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CECILIA was praying in the next room before her crucifix. Spinoza sat silently near Olympia; her hand rested close to his, but he did not attempt to clasp it. Dreamily and reflectively the two lovers looked long at each other in silence.

"When I am so exalted to the very highest point of rapturous spiritual enjoyment," said Olympia, "I feel nothing but longing for death. Now, borne so far above all small annoyances, now I would that I might die. So near and akin to the Highest, I should be absorbed into his being."

"Formerly, when I was still capable of such religious raptures, I was often possessed by such a desire for death," replied Spinoza. "We might, perhaps, find the explanation of this sensation in the Talmudist legend that Moses died of a kiss, in that God the Lord recalled his soul to himself in a kiss."

Olympia was taken by surprise at this strange turn. Was this mind always absorbed in its investigations, or did he wish by such parables to veil the ardent wish of his heart, and yet to explain it? Formerly their exchange of thoughts had been easy;