Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/405

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383
MISSIONARIES.

their power in his own case, but in that of others also in which they would have put free thought under a ban.

"I believe it, I believe it!" cried Miriam enthusiastically; "you only want what is right; you are better than all the rest of the world. But believe me too, I have learned to know mankind since this misfortune has come through you. You wish to offer yourself as sacrifice for others? You are too good, you are the crown of mankind; the others are not worthy that a hair of your head should be injured for them."

Spinoza was deeply moved as he looked at his sister, who loved him so well that for his love's sake she rejected all others. Miriam might have known the movement of his heart, for, with a wail of grief, she threw herself on his neck and cried,

"You cannot and you must not for the world's sake offer up yourself and us too. Or is it true that you wish to wed a Christian?"

Spinoza was in a painful dilemma. To lie was as foreign to his nature as night to day; and yet he hesitated how to explain to his sister that his intellect had led him over the boundaries of church dogmas, whither love was his only guide.

An unexpected circumstance freed him from the necessity of further explanation. The two children, seeing their mother crying on their uncle's neck, began to cry and scream also, so