Only Yesterday

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

CHAPTER EIGHT
Between Jaffa and Jerusalem

1

Isaac got out of bed. He washed his face and hands, but he didn't go to the sea, for it was already noontime, and in those days, we didn't go walking at the sea in the afternoon on hot days, except for Doctor Rekhnitz, who used to hunt for seaweed, and now that he has left for America, you don't see a person at the sea in the afternoon.

After he put on his clothes, he ordered himself a cup of tea, even though it was already time for lunch. Isaac thought, like all our other comrades, that drinking something hot after sleep was obligatory. They brought him a cup of tea and sugar and a round cake, one of those cakes of dough and cinnamon that are found in Jaffa in every hotel and every restaurant and every teahouse, and we thought at the time they were good, for we had already forgotten the taste of the cakes we ate in our father's house. He drank and sliced himself a slice and thought about all kinds of people he had come across yesterday. And once again he said to himself, I did well to come to Jaffa, now let's check how much money I have left and how long I can stay here. He took out his pocketbook and started counting his coins, like Simon his father. But while Simon his father counts over an empty heart and sighs, Isaac counted his coins over cake and a cup of sweet tea, for sugar is cheap here, and you can put as much as you want into a cup, but nature gave a limit to sweetness so that a person won't eat too much of it.

After he drank and ate his cake, he asked himself, And now what shall we do? Now we'll eat lunch and we'll lie down in bed and we'll read the almanac of the Land of Israel. Afterward, we'll go perhaps to Hemdat. And even though he wrote on his door, “I'm not in,”

-415-

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