Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER TWO
An Apartment in Jerusalem

1

After he ate breakfast, he wrote in his notebook a few places they had told him at the inn, and he went out to find himself an apartment. He went to several neighborhoods and asked in several houses if there was a room to rent. Some were nice to him, but the room was not nice; or the room was nice to him but the landlord was not nice; or they didn't know what he was talking about, for there are landlords who dwell in their homes and don't know that there are homeless people with nowhere to live. So he wandered from place to place and from courtyard to courtyard until he had gone through most of the day and hadn't found himself a room. He was about to return to his inn, for by now he was weary of running around and his mind was confused from the many rooms he had seen and the many people, and he resolved to seek tomorrow what he hadn't found today. On the way he came upon the Russian Compound. He saw that the place was spacious and handsome, and peace and quiet dwell there and its walls separate it from the noise of the city and a good wind blows there, so his soul was refreshed and he sat down to rest.

Old people of the generation, who are fond of every stone and every corner of Jerusalem, tell that a son of Israel was about to buy that place, but couldn't come to an agreement with the owner of the field about the width of the road. The buyer claimed that there had to be six cubits so that two camels loaded with sacks coming toward one another could pass; and the seller said that all he needed was the width of one loaded camel, which was three cubits. Neither of them yielded and the lot and three lots adjoining it were sold to the Russians. And the hearts of all the other Children of Israel in that

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