George Eliot, DANIEL DERONDA (4)







'Il est plus aisé de connoître l'homme en général que de connoître un homme en particulier.'

  1. An hour after Grandcourt had left, the important news of Gwendolen's engagement was known at the Rectory, and Mr and Mrs Gascoigne, with Anna, spent the evening at Offendene.
  2. 'My dear, let me congratulate you on having created a strong attachment,' said the Rector. 'You look serious, and I don't wonder at it: a lifelong union is a solemn thing. But from the way Mr Grandcourt has acted and spoken I think we may already see some good arising out of our adversity. It has given you an opportunity of observing your future husband's delicate liberality.'
  3. Mr Gascoigne referred to Grandcourt's mode of implying that he would provide for Mrs Davilow - a part of the lovemaking which Gwendolen had remembered to cite to her mother with perfect accuracy.
  4. 'But I have no doubt that Mr Grandcourt would have behaved quite as handsomely if you had not gone away to Germany, Gwendolen, and had been engaged to him, as you no doubt might have been, more than a month ago,' said Mrs Gascoigne, feeling that she had to discharge a duty on this occasion. 'But now there is no more room for caprice; indeed, I trust you have no inclination to any. A woman has a great debt of gratitude to a man who perseveres in making her such an offer. But no doubt you feel properly.'
  5. 'I am not at all sure that I do, aunt,' said Gwendolen, with saucy gravity. 'I don't know everything it is proper to feel on being engaged.'
  6. The Rector patted her shoulder and smiled as at a bit of innocent naughtiness, and his wife took his behaviour as an indication that she was not to be displeased. As for Anna, she kissed Gwendolen and said, 'I do hope you will be happy,' but then sank into the background and tried to keep the tears back too. In the late days she had been imagining a little romance about Rex - how if he still longed for Gwendolen her heart might be softened by trouble into love, so that they could by-and-by be married. And the romance had turned to a prayer that she, Anna, might be able to rejoice like a good sister, and only think of being useful in working for Gwendolen, as long as Rex was not rich. But now she wanted grace to rejoice in something else. Miss Merry and the four girls, Alice with the high shoulders, Bertha and Fanny the whisperers, and Isabel the listener, were all present on this family occasion, when everything seemed appropriately turning to the honour and glory of Gwendolen, and real life was as interesting as 'Sir Charles Grandison.' The evening passed chiefly in decisive remarks from the Rector, in answer to conjectures from the two elder ladies. According to him, the case was not one in which he could think it his duty to mention settlements: everything must, and doubtless would safely be left to Mr Grandcourt.
  7. 'I should like to know exactly what sort of places Ryelands and Gadsmere are,' said Mrs Davilow.
  8. 'Gadsmere, I believe, is a secondary place,' said Mr Gascoigne; 'but Ryelands I know to be one of our finest seats. The park is extensive and the woods of a very valuable order. The house was built by Inigo Jones, and the ceilings are painted in the Italian style. The estate is said to be worth twelve thousand a year, and there are two livings, one a rectory, in the gift of the Grandcourts. There may be some burthens on the land. Still, Mr Grandcourt was an only child.'
  9. 'It would be most remarkable,' said Mrs Gascoigne, 'if he were to become Lord Stannery in addition to everything else. Only think: there is the Grandcourt estate, the Mallinger estate, and the baronetcy, and the peerage,' - she was marking off the items on her fingers, and paused on the fourth while she added, 'but they say there will be no land coming to him with the peerage.' It seemed a pity there was nothing for the fifth finger.
  10. 'The peerage,' said the Rector, judiciously, 'must be regarded as a remote chance. There are two cousins between the present peer and Mr Grandcourt. It is certainly a serious reflection how death and other causes do sometimes concentrate inheritances on one man. But an excess of that kind is to be deprecated. To be Sir Mallinger Grandcourt Mallinger - I suppose that will be his style - with the corresponding properties, is a valuable talent enough for any man to have committed to him. Let us hope it will be well used.'
  11. 'And what a position for the wife, Gwendolen!' said Mrs Gascoigne; 'a great responsibility indeed. But you must lose no time in writing to Mrs Mompert, Henry. It is a good thing that you have an engagement of marriage to offer as an excuse, else she might feel offended. She is rather a high woman.'
  12. 'I am rid of that horror,' thought Gwendolen, to whom the name of Mompert had become a sort of Mumbo-jumbo. She was very silent through the evening, and that night could hardly sleep at all in her little white bed. It was a rarity in her strong youth to be wakeful; and perhaps a still greater rarity for her to be careful that her mother should not know of her restlessness. But her state of mind was altogether new: she who had been used to feel sure of herself, and ready to manage others, had just taken a decisive step which she had beforehand thought that she would not take - nay, perhaps, was bound not to take. She could not go backward now; she liked a great deal of what lay before her; and there was nothing for her to like if she went back. But her resolution was dogged by the shadow of that previous resolve which had at first come as the undoubting movement of her whole being. While she lay on her pillow with wide-open eyes, 'looking on darkness which the blind do see,' she was appalled by the idea that she was going to do what she had once started away from with repugnance. It was new to her that a question of right or wrong in her conduct should rouse her terror; she had known no compunction that atoning caresses and presents could not lay to rest. But here had come a moment when something like a new consciousness was awaked. She seemed on the edge of adopting deliberately, as a notion for all the rest of her life, what she had rashly said in her bitterness, when her discovery had driven her away to Leubronn: - that it did not signify what she did; she had only to amuse herself as best she could. That lawlessness, that casting away of all care for justification, suddenly frightened her: it came to her with the shadowy array of possible calamity behind it - calamity which had ceased to be a mere name for her; and all the infiltrated influences of disregarded religious teaching, as well as the deeper impressions of something awful and inexorable enveloping her, seemed to concentrate themselves in the vague conception of avenging powers. The brilliant position she had longed for, the imagined freedom she would create for herself in marriage, the deliverance from the dull insignificance of her girlhood - all were immediately before her; and yet they had come to her hunger like food with the taint of sacrilege upon it, which she must snatch with terror. In the darkness and loneliness of her little bed, her more resistant self could not act against the first onslaught of dread after her irrevocable decision. That unhappy-faced woman and her children - Grandcourt and his relations with her - kept repeating themselves in her imagination like the clinging memory of a disgrace, and gradually obliterated all other thought, leaving only the consciousness that she had taken those scenes into her life. Her long wakefulness seemed a delirium; a faint, faint light penetrated beside the window-curtain; the chillness increased. She could bear it no longer, and cried 'Mamma!'
  13. 'Yes, dear,' said Mrs Davilow, immediately, in a wakeful voice.
  14. 'Let me come to you.
  15. She soon went to sleep on her mother's shoulder, and slept on till late, when, dreaming of a lit-up ball-room, she opened her eyes on her mother standing by the bedside with a small packet in her hand.
  16. 'I am sorry to wake you, darling, but I thought it better to give you this at once. The groom has brought Criterion; he has come on another horse, and says he is to stay here.'
  17. Gwendolen sat up in bed and opened the packet. It was a delicate little enamelled casket, and inside was a splendid diamond ring with a letter which contained a folded bit of coloured paper and these words: -

    >'Pray wear this ring when I come at twelve in sign of our betrothal. I enclose a cheque drawn in the name of Mr Gascoigne, for immediate expenses. Of course Mrs Davilow will remain at Offendene, at least for some time. I hope, when I come, you will have granted me an early day, when you may begin to command me at a shorter distance. - Yours devotedly,

  18. The cheque was for five hundred pounds, and Gwendolen turned it towards her mother, with the letter.
  19. 'How very kind and delicate!' said Mrs Davilow, with much feeling. 'But I really should like better not to be dependent on a son-in-law. I and the girls could get along very well.'
  20. 'Mamma, if you say that again, I will not marry him,' said Gwendolen, angrily.
  21. 'My dear child, I trust you are not going to marry only for my sake,' said Mrs Davilow, deprecatingly.
  22. Gwendolen tossed her head on the pillow away from her mother, and let the ring lie. She was irritated at this attempt to take away a motive. Perhaps the deeper cause of her irritation was the consciousness that she was not going to marry for her mamma's sake - that she was drawn towards the marriage in ways against which stronger reasons than her mother's renunciation were yet not strong enough to hinder her. She had waked up to the signs that she was irrevocably engaged, and all the ugly visions, the alarms, the arguments of the night, must be met by daylight, in which probably they would show themselves weak.
  23. 'What I long for is your happiness, dear,' continued Mrs Davilow, pleadingly. 'I will not say anything to vex you. Will you not put on the ring?'
  24. For a few moments Gwendolen did not answer, but her thoughts were active. At last she raised herself with a determination to do as she would do if she had started on horseback, and go on with spirit, whatever ideas might be running in her head.
  25. 'I thought the lover always put on the betrothal ring himself,' she said, laughingly, slipping the ring on her finger, and looking at it with a charming movement of her head. 'I know why he has sent it,' she added, nodding at her mamma.
  26. 'Why?'
  27. 'He would rather make me put it on than ask me to let him do it. Aha! he is very proud. But so am I. We shall match each other. I should hate a man who went down on his knees, and came fawning on me. He really is not disgusting.'
  28. 'That is very moderate praise, Gwen.'
  29. 'No, it is not, for a man,' said Gwendolen, gaily. 'But now I must get up and dress. Will you come and do my hair, mamma, dear,' she went on, drawing down her mamma's face to caress it with her own cheeks, 'and not be so naughty any more as to talk of living in poverty? You must bear to be made comfortable, even if you don't like it. And Mr Grandcourt behaves perfectly, now, does he not?'
  30. 'Certainly he does,' said Mrs Davilow, encouraged, and persuaded that after all Gwendolen was fond of her betrothed. She herself thought him a man whose attentions were likely to tell on a girl's feeling. Suitors must often be judged as words are, by the standing and the figure they make in polite society: it is difficult to know much else of them. And all the mother's anxiety turned, not on Grandcourt's character, but on Gwendolen's mood in accepting him.
  31. The mood was necessarily passing through a new phase this morning. Even in the hour of making her toilet, she had drawn on all the knowledge she had for grounds to justify her marriage. And what she most dwelt on was the determination, that when she was Grandcourt's wife, she would urge him to the most liberal conduct towards Mrs Glasher's children.
  32. 'Of what use would it be to her that I should not marry him? He could have married her if he had liked; but he did not like. Perhaps she is to blame for that. There must be a great deal about her that I know nothing of. And he must have been good to her in many ways, else she would not have wanted to marry him.'
  33. But that last argument at once began to appear doubtful. Mrs Glasher naturally wished to exclude other children who would stand between Grandcourt and her own; and Gwendolen's comprehension of this feeling prompted another way of reconciling claims.
  34. 'Perhaps we shall have no children. I hope we shall not. And he might leave the estate to the pretty little boy. My uncle said that Mr Grandcourt could do as he liked with the estates. Only when Sir Hugo Mallinger dies there will be enough for two.'
  35. This made Mrs Glasher appear quite unreasonable in demanding that her boy should be sole heir; and the double property was a security that Grandcourt's marriage would do her no wrong, when the wife was Gwendolen Harleth with all her proud resolution not to be fairly accused. This maiden had been accustomed to think herself blameless: other persons only were faulty.
  36. It was striking, that in the hold which this argument of her doing no wrong to Mrs Glasher had taken on her mind, her repugnance to the idea of Grandcourt's past had sunk into a subordinate feeling. The terror she had felt in the night watches at overstepping the border of wickedness by doing what she had at first felt to be wrong, had dulled any emotions about his conduct. She was thinking of him, whatever he might be, as a man over whom she was going to have indefinite power; and her loving him having never been a question with her, any agreeableness he had was so much gain. Poor Gwendolen had no awe of unmanageable forces in the state of matrimony, but regarded it as altogether a matter of management, in which she would know how to act. In relation to Grandcourt's past she encouraged new doubts whether he were likely to have differed much from other men; and she devised little schemes for learning what. was expected of men in general.
  37. But whatever else might be true in the world, her hair was dressed suitably for riding, and she went down in her riding-habit, to avoid delay before getting on horseback. She wanted to have her blood stirred once more with the intoxication of youth, and to recover the daring with which she had been used to think of her course in life. Already a load was lifted off her; for in daylight and activity it was less oppressive to have doubts about her choice, than to feel that she had no choice but to endure insignificance and servitude.
  38. 'Go back and make yourself look like a duchess, mamma,' she said, turning suddenly as she was going downstairs. 'Put your point-lace over your head. I must have you look like a duchess. You must not take things humbly.'
  39. When Grandcourt raised her left hand gently and looked at the ring, she said gravely, 'It was very good of you to think of everything and send me that packet.'
  40. 'You will tell me if there is anything I forget?' he said, keeping the hand softly within his own. 'I will do anything you wish.'
  41. 'But I am very unreasonable in my wishes,' said Gwendolen, smiling.
  42. 'Yes, I expect that. Women always are.'
  43. 'Then I will not be unreasonable,' said Gwendolen, taking away her hand and tossing her head saucily. 'I will not be told that I am what women always are.'
  44. 'I did not say that,' said Grandcourt, looking at her with his usual gravity. 'You are what no other woman is.'
  45. 'And what is that, pray?' said Gwendolen, moving to a distance with a little air of menace.
  46. Grandcourt made his pause before he answered. 'You are the woman I love.'
  47. 'Oh what nice speeches!' said Gwendolen, laughing. The sense of that love which he must once have given to another woman under strange circumstances was getting familiar.
  48. 'Give me a nice speech in return. Say when we are to be married.'
  49. 'Not yet. Not till we have had a gallop over the downs. I am so thirsty for that, I can think of nothing else. I wish the hunting had begun. Sunday the twentieth, twenty-seventh, Monday, Tuesday.' Gwendolen was counting on her fingers with the prettiest nod while she looked at Grandcourt, and at last swept one palm over the other while she said triumphantly, 'It will begin in ten days!'
  50. 'Let us be married in ten days, then,' said Grandcourt, 'and we shall not be bored about the stables.'
  51. 'What do women always say in answer to that?' said Gwendolen, mischievously.
  52. 'They agree to it,' said the lover, rather off his guard.
  53. 'Then I will not!' said Gwendolen, taking up her gauntlets and putting them on, while she kept her eyes on him with gathering fun in them.
  54. The scene was pleasant on both sides. A cruder lover would have lost the view of her pretty ways and attitudes, and spoiled all by stupid attempts at caresses, utterly destructive of drama. Grandcourt preferred the drama; and Gwendolen, left at case, found her spirits rising continually as she played at reigning. Perhaps if Klesmer had seen more of her in this unconscious kind of acting, instead of when she was trying to be theatrical, he might have rated her chance higher.
  55. When they had had a glorious gallop, however, she was in a state of exhilaration that disposed her to think well of hastening the marriage which would make her life all of a piece with this splendid kind of enjoyment. She would not debate any more about an act to which she had committed herself; and she consented to fix the wedding on that day three weeks, notwithstanding the difficulty of fulfilling the customary laws of the trousseau.
  56. Lush, of course, was made aware of the engagement by abundant signs, without being formally told. But he expected some communication as a consequence of it, and after a few days he became rather impatient under Grandcourt's silence, feeling sure that the change would affect his personal prospects, and wishing to know exactly how. His tactics no longer included any opposition which he did not love for its own sake. He might easily cause Grandcourt a great deal of annoyance, but it would be to his own injury, and to create annoyance was not a motive with him. Miss Gwendolen he would certainly not have been sorry to frustrate a little, but - after all there was no knowing what would come. It was nothing new that Grandcourt should show a perverse wilfulness; yet in his freak about this girl he struck Lush rather newly as something like a man who was fey - led on by an ominous fatality; and that one born to his fortune should make a worse business of his life than was necessary, seemed really pitiable. Having protested against the marriage, Lush had a second-sight for its evil consequences. Grandcourt had been taking the pains to write letters and give orders himself instead of employing Lush; and appeared to be ignoring his usefulness, even choosing, against the habit of years, to breakfast alone in his dressing-room. But a tète-à-tète was not to be avoided in a house empty of guests; and Lush hastened to use an opportunity of saying - it was one day after dinner, for there were difficulties in Grandcourt's dining at Offendene -
  57. 'And when is the marriage to take place?'
  58. Grandcourt, who drank little wine, had left the table and was lounging, while he smoked, in an easy-chair near the hearth, where a fire of oak boughs was gaping to its glowing depths, and edging them with a delicate tint of ashes delightful to behold. The chair of red-brown velvet brocade was a becoming background for his pale-tinted well-cut features and exquisite long hands: omitting the cigar, you might have imagined him a portrait by Moroni, who would have rendered wonderfully the impenetrable gaze and air of distinction; and a portrait by that great master would have been quite as lively a companion as Grandcourt was disposed to be. But he answered without unusual delay.
  59. 'On the tenth.'
  60. 'I suppose you intend to remain here.'
  61. 'We shall go to Ryelands for a little while; but we shall return here for the sake of the hunting.'
  62. After this word there was the languid inarticulate sound frequent with Grandcourt when he meant to continue speaking, and Lush waited for something more. Nothing came, and he was going to put another question, when the inarticulate sound began again and introduced the mildly-uttered suggestion -
  63. 'You had better make some new arrangement for yourself.'
  64. 'What! I am to cut and run?' said Lush, prepared to be good-tempered on the occasion.
  65. 'Something of that kind.'
  66. 'The bride objects to me. I hope she will make up to you for the want of my services.'
  67. 'I can't help your being so damnably disagreeable to women,' said Grandcourt, in soothing apology.
  68. 'To one woman, if you please.'
  69. 'It makes no difference, since she is the one in question.'
  70. 'I suppose I am not to be turned adrift after fifteen years without some provision.'
  71. 'You must have -saved something out of me.'
  72. 'Deuced little. I have often saved something for you.'
  73. 'You can have three hundred a year. But you must live in town and be ready to look after things for me when I want you. I shall be rather hard up.'
  74. 'If you are not going to be at Ryelands this winter, I might run down there and let you know how Swinton goes on.'
  75. 'If you like. I don't care a toss where you are, so that you keep out of sight.'
  76. 'Much obliged,' said Lush, able to take the affair more easily than he had expected. He was supported by the secret belief that he should by-and-by be wanted as much as ever.
  77. 'Perhaps you will not object to packing up as soon as possible,' said Grandcourt. 'The Torringtons are coming, and Miss Harleth will be riding over here.'
  78. 'With all my heart. Can't I be of use in going to Gadsmere?'
  79. 'No. I am going myself.'
  80. 'About your being rather hard up. Have you thought of that plan -'
  81. 'Just leave me alone, will you?' said Grandcourt, in his lowest audible tone, tossing his cigar into the fire, and rising to walk away.
  82. He spent the evening in the solitude of the smaller drawing-room, where, with various new publications on the table, of the kind a gentleman may like to have at hand without touching, he employed himself (as a philosopher might have done) in sitting meditatively on a sofa and abstaining from literature - political, comic, cynical, or romantic. In this way hours may pass surprisingly soon, without the arduous invisible chase of philosophy; not from love of thought, but from hatred of effort - from a state of the inward world, something like premature age, where the need for action lapses into a mere image of what has been, is, and may or might be; where impulse is born and dies in a phantasmal world, pausing in rejection even of a shadowy fulfilment. That is a condition which often comes with whitening hair; and sometimes, too, an intense obstinacy and tenacity of rule, like the main trunk of an exorbitant egoism, conspicuous in proportion as the varied susceptibilities of younger years are stripped away.
  83. But Grandcourt's hair, though he had not much of it, was of a fine sunny blond, and his moods were not entirely to be explained as ebbing energy. We mortals have a strange spiritual chemistry going on within us, so that a lazy stagnation or even a cottony milkiness may be preparing one knows not what biting or explosive material. The navvy waking from sleep and without malice heaving a stone to crush the life out of his still sleeping comrade, is understood to lack the trained motive which makes a character fairly calculable in its actions; but by a roundabout course even a gentleman may make of himself a chancy personage, raising an uncertainty as to what he may do next, which sadly spoils companionship.
  84. Grandcourt's thoughts this evening were like the circles one sees in a dark pool continually dying out and continually started again by some impulse from below the surface. The deeper central impulse came from the image of Gwendolen; but the thoughts it stirred would be imperfectly illustrated by a reference to the amatory poets of all ages. It was characteristic that he got none of his satisfaction from the belief that Gwendolen was in love with him; and that love had overcome the jealous resentment which had made her run away from him. On the contrary, he believed that this girl was rather exceptional in the fact that, in spite of his assiduous attention to her, she was not in love with him; and it seemed to him very likely that if it had not been for the sudden poverty which had come over her family, she would not have accepted him. From the very first there had been an exasperating fascination in the tricksiness with which she had - not met his advances, but - wheeled away from them. She had been brought to accept him in spite of everything - brought to kneel down like a horse under training for the arena, though she might have an objection to it all the while. On the whole, Grandcourt got more pleasure out of this notion than he could have done out of winning a girl of whom he was sure that she had a strong inclination for him personally. And yet this pleasure in mastering reluctance flourished along with the habitual persuasion that no woman whom he favoured could be quite indifferent to his personal influence; and it seemed to him not unlikely that by-and-by Gwendolen might be more enamoured of him than he of her. In any case she would have to submit; and he enjoyed thinking of her as his future wife, whose pride and spirit were suited to command every one but himself. He had no taste for a woman who was all tenderness to him, full of petitioning solicitude and willing obedience. He meant to be master of a woman who would have liked to master him, and who perhaps would have been capable of mastering another man.
  85. Lush, having failed in his attempted reminder to Grandcourt, thought it well to communicate with Sir Hugo, in whom, as a man having perhaps interest enough to command the bestowal of some place where the work was light, gentlemanly, and not ill-paid, he was anxious to cultivate a sense of friendly obligation, not feeling at all secure against the future need of such a place. He wrote the following letter, and addressed it to Park Lane, whither he knew the family had returned from Leubronn: -

    'MY DEAR SIR HUGO, - Since we came home the marriage has been absolutely decided on, and is to take place in less than three weeks. It is so far the worse for him that her mother has lately lost all her fortune, and he will have to find supplies. Grandcourt, I know, is feeling the want of cash; and unless some other plan is resorted to, he will be raising money in a foolish way. I am going to leave Diplow immediately, and I shall not be able to start the topic. What I should advise is, that Mr Deronda, who I know has your confidence, should propose to come and pay a short visit here, according to invitation (there are going to be other people in the house), and that you should put him fully in possession of your wishes and the possible extent of your offer. Then, that he should introduce the subject to Grandcourt so as not to imply that you suspect any particular want of money on his part, but only that there is a strong wish on yours. What I have formerly said to him has been in the way of a conjecture that you might be willing to give a good sum for his chance of Diplow; but if Mr Deronda came armed with a definite offer, that would take another sort of hold. Ten to one he will not close for some time to come; but the proposal will have got a stronger lodgment in his mind; and though at present he has a great notion of the hunting here, I see a likelihood, under the circumstances, that he will get a distaste for the neighbourhood, and there will be the notion of the money sticking by him without being urged. I would bet on your ultimate success. As I am not to be exiled to Siberia, but am to be within call, it is possible that, by-and-by, I may be of more service to you. But at present I can think of no medium so good as Mr Deronda. Nothing puts Grandcourt in worse humour than having the lawyers thrust their paper under his nose uninvited.

    'Trusting that your visit to Leubronn has put you in excellent condition for the winter, I remain, my dear Sir Hugo, yours very faithfully,


  86. Sir Hugo, having received this letter at breakfast, handed it to Deronda, who, though he had chambers in town, was somehow hardly ever in them, Sir Hugo not being contented without him. The chatty baronet would have liked a young companion even if there had been no peculiar reasons for attachment between them one with a fine harmonious unspoiled face fitted to keep up a cheerful view of posterity and inheritance generally, notwithstanding particular disappointments; and his affection for Deronda was not diminished by the deep-lying though not obtrusive difference in their notions and tastes. Perhaps it was all the stronger; acting as the same sort of difference does between a man and a woman in giving a piquancy to the attachment which subsists in spite of it. Sir Hugo did not think unapprovingly of himself; but he looked at men and society from a liberal-menagerie point of view, and he had a certain pride in Deronda's differing from him, which, if it had found voice, might have said - 'You see this fine young fellow - not such as you see every day, is he? - he belongs to me in a sort of way, I brought him up from a child; but you would not ticket him off easily, he has notions of his own, and he's as far as the poles asunder from what I was at his age.' This state of feeling was kept up by the mental balance in Deronda, who was moved by an affectionateness such as we are apt to call feminine, disposing him to yield in ordinary details, while he had a certain inflexibility of judgment, an independence of opinion, held to be rightfully masculine.
  87. When he had read the letter, he returned it without speaking, inwardly wincing under Lush's mode of attributing a neutral usefulness to him in the family affairs.
  88. 'What do you say, Dan? It would be pleasant enough for you. You have not seen the place for a good many years now, and you might have a famous run with the harriers if you went down next week,' said Sir Hugo.
  89. 'I should not go on that account,' said Deronda, buttering his bread attentively. He had an objection to this transparent kind of persuasiveness, which all intelligent animals are seen to treat with indifference. If he went to Diplow he should be doing something disagreeable to oblige Sir Hugo.
  90. 'I think Lush's notion is a good one. And it would be a pity to lose the occasion.'
  91. 'That is a different matter - if you think my going of importance to your object,' said Deronda, still with that aloofness of manner which implied some suppression. He knew that the baronet had set his heart on the affair.
  92. 'Why, you will see the fair gambler, the Leubronn Diana, I shouldn't wonder,' said Sir Hugo, gaily. 'We shall have to invite her to the Abbey, when they are married, Louisa,' he added, turning to Lady Mallinger, as if she too had read the letter.
  93. 'I cannot conceive whom you mean,' said Lady Mallinger, who in fact had not been listening, her mind having been taken up with her first sips of coffee, the objectionable cuff of her sleeve, and the necessity of carrying Theresa to the dentist innocent and partly laudable preoccupations, as the gentle lady's usually were. Should her appearance be inquired after, let it be said that she had reddish blonde hair (the hair of the period), a small Roman nose, rather prominent blue eyes and delicate eyelids, with a figure which her thinner friends called fat, her hands showing curves and dimples like a magnified baby's.
  94. 'I mean that Grandcourt is going to marry the girl you saw at Leubronn - don't you remember her - the Miss Harleth who used to play at roulette.'
  95. 'Dear me Is that a good match for him?'
  96. 'That depends on the sort of goodness he wants,' said Sir Hugo, smiling. 'However, she and her friends have nothing, and she will bring him expenses. It's a good match for my purposes, because if I am willing to fork out a sum of money, he may be willing to give up his chance of Diplow, so that we shall have it out and out, and when I die you will have the consolation of going to the place you would like to go to - wherever I may go.'
  97. 'I wish you would not talk of dying in that light way, dear.'
  98. 'It's rather a heavy way, Lou, for I shall have to pay a heavy sum - forty thousand, at least.'
  99. 'But why are we to invite them to the Abbey?' said Lady Mallinger. 'I do not like women who gamble, like Lady Cragstone.'
  100. 'Oh, you will not mind her for a week. Besides, she is not like Lady Cragstone because she gambled a little, any more than I am like a broker because I'm a Whig. I want to keep Grandcourt in good humour, and to let him see plenty of this place, that he may think the less of Diplow. I don't know yet whether I shall get him to meet me in this matter. And if Dan were to go over on a visit there, he might hold out the bait to him. It would be doing me a great service.' This was meant for Deronda.
  101. 'Daniel is not fond of Mr Grandcourt, I think, is he?' said Lady Mallinger, looking at Deronda inquiringly.
  102. 'There is no avoiding everybody one doesn't happen to be fond of,' said Deronda. 'I will go to Diplow - I don't know that I have anything better to do - since Sir Hugo wishes it.'
  103. 'That's a trump!' said Sir Hugo, well pleased. 'And if you don't find it very pleasant, it's so much experience. Nothing used to come amiss to me when I was young. You must see men and manners.'
  104. 'Yes; but I have seen that man, and something of his manners too,' said Deronda.
  105. 'Not nice manners, I think,' said Lady Mallinger.
  106. 'Well, you see they succeed with your sex,' said Sir Hugo, provokingly. 'And he was an uncommonly good-looking fellow when he was two or three and twenty - like his father. He doesn't take after his father in marrying the heiress, though. If he had got Miss Arrowpoint and my land too, confound him, he would have had a fine principality.'
  107. Deronda, in anticipating the projected visit, felt less disinclination than when consenting to it. The drama of that girl's marriage did interest him: what he had heard through Lush of her having run away from the suit of the man she was now going to take as a husband, had thrown a new sort of light on her gambling; and it was probably the transition from that fevered worldliness into poverty which had urged her acceptance where she must in some way have felt repulsion. All this implied a nature liable to difficulty and struggle - elements of life which had a predominant attraction for his sympathy, due perhaps to his early pain in dwelling on the conjectured story of his own existence. Persons attracted him, as Hans Meyrick had done, in proportion to the possibility of his defending of redeeming influence; and he had to resist an inclination, them, rescuing them, telling upon their lives with some sort easily accounted for, to withdraw coldly from the fortunate. But in the movement which had led him to redeem Gwendolen's necklace for her, and which was at work in him still, there was something beyond his habitual compassionate fervour - something due to the fascination of her womanhood. He was very open to that sort of charm, and mingled it with the consciously Utopian pictures of his own future; yet any one able to trace the folds of his character might have conceived that he would he more likely than many less passionate men to love a woman without telling her of it. Sprinkle food before a delicate-eared bird there is nothing he would more willingly take, yet he keeps aloof, because of his sensibility to checks which to you are imperceptible. And one man differs from another, as we all differ from the Bosjesman, in a sensibility to checks, that come from variety of needs, spiritual or other. It seemed to foreshadow that capability of reticence in Deronda that his Imagination was much occupied with two women; to neither of whom would he have held it possible that he should ever make love. Hans Meyrick had laughed at him for having something of the knight-errant in his disposition; and he would have found his proof if he had known what was just now going on in Deronda's mind about Mirah and Gwendolen.
  108. He wrote without delay to announce the visit to Diplow, and received in reply a polite assurance that his coming would give great pleasure. That was not altogether untrue. Grandcourt thought it probable that the visit was prompted by Sir Hugo's desire to court him for a purpose which he did not make up his mind to resist; and it was not a disagreeable idea to him that this fine fellow, whom he believed to be his cousin under the rose, would witness, perhaps with some jealousy, Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt play the commanding part of betrothed lover to a splendid girl whom the cousin had already looked at with admiration.
  109. Grandcourt himself was not jealous of anything unless it threatened his mastery - which he did not think himself likely to lose.


'Surely whoever speaks to me in the right voice,
him or her I shall follow,
As the water follows the moon, silently,
with fluid steps anywhere around the globe.'

  1. 'Now my cousins are at Diplow,' said Grandcourt, 'will you go there? - to-morrow? The carriage shall come for Mrs Davilow. You can tell me what you would like done in the rooms. Things must be put in decent order while we are away at Ryelands. And to-morrow is the only day.'
  2. He was sitting sideways on a sofa in the drawing-room at Offendene, one hand and elbow resting on the back, and the other hand thrust between his crossed knees in the attitude of a man who is much interested in watching the person next to him. Gwendolen, who had always disliked needlework, had taken to it with apparent zeal since her engagement, and now held a piece of white embroidery which on examination would have shown many false stitches. During the last eight or nine days their hours had been chiefly spent on horseback, but some margin had always been left for this more difficult sort of companionship, which, however, Gwendolen had not found disagreeable. She was very well satisfied with Grandcourt. His answers to her lively questions about what he had seen and done in his life, bore drawling very well. From the first she had noticed that he knew what to say; and she was constantly feeling not only that he had nothing of the fool in his composition, but that by some subtle means he communicated to her the impression that all the folly lay with other people, who did what he did not care to do. A man who seems to have been able to command the best, has a sovereign power of depreciation. Then Grandcourt's behaviour as a lover had hardly at all passed the limit of an amorous homage which was inobtrusive as a wafted odour of roses, and spent all its effect in a gratified vanity. One day, indeed, he had kissed not her cheek but her neck a little below her ear; and Gwendolen, taken by surprise, had started up with a marked agitation which made him rise too and say, 'I beg your pardon - did I annoy you?' 'Oh, it was nothing,' said Gwendolen, rather afraid of herself, 'only I cannot bear - to be kissed under my ear.' She sat down again with a little playful laugh, but all the while she felt her heart beating with a vague fear: she was no longer at liberty to flout him as she had flouted poor Rex. Her agitation seemed not uncomplimentary, and he had been contented not to transgress again.
  3. To-day a slight rain hindered riding; but to compensate, a package had come from London, and Mrs Davilow had just left the room after bringing in for admiration the beautiful things (of Grandcourt's ordering) which lay scattered about on the tables. Gwendolen was just then enjoying the scenery of her life. She let her hands fall on her lap and said with a pretty air of perversity
  4. 'Why is to-morrow the only day?'
  5. 'Because the next day is the first with the hounds,' said Grandcourt.
  6. 'And after that?'
  7. 'After that I must go away for a couple of days - its a bore - but I shall go one day and come back the next.' Grandcourt noticed a change in her face, and releasing his hand from under his knees, he laid it on hers and said, 'You object to my going away?'
  8. 'It is no use objecting,' said Gwendolen, coldly. She was resisting to the utmost her temptation to tell him that she suspected to whom he was going - and the temptation to make a clean breast, speaking without restraint.
  9. 'Yes it is,' said Grandcourt, enfolding her hand. 'I will put off going. And I will travel at night, so as only to be away one day.' He thought that he knew the reason of what he inwardly called this bit of temper, and she was particularly fascinating to him at this moment.
  10. 'Then don't put off going, but travel at night,' said Gwendolen, feeling that she could command him, and finding in this peremptoriness a small outlet for her irritation.
  11. 'Then you will go to Diplow to-morrow?'
  12. 'Oh yes, if you wish it,' said Gwendolen, in a high tone of careless assent. Her concentration in other feelings had really hindered her from taking notice that her hand was being held.
  13. 'How you treat us poor devils of men!' said Grandcourt, lowering his tone. 'We are always getting the worst of it.'
  14. 'Are you?' said Gwendolen, in a tone of inquiry, looking at him more naïvely than usual. She longed to believe this commonplace badinage as the serious truth about her lover: in that case, she too was justified. If she knew everything, Mrs Glasher would appear more blamable than Grandcourt. 'Are you always getting the worst?'
  15. 'Yes. Are you as kind to me as I am to you?' said Grandcourt, looking into her eyes with his narrow gaze.
  16. Gwendolen felt herself stricken. She was conscious of having received so much, that her sense of command was checked, and sank away in the perception that, look around her as she might, she could not turn back: it was as if she had consented to mount a chariot where another held the reins; and it was not in her nature to leap out in the eyes of the world. She had not consented in ignorance, and all she could say now would be a confession that she had not been ignorant. Her right to explanation was gone. All she had to do now was to adjust herself, so that the spikes of that unwilling penance which conscience imposed should not gall her. With a sort of mental shiver, she resolutely changed her mental attitude. There had been a little pause, during which she had not turned away her eyes; and with a sudden break into a smile, she said -
  17. 'If I were as kind to you as you are to me, that would spoil your generosity: it would no longer be as great as it could be - and it is that now.'
  18. 'Then I am not to ask for one kiss,' said Grandcourt, contented to pay a large price for this new kind of lovemaking, which introduced marriage by the finest contrast.
  19. 'Not one!' said Gwendolen, getting saucy, and nodding at him defiantly.
  20. He lifted her little left hand to his lips, and then released it respectfully. Clearly it was faint praise to say of him that he was not disgusting: he was almost charming; and she felt at this moment that it was not likely she could ever have loved another man better than this one. His reticence gave her some inexplicable, delightful consciousness.
  21. 'Apropos,' she said, taking up her work again, 'is there any one besides Captain and Mrs Torrington at Diplow? or do you leave them tète-à-tète? I suppose he converses in cigars, and she answers with her chignon.'
  22. 'She has a sister with her,' said Grandcourt, with his shadow of a smile, 'And there are two men besides - one of them you know, I believe.'
  23. 'Ah, then, I have a poor opinion of him,' said Gwendolen, shaking her head.
  24. 'You saw him at Leubronn - young Deronda - a young fellow with the Mallingers.'
  25. Gwendolen felt as if her heart were making a sudden gambol, and her fingers, which tried to keep a firm hold on her work, got cold.
  26. 'I never spoke to him,' she said, dreading any discernible change in herself. 'Is he not disagreeable?'
  27. 'No, not particularly,' said Grandcourt, in his most languid way. 'He thinks a little too much of himself. I thought he had been introduced to you.'
  28. 'No. Some one told me his name the evening before I came away; that was all. What is he?'
  29. 'A sort of ward of Sir Hugo Mallinger's. 'Nothing of any consequence.'
  30. 'Oh, poor creature! How very unpleasant for him!' said Gwendolen, speaking from the lip, and not meaning any sarcasm. 'I wonder if it has left off raining!' she added, rising and going to look out of the window.
  31. Happily it did not rain the next day, and Gwendolen rode to Diplow on Criterion as she had done on that former day when she returned with her mother in the carriage. She always felt the more daring for being in her riding-dress; besides having the agreeable belief that she looked as well as possible in it - a sustaining consciousness m any meeting which seems formidable. Her anger towards Deronda had changed into a superstitious dread - due, perhaps, to the coercion he had exercised over her thought - lest that first interference of his in her life might foreshadow some future influence. It is of such stuff that superstitions are commonly made: an intense feeling about ourselves which makes the evening star shine at us with a threat, and the blessing of a beggar encourage us. And superstitions carry consequences which often verify their hope or their foreboding.
  32. The time before luncheon was taken up for Gwendolen by going over the rooms with Mrs Torrington and Mrs Davilow; and she thought it likely that if she saw Deronda, there would hardly be need for more than a bow between them. She meant to notice him as little as possible.
  33. And after all she found herself under an inward compulsion too strong for her pride. From the first moment of their being in the room together, she seemed to herself to be doing nothing but notice him; everything else was automatic performance of an habitual part.
  34. When he took his place at lunch, Grandcourt had said, 'Deronda, Miss Harleth tells me you were not introduced to her at Leubronn?'
  35. 'Miss Harleth hardly remembers, me, I imagine,' said Deronda, looking at her quite simply, as they bowed. 'She was intensely occupied when I saw her.'
  36. Now, did he suppose that she had not suspected him of being the person who redeemed her necklace?
  37. 'On the contrary. I remember you very well,' said Gwendolen, feeling rather nervous, but governing herself and looking at him in return with new examination. 'You did not approve of my playing at roulette.'
  38. 'How did you come to that conclusion?' said Deronda, gravely.
  39. 'Oh, you cast an evil eye on my play,' said Gwendolen, with a turn of her head and a smile. 'I began to lose as soon as you came to look on. I had always been winning till then.'
  40. 'Roulette in such a kennel as Leubronn is a horrid bore,' said Grandcourt.
  41. 'I found it a bore' when I began to lose,' said Gwendolen. Her face was turned towards Grandcourt as she smiled and spoke, but she gave a sidelong glance at Deronda, and saw his eyes fixed on her with a look so gravely penetrating that it had a keener edge for her than his ironical smile at her losses - a keener edge than Klesmer's judgment. She wheeled her neck round as if she wanted to listen to what was being said by the rest, while she was only thinking of Deronda. His face had that disturbing kind of form and expression which threatens to affect opinion - as if one's standard were somehow wrong. (Who has not seen men with faces of this corrective power till they frustrated it by speech or action?) His voice, heard now for the first time, was to Grandcourt's toneless drawl, which had been in her ears every day, as the deep notes of a violoncello to the broken discourse of poultry and other lazy gentry in the afternoon sunshine. Grandcourt, she inwardly conjectured, was perhaps right in saying that Deronda thought too much of himself: - a favourite way of explaining a superiority that humiliates. However, the talk turned on the rinderpest and Jamaica, and no more was said about roulette. Grandcourt held that the Jamaican negro was a beastly sort of baptist Caliban; Deronda said he had always felt a little with Caliban, who naturally had his own point of view and could sing a good song; Mrs Davilow observed that her father had an estate in Barbadoes, but that she herself had never been in the West Indies; Mrs Torrington was sure she should never sleep in her bed if she lived among blacks; her husband corrected her by saying that the blacks would be manageable enough if it were not for the half-breeds; and Deronda remarked that the whites had to thank themselves for the half-breeds.
  42. While this polite pea-shooting was going on, Gwendolen trifled with her jelly, and looked at every speaker in turn that she might feel at ease in looking at Deronda.
  43. 'I wonder what he thinks of me really? He must have felt interested in me, else he would not have sent me my necklace. I wonder what he thinks of my marriage? What notions has he to make him so grave about things? Why is he come to Diplow?'
  44. These questions ran in her mind as the voice of an uneasy longing to be judged by Deronda with unmixed admiration - a longing which had had its seed in her first resentment at his critical glance. Why did she care so much about the opinion of this man who was 'nothing of any consequence'? She had no time to find the reason - she was too much engaged in caring. In the drawing-room, when something had called Grandcourt away, she went quite unpremeditatedly up to Deronda, who was standing at a table apart, turning over some prints, and said to him -
  45. 'Shall you hunt to-morrow, Mr Deronda?'
  46. 'Yes, I believe so.'
  47. 'You don't object to hunting, then?'
  48. 'I find excuses for it. It is a sin I am inclined to - when I can't get boating or cricketing.'
  49. 'Do you object to my hunting?' said Gwendolen, with a saucy movement of the chin.
  50. 'I have no right to object to anything you choose to do.'
  51. 'You thought you had a right to object to my gambling,' persisted Gwendolen.
  52. 'I was sorry for it. I am not aware that I told you of my objection,' said Deronda, with his usual directness of gaze a large-eyed gravity, innocent of any intention. His eyes had a peculiarity which has drawn many men into trouble; they were of a dark yet mild intensity, which seemed to express a special interest in every one on whom he fixed them, and might easily help to bring on him those claims which ardently sympathetic people are often creating in the minds of those who need help. In mendicant fashion, we make the goodness of others a reason for exorbitant demands on them. That sort of effect was penetrating Gwendolen.
  53. 'You hindered me from gambling again,' she answered. But she had no sooner spoken than she blushed over face and neck; and Deronda blushed too, conscious that in the little affair of the necklace he had taken a questionable freedom.
  54. It was impossible to speak further; and she turned away to a window, feeling that she had stupidly said what she had not meant to say, and yet being rather happy that she had plunged into this mutual understanding. Deronda also did not dislike it. Gwendolen seemed more decidedly attractive than before; and certainly there had been changes going on within her since that time at Leubronn: the struggle of mind attending a conscious error had wakened something like a new soul, which had better, but also worse, possibilities than her former poise of crude self-confidence: among the forces she had come to dread was something within her that troubled satisfaction.

  55. That evening Mrs Davilow said, 'Was it really so, or only a joke of yours, about Mr Deronda's spoiling your play, Gwen?'
  56. Her curiosity had been excited, and she could venture to ask a question that did not concern Mr Grandcourt.
  57. 'Oh, it merely happened that he was looking on when I began to lose,' said Gwendolen, carelessly. 'I noticed him.'
  58. 'I don't wonder at that: he is a striking young man. He puts me in mind of Italian paintings. One would guess, without being told, that there was foreign blood in his veins.
  59. 'Is there?' said Gwendolen.
  60. 'Mrs Torrington says so. I asked particularly who he was, and she told me that his mother was some foreigner of high rank.'
  61. 'His mother?' said Gwendolen, rather sharply. 'Then who was his father?'
  62. 'Well - every one says he is the son of Sir Hugo Mallinger, who brought him up; though he passes for a ward. She says, if Sir Hugo Mallinger could have done as he liked with his estates, he would have left them to this Mr Deronda, since he has no legitimate son.'
  63. Gwendolen was silent; but her mother observed so marked an effect in her face that she was angry with herself for having repeated Mrs Torrington's gossip. It seemed, on reflection, unsuited to the ear of her daughter, for whom Mrs Davilow disliked what is called knowledge of the world; and indeed she wished that she herself had not had any of it thrust upon her.
  64. An image which had immediately arisen in Gwendolen's mind was that of the unknown mother - no doubt a dark-eyed woman - probably sad. Hardly any face could be less like Deronda's than that represented as Sir Hugo's in a crayon portrait at Diplow. A dark-eyed beautiful woman, no longer young, had become 'stuff o' the conscience' to Gwendolen.
  65. That night when she had got into her little bed, and only a dim light was burning, she said -
  66. 'Mamma, have men generally children before they are married?'
  67. 'No, dear, no,' said Mrs Davilow. 'Why do you ask such a question?' (But she began to think that she saw the why.)
  68. 'If it were so, I ought to know,' said Gwendolen, with some indignation.
  69. 'You are thinking of what I said about Mr Deronda and Sir Hugo Mallinger. That is a very unusual case, dear.'
  70. 'Does Lady Mallinger know?'
  71. 'She knows enough to satisfy her. That is quite clear, because Mr Deronda has lived with them.'
  72. 'And people think no worse of him?'
  73. 'Well, of course he is under some disadvantage: it is not as if he were Lady Mallinger's son. He does not inherit the property, and he is not of any consequence in the world. But people are not obliged to know anything about his birth; you see, he is very well received.'
  74. 'I wonder whether he knows about it; and whether he is angry with his father?'
  75. 'My dear child, why should you think of that?'
  76. 'Why?' said Gwendolen, impetuously, sitting up in her bed. 'Haven't children reason to be angry with their parents? How can they help their parents marrying or not marrying?'
  77. But a consciousness rushed upon her, which made her fall back again on her pillow. It was not only what she would have felt months before - that she might seem to be reproaching her mother for that second marriage of hers; what she chiefly felt now was, that she had been led on to a condemnation which seemed to make her own marriage a forbidden thing.
  78. There was no further talk, and till sleep came over her, Gwendolen lay struggling with the reasons against that marriage - reasons which pressed upon her newly now that they were unexpectedly mirrored in the story of a man whose slight relations with her had, by some hidden affinity, bitten themselves into the most permanent layers of feeling. It was characteristic that, with all her debating, she was never troubled by the question whether the indefensibleness of her marriage did not include the fact that she had accepted Grandcourt solely as the man whom it was convenient for her to marry, not in the least as one to whom she would be binding herself in duty. Gwendolen's ideas were pitiably crude; but many grand difficulties of life are apt to force themselves on us in our crudity. And to judge wisely I suppose we must know how things appear to the unwise; that kind of appearance making the larger part of the world's history.
  79. In the morning, there was a double excitement for her. She was going to hunt, from which scruples about propriety had threatened to hinder her, until it was found that Mrs Torrington was horse-woman enough to accompany her: - going to hunt for the first time since her escapade with Rex; and she was going again to see Deronda, in whom, since last night, her interest had so gathered that she expected, as people do about revealed celebrities, to see something in his appearance which she had missed before. What was he going to be? What sort of life had he before him - he being nothing of any consequence? And with only a little difference in events he might have been as important as Grandcourt, nay - her imagination inevitably went in that direction - might have held the very estates which Grandcourt was to have. But now, Deronda would probably some day see her mistress of the Abbey at Topping, see her bearing the title which would have been his own wife's. These obvious, futile thoughts of what might have been, made a new epoch for Gwendolen. She, whose unquestioning habit it had been to take the best that came to her for less than her own claim, had now to see the position which tempted her in a new light, as a hard, unfair exclusion of others. What she had now heard about Deronda seemed to her imagination to throw him into one group with Mrs Glasher and her children; before whom she felt herself in an attitude of apology - she who had hitherto been surrounded by a group that in her opinion had need be apologetic to her. Perhaps Deronda himself was thinking of these things. Could he know of Mrs Glasher? If he knew that she knew, he would despise her; but he could have no such knowledge. Would he, without that, despise her for marrying Grandcourt? His possible judgment of her actions was telling on her as importunately as Klesmer's judgment of her powers; but she found larger room for resistance to a disapproval of her marriage, because it is easier to make our conduct seem justifiable to ourselves than to make our ability strike others. 'How can I help it?' is not our favourite apology for incompetence. But Gwendolen felt some strength in saying -
  80. 'How can I help what other people have done? Things would not come right if I were to turn round now and declare that I would not marry Mr Grandcourt.' And such turning round was out of the question. The horses in the chariot she had mounted were going at full speed.
  81. This mood of youthful, elated desperation had a tidal recurrence. She could dare anything that lay before her sooner than she could choose to go backward into humiliation; and it was even soothing to think that there would now be as much ill-doing in the one as in the other. But the immediate delightful fact was the hunt, where she would see Deronda, and where he would see her; for always lurking ready to obtrude before other thoughts about him was the impression that he was very much interested in her. But to-day she was resolved not to repeat her folly of yesterday, as if she were anxious to say anything to him. Indeed, the hunt would be too absorbing.
  82. And so it was for a long while. Deronda was there, and within her sight very often; but this only added to the stimulus of a pleasure which Gwendolen had only once before tasted, and which seemed likely always to give a delight independent of any crosses, except such as took away the chance of riding. No accident happened to throw them together; the run took them within Convenient reach of home, and in the agreeable sombreness of the grey November afternoon, with a long stratum of yellow light in the west, Gwendolen was returning with the company from Diplow, who were attending her on the way to Offendene. Now that the sense of glorious excitement was over and gone, she was getting irritably disappointed that she had had no opportunity of speaking to Deronda, whom she would not see again, since he was to go away in a Couple of days. What was she going to say? That was not quite certain. She wanted to speak to him. Grandcourt was by her side; Mrs Torrington, her husband, and another gentleman in advance; and Deronda's horse she could hear behind. The wish to speak to him and have him speaking to her was becoming imperious; and there was no chance of it unless she simply asserted her will and defied everything. Where the order of things could give way to Miss Gwendolen, it must be made to do so. They had lately emerged from a wood of pines and beeches, where the twilight stillness had a repressing effect, which increased her impatience. The horse-hoofs again heard behind at some little distance were a growing irritation. She reined in her horse and looked behind her; Grandcourt, after a few paces, also paused; but she, waving her whip and nodding sideways with playful imperiousness, said, 'Go on! I want to speak to Mr Deronda.'
  83. Grandcourt hesitated; but that he would have done after any proposition. It was an awkward situation for him. No gentleman, before marriage, could give the emphasis of refusal to a command delivered in this playful way. He rode on slowly, and she waited till Deronda came up. He looked at her with tacit inquiry, and she said at once, letting her horse go alongside of his -
  84. 'Mr Deronda, you must enlighten my ignorance. I want to know why you thought it wrong for me to gamble. Is it because I am a woman?'
  85. 'Not altogether; but I regretted it the more because you were a woman,' said Deronda, with an irrepressible smile. Apparently it must be understood between them now that it was he who sent the necklace. 'I think it would be better for men not to gamble. It is a besotting kind of taste, likely to turn into a disease. And, besides, there is something revolting to me in raking a heap of money together, and internally chuckling over it, when others are feeling the loss of it. I should even call it base, if it were more than an exceptional lapse. There are enough inevitable turns of fortune which force us to see that our gain is another's loss: - that is one of the ugly aspects of life. One would like to reduce it as much as one could, not get amusement out of exaggerating it.' Deronda's voice had gathered some indignation while he was speaking.
  86. 'But you do admit that we can't help things,' said Gwendolen, with a drop in her tone. The answer had not been anything like what she had expected. 'I mean that things are so in spite of us; we can't always help it that our gain is another's loss.'
  87. 'Clearly. Because of that, we should help it where we can.'
  88. Gwendolen, biting her lip inside, paused a moment, and then forcing herself to speak with an air of playfulness again, said -
  89. 'But why should you regret it more because I am a woman?'
  90. 'Perhaps because we need that you should be better than we are.
  91. 'But suppose we need that men should be better than we are,' said Gwendolen, with a little air of 'check!'
  92. 'That is rather a difficulty,' said Deronda, smiling. 'I suppose I should have said, we each of us think it would be better for the other to be good.'
  93. 'You see, I needed you to be better than I was - and you thought so,' said Gwendolen, nodding and laughing, while she put her horse forward and joined Grandcourt, who made no observation.
  94. 'Don't you want to know what I had to say to Mr Deronda?' said Gwendolen, whose own pride required her to account for her conduct.
  95. 'A - no,' said Grandcourt, coldly.
  96. 'Now that is the first impolite word you have spoken that you don't wish to hear what I had to say,' said Gwendolen, playing at a pout.
  97. 'I wish to hear what you say to me not to other men,' said Grandcourt.
  98. 'Then you wish to hear this. I wanted to make him tell me why he objected to my gambling, and he gave me a little sermon.'
  99. 'Yes - but excuse me the sermon.' If Gwendolen imagined that Grandcourt cared about her speaking to Deronda, he wished her to understand that she was mistaken. But he was not fond of being told to ride on. She saw he was piqued, but did not mind. She had accomplished her object of speaking again to Deronda before he raised his hat and turned with the rest towards Diplow, while her lover attended her to Offendene, where he was to bid farewell before a whole day's absence on the unspecified journey. Grandcourt had spoken truth in calling the journey a bore: he was going by train to Gadsmere.


No penitence and no confessional:
No priest ordains it, yet they're forced to sit
Amid deep ashes of their vanished years.

  1. Imagine a rambling, patchy house, the best part built of grey stone, and red-tiled, a round tower jutting at one of the corners, the mellow darkness of its conical roof surmounted by a weather-cock making an agreeable object either amidst the gleams and greenth of summer or the low-hanging clouds and snowy branches of winter: the grounds shady with spreading trees: a great cedar flourishing on one side, backward some Scotch firs on a broken bank where the roots hung naked, and beyond, a rookery: on the other side a pool overhung with bushes, where the water-fowl fluttered and screamed: all around, a vast meadow which might be called a park, bordered by an old plantation and guarded by stone lodges which looked like little prisons. Outside the gate the Country, once entirely rural and lovely, now black with Coal-mines, was chiefly peopled by men and brethren with candies stuck in their hats, and with a diabolic complexion which laid them peculiarly open to suspicion in the eyes of the children at Gadsmere - Mrs Glasher's four beautiful children, who had dwelt there for about three years. Now, in November, when the flower-beds were empty, the trees leafless, and the pool blackly shivering, one might have said that the place was sombrely in keeping with the black roads and black mounds which seemed to put the district in mourning; except when the children were playing on the gravel with the dogs for their companions. But Mrs Glasher under her present circumstances liked Gadsmere as well as she would have liked any other abode. The complete seclusion of the place, which the unattractiveness of the country secured, was exactly to her taste. When she drove her two ponies with a waggonet full of children, there were no gentry in carriages to be met, only men of business in gigs; at church there were no eyes she cared to avoid, for the curate's wife and the curate himself were either ignorant of anything to her disadvantage, or ignored it to them she was simply a widow lady, the tenant of Gadsmere; and the name of Grandcourt was of little interest in that district compared with the names of Fletcher and Gawcome, the lessees of the collieries.
  2. It was full ten years since the elopement of an Irish officer's beautiful wife with young Grandcourt, and a consequent duel where the bullets wounded the air only, had made some little noise. Most of those who remembered the affair now wondered what had become of that Mrs Glasher whose beauty and brilliancy had made her rather conspicuous to them in foreign places, where she was known to be living with young Grandcourt.
  3. That he should have disentangled himself from that connection seemed only natural and desirable. As to her it was thought that a woman who was understood to have forsaken her child along with her husband had probably sunk lower. Grandcourt had of course got weary of her. He was much given to the pursuit of women: but a man in his position would by this time desire to make a suitable marriage with the fair young daughter of a noble house. No one talked of Mrs Glasher now, any more than they talked of the victim in a trial for manslaughter ten years before: she was a lost vessel after whom nobody would send out an expedition of search; but Grandcourt was seen in harbour with his colours flying, registered as seaworthy as ever.
  4. Yet in fact Grandcourt had never disentangled himself from Mrs Glasher. His passion for her had been the strongest and most lasting he had ever known; and though it was now as dead as the music of a cracked flute, it had left a certain dull disposedness, which on the death of her husband three years before had prompted in him a vacillating notion of marrying her, in accordance with the understanding often expressed between them during the days of his first ardour. At that early time Grandcourt would willingly have paid for the freedom to be won by a divorce; but the husband would not oblige him, not wanting to be married again himself, and not wishing to have his domestic habits printed in evidence.
  5. The altered poise which the years had brought in Mrs Glasher was just the reverse. At first she was comparatively careless about the possibility of marriage. It was enough that she had escaped from a disagreeable husband and found a sort of bliss with a lover who had completely fascinated her - young, handsome, amorous, and living in the best style, with equipage and conversation en suite, of the kind to be expected in young men of fortune who have seen everything. She was an impassioned, vivacious woman, fond of adoration, exasperated by five years of marital rudeness; and the sense of release was so strong upon her that it stilled anxiety for more than she actually enjoyed. An equivocal position was of no importance to her then; she had no envy for the honours of a dull disregarded wife: the one spot which spoiled her vision of her new pleasant world, was the sense that she had left her three-year-old boy, who died two years afterwards, and whose first tones saying 'mamma' retained a difference from those of the children that came after. But now the years had brought many changes besides those in the contour of her cheek and throat; and that Grandcourt should marry her had become her dominant desire. The equivocal position which she had not minded about for herself was now telling upon her through her children, whom she loved with a devotion charged with the added passion of atonement. She had no repentance except in this direction. If Grandcourt married her, the children would be none the worse off for what had passed: they would see their mother in a dignified position, and they would be at no disadvantage with the world: her son would be made his father's heir. It was the yearning for this result which gave the supreme importance to Grandcourt's feeling for her; her love for him had long resolved itself into anxiety that he should give her the unique, permanent claim of a wife, and she expected no other happiness in marriage than the satisfaction of her maternal love and pride including her pride for herself in the presence of her children. For the sake of that result she was prepared even with a tragic firmness to endure anything quietly in marriage; and she had had acuteness enough to cherish Grandcourt's flickering purpose negatively, by not molesting him with passionate appeals and with scene-making. In her, as in every one else who wanted anything of him, his incalculable turns, and his tendency to harden under beseeching, had created a reasonable dread: a slow discovery, of which no presentiment had been given in the bearing of a youthful lover with a fine line of face and the softest manners. But reticence had necessarily cost something to this impassioned woman, and she was the bitterer for it. There is no quailing - even that forced on the helpless and injured which has not an ugly obverse: the withheld sting was gathering venom. She was absolutely dependent on Grandcourt; for though he had been always liberal in expenses for her, he had kept everything voluntary on his part; and with the goal of marriage before her, she would ask for nothing less. He had said that he would never settle anything except by will; and when she was thinking of alternatives for the future it often occurred to her that, even if she did not become Grandcourt's wife, he might never have a son who would have a legitimate claim on him, and the end might be that her son would be made heir to the best part of his estates. No son at that early age could promise to have more of his father's physique. But her becoming Grandcourt's wife was so far from being an extravagant notion of possibility, that even Lush had entertained it, and said that he would as soon bet on it as on any other likelihood with regard to his familiar companion. Lush, indeed, on inferring that Grandcourt had a preconception of using his residence at Diplow in order to win Miss Arrowpoint, had thought it well to fan that project, taking it as a tacit renunciation of the marriage with Mrs Glasher, which had long been a mark for the hovering and wheeling of Grandcourt's caprice. But both prospects had been negatived by Gwendolen's appearance on the scene; and it was natural enough for Mrs Glasher to enter with eagerness into Lush's plan of hindering that new danger by setting up a harrier in the mind of the girl who was being sought as a bride. She entered into it with an eagerness which had passion in it as well as purpose, some of the stored-up venom delivering itself in that way.
  6. After that, she had heard from Lush of Gwendolen's departure, and the probability that all danger from her was got rid of; but there had been no letter to tell her that the danger had returned and had become a certainty. She had since then written to Grandcourt as she did habitually, and he had been longer than usual in answering. She was inferring that he might intend coming to Gadsmere at the time when he was actually on the way; and she was not without hope - what construction of another's mind is not strong wishing equal to? - that a certain sickening from that frustrated courtship might dispose him to slip the more easily into the old track of intention.
  7. Grandcourt had two grave purposes in coming to Gadsmere: to convey the news of his approaching marriage in person, in order to make this first difficulty final; and to get from Lydia his mother's diamonds, which long ago he had confided to her and wished her to wear. Her person suited diamonds and made them look as if they were worth some of the money given for them. These particular diamonds were not mountains of light - they were mere peas and haricots for the ears, neck, and hair; but they were worth some thousands, and Grandcourt necessarily wished to have them for his wife. Formerly when he had asked Lydia to put them into his keeping again, simply on the ground that they would be safer and ought to be deposited at the bank, she had quietly but absolutely refused, declaring that they were quite safe; and at last had said, 'If you ever marry another woman I will give them up to her: are you going to marry another woman?' At that time Grandcourt had no motive which urged him to persist, and he had this grace in him, that the disposition to exercise power either by cowing or disappointing others or exciting in them a rage which they dared not express - a disposition which was active in him as other propensities became languid - had always been in abeyance before Lydia. A severe interpreter might say that the mere facts of their relation to each other, the melancholy position of this woman who depended on his will, made a standing banquet for his delight in dominating. But there was something else than this in his forbearance towards her: there was the surviving though metamorphosed effect of the power she had had over him; and it was this effect, the fitful dull lapse towards solicitations that once had the zest now missing from life, which had again and again inclined him to espouse a familiar past rather than rouse himself to the expectation of novelty. But now novelty had taken hold of him and urged him to make the most of it.
  8. Mrs Glasher was seated in the pleasant room where she habitually passed her mornings with her children round her. It had a square projecting window and looked on broad gravel and grass, sloping towards a little brook that entered the pool. The top of a low black cabinet, the old oak table, the chairs in tawny leather, were littered with the children's toys, books, and garden garments, at which a maternal lady in pastel looked down from the walls with smiling indulgence. The children were all there. The three girls, seated round their mother near the window, were miniature portraits of her - dark-eyed, delicate-featured brunettes with a rich bloom on their cheeks, their little nostrils and eyebrows singularly finished as if they were tiny women, the eldest being barely nine. The boy was seated on the carpet at some distance, bending his blond head over the animals from a Noah's ark, admonishing them separately in a voice of threatening command, and occasionally licking the spotted ones to see if the colours would hold. Josephine, the eldest, was having her French lesson; and the others, with their dolls on their laps, sat demurely enough for images of the Madonna. Mrs Glasher's toilet had been made very carefully - each day now she said to herself that Grandcourt might come in. Her head, which, spite of emaciation, had an ineffaceable beauty in the fine profile, crisp curves of hair, and clearly-marked eyebrows, rose impressively above her bronze-coloured silk and velvet, and the gold necklace which Grandcourt had first clasped round her neck years ago. Not that she had any pleasure in her toilet; her chief thought of herself seen in the glass was, 'How changed!' - but such good in life as remained to her she would keep. If her chief wish were fulfilled, she could imagine herself getting the comeliness of a matron fit for the highest rank. The little faces beside her, almost exact reductions of her own, seemed to tell of the blooming curves which had once been where now was sunken pallor. But the children kissed the pale cheeks and never found them deficient. That love was now the one end of her life.
  9. Suddenly Mrs Glasher turned away her head from Josephine's book and listened. 'Hush, dear! I think some one is coming.'
  10. Henleigh the boy jumped up and said, 'Mamma, is it the miller with my donkey?'
  11. He got no answer, and going up to his mamma's knee repeated his question in an insistent tone. But the door opened, and the servant announced Mr Grandcourt. Mrs Glasher rose in some agitation. Henleigh frowned at him in disgust at his not being the miller, and the three little girls lifted up their dark eyes to him timidly. They had none of them any particular liking for this friend of mamma's in fact, when he had taken Mrs Glasher's hand and then turned to put his other hand on Henleigh's head, that energetic scion began to beat the friend's arm away with his fists. The little girls submitted bashfully to be patted under the chin and kissed, but on the whole it seemed better to send them into the garden, where they were presently dancing and chatting with the dogs on the gravel.
  12. 'How far are you come?' said Mrs Glasher, as Grandcourt put away his hat and overcoat.
  13. 'From Diplow,' he answered slowly, seating himself opposite her and looking at her with an unnoting gaze which she noted.
  14. 'You are tired, then.'
  15. 'No, I rested at the Junction - a hideous hole. These railway journeys are always a confounded bore. But I had coffee and smoked.'
  16. Grandcourt drew out his handkerchief, rubbed his face, and in returning the handkerchief to his pocket looked at his crossed knee and blameless boot, as if any stranger were opposite to him, instead of a woman quivering with a suspense which every word and look of his was to incline towards hope or dread. But he was really occupied with their interview and what it was likely to include. Imagine the difference in rate of emotion between this woman whom the years had worn to a more conscious dependence and sharper eagerness, and this man whom they were dulling into a more and more neutral obstinacy.
  17. 'I expected to see you - it was so long since I had heard from you. I suppose the weeks seem longer at Gadsmere than they do at Diplow,' said Mrs Glasher. She had a quick, incisive way of speaking that seemed to go with her features, as the tone and timbre of a violin go with its form.
  18. 'Yes,' drawled Grandcourt. 'But you found the money paid into the bank.'
  19. 'Oh yes,' said Mrs Glasher, curtly, tingling with impatience. Always before - at least she fancied so - Grandcourt had taken more notice of her and the children than he did to-day.
  20. 'Yes,' he resumed, playing with his whisker, and at first not looking at her, 'the time has gone on at rather a rattling pace with me; generally it is slow enough. But there has been a good deal happening, as you know' - here he turned his eyes upon her.
  21. 'What do I know?' said she, sharply.
  22. He left a pause before he said, without change of manner, 'That I was thinking of marrying. You saw Miss Harleth?'
  23. 'She told you that?'
  24. The pale cheeks looked even paler, perhaps from the fierce brightness in the eyes above them.
  25. 'No. Lush told me,' was the slow answer. It was as if the thumb-screw and the iron-boot were being placed by creeping hands within sight of the expectant victim.
  26. 'Good God! say at once that you are going to marry her,' she burst out passionately, her knee shaking and her hands tightly clasped.
  27. 'Of course, this kind of thing must happen some time or other, Lydia,' said he; really, now the thumb-screw was on, not wishing to make the pain worse.
  28. 'You didn't always see the necessity.'
  29. 'Perhaps not. I see it now.'
  30. In those few undertoned words of Grandcourt's she felt as absolute a resistance as if her thin fingers had been pushing at a fast-shut iron door. She knew her helplessness, and shrank from testing it by any appeal - shrank from crying in a dead ear and clinging to dead knees, only to see the immovable face and feel the rigid limbs. She did not weep nor speak: she was too hard pressed by the sudden certainty which had as much of chill sickness in it as of thought and emotion. The defeated clutch of struggling hope gave her in these first moments a horrible sensation. At last she rose with a spasmodic effort, and, unconscious of everything but her wretchedness, pressed her forehead against the hard cold glass of the window. The children, playing on the gravel, took this as a sign that she wanted them, and running forward stood in front of her with their sweet faces upturned expectantly. This roused her: she shook her head at them, waved them off, and overcome with this painful exertion sank back in the nearest chair.
  31. Grandcourt had risen too. He was doubly annoyed - at the scene itself, and at the sense that no imperiousness of his could save him from it; but the task had to be gone through, and there was the administrative necessity of arranging things so that there should be as little annoyance as possible in future. He was leaning against the corner of the fireplace. She looked up at him and said bitterly
  32. 'All this is of no consequence to you. I and the children are importunate creatures. You wish to get away again and be with Miss Harleth.'
  33. 'Don't make the affair more disagreeable than it need be, Lydia. It is of no use to harp on things that can't be altered. Of course it's deucedly disagreeable to me to see you making yourself miserable. I've taken this journey to tell you what you must make up your mind to; - you and the children will be provided for as usual; - and there's an end of it.'
  34. Silence. She dared not answer. This woman with the intense eager look had had the iron of the mother's anguish in her soul, and it had made her sometimes capable of a repression harder than shrieking and struggle. But underneath the silence there was an outlash of hatred and vindictiveness: she wished that the marriage might make two others wretched, besides herself. Presently he went on.
  35. 'It will be better for you. You may go on living here. But I think of by-and-by settling a good sum on you and the children, and you can live where you like. There will be nothing for you to complain of then. Whatever happens, you will feel secure. Nothing could be done beforehand. Everything has gone on in a hurry.'
  36. Grandcourt ceased his slow delivery of sentences. He did not expect her to thank him, but he considered that she might reasonably be contented; if it were possible for Lydia to be contented. She showed no change, and after a minute he said -
  37. 'You have never had any reason to fear that I should be illiberal. I don't care a curse about the money.'
  38. 'If you did care about it, I suppose you would not give it us,' said Lydia. The sarcasm was irrepressible.
  39. 'That's a devilishly unfair thing to say,' Grandcourt replied, in a lower tone; 'and J advise you not to say that sort of thing again.'
  40. 'Should you punish me by leaving the children in beggary?' In spite of herself, the one outlet of venom had brought the other.
  41. 'There is no question about leaving the children in beggary,' said Grandcourt, still in his low voice. 'I advise you not to say things that you will repent of.'
  42. 'I am used to repenting,' said she, bitterly. 'Perhaps you will repent. You have already repented of loving me.'
  43. 'All this will only make it uncommonly difficult for us to meet again. What friend have you besides me?'
  44. 'Quite true.'
  45. The words came like a low moan. At the same moment there flashed through her the wish that after promising himself a better happiness than that he had had with her, he might feel a misery and loneliness which would drive him back to her to find some memory of a time when he was young, glad, and hopeful. But no! he would go scathless; it was she who had to suffer.
  46. With this the scorching words were ended. Grandcourt had meant to stay till evening: he wished to curtail his visit, but there was no suitable train earlier than the one he had arranged to go by, and he had still to speak to Lydia on the second object of his visit, which like a second surgical operation seemed to require an interval. The hours had to go by; there was eating to be done; the children came in again - all this mechanism of life had to be gone through with the dreary sense of constraint which is often felt in domestic quarrels of a commoner kind. To Lydia it was some slight relief for her stifled fury to have the children present: she felt a savage glory in their loveliness, as if it would taunt Grandcourt with his indifference to her and them - a secret darting of venom which was strongly imaginative. He acquitted himself with all the advantage of a man whose grace of bearing has long been moulded on an experience of boredom - nursed the little Antonia, who sat with her hands crossed and eyes upturned to his bald head, which struck her as worthy of observation - and propitiated Henleigh by promising him a beautiful saddle and bridle. It was only the two eldest girls who had known him as a continual presence; and the intervening years had overlaid their infantine memories with a bashfulness which Grandcourt's bearing was not likely to dissipate. He and Lydia occasionally, in the presence of the servants, made a conventional remark; otherwise they never spoke; and the stagnant thought in Grandcourt's mind all the while was of his own infatuation in having given her those diamonds, which obliged him to incur the nuisance of speaking about them. He had an ingrained care for what he held to belong to his caste, and about property he liked to be lordly; also he had a consciousness of indignity to himself in having to ask for anything in the world. But however he might assert his independence of Mrs Glasher's past, he had made a past for himself which was a stronger yoke than any he could impose. He must ask for the diamonds which he had promised to Gwendolen.
  47. At last they were alone again, with the candles above them, face to face with each other. Grandcourt looked at his watch, and then said, in an apparently indifferent drawl, 'There is one thing I had to mention, Lydia. My diamonds - you have them.'
  48. 'Yes, I have them,' she answered promptly, rising, and standing with her arms thrust down and her fingers threaded, while Grandcourt sat still. She had expected the topic, and made her resolve about it. But she meant to carry out her resolve, if possible, without exasperating him. During the hours of silence she had longed to recall the words which had only widened the breach between them.
  49. 'They are in this house, I suppose?'
  50. 'No; not in this house.'
  51. 'I thought you said you kept them by you.'
  52. 'When I said so it was true. They are in the bank at Dudley.'
  53. 'Get them away, will you? I must make an arrangement for your delivering them to some one.'
  54. 'Make no arrangement. They shall be delivered to the person you intended them for. I will make the arrangement.'
  55. 'What do you mean?'
  56. 'What I say. I have always told you that I would give them up to your wife. I shall keep my word. She is not your -.wife yet.'
  57. 'This is foolery,' said Grandcourt, with undertoned disgust. It was too irritating that his indulgence of Lydia had given her a sort of mastery over him in spite of her dependent condition.
  58. She did not speak. He also rose now, but stood leaning against the mantelpiece with his side-face towards her.
  59. 'The diamonds must be delivered to me before my marriage,' he began again.
  60. 'What is your wedding-day?'
  61. 'The tenth. There is no time to be lost.'
  62. 'And where do you go after the marriage?'
  63. He did not reply except by looking more sullen. Presently he said, 'You must appoint a day before then, to get them from the bank and meet me - or somebody else I will commission: - it's a great nuisance. Mention a day.'
  64. 'No; I shall not do that. They shall be delivered to her safely. I shall keep my word.'
  65. 'Do you mean to say,' said Grandcourt, just audibly, turning to face her, 'that you will not do as I tell you?'
  66. 'Yes, I mean that,' was the answer that leaped out, while her eyes flashed close to him. The poor creature was immediately conscious that if her words had any effect on her own lot, the effect must be mischievous, and might nullify all the remaining advantage of her long patience. But the word had been spoken.
  67. He was in a position the most irritating to him. He could not shake her nor touch her hostilely; and if he could, the process would not bring the diamonds. He shrank from the of threat that would frighten her - if she believed it. And in general, there was nothing he hated more than -to be forced into anything like violence even in words: his will must impose itself without trouble. After looking at her for a moment, he turned his side-face towards her -again, leaning as before, and said 'Infernal idiots that women are!'
  68. 'Why will you not tell me where you are going after the marriage? I could be at the wedding if I liked, and learn in that way,' said Lydia, not shrinking from the one suicidal form of threat within her power.
  69. 'Of course, if you like, you can play the mad woman,' said Grandcourt, with sotto voce scorn. 'It is not to be supposed that you will wait to think what good will come of it - or what you owe to me.'
  70. He was in a state of disgust and embitterment quite new in the history of their relation to each other. It was undeniable that this woman whose life he had allowed to send such deep suckers into his had a terrible power of annoyance in her; and the rash hurry of his proceedings had left her opportunities open. His pride saw very ugly possibilities threatening it, and he stood for several minutes in silence reviewing the situation - considering how he could act upon her. Unlike himself she was of a direct nature, with certain simple strongly-coloured tendencies, and there was one often-experienced effect which he thought he could count upon now. As Sir Hugo had said of him, Grandcourt knew how to play his cards upon occasion.
  71. He did not speak again, but looked at his watch, rang the bell, and ordered the vehicle to be brought round immediately. Then he removed farther from her, walked as if in expectation of a summons, and remained silent without turning his eyes upon her.
  72. She was suffering the horrible conflict of self-reproach and tenacity. She saw beforehand Grandcourt leaving her without even looking at her again - herself left behind in lonely uncertainty - hearing nothing from him - not knowing whether she had done her children harm - feeling that she had perhaps made him hate her: - all the wretchedness of a creature who had defeated her own motives. And yet she could not bear to give up a purpose which was a sweet morsel to her vindictiveness. If she had not been a mother she would willingly have sacrificed herself to her revenge - to what she felt to be the justice of hindering another from getting happiness by willingly giving her over to misery. The two dominant passions were at struggle. She must satisfy them both.
  73. 'Don't let us part in anger, Henleigh,' she began, without changing her place or attitude: 'it is a very little thing I ask. If I were refusing to give anything up that you call yours, it would be different: that would be a reason for treating me as if you hated me. But I ask such a little thing. If you will tell me where you are going on the wedding-day, I will take care that the diamonds shall be delivered to her without scandal. Without scandal,' she repeated entreatingly.
  74. 'Such preposterous whims make a woman odious,' said Grandcourt, not giving way in look or movement. 'What is the use of talking to mad people?'
  75. 'Yes, I am foolish - loneliness has made me foolish indulge me.' Sobs rose as she spoke. 'If you will indulge me in this one folly, I will be very meek - I will never trouble you.' She burst into hysterical crying, and said again almost with a scream - 'I will be very meek after that.'
  76. There was a strange mixture of acting and reality in this passion. She kept hold of her purpose as a child might tighten its hand over a small stolen thing, crying and denying all the while. Even Grandcourt was wrought upon by surprise: this capricious wish, this childish violence, was as unlike Lydia's bearing as it was incongruous with her person. Both had always had a stamp of dignity on them. Yet she seemed more manageable in this state than in her former attitude of defiance. He came close up to her again, and said, in his low imperious tone, 'Be quiet, and hear what I tell you. I will never forgive you if you present yourself again and make a scene.'
  77. She pressed her handkerchief against her face, and when she could speak firmly said, in the muffled voice that follows sobbing, 'I will not - if you will let me have my way -I promise you not to thrust myself forward again. I have never broken my word to you - how many have you broken to me? When you gave me the diamonds to wear, you were not thinking of having another wife. And I now give them up - I don't reproach you - I only ask you to let me give them up in my own way. Have I not borne it well? Everything is to be taken away from me, and when I ask for a straw, a chip - you deny it me.' She had spoken rapidly, but after a little pause she said more slowly, her voice freed from its muffled tone: 'I will not bear to have it denied me.'
  78. Grandcourt had a baffling sense that he had to deal with something like madness; he could only govern by giving way. The servant came to say the fly was ready. When the door was shut again, Grandcourt said, sullenly, 'We are going to Ryelands, then.'
  79. 'They shall be delivered to her there,' said Lydia, with decision.
  80. 'Very well, I am going.' He felt no inclination even to take her hand: she had annoyed him too sorely. But now that she had gained her point, she was prepared to humble herself that she might propitiate him.
  81. 'Forgive me; I will never vex you again,' she said, with beseeching looks. Her inward voice said distinctly - 'It is only I who have to forgive.' Yet she was obliged to ask forgiveness.
  82. 'You had better keep that promise. You have made me feel uncommonly ill with your folly,' said Grandcourt, apparently choosing this statement as the strongest possible use of language.
  83. 'Poor thing!' said Lydia, with a faint smile: - was he aware of the minor fact that he had made her feel ill this morning?
  84. But with the quick transition natural to her, she was now ready to coax him if he would let her, that they might part in some degree reconciled. She ventured to lay her hand on his shoulder, and he did not move away from her: she had so far succeeded in alarming him, that he was not sorry for these proofs of returned subjection.
  85. 'Light a cigar,' she said, soothingly, taking the case from his breast-pocket and opening it.
  86. Amidst such caressing signs of mutual fear they parted. The effect that clung and gnawed within Grandcourt was a sense of imperfect mastery.


'A wild dedication of yourselves
To unpath'd waters, undream'd shores.'

  1. On the day when Gwendolen Harleth was married and became Mrs Grandcourt, the morning was clear and bright, and while the sun was low a slight frost crisped the leaves. The bridal party was worth seeing, and half Pennicote turned out to see it, lining the pathway up to the church. An old friend of the Rector's performed the marriage ceremony, the Rector himself acting as father, to the great advantage of the procession. Only two faces, it was remarked, showed signs of sadness - Mrs Davilow's and Anna's. The mother's delicate eyelids were pink, as if she had been crying half the night; and no one was surprised that, splendid as the match was, she should feel the parting from a daughter who was the flower of her children and of her own life. It was less understood why Anna should be troubled when she was being so well set off by the bridesmaid's dress. Every one else seemed to reflect the brilliancy of the occasion - the bride most of all. Of her it was agreed that as to figure and carriage she was worthy to be a 'lady o' title:' as to face, perhaps it might be thought that a title required something more rosy; but the bridegroom himself not being fresh-coloured - being indeed, as the miller's wife observed, very much of her own husband's complexion the match was the more complete. Anyhow he must be very fond of her; and it was to be hoped that he would never cast it up to her that she had been going out to service as a governess, and her mother to live at Sawyer's Cottage - vicissitudes which had been much spoken of in the village. The miller's daughter of fourteen could not believe that high gentry behaved badly to their wives, but her mother instructed her - 'Oh, child, men's men: gentle or simple, they're much of a muchness. I've heard my mother say Squire Pelton used to take his dogs and a long whip into his wife's room, and flog 'em there to frighten her; and my mother was lady's-maid there at the very time.
  2. 'That's unlucky talk for a wedding, Mrs Girdle,' said the tailor. 'A quarrel may end wi' the whip, but it begins wi' the tongue, and it's the women have got the most o' that.'
  3. 'The Lord gave it 'em to use, I suppose,' said Mrs Girdle; 'He never meant you to have it all your own way.'
  4. 'By what I can make out from the gentleman as attends to the grooming at Offendene,' said the tailor, 'this Mr Grandcourt has wonderful little tongue. Everything must be done dummy-like without his ordering.'
  5. 'Then he's the more whip, I doubt,' said Mrs Girdle. 'She's got tongue enough, I warrant her. See, there they come out together!'
  6. 'What wonderful long corners she's got to her eyes!' said the tailor. 'She makes you feel comical when she looks at you.'
  7. Gwendolen, in fact, never showed more elasticity in her bearing, more lustre in her long brown glance: she had the brilliancy of strong excitement, which will sometimes come even from pain. It was not pain, however, that she was feeling: she had wrought herself up to much the same condition as that in which she stood at the gambling-table when Deronda was looking at her, and she began to lose. There was enjoyment in it: whatever uneasiness a growing conscience had created, was disregarded as an ailment might have been, amidst the gratification of that ambitious vanity and desire for luxury within her which it would take a great deal of slow poisoning to kill. This morning she could not have said truly that she repented her acceptance of Grandcourt, or that any fears in hazy perspective could hinder the glowing effects of the immediate scene in which she was the central object. That she was doing something wrong - that a punishment might be hanging over her that the woman to whom she had given a promise and broken it, was thinking of her in bitterness and misery with a just reproach - that Deronda with his way of looking into things very likely despised her for marrying Grandcourt, as he had despised her for gambling - above all, that the cord which united her with this lover and which she had hitherto held by the hand, was now being flung over her neck, all this yeasty mingling of dimly understood facts with vague but deep impressions, and with images half real, half fantastic, had been disturbing her during the weeks of her engagement. Was that agitating experience nullified this morning? No: it was surmounted and thrust down with a sort of exulting defiance as she felt herself standing at the game of life with many eyes upon her, daring everything to win much - or if to lose, still with éclat and a sense of importance. But this morning a losing destiny for herself did not press upon her as a fear: she thought that she was entering on a fuller power of managing circumstance with all the official strength of marriage, which some women made so poor a use of. That intoxication of youthful egoism out of which she had been shaken by trouble, humiliation, and a new sense of culpability, had returned upon her under the newly-fed strength of the old fumes. She did not in the least present the ideal of the tearful, tremulous bride. Poor Gwendolen, whom some had judged much too forward and instructed in the world's ways! with her erect head and elastic footstep she was walking amid illusions; and yet, too, there was an under-consciousness in her that she was a little intoxicated.
  8. 'Thank God you bear it so well, my darling!' said Mrs Davilow, when she had helped Gwendolen to doff her bridal white and put on her travelling dress. All the trembling had been done by the poor mother, and her agitation urged Gwendolen doubly to take the morning as if it were a triumph.
  9. 'Why, you might have said that, if I had been going to Mrs Mompert's, you dear, sad, incorrigible mamma!' said Gwendolen, just putting her hands to her mother's cheeks with laughing tenderness - then retreating a little and spreading out her arms as if to exhibit herself. 'Here am I - Mrs Grandcourt! what else would you have me, but what I am sure to be? You know you were ready to die with vexation when you thought that I would not be Mrs Grandcourt.'
  10. 'Hush, hush, my child, for heaven's sake!' said Mrs Davilow, almost in a whisper. 'How can I help feeling it when I am parting from you? But I can bear anything gladly if you are happy.'
  11. 'Not gladly, mamma, no!' said Gwendolen, shaking her head, with a bright smile. 'Willingly you would bear it, but always sorrowfully. Sorrowing is your sauce; you can take nothing without it.' Then, clasping her mother's shoulders and raining kisses first on one cheek and then on the other between her words, she said, gaily, 'And you shall sorrow over my having everything at my beck - and enjoying everything gloriously - splendid houses - and horses - and diamonds, I shall have diamonds - and going to court and being Lady Certainly - and Lady Perhaps - and grand here - and tantivy there - and always loving you better than anybody else in the world.'
  12. 'My sweet child! - But I shall not be jealous if you love your husband better; and he will expect to be first.'
  13. Gwendolen thrust out her lips and chin with a pretty grimace, saying, 'Rather a ridiculous expectation. However, I don't mean to treat him ill, unless he deserves it.'
  14. Then the two fell into a clinging embrace, and Gwendolen could not hinder a rising sob when she said, 'I wish you were going with me, mamma.'
  15. But the slight dew on her long eyelashes only made her the more charming when she gave her hand to Grandcourt to be led to the carriage.
  16. The Rector looked in on her to give a final 'Good-bye; God bless you; we shall see you again before long,' and then returned to Mrs Davilow saying half cheerfully, half solemnly -
  17. 'Let us be thankful, Fanny. She is in a position well suited to her, and beyond what I should have dared to hope for. And few women can have been chosen more entirely for their own sake. You should feel yourself a happy mother.'

    There was a railway journey of some fifty miles before the new husband and wife reached the station near Ryelands. The sky had veiled itself since the morning, and it was hardly more than twilight when they entered the park-gates, but still Gwendolen, looking out of the carriage-window as they drove rapidly along, could see the grand outlines and the nearer beauties of the scene - the long winding drive bordered with evergreens backed by huge grey stems; then the opening of wide grassy spaces and undulations studded with dark clumps; till at last came a wide level where the white house could be seen, with a hanging wood for a background, and the rising and sinking balustrade of a terrace in front.

  18. Gwendolen had been at her liveliest during the journey, chatting incessantly, ignoring any change in their mutual position since yesterday; and Grandcourt had been rather ecstatically quiescent, while she turned his gentle seizure of her hand into a grasp of his hand by both hers, with an increased vivacity as of a kitten that will not sit quiet to be petted. She was really getting somewhat febrile in her excitement; and now in this drive through the park her usual susceptibility to changes of light and scenery helped to make her heart palpitate newly. Was it at the novelty simply, or the almost incredible fulfilment about to be given to her girlish dreams of being 'somebody' - walking through her own furlong of corridors and under her own ceilings of an out-of-sight loftiness, where her own painted Spring was shedding painted flowers, and her own foreshortened Zephyrs were blowing their trumpets over her; while her own servants, lackeys in clothing but men in bulk and shape, were as nought in her presence, and revered the propriety of her insolence to them: - being in short the heroine of an admired play without the pains of art? Was it alone the closeness of this fulfilment which made her heart flutter? or was it some dim forecast, the insistent penetration of suppressed experience, mixing the expectation of a triumph with the dread of a crisis? Hers was one of the natures in which exultation inevitably carries an infusion of dread ready to curdle and declare itself.
  19. She fell silent in spite of herself as they approached the gates, and when her husband said, 'Here we are at home!' and for the first time kissed her on the lips, she hardly knew of it: it was no more than the passive acceptance of a greeting in the midst of an absorbing show. Was not all her hurrying life of the last three months a show, in which her consciousness was a wondering spectator? After the half-wilful excitement of the day, a numbness had come over her personality.
  20. But there was a brilliant light in the hall warmth, matting, carpets, full-length portraits, Olympian statues, assiduous servants. Not many servants, however: only a few from Diplow in addition to those constantly in charge of the house; and Gwendolen's new maid, who had come with her, was taken under guidance by the housekeeper. Gwendolen felt herself being led by Grandcourt along a subtly-scented corridor, then into an ante-room where she saw an open doorway sending out a rich glow of light and colour.
  21. 'These are our dens,' said Grandcourt. 'You will like to be quiet here till dinner. We shall dine early.'
  22. He pressed her hand to his lips and moved away, more in love than he had ever expected to be.
  23. Gwendolen, yielding up her hat and mantle, threw herself into a chair by the glowing hearth, and saw herself repeated in glass panels with all her faint-green satin surroundings. The housekeeper had passed into this boudoir from the adjoining dressing-room and seemed disposed to linger, Gwendolen thought, in order to look at the new mistress of Ryelands, who however, being impatient for solitude, said to her, 'Will you tell Hudson when she has put out my dress to leave everything? I shall not want her again, unless I ring.'
  24. The housekeeper, coming forward, said, 'Here is a packet, madam, which I was ordered to give into nobody's hands but yours, when you were alone. The person who brought it said it was a present particularly ordered by Mr Grandcourt; but he was not to know of its arrival till he saw you wear it. Excuse me, madam; I felt it right to obey orders.'
  25. Gwendolen took the packet and let it lie on her lap till she heard the doors close. It came into her mind that the packet might contain the diamonds which Grandcourt had spoken of as being deposited somewhere and to be given to her on her marriage. In this moment of confused feeling and creeping luxurious languor she was glad of this diversion - glad of such an event as having her own diamonds to try on.
  26. Within all the sealed paper coverings was a box, but within the box there was a jewel-case; and now she felt no doubt that she had the diamonds. But on opening the case, in the same instant that she saw their gleam she saw a letter lying above them. She knew the handwriting of the address. It was as if an adder had lain on them. Her heart gave a leap which seemed to have spent all her strength; and as she opened the bit of thin paper, it shook with the trembling of her hands. But it was legible as print, and thrust its words upon her.

    >'These diamonds, which were once given with ardent love to Lydia Glasher, she passes on to you. You have broken your word to her, that you might possess what was hers. Perhaps you think of being happy, as she once was, and of having beautiful children such as hers, who will thrust hers aside. God is too just for that. The man you have married has a withered heart. His best young love was mine; you could not take that from me when you took the rest. It is dead; but I am the grave in which your chance of happiness is buried as well as mine. You had your warning. You have chosen to injure me and my children. He had meant to marry me. He would have married me at last, if you had not broken your word. You will have your punishment. I desire it with all my soul.

    'Will you give him this letter to set him against me and ruin us more - me and my children? Shall you like to stand before your husband with these diamonds on you, and these words of mine in his thoughts and yours? Will he think you have any right to complain when he has made you miserable? You took him with your eyes open. The willing wrong you have done me will be your curse.'

  27. It seemed at first as if Gwendolen's eyes were spell-bound in reading the horrible words of the letter over and over again as a doom of penance; but suddenly a new spasm of terror made her lean forward and stretch out the paper towards the fire, lest accusation and proof at once should meet all eyes. It flew like a feather from her trembling fingers and was caught up in the great draught of flame. In her movement the casket fell on the floor and the diamonds rolled out. She took no notice, but fell back in her chair again helpless. She could not see the reflections of herself then: they were like so many women petrified white; but coming near herself you might have seen the tremor in her lips and hands. She sat so for a long while, knowing little more than that she was feeling ill, and that those written words kept repeating themselves in her.
  28. Truly here were poisoned gems, and the poison had entered into this poor young creature.
  29. After that long while, there was a tap at the door and Grandcourt entered, dressed for dinner. The sight of him brought a new nervous shock, and Gwendolen screamed again and again with hysterical violence. He had expected to see her dressed and smiling, ready to be led down. He saw her pallid, shrieking as it seemed with terror, the jewels scattered around her on the floor. Was it a fit of madness?
  30. In some form or other the Furies had crossed his threshold.
  32. 409


In all ages it bath been a favourite text that a potent love hath the nature of an isolated fatality, whereto the mind's opinions and wonted resolves are altogether alien; as, for example, Daphnis his frenzy, wherein it had little availed him to have been convinced of Heraclitus his doctrine; or the philtre-bred passion of Tristan, who, though he had been as deep as Duns Scotus, would have had his reasoning marred by that cup too much; or Romeo in his sudden taking for Juliet, wherein any objections he might have held against Ptolemy had made little difference to his discourse under the balcony. Yet all love is not such, even though potent; nay, this passion hath as large scope as any for allying itself with every operation of the soul: so that it shall acknowledge an effect from the imagined light of unproven firmaments, and have its scale set to the grander orbits of what hath been and shall be.

  1. Deronda, on his return to town, could assure Sir Hugo of his having lodged in Grandcourt's mind a distinct understanding that he could get fifty thousand pounds by giving up a prospect which was probably distant, and not absolutely certain; but he had no further sign of Grandcourt's disposition in the matter than that he was evidently inclined to keep up friendly communications.
  2. 'And what did you think of the future bride on a nearer survey?' said Sir Hugo.
  3. 'I thought better of her than I did at Leubronn. Roulette was not a good setting for her; it brought out something of the demon. At Diplow she seemed much more womanly and attractive less hard and self possessed. I thought her mouth and eyes had quite a different expression.'
  4. 'Don't flirt with her too much, Dan,' said Sir Hugo, meaning to be agreeably playful. 'If you make Grandcourt savage when they come to the Abbey at Christmas, it will interfere with my affairs.'
  5. 'I can stay in town, sir.'
  6. 'No, no. Lady Mallinger and the children can't do without you at Christmas. Only don't make mischief - unless you can get up a duel, and manage to shoot Grandcourt, which might be worth a little inconvenience.'
  7. 'I don't think you ever saw me flirt,' said Deronda, not amused.
  8. 'Oh, haven't I, though?' said Sir Hugo, provokingly. 'You are always looking tenderly at the women, and talking to them in a Jesuitical way. You are a dangerous young fellow - a kind of Lovelace who will make the Clarissas run after you instead of your running after them.'
  9. What was the use of being exasperated at a tasteless joke? - only the exasperation comes before the reflection on utility. Few friendly remarks are more annoying than the information that we are always seeming to do what we never mean to do. Sir Hugo's notion of flirting, it was to be hoped, was rather peculiar; for his own part, Deronda was sure that he had never flirted. But he was glad that the baronet had no knowledge about the redemption of Gwendolen's necklace to feed his taste for this kind of rallying.
  10. He would be on his guard in future; for example, in his behaviour at Mrs Meyrick's, where he was about to pay his first visit since his arrival from Leubronn. For Mirah was certainly a creature in whom it was difficult not to show a tender kind of interest both by looks and speech.
  11. Mrs Meyrick had not failed to send Deronda a report of Mirah's well-being in her family. 'We are getting fonder of her every day,' she had written. 'At breakfast-time we all look towards the door with expectation to see her come in; and we watch her and listen to her as if she were a native from a new country. I have not heard a word from her lips that gives me a doubt about her. She is quite contented and full of gratitude. My daughters are learning from her, and they hope to get her other pupils; for she is anxious not to eat the bread of idleness, but to work, like my girls. Mab says our life has become like a fairy tale, and all she is afraid of is that Mirah will turn into a nightingale again and fly away from us. Her voice is just perfect: not loud and strong, but searching and melting, like the thoughts of what has been. That is the way old people like me feel a beautiful voice.'
  12. But Mrs Meyrick did not enter into particulars which would have required her to say that Amy and Mab, who had accompanied Mirah to the synagogue, found the Jewish faith less reconcilable with their wishes in her case than in that of Scott's Rebecca. They kept silence out of delicacy to Mirah, with whom her religion was too tender a subject to be touched lightly; but after a while, Amy, who was much of a practical reformer, could not restrain a question.
  13. 'Excuse me, Mirah, but does it seem quite right to you that the women should sit behind rails in a gallery apart?'
  14. 'Yes, I never thought of anything else,' said Mirah, with mild surprise.
  15. 'And you like better to see the men with their hats on?' said Mab, cautiously proposing the smallest item of difference.
  16. 'Oh yes. I like what I have always seen there, because it brings back to me the same feelings the feelings I would not part with for anything else in the world.'
  17. After this, any criticism, whether of doctrine or of practice, would have seemed to these generous little people an inhospitable cruelty. Mirah's religion was of one fibre with her affections, and had never presented itself to her as a set of propositions.
  18. 'She says herself she is a very bad Jewess, and does not half know her people's religion,' said Amy, when Mirah was gone to bed. 'Perhaps it would gradually melt away from her, and she would pass into Christianity like the rest of the world, if she got to love us very much, and never found her mother. It is so strange to be of the Jews' religion now.'
  19. 'Oh, oh, oh!' cried Mab. 'I wish I were not such a hideous Christian. How can an ugly Christian, who is always dropping her work, convert a beautiful Jewess, who has not a fault?'
  20. 'It may be wicked of me,' said shrewd Kate, but I cannot help wishing that her mother may not be found. There might be something unpleasant.'
  21. 'I don't think it, my dear,' said Mrs Meyrick. 'I believe Mirah is cut out after the pattern of her mother. And what a joy it would be to her to have such a daughter brought back again! But a mother's feelings are not worth reckoning, I suppose' (she shot a mischievous glance at her own daughters), 'and a dead mother is worth more than a living one?'
  22. 'Well, and so she may be, little mother,' said Kate; 'but we would rather hold you cheaper, and have you alive.'
  23. Not only the Meyricks, whose various knowledge had been acquired by the irregular foraging to which clever girls have usually been reduced, but Deronda himself, with all his masculine instruction, had been roused by this apparition of Mirah to the consciousness of knowing hardly anything about modern Judaism or the inner Jewish history. The Chosen People have been commonly treated as a people chosen for the sake of somebody else; and their thinking as something (no matter exactly what) that ought to have been entirely otherwise; and Deronda, like his neighbours, had regarded Judaism as a sort of eccentric fossilised form, which an accomplished man might dispense with studying, and leave to specialists. But Mirah, with her terrified flight from one parent, and her yearning after the other, had flashed on him the hitherto neglected reality that Judaism was something still throbbing in human lives, still making for them the only conceivable vesture of the world; and in the idling excursion on which he immediately afterwards set out with Sir Hugo he began to look for the outsides of synagogues, and the titles of books about the Jews. This wakening of a new interest - this passing from the supposition that we hold the right opinions on a subject we are careless about, to a sudden care for it, and a sense that our opinions were ignorance - is an effectual remedy for ennui, which unhappily cannot be secured on a physician's prescription; but Deronda had carried it with him, and endured his weeks of lounging all the better. It was on this journey that he first entered a Jewish synagogue - at Frankfort - where his party rested on a Friday. In exploring the Juden-gasse, which he had seen long before, he remembered well enough its picturesque old houses; what his eyes chiefly dwelt on now were the human types there; and his thought, busily connecting them with the past phases of their race, stirred that fibre of historic sympathy which had helped to determine in him Certain traits worth mentioning for those who are interested in his future. True, when a young man has a fine person, no eccentricity of manners, the education of a gentleman, and a present income, it is not customary to feel a prying curiosity about his way of thinking, or his peculiar tastes. He may very well be settled in life as an agreeable clever young fellow without passing a special examination on those heads. Later, when he is getting rather slovenly and portly, his peculiarities are more distinctly discerned, and it is taken as a mercy if they are not highly objectionable. But anyone wishing to understand the effect of after-events on Deronda should know a little more of what he was at five-and-twenty than was evident in ordinary intercourse.
  24. It happened that the very vividness of his impressions had often made him the more enigmatic to his friends, and had contributed to an apparent indefiniteness in his sentiments. His early-wakened sensibility and reflectiveness had developed into a many-sided sympathy, which threatened to hinder any persistent course of action: as soon as he took up any antagonism, though only in thought, he seemed to himself like the Sabine warriors in the memorable story - with nothing to meet his spear but flesh of his flesh, and objects that he loved. His imagination had so wrought itself to the habit of seeing things as they probably appeared to others, that a strong partisanship, unless it were against an immediate oppression, had become an insincerity for him. His plenteous, flexible sympathy had ended by falling into one current with that reflective analysis which tends to neutralise sympathy. Few men were able to keep themselves clearer of vices than he; yet he hated vices mildly, being used to think of them less in the abstract than as a part of mixed human natures having an individual history, which it was the bent of his mind to trace with understanding and pity. With the same innate balance he was fervidly democratic in his feeling for the multitude, and yet, through his affections and imagination, intensely conservative; voracious of speculations on government and religion, yet loath to part with long-sanctioned forms which, for him, were quick with memories and sentiments that no argument could lay dead. We fall on the leaning side; and Deronda suspected himself of loving too well the losing causes of the world. Martyrdom changes sides, and he was in danger of changing with it, having a strong repugnance to taking up that clue of success which the order of the world often forces upon us and makes it treason against the common weal to reject. And yet his fear of falling into an unreasoning narrow hatred made a check for him: he apologised for the heirs of privilege; he shrank with dislike from the loser's bitterness and the denunciatory tone of the unaccepted innovator. A too reflective and diffusive sympathy was in danger of paralysing in him that indignation against wrong and that selectness of fellowship which are the conditions of moral force; and in the last few years of confirmed manhood he had become so keenly aware of this that what he most longed for was either some external event, or some inward light, that would urge him into a definite line of action, and compress his wandering energy. He was ceasing to care for knowledge - he had no ambition for practice - unless they could both be gathered up into one current with his emotions; and he dreaded, as if it were a dwelling-place of lost souls, that dead anatomy of culture which turns the universe into a mere ceaseless answer to queries, and knows not everything, but everything else about everything - as if one should be ignorant of nothing concerning the scent of violets except the scent itself for which one had no nostril. But how and whence was the needed event to come? - the influence that would justify partiality, and making him what he longed to be yet was unable to make himself - an organic part of social life, instead of roaming in it like a yearning disembodied spirit, stirred with a vague social passion, but without fixed local habitation to render fellowship real? To make a little difference for the better was what he was not contented to live without; but how make it? It is one thing to see your road, another to cut it. He found some of the fault in his birth and the way he had been brought up, which had laid no special demands on him and given him no fixed relationships except one of a doubtful kind; but he did not attempt to hide from himself that he had fallen into a meditative numbness, and was gliding farther and farther from that life of practically energetic sentiment which he would have proclaimed (if he had been inclined to proclaim anything) to be the best of all life, and for himself the only life worth living. He wanted some way of keeping emotion and its progeny of sentiments which make the savours of life - substantial and strong in the face of a reflectiveness that threatened to nullify all differences. To pound the objects of sentiment into small dust, yet keep sentiment alive and active, was something like the famous recipe for making cannon - to first take a round hole and then enclose it with iron; whatever you do keeping fast hold of your round hole. Yet how distinguish what our will may wisely save in its completeness, from the heaping of cat-mummies and the expensive cult of enshrined putrefactions?
  25. Something like this was the common under-current in Deronda's mind, while he was reading law, or imperfectly attending to polite conversation. Meanwhile he had not set about one function in particular with zeal and steadiness. Not an admirable experience, to be proposed as an ideal; but a form of struggle before break of day which some young men since the patriarch have had to pass through, with more or less of bruising if not laming.
  26. I have said that under his calm exterior he had a fervour which made him easily feel the presence of poetry in everyday events; and the forms of the Juden-gasse, rousing the sense of union with what is remote, set him musing on two elements of our historic life which that sense raises into the same region of poetry; - the faint beginnings of faiths and institutions, and their obscure lingering decay; the dust and withered remnants with which they are apt to be covered, only enhancing for the awakened perception the impressiveness either of a sublimely penetrating life, as in the twin green leaves that will become the sheltering tree, or of a pathetic inheritance in which all the grandeur and the glory have become a sorrowing memory.
  27. This imaginative stirring, as he turned out of the Juden-gasse, and continued to saunter in the warm evening air, meaning to find his way to the synagogue, neutralised the repellent effect of certain ugly little incidents on his way. Turning into an old book-shop to ask the exact time of service at the synagogue, he was affectionately directed by a precocious Jewish youth, who entered cordially into his wanting not the fine new building of the Reformed but the old Rabbinical school of the orthodox; and then cheated him like a pure Teuton, only with more amenity, in his charge for a book quite out of request as one 'nicht so leicht zu bekommen.' Meanwhile at the opposite counter a deaf and grisly tradesman was casting a flinty look at certain cards, apparently combining advantages of business with religion, and shoutingly proposed to him in Jew-dialect by a dingy man in a tall coat hanging from neck to heel, a bag in hand, and a broad low hat surmounting his chosen nose - who had no sooner disappeared than another dingy man of the same pattern issued from the backward glooms of the shop and also shouted in the same dialect. In fact, Deronda saw various queer-looking Israelites not altogether without guile, and just distinguishable from queer-looking Christians of the same mixed morale. In his anxiety about Mirah's relatives, he had lately been thinking of vulgar Jews with a sort of personal alarm. But a little comparison will often diminish our surprise and disgust at the aberrations of Jews and other dissidents whose lives do not offer a consistent or lovely pattern of their creed; and this evening Deronda, becoming more conscious that he was falling into unfairness and ridiculous exaggeration, began to use that corrective comparison he paid his thaler too much, without prejudice to his interest in the Hebrew destiny, or his wish to find the Rabbinische Schule, which he arrived at by sunset, and entered with a good congregation of men.
  28. He happened to take his seat in a line with an elderly man from whom he was distant enough to glance at him more than once as rather a noticeable figure - his ordinary clothes, as well as the talith or white blue-fringed kind of blanket which is the garment of prayer, being much worn; while his ample white beard and old felt hat framed a profile of that fine contour which may as easily be Italian as Hebrew. He returned Deronda's notice till at last their eyes met: an undesirable chance with unknown persons, and a reason to Deronda for not looking again; but he immediately found an open prayer-book pushed towards him and had to bow his thanks. However, the white talithim had mustered, the reader had mounted to the almemor or platform, and the service began. Deronda, having looked enough at the German translation of the Hebrew in the book before him to know that he was chiefly hearing Psalms and Old Testament passages or phrases, gave himself up to that strongest effect of chanted liturgies which is independent of detailed verbal meaning - like the effect of an Allegri's Miserere or a Palestrina's Magnificat. The most powerful movement of feeling with a liturgy is the prayer which seeks for nothing special, but is a yearning to escape from the limitations of our own weakness and an invocation of all Good to enter and abide with us; or else a self-oblivious lifting up of gladness, a Gloria in excelsis that such Good exists; both the yearning and the exultation gathering their utmost force from the sense of communion in a form which has expressed them both, for long generations of struggling fellow-men. The Hebrew liturgy, like others, has its transitions of litany, lyric, proclamation, dry statement and blessing; but this evening all were one for Deronda: the chant of the Chazan's or Reader's grand wide-ranging voice with its passage from monotony to sudden cries, the outburst of sweet boys' voices from the little quire, the devotional swaying of men's bodies backwards and forwards, the very commonness of the building and shabbiness of the scene where a national faith, which had penetrated the thinking of half the world, and moulded the splendid forms of that world's religion, was finding a remote, obscure echo - all were blent for him as one expression of a binding history, tragic and yet glorious. He wondered at the strength of his own feeling; it seemed beyond the occasion - what one might imagine to be a divine influx in the darkness, before there was any vision to interpret. The whole scene was a coherent strain, its burthen a passionate regret, which, if he had known the liturgy for the Day of Reconciliation, he might have clad in its antithetic burthen: 'Happy the eye which saw all these things; but verily to hear only of them afflicts our soul. Happy the eye that saw our temple and the joy of our congregation; but verily to hear only of them afflicts our soul. Happy the eye that saw the fingers when tuning every kind of song; but verily to hear only of them afflicts our soul.'
  29. But with the cessation of the devotional sounds and the movement of many indifferent faces and vulgar figures before him there darted into his mind the frigid idea that he had probably been alone in his feeling, and perhaps the only person in the congregation for whom the service was more than a dull routine. There was just time for this chilling thought before he had bowed to his civil neighbour and was moving away with the rest - when he felt a hand on his arm, and turning with the rather unpleasant sensation which this abrupt sort of claim is apt to bring, he saw close to him the white-bearded face of that neighbour, who said to him in German, 'Excuse me, young gentleman - allow me - what is your parentage - your mother's family - her maiden name?'
  30. Deronda had a strongly resistant feeling: he was inclined to shake off hastily the touch on his arm; but he managed to slip it away and said coldly, 'I am an Englishman.'
  31. The questioner looked at him dubiously still for an instant, then just lifted his hat and turned away - whether under a sense of having made a mistake or of having been repulsed, Deronda was uncertain. In his walk back to the hotel he tried to still any uneasiness on the subject by reflecting that he could not have acted differently. How could he say that he did not know the name of his mother's family to that total stranger? - who indeed had taken an unwarrantable liberty in the abruptness of his question, dictated probably by some fancy of likeness such as often occurs without real significance. The incident, he said to himself, was trivial; but whatever import it might have, his inward shrinking on the occasion was too strong for him to be sorry that he had cut it short. It was a reason however for his not mentioning the synagogue to the Mallingers - in addition to his usual inclination to reticence on anything that the baronet would have been likely to call Quixotic enthusiasm. Hardly any man could be more good-natured than Sir Hugo; indeed in his kindliness, especially to women, he did actions which others would have called romantic; but he never took a romantic view of them, and in general smiled at the introduction of motives on a grand scale, or of reasons that lay very far off. This was the point of strongest difference between him and Deronda, who rarely ate his breakfast without some silent discursive flight after grounds for filling up his day according to the practice of his contemporaries.
  32. This halt at Frankfort was taken on their way home, and its impressions were kept the more actively vibrating in him by the duty of caring for Mirah's welfare. That question about his parentage, which if he had not both inwardly and outwardly shaken it off as trivial, would have seemed a threat rather than a promise of revelation, had reinforced his anxiety as to the effect of finding Mirah's relatives and his resolve to proceed with caution. If he made any unpleasant discovery, was he bound to a disclosure that might cast a new net of trouble around her?
  33. He had written to Mrs Meyrick to announce his visit at four o'clock, and he found Mirah seated at work with only Mrs Meyrick and Mab, the open piano, and all the glorious company of engravings. The dainty neatness of her hair and dress, the glow of tranquil happiness in a face where a painter need have changed nothing if he had wanted to put it in front of the host singing 'peace on earth and goodwill to men,' made a contrast to his first vision of her that was delightful to Deronda's eyes. Mirah herself was thinking of it, and immediately on their greeting said -
  34. 'See how different I am from that miserable creature by the river! - all because you found me and brought me to the very best.'
  35. 'It was my good chance to find you,' said Deronda. 'Any other man would have been glad to do what I did.'
  36. 'That is not the right way of thinking about it,' said Mirah, shaking her head with decisive gravity. 'I think of what really was. It was you, and not another, who found me, and were good to me.
  37. 'I agree with Mirah,' said Mrs Meyrick. 'Saint Anybody is a bad saint to pray to.'
  38. 'Besides, Anybody could not have brought me to you,' said Mirah, smiling at Mrs Meyrick. 'And I would rather be with you than with any one else in the world except my mother. I wonder if ever a poor little bird, that was lost and could not fly, was taken and put into a warm nest where there was a mother and sisters who took to it so that everything came naturally, as if it had been always there. I hardly thought before that the world could ever be as happy and without fear as it is to me now. She looked meditative a moment, and then said, 'Sometimes I am a little afraid.'
  39. 'What is it you are afraid of?' said Deronda, with anxiety.
  40. 'That when I am turning at the corner of a street I may meet my father. It seems dreadful that I should be afraid of meeting him. That is my only sorrow,' said Mirah, plaintively.
  41. 'It is surely not very probable,' said Deronda, wishing that it were less so; then, not to let the opportunity escape 'Would it be a great grief to you now, if you were never to meet your mother?'
  42. She did not answer immediately, but meditated again, with her eyes fixed on the opposite wall. Then she turned them on Deronda and said firmly, as if she had arrived at the exact truth, 'I want her to know that I have always loved her, and if she is alive I want to comfort her. She may be dead. If she were, I should long to know where she was buried; and to know whether my brother lives to say Kaddish in memory of her. But I will try not to grieve. I have thought much for so many years of her being dead. And I shall have her with me in my mind, as I have always had. We can never be really parted. I think I have never sinned against her. I have always tried not to do what would hurt her. Only she might be sorry that I was not a good Jewess.'
  43. 'In what way are you not a good Jewess?' said Deronda.
  44. 'I am ignorant, and we never observed the laws, but lived among Christians just as they did. But I have heard my father laugh at the strictness of the Jews about their food and all customs, and their not liking Christians. I think my mother was strict; but she could never want me not to like those who are better to me than any of my own people I have ever known. I think I could obey in other things that she wished, but not in that. It is so much easier to me to share in love than in hatred. I remember a play I read in German - since I have been here, it has come into my mind where the heroine says something like that.'
  45. 'Antigone,' said Deronda.
  46. 'Ah, you know it. But I do not believe that my mother would wish me not to love my best friends. She would be grateful to them.' Here Mirah had turned to Mrs Meyrick, and with a sudden lighting up of her whole countenance she said, 'Oh, if we ever do meet and know each other as we are now, so that I could tell what would comfort her - I should be so full of blessedness, my soul would know no want but to love her!'
  47. 'God bless you, child!' said Mrs Meyrick, the words escaping involuntarily from her motherly heart. But to relieve the strain of feeling she looked at Deronda and said, 'It is curious that Mirah, who remembers her mother so well, it is as if she saw her, cannot recall her brother the least bit - except the feeling of having been carried by him when she was tired, and of his being near her when she was in her mother's lap. It must be that he was rarely at home. He was already grown up. It is a pity her brother should be quite a stranger to her.'
  48. 'He is good; I feel sure Ezra is good,' said Mirah, eagerly. 'He loved my mother - he would take care of her. I remember more of him than that. I remember my mother's voice once calling, "Ezra!" and then his answering from the distance, "Mother!"' - Mirah had changed her voice a little in each of these words and had given them a loving intonation - 'and then he came close to us. I feel sure he is good. I have always taken comfort from that.'
  49. It was impossible to answer this either with agreement or doubt. Mrs Meyrick and Deronda exchanged a quick glance about this brother she felt as painfully dubious as he did. But Mirah went on, absorbed in her memories -
  50. 'Is it not wonderful how I remember the voices better than anything else? I think they must go deeper into us than other things. I have often fancied heaven might be made of voices.'
  51. 'Like your singing - yes,' said Mab, who had hitherto kept a modest silence, and now spoke bashfully, as was her wont in the presence of Prince Camaralzaman, - 'Ma, do ask Mirah to sing. Mr Deronda has not heard her.'
  52. 'Would it be disagreeable to you to sing now?' said Deronda, with a more deferential gentleness than he had ever been conscious of before.
  53. 'Oh, I shall like it,' said Mirah. 'My voice has Come back a little with rest.'
  54. Perhaps her ease of manner was due to something more than the simplicity of her nature. The circumstances of her life had made her think of everything she did as work demanded from her, in which affectation had nothing to do; and she had begun her work before self-consciousness was born.
  55. She immediately rose and went to the piano - a somewhat worn instrument that seemed to get the better of its infirmities under the firm touch of her small fingers as she preluded. Deronda placed himself where he could see her while she sang; and she took everything as quietly as if she had been a child going to breakfast.
  56. Imagine her - it is always good to imagine a human Creature in whom bodily loveliness seems as properly one with the entire being as the bodily loveliness of those wondrous transparent orbs of life that we find in the sea - imagine her with her dark hair brushed from her temples, but yet showing Certain tiny rings there which had cunningly found their own way back, the mass of it hanging behind just to the nape of the little neck in curly fibres, such as renew themselves at their own will after being bathed into straightness like that of water-grasses. Then see the perfect cameo her profile makes, cut in a duskish shell where by some happy fortune there pierced a gem-like darkness for the eye and eyebrow; the delicate nostrils defined enough to be ready for sensitive movements, the finished ear, the firm curves of the chin and neck entering into the expression of a refinement which was not feebleness.
  57. She sang Beethoven's 'Per pietà non dirmi addio,' with a subdued but searching pathos which had that essential of perfect singing, the making one oblivious of art or manner, and only possessing one with the song. It was the sort of voice that gives the impression of being meant like a bird's wooing for an audience near and beloved. Deronda began by looking at her, but felt himself presently covering his eyes with his hand, wanting to seclude the melody in darkness; then he refrained from what might seem oddity, and was ready to meet the look of mute appeal which she turned towards him at the end.
  58. 'I think I never enjoyed a song more than that,' he said, gratefully.
  59. 'You like my singing? I am so glad,' she said, with a smile of delight. 'It has been a great pain to me, because it failed in what it was wanted for. But now we think I can use it to get my bread. I have really been taught well. And now I have two pupils, that Miss Meyrick found for me. They pay me nearly two crowns for their two lessons.'
  60. 'I think I know some ladies who would find you many pupils after Christmas,' said Deronda. 'You would not mind singing before any one who wished to hear you?'
  61. 'Oh no, I want to do something to get money. I could teach reading and speaking, Mrs Meyrick thinks. But if no one would learn of me, that is difficult.' Mirah smiled with a touch of merriment he had not seen in her before. 'I daresay I should find her poor - I mean my mother. I should want to get money for her. And I cannot always live on charity; though' - here she turned so as to take all three of her companions in one glance - 'it is the sweetest charity in all the world.'
  62. 'I should think you can get rich,' said Deronda, smiling. 'Great ladies will perhaps like you to teach their daughters. We shall see. But now, do sing again to us.
  63. She went on willingly, singing with ready memory various things by Gordigiani and Schubert; then, when she had left the piano, Mab said, entreatingly, 'Oh Mirah, if you would not mind singing the little hymn.'
  64. 'It is too childish,' said Mirah. 'It is like lisping.'
  65. 'What is the hymn?' said Deronda.
  66. 'It is the Hebrew hymn she remembers her mother singing over her when she lay in her cot,' said Mrs Meyrick.
  67. 'I should like very much to hear it,' said Deronda, 'if you think I am worthy to hear what is so sacred.'
  68. 'I will sing it if you like,' said Mirah, 'but I 'don't sing real words - only here and there a syllable like hers - the rest is lisping. Do you know Hebrew? because if you do, my singing will seem childish nonsense.'
  69. Deronda shook his head. 'It will be quite good Hebrew to me.'
  70. Mirah crossed her little feet and hands in her easiest attitude, and then lifted up her head at an angle which seemed to be directed to some invisible face bent over her, while she sang a little hymn of quaint melancholy intervals, with syllables that really seemed childish lisping to her audience; but the voice in which she gave it forth had gathered even a sweeter, more cooing tenderness than was heard in her other songs.
  71. 'If I were ever to know the real words, I should still go on in my old way with them,' said Mirah, when she had repeated the hymn several times.
  72. 'Why not?' said Deronda. 'The lisped syllables are very full of meaning.'
  73. 'Yes, indeed,' said Mrs Meyrick. 'A mother hears something like a lisp in her children's talk to the very last. Their words are not just what everybody else says, though they may be spelt the same. If I were to live till my Hans got old, I should still see the boy in him. A mother's love, I often say, is like a tree that has got all the wood in it, from the very first it made.'
  74. 'Is not that the way with friendship, too?' said Deronda, smiling. 'We must not let mothers be too arrogant.'
  75. The bright little woman shook her head over her darning.
  76. 'It is easier to find an old mother than an old friend. Friendships begin with liking or gratitude - roots that can be pulled up. Mother's love begins deeper down.'
  77. 'Like what you were saying about the influence of voices,' said Deronda, looking at Mirah. 'I don't think your hymn would have had more expression for me if I had known the words. I went to the synagogue at Frankfort before I came home, and the service impressed me just as much as if I had followed the words - perhaps more.'
  78. 'Oh, was it great to you? Did it go to your heart?' said Mirah, eagerly. 'I thought none but our people would feel that., I thought it was all shut away like a river in a deep valley, where only heaven saw - I mean - ' she hesitated, feeling that she could not disentangle her thought from its imagery.
  79. 'I understand,' said Deronda. 'But there is not really such a separation - deeper down, as Mrs Meyrick says. Our religion is chiefly a Hebrew religion; and since Jews are men, their religious feelings must have much in common with those of other men - just as their poetry, though in one sense peculiar, has a great deal in common with the poetry of other nations. Still it is to be expected that a Jew would feel the forms of his people's religion more than one of another race - and yet' - here Deronda hesitated in his turn - 'that is perhaps not always so.'
  80. 'Ah no,' said Mirah, sadly. 'I have seen that. I have seen them mock. Is it not like mocking your parents? - like rejoicing in your parents' shame?'
  81. 'Some minds naturally rebel against whatever they were brought up in, and like the opposite: they see the faults in what is nearest to them,' said Deronda, apologetically.
  82. 'But you are not like that,' said Mirah, looking at him with unconscious fixedness.
  83. 'No, I think not,' said Deronda; but you know I was not brought up as a Jew.'
  84. 'Ah, I am always forgetting,' said Mirah, with a look of disappointed recollection, and slightly blushing.
  85. Deronda also felt rather embarrassed, and there was an awkward pause, which he put an end to by saying playfully -
  86. 'Whichever way we take it, we have to tolerate each other; for if we all went in opposition to our teaching, we must end in difference, just the same.'
  87. 'To be sure. We should go on for ever in zigzags,' said Mrs Meyrick. 'I think it is very weak-minded to make your creed up by the rule of contrary. Still one may honour one's parents, without following their notions exactly, any more than the exact cut of their clothing. My father was a Scotch Calvinist and my mother was a French Calvinist: I am neither quite Scotch, nor quite French, nor two Calvinists rolled into one, yet I honour my parents' memory.'
  88. 'But I could not make myself not a Jewess,' said Mirah, insistently, 'even if I changed my belief.'
  89. 'No, my dear. But if Jews and Jewesses went on changing their religion., and making no difference between themselves and Christians, there would come a time when there would be no Jews to be seen,' said Mrs Meyrick, taking that Consummation very cheerfully.
  90. 'Oh, please not to say that,' said Mirah, the tears gathering. 'It is the first unkind thing you ever said. I will not begin that. I will never separate myself from my mother's people. I was forced to fly from my father; but if he came back in age and weakness and want, and needed me, should I say, "This is not my father"? If he had shame, I must share it. It was he who was given to me for my father, and not another. And so it is with my people. I will always be a Jewess. I will love Christians when they are good, like you. But I will always cling to my people. I will always worship with them.'
  91. As Mirah had gone on speaking she had become possessed with a sorrowful passion - fervent, not violent. Holding her little hands tightly Clasped and looking at Mrs Meyrick with beseeching, she seemed to Deronda a personification of that spirit which impelled men after a long inheritance of professed Catholicism to leave wealth and high place, and risk their lives in flight, that they might join their own people and say, 'I am a Jew.'
  92. 'Mirah, Mirah, my dear child, you mistake me!' said Mrs Meyrick, alarmed. 'God forbid I should want you to do anything against your conscience. I was only saying what might be if the world went on, But I had better have left the world alone, and not wanted to be over-wise. Forgive me, come! we will not try to take you from anybody you feel has more right to you.'
  93. 'I would do anything else for you. I owe you my life,' said Mirah, not yet quite calm.
  94. 'Hush, hush, now,' said Mrs Meyrick. 'I have been punished enough for wagging my tongue foolishly - making an almanac for the Millennium, as my husband used to say.'
  95. 'But everything in the world must come to an end some time. We must bear to think of that,' said Mab, unable to hold her peace on this point. She had already suffered from a bondage of tongue which threatened to become severe if Mirah were to be too much indulged in this inconvenient susceptibility to innocent remarks.
  96. Deronda smiled at the irregular, blonde face, brought into strange contrast by the side of Mirah's - smiled, Mab thought, rather sarcastically as he said, 'That prospect of everything coming to an end will not guide us far in practice. Mirah's feelings, she tells us, are concerned with what is.'
  97. Mab was confused and wished she had not spoken, since Mr Deronda seemed to think that she had found fault with Mirah; but to have spoken once is a tyrannous reason for speaking again, and she said -
  98. 'I only meant that we must have courage to hear things, else there is hardly anything we can talk about.' Mab felt herself unanswerable here, inclining to the opinion of Socrates: 'What motive has a man to live, if not for the pleasures of discourse?'
  99. Deronda took his leave soon after, and when Mrs Meyrick went outside with him to exchange a few words about Mirah, he said, 'Hans is to share my chambers when he comes at Christmas.'
  100. 'You have written to Rome about that?' said Mrs Meyrick, her face lighting up. 'How very good and thoughtful of you! You mentioned Mirah, then?'
  101. 'Yes, I referred to her. I concluded he knew everything from you.'
  102. 'I must confess my folly. I have not yet written a word about her. I have always been meaning to do it, and yet have ended my letter without saying a word. And I told the girls to leave it to me. However! Thank you a thousand times.
  103. Deronda divined something of what was in the mother's mind, and his divination reinforced a certain anxiety already present in him. His inward colloquy was not soothing. He said to himself that no man could see this exquisite creature without feeling it possible to fall in love with her; but all the fervour of his nature was engaged on the side of precaution. There are personages who feel themselves tragic because they march into a palpable morass, dragging another with them, and then cry out against all the gods. Deronda's mind was strongly set against imitating them.
  104. 'I have my hands on the reins now,' he thought, 'and I will not drop them. I shall go there as little as possible.'
  105. He saw the reasons acting themselves out before him. How could he be Mirah's guardian and claim to unite with Mrs Meyrick, to whose charge he had committed her, if he showed himself as a lover - whom she did not love - whom she would not marry? And if he encouraged any germ of lover's feeling in himself it would lead up to that issue. Mirah's was not a nature that would bear dividing against itself; and even if love won her consent to marry a man who was not of her race and religion, she would never be happy in acting against that strong native bias which would still reign in her conscience as remorse.
  106. Deronda saw these consequences as we see any danger of marring our own work well begun. It was a delight to have rescued this Child acquainted with sorrow, and to think of having placed her little feet in protected paths. The creature we help to save, though only a half-reared linnet, bruised and lost by the wayside - how we watch and fence it, and dote on its signs of recovery! Our pride becomes loving, our self is' a not-self for whose sake we become virtuous, when we set to some hidden work of reclaiming a life from misery and look for our triumph in the secret joy - 'This one is the better for me.
  107. 'I would as soon hold out my finger to be bitten off as set about spoiling her peace,' said Deronda. 'It was one of the rarest bits of fortune that I should have had friends like the Meyricks to place her with - generous, delicate friends without any loftiness in their ways, so that her dependence on them is not only safety but happiness. There could be no refuge to replace that, if it were broken up. But what is the use of my taking the vows and settling everything as it should be, if that marplot Hans comes and upsets it all?'
  108. Few things were more likely. Hans was made for mishaps: his very limbs seemed more breakable than other people's - his eyes more of a resort for uninvited flies and other irritating guests. But it was impossible to forbid Hans's coming to London. He was intending to get a studio there and make it his chief home; and to propose that he should defer coming on some ostensible ground, concealing the real motive of winning time for Mirah's position to become more confirmed and independent, was impracticable. Having no other resource Deronda tried to believe that both he and Mrs Meyrick were foolishly troubling themselves about one of those endless things called probabilities, which never occur; but he did not quite succeed in his trying; on the contrary, he found himself going inwardly through a scene where on the first discovery of Hans's inclination, he gave him a very energetic warning suddenly checked, however, by the suspicion of personal feeling that his warmth might be creating in Hans. He could come to no result, but that the position was peculiar, and that he could make no further provision against dangers until they came nearer. To save an unhappy Jewess from drowning herself, would not have seemed a startling variation among police reports; but to discover in her so rare a Creature as Mirah, was an exceptional event which might well bring exceptional consequences. Deronda would not let himself for a moment dwell on any supposition that the consequences might enter deeply into his own life. The image of Mirah had never yet had that penetrating radiation which would have been given to it by the idea of her loving him. When this sort of effluence is absent from the fancy (whether from the fact or not) a man may go far in devotedness without perturbation.
  109. As to the search for Mirah's mother and brother, Deronda took what she had said to-day as a warrant for deferring any immediate measures. His conscience was not quite easy in this desire for delay, any more than it was quite easy in his not attempting to learn the truth about his own mother: in both cases he felt that here might be an unfilled duty to a parent, but in both cases there was an overpowering repugnance to the possible truth, which threw a turning weight into the scale of argument.
  110. 'At least, I will look about,' was his final determination. 'I may find some special Jewish machinery. I will wait till after Christmas.'
  111. What should we all do without the calendar, when we want to put off a disagreeable duty? The admirable arrangements of the solar system, by which our time is. measured, always supply us with a term before which it is hardly worth while to set about anything we are disinclined to.


'No man,' says a Rabbi, by way of indisputable instance, 'may turn the bones of his father and mother into spoons' - sure that his hearers felt the checks against that form of economy. The market for spoons has never expanded enough for any one to say, 'Why not?' and to argue that human progress lies in such an application of material. The only check to be alleged is a sentiment, which will coerce none who do not hold that sentiments are the better part of the world's wealth.

  1. Deronda meanwhile took to a less fashionable form 'of exercise than riding in Rotten Row. He went often rambling in those parts of London which are most inhabited by common Jews: he walked to the synagogues at times of service, he looked into shops, he observed faces: - a process not very promising of particular discovery. Why did he not address himself to an influential Rabbi or other member of a Jewish community, to consult on the chances of finding a mother named Cohen, with a son named Ezra, and a lost daughter named Mirah? He thought of doing so - after Christmas. The fact was, notwithstanding all his sense of poetry in common things, Deronda, where a keen personal interest was aroused, could not, more than the rest of us, continuously escape suffering from the pressure of that hard unaccommodating Actual, which has never consulted our taste and is entirely unselect. Enthusiasm, we know, dwells at ease among ideas, tolerates garlic breathed in the middle ages, and sees no shabbiness in the official trappings of classic processions: it gets squeamish when ideals press upon it as something warmly incarnate, and can hardly face them without fainting. Lying dreamily in a boat, imagining one's self in quest of a beautiful maiden's relatives in Cordova elbowed by Jews in the time of Ibn-Gebirol, all the physical incidents can be borne without shock. Or if the scenery of St Mary Axe and Whitechapel were imaginatively transported to the borders of the Rhine at the end of the eleventh century, when in the ears listening for the signals of the Messiah, the Hep! Hep! Hep! of the Crusaders came like the bay of bloodhounds; and in the presence of those devilish missionaries with sword and firebrand the crouching figure of the reviled Jew turned round erect, heroic, flashing with sublime constancy in the face of torture and death - what would the dingy shops and unbeautiful faces signify to the thrill of contemplative emotion? But the fervour of sympathy with which we contemplate a grandiose martyrdom is feeble compared with the enthusiasm that keeps unslacked where there is no danger, no challenge - nothing but impartial mid-day falling on commonplace, perhaps half-repulsive, objects which are really the beloved ideas made flesh. Here undoubtedly lies the chief poetic energy: - in the force of imagination that pierces or exalts the solid fact, instead of floating among cloud-pictures. To glory in a prophetic vision of knowledge covering the earth, is an easier exercise of believing imagination than to see its beginning in newspaper placards, staring at you from a bridge beyond the cornfields; and it might well happen to most of us dainty people that we were in the thick of the battle of Armageddon without being aware of anything more than the annoyance of a little explosive smoke and struggling on the ground immediately about us.
  2. It lay in Deronda's nature usually to contemn the feeble, fastidious sympathy which shrinks from the broad life of mankind; but now, with Mirah before him as a living reality whose experience he had to care for, he saw every common Jew and Jewess in the light of comparison with her, and had a presentiment of the collision between her idea of the unknown mother and brother and the discovered fact - a presentiment all the keener in him because of a suppressed consciousness that a not unlike possibility of collision might lie hidden in his own lot. Not that he would have looked with more complacency of expectation at wealthy Jews, outdoing the lords of the Philistines in their sports; but since there was no likelihood of Mirah's friends being found among that class, their habits did not immediately affect him. In this mood he rambled, without expectation of a more pregnant result than a little preparation of his own mind, perhaps for future theorising as well as practice - very much as if, Mirah being related to Welsh miners, he had gone to look more closely at the ways of those people, not without wishing at the same time to get a little light of detail on the history of Strikes.
  3. He really did not long to find anybody in particular; and when, as his habit was, he looked at the name over a shop-door, he was well content that it was not Ezra Cohen. I confess, he particularly desired that Ezra Cohen should not keep a shop. Wishes are held to be ominous; according to which belief the order of the world is so arranged that if you have an impious objection to a squint, your offspring is the more likely to be born with one; also, that if you happened to desire a squint, you would not get it. This desponding view of probability the hopeful entirely reject, taking their wishes as good and sufficient security for all kinds of fulfilment. Who is absolutely neutral? Deronda happening one morning to turn into a little side street out of the noise and obstructions of Holborn, felt the scale dip on the desponding side.
  4. He was rather tired of the streets and had paused to hail a hansom cab which he saw coming, when his attention was caught by some fine old clasps in chased silver displayed in the window at his right hand. His first thought was that Lady Mallinger, who had a strictly Protestant taste for such Catholic spoils, might like to have these missal-clasps turned into a bracelet; then his eyes travelled over the other contents of the window, and he saw that the shop was that kind of pawnbroker's where the lead is given to jewellery, lace, and all equivocal objects introduced as bric-a-brac. A placard in one corner announced - Watches and Jewellery exchanged and repaired. But his survey had been noticed from within, and a figure appeared at the door, looking round at him, and saying, in a tone of cordial encouragement, 'Good day, sir.' The instant was enough for Deronda to see the face, unmistakably Jewish, belonged to a young man about thirty; and wincing from the shop-keeper's persuasiveness that would probably follow, he had no sooner returned the 'good day,' than he passed to the other side of the street and beckoned to the cabman to draw up there. From that station he saw the name over the shop-window - Ezra Cohen.
  5. There might be a hundred Ezra Cohens lettered above shop-windows, but Deronda had not seen them. Probably the young man interested in a possible customer was Ezra himself; and he was about the age to be expected in Mirah's brother, who was grown up while she was still a little child. But Deronda's first endeavour as he drove homewards was to convince himself that there was not the slightest warrantable presumption of this Ezra being Mirah's brother; and next, that even if, in spite of good reasoning, he turned out to be that brother, while on inquiry the mother was found to be dead, it was not his - Deronda's duty to make known the discovery to Mirah. In inconvenient disturbance of this conclusion there came his lately-acquired knowledge that Mirah would have a religious desire to know of her mother's death, and also to learn whether her brother were living. How far was he justified in determining another life by his own notions? Was it not his secret complaint against the way in which others had ordered his own life, that he had not open daylight on all its relations, so that he had not, like other men, the full guidance of primary duties?
  6. The immediate relief from this inward debate was the reflection that he had not yet made any real discovery, and that by looking into the facts more closely he should be certified that there was no demand on him for any decision whatever. He intended to return to that shop as soon as he could conveniently, and buy the clasps for Lady Mallinger. But he was hindered for several days by Sir Hugo, who, about to make an after-dinner speech on a burning topic, wanted Deronda to forage for him on the legal part of the question, besides wasting time every day on argument which always ended in a drawn battle. As on many other questions, they held different sides; but Sir Hugo did not mind this, and when Deronda put his point well said, with a mixture of satisfaction and regret -
  7. 'Confound it, Dan! why don't you make an opportunity of saying these things in public? You're wrong, you know. You won't succeed. You've got the massive sentiment - the heavy artillery of the country against you. But it's all the better ground for a young man to display himself on. When I was your age, I should have taken it. And it would be quite as well for you to be in opposition to me here and there. It would throw you more into relief. If you would seize an occasion of this sort to make an impression, you might be in Parliament in no time. And you know that would gratify me.'
  8. 'I am sorry not to do what would gratify you, sir,' said Deronda. 'But I cannot persuade myself to look at politics as a profession.'
  9. 'Why not? If a man is not born into public life by his position in the country, there's no way for him but to embrace it by his own efforts. The business of the country must be done - her Majesty's Government carried on, as the old Duke said. And it never could be, my boy, if everybody looked at politics as if they were prophecy, and demanded an inspired vocation. If you are to get into Parliament, it won't do to sit still and wait for a call either from heaven or constituents.'
  10. 'I don't want to make a living out of opinions,' said Deronda; 'especially out of borrowed opinions. Not that I mean to blame other men. I daresay many better fellows than I don't mind getting on to a platform to praise themselves, and giving their word of honour for a party.'
  11. 'I'll tell you what, Dan,' said Sir Hugo, 'a man who sets his face against every sort of humbug is simply a three-cornered, impracticable fellow. There's a bad style of humbug, but there is also a good style - one that oils the wheels and makes progress possible. If you are to rule men, you must rule them through their own ideas; and I agree with the Archbishop at Naples who had a St Januarius procession against the plague. It's no use having an Order in Council against popular shallowness. There is no action possible without a little acting.'
  12. 'One may be obliged to give way to an occasional necessity,' said Deronda. 'But it is one thing to say, "In this particular case I am forced to put on this foolscap and grin," and another to buy a pocket foolscap and practise myself in grinning. I can't see any real public expediency that does not keep an ideal before it which makes a limit of deviation from the direct path. But if I were to set up for a public man I might mistake my own success for public expediency.'
  13. It was after this dialogue, which was rather jarring to him, that Deronda set out on his meditated second visit to Ezra Cohen's. He entered the street at the end opposite to the Holborn entrance, and an inward reluctance slackened his pace, while his thoughts were transferring what he had just been saying about public expediency to the entirely private difficulty which brought him back again into this unattractive thoroughfare. It might soon become an immediate practical question with him how far he could call it a wise expediency to conceal the fact of close kindred. Such questions turning up constantly in life are often decided in a rough and ready way; and to many it will appear an over-refinement in Deronda that he should make any great point of a matter confined to his own knowledge. But we have seen the reasons why he had come to regard concealment as a bane of life, and the necessity of concealment as a mark by which lines of action were to be avoided. The prospect of being urged against the confirmed habit of his mind was naturally grating. He even paused here and there before the most plausible shop-windows for a gentleman to look into, half inclined to decide that he would not increase his knowledge about that modern Ezra, who was certainly not a leader among his people - a hesitation which proved how, in a man much given to reasoning a bare possibility may weigh more than the best-clad likelihood; for Deronda's reasoning had decided that all likelihood was against this man's being Mirah's brother.
  14. One of the shop-windows he paused before was that of a second-hand book-shop, where, on a narrow table outside, the literature of the ages was represented in judicious mixture, from the immortal verse of Homer to the mortal prose of the railway novel. That the mixture was judicious was apparent from Deronda's finding in it something that he wanted - namely, that wonderful bit of autobiography, the life of the Polish Jew, Salomon Maimon; which, as he could easily slip it into his pocket, he took from its place, and entered the shop to pay for, expecting to see behind the counter a grimy personage showing that nonchalance about sales which seems to belong universally to the secondhand book-business. In most other trades you find generous men who are anxious to sell you their wares for your own welfare; but even a Jew will not urge Simson's Euclid on you with an affectionate assurance that you will have pleasure in reading it, and that he wishes he had twenty more of the article, so much is it in request. One is led to fear that a second-hand bookseller may belong to that unhappy class of men who have no belief in the good of what they get their living by, yet keep conscience enough to be morose rather than unctuous in their vocation.
  15. But instead of the ordinary tradesman, he saw, on the dark background of books in the long narrow shop, a figure that was somewhat startling in its unusualness. A man in threadbare clothing, whose age was difficult to guess - from the dead yellowish flatness of the flesh, something like an old ivory carving - was seated on a stool against some bookshelves that projected beyond the short counter, doing nothing more remarkable than reading the yesterday's Times; but when he let the paper rest on his lap and looked at the incoming customer, the thought glanced through Deronda that precisely such a physiognomy as that might possibly have been seen in a prophet of the Exile, or in some New Hebrew poet of the medieval time. It was a finely typical Jewish face, wrought into intensity of expression apparently by a strenuous eager experience in which all the satisfaction had been indirect and far off, and perhaps by some bodily suffering also, which involved that absence of ease in the present. The features were clear-cut, not large; the brow not high but broad, and fully defined by the crisp black hair. It might never have been a particularly handsome face, but it must always have been forcible; and now with its dark, far-off gaze, and yellow pallor in relief on the gloom of the backward shop, one might have imagined one's self coming upon it in some past prison of the Inquisition, which a mob had suddenly burst open; while the look fixed on an incidental customer seemed eager and questioning enough to have been turned on one who might have been a messenger either of delivery or of death. The figure was probably familiar and unexciting enough to the inhabitants of this street; but to Deronda's mind it brought so strange a blending of the unwonted with the common, that there was a perceptible interval of mutual observation before he asked his question: 'What is the price of this book?'
  16. After taking the book and examining the fly-leaves without rising, the supposed bookseller said, 'There is no mark, and Mr Ram is not in now. I am keeping the shop while he is gone to dinner. What are you disposed to give for it?' He held the book closed on his lap with his hand in it and looked examiningly at Deronda, over whom there came the disagreeable idea, that possibly this striking personage wanted to see how much could be got out of a customer's ignorance of prices. But without further reflection he said, 'Don't you know how much it is worth?'
  17. 'Not its market-price. May I ask, have you read it?'
  18. 'No. I have read an account of it, which makes me want to buy it.'
  19. 'You are a man of learning - you are interested in Jewish history?' This was said in a deepened tone of eager inquiry.
  20. 'I am certainly interested in Jewish history,' said Deronda, quietly, curiosity overcoming his dislike to the sort of inspection as well as questioning he was under.
  21. But immediately the strange Jew rose from his sitting posture, and Deronda felt a thin hand pressing his arm tightly, while a hoarse, excited voice, not much above a loud whisper, said -
  22. 'You are perhaps of our race?'
  23. Deronda coloured deeply, not liking the grasp, and then answered with a slight shake of the head, 'No.' The grasp was relaxed, the hand withdrawn, the eagerness of the face collapsed into uninterested melancholy, as if some possessing spirit which had leaped into the eyes and gestures had sunk back again to the inmost recesses of the frame; and moving further off as he held out the little book, the stranger said in a tone of distant civility, 'I believe Mr Ram will be satisfied with half-a-crown, sir.'
  24. The effect of this change on Deronda - he afterwards smiled when he recalled it - was oddly embarrassing and humiliating, as if some high dignitary had found him deficient and given him his congé. There was nothing further to be said, however: he paid his half-crown and carried off his Salomon Maimon's Lebensgeschichte with a mere 'good morning.'
  25. He felt some vexation at the sudden arrest of the interview, and the apparent prohibition that he should know more of this man, who was certainly something out of the common way - as different probably as a Jew could well be from Ezra Cohen, through whose door Deronda was presently entering, and whose flourishing face glistening on the way to fatness was hanging over the counter in negotiation with some one on the other side of the partition, concerning two plated stoppers and three teaspoons, which lay spread before him. Seeing Deronda enter, he called out 'Mother! Mother!' and then with a familiar nod and smile, said, 'Coming, sir - coming directly.'
  26. Deronda could not help looking towards the door from the back with some anxiety, which was not soothed when he saw a vigorous woman beyond fifty enter and approach to serve him. Not that there was anything very repulsive about her: the worst that could be said was that she had that look of having made her toilet with little water, and by twilight, which is common to unyouthful people of her class, and of having presumably slept in her large earrings, if not in her rings and necklace. In fact, what caused a sinking of heart in Deronda was, her not being so coarse and ugly as to exclude the idea of her being Mirah's mother. Any one who has looked at a face to try and discern signs of known kinship in it will understand his process of conjecture - how he tried to think away the fat which had gradually disguised the outlines of youth, and to discern what one may call the elementary expressions of the face. He was sorry to see no absolute negative to his fears. Just as it was conceivable that this Ezra, brought up to trade, might resemble the scapegrace father in everything but his knowledge and talent, so it was not impossible that this mother might have had a lovely refined daughter whose type of feature and expression was like Mirah's. The eyebrows had a vexatious similarity of line; and who shall decide how far a face may be masked when the uncherishing years have thrust it far onward in the ever new procession of youth and age? The good-humour of the glance remained and shone out in a motherly way at Deronda, as she said, in a mild guttural tone -
  27. 'How can I serve you, sir?'
  28. 'I should like to look at the silver clasps in the window,' said Deronda; 'the larger ones, please, in the corner there.'
  29. They were not quite easy to get at from the mother's station, and the son seeing this called out, 'I'll reach 'em, mother; I'll reach 'em,' running forward with alacrity, and then handing the clasps to Deronda with the smiling remark -
  30. 'Mother's too proud: she wants to do everything herself. That's why I called her to wait on you, sir. When there's a particular gentleman customer, sir, I daren't do any other than call her. But I can't let her do herself a mischief with stretching.'
  31. Here Mr Cohen made way again for his parent, who gave a little guttural amiable laugh while she looked at Deronda, as much as to say, 'This boy will be at his jokes, but you see he's the best son in the world;' and evidently the son enjoyed pleasing her, though he also wished to convey an apology to his distinguished customer for not giving him the advantage of his own exclusive attention.
  32. Deronda began to examine the clasps as if he had many points to observe before he could come to a decision.
  33. 'They are only three guineas, sir,' said the mother, encouragingly.
  34. 'First-rate workmanship, sir - worth twice the money; only I got 'em a bargain from Cologne,' said the son, parenthetically, from a distance.
  35. Meanwhile two new customers entered, and the repeated call, 'Addy!' brought from the back of the shop a group that Deronda turned frankly to stare at, feeling sure that the stare would be held complimentary. The group consisted of a black-eyed young woman who carried a black-eyed little one, its head already well-covered with black curls, and deposited it on the counter, from which station it looked round with even more than the usual intelligence of babies; also a robust boy of six and a younger girl, both with black eyes and black-ringed hair looking more Semitic than their parents, as the puppy lions show the spots of far-off progenitors. The young woman answering to 'Addy' - a sort of paroquet in a bright blue dress, with coral necklace and earrings, her hair set up in a huge bush - looked as complacently lively and unrefined as her husband; and by a certain difference from the mother deepened in Deronda the unwelcome impression that the latter was not so utterly common a Jewess as to exclude her being the mother of Mirah. While that thought was glancing through his mind, the boy had run forward into the shop with an energetic stamp, and setting himself about four feet from Deronda, with his hands in the pockets of his miniature knickerbockers, looked at him with a precocious air of survey. Perhaps it was chiefly with a diplomatic design to linger and ingratiate himself that Deronda patted the boy's head, saying -
  36. 'What is your name, sirrah?'
  37. 'Jacob Alexander Cohen,' said the small man, with much ease and distinctness.
  38. 'You are not named after your father, then?'
  39. 'No; after my grandfather. He sells knives and razors and scissors - my grandfather does,' said Jacob, wishing to impress the stranger with that high connection. 'He gave me this knife.' Here a pocket-knife was drawn forth, and the small fingers, both naturally and artificially dark, opened two blades and a cork-screw with much quickness.
  40. 'Is not that a dangerous plaything?' said Deronda, turning to the grandmother.
  41. 'He'll never hurt himself, bless you!' said she, contemplating her grandson with placid rapture.
  42. 'Have you got a knife?' says Jacob, coming closer. His small voice was hoarse in its glibness, as if it belonged to an aged commercial soul, fatigued with bargaining through many generations.
  43. 'Yes. Do you want to see it?' said Deronda, taking a small penknife from his waistcoat-pocket.
  44. Jacob seized it immediately and retreated a little, holding the two knives in his palms and bending over them in meditative comparison. By this time the other clients were gone, and the whole family had gathered to the spot, centring their attention on the marvellous Jacob: the father, mother, and grandmother behind the counter, with baby held staggering thereon, and the little girl in front leaning at her brother's elbow to assist him in looking at the knives.
  45. 'Mine's the best,' said Jacob, at last, returning Deronda's knife, as if he had been entertaining the idea of exchange and had rejected it.
  46. Father and mother laughed aloud with delight. 'You won't find Jacob choosing the worst,' said Mr Cohen, winking, with much confidence in the customer's admiration. Deronda, looking at the grandmother, who had only an inward silent laugh, said -
  47. 'Are these the only grandchildren you have?'
  48. 'All. This is my only son,' she answered, in a communicative tone, Deronda's glance and manner as usual conveying the impression of sympathetic interest - which on this occasion answered his purpose well. It seemed to come naturally enough that he should say
  49. 'And you have no daughter?'
  50. There was an instantaneous change in the mother's face. Her lips closed more firmly, she looked down, swept her hands outward on the counter, and finally turned her back on Deronda to examine some Indian handkerchiefs that hung in pawn behind her. Her son gave a significant glance, set up his shoulders an instant and just put his finger to his lips, - then said quickly, 'I think you're a first-rate gentleman in the city, sir, if I may be allowed to guess.'
  51. 'No,' said Deronda, with a preoccupied air, 'I have nothing to do with the city.'
  52. 'That's a bad job. I thought you might be the young principal of a first-rate firm,' said Mr Cohen, wishing to make amends for the check on his customer's natural desire to know more of him and his. 'But you understand silver-work, I see.'
  53. 'A little,' said Deronda, taking up the clasps a moment and laying them down again. That unwelcome bit of circumstantial evidence had made his mind busy with a plan which was certainly more like acting than anything he had been aware of in his own conduct before. But the bare possibility that more knowledge might nullify the evidence, now overpowered the inclination to rest in uncertainty.
  54. 'To tell you the truth,' he went on, my errand is not so much to buy as to borrow. I daresay you go into rather heavy transactions occasionally.'
  55. 'Well, sir, I've accommodated gentlemen of distinction I'm proud to say it. I wouldn't exchange my business with any in the world. There's none more honourable, nor more charitable, nor more necessary for all classes, from the good lady who wants a little of the ready for the baker, to a gentleman like yourself, sir, who may want it for amusement. I like my business, I like my street, and I like my shop. I wouldn't have it a door further down. And I wouldn't be without a pawn-shop, sir, to be the Lord Mayor. It puts you in connection with the world at large. I say it's like the Government revenue - it embraces the brass as well as the gold of the country. And a man who doesn't get money, sir, can't accommodate. Now what can I do for you, sir?'
  56. If an amiable self-satisfaction is the mark of earthly bliss, Solomon in all his glory was a pitiable mortal compared with Mr Cohen - clearly one of those persons who, being in excellent spirits about themselves, are willing to cheer strangers by letting them know it. While he was delivering himself with lively rapidity, he took the baby from his wife and holding it on his arm presented his features to be explored by its small fists. Deronda, not in a cheerful mood, was rashly pronouncing this Ezra Cohen to be the most unpoetic Jew he had ever met with in books or life: his phraseology was as little as possible like that of the Old Testament; and no shadow of a Suffering Race distinguished his vulgarity of soul from that of a prosperous pink-and-white huckster of the purest English lineage. It is naturally a Christian feeling that a Jew ought not to be conceited. However, this was no reason for not persevering in his project, and he answered at once in adventurous ignorance of technicalities -
  57. 'I have a fine diamond ring to offer as security - not with me at this moment, unfortunately, for I am not in the habit of wearing it. But I will come again this evening and bring it with me. Fifty pounds at once would be a convenience to me.'
  58. 'Well, you know, this evening is the Sabbath, young gentleman,' said Cohen, 'and I go to the Shool. The shop will be closed. But accommodation is a work of charity; if you can't get here before, and are any ways pressed - why, I'll look at your diamond. You're perhaps from the West End - a longish drive?'
  59. 'Yes; and your Sabbath begins early at this season. I could be here by five - will that do?' Deronda had not been without hope that by asking to come on a Friday evening he might get a better opportunity of observing points in the family character, and might even be able to put some decisive question.
  60. Cohen assented; but here the marvellous Jacob, whose physique supported a precocity that would have shattered a Gentile of his years, showed that he had been listening with much comprehension by saying, 'You are coming again. Have you got any more knives at home?'
  61. 'I think I have one,' said Deronda, smiling down at him.
  62. 'Has it two blades and a hook - and a white handle like that?' said Jacob, pointing to the waistcoat-pocket.
  63. 'I daresay it has.'
  64. 'Do you like a cork-screw?' said Jacob, exhibiting that article in his own knife again, and looking up with serious inquiry.
  65. 'Yes,' said Deronda, experimentally.
  66. 'Bring your knife, then, and we'll shwop,' said Jacob, returning the knife to his pocket, and stamping about with the sense that he had concluded a good transaction.
  67. The grandmother had now recovered her usual manners, and the whole family watched Deronda radiantly when he caressingly lifted the little girl, to whom he had not hitherto given attention, and seating her on the counter, asked for her name also. She looked at him in silence, and put her fingers to her gold earrings, which he did not seem to have noticed.
  68. 'Adelaide Rebekah is her name,' said her mother, proudly. 'Speak to the gentleman, lovey.'
  69. 'Shlav'm Shabbes fyock on,' said Adelaide Rebekah.
  70. 'Her Sabbath frock, she means,' said the father, in explanation.
  71. 'She'll have her Sabbath frock on this evening.'
  72. 'And will you let me see you in it, Adelaide?' said Deronda, with that gentle intonation which came very easily to him.
  73. 'Say yes, lovey - yes, if you please, sir,' said her mother, enchanted with this handsome young gentleman, who appreciated remarkable children.
  74. 'And will you give me a kiss this evening?' said Deronda, with a hand on each of her little brown shoulders.
  75. Adelaide Rebekah (her miniature crinoline and monumental features corresponded with the combination of her names) immediately put up her lips to pay the kiss in advance; whereupon her father, rising into still more glowing satisfaction with the general meritoriousness of his circumstances, and with the stranger who was an admiring witness, said cordially -
  76. 'You see there's somebody will be disappointed if you don't come this evening, sir. You won't mind sitting down in our family place and waiting a bit for me, if I'm not in when you come, sir? I'll stretch a point to accommodate a gent of your sort. Bring the diamond, and I'll see what I can do for you.
  77. Deronda thus left the most favourable impression behind him, as a preparation for mote easy intercourse. But for his own part those amenities had been carried on under the heaviest spirits. If these were really Mirah's relatives, he could not imagine that even her fervid filial piety could give the reunion with them any sweetness beyond such as could be found in the strict fulfilment of a painful duty. What did this vaunting brother need? And with the most favourable supposition about the hypothetic mother, Deronda shrank from the image of a first meeting between her and Mirah, and still more from the idea of Mirah's domestication with this family. He took refuge in disbelief. To find an Ezra Cohen when the name was running in your head was no more extraordinary than to find a Josiah Smith under like circumstances; and as to the coincidence about the daughter, it would probably turn out to be a difference. If, however, further knowledge confirmed the more undesirable conclusion, what would be wise expediency? - to try and determine the best consequences by concealment, or to brave other consequences for the sake of that openness which is the sweet fresh air of our moral life.


'Er ist geheissen
Israel. Ihn hat verwandelt
Hexenspruch in einen Hund.
. . . . . . . . . .
Aber jeden Freitag Abend,
In der Dämmrungstunde, plötzlich
Weicht der Zauber, und der Hund
Wird aufs Neu' ein menschlich Wesen.'
- HEINE: Prinzessin Sabbath.

  1. When Deronda arrived at five o'clock, the shop was closed and the door was opened for him by the Christian servant. When she showed him into the room behind the shop he was surprised at the prettiness of the scene. The house was old, and rather extensive at the back: probably the large room he now entered was gloomy by daylight, but now it was agreeably lit by a fine old brass lamp with seven oil-lights hanging above the snow-white cloth spread on the central table. The ceiling and walls were smoky, and all the surroundings were dark enough to throw into relief the human figures, which had a Venetian glow of colouring. The grandmother was arrayed in yellowish brown with a large gold chain in lieu of the necklace, and by this light her yellow face with its darkly-marked eyebrows and framing rouleau of grey hair looked as handsome as was necessary for picturesque effect. Young Mrs Cohen was clad in red and black, with a string of large artificial pearls wound round and round her neck: the baby lay asleep in the cradle under a scarlet counterpane; Adelaide Rebekah was in braided amber; and Jacob Alexander was in black velveteen with scarlet stockings. As the four pairs of black eyes all glistened a welcome at Deronda, he was almost ashamed of the supercilious dislike these happy-looking creatures had raised in him by daylight. Nothing could be more cordial than the greeting he received, and both mother and grandmother seemed to gather more dignity from being seen on the private hearth, showing hospitality. He looked round with some wonder at the old furniture: the oaken bureau and high side table must surely be mere matters of chance and economy, and not due to the family taste. A large dish of blue-and-yellow ware was set upon the side table, and flanking it were two old silver vessels; in front of them a large volume in darkened vellum with a deep-ribbed back. In the corner at the farther end was an open door into an inner room, where there was also a light.
  2. Deronda took in these details by parenthetic glances while he met Jacob's pressing solicitude about the knife. He had taken the pains to buy one with the requisites of the hook and white handle, and produced it on demand, saying -
  3. 'Is that the sort of thing you want, Jacob?'
  4. It was subjected to a severe scrutiny, the hook and blades were opened, and the article of barter with the cork-screw was drawn forth for comparison.
  5. 'Why do you like a hook better than a cork-screw?' said Deronda.
  6. ''Caush I can get hold of things with a hook. A cork-screw won't go into anything but corks. But it's better for you, you can draw corks.'
  7. 'You agree to change, then?' said Deronda, observing that the grandmother was listening with delight.
  8. 'What else have you got in your pockets?' said Jacob, with deliberate seriousness.
  9. 'Hush, hush, Jacob, love,' said the grandmother. And Deronda, mindful of discipline, answered -
  10. 'I think I must not tell you that. Our business was with the knives.'
  11. Jacob looked up into his face scanningly for a moment or two, and apparently arriving at his conclusions, said gravely
  12. 'I'll shwop,' handing the cork-screw knife to Deronda, who pocketed it with corresponding gravity.
  13. Immediately the small son of Shem ran off into the next room, whence his voice was heard in rapid chat; and then ran back again - when, seeing his father enter, he seized a little velveteen hat which lay on a chair and put it on to approach him. Cohen kept on his own hat, and took no notice of the visitor, but stood still while the two children went up to him and clasped his knees: then he laid his hands on each in turn and uttered his Hebrew benediction; whereupon the wife who had lately taken baby from the cradle brought it up to her husband and held it under his outstretched hands, to be blessed in its sleep. For the moment Deronda thought that this pawnbroker proud of his vocation was not utterly prosaic.
  14. 'Well, sir, you found your welcome in my family, I think,' said Cohen, putting down his hat and becoming his former self. 'And you've been punctual. Nothing like a little stress here,' he added, tapping his side pocket, as he sat down. 'It's good for us all in our turn. I've felt it when I've had to make up payments. I began early - had to turn myself about and put myself into shapes to fit every sort of box It's bracing to the mind. Now then! let us see, let us see.
  15. 'That is the ring I spoke of,' said Deronda, taking it from his finger. 'I believe it cost a hundred pounds. It will be a sufficient pledge to you for fifty, I think. I shall probably redeem it in a month or so.'
  16. Cohen's glistening eyes seemed to get a little nearer together as he met the ingenuous look of this crude young gentleman, who apparently supposed that redemption was a satisfaction to pawnbrokers. He took the ring, examined and returned it, saying with indifference, 'Good, good. We'll talk of it after our meal. Perhaps you'll join us, if you've no objection. Me and my wife 'll feel honoured, and so will mother: won't you, mother?'
  17. The invitation was doubly echoed, and Deronda gladly accepted it. All now turned and stood round the table. No dish was at present seen except one covered with a napkin; and Mrs Cohen had placed a china bowl near her husband that he might wash his hands' in it. But after putting on his hat again, he paused, and called in a loud voice, 'Mordecai!'
  18. Can this be part of the religious ceremony? thought Deronda, not knowing what might be expected of the ancient hero. But he heard a 'Yes' from the next room, which made him look towards the open door; and there, to his astonishment, he saw the figure of the enigmatic Jew whom he had this morning met with in the book-shop. Their eyes met, and Mordecai looked as much surprised as Deronda - neither in his surprise making any sign of recognition. But when Mordecai was seating himself at the end of the table, he just bent his head to the guest in a cold and distant manner, as if the disappointment of the morning remained a disagreeable association with this new acquaintance.
  19. Cohen now washed his hands, pronouncing Hebrew words the while afterwards, he took off the napkin covering the dish and disclosed the two long flat loaves besprinkled with seed - the memorial of the manna that fed the wandering forefathers - and breaking off small pieces gave one to each of the family, including Adelaide Rebekah, who stood on the chair with her whole length exhibited in her amber-coloured garment, her little Jewish nose lengthened by compression of the lip in the effort to make a suitable appearance. Cohen then began another Hebrew blessing, in which Jacob put on his hat to join with close imitation. After that, the heads were uncovered, all seated themselves, and the meal went on without any peculiarity that interested Deronda. He was not very conscious of what dishes he ate from, being preoccupied with a desire to turn the conversation in a way that would enable him to ask some leading question; and also with thinking of Mordecai, between whom and himself there was an exchange of fascinated, half-furtive glances. Mordecai had no handsome Sabbath garment, but instead of the threadbare rusty black coat of the morning he wore one of light drab, which looked as if it had once been a handsome loose paletot now shrunk with washing; and this change of clothing gave a still stronger accentuation to his dark-haired, eager face, which might have belonged to the prophet Ezekiel - also probably not modish in the eyes of contemporaries. It was noticeable that the thin tails of the fried fish were given to Mordecai; and in general the sort of share assigned to a poor relation - no doubt a 'survival' of pre-historic practice, not yet generally admitted to be superstitious.
  20. Mr Cohen kept up the conversation with much liveliness, introducing as subjects always in taste (the Jew is proud of his loyalty) the Queen and the Royal Family, the Emperor and Empress of the French - into which both grandmother and wife entered with zest. Mrs Cohen the younger showed an accurate memory of distinguished birthdays; and the elder assisted her son in informing the guest of what occurred when the Emperor and Empress were in England and visited the city, ten years before.
  21. 'I daresay you know all about it better than we do, sir,' said Cohen, repeatedly, by way of preface to full information; and the interesting statements were kept up in a trio.
  22. 'Our baby is named Eugenie Esther,' said young Mrs Cohen, vivaciously.
  23. 'It's wonderful how the Emperor's like a cousin of mine in the face,' said the grandmother; 'it struck me like lightning when I caught sight of him. I couldn't have thought it.'
  24. 'Mother and me went to see the Emperor and Empress at the Crystal Palace,' said Mr Cohen. 'I had a fine piece of work to take care of mother; she might have been squeezed flat - though she was pretty near as lusty then as she is now. I said, if I had a hundred mothers I'd never take one of 'em to see the Emperor and Empress at the Crystal Palace again; and you may think a man Can't afford it when he's got but one mother - not if he'd ever so big an insurance on her.' He stroked his mother's shoulder affectionately, and chuckled a little at his own humour.
  25. 'Your mother has been a widow a long while, perhaps,' said Deronda, seizing his opportunity. 'That has made your care for her the more needful.'
  26. 'Ay, ay, it's a good many yore-zeit since I had to manage for her and myself,' said Cohen, quickly. 'I went early to it. It's that makes you a sharp knife.'
  27. 'What does - what makes a sharp knife, father?' said Jacob, his cheek very much swollen with sweet-cake.
  28. The father winked at his guest and said, 'Having your nose put on the grindstone.'
  29. Jacob slipped from his chair with the piece of sweet-cake in his hand, and going close up to Mordecai, who had been totally silent hitherto, said, 'What does that mean - putting my nose to the grindstone?'
  30. 'It means that you are to bear being hurt without making a noise,' said Mordecai, turning his eyes benignantly on the small face close to his. Jacob put the corner of the cake into Mordecai's mouth as an invitation to bite, saying meanwhile, 'I shan't, though,' and keeping his eyes on the cake to observe how much of it went in this act of generosity. Mordecai took a bite and smiled, evidently meaning to please the lad, and the little incident made them both look more lovable. Deronda, however, felt with some vexation that he had taken little by his question.
  31. 'I fancy that is the right quarter for learning,' said he, carrying on the subject that he might have an excuse for addressing Mordecai, to whom he turned and said, 'You have been a great student, I imagine.'
  32. 'I have studied,' was the quiet answer. 'And you? - You know German, by the book you were buying.'
  33. 'Yes, I have studied in Germany. Are you generally engaged in book-selling?' said Deronda.
  34. 'No; I only go to Mr Ram's shop every day to keep it while he goes to meals,' said Mordecai, who was now looking at Deronda with what seemed a revival of his original interest: it seemed as if the face had some attractive indication for him which now neutralised the former disappointment. After a slight pause, he said, 'Perhaps you know Hebrew?'
  35. 'I am sorry to say, not at all.'
  36. Mordecai's countenance fell: he cast down his eyelids, looking at his hands, which lay crossed before him, and said no more. Deronda had now noticed more decisively than in their former interview a difficulty of breathing, which he thought must be a sign of consumption.
  37. 'I've had something else to do than to get book-learning,' said Mr Cohen, - 'I've had to make myself knowing about useful things. I know stones well,' - here he pointed to Deronda's ring. 'I'm not afraid of taking that ring of yours at my own valuation. But now,' he added, with a certain drop in his voice to a lower, more familiar nasal, 'what do you want for it?'
  38. 'Fifty or sixty pounds,' Deronda answered, rather too carelessly.
  39. Cohen paused a little, thrust his hands into his pockets, fixed on Deronda a pair of glistening eyes that suggested a miraculous guinea-pig, and said, 'Couldn't do you that. Happy to oblige, but couldn't go that lengths. Forty pound say forty - I'll let you have forty on it.'
  40. Deronda was aware that Mordecai had looked up again at the words implying a monetary affair, and was now examining him again, while he said, 'Very well; I shall redeem it in a month or so.'
  41. 'Good. I'll make you out the ticket by-and-by,' said Cohen, indifferently. Then he held up his finger as a sign that conversation must be deferred. He, Mordecai, and Jacob put on their hats, and Cohen opened a thanksgiving, which was carried on by responses, till Mordecai delivered himself alone at some length, in a solemn chanting tone, with his chin slightly uplifted and his thin hands clasped easily before him. Not only in his accent and tone, but in his freedom from the self-consciousness which has reference to others' approbation, there could hardly have been a stronger contrast to the Jew at the other end of the table. It was an unaccountable conjunction - the presence among these common, prosperous, shopkeeping types, of a man who, in an emaciated threadbare condition, imposed a certain awe on Deronda, and an embarrassment at not meeting his expectations.
  42. No sooner had Mordecai finished his devotional strain, than rising, with a slight bend of his head to the stranger, he walked hack into his room, and shut the door behind him.
  43. 'That seems to be rather a remarkable man,' said Deronda, turning to Cohen, who immediately set up his shoulders, put out his tongue slightly, and tapped his own brow. It was clearly to be understood that Mordecai did not come up to the standard of sanity which was set by Mr Cohen's view of men and things.
  44. 'Does he belong to your family?' said Deronda.
  45. This idea appeared to be rather ludicrous to the ladies as well as to Cohen, and the family interchanged looks of amusement.
  46. 'No, no,' said Cohen. 'Charity! charity! He worked for me, and when he got weaker and weaker I took him in. He's an encumbrance; but he brings a blessing down, and he teaches the boy. Besides, he does the repairing at the watches and jewellery.'
  47. Deronda hardly abstained from smiling at this mixture of kindliness and the desire to justify it in the light of a calculation; but his willingness to speak further of Mordecai, whose character was made the more enigmatically striking by these new details, was baffled. Mr Cohen immediately dismissed the subject by reverting to the 'accommodation,' which was also an act of charity, and proceeded to make out the ticket, get the forty pounds, and present them both in exchange for the diamond ring. Deronda, feeling that it would be hardly delicate to protract his visit beyond the settlement of the business which was its pretext, had to take his leave, with no more decided result than the advance of forty pounds and the pawn-ticket in his breast-pocket, to make a reason for returning when he came up to town after Christmas. He was resolved that he would then endeavour to gain a little more insight into the character and history of Mordecai; from whom also he might gather something decisive about the Cohens - for example, the reason why it was forbidden to ask Mrs Cohen the elder whether she had a daughter.


George Eliot

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