Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/37

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15
A FRIDAY EVENING.

small but jovial company. On the east wall hung a picture on gilt parchment, and above it in Hebrew characters was written, "From this side blows the breath of Life." A frame brown with age enclosed the picture, in whose faded outlines the walls of a city were still recognizable, and underneath, in Hebrew, the verse, "Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I, the Lord, build the ruined places, and plant that which was desolate: I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it" (Ezek. xxxvi. 36). It was the ancient city of the Lord, Jerusalem; and many eyes, now darkened in the bosom of the earth, had rested, with tears of grief or longing looks of joy, on this gilded parchment. There was no other picture on the tapestry-decked walls. On the ottoman reclined a youthful maiden; her rounded cheek rested on her right hand, the fingers were lost to sight in the abundance of her unbound raven tresses as she thus rested; an open prayer-book lay before her, but her eyes wandered beyond it into vacancy.

Was it devotion, was it the thought of God, that filled her soul? Was it a beautiful memory that rose before her, or dream-pictures of the future that entranced her and brought that celestial longing to the rosy lips, and doubled the pulsations of her heart? Or was it that happy unconscious waking dream, that so often surprises the maiden developing into womanhood, and raises nameless and un-