Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/265

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243
HANDICRAFT.

I know I shall not last much longer. God's will be done!"

"Don't belie yourself, Christian," interrupted his wife; "if one is as strong as that in the sixties, and for three years has not paid the doctor or the apothecary a farthing, I think one may thank God. You must not believe all he says."

"Let me speak, I know what I am saying," retorted the master, trying to give himself an air of importance. He first clasped his little finger round the ring-finger of his left hand, then said, "Secondly, it is a poor trade; you get nothing by it."

"Yes, yes, he is right there," commented his wife. "When we began business we and the late Greenwond, who lived by the Town Hall that is burned down, were the only two, and there are twenty-three in the town now; we hardly earn water enough for soup, and the worst of it is we cannot for shame give up the business. We are two old people and do not need much; with scraping and saving we manage to pull through, so that at the end of the year we still keep our things together. I don't know how folks get on with a house full of children, living on scanty wages."

His father, moved by these representations, would have retracted his consent, but Spinoza stood firm; so they came to an agreement with the master that, for a moderate premium, Spinoza should learn as long from him as he pleased.