Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/441

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419
WOOING BY PROXY.

Van den Ende was silent. Olympia no longer wept and sobbed; she dreamily played with the pearls that lay before her.

"Can I get up?" she inquired at last.

"Certainly," said the father, and smiled contentedly to himself as he left the room.

Olympia rose and dressed.

"I made out my love to be stronger than it is, to my father," she said to herself. "Was it not in the beginning mere wounded self-love and desire to see no man unconquered that threw me into his arms? No, I loved him formerly, and I love him yet." She took the pearls, clasped them round her neck, and looked at herself well pleased in the mirror. "'I should not have found another husband,' they will say; what does that matter to me? My own consciousness tells me these pearls, and with them a life of brilliant enjoyment, was in my hand, and I despised it all. But am I right to do it? He is a born hermit, knowledge is his goddess. I only free him, I give him back himself, if I deny him my hand. No, this glitter dazzles my eyes. And yet, may not his strong mind behave differently when, safe in possession of me, he has no longer to woo for my favor? He knows I feel small beside him. How often has he tutored me, and will he not do it in another sense then? No, he is kind and good, but I am too weak, and Kerkering's submissive adoration has fascinated me."