Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER ONE
Isaac Is About to Go to Jaffa

1

Isaac found a tenant for his room, who paid him back a bit of what he had paid the landlord, and the landlord gave in to entreaties and agreed to rent it on those conditions he set for every other tenant, that he wouldn't do any work in his room that profanes the Sabbath publicly, not cook on a Primus stove on the Sabbath because it makes noise, and not stand at the window with a cigarette in his mouth on the Sabbath. If his lease was up and the landlord needed his room, he would leave and not make any claims on it. And if he brought a second tenant into the room, the same conditions applied to him, and one-third would be added to the rent. That is, if he brought one, but if he brought two or three, he would add as they agreed. And they would launder shirts and drink from the cistern like the rest of the residents of the house. And if water was scarce, they would launder their clothes somewhere else. All those conditions were written down, not because the landlord is a hard man or because clarity is good for everyone, so as not to raise any complaints about him, but because he is fond of the Holy Tongue. To show you that he mastered all its rules. When the tenant agreed and rented the room, Isaac had no more excuse to postpone his trip.

He went to Mahane Yehuda to hire a wagon to go to Jaffa tomorrow. Even though the train is more comfortable and takes less time and costs a quarter less than a Maguida, just like hiring a wagon for the trip. When the train saw that wagon owners were competing with it, it added a third car for simple people who don't want luxuries, but the train goes by day and wagons go by night, and thus is available all day long.

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