing white garments, her voice full of compassion; and sometimes she appeared to him as in the early days when she still wore a bluish chapeau Father had brought her from the fair. Sometimes part of her appeared, like a white hand stretched out to him, as when they sent him to congratulate her when his sister was born. And sometimes all those forms came together into one whole form, and it was clear to him that there was no woman in the world like his

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