Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/34

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12
SPINOZA.

the dead man, where the window stood wide open as it had never stood before; and he railed at the cruel people, who left the sick man lying outside, and acted as if they had known no uncle. His mother—for he dared not complain to his father so—sought to pacify him, and explain that his uncle was no longer alone and ill, but well and happy above with God and his forefathers and all good men. The boy could not understand, and cried:

"Ah! you have not seen them: they have put him in a deep pit, and thrown great sods on the box in which he was sleeping; he is surely awake and cannot get out." His mother strove to explain that, only the body was buried; the soul was with God. The boy was pacified, but for weeks he thought, in storm and rain, "How is it with our uncle in the earth?" . . .

Since then he had stood at the grave of his mother, and remembered her consoling words. But to-day, at the grave of Acosta, the recollection of his uncle's funeral awoke anew. The apostate who was here buried had never been free all his life long from this pain that made his heart beat so fast. How does it happen that children and heretics ask the same questions? Is it because the one knows naught of revelation, and the other rejects it wilfully, intending to answer the questions for himself? Who dare punish for such struggles?