Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/387

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CHAPTER XXII.

PECULIARITIES.

KERKERING had clasped Olympia's hand, and prayed Cecilia in a jesting tone to be his godmother if he became a Catholic. He did not let loose her hand when Spinoza entered, in spite of Olympia's efforts. Spinoza stared in astonishment. Olympia blushed, she snuffed the candle, and, during the short interval of darkness, quite recovered herself, and gave Spinoza a lecture on his prolonged absence.

"I cannot understand," she said, "how a man of your age can immure himself so in a cell. Frau Gertrui told me that you had not been down stairs for the last ten days, and that you had, moreover, used a pound and a half of oil in your nightly studies. You might become a monk or a hermit without any self-sacrifice. It is a pity you are not a Catholic."

"I regret it equally; to put off the old man is easy enough, but to draw the old on anew is difficult."

Olympia was silent. Kerkering looked puzzled; he used all his powers of mind, but could not rightly understand what lay behind these words.