Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/54

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32
SPINOZA.

'I am a priest; come, wash my hands; I am unclean; then I will receive it.'

"I went to the Inquisitor and told him that Geronimo, though still confused, himself desired the Sacrament. The Inquisitor assembled the whole order, and as they carried the Elements along the long corridor, singing the Requiem in the echoing hall, Geronimo sang loudly with them, and even when it was ended he sang the de profundis clamavi in a piercing voice with folded hands; then he tore his hands asunder, covered his head with them, and sang the Hebrew words: 'Holy! Holy! Holy! Adonaj Zebaoth! (Jehovah, Lord of Hosts!) Ave Maria gratia plena, he said in the same mechanical tone. The Inquisitor used the moment to pass the Host to him; he devoured it, as if famishing.

"'The cup! the cup!' he cried, 'I am a priest.' The Inquisitor handed him the cup, he clasped, both hands round it, and began the Jewish Sabbath blessing over it; then raising himself in bed with all his strength, he stood in the full length of his trembling figure, and cried: "On, Gideon! shatter the pitchers! Fire! Fire!' he put the cup to his lips, threw it at the wall, so that it shivered to atoms, sank down, and was—dead."

The stranger covered his eyes with his hand, and stood up, when he had said these words. No one uttered a syllable, for who could enter into the unutterable emotions of this soul? Each one feared