Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/339

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
317
KISSING AND DYING.

the hole in which his nose once had been; and when they rang the bell, his bare ribs clattered like dry poppy-heads shaken by the wind. High mass was ended. Spinoza advanced alone, and knelt before the priest on the steps of the altar. He cursed the mother who bore him, and the father who had begotten him, because they had not taken him from his birth to the bosom of the one saving faith. A cry of grief was heard from the gallery, and a corpse was carried out. Spinoza repeated the creed in a low voice, inaudible to all but the priest. The priest laid both hands on the head of the candidate, blessed him gently, and sprinkled his brow three times with holy water. The organ broke out in joyous tones.

"Baruch, Baruch!" it now cried, "get up!" It was only a dream. Spinoza lay in his bed, and old Chaje stood before him with a light. He passed his hand over his brow; it was wet with cold perspiration.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"Your father is dying; it would break the heart of a stone! The men from the neighborhood are already below."

Baruch sprang hastily out of bed, dressed as much as was absolutely necessary, and ran down stairs; his father must already be very bad, for he heard the men chant in loud chorus, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God."