Baron Rothschild in the Colony
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About six months after the trouble with the Arabs, news came that Baron Edmond de Rothschild was to arrive shortly in Palestine, where he would visit, first Rishon le Zion, then Petach Tikvah. Great was the excitement, for all looked on him with gratitude and affection as the benefactor of the colonies. It was decided, after much discussion, that the young men should ride out to him in their work-day attire, the elder men coming forward at the entrance to the colony with grains and fruit. The women and children, dressed in white when possible, were to scatter flowers in the way, and two girls, dressed as peasants, to offer the Baroness a basket of flowers and fruit and to read a welcome. Two days passed in preparation for the event, the third day passed in expectation of it. The young men with their guns and horses were lined up along the road, waiting for the pistol-shot which was to announce 37the Baron’s carriage in sight. Two, three hours passed, the watchers were tired with waiting in the heat, but dared not go home to satisfy thirst or hunger, lest they should be taken unawares. The day began to draw to a close, and hope was already deferred to the morrow, when suddenly the pistol shot rang out, and the whole colony became alive again and stood straining their eyes to see the first of the procession. They expected the Baron to have a retinue of from twenty to thirty people at least. Instead of this, they saw two small carriages, one of which held the Baron, his secretary and two men from Rishon le Zion, the other, the Baroness and her maid. These last were both so simply dressed, that one did not know which was the Baroness and which the maid. But the Baroness, divining the embarrassment of the maidens preparing to address her, stopped the carriage and alighted by herself. Flowers were immediately scattered under her feet, the basket was offered her and accepted with a sweet smile, and the welcome read. The Baroness thanked the girls with kind and loving words, telling them it was one of the happiest hours of her life, and that she would always remember it as such. Meantime the Baron had listened and replied to the address of the elders, and beamed on all. The 38Baroness took his arm and they walked along the road together, exchanging friendly words with old and young, while many of the children pressed forward and tried to kiss her hand. This she would not allow but lifted their faces to hers and kissed them heartily. When they had walked through the colony and partaken of light refreshment, they started off again, so as to reach Zikron Yakov, their next objective, before night. It afterwards leaked out that they had arrived late at Petach Tikvah in order to avoid a demonstration, but we had already forgiven them for keeping us waiting, for their simplicity and kindness had won our hearts, and every word and look of theirs was recalled and talked about for months after. Nearly the whole colony walked a mile to give them a good send-off, and when we heard later that the Baroness was laid up ill in Zikron Yakov, a rider was despatched every day for news.