Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/137

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115
TALMUD AND LATIN.

for joy. For fear I might lose the glorious discovery in my sleep, I sprang out of bed; but if I had searched myself dead I should never have found the tinder-box. Look! there it is. So I wrote it on the floor in the moonlight there with chalk. I then went quietly to sleep, and woke early this morning in a perspiration; so the cough seems to have gone away."

"You must give up your former way of life," said the Doctor, "and in the coming spring leave your cell oftener, or else I will not answer for it; if that chest cough comes back, a fever of joy over a lucky guess may not sweat it away."

The Magister laughed in good-humored incredulity. The Doctor now brought forward his request, and Nigritius agreed to it, with the proviso that Silva must be answerable for it if the boy were not clever enough.

"How old are you?" he asked Baruch.

"Fifteen."

"And you cannot say your declensions?"

"No."

"Hum, hum!" grumbled the Magister. "Ars longa, vita brevis, says Hippocrates; at fifteen Hugo Grotius had already made his learned edition of Martianus Capella, translated into Latin Stevini's art of navigation, and so amplified the 'Phaenomena' of Aratus that no one knew which wrote better Latin, Cicero or he. I myself, ut at minora redeam, had,