Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/193

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171
THE LUCIANIST.

ical drawings, one above another; glass cases, in which butterflies and beetles were well arranged, hung between; stuffed birds sat on little twigs fixed into the book-cases. At one end of the room stood phials and retorts; in one corner lay a large heap of grey papers, from which emerged the stems and leaves of dried plants; there also stood a large skeleton in whose bony fingers was placed a gilt paper sceptre. Above the green-covered writing-table stood a marble bust, the acute Greek face crowned with a laurel wreath.

Baruch took note of his surroundings, in which, in spite of the superabundance, a certain order was visible. Life could be filled with other things than biblical rules, commentaries, and religious ceremonies; here was quite another world, thus he assured himself, and the physician did not disturb his thoughts, for he was seeking through his shelves for a book. At last he chose Cicero de Officiis, and required Baruch to construe it. The tutor shook his head often reflectively; not that Baruch knew no Latin; that could not be accurately said of him; it was that with his characteristic quickness of mind he burst the grammatical forms with a wonderful comprehension of the author whom he read. If but a few words were clear that gave an idea of the progress of the narrative, or indicated the aim of the train of thought, he would rapidly, and often correctly, connect the sense of the whole. More fre-