Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/169

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147
THE CABBALIST.

"'Thank God!' said Rabbi Aboab; 'my child is saved.'

"They took Sara to bed, and this morning she got up as fresh and well and prettier than ever; she knew nothing about it all, but thought she had slept a long time. Elsje came home last night about twelve o'clock with her mouth foaming, and as she took hold of the lock of her room door she fell down dead. You may believe it all, for black Gudul's sister looked through the keyhole of Rabbi Aboab's door. God is great to have left such men still among us; but just imagine, children, who would have thought that Elsje was such a cursed witch? Who knows how many children she may have bewitched? And the ingratitude of it! She might have starved if she had not earned a stiver or two from the Jews as Sabbath servant. Many a good bit have I got for her. I am afraid to be two minutes alone in the kitchen; I always expect Elsje to come down the chimney in the form of a black cat, or like a witch with fiery eyes, snakes on her head, and a broomstick in her bony hand. Ugh! I should die of fright,"

Suddenly there was a tremendous thud on the ceiling of the room so that the house shook; clamor and distant wailing were heard; the old woman screamed "Shema Israel!" Miriam clutched her brother's hand. All stood still to listen to the distant wailing.