Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/159

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137
THE TREATY OF PEACE.

The word in, Ebn Esra explains, appears superfluous here, but is not so indeed; "I cannot explain it, for herein lies a great secret."

What was the use of these enigmatical directions? What was the use of explaining and searching into one word, one particle, if it were nothing more than the often defective and involved expression of a mere man? Baruch shut the book quickly and turned over the leaves of another, for he heard steps approaching the library. Chisdai Astruk and Ephraim Cardoso entered. Chisdai held out his perpetually damp, lobster-red hand of friendship to Baruch, and looked at the book to see what he was reading. Chisdai had rather a tall figure, a little bowed, and long black eyebrows, whose ends encroached on his forehead; he always screwed them together so that the hair stood out like bristles; his not unhandsome but full forehead was nearly hidden by his untidy long black hair; the expression of his brown eyes was not recognizable on account of his large round spectacles. The wearing of these had a special signification, for the orthodox Jews as well as Christians forbade the practice as an unseemly innovation. What ground the Christians took on the question we cannot tell; the Jews probably had no other but the fact that Joshua and Caleb wore no spectacles, and yet had seen everything distinctly. While Chisdai excused himself to the orthodox on the score of short-sight, he