Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/89

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67
FATHER AND SON.

"Half a year later a malignant fever tore my mother from us; hardly any one dared approach her bed except my father; she died in his arms. From the day my mother was buried, my father never crossed the threshold of the house even I, who once could do anything with him, could not persuade him to go near the church.

"Twelve weeks ago yesternight—O God! I shall never forget that hou!—two familiars demanded admission to the house in the name of the Inquisition. Laura had the courage to admit them; I could not move from my place. They forced their way in, and dragged my father to the Castle of Triana, where he must defend himself from suspicion of heresy. An hour later everything in the house was searched and sealed; I had to look on, while they tore down my mother's picture, because they thought treasure might be concealed behind it, and, as they expressed it, the seductive heathen's face might have swallowed money." Here Manuela suddenly stopped.

"I have told you all," she then continued in a confiding tone; "I have neither misuse of it to fear, nor, alas! advantage from its use to hope."

I used every inducement to comfort Manuela; but the old woman looked ghostly to me, as, during the latter part of the narration, she sat with folded hands and staring eyes, her lips moving mechanically in whispered prayer. Manuela did not notice