Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER TEN
At Sonya's Place

1

A few days after that night, Isaac saw Sonya walking in the street. He waved his hat and went toward her. In fact, Isaac should already have tried to see her because he got a letter from Rabinovitch, and in that letter, Rabinovitch asked how Sonya was. What does our friend Rabinovitch write? Our friend Rabinovitch writes almost nothing. If Madam wants to read it—please. Sonya took the letter and read, Ohhh, said Sonya, a person goes to Europe and finds nothing there but bad wine in Brindisi and sailors who beat each other up over a prostitute. At any rate, our Rabinovitch isn't willing to fight over a girl. Rabinovitch was deserving of Sonya's praise, for he didn't fail to write them. Yet in the end, she chides and mocks him. Isaac bowed his head in embarrassment, so as not to look at her while she is mocking, but her face didn't turn away from him. This was not the face he had seen on the ship when Sonya stood on Rabinovitch's shoes with her face glued to his. Isaac glanced at her from the side and once again was embarrassed. But his embarrassment was divided, half of it tremulous and half of it rejoicing. Said Sonya, Look, you say of Rabinovitch that every place is his place. There's a bit of truth in that, but I say not every place a person acquires is flattering for him. Are you in a hurry, Kumer? No, then let's stroll a little.

So Isaac walks with Sonya. Sometimes next to her and sometimes behind her, as she tries to match her steps to his steps. Passersby ask how she is. Some of them are teachers, some of them are writers, some of them are clerks. And though they are noted people whose name you find in the newspapers, she replies to their greetings rather casually. So they went through a few streets and a few alleys until they

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