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Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

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					 DANIEL
DERONDA
           BY

   GEORGE
    ELIOT
      A PENN STATE
ELECTRONIC CLASSICS SERIES
      PUBLICATION
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Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, the Pennsylvania State
University, Electronic Classics Series, Jim Manis, Faculty
Editor, Hazleton, PA 18202-1291 is a Portable Docu-
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Copyright © 2007 The Pennsylvania State University




The Pennsylvania State University is an equal opportunity university.
                                                 George Eliot




 DANIEL
DERONDA
                       BY

      GEORGE ELIOT

Let thy chief terror be of thine own soul:
There, ‘mid the throng of hurrying desires
That trample on the dead to seize their spoil,
Lurks vengeance, footless, irresistible
As exhalations laden with slow death,
And o’er the fairest troop of captured joys
Breathes pallid pestilence.




                                                           3
Daniel Deronda




               BOOK I
         THE SPOILED CHILD
                           CHAPTER I

    Men can do nothing without the make-believe of a beginning. Even
    science, the strict measurer, is obliged to start with a make-believe
    unit, and must fix on a point in the stars’ unceasing journey when
    his sidereal clock shall pretend that time is at Nought. His less accu-
    rate grandmother Poetry has always been understood to start in the
    middle; but on reflection it appears that her proceeding is not very
    different from his; since Science, too, reckons backward as well as
    forward, divides his unit into billions, and with his clock-finger at
    Nought really sets off in medias res. No retrospect will take us to the
    true beginning; and whether our prologue be in heaven or on earth,
    it is but a fraction of that all-presupposing fact with which our story
    sets out.



WAS SHE BEAUTIFUL or not beautiful? and what was the secret of
form or expression which gave the dynamic quality to her glance?
Was the good or the evil genius dominant in those beams? Probably
the evil; else why was the effect that of unrest rather than of undis-
turbed charm? Why was the wish to look again felt as coercion and
not as a longing in which the whole being consents?
  She who raised these questions in Daniel Deronda’s mind was
occupied in gambling: not in the open air under a southern sky,
tossing coppers on a ruined wall, with rags about her limbs; but in
one of those splendid resorts which the enlightenment of ages has
prepared for the same species of pleasure at a heavy cost of guilt
4
                                                             George Eliot

mouldings, dark-toned color and chubby nudities, all correspond-
ingly heavy—forming a suitable condenser for human breath be-
longing, in great part, to the highest fashion, and not easily procur-
able to be breathed in elsewhere in the like proportion, at least by
persons of little fashion.
   It was near four o’clock on a September day, so that the atmo-
sphere was well-brewed to a visible haze. There was deep stillness,
broken only by a light rattle, a light chink, a small sweeping sound,
and an occasional monotone in French, such as might be expected
to issue from an ingeniously constructed automaton. Round two
long tables were gathered two serried crowds of human beings, all
save one having their faces and attention bent on the tables. The
one exception was a melancholy little boy, with his knees and calves
simply in their natural clothing of epidermis, but for the rest of his
person in a fancy dress. He alone had his face turned toward the
doorway, and fixing on it the blank gaze of a bedizened child sta-
tioned as a masquerading advertisement on the platform of an itin-
erant show, stood close behind a lady deeply engaged at the rou-
lette-table.
   About this table fifty or sixty persons were assembled, many in the
outer rows, where there was occasionally a deposit of new-comers,
being mere spectators, only that one of them, usually a woman, might
now and then be observed putting down a five-franc with a simper-
ing air, just to see what the passion of gambling really was. Those who
were taking their pleasure at a higher strength, and were absorbed in
play, showed very distant varieties of European type: Livonian and
Spanish, Graeco-Italian and miscellaneous German, English aristo-
cratic and English plebeian. Here certainly was a striking admission
of human equality. The white bejewelled fingers of an English count-
ess were very near touching a bony, yellow, crab-like hand stretching
a bared wrist to clutch a heap of coin—a hand easy to sort with the
square, gaunt face, deep-set eyes, grizzled eyebrows, and ill-combed
scanty hair which seemed a slight metamorphosis of the vulture. And
where else would her ladyship have graciously consented to sit by that
dry-lipped feminine figure prematurely old, withered after short bloom
like her artificial flowers, holding a shabby velvet reticule before her,
and occasionally putting in her mouth the point with which she pricked

                                                                       5
Daniel Deronda

her card? There too, very near the fair countess, was a respectable
London tradesman, blonde and soft-handed, his sleek hair scrupu-
lously parted behind and before, conscious of circulars addressed to
the nobility and gentry, whose distinguished patronage enabled him
to take his holidays fashionably, and to a certain extent in their distin-
guished company. Not his gambler’s passion that nullifies appetite,
but a well-fed leisure, which, in the intervals of winning money in
business and spending it showily, sees no better resource than win-
ning money in play and spending it yet more showily—reflecting
always that Providence had never manifested any disapprobation of
his amusement, and dispassionate enough to leave off if the sweetness
of winning much and seeing others lose had turned to the sourness of
losing much and seeing others win. For the vice of gambling lay in
losing money at it. In his bearing there might be something of the
tradesman, but in his pleasures he was fit to rank with the owners of
the oldest titles. Standing close to his chair was a handsome Italian,
calm, statuesque, reaching across him to place the first pile of napo-
leons from a new bagful just brought him by an envoy with a scrolled
mustache. The pile was in half a minute pushed over to an old bewigged
woman with eye-glasses pinching her nose. There was a slight gleam,
a faint mumbling smile about the lips of the old woman; but the
statuesque Italian remained impassive, and—probably secure in an
infallible system which placed his foot on the neck of chance—im-
mediately prepared a new pile. So did a man with the air of an emaci-
ated beau or worn-out libertine, who looked at life through one eye-
glass, and held out his hand tremulously when he asked for change. It
could surely be no severity of system, but rather some dream of white
crows, or the induction that the eighth of the month was lucky, which
inspired the fierce yet tottering impulsiveness of his play.
  But, while every single player differed markedly from every other,
there was a certain uniform negativeness of expression which had
the effect of a mask—as if they had all eaten of some root that for
the time compelled the brains of each to the same narrow monotony
of action.
  Deronda’s first thought when his eyes fell on this scene of dull,
gas-poisoned absorption, was that the gambling of Spanish shep-
herd-boys had seemed to him more enviable:—so far Rousseau might

6
                                                            George Eliot

be justified in maintaining that art and science had done a poor
service to mankind. But suddenly he felt the moment become dra-
matic. His attention was arrested by a young lady who, standing at
an angle not far from him, was the last to whom his eyes traveled.
She was bending and speaking English to a middle-aged lady seated
at play beside her: but the next instant she returned to her play, and
showed the full height of a graceful figure, with a face which might
possibly be looked at without admiration, but could hardly be passed
with indifference.
  The inward debate which she raised in Deronda gave to his eyes a
growing expression of scrutiny, tending farther and farther away
from the glow of mingled undefined sensibilities forming admira-
tion. At one moment they followed the movements of the figure, of
the arms and hands, as this problematic sylph bent forward to de-
posit her stake with an air of firm choice; and the next they returned
to the face which, at present unaffected by beholders, was directed
steadily toward the game. The sylph was a winner; and as her taper
fingers, delicately gloved in pale-gray, were adjusting the coins which
had been pushed toward her in order to pass them back again to the
winning point, she looked round her with a survey too markedly
cold and neutral not to have in it a little of that nature which we call
art concealing an inward exultation.
  But in the course of that survey her eyes met Deronda’s, and instead
of averting them as she would have desired to do, she was unpleas-
antly conscious that they were arrested—how long? The darting sense
that he was measuring her and looking down on her as an inferior,
that he was of different quality from the human dross around her,
that he felt himself in a region outside and above her, and was exam-
ining her as a specimen of a lower order, roused a tingling resentment
which stretched the moment with conflict. It did not bring the blood
to her cheeks, but it sent it away from her lips. She controlled herself
by the help of an inward defiance, and without other sign of emotion
than this lip-paleness turned to her play. But Deronda’s gaze seemed
to have acted as an evil eye. Her stake was gone. No matter; she had
been winning ever since she took to roulette with a few napoleons at
command, and had a considerable reserve. She had begun to believe
in her luck, others had begun to believe in it: she had visions of being

                                                                      7
Daniel Deronda

followed by a cortège who would worship her as a goddess of luck and
watch her play as a directing augury. Such things had been known of
male gamblers; why should not a woman have a like supremacy? Her
friend and chaperon who had not wished her to play at first was be-
ginning to approve, only administering the prudent advice to stop at
the right moment and carry money back to England—advice to which
Gwendolen had replied that she cared for the excitement of play, not
the winnings. On that supposition the present moment ought to have
made the flood-tide in her eager experience of gambling. Yet, when
her next stake was swept away, she felt the orbits of her eyes getting
hot, and the certainty she had (without looking) of that man still
watching her was something like a pressure which begins to be tortur-
ing. The more reason to her why she should not flinch, but go on
playing as if she were indifferent to loss or gain. Her friend touched
her elbow and proposed that they should quit the table. For reply
Gwendolen put ten louis on the same spot: she was in that mood of
defiance in which the mind loses sight of any end beyond the satisfac-
tion of enraged resistance; and with the puerile stupidity of a domi-
nant impulse includes luck among its objects of defiance. Since she
was not winning strikingly, the next best thing was to lose strikingly.
She controlled her muscles, and showed no tremor of mouth or hands.
Each time her stake was swept off she doubled it. Many were now
watching her, but the sole observation she was conscious of was
Deronda’s, who, though she never looked toward him, she was sure
had not moved away. Such a drama takes no long while to play out:
development and catastrophe can often be measured by nothing clum-
sier than the moment-hand. “Faites votre jeu, mesdames et messieurs,”
said the automatic voice of destiny from between the mustache and
imperial of the croupier: and Gwendolen’s arm was stretched to de-
posit her last poor heap of napoleons. “Le jeu ne va plus,” said des-
tiny. And in five seconds Gwendolen turned from the table, but turned
resolutely with her face toward Deronda and looked at him. There
was a smile of irony in his eyes as their glances met; but it was at least
better that he should have disregarded her as one of an insect swarm
who had no individual physiognomy. Besides, in spite of his supercil-
iousness and irony, it was difficult to believe that he did not admire
her spirit as well as her person: he was young, handsome, distinguished

8
                                                           George Eliot

in appearance—not one of these ridiculous and dowdy Philistines
who thought it incumbent on them to blight the gaming-table with a
sour look of protest as they passed by it. The general conviction that
we are admirable does not easily give way before a single negative;
rather when any of Vanity’s large family, male or female, find their
performance received coldly, they are apt to believe that a little more
of it will win over the unaccountable dissident. In Gwendolen’s habits
of mind it had been taken for granted that she knew what was admi-
rable and that she herself was admired. This basis of her thinking had
received a disagreeable concussion, and reeled a little, but was not
easily to be overthrown.
   In the evening the same room was more stiflingly heated, was
brilliant with gas and with the costumes of ladies who floated their
trains along it or were seated on the ottomans.
   The Nereid in sea-green robes and silver ornaments, with a pale
sea-green feather fastened in silver falling backward over her green
hat and light brown hair, was Gwendolen Harleth. She was under
the wing, or rather soared by the shoulder, of the lady who had sat
by her at the roulette-table; and with them was a gentleman with a
white mustache and clipped hair: solid-browed, stiff and German.
They were walking about or standing to chat with acquaintances,
and Gwendolen was much observed by the seated groups.
   “A striking girl—that Miss Harleth—unlike others.”
   “Yes, she has got herself up as a sort of serpent now—all green and
silver, and winds her neck about a little more than usual.”
   “Oh, she must always be doing something extraordinary. She is
that kind of girl, I fancy. Do you think her pretty, Mr. Vandernoodt?”
   “Very. A man might risk hanging for her—I mean a fool might.”
   “You like a nez retroussé, then, and long narrow eyes?”
   “When they go with such an ensemble.”
   “The ensemble du serpent?”
   “If you will. Woman was tempted by a serpent; why not man?”
   “She is certainly very graceful; but she wants a tinge of color in
her cheeks. It is a sort of Lamia beauty she has.”
   “On the contrary, I think her complexion one of her chief charms.
It is a warm paleness; it looks thoroughly healthy. And that delicate
nose with its gradual little upward curve is distracting. And then her

                                                                     9
Daniel Deronda

mouth—there never was a prettier mouth, the lips curled backward
so finely, eh, Mackworth?”
  “Think so? I cannot endure that sort of mouth. It looks so self-
complacent, as if it knew its own beauty—the curves are too im-
movable. I like a mouth that trembles more.”
  “For my part, I think her odious,” said a dowager. “It is wonderful
what unpleasant girls get into vogue. Who are these Langens? Does
anybody know them?”
  “They are quite comme il faut. I have dined with them several
times at the Russie. The baroness is English. Miss Harleth calls her
cousin. The girl herself is thoroughly well-bred, and as clever as
possible.”
  “Dear me! and the baron?”
  “A very good furniture picture.”
  “Your baroness is always at the roulette-table,” said Mackworth.
“I fancy she has taught the girl to gamble.”
  “Oh, the old woman plays a very sober game; drops a ten-franc
piece here and there. The girl is more headlong. But it is only a
freak.”
  “I hear she has lost all her winnings to-day. Are they rich? Who
knows?”
  “Ah, who knows? Who knows that about anybody?” said Mr.
Vandernoodt, moving off to join the Langens.
  The remark that Gwendolen wound her neck about more than
usual this evening was true. But it was not that she might carry out
the serpent idea more completely: it was that she watched for any
chance of seeing Deronda, so that she might inquire about this
stranger, under whose measuring gaze she was still wincing. At last
her opportunity came.
  “Mr. Vandernoodt, you know everybody,” said Gwendolen, not
too eagerly, rather with a certain languor of utterance which she
sometimes gave to her clear soprano. “Who is that near the door?”
  “There are half a dozen near the door. Do you mean that old
Adonis in the George the Fourth wig?”
  “No, no; the dark-haired young man on the right with the dread-
ful expression.”
  “Dreadful, do you call it? I think he is an uncommonly fine fellow.”

10
                                                           George Eliot

  “But who is he?”
  “He is lately come to our hotel with Sir Hugo Mallinger.”
  “Sir Hugo Mallinger?”
  “Yes. Do you know him?”
  “No.” (Gwendolen colored slightly.) “He has a place near us, but
he never comes to it. What did you say was the name of that gentle-
man near the door?”
  “Deronda—Mr. Deronda.”
  “What a delightful name! Is he an Englishman?”
  “Yes. He is reported to be rather closely related to the baronet.
You are interested in him?”
  “Yes. I think he is not like young men in general.”
  “And you don’t admire young men in general?”
  “Not in the least. I always know what they will say. I can’t at all
guess what this Mr. Deronda would say. What does he say?”
  “Nothing, chiefly. I sat with his party for a good hour last night
on the terrace, and he never spoke—and was not smoking either.
He looked bored.”
  “Another reason why I should like to know him. I am always
bored.”
  “I should think he would be charmed to have an introduction.
Shall I bring it about? Will you allow it, baroness?”
  “Why not?—since he is related to Sir Hugo Mallinger. It is a new rôle
of yours, Gwendolen, to be always bored,” continued Madame von
Langen, when Mr. Vandernoodt had moved away. “Until now you have
always seemed eager about something from morning till night.”
  “That is just because I am bored to death. If I am to leave off play
I must break my arm or my collar-bone. I must make something
happen; unless you will go into Switzerland and take me up the
Matterhorn.”
  “Perhaps this Mr. Deronda’s acquaintance will do instead of the
Matterhorn.”
  “Perhaps.”
  But Gwendolen did not make Deronda’s acquaintance on this
occasion. Mr. Vandernoodt did not succeed in bringing him up to
her that evening, and when she re-entered her own room she found
a letter recalling her home.

                                                                    11
Daniel Deronda




                          CHAPTER II
                  This man contrives a secret ‘twixt us two,
                  That he may quell me with his meeting eyes
                  Like one who quells a lioness at bay.

THIS WAS THE LETTER Gwendolen found on her table:—


     Dearest Child.—I have been expecting to hear from you for a
     week. In your last you said the Langens thought of leaving
     Leubronn and going to Baden. How could you be so thought-
     less as to leave me in uncertainty about your address? I am in
     the greatest anxiety lest this should not reach you. In any case,
     you were to come home at the end of September, and I must
     now entreat you to return as quickly as possible, for if you
     spent all your money it would be out of my power to send you
     any more, and you must not borrow of the Langens, for I could
     not repay them. This is the sad truth, my child—I wish I could
     prepare you for it better—but a dreadful calamity has befallen
     us all. You know nothing about business and will not under-
     stand it; but Grapnell & Co. have failed for a million, and we
     are totally ruined—your aunt Gascoigne as well as I, only that
     your uncle has his benefice, so that by putting down their car-
     riage and getting interest for the boys, the family can go on.
     All the property our poor father saved for us goes to pay the
     liabilities. There is nothing I can call my own. It is better you
     should know this at once, though it rends my heart to have to
     tell it you. Of course we cannot help thinking what a pity it
     was that you went away just when you did. But I shall never
     reproach you, my dear child; I would save you from all trouble


12
                                                         George Eliot


  if I could. On your way home you will have time to prepare
  yourself for the change you will find. We shall perhaps leave
  Offendene at once, for we hope that Mr. Haynes, who wanted
  it before, may be ready to take it off my hands. Of course we
  cannot go to the rectory—there is not a corner there to spare.
  We must get some hut or other to shelter us, and we must live
  on your uncle Gascoigne’s charity, until I see what else can be
  done. I shall not be able to pay the debts to the tradesmen
  besides the servants’ wages. Summon up your fortitude, my
  dear child; we must resign ourselves to God’s will. But it is
  hard to resign one’s self to Mr. Lassman’s wicked recklessness,
  which they say was the cause of the failure. Your poor sisters
  can only cry with me and give me no help. If you were once
  here, there might be a break in the cloud—I always feel it im-
  possible that you can have been meant for poverty. If the
  Langens wish to remain abroad, perhaps you can put yourself
  under some one else’s care for the journey. But come as soon as
  you can to your afflicted and loving mamma,

                          Fanny Davilow.


  The first effect of this letter on Gwendolen was half-stupefying.
The implicit confidence that her destiny must be one of luxurious
ease, where any trouble that occurred would be well clad and pro-
vided for, had been stronger in her own mind than in her mamma’s,
being fed there by her youthful blood and that sense of superior
claims which made a large part of her consciousness. It was almost
as difficult for her to believe suddenly that her position had become
one of poverty and of humiliating dependence, as it would have
been to get into the strong current of her blooming life the chill
sense that her death would really come. She stood motionless for a
few minutes, then tossed off her hat and automatically looked in
the glass. The coils of her smooth light-brown hair were still in or-
der perfect enough for a ball-room; and as on other nights,
Gwendolen might have looked lingeringly at herself for pleasure

                                                                  13
Daniel Deronda

(surely an allowable indulgence); but now she took no conscious
note of her reflected beauty, and simply stared right before her as if
she had been jarred by a hateful sound and was waiting for any sign
of its cause. By-and-by she threw herself in the corner of the red
velvet sofa, took up the letter again and read it twice deliberately,
letting it at last fall on the ground, while she rested her clasped
hands on her lap and sat perfectly still, shedding no tears. Her im-
pulse was to survey and resist the situation rather than to wail over
it. There was no inward exclamation of “Poor mamma!” Her mamma
had never seemed to get much enjoyment out of life, and if
Gwendolen had been at this moment disposed to feel pity she would
have bestowed it on herself—for was she not naturally and right-
fully the chief object of her mamma’s anxiety too? But it was anger,
it was resistance that possessed her; it was bitter vexation that she
had lost her gains at roulette, whereas if her luck had continued
through this one day she would have had a handsome sum to carry
home, or she might have gone on playing and won enough to sup-
port them all. Even now was it not possible? She had only four
napoleons left in her purse, but she possessed some ornaments which
she could sell: a practice so common in stylish society at German
baths that there was no need to be ashamed of it; and even if she
had not received her mamma’s letter, she would probably have de-
cided to get money for an Etruscan necklace which she happened
not to have been wearing since her arrival; nay, she might have done
so with an agreeable sense that she was living with some intensity
and escaping humdrum. With ten louis at her disposal and a return
of her former luck, which seemed probable, what could she do bet-
ter than go on playing for a few days? If her friends at home disap-
proved of the way in which she got the money, as they certainly
would, still the money would be there. Gwendolen’s imagination
dwelt on this course and created agreeable consequences, but not
with unbroken confidence and rising certainty as it would have done
if she had been touched with the gambler’s mania. She had gone to
the roulette-table not because of passion, but in search of it: her
mind was still sanely capable of picturing balanced probabilities,
and while the chance of winning allured her, the chance of losing
thrust itself on her with alternate strength and made a vision from

14
                                                          George Eliot

which her pride sank sensitively. For she was resolved not to tell the
Langens that any misfortune had befallen her family, or to make
herself in any way indebted to their compassion; and if she were to
part with her jewelry to any observable extent, they would interfere
by inquiries and remonstrances. The course that held the least risk
of intolerable annoyance was to raise money on her necklace early
in the morning, tell the Langens that her mother desired her imme-
diate return without giving a reason, and take the train for Brussels
that evening. She had no maid with her, and the Langens might
make difficulties about her returning home, but her will was pe-
remptory.
   Instead of going to bed she made as brilliant a light as she could
and began to pack, working diligently, though all the while visited
by the scenes that might take place on the coming day—now by the
tiresome explanations and farewells, and the whirling journey to-
ward a changed home, now by the alternative of staying just an-
other day and standing again at the roulette-table. But always in
this latter scene there was the presence of that Deronda, watching
her with exasperating irony, and—the two keen experiences were
inevitably revived together—beholding her again forsaken by luck.
This importunate image certainly helped to sway her resolve on the
side of immediate departure, and to urge her packing to the point
which would make a change of mind inconvenient. It had struck
twelve when she came into her room, and by the time she was assur-
ing herself that she had left out only what was necessary, the faint
dawn was stealing through the white blinds and dulling her candles.
What was the use of going to bed? Her cold bath was refreshment
enough, and she saw that a slight trace of fatigue about the eyes
only made her look the more interesting. Before six o’clock she was
completely equipped in her gray traveling dress even to her felt hat,
for she meant to walk out as soon as she could count on seeing
other ladies on their way to the springs. And happening to be seated
sideways before the long strip of mirror between her two windows
she turned to look at herself, leaning her elbow on the back of the
chair in an attitude that might have been chosen for her portrait. It
is possible to have a strong self-love without any self-satisfaction,
rather with a self-discontent which is the more intense because one’s

                                                                   15
Daniel Deronda

own little core of egoistic sensibility is a supreme care; but Gwendolen
knew nothing of such inward strife. She had a naïve delight in her
fortunate self, which any but the harshest saintliness will have some
indulgence for in a girl who had every day seen a pleasant reflection
of that self in her friends’ flattery as well as in the looking-glass. And
even in this beginning of troubles, while for lack of anything else to
do she sat gazing at her image in the growing light, her face gath-
ered a complacency gradual as the cheerfulness of the morning. Her
beautiful lips curled into a more and more decided smile, till at last
she took off her hat, leaned forward and kissed the cold glass which
had looked so warm. How could she believe in sorrow? If it attacked
her, she felt the force to crush it, to defy it, or run away from it, as
she had done already. Anything seemed more possible than that she
could go on bearing miseries, great or small.
  Madame von Langen never went out before breakfast, so that
Gwendolen could safely end her early walk by taking her way home-
ward through the Obere Strasse in which was the needed shop, sure
to be open after seven. At that hour any observers whom she minded
would be either on their walks in the region of the springs, or would
be still in their bedrooms; but certainly there was one grand hotel,
the Czarina from which eyes might follow her up to Mr. Wiener’s
door. This was a chance to be risked: might she not be going in to
buy something which had struck her fancy? This implicit falsehood
passed through her mind as she remembered that the Czarina was
Deronda’s hotel; but she was then already far up the Obere Strasse,
and she walked on with her usual floating movement, every line in
her figure and drapery falling in gentle curves attractive to all eyes
except those which discerned in them too close a resemblance to the
serpent, and objected to the revival of serpent-worship. She looked
neither to the right hand nor to the left, and transacted her business
in the shop with a coolness which gave little Mr. Weiner nothing to
remark except her proud grace of manner, and the superior size and
quality of the three central turquoises in the necklace she offered
him. They had belonged to a chain once her father’s: but she had
never known her father; and the necklace was in all respects the
ornament she could most conveniently part with. Who supposes
that it is an impossible contradiction to be superstitious and ratio-

16
                                                             George Eliot

nalizing at the same time? Roulette encourages a romantic supersti-
tion as to the chances of the game, and the most prosaic rationalism
as to human sentiments which stand in the way of raising needful
money. Gwendolen’s dominant regret was that after all she had only
nine louis to add to the four in her purse: these Jew dealers were so
unscrupulous in taking advantage of Christians unfortunate at play!
But she was the Langens’ guest in their hired apartment, and had
nothing to pay there: thirteen louis would do more than take her
home; even if she determined on risking three, the remaining ten
would more than suffice, since she meant to travel right on, day and
night. As she turned homeward, nay, entered and seated herself in
the salon to await her friends and breakfast, she still wavered as to
her immediate departure, or rather she had concluded to tell the
Langens simply that she had had a letter from her mamma desiring
her return, and to leave it still undecided when she should start. It
was already the usual breakfast-time, and hearing some one enter as
she was leaning back rather tired and hungry with her eyes shut, she
rose expecting to see one or other of the Langens—the words which
might determine her lingering at least another day, ready-formed to
pass her lips. But it was the servant bringing in a small packet for
Miss Harleth, which had at that moment been left at the door.
Gwendolen took it in her hand and immediately hurried into her
own room. She looked paler and more agitated than when she had
first read her mamma’s letter. Something—she never quite knew
what—revealed to her before she opened the packet that it con-
tained the necklace she had just parted with. Underneath the paper
it was wrapped in a cambric handkerchief, and within this was a
scrap of torn-off note-paper, on which was written with a pencil, in
clear but rapid handwriting—“A stranger who has found Miss Harleth’s
necklace returns it to her with the hope that she will not again risk the
loss of it.
   Gwendolen reddened with the vexation of wounded pride. A large
corner of the handkerchief seemed to have been recklessly torn off
to get rid of a mark; but she at once believed in the first image of
“the stranger” that presented itself to her mind. It was Deronda; he
must have seen her go into the shop; he must have gone in immedi-
ately after and repurchased the necklace. He had taken an unpar-

                                                                      17
Daniel Deronda

donable liberty, and had dared to place her in a thoroughly hateful
position. What could she do?—Not, assuredly, act on her convic-
tion that it was he who had sent her the necklace and straightway
send it back to him: that would be to face the possibility that she
had been mistaken; nay, even if the “stranger” were he and no other,
it would be something too gross for her to let him know that she
had divined this, and to meet him again with that recognition in
their minds. He knew very well that he was entangling her in help-
less humiliation: it was another way of smiling at her ironically, and
taking the air of a supercilious mentor. Gwendolen felt the bitter
tears of mortification rising and rolling down her cheeks. No one
had ever before dared to treat her with irony and contempt. One
thing was clear: she must carry out her resolution to quit this place
at once; it was impossible for her to reappear in the public salon, still
less stand at the gaming-table with the risk of seeing Deronda. Now
came an importunate knock at the door: breakfast was ready.
Gwendolen with a passionate movement thrust necklace, cambric,
scrap of paper, and all into her nécessaire, pressed her handkerchief
against her face, and after pausing a minute or two to summon back
her proud self-control, went to join her friends. Such signs of tears
and fatigue as were left seemed accordant enough with the account
she at once gave of her having sat up to do her packing, instead of
waiting for help from her friend’s maid. There was much protesta-
tion, as she had expected, against her traveling alone, but she per-
sisted in refusing any arrangements for companionship. She would
be put into the ladies’ compartment and go right on. She could rest
exceedingly well in the train, and was afraid of nothing.
   In this way it happened that Gwendolen never reappeared at the
roulette-table, but that Thursday evening left Leubronn for Brus-
sels, and on Saturday morning arrived at Offendene, the home to
which she and her family were soon to say a last good-bye.




18
                                                                 George Eliot




                       CHAPTER III
               “Let no flower of the spring pass by us; let us
             crown ourselves with rosebuds before they be
             withered.”
                                           —Book of Wisdom.



PITY THAT OFFENDENE was not the home of Miss Harleth’s child-
hood, or endeared to her by family memories! A human life, I think,
should be well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may
get the love of tender kinship for the face of earth, for the labors
men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for what-
ever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference
amid the future widening of knowledge: a spot where the definite-
ness of early memories may be inwrought with affection, and—
kindly acquaintance with all neighbors, even to the dogs and don-
keys, may spread not by sentimental effort and reflection, but as a
sweet habit of the blood. At five years old, mortals are not prepared
to be citizens of the world, to be stimulated by abstract nouns, to
soar above preference into impartiality; and that prejudice in favor
of milk with which we blindly begin, is a type of the way body and
soul must get nourished at least for a time. The best introduction to
astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars
belonging to one’s own homestead.
  But this blessed persistence in which affection can take root had
been wanting in Gwendolen’s life. It was only a year before her recall
from Leubronn that Offendene had been chosen as her mamma’s
home, simply for its nearness to Pennicote Rectory, and that Mrs.
Davilow, Gwendolen, and her four half-sisters (the governess and the
maid following in another vehicle) had been driven along the avenue
for the first time, on a late October afternoon when the rooks were
crawing loudly above them, and the yellow elm-leaves were whirling.
                                                                          19
Daniel Deronda

   The season suited the aspect of the old oblong red-brick house,
rather too anxiously ornamented with stone at every line, not ex-
cepting the double row of narrow windows and the large square
portico. The stone encouraged a greenish lichen, the brick a pow-
dery gray, so that though the building was rigidly rectangular there
was no harshness in the physiognomy which it turned to the three
avenues cut east, west and south in the hundred yards’ breadth of
old plantation encircling the immediate grounds. One would have
liked the house to have been lifted on a knoll, so as to look beyond
its own little domain to the long thatched roofs of the distant vil-
lages, the church towers, the scattered homesteads, the gradual rise
of surging woods, and the green breadths of undulating park which
made the beautiful face of the earth in that part of Wessex. But
though standing thus behind, a screen amid flat pastures, it had on
one side a glimpse of the wider world in the lofty curves of the chalk
downs, grand steadfast forms played over by the changing days.
   The house was but just large enough to be called a mansion, and
was moderately rented, having no manor attached to it, and being
rather difficult to let with its sombre furniture and faded uphol-
stery. But inside and outside it was what no beholder could suppose
to be inhabited by retired trades-people: a certainty which was worth
many conveniences to tenants who not only had the taste that shrinks
from new finery, but also were in that border-territory of rank where
annexation is a burning topic: and to take up her abode in a house
which had once sufficed for dowager countesses gave a perceptible
tinge to Mrs. Davilow’s satisfaction in having an establishment of
her own. This, rather mysteriously to Gwendolen, appeared sud-
denly possible on the death of her step-father, Captain Davilow,
who had for the last nine years joined his family only in a brief and
fitful manner, enough to reconcile them to his long absences; but
she cared much more for the fact than for the explanation. All her
prospects had become more agreeable in consequence. She had dis-
liked their former way of life, roving from one foreign watering-
place or Parisian apartment to another, always feeling new antipa-
thies to new suites of hired furniture, and meeting new people un-
der conditions which made her appear of little importance; and the
variation of having passed two years at a showy school, where, on all

20
                                                             George Eliot

occasions of display, she had been put foremost, had only deepened
her sense that so exceptional a person as herself could hardly remain
in ordinary circumstances or in a social position less than advanta-
geous. Any fear of this latter evil was banished now that her mamma
was to have an establishment; for on the point of birth Gwendolen
was quite easy. She had no notion how her maternal grandfather
got the fortune inherited by his two daughters; but he had been a
West Indian—which seemed to exclude further question; and she
knew that her father’s family was so high as to take no notice of her
mamma, who nevertheless preserved with much pride the minia-
ture of a Lady Molly in that connection. She would probably have
known much more about her father but for a little incident which
happened when she was twelve years old. Mrs. Davilow had brought
out, as she did only at wide intervals, various memorials of her first
husband, and while showing his miniature to Gwendolen recalled
with a fervor which seemed to count on a peculiar filial sympathy,
the fact that dear papa had died when his little daughter was in long
clothes. Gwendolen, immediately thinking of the unlovable step-
father whom she had been acquainted with the greater part of her
life while her frocks were short, said—
   “Why did you marry again, mamma? It would have been nicer if
you had not.”
   Mrs. Davilow colored deeply, a slight convulsive movement passed
over her face, and straightway shutting up the memorials she said,
with a violence quite unusual in her—
   “You have no feeling, child!”
   Gwendolen, who was fond of her mamma, felt hurt and ashamed,
and had never since dared to ask a question about her father.
   This was not the only instance in which she had brought on her-
self the pain of some filial compunction. It was always arranged,
when possible, that she should have a small bed in her mamma’s
room; for Mrs. Davilow’s motherly tenderness clung chiefly to her
eldest girl, who had been born in her happier time. One night un-
der an attack of pain she found that the specific regularly placed by
her bedside had been forgotten, and begged Gwendolen to get out
of bed and reach it for her. That healthy young lady, snug and warm
as a rosy infant in her little couch, objected to step out into the cold,

                                                                      21
Daniel Deronda

and lying perfectly still, grumbling a refusal. Mrs. Davilow went
without the medicine and never reproached her daughter; but the
next day Gwendolen was keenly conscious of what must be in her
mamma’s mind, and tried to make amends by caresses which cost
her no effort. Having always been the pet and pride of the house-
hold, waited on by mother, sisters, governess and maids, as if she
had been a princess in exile, she naturally found it difficult to think
her own pleasure less important than others made it, and when it
was positively thwarted felt an astonished resentment apt, in her
cruder days, to vent itself in one of those passionate acts which look
like a contradiction of habitual tendencies. Though never even as a
child thoughtlessly cruel, nay delighting to rescue drowning insects
and watch their recovery, there was a disagreeable silent remem-
brance of her having strangled her sister’s canary-bird in a final fit of
exasperation at its shrill singing which had again and again jarringly
interrupted her own. She had taken pains to buy a white mouse for
her sister in retribution, and though inwardly excusing herself on
the ground of a peculiar sensitiveness which was a mark of her gen-
eral superiority, the thought of that infelonious murder had always
made her wince. Gwendolen’s nature was not remorseless, but she
liked to make her penances easy, and now that she was twenty and
more, some of her native force had turned into a self-control by
which she guarded herself from penitential humiliation. There was
more show of fire and will in her than ever, but there was more
calculation underneath it.
   On this day of arrival at Offendene, which not even Mrs. Davilow
had seen before—the place having been taken for her by her brother-
in-law, Mr. Gascoigne—when all had got down from the carriage,
and were standing under the porch in front of the open door, so
that they could have a general view of the place and a glimpse of the
stone hall and staircase hung with sombre pictures, but enlivened
by a bright wood fire, no one spoke; mamma, the four sisters and
the governess all looked at Gwendolen, as if their feelings depended
entirely on her decision. Of the girls, from Alice in her sixteenth
year to Isabel in her tenth, hardly anything could be said on a first
view, but that they were girlish, and that their black dresses were
getting shabby. Miss Merry was elderly and altogether neutral in

22
                                                            George Eliot

expression. Mrs. Davilow’s worn beauty seemed the more pathetic
for the look of entire appeal which she cast at Gwendolen, who was
glancing round at the house, the landscape and the entrance hall
with an air of rapid judgment. Imagine a young race-horse in the
paddock among untrimmed ponies and patient hacks.
  “Well, dear, what do you think of the place,” said Mrs. Davilow at
last, in a gentle, deprecatory tone.
  “I think it is charming,” said Gwendolen, quickly. “A romantic
place; anything delightful may happen in it; it would be a good
background for anything. No one need be ashamed of living here.”
  “There is certainly nothing common about it.”
  “Oh, it would do for fallen royalty or any sort of grand poverty.
We ought properly to have been living in splendor, and have come
down to this. It would have been as romantic as could be. But I
thought my uncle and aunt Gascoigne would be here to meet us,
and my cousin Anna,” added Gwendolen, her tone changed to sharp
surprise.
  “We are early,” said Mrs. Davilow, and entering the hall, she said
to the housekeeper who came forward, “You expect Mr. and Mrs.
Gascoigne?”
  “Yes, madam; they were here yesterday to give particular orders
about the fires and the dinner. But as to fires, I’ve had ‘em in all the
rooms for the last week, and everything is well aired. I could wish
some of the furniture paid better for all the cleaning it’s had, but I
think you’ll see the brasses have been done justice to. I think when
Mr. and Mrs. Gascoigne come, they’ll tell you nothing has been
neglected. They’ll be here at five, for certain.”
  This satisfied Gwendolen, who was not prepared to have their
arrival treated with indifference; and after tripping a little way up
the matted stone staircase to take a survey there, she tripped down
again, and followed by all the girls looked into each of the rooms
opening from the hall—the dining-room all dark oak and worn red
satin damask, with a copy of snarling, worrying dogs from Snyders
over the side-board, and a Christ breaking bread over the mantel-
piece; the library with a general aspect and smell of old brown-
leather; and lastly, the drawing-room, which was entered through a
small antechamber crowded with venerable knick-knacks.

                                                                     23
Daniel Deronda

   “Mamma, mamma, pray come here!” said Gwendolen, Mrs.
Davilow having followed slowly in talk with the housekeeper. “Here
is an organ. I will be Saint Cecilia: some one shall paint me as Saint
Cecilia. Jocosa (this was her name for Miss Merry), let down my
hair. See, mamma?”
   She had thrown off her hat and gloves, and seated herself before the
organ in an admirable pose, looking upward; while the submissive
and sad Jocosa took out the one comb which fastened the coil of hair,
and then shook out the mass till it fell in a smooth light-brown stream
far below its owner’s slim waist.
   Mrs. Davilow smiled and said, “A charming picture, my dear!”
not indifferent to the display of her pet, even in the presence of a
housekeeper. Gwendolen rose and laughed with delight. All this
seemed quite to the purpose on entering a new house which was so
excellent a background.
   “What a queer, quaint, picturesque room!” she went on, looking
about her. “I like these old embroidered chairs, and the garlands on
the wainscot, and the pictures that may be anything. That one with
the ribs—nothing but ribs and darkness—I should think that is
Spanish, mamma.”
   “Oh, Gwendolen!” said the small Isabel, in a tone of astonish-
ment, while she held open a hinged panel of the wainscot at the
other end of the room.
   Every one, Gwendolen first, went to look. The opened panel had
disclosed the picture of an upturned dead face, from which an ob-
scure figure seemed to be fleeing with outstretched arms. “How
horrible!” said Mrs. Davilow, with a look of mere disgust; but
Gwendolen shuddered silently, and Isabel, a plain and altogether
inconvenient child with an alarming memory, said—
   “You will never stay in this room by yourself, Gwendolen.”
   “How dare you open things which were meant to be shut up, you
perverse little creature?” said Gwendolen, in her angriest tone. Then
snatching the panel out of the hand of the culprit, she closed it hast-
ily, saying, “There is a lock—where is the key? Let the key be found,
or else let one be made, and let nobody open it again; or rather, let the
key be brought to me.”
   At this command to everybody in general Gwendolen turned with

24
                                                          George Eliot

a face which was flushed in reaction from her chill shudder, and said,
“Let us go up to our own room, mamma.”
   The housekeeper on searching found the key in the drawer of the
cabinet close by the panel, and presently handed it to Bugle, the
lady’s-maid, telling her significantly to give it to her Royal High-
ness.
   “I don’t know what you mean, Mrs. Startin,” said Bugle, who had
been busy up-stairs during the scene in the drawing-room, and was
rather offended at this irony in a new servant.
   “I mean the young lady that’s to command us all-and well worthy
for looks and figure,” replied Mrs. Startin in propitiation. “She’ll
know what key it is.”
   “If you have laid out what we want, go and see to the others,
Bugle,” Gwendolen had said, when she and Mrs. Davilow entered
their black and yellow bedroom, where a pretty little white couch
was prepared by the side of the black and yellow catafalque known
as the best bed. “I will help mamma.”
   But her first movement was to go to the tall mirror between the
windows, which reflected herself and the room completely, while
her mamma sat down and also looked at the reflection.
   “That is a becoming glass, Gwendolen; or is it the black and gold
color that sets you off?” said Mrs. Davilow, as Gwendolen stood
obliquely with her three-quarter face turned toward the mirror, and
her left hand brushing back the stream of hair.
   “I should make a tolerable St. Cecilia with some white roses on
my head,” said Gwendolen,—“only how about my nose, mamma?
I think saint’s noses never in the least turn up. I wish you had given
me your perfectly straight nose; it would have done for any sort of
character—a nose of all work. Mine is only a happy nose; it would
not do so well for tragedy.”
   “Oh, my dear, any nose will do to be miserable with in this world,”
said Mrs. Davilow, with a deep, weary sigh, throwing her black bon-
net on the table, and resting her elbow near it.
   “Now, mamma,” said Gwendolen, in a strongly remonstrant tone,
turning away from the glass with an air of vexation, “don’t begin to
be dull here. It spoils all my pleasure, and everything may be so
happy now. What have you to be gloomy about now?”

                                                                   25
Daniel Deronda

  “Nothing, dear,” said Mrs. Davilow, seeming to rouse herself, and
beginning to take off her dress. “It is always enough for me to see
you happy.”
  “But you should be happy yourself,” said Gwendolen, still dis-
contentedly, though going to help her mamma with caressing
touches. “Can nobody be happy after they are quite young? You
have made me feel sometimes as if nothing were of any use. With
the girls so troublesome, and Jocosa so dreadfully wooden and ugly,
and everything make-shift about us, and you looking so dull—what
was the use of my being anything? But now you might be happy.”
  “So I shall, dear,” said Mrs. Davilow, patting the cheek that was
bending near her.
  “Yes, but really. Not with a sort of make-believe,” said Gwendolen,
with resolute perseverance. “See what a hand and arm!—much more
beautiful than mine. Any one can see you were altogether more
beautiful.”
  “No, no, dear; I was always heavier. Never half so charming as
you are.”
  “Well, but what is the use of my being charming, if it is to end in
my being dull and not minding anything? Is that what marriage
always comes to?”
  “No, child, certainly not. Marriage is the only happy state for a
woman, as I trust you will prove.”
  “I will not put up with it if it is not a happy state. I am deter-
mined to be happy—at least not to go on muddling away my life as
other people do, being and doing nothing remarkable. I have made
up my mind not to let other people interfere with me as they have
done. Here is some warm water ready for you, mamma,” Gwendolen
ended, proceeding to take off her own dress and then waiting to
have her hair wound up by her mamma.
  There was silence for a minute or two, till Mrs. Davilow said,
while coiling the daughter’s hair, “I am sure I have never crossed
you, Gwendolen.”
  “You often want me to do what I don’t like.”
  “You mean, to give Alice lessons?”
  “Yes. And I have done it because you asked me. But I don’t see
why I should, else. It bores me to death, she is so slow. She has no

26
                                                            George Eliot

ear for music, or language, or anything else. It would be much bet-
ter for her to be ignorant, mamma: it is her rôle, she would do it
well.”
   “That is a hard thing to say of your poor sister, Gwendolen, who
is so good to you, and waits on you hand and foot.”
   “I don’t see why it is hard to call things by their right names, and
put them in their proper places. The hardship is for me to have to
waste my time on her. Now let me fasten up your hair, mamma.”
   “We must make haste; your uncle and aunt will be here soon. For
heaven’s sake, don’t be scornful to them, my dear child! or to your
cousin Anna, whom you will always be going out with. Do promise
me, Gwendolen. You know, you can’t expect Anna to be equal to
you.”
   “I don’t want her to be equal,” said Gwendolen, with a toss of her
head and a smile, and the discussion ended there.
   When Mr. and Mrs. Gascoigne and their daughter came,
Gwendolen, far from being scornful, behaved as prettily as possible
to them. She was introducing herself anew to relatives who had not
seen her since the comparatively unfinished age of sixteen, and she
was anxious—no, not anxious, but resolved that they should ad-
mire her.
   Mrs. Gascoigne bore a family likeness to her sister. But she was
darker and slighter, her face was unworn by grief, her movements
were less languid, her expression more alert and critical as that of a
rector’s wife bound to exert a beneficent authority. Their closest re-
semblance lay in a non-resistant disposition, inclined to imitation
and obedience; but this, owing to the difference in their circumstances,
had led them to very different issues. The younger sister had been
indiscreet, or at least unfortunate in her marriages; the elder believed
herself the most enviable of wives, and her pliancy had ended in her
sometimes taking shapes of surprising definiteness. Many of her opin-
ions, such as those on church government and the character of Arch-
bishop Laud, seemed too decided under every alteration to have been
arrived at otherwise than by a wifely receptiveness. And there was
much to encourage trust in her husband’s authority. He had some
agreeable virtues, some striking advantages, and the failings that were
imputed to him all leaned toward the side of success.

                                                                     27
Daniel Deronda

   One of his advantages was a fine person, which perhaps was even
more impressive at fifty-seven than it had been earlier in life. There
were no distinctively clerical lines in the face, no tricks of starchi-
ness or of affected ease: in his Inverness cape he could not have been
identified except as a gentleman with handsome dark features, a
nose which began with an intention to be aquiline but suddenly
became straight, and iron-gray, hair. Perhaps he owed this freedom
from the sort of professional make-up which penetrates skin, tones
and gestures and defies all drapery, to the fact that he had once been
Captain Gaskin, having taken orders and a diphthong but shortly
before his engagement to Miss Armyn. If any one had objected that
his preparation for the clerical function was inadequate, his friends
might have asked who made a better figure in it, who preached
better or had more authority in his parish? He had a native gift for
administration, being tolerant both of opinions and conduct, be-
cause he felt himself able to overrule them, and was free from the
irritations of conscious feebleness. He smiled pleasantly at the foible
of a taste which he did not share—at floriculture or antiquarianism
for example, which were much in vogue among his fellow-clergy-
man in the diocese: for himself, he preferred following the history
of a campaign, or divining from his knowledge of Nesselrode’s mo-
tives what would have been his conduct if our cabinet had taken a
different course. Mr. Gascoigne’s tone of thinking after some long-
quieted fluctuations had become ecclesiastical rather than theologi-
cal; not the modern Anglican, but what he would have called sound
English, free from nonsense; such as became a man who looked at a
national religion by daylight, and saw it in its relation to other things.
No clerical magistrate had greater weight at sessions, or less of mis-
chievous impracticableness in relation to worldly affairs. Indeed,
the worst imputation thrown out against him was worldliness: it
could not be proved that he forsook the less fortunate, but it was
not to be denied that the friendships he cultivated were of a kind
likely to be useful to the father of six sons and two daughters; and
bitter observers—for in Wessex, say ten years ago, there were per-
sons whose bitterness may now seem incredible—remarked that the
color of his opinions had changed in consistency with this principle
of action. But cheerful, successful worldliness has a false air of being

28
                                                           George Eliot

more selfish than the acrid, unsuccessful kind, whose secret history
is summed up in the terrible words, “Sold, but not paid for.”
   Gwendolen wondered that she had not better remembered how
very fine a man her uncle was; but at the age of sixteen she was a less
capable and more indifferent judge. At present it was a matter of
extreme interest to her that she was to have the near countenance of
a dignified male relative, and that the family life would cease to be
entirely, insipidly feminine. She did not intend that her uncle should
control her, but she saw at once that it would be altogether agree-
able to her that he should be proud of introducing her as his niece.
And there was every sign of his being likely to feel that pride. He
certainly looked at her with admiration as he said—
   “You have outgrown Anna, my dear,” putting his arm tenderly
round his daughter, whose shy face was a tiny copy of his own, and
drawing her forward. “She is not so old as you by a year, but her
growing days are certainly over. I hope you will be excellent com-
panions.”
   He did give a comparing glance at his daughter, but if he saw her
inferiority, he might also see that Anna’s timid appearance and min-
iature figure must appeal to a different taste from that which was
attracted by Gwendolen, and that the girls could hardly be rivals.
Gwendolen at least, was aware of this, and kissed her cousin with
real cordiality as well as grace, saying, “A companion is just what I
want. I am so glad we are come to live here. And mamma will be
much happier now she is near you, aunt.”
   The aunt trusted indeed that it would be so, and felt it a blessing
that a suitable home had been vacant in their uncle’s parish. Then,
of course, notice had to be taken of the four other girls, whom
Gwendolen had always felt to be superfluous: all of a girlish average
that made four units utterly unimportant, and yet from her earliest
days an obtrusive influential fact in her life. She was conscious of
having been much kinder to them than could have been expected.
And it was evident to her that her uncle and aunt also felt it a pity
there were so many girls:—what rational person could feel other-
wise, except poor mamma, who never would see how Alice set up
her shoulders and lifted her eyebrows till she had no forehead left,
how Bertha and Fanny whispered and tittered together about ev-

                                                                    29
Daniel Deronda

erything, or how Isabel was always listening and staring and forget-
ting where she was, and treading on the toes of her suffering elders?
   “You have brothers, Anna,” said Gwendolen, while the sisters were
being noticed. “I think you are enviable there.”
   “Yes,” said Anna, simply. “I am very fond of them; but of course
their education is a great anxiety to papa. He used to say they made
me a tomboy. I really was a great romp with Rex. I think you will
like Rex. He will come home before Christmas.”
   “I remember I used to think you rather wild and shy; but it is
difficult now to imagine you a romp,” said Gwendolen, smiling.
   “Of course, I am altered now; I am come out, and all that. But in
reality I like to go blackberrying with Edwy and Lotta as well as
ever. I am not very fond of going out; but I dare say I shall like it
better now you will be often with me. I am not at all clever, and I
never know what to say. It seems so useless to say what everybody
knows, and I can think of nothing else, except what papa says.”
   “I shall like going out with you very much,” said Gwendolen,
well disposed toward this naïve cousin. “Are you fond of riding?”
   “Yes, but we have only one Shetland pony amongst us. Papa says
he can’t afford more, besides the carriage-horses and his own nag;
he has so many expenses.”
   “I intend to have a horse and ride a great deal now,” said
Gwendolen, in a tone of decision. “Is the society pleasant in this
neighborhood?”
   “Papa says it is, very. There are the clergymen all about, you know;
and the Quallons, and the Arrowpoints, and Lord Brackenshaw,
and Sir Hugo Mallinger’s place, where there is nobody—that’s very
nice, because we make picnics there—and two or three families at
Wanchester: oh, and old Mrs. Vulcany, at Nuttingwood, and—”
   But Anna was relieved of this tax on her descriptive powers by the
announcement of dinner, and Gwendolen’s question was soon indi-
rectly answered by her uncle, who dwelt much on the advantages he
had secured for them in getting a place like Offendene. Except the
rent, it involved no more expense than an ordinary house at Wanchester
would have done.
   “And it is always worth while to make a little sacrifice for a good
style of house,” said Mr. Gascoigne, in his easy, pleasantly confident

30
                                                            George Eliot

tone, which made the world in general seem a very manageable
place of residence: “especially where there is only a lady at the head.
All the best people will call upon you; and you need give no expen-
sive dinners. Of course, I have to spend a good deal in that way; it is
a large item. But then I get my house for nothing. If I had to pay
three hundred a year for my house I could not keep a table. My
boys are too great a drain on me. You are better off than we are, in
proportion; there is no great drain on you now, after your house
and carriage.”
   “I assure you, Fanny, now that the children are growing up, I am
obliged to cut and contrive,” said Mrs. Gascoigne. “I am not a good
manager by nature, but Henry has taught me. He is wonderful for
making the best of everything; he allows himself no extras, and gets
his curates for nothing. It is rather hard that he has not been made
a prebendary or something, as others have been, considering the
friends he has made and the need there is for men of moderate
opinions in all respects. If the Church is to keep its position, ability
and character ought to tell.”
   “Oh, my dear Nancy, you forget the old story—thank Heaven,
there are three hundred as good as I. And ultimately, we shall have
no reason to complain, I am pretty sure. There could hardly be a
more thorough friend than Lord Brackenshaw—your landlord, you
know, Fanny. Lady Brackenshaw will call upon you. And I have
spoken for Gwendolen to be a member of our Archery Club—the
Brackenshaw Archery Club—the most select thing anywhere. That
is, if she has no objection,” added Mr. Gascoigne, looking at
Gwendolen with pleasant irony.
   “I should like it of all things,” said Gwendolen. “There is nothing
I enjoy more than taking aim—and hitting,” she ended, with a pretty
nod and smile.
   “Our Anna, poor child, is too short-sighed for archery. But I con-
sider myself a first-rate shot, and you shall practice with me. I must
make you an accomplished archer before our great meeting in July.
In fact, as to neighborhood, you could hardly be better placed. There
are the Arrowpoints—they are some of our best people. Miss
Arrowpoint is a delightful girl—she has been presented at Court.
They have a magnificent place—Quetcham Hall—worth seeing in

                                                                     31
Daniel Deronda

point of art; and their parties, to which you are sure to be invited,
are the best things of the sort we have. The archdeacon is intimate
there, and they have always a good kind of people staying in the
house. Mrs. Arrowpoint is peculiar, certainly; something of a cari-
cature, in fact; but well-meaning. And Miss Arrowpoint is as nice as
possible. It is not all young ladies who have mothers as handsome
and graceful as yours and Anna’s.”
   Mrs. Davilow smiled faintly at this little compliment, but the hus-
band and wife looked affectionately at each other, and Gwendolen
thought, “My uncle and aunt, at least, are happy: they are not dull
and dismal.” Altogether, she felt satisfied with her prospects at
Offendene, as a great improvement on anything she had known. Even
the cheap curates, she incidentally learned, were almost always young
men of family, and Mr. Middleton, the actual curate, was said to be
quite an acquisition: it was only a pity he was so soon to leave.
   But there was one point which she was so anxious to gain that she
could not allow the evening to pass without taking her measures
toward securing it. Her mamma, she knew, intended to submit en-
tirely to her uncle’s judgment with regard to expenditure; and the
submission was not merely prudential, for Mrs. Davilow, conscious
that she had always been seen under a cloud as poor dear Fanny,
who had made a sad blunder with her second marriage, felt a hearty
satisfaction in being frankly and cordially identified with her sister’s
family, and in having her affairs canvassed and managed with an
authority which presupposed a genuine interest. Thus the question
of a suitable saddle-horse, which had been sufficiently discussed
with mamma, had to be referred to Mr. Gascoigne; and after
Gwendolen had played on the piano, which had been provided from
Wanchester, had sung to her hearers’ admiration, and had induced
her uncle to join her in a duet—what more softening influence than
this on any uncle who would have sung finely if his time had not
been too much taken up by graver matters?—she seized the oppor-
tune moment for saying, “Mamma, you have not spoken to my
uncle about my riding.”
   “Gwendolen desires above all things to have a horse to ride—a
pretty, light, lady’s horse,” said Mrs. Davilow, looking at Mr.
Gascoigne. “Do you think we can manage it?”

32
                                                             George Eliot

   Mr. Gascoigne projected his lower lip and lifted his handsome
eyebrows sarcastically at Gwendolen, who had seated herself with
much grace on the elbow of her mamma’s chair.
   “We could lend her the pony sometimes,” said Mrs. Gascoigne,
watching her husband’s face, and feeling quite ready to disapprove
if he did.
   “That might be inconveniencing others, aunt, and would be no
pleasure to me. I cannot endure ponies,” said Gwendolen. “I would
rather give up some other indulgence and have a horse.” (Was there
ever a young lady or gentleman not ready to give up an unspecified
indulgence for the sake of the favorite one specified?)
   “She rides so well. She has had lessons, and the riding-master said
she had so good a seat and hand she might be trusted with any
mount,” said Davilow, who, even if she had not wished her darling
to have the horse, would not have dared to be lukewarm in trying to
get it for her.
   “There is the price of the horse—a good sixty with the best chance,
and then his keep,” said Mr. Gascoigne, in a tone which, though
demurring, betrayed the inward presence of something that favored
the demand. “There are the carriage-horses—already a heavy item.
And remember what you ladies cost in toilet now.”
   “I really wear nothing but two black dresses,” said Mrs. Davilow,
hastily. “And the younger girls, of course, require no toilet at present.
Besides, Gwendolen will save me so much by giving her sisters les-
sons.” Here Mrs. Davilow’s delicate cheek showed a rapid blush. “If
it were not for that, I must really have a more expensive governess,
and masters besides.”
   Gwendolen felt some anger with her mamma, but carefully con-
cealed it.
   “That is good—that is decidedly good,” said Mr. Gascoigne, heart-
ily, looking at his wife. And Gwendolen, who, it must be owned,
was a deep young lady, suddenly moved away to the other end of
the long drawing-room, and busied herself with arranging pieces of
music.
   “The dear child has had no indulgences, no pleasures,” said Mrs.
Davilow, in a pleading undertone. “I feel the expense is rather im-
prudent in this first year of our settling. But she really needs the

                                                                      33
Daniel Deronda

exercise—she needs cheering. And if you were to see her on horse-
back, it is something splendid.”
  “It is what we could not afford for Anna,” said Mrs. Gascoigne.
“But she, dear child, would ride Lotta’s donkey and think it good
enough.” (Anna was absorbed in a game with Isabel, who had hunted
out an old back-gammon-board, and had begged to sit up an extra
hour.)
  “Certainly, a fine woman never looks better than on horseback,”
said Mr. Gascoigne. “And Gwendolen has the figure for it. I don’t
say the thing should not be considered.”
  “We might try it for a time, at all events. It can be given up, if
necessary,” said Mrs. Davilow.
  “Well, I will consult Lord Brackenshaw’s head groom. He is my
fidus Achates in the horsey way.”
  “Thanks,” said Mrs. Davilow, much relieved. “You are very kind.”
  “That he always is,” said Mrs. Gascoigne. And later that night,
when she and her husband were in private, she said—
  “I thought you were almost too indulgent about the horse for
Gwendolen. She ought not to claim so much more than your own
daughter would think of. Especially before we see how Fanny man-
ages on her income. And you really have enough to do without
taking all this trouble on yourself.”
  “My dear Nancy, one must look at things from every point of
view. This girl is really worth some expense: you don’t often see her
equal. She ought to make a first-rate marriage, and I should not be
doing my duty if I spared my trouble in helping her forward. You
know yourself she has been under a disadvantage with such a fa-
ther-in-law, and a second family, keeping her always in the shade. I
feel for the girl, And I should like your sister and her family now to
have the benefit of your having married rather a better specimen of
our kind than she did.”
  “Rather better! I should think so. However, it is for me to be
grateful that you will take so much on your shoulders for the sake of
my sister and her children. I am sure I would not grudge anything
to poor Fanny. But there is one thing I have been thinking of, though
you have never mentioned it.”
  “What is that?”

34
                                                          George Eliot

  “The boys. I hope they will not be falling in love with Gwendolen.”
  “Don’t presuppose anything of the kind, my dear, and there will
be no danger. Rex will never be at home for long together, and
Warham is going to India. It is the wiser plan to take it for granted
that cousins will not fall in love. If you begin with precautions, the
affair will come in spite of them. One must not undertake to act for
Providence in these matters, which can no more be held under the
hand than a brood of chickens. The boys will have nothing, and
Gwendolen will have nothing. They can’t marry. At the worst there
would only be a little crying, and you can’t save boys and girls from
that.”
  Mrs. Gascoigne’s mind was satisfied: if anything did happen,
there was the comfort of feeling that her husband would know
what was to be done, and would have the energy to do it.




                                                                   35
Daniel Deronda




                            CHAPTER IV

     “Gorgibus.— * * * Je te dis que le mariage est une chose sainte et
     sacrée: et que c’est faire en honnêtes gens, que de débuter par là.

     “Madelon.—Mon Dieu! que si tout le monde vous ressemblait, un
     roman serait bientôt fini! La belle chose que ce serait, si d’abord
     Cyrus épousait Mandane, et qu’Aronce de plain-pied fût marié à
     Clélie! * * * Laissez-nous faire à loisir le tissu de notre roman, et n’en
     pressez pas tant la conclusion.”
                                        MOLIÈRE. Les Précieuses Ridicules.


IT WOULD BE A LITTLE HARD to blame the rector of Pennicote that in
the course of looking at things from every point of view, he looked
at Gwendolen as a girl likely to make a brilliant marriage. Why
should he be expected to differ from his contemporaries in this
matter, and wish his niece a worse end of her charming maiden-
hood than they would approve as the best possible? It is rather to be
set down to his credit that his feelings on the subject were entirely
good-natured. And in considering the relation of means to ends, it
would have been mere folly to have been guided by the exceptional
and idyllic—to have recommended that Gwendolen should wear a
gown as shabby as Griselda’s in order that a marquis might fall in
love with her, or to have insisted that since a fair maiden was to be
sought, she should keep herself out of the way. Mr. Gascoigne’s cal-
culations were of the kind called rational, and he did not even think
of getting a too frisky horse in order that Gwendolen might be threat-
ened with an accident and be rescued by a man of property. He
wished his niece well, and he meant her to be seen to advantage in
the best society of the neighborhood.
  Her uncle’s intention fell in perfectly with Gwendolen’s own wishes.

36
                                                            George Eliot

But let no one suppose that she also contemplated a brilliant marriage
as the direct end of her witching the world with her grace on horse-
back, or with any other accomplishment. That she was to be married
some time or other she would have felt obliged to admit; and that her
marriage would not be of a middling kind, such as most girls were
contented with, she felt quietly, unargumentatively sure. But her
thoughts never dwelt on marriage as the fulfillment of her ambition;
the dramas in which she imagined herself a heroine were not wrought
up to that close. To be very much sued or hopelessly sighed for as a
bride was indeed an indispensable and agreeable guarantee of wom-
anly power; but to become a wife and wear all the domestic fetters of
that condition, was on the whole a vexatious necessity. Her observa-
tion of matrimony had inclined her to think it rather a dreary state in
which a woman could not do what she liked, had more children than
were desirable, was consequently dull, and became irrevocably im-
mersed in humdrum. Of course marriage was social promotion; she
could not look forward to a single life; but promotions have some-
times to be taken with bitter herbs—a peerage will not quite do in-
stead of leadership to the man who meant to lead; and this delicate-
limbed sylph of twenty meant to lead. For such passions dwell in
feminine breasts also. In Gwendolen’s, however, they dwelt among
strictly feminine furniture, and had no disturbing reference to the
advancement of learning or the balance of the constitution; her knowl-
edge being such as with no sort of standing-room or length of lever
could have been expected to move the world. She meant to do what
was pleasant to herself in a striking manner; or rather, whatever she
could do so as to strike others with admiration and get in that re-
flected way a more ardent sense of living, seemed pleasant to her fancy.
   “Gwendolen will not rest without having the world at her feet,”
said Miss Merry, the meek governess: hyperbolical words which have
long come to carry the most moderate meanings; for who has not
heard of private persons having the world at their feet in the shape
of some half-dozen items of flattering regard generally known in a
genteel suburb? And words could hardly be too wide or vague to
indicate the prospect that made a hazy largeness about poor
Gwendolen on the heights of her young self-exultation. Other people
allowed themselves to be made slaves of, and to have their lives blown

                                                                     37
Daniel Deronda

hither and thither like empty ships in which no will was present. It
was not to be so with her; she would no longer be sacrificed to
creatures worth less than herself, but would make the very best of
the chances that life offered her, and conquer circumstances by her
exceptional cleverness. Certainly, to be settled at Offendene, with
the notice of Lady Brackenshaw, the archery club, and invitations
to dine with the Arrowpoints, as the highest lights in her scenery,
was not a position that seemed to offer remarkable chances; but
Gwendolen’s confidence lay chiefly in herself. She felt well equipped
for the mastery of life. With regard to much in her lot hitherto, she
held herself rather hardly dealt with, but as to her “education,” she
would have admitted that it had left her under no disadvantages. In
the school-room her quick mind had taken readily that strong starch
of unexplained rules and disconnected facts which saves ignorance
from any painful sense of limpness; and what remained of all things
knowable, she was conscious of being sufficiently acquainted with
through novels, plays and poems. About her French and music, the
two justifying accomplishments of a young lady, she felt no ground
for uneasiness; and when to all these qualifications, negative and
positive, we add the spontaneous sense of capability some happy
persons are born with, so that any subject they turn their attention
to impresses them with their own power of forming a correct judg-
ment on it, who can wonder if Gwendolen felt ready to manage her
own destiny?
  There were many subjects in the world—perhaps the majority—
in which she felt no interest, because they were stupid; for subjects
are apt to appear stupid to the young as light seems dull to the old;
but she would not have felt at all helpless in relation to them if they
had turned up in conversation. It must be remembered that no one
had disputed her power or her general superiority. As on the arrival
at Offendene, so always, the first thought of those about her had
been, what will Gwendolen think?—if the footman trod heavily in
creaking boots, or if the laundress’s work was unsatisfactory, the
maid said, “This will never do for Miss Harleth”; if the wood smoked
in the bedroom fireplace, Mrs. Davilow, whose own weak eyes suf-
fered much from this inconvenience, spoke apologetically of it to
Gwendolen. If, when they were under the stress of traveling, she

38
                                                           George Eliot

did not appear at the breakfast table till every one else had finished,
the only question was, how Gwendolen’s coffee and toast should
still be of the hottest and crispest; and when she appeared with her
freshly-brushed light-brown hair streaming backward and awaiting
her mamma’s hand to coil it up, her large brown eyes glancing bright
as a wave-washed onyx from under their long lashes, it was always
she herself who had to be tolerant—to beg that Alice who sat wait-
ing on her would not stick up her shoulders in that frightful man-
ner, and that Isabel, instead of pushing up to her and asking ques-
tions, would go away to Miss Merry.
   Always she was the princess in exile, who in time of famine was to
have her breakfast-roll made of the finest-bolted flour from the seven
thin ears of wheat, and in a general decampment was to have her
silver folk kept out of the baggage. How was this to be accounted
for? The answer may seem to lie quite on the surface:—in her beauty,
a certain unusualness about her, a decision of will which made itself
felt in her graceful movements and clear unhesitating tones, so that
if she came into the room on a rainy day when everybody else was
flaccid and the use of things in general was not apparent to them,
there seemed to be a sudden, sufficient reason for keeping up the
forms of life; and even the waiters at hotels showed the more alac-
rity in doing away with crumbs and creases and dregs with strug-
gling flies in them. This potent charm, added to the fact that she
was the eldest daughter, toward whom her mamma had always been
in an apologetic state of mind for the evils brought on her by a step-
father, may seem so full a reason for Gwendolen’s domestic empire,
that to look for any other would be to ask the reason of daylight
when the sun is shining. But beware of arriving at conclusions with-
out comparison. I remember having seen the same assiduous, apolo-
getic attention awarded to persons who were not at all beautiful or
unusual, whose firmness showed itself in no very graceful or eupho-
nious way, and who were not eldest daughters with a tender, timid
mother, compunctious at having subjected them to inconveniences.
Some of them were a very common sort of men. And the only point
of resemblance among them all was a strong determination to have
what was pleasant, with a total fearlessness in making themselves
disagreeable or dangerous when they did not get it. Who is so much

                                                                    39
Daniel Deronda

cajoled and served with trembling by the weak females of a house-
hold as the unscrupulous male—capable, if he has not free way at
home, of going and doing worse elsewhere? Hence I am forced to
doubt whether even without her potent charm and peculiar filial
position Gwendolen might not still have played the queen in exile,
if only she had kept her inborn energy of egoistic desire, and her
power of inspiring fear as to what she might say or do. However, she
had the charm, and those who feared her were also fond of her; the
fear and the fondness being perhaps both heightened by what may
be called the iridescence of her character—the play of various, nay,
contrary tendencies. For Macbeth’s rhetoric about the impossibility
of being many opposite things in the same moment, referred to the
clumsy necessities of action and not to the subtler possibilities of
feeling. We cannot speak a loyal word and be meanly silent; we
cannot kill and not kill in the same moment; but a moment is wide
enough for the loyal and mean desire, for the outlash of a murder-
ous thought and the sharp backward stroke of repentance.




40
                                                           George Eliot




                       CHAPTER V
                   “Her wit
                    Values itself so highly, that to her
                    All matter else seems weak.”
                         —Much Ado About Nothing.


GWENDOLEN’S RECEPTION in the neighborhood fulfilled her uncle’s
expectations. From Brackenshaw Castle to the Firs at Winchester,
where Mr. Quallon the banker kept a generous house, she was wel-
comed with manifest admiration, and even those ladies who did
not quite like her, felt a comfort in having a new, striking girl to
invite; for hostesses who entertain much must make up their parties
as ministers make up their cabinets, on grounds other than personal
liking. Then, in order to have Gwendolen as a guest, it was not
necessary to ask any one who was disagreeable, for Mrs. Davilow
always made a quiet, picturesque figure as a chaperon, and Mr.
Gascoigne was everywhere in request for his own sake.
   Among the houses where Gwendolen was not quite liked, and yet
invited, was Quetcham Hall. One of her first invitations was to a
large dinner-party there, which made a sort of general introduction
for her to the society of the neighborhood; for in a select party of
thirty and of well-composed proportions as to age, few visitable fami-
lies could be entirely left out. No youthful figure there was compa-
rable to Gwendolen’s as she passed through the long suite of rooms
adorned with light and flowers, and, visible at first as a slim figure
floating along in white drapery, approached through one wide door-
way after another into fuller illumination and definiteness. She had
never had that sort of promenade before, and she felt exultingly
that it befitted her: any one looking at her for the first time might
have supposed that long galleries and lackeys had always been a

                                                                    41
Daniel Deronda

matter of course in her life; while her cousin Anna, who was really
more familiar with these things, felt almost as much embarrassed as
a rabbit suddenly deposited in that well-lit-space.
  “Who is that with Gascoigne?” said the archdeacon, neglecting a
discussion of military manoeuvres on which, as a clergyman, he was
naturally appealed to. And his son, on the other side of the room—
a hopeful young scholar, who had already suggested some “not less
elegant than ingenious,” emendations of Greek texts—said nearly
at the same time, “By George! who is that girl with the awfully well-
set head and jolly figure?”
  But to a mind of general benevolence, wishing everybody to look
well, it was rather exasperating to see how Gwendolen eclipsed oth-
ers: how even the handsome Miss Lawe, explained to be the daugh-
ter of Lady Lawe, looked suddenly broad, heavy and inanimate;
and how Miss Arrowpoint, unfortunately also dressed in white, im-
mediately resembled a carte-de-visite in which one would fancy the
skirt alone to have been charged for. Since Miss Arrowpoint was
generally liked for the amiable unpretending way in which she wore
her fortunes, and made a softening screen for the oddities of her
mother, there seemed to be some unfitness in Gwendolen’s looking
so much more like a person of social importance.
  “She is not really so handsome if you come to examine her fea-
tures,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, later in the evening, confidentially to
Mrs. Vulcany. “It is a certain style she has, which produces a great
effect at first, but afterward she is less agreeable.”
  In fact, Gwendolen, not intending it, but intending the contrary,
had offended her hostess, who, though not a splenetic or vindictive
woman, had her susceptibilities. Several conditions had met in the
Lady of Quetcham which to the reasoners in that neighborhood
seemed to have an essential connection with each other. It was occa-
sionally recalled that she had been the heiress of a fortune gained by
some moist or dry business in the city, in order fully to account for
her having a squat figure, a harsh parrot-like voice, and a systemati-
cally high head-dress; and since these points made her externally
rather ridiculous, it appeared to many only natural that she should
have what are called literary tendencies. A little comparison would
have shown that all these points are to be found apart; daughters of

42
                                                             George Eliot

aldermen being often well-grown and well-featured, pretty women
having sometimes harsh or husky voices, and the production of feeble
literature being found compatible with the most diverse forms of
physique, masculine as well as feminine.
   Gwendolen, who had a keen sense of absurdity in others, but was
kindly disposed toward any one who could make life agreeable to her,
meant to win Mrs. Arrowpoint by giving her an interest and atten-
tion beyond what others were probably inclined to show. But self-
confidence is apt to address itself to an imaginary dullness in others;
as people who are well off speak in a cajoling tone to the poor, and
those who are in the prime of life raise their voice and talk artificially
to seniors, hastily conceiving them to be deaf and rather imbecile.
Gwendolen, with all her cleverness and purpose to be agreeable, could
not escape that form of stupidity: it followed in her mind,
unreflectingly, that because Mrs. Arrowpoint was ridiculous she was
also likely to be wanting in penetration, and she went through her
little scenes without suspicion that the various shades of her behavior
were all noted.
   “You are fond of books as well as of music, riding, and archery, I
hear,” Mrs. Arrowpoint said, going to her for a tete-à-tete in the
drawing-room after dinner. “Catherine will be very glad to have so
sympathetic a neighbor.” This little speech might have seemed the
most graceful politeness, spoken in a low, melodious tone; but with
a twang, fatally loud, it gave Gwendolen a sense of exercising pa-
tronage when she answered, gracefully:
   “It is I who am fortunate. Miss Arrowpoint will teach me what
good music is. I shall be entirely a learner. I hear that she is a thor-
ough musician.”
   “Catherine has certainly had every advantage. We have a first-rate
musician in the house now—Herr Klesmer; perhaps you know all
his compositions. You must allow me to introduce him to you. You
sing, I believe. Catherine plays three instruments, but she does not
sing. I hope you you will let us hear you. I understand you are an
accomplished singer.”
   “Oh, no!—’die Kraft ist schwach, allein die Lust ist gross,’ as
Mephistopheles says.”
   “Ah, you are a student of Goethe. Young ladies are so advanced

                                                                       43
Daniel Deronda

now. I suppose you have read everything.”
  “No, really. I shall be so glad if you will tell me what to read. I
have been looking into all the books in the library at Offendene,
but there is nothing readable. The leaves all stick together and smell
musty. I wish I could write books to amuse myself, as you can! How
delightful it must be to write books after one’s own taste instead of
reading other people’s! Home-made books must be so nice.”
  For an instant Mrs. Arrowpoint’s glance was a little sharper, but
the perilous resemblance to satire in the last sentence took the hue
of girlish simplicity when Gwendolen added—
  “I would give anything to write a book!”
  “And why should you not?” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, encouragingly.
“You have but to begin as I did. Pen, ink, and paper are at everybody’s
command. But I will send you all I have written with pleasure.”
  “Thanks. I shall be so glad to read your writings. Being acquainted
with authors must give a peculiar understanding of their books: one
would be able to tell then which parts were funny and which seri-
ous. I am sure I often laugh in the wrong place.” Here Gwendolen
herself became aware of danger, and added quickly, “In Shakespeare,
you know, and other great writers that we can never see. But I al-
ways want to know more than there is in the books.”
  “If you are interested in any of my subjects I can lend you many
extra sheets in manuscript,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint—while
Gwendolen felt herself painfully in the position of the young lady
who professed to like potted sprats.
  “These are things I dare say I shall publish eventually: several friends
have urged me to do so, and one doesn’t like to be obstinate. My
Tasso, for example—I could have made it twice the size.”
  “I dote on Tasso,” said Gwendolen.
  “Well, you shall have all my papers, if you like. So many, you
know, have written about Tasso; but they are all wrong. As to the
particular nature of his madness, and his feelings for Leonora, and
the real cause of his imprisonment, and the character of Leonora,
who, in my opinion, was a cold-hearted woman, else she would
have married him in spite of her brother—they are all wrong. I
differ from everybody.”
  “How very interesting!” said Gwendolen. “I like to differ from

44
                                                           George Eliot

everybody. I think it is so stupid to agree. That is the worst of writ-
ing your opinions; and make people agree with you.” This speech
renewed a slight suspicion in Mrs. Arrowpoint, and again her glance
became for a moment examining. But Gwendolen looked very in-
nocent, and continued with a docile air:
  “I know nothing of Tasso except the Gerusalemme Liberata, which
we read and learned by heart at school.”
  “Ah, his life is more interesting than his poetry, I have constructed
the early part of his life as a sort of romance. When one thinks of his
father Bernardo, and so on, there is much that must be true.”
  “Imagination is often truer than fact,” said Gwendolen, decisively,
though she could no more have explained these glib words than if
they had been Coptic or Etruscan. “I shall be so glad to learn all
about Tasso—and his madness especially. I suppose poets are al-
ways a little mad.”
  “To be sure—’the poet’s eye in a fine frenzy rolling’; and some-
body says of Marlowe—

        ‘For that fine madness still he did maintain,
        Which always should possess the poet’s brain.’”

  “But it was not always found out, was it?” said Gwendolen inno-
cently. “I suppose some of them rolled their eyes in private. Mad
people are often very cunning.”
  Again a shade flitted over Mrs. Arrowpoint’s face; but the entrance
of the gentlemen prevented any immediate mischief between her
and this too quick young lady, who had over-acted her naïveté.
  “Ah, here comes Herr Klesmer,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, rising; and
presently bringing him to Gwendolen, she left them to a dialogue
which was agreeable on both sides, Herr Klesmer being a felicitous
combination of the German, the Sclave and the Semite, with grand
features, brown hair floating in artistic fashion, and brown eyes in
spectacles. His English had little foreignness except its fluency; and
his alarming cleverness was made less formidable just then by a cer-
tain softening air of stlliness which will sometimes befall even ge-
nius in the desire of being agreeable to beauty.
  Music was soon begun. Miss Arrowpoint and Herr Klesmer played

                                                                    45
Daniel Deronda

a four-handed piece on two pianos, which convinced the company
in general that it was long, and Gwendolen in particular that the
neutral, placid-faced Miss Arrowpoint had a mastery of the instru-
ment which put her own execution out of question—though she
was not discouraged as to her often-praised touch and style. After
this every one became anxious to hear Gwendolen sing; especially
Mr. Arrowpoint; as was natural in a host and a perfect gentleman,
of whom no one had anything to say but that he married Miss Cuttler
and imported the best cigars; and he led her to the piano with easy
politeness. Herr Klesmer closed the instrument in readiness for her,
and smiled with pleasure at her approach; then placed himself at a
distance of a few feet so that he could see her as she sang.
   Gwendolen was not nervous; what she undertook to do she did
without trembling, and singing was an enjoyment to her. Her voice
was a moderately powerful soprano (some one had told her it was
like Jenny Lind’s), her ear good, and she was able to keep in tune, so
that her singing gave pleasure to ordinary hearers, and she had been
used to unmingled applause. She had the rare advantage of looking
almost prettier when she was singing than at other times, and that
Herr Klesmer was in front of her seemed not disagreeable. Her song,
determined on beforehand, was a favorite aria of Belini’s, in which
she felt quite sure of herself.
   “Charming?” said Mr. Arrowpoint, who had remained near, and
the word was echoed around without more insincerity than we rec-
ognize in a brotherly way as human. But Herr Klesmer stood like a
statue—if a statue can be imagined in spectacles; at least, he was as
mute as a statue. Gwendolen was pressed to keep her seat and double
the general pleasure, and she did not wish to refuse; but before re-
solving to do so, she moved a little toward Herr Klesmer, saying
with a look of smiling appeal, “It would be too cruel to a great
musician. You cannot like to hear poor amateur singing.”
   “No, truly; but that makes nothing,” said Herr Klesmer, suddenly
speaking in an odious German fashion with staccato endings, quite
unobservable in him before, and apparently depending on a change
of mood, as Irishmen resume their strongest brogue when they are
fervid or quarrelsome. “That makes nothing. It is always acceptable
to see you sing.”

46
                                                              George Eliot

   Was there ever so unexpected an assertion of superiority? at least
before the late Teutonic conquest? Gwendolen colored deeply, but,
with her usual presence of mind, did not show an ungraceful re-
sentment by moving away immediately; and Miss Arrowpoint, who
had been near enough to overhear (and also to observe that Herr
Klesmer’s mode of looking at Gwendolen was more conspicuously
admiring than was quite consistent with good taste), now with the
utmost tact and kindness came close to her and said—
   “Imagine what I have to go through with this professor! He can
hardly tolerate anything we English do in music. We can only put up
with his severity, and make use of it to find out the worst that can be
said of us. It is a little comfort to know that; and one can bear it when
every one else is admiring.”
   “I should be very much obliged to him for telling me the worst,”
said Gwendolen, recovering herself. “I dare say I have been extremely
ill taught, in addition to having no talent—only liking for music.”
This was very well expressed considering that it had never entered
her mind before.
   “Yes, it is true: you have not been well taught,” said Herr Klesmer,
quietly. Woman was dear to him, but music was dearer. “Still, you
are not quite without gifts. You sing in tune, and you have a pretty
fair organ. But you produce your notes badly; and that music which
you sing is beneath you. It is a form of melody which expresses a
puerile state of culture—a dawdling, canting, see-saw kind of stuff—
the passion and thought of people without any breadth of horizon.
There is a sort of self-satisfied folly about every phrase of such melody;
no cries of deep, mysterious passion—no conflict—no sense of the
universal. It makes men small as they listen to it. Sing now some-
thing larger. And I shall see.”
   “Oh, not now—by-and-by,” said Gwendolen, with a sinking of
heart at the sudden width of horizon opened round her small musi-
cal performance. For a lady desiring to lead, this first encounter in
her campaign was startling. But she was bent on not behaving fool-
ishly, and Miss Arrowpoint helped her by saying—
   “Yes, by-and-by. I always require half an hour to get up my cour-
age after being criticised by Herr Klesmer. We will ask him to play
to us now: he is bound to show us what is good music.”

                                                                       47
Daniel Deronda

   To be quite safe on this point Herr Klesmer played a composition
of his own, a fantasia called Freudvoll, Leidvoll, Gedankenvoll—an
extensive commentary on some melodic ideas not too grossly evi-
dent; and he certainly fetched as much variety and depth of passion
out of the piano as that moderately responsive instrument lends
itself to, having an imperious magic in his fingers that seem to send
a nerve-thrill through ivory key and wooden hammer, and compel
the strings to make a quivering lingering speech for him. Gwendolen,
in spite of her wounded egoism, had fullness of nature enough to
feel the power of this playing, and it gradually turned her inward
sob of mortification into an excitement which lifted her for the
moment into a desperate indifference about her own doings, or at
least a determination to get a superiority over them by laughing at
them as if they belonged to somebody else. Her eyes had become
brighter, her cheeks slightly flushed, and her tongue ready for any
mischievous remarks.
   “I wish you would sing to us again, Miss Harleth,” said young
Clintock, the archdeacon’s classical son, who had been so fortunate
as to take her to dinner, and came up to renew conversation as soon
as Herr Klesmer’s performance was ended, “That is the style of music
for me. I never can make anything of this tip-top playing. It is like a
jar of leeches, where you can never tell either beginnings or endings.
I could listen to your singing all day.”
   “Yes, we should be glad of something popular now—another song
from you would be a relaxation,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, who had
also come near with polite intentions.
   “That must be because you are in a puerile state of culture, and
have no breadth of horizon. I have just learned that. I have been
taught how bad my taste is, and am feeling growing pains. They are
never pleasant,” said Gwendolen, not taking any notice of Mrs.
Arrowpoint, and looking up with a bright smile at young Clintock.
   Mrs. Arrowpoint was not insensible to this rudeness, but merely
said, “Well, we will not press anything disagreeably,” and as there
was a perceptible outburst of imprisoned conversation just then,
and a movement of guests seeking each other, she remained seated
where she was, and looked around her with the relief of a hostess at
finding she is not needed.

48
                                                                 George Eliot

  “I am glad you like this neighborhood,” said young Clintock, well-
pleased with his station in front of Gwendolen.
  “Exceedingly. There seems to be a little of everything and not
much of anything.”
  “That is rather equivocal praise.”
  “Not with me. I like a little of everything; a little absurdity, for
example, is very amusing. I am thankful for a few queer people; but
much of them is a bore.”
  (Mrs. Arrowpoint, who was hearing this dialogue, perceived quite
a new tone in Gwendolen’s speech, and felt a revival of doubt as to
her interest in Tasso’s madness.)
  “I think there should be more croquet, for one thing,” young
Clintock; “I am usually away, but if I were more here I should go in
for a croquet club. You are one of the archers, I think. But depend
upon it croquet is the game of the future. It wants writing up, though.
One of our best men has written a poem on it, in four cantos;—as
good as Pope. I want him to publish it—You never read anything
better.”
  “I shall study croquet to-morrow. I shall take to it instead of sing-
ing.”
  “No, no, not that; but do take to croquet. I will send you Jenning’s
poem if you like. I have a manuscript copy.”
  “Is he a great friend of yours?”
  “Well, rather.”
  “Oh, if he is only rather, I think I will decline. Or, if you send it to me,
will you promise not to catechise me upon it and ask me which part I like
best? Because it is not so easy to know a poem without reading it as to
know a sermon without listening.”
  “Decidedly,” Mrs. Arrowpoint thought, “this girl is double and
satirical. I shall be on my guard against her.”
  But Gwendolen, nevertheless, continued to receive polite atten-
tions from the family at Quetcham, not merely because invitations
have larger grounds than those of personal liking, but because the
trying little scene at the piano had awakened a kindly solicitude
toward her in the gentle mind of Miss Arrowpoint, who managed
all the invitations and visits, her mother being otherwise occupied.


                                                                          49
Daniel Deronda




                       CHAPTER VI
           “Croyez-vous m’avoir humiliée pour m’avoir
           appris que la terre tourne autour du soleil? Je vous
           jure que je ne m’en estime pas moins.”
                  —FONTENELLE: Pluralité des Mondes.


THAT LOFTY CRITICISM had caused Gwendolen a new sort of pain.
She would not have chosen to confess how unfortunate she thought
herself in not having had Miss Arrowpoint’s musical advantages, so
as to be able to question Herr Klesmer’s taste with the confidence of
thorough knowledge; still less, to admit even to herself that Miss
Arrowpoint each time they met raised an unwonted feeling of jeal-
ousy in her: not in the least because she was an heiress, but because
it was really provoking that a girl whose appearance you could not
characterize except by saying that her figure was slight and of middle
stature, her features small, her eyes tolerable, and her complexion
sallow, had nevertheless a certain mental superiority which could
not be explained away—an exasperating thoroughness in her musi-
cal accomplishment, a fastidious discrimination in her general tastes,
which made it impossible to force her admiration and kept you in
awe of her standard. This insignificant-looking young lady of four-
and-twenty, whom any one’s eyes would have passed over negli-
gently if she had not been Miss Arrowpoint, might be suspected of
a secret opinion that Miss Harleth’s acquirements were rather of a
common order, and such an opinion was not made agreeable to
think of by being always veiled under a perfect kindness of manner.
   But Gwendolen did not like to dwell on facts which threw an
unfavorable light on itself. The musical Magus who had so sud-
denly widened her horizon was not always on the scene; and his
being constantly backward and forward between London and

50
                                                            George Eliot

Quetcham soon began to be thought of as offering opportunities
for converting him to a more admiring state of mind. Meanwhile,
in the manifest pleasure her singing gave at Brackenshaw Castle,
the Firs, and elsewhere, she recovered her equanimity, being dis-
posed to think approval more trustworthy than objection, and not
being one of the exceptional persons who have a parching thirst for
a perfection undemanded by their neighbors. Perhaps it would have
been rash to say then that she was at all exceptional inwardly, or that
the unusual in her was more than her rare grace of movement and
bearing, and a certain daring which gave piquancy to a very com-
mon egoistic ambition, such as exists under many clumsy exteriors
and is taken no notice of. For I suppose that the set of the head does
not really determine the hunger of the inner self for supremacy: it
only makes a difference sometimes as to the way in which the su-
premacy is held attainable, and a little also to the degree in which it
can be attained; especially when the hungry one is a girl, whose
passion for doing what is remarkable has an ideal limit in consis-
tency with the highest breeding and perfect freedom from the sor-
did need of income. Gwendolen was as inwardly rebellious against
the restraints of family conditions, and as ready to look through
obligations into her own fundamental want of feeling for them, as if
she had been sustained by the boldest speculations; but she really
had no such speculations, and would at once have marked herself
off from any sort of theoretical or practically reforming women by
satirizing them. She rejoiced to feel herself exceptional; but her ho-
rizon was that of the genteel romance where the heroine’s soul poured
out in her journal is full of vague power, originality, and general
rebellion, while her life moves strictly in the sphere of fashion; and
if she wanders into a swamp, the pathos lies partly, so to speak, in
her having on her satin shoes. Here is a restraint which nature and
society have provided on the pursuit of striking adventure; so that a
soul burning with a sense of what the universe is not, and ready to
take all existence as fuel, is nevertheless held captive by the ordinary
wirework of social forms and does nothing particular.
   This commonplace result was what Gwendolen found herself
threatened with even in the novelty of the first winter at Offendene.
What she was clear upon was, that she did not wish to lead the same

                                                                     51
Daniel Deronda

sort of life as ordinary young ladies did; but what she was not clear
upon was, how she should set about leading any other, and what
were the particular acts which she would assert her freedom by do-
ing. Offendene remained a good background, if anything would
happen there; but on the whole the neighborhood was in fault.
  Beyond the effect of her beauty on a first presentation, there was
not much excitement to be got out of her earliest invitations, and
she came home after little sallies of satire and knowingness, such as
had offended Mrs. Arrowpoint, to fill the intervening days with the
most girlish devices. The strongest assertion she was able to make of
her individual claims was to leave out Alice’s lessons (on the prin-
ciple that Alice was more likely to excel in ignorance), and to em-
ploy her with Miss Merry, and the maid who was understood to
wait on all the ladies, in helping to arrange various dramatic cos-
tumes which Gwendolen pleased herself with having in readiness
for some future occasions of acting in charades or theatrical pieces,
occasions which she meant to bring about by force of will or con-
trivance. She had never acted—only made a figure in tableaux vivans
at school; but she felt assured that she could act well, and having
been once or twice to the Théâtre Français, and also heard her
mamma speak of Rachel, her waking dreams and cogitations as to
how she would manage her destiny sometimes turned on the ques-
tion whether she would become an actress like Rachel, since she
was more beautiful than that thin Jewess. Meanwhile the wet days
before Christmas were passed pleasantly in the preparation of cos-
tumes, Greek, Oriental, and Composite, in which Gwendolen atti-
tudinized and speechified before a domestic audience, including even
the housekeeper, who was once pressed into it that she might swell
the notes of applause; but having shown herself unworthy by ob-
serving that Miss Harleth looked far more like a queen in her own
dress than in that baggy thing with her arms all bare, she was not
invited a second time.
  “Do I look as well as Rachel, mamma?” said Gwendolen, one day
when she had been showing herself in her Greek dress to Anna, and
going through scraps of scenes with much tragic intention.
  “You have better arms than Rachel,” said Mrs. Davilow, “your
arms would do for anything, Gwen. But your voice is not so tragic

52
                                                            George Eliot

as hers; it is not so deep.”
   “I can make it deeper, if I like,” said Gwendolen, provisionally;
then she added, with decision, “I think a higher voice is more tragic:
it is more feminine; and the more feminine a woman is, the more
tragic it seems when she does desperate actions.”
   “There may be something in that,” said Mrs. Davilow, languidly.
“But I don’t know what good there is in making one’s blood creep.
And if there is anything horrible to be done, I should like it to be
left to the men.”
   “Oh, mamma, you are so dreadfully prosaic! As if all the great
poetic criminals were not women! I think the men are poor cau-
tious creatures.”
   “Well, dear, and you—who are afraid to be alone in the night—I
don’t think you would be very bold in crime, thank God.”
   “I am not talking about reality, mamma,” said Gwendolen, impa-
tiently. Then her mamma being called out of the room, she turned
quickly to her cousin, as if taking an opportunity, and said, “Anna, do
ask my uncle to let us get up some charades at the rectory. Mr.
Middleton and Warham could act with us—just for practice. Mamma
says it will not do to have Mr. Middleton consulting and rehearsing
here. He is a stick, but we could give him suitable parts. Do ask, or
else I will.”
   “Oh, not till Rex comes. He is so clever, and such a dear old thing,
and he will act Napoleon looking over the sea. He looks just like
Napoleon. Rex can do anything.”
   “I don’t in the least believe in your Rex, Anna,” said Gwendolen,
laughing at her. “He will turn out to be like those wretched blue
and yellow water-colors of his which you hang up in your bedroom
and worship.”
   “Very well, you will see,” said Anna. “It is not that I know what is
clever, but he has got a scholarship already, and papa says he will get
a fellowship, and nobody is better at games. He is cleverer than Mr.
Middleton, and everybody but you call Mr. Middleton clever.”
   “So he may be in a dark-lantern sort of way. But he is a stick. If he
had to say, ‘Perdition catch my soul, but I do love her,’ he would say
it in just the same tone as, ‘Here endeth the second lesson.’”
   “Oh, Gwendolen!” said Anna, shocked at these promiscuous al-

                                                                     53
Daniel Deronda

lusions. “And it is very unkind of you to speak so of him, for he
admires you very much. I heard Warham say one day to mamma,
‘Middleton is regularly spooney upon Gwendolen.’ She was very
angry with him; but I know what it means. It is what they say at
college for being in love.”
  “How can I help it?” said Gwendolen, rather contemptuously.
“Perdition catch my soul if I love him.”
  “No, of course; papa, I think, would not wish it. And he is to go away
soon. But it makes me sorry when you ridicule him.”
  “What shall you do to me when I ridicule Rex?” said Gwendolen,
wickedly.
  “Now, Gwendolen, dear, you will not?” said Anna, her eyes filling
with tears. “I could not bear it. But there really is nothing in him to
ridicule. Only you may find out things. For no one ever thought of
laughing at Mr. Middleton before you. Every one said he was nice-
looking, and his manners perfect. I am sure I have always been fright-
ened at him because of his learning and his square-cut coat, and his
being a nephew of the bishop’s, and all that. But you will not ridi-
cule Rex—promise me.” Anna ended with a beseeching look which
touched Gwendolen.
  “You are a dear little coz,” she said, just touching the tip of Anna’s
chin with her thumb and forefinger. “I don’t ever want to do any-
thing that will vex you. Especially if Rex is to make everything come
off—charades and everything.”
  And when at last Rex was there, the animation he brought into
the life of Offendene and the rectory, and his ready partnership in
Gwendolen’s plans, left her no inclination for any ridicule that was
not of an open and flattering kind, such as he himself enjoyed. He
was a fine open-hearted youth, with a handsome face strongly re-
sembling his father’s and Anna’s, but softer in expression than the
one, and larger in scale than the other: a bright, healthy, loving
nature, enjoying ordinary innocent things so much that vice had no
temptation for him, and what he knew of it lay too entirely in the
outer courts and little-visited chambers of his mind for him to think
of it with great repulsion. Vicious habits were with him “what some
fellows did”—“stupid stuff ” which he liked to keep aloof from. He
returned Anna’s affection as fully as could be expected of a brother

54
                                                           George Eliot

whose pleasures apart from her were more than the sum total of
hers; and he had never known a stronger love.
  The cousins were continually together at the one house or the
other—chiefly at Offendene, where there was more freedom, or
rather where there was a more complete sway for Gwendolen; and
whatever she wished became a ruling purpose for Rex. The charades
came off according to her plans; and also some other little scenes
not contemplated by her in which her acting was more impromptu.
It was at Offendene that the charades and tableaux were rehearsed
and presented, Mrs. Davilow seeing no objection even to Mr.
Middleton’s being invited to share in them, now that Rex too was
there—especially as his services were indispensable: Warham, who
was studying for India with a Wanchester “coach,” having no time
to spare, and being generally dismal under a cram of everything
except the answers needed at the forthcoming examination, which
might disclose the welfare of our Indian Empire to be somehow
connected with a quotable knowledge of Browne’s Pastorals.
  Mr. Middleton was persuaded to play various grave parts,
Gwendolen having flattered him on his enviable immobility of coun-
tenance; and at first a little pained and jealous at her comradeship
with Rex, he presently drew encouragement from the thought that
this sort of cousinly familiarity excluded any serious passion. In-
deed, he occasionally felt that her more formal treatment of himself
was such a sign of favor as to warrant his making advances before he
left Pennicote, though he had intended to keep his feelings in re-
serve until his position should be more assured. Miss Gwendolen,
quite aware that she was adored by this unexceptionable young cler-
gyman with pale whiskers and square-cut collar, felt nothing more
on the subject than that she had no objection to being adored: she
turned her eyes on him with calm mercilessness and caused him
many mildly agitating hopes by seeming always to avoid dramatic
contact with him—for all meanings, we know, depend on the key
of interpretation.
  Some persons might have thought beforehand that a young man
of Anglican leanings, having a sense of sacredness much exercised
on small things as well as great, rarely laughing save from politeness,
and in general regarding the mention of spades by their naked names

                                                                    55
Daniel Deronda

as rather coarse, would not have seen a fitting bride for himself in a
girl who was daring in ridicule, and showed none of the special
grace required in the clergyman’s wife; or, that a young man in-
formed by theological reading would have reflected that he was not
likely to meet the taste of a lively, restless young lady like Miss
Harleth. But are we always obliged to explain why the facts are not
what some persons thought beforehand? The apology lies on their
side, who had that erroneous way of thinking.
   As for Rex, who would possibly have been sorry for poor Middleton
if he had been aware of the excellent curate’s inward conflict, he was
too completely absorbed in a first passion to have observation for
any person or thing. He did not observe Gwendolen; he only felt
what she said or did, and the back of his head seemed to be a good
organ of information as to whether she was in the room or out.
Before the end of the first fortnight he was so deeply in love that it
was impossible for him to think of his life except as bound up with
Gwendolen’s. He could see no obstacles, poor boy; his own love
seemed a guarantee of hers, since it was one with the unperturbed
delight in her image, so that he could no more dream of her giving
him pain than an Egyptian could dream of snow. She sang and
played to him whenever he liked, was always glad of his compan-
ionship in riding, though his borrowed steeds were often comic,
was ready to join in any fun of his, and showed a right appreciation
of Anna. No mark of sympathy seemed absent. That because
Gwendolen was the most perfect creature in the world she was to
make a grand match, had not occurred to him. He had no con-
ceit—at least not more than goes to make up the necessary gum and
consistence of a substantial personality: it was only that in the young
bliss of loving he took Gwendolen’s perfection as part of that good
which had seemed one with life to him, being the outcome of a
happy, well-embodied nature.
   One incident which happened in the course of their dramatic
attempts impressed Rex as a sign of her unusual sensibility. It showed
an aspect of her nature which could not have been preconceived by
any one who, like him, had only seen her habitual fearlessness in
active exercises and her high spirits in society.
   After a good deal of rehearsing it was resolved that a select party

56
                                                           George Eliot

should be invited to Offendene to witness the performances which
went with so much satisfaction to the actors. Anna had caused a
pleasant surprise; nothing could be neater than the way in which
she played her little parts; one would even have suspected her of
hiding much sly observation under her simplicity. And Mr.
Middleton answered very well by not trying to be comic. The main
source of doubt and retardation had been Gwendolen’s desire to
appear in her Greek dress. No word for a charade would occur to
her either waking or dreaming that suited her purpose of getting a
statuesque pose in this favorite costume. To choose a motive from
Racine was of no use, since Rex and the others could not declaim
French verse, and improvised speeches would turn the scene into
burlesque. Besides, Mr. Gascoigne prohibited the acting of scenes
from plays: he usually protested against the notion that an amuse-
ment which was fitting for every one else was unfitting for a clergy-
man; but he would not in this matter overstep the line of decorum
as drawn in that part of Wessex, which did not exclude his sanction
of the young people’s acting charades in his sister-in-law’s house—a
very different affair from private theatricals in the full sense of the
word.
  Everybody of course was concerned to satisfy this wish of
Gwendolen’s, and Rex proposed that they should wind up with a
tableau in which the effect of her majesty would not be marred by
any one’s speech. This pleased her thoroughly, and the only ques-
tion was the choice of the tableau.
  “Something pleasant, children, I beseech you,” said Mrs. Davilow;
“I can’t have any Greek wickedness.”
  “It is no worse than Christian wickedness, mamma,” said
Gwendolen, whose mention of Rachelesque heroines had called forth
that remark.
  “And less scandalous,” said Rex. “Besides, one thinks of it as all
gone by and done with. What do you say to Briseis being led away?
I would be Achilles, and you would be looking round at me—after
the print we have at the rectory.”
  “That would be a good attitude for me,” said Gwendolen, in a
tone of acceptance. But afterward she said with decision, “No. It
will not do. There must be three men in proper costume, else it will

                                                                    57
Daniel Deronda

be ridiculous.”
   “I have it,” said Rex, after a little reflection. “Hermione as the
statue in Winter’s Tale? I will be Leontes, and Miss Merry, Paulina,
one on each side. Our dress won’t signify,” he went on laughingly;
“it will be more Shakespearian and romantic if Leontes looks like
Napoleon, and Paulina like a modern spinster.”
   And Hermione was chosen; all agreeing that age was of no conse-
quence, but Gwendolen urged that instead of the mere tableau there
should be just enough acting of the scene to introduce the striking
up of the music as a signal for her to step down and advance; when
Leontes, instead of embracing her, was to kneel and kiss the hem of
her garment, and so the curtain was to fall. The antechamber with
folding doors lent itself admirably to the purpose of a stage, and the
whole of the establishment, with the addition of Jarrett the village
carpenter, was absorbed in the preparations for an entertainment,
which, considering that it was an imitation of acting, was likely to
be successful, since we know from ancient fable that an imitation
may have more chance of success than the original.
   Gwendolen was not without a special exultation in the prospect
of this occasion, for she knew that Herr Klesmer was again at
Quetcham, and she had taken care to include him among the in-
vited.
   Klesmer came. He was in one of his placid, silent moods, and sat
in serene contemplation, replying to all appeals in benignant-sound-
ing syllables more or less articulate—as taking up his cross meekly
in a world overgrown with amateurs, or as careful how he moved his
lion paws lest he should crush a rampant and vociferous mouse.
   Everything indeed went off smoothly and according to expecta-
tion—all that was improvised and accidental being of a probable
sort—until the incident occurred which showed Gwendolen in an
unforeseen phase of emotion. How it came about was at first a mys-
tery.
   The tableau of Hermione was doubly striking from its dissimilar-
ity with what had gone before: it was answering perfectly, and a
murmur of applause had been gradually suppressed while Leontes
gave his permission that Paulina should exercise her utmost art and
make the statue move.

58
                                                             George Eliot

   Hermione, her arm resting on a pillar, was elevated by about six
inches, which she counted on as a means of showing her pretty foot
and instep, when at the given signal she should advance and de-
scend.
   “Music, awake her, strike!” said Paulina (Mrs. Davilow, who, by
special entreaty, had consented to take the part in a white burnous
and hood).
   Herr Klesmer, who had been good-natured enough to seat him-
self at the piano, struck a thunderous chord—but in the same in-
stant, and before Hermione had put forth her foot, the movable
panel, which was on a line with the piano, flew open on the right
opposite the stage and disclosed the picture of the dead face and the
fleeing figure, brought out in pale definiteness by the position of
the wax-lights. Everyone was startled, but all eyes in the act of turn-
ing toward the open panel were recalled by a piercing cry from
Gwendolen, who stood without change of attitude, but with a change
of expression that was terrifying in its terror. She looked like a statue
into which a soul of Fear had entered: her pallid lips were parted;
her eyes, usually narrowed under their long lashes, were dilated and
fixed. Her mother, less surprised than alarmed, rushed toward her,
and Rex, too, could not help going to her side. But the touch of her
mother’s arm had the effect of an electric charge; Gwendolen fell on
her knees and put her hands before her face. She was still trembling,
but mute, and it seemed that she had self-consciousness enough to
aim at controlling her signs of terror, for she presently allowed her-
self to be raised from her kneeling posture and led away, while the
company were relieving their minds by explanation.
   “A magnificent bit of plastik that!” said Klesmer to Miss
Arrowpoint. And a quick fire of undertoned question and answer
went round.
   “Was it part of the play?”
   “Oh, no, surely not. Miss Harleth was too much affected. A sen-
sitive creature!”
   “Dear me! I was not aware that there was a painting behind that
panel; were you?”
   “No; how should I? Some eccentricity in one of the Earl’s family
long ago, I suppose.”

                                                                      59
Daniel Deronda

   “How very painful! Pray shut it up.”
   “Was the door locked? It is very mysterious. It must be the spirits.”
   “But there is no medium present.”
   “How do you know that? We must conclude that there is, when
such things happen.”
   “Oh, the door was not locked; it was probably the sudden vibra-
tion from the piano that sent it open.”
   This conclusion came from Mr. Gascoigne, who begged Miss
Merry if possible to get the key. But this readiness to explain the
mystery was thought by Mrs. Vulcany unbecoming in a clergyman,
and she observed in an undertone that Mr. Gascoigne was always a
little too worldly for her taste. However, the key was produced, and
the rector turned it in the lock with an emphasis rather offensively
rationalizing—as who should say, “it will not start open again”—
putting the key in his pocket as a security.
   However, Gwendolen soon reappeared, showing her usual spirits,
and evidently determined to ignore as far as she could the striking
change she had made in the part of Hermione.
   But when Klesmer said to her, “We have to thank you for devising
a perfect climax: you could not have chosen a finer bit of plastik,”
there was a flush of pleasure in her face. She liked to accept as a
belief what was really no more than delicate feigning. He divined
that the betrayal into a passion of fear had been mortifying to her,
and wished her to understand that he took it for good acting.
Gwendolen cherished the idea that now he was struck with her tal-
ent as well as her beauty, and her uneasiness about his opinion was
half turned to complacency.
   But too many were in the secret of what had been included in the
rehearsals, and what had not, and no one besides Klesmer took the
trouble to soothe Gwendolen’s imagined mortification. The general
sentiment was that the incident should be let drop.
   There had really been a medium concerned in the starting open
of the panel: one who had quitted the room in haste and crept to
bed in much alarm of conscience. It was the small Isabel, whose
intense curiosity, unsatisfied by the brief glimpse she had had of the
strange picture on the day of arrival at Offendene, had kept her on
the watch for an opportunity of finding out where Gwendolen had

60
                                                            George Eliot

put the key, of stealing it from the discovered drawer when the rest
of the family were out, and getting on a stool to unlock the panel.
While she was indulging her thirst for knowledge in this way, a
noise which she feared was an approaching footstep alarmed her:
she closed the door and attempted hurriedly to lock it, but failing
and not daring to linger, she withdrew the key and trusted that the
panel would stick, as it seemed well inclined to do. In this confi-
dence she had returned the key to its former place, stilling any anxi-
ety by the thought that if the door were discovered to be unlocked
nobody would know how the unlocking came about. The inconve-
nient Isabel, like other offenders, did not foresee her own impulse
to confession, a fatality which came upon her the morning after the
party, when Gwendolen said at the breakfast-table, “I know the door
was locked before the housekeeper gave me the key, for I tried it
myself afterward. Some one must have been to my drawer and taken
the key.”
  It seemed to Isabel that Gwendolen’s awful eyes had rested on her
more than on the other sisters, and without any time for resolve,
she said, with a trembling lip:
  “Please forgive me, Gwendolen.”
  The forgiveness was sooner bestowed than it would have been if
Gwendolen had not desired to dismiss from her own and every one
else’s memory any case in which she had shown her susceptibility to
terror. She wondered at herself in these occasional experiences, which
seemed like a brief remembered madness, an unexplained exception
from her normal life; and in this instance she felt a peculiar vexation
that her helpless fear had shown itself, not, as usual, in solitude, but
in well-lit company. Her ideal was to be daring in speech and reck-
less in braving dangers, both moral and physical; and though her
practice fell far behind her ideal, this shortcoming seemed to be due
to the pettiness of circumstances, the narrow theatre which life of-
fers to a girl of twenty, who cannot conceive herself as anything else
than a lady, or as in any position which would lack the tribute of
respect. She had no permanent consciousness of other fetters, or of
more spiritual restraints, having always disliked whatever was pre-
sented to her under the name of religion, in the same way that some
people dislike arithmetic and accounts: it had raised no other emo-

                                                                     61
Daniel Deronda

tion in her, no alarm, no longing; so that the question whether she
believed it had not occurred to her any more than it had occurred to
her to inquire into the conditions of colonial property and banking,
on which, as she had had many opportunities of knowing, the fam-
ily fortune was dependent. All these facts about herself she would
have been ready to admit, and even, more or less indirectly, to state.
What she unwillingly recognized, and would have been glad for
others to be unaware of, was that liability of hers to fits of spiritual
dread, though this fountain of awe within her had not found its
way into connection with the religion taught her or with any hu-
man relations. She was ashamed and frightened, as at what might
happen again, in remembering her tremor on suddenly feeling her-
self alone, when, for example, she was walking without companion-
ship and there came some rapid change in the light. Solitude in any
wide scene impressed her with an undefined feeling of immeasurable
existence aloof from her, in the midst of which she was helplessly
incapable of asserting herself. The little astronomy taught her at school
used sometimes to set her imagination at work in a way that made her
tremble: but always when some one joined her she recovered her in-
difference to the vastness in which she seemed an exile; she found
again her usual world in which her will was of some avail, and the
religious nomenclature belonging to this world was no more identi-
fied for her with those uneasy impressions of awe than her uncle’s
surplices seen out of use at the rectory. With human ears and eyes
about her, she had always hitherto recovered her confidence, and felt
the possibility of winning empire.
   To her mamma and others her fits of timidity or terror were suffi-
ciently accounted for by her “sensitiveness” or the “excitability of
her nature”; but these explanatory phrases required conciliation with
much that seemed to be blank indifference or rare self-mastery. Heat
is a great agent and a useful word, but considered as a means of
explaining the universe it requires an extensive knowledge of differ-
ences; and as a means of explaining character “sensitiveness” is in
much the same predicament. But who, loving a creature like
Gwendolen, would not be inclined to regard every peculiarity in
her as a mark of preeminence? That was what Rex did. After the
Hermione scene he was more persuaded than ever that she must be

62
                                                        George Eliot

instinct with all feeling, and not only readier to respond to a wor-
shipful love, but able to love better than other girls. Rex felt the
summer on his young wings and soared happily.




                                                                 63
Daniel Deronda




                        CHAPTER VII
           “Perigot.As the bonny lasse passed by,
           Willie. Hey, ho, bonnilasse!
             P.     She roode at me with glauncing eye,
             W. As clear as the crystal glasse.
             P.     All as the sunny beame so bright,
             W. Hey, ho, the sunnebeame!
             P.     Glaunceth from Phoebus’ face forthright,
             W. So love into thy heart did streame.”
                            —SPENSER: Shepard’s Calendar.

           “The kindliest symptom, yet the most alarming cri-
           sis in the ticklish state of youth; the nourisher and
           destroyer of hopeful wits; * * * the servitude above
           freedom; the gentle mind’s religion; the liberal su-
           perstition.”
                                          —CHARLES LAMB.

THE FIRST SIGN of the unimagined snow-storm was like the trans-
parent white cloud that seems to set off the blue. Anna was in the
secret of Rex’s feeling; though for the first time in their lives he had
said nothing to her about what he most thought of, and he only
took it for granted that she knew it. For the first time, too, Anna
could not say to Rex what was continually in her mind. Perhaps it
might have been a pain which she would have had to conceal, that
he should so soon care for some one else more than for herself, if
such a feeling had not been thoroughly neutralized by doubt and
anxiety on his behalf. Anna admired her cousin—would have said
with simple sincerity, “Gwendolen is always very good to me,” and
held it in the order of things for herself to be entirely subject to this
cousin; but she looked at her with mingled fear and distrust, with a
puzzled contemplation as of some wondrous and beautiful animal
64
                                                             George Eliot

whose nature was a mystery, and who, for anything Anna knew,
might have an appetite for devouring all the small creatures that
were her own particular pets. And now Anna’s heart was sinking
under the heavy conviction which she dared not utter, that
Gwendolen would never care for Rex. What she herself held in ten-
derness and reverence had constantly seemed indifferent to
Gwendolen, and it was easier to imagine her scorning Rex than
returning any tenderness of his. Besides, she was always thinking of
being something extraordinary. And poor Rex! Papa would be an-
gry with him if he knew. And of course he was too young to be in
love in that way; and she, Anna had thought that it would be years
and years before any thing of that sort came, and that she would be
Rex’s housekeeper ever so long. But what a heart must that be which
did not return his love! Anna, in the prospect of his suffering, was
beginning to dislike her too fascinating cousin.
  It seemed to her, as it did to Rex, that the weeks had been filled
with a tumultuous life evident to all observers: if he had been ques-
tioned on the subject he would have said that he had no wish to
conceal what he hoped would be an engagement which he should
immediately tell his father of: and yet for the first time in his life he
was reserved not only about his feelings but—which was more re-
markable to Anna—about certain actions. She, on her side, was
nervous each time her father or mother began to speak to her in
private lest they should say anything about Rex and Gwendolen.
But the elders were not in the least alive to this agitating drama,
which went forward chiefly in a sort of pantomime extremely lucid
in the minds thus expressing themselves, but easily missed by spec-
tators who were running their eyes over the Guardian or the Cleri-
cal Gazette, and regarded the trivialities of the young ones with
scarcely more interpretation than they gave to the action of lively
ants.
  “Where are you going, Rex?” said Anna one gray morning when
her father had set off in his carriage to the sessions, Mrs. Gascoigne
with him, and she had observed that her brother had on his
antigropelos, the utmost approach he possessed to a hunting equip-
ment.
  “Going to see the hounds throw off at the Three Barns.”

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Daniel Deronda

   “Are you going to take Gwendolen?” said Anna, timidly.
   “She told you, did she?”
   “No, but I thought—Does papa know you are going?”
   “Not that I am aware of. I don’t suppose he would trouble himself
about the matter.”
   “You are going to use his horse?”
   “He knows I do that whenever I can.”
   “Don’t let Gwendolen ride after the hounds, Rex,” said Anna,
whose fears gifted her with second-sight.
   “Why not?” said Rex, smiling rather provokingly.
   “Papa and mamma and aunt Davilow all wish her not to. They
think it is not right for her.”
   “Why should you suppose she is going to do what is not right?”
   “Gwendolen minds nobody sometimes,” said Anna getting bolder
by dint of a little anger.
   “Then she would not mind me,” said Rex, perversely making a
joke of poor Anna’s anxiety.
   “Oh Rex, I cannot bear it. You will make yourself very unhappy.”
Here Anna burst into tears.
   “Nannie, Nannie, what on earth is the matter with you?” said
Rex, a little impatient at being kept in this way, hat on and whip in
hand.
   “She will not care for you one bit—I know she never will!” said the
poor child in a sobbing whisper. She had lost all control of herself.
   Rex reddened and hurried away from her out of the hall door,
leaving her to the miserable consciousness of having made herself
disagreeable in vain.
   He did think of her words as he rode along; they had the
unwelcomeness which all unfavorable fortune-telling has, even when
laughed at; but he quickly explained them as springing from little
Anna’s tenderness, and began to be sorry that he was obliged to
come away without soothing her. Every other feeling on the sub-
ject, however, was quickly merged in a resistant belief to the con-
trary of hers, accompanied with a new determination to prove that
he was right. This sort of certainty had just enough kinship to doubt
and uneasiness to hurry on a confession which an untouched secu-
rity might have delayed.

66
                                                         George Eliot

   Gwendolen was already mounted and riding up and down the
avenue when Rex appeared at the gate. She had provided herself
against disappointment in case he did not appear in time by having
the groom ready behind her, for she would not have waited beyond
a reasonable time. But now the groom was dismissed, and the two
rode away in delightful freedom. Gwendolen was in her highest
spirits, and Rex thought that she had never looked so lovely before;
her figure, her long white throat, and the curves of her cheek and
chin were always set off to perfection by the compact simplicity of
her riding dress. He could not conceive a more perfect girl; and to a
youthful lover like Rex it seems that the fundamental identity of the
good, the true and the beautiful, is already extant and manifest in
the object of his love. Most observers would have held it more than
equally accountable that a girl should have like impressions about
Rex, for in his handsome face there was nothing corresponding to
the undefinable stinging quality—as it were a trace of demon an-
cestry—which made some beholders hesitate in their admiration of
Gwendolen.
   It was an exquisite January morning in which there was no threat
of rain, but a gray sky making the calmest background for the charms
of a mild winter scene—the grassy borders of the lanes, the hedgerows
sprinkled with red berries and haunted with low twitterings, the
purple bareness of the elms, the rich brown of the furrows. The
horses’ hoofs made a musical chime, accompanying their young
voices. She was laughing at his equipment, for he was the reverse of
a dandy, and he was enjoying her laughter; the freshness of the morn-
ing mingled with the freshness of their youth; and every sound that
came from their clear throats, every glance they gave each other, was
the bubbling outflow from a spring of joy. It was all morning to
them, within and without. And thinking of them in these moments
one is tempted to that futile sort of wishing—if only things could
have been a little otherwise then, so as to have been greatly other-
wise after—if only these two beautiful young creatures could have
pledged themselves to each other then and there, and never through
life have swerved from that pledge! For some of the goodness which
Rex believed in was there. Goodness is a large, often a prospective
word; like harvest, which at one stage when we talk of it lies all

                                                                  67
Daniel Deronda

underground, with an indeterminate future; is the germ prospering
in the darkness? at another, it has put forth delicate green blades,
and by-and-by the trembling blossoms are ready to be dashed off by
an hour of rough wind or rain. Each stage has its peculiar blight,
and may have the healthy life choked out of it by a particular action
of the foul land which rears or neighbors it, or by damage brought
from foulness afar.
   “Anna had got it into her head that you would want to ride after
the hounds this morning,” said Rex, whose secret associations with
Anna’s words made this speech seem quite perilously near the most
momentous of subjects.
   “Did she?” said Gwendolen, laughingly. “What a little clairvoy-
ant she is!”
   “Shall you?” said Rex, who had not believed in her intending to
do it if the elders objected, but confided in her having good reasons.
   “I don’t know. I can’t tell what I shall do till I get there. Clairvoyants
are often wrong: they foresee what is likely. I am not fond of what is
likely: it is always dull. I do what is unlikely.”
   “Ah, there you tell me a secret. When once I knew what people in
general would be likely to do, I should know you would do the
opposite. So you would have come round to a likelihood of your
own sort. I shall be able to calculate on you. You couldn’t surprise
me.”
   “Yes, I could. I should turn round and do what was likely for
people in general,” said Gwendolen, with a musical laugh.
   “You see you can’t escape some sort of likelihood. And contradic-
toriness makes the strongest likelihood of all. You must give up a
plan.”
   “No, I shall not. My plan is to do what pleases me.” (Here should
any young lady incline to imitate Gwendolen, let her consider the
set of her head and neck: if the angle there had been different, the
chin protrusive, and the cervical vertebrae a trifle more curved in
their position, ten to one Gwendolen’s words would have had a jar
in them for the sweet-natured Rex. But everything odd in her speech
was humor and pretty banter, which he was only anxious to turn
toward one point.)
   “Can you manage to feel only what pleases you?” said he.

68
                                                            George Eliot

   “Of course not; that comes from what other people do. But if the
world were pleasanter, one would only feel what was pleasant. Girls’
lives are so stupid: they never do what they like.”
   “I thought that was more the case of the men. They are forced to do
hard things, and are often dreadfully bored, and knocked to pieces
too. And then, if we love a girl very dearly we want to do as she likes,
so after all you have your own way.”
   “I don’t believe it. I never saw a married woman who had her own
way.”
   “What should you like to do?” said Rex, quite guilelessly, and in
real anxiety.
   “Oh, I don’t know!—go to the North Pole, or ride steeple-chases,
or go to be a queen in the East like Lady Hester Stanhope,” said
Gwendolen, flightily. Her words were born on her lips, but she would
have been at a loss to give an answer of deeper origin.
   “You don’t mean you would never be married?”
   “No; I didn’t say that. Only when I married, I should not do as
other women do.”
   “You might do just as you liked if you married a man who loved
you more dearly than anything else in the world,” said Rex, who,
poor youth, was moving in themes outside the curriculum in which
he had promised to win distinction. “I know one who does.”
   “Don’t talk of Mr. Middleton, for heaven’s sake,” said Gwendolen,
hastily, a quick blush spreading over her face and neck; “that is Anna’s
chant. I hear the hounds. Let us go on.”
   She put her chestnut to a canter, and Rex had no choice but to
follow her. Still he felt encouraged. Gwendolen was perfectly aware
that her cousin was in love with her; but she had no idea that the
matter was of any consequence, having never had the slightest visi-
tation of painful love herself. She wished the small romance of Rex’s
devotion to fill up the time of his stay at Pennicote, and to avoid
explanations which would bring it to an untimely end. Besides, she
objected, with a sort of physical repulsion, to being directly made
love to. With all her imaginative delight in being adored, there was
a certain fierceness of maidenhood in her.
   But all other thoughts were soon lost for her in the excitement of
the scene at the Three Barns. Several gentlemen of the hunt knew

                                                                     69
Daniel Deronda

her, and she exchanged pleasant greetings. Rex could not get an-
other word with her. The color, the stir of the field had taken pos-
session of Gwendolen with a strength which was not due to ha-
bitual associations, for she had never yet ridden after the hounds—
only said she should like to do it, and so drawn forth a prohibition;
her mamma dreading the danger, and her uncle declaring that for
his part he held that kind of violent exercise unseemly in a woman,
and that whatever might be done in other parts of the country, no
lady of good position followed the Wessex hunt: no one but Mrs.
Gadsby, the yeomanry captain’s wife, who had been a kitchenmaid
and still spoke like one. This last argument had some effect on
Gwendolen, and had kept her halting between her desire to assert
her freedom and her horror of being classed with Mrs. Gadsby.
   Some of the most unexceptionable women in the neighborhood
occasionally went to see the hounds throws off; but it happened
that none of them were present this morning to abstain from fol-
lowing, while Mrs. Gadsby, with her doubtful antecedents, gram-
matical and otherwise, was not visible to make following seem un-
becoming. Thus Gwendolen felt no check on the animal stimulus
that came from the stir and tongue of the hounds, the pawing of the
horses, the varying voices of men, the movement hither and thither
of vivid color on the background of green and gray stillness:—that
utmost excitement of the coming chase which consists in feeling
something like a combination of dog and horse, with the superadded
thrill of social vanities and consciousness of centaur-power which
belongs to humankind.
   Rex would have felt more of the same enjoyment if he could have
kept nearer to Gwendolen, and not seen her constantly occupied
with acquaintances, or looked at by would-be acquaintances, all on
lively horses which veered about and swept the surrounding space
as effectually as a revolving lever.
   “Glad to see you here this fine morning, Miss Harleth,” said Lord
Brackenshaw, a middle-aged peer of aristocratic seediness in stained
pink, with easy-going manners which would have made the threat-
ened deluge seem of no consequence. “We shall have a first-rate
run. A pity you didn’t go with us. Have you ever tried your little
chestnut at a ditch? you wouldn’t be afraid, eh?”

70
                                                              George Eliot

   “Not the least in the world,” said Gwendolen. And that was true:
she was never fearful in action and companionship. “I have often
taken him at some rails and a ditch too, near—”
   “Ah, by Jove!” said his lordship, quietly, in notation that some-
thing was happening which must break off the dialogue: and as he
reined off his horse, Rex was bringing his sober hackney up to
Gwendolen’s side when—the hounds gave tongue, and the whole
field was in motion as if the whirl of the earth were carrying it;
Gwendolen along with everything else; no word of notice to Rex,
who without a second thought followed too. Could he let Gwendolen
go alone? under other circumstances he would have enjoyed the
run, but he was just now perturbed by the check which had been
put on the impetus to utter his love, and get utterance in return, an
impetus which could not at once resolve itself into a totally differ-
ent sort of chase, at least with the consciousness of being on his
father’s gray nag, a good horse enough in his way, but of sober years
and ecclesiastical habits. Gwendolen on her spirited little chestnut
was up with the best, and felt as secure as an immortal goddess,
having, if she had thought of risk, a core of confidence that no ill
luck would happen to her. But she thought of no such thing, and
certainly not of any risk there might be for her cousin. If she had
thought of him, it would have struck her as a droll picture that he
should be gradually falling behind, and looking round in search of
gates: a fine lithe youth, whose heart must be panting with all the
spirit of a beagle, stuck as if under a wizard’s spell on a stiff clerical
hackney, would have made her laugh with a sense of fun much too
strong for her to reflect on his mortification. But Gwendolen was
apt to think rather of those who saw her than of those whom she
could not see; and Rex was soon so far behind that if she had looked
she would not have seen him. For I grieve to say that in the search
for a gate, along a lane lately mended, Primrose fell, broke his knees,
and undesignedly threw Rex over his head.
   Fortunately a blacksmith’s son who also followed the hounds un-
der disadvantages, namely, on foot (a loose way of hunting which
had struck some even frivolous minds as immoral), was naturally
also in the rear, and happened to be within sight of Rex’s misfor-
tune. He ran to give help which was greatly needed, for Rex was a

                                                                       71
Daniel Deronda

great deal stunned, and the complete recovery of sensation came in
the form of pain. Joel Dagge on this occasion showed himself that
most useful of personages, whose knowledge is of a kind suited to
the immediate occasion: he not only knew perfectly well what was
the matter with the horse, how far they were both from the nearest
public-house and from Pennicote Rectory, and could certify to Rex
that his shoulder was only a bit out of joint, but also offered experi-
enced surgical aid.
   “Lord, sir, let me shove it in again for you! I’s seen Nash, the
bone-setter, do it, and done it myself for our little Sally twice over.
It’s all one and the same, shoulders is. If you’ll trusten to me and
tighten your mind up a bit, I’ll do it for you in no time.”
   “Come then, old fellow,” said Rex, who could tighten his mind
better than his seat in the saddle. And Joel managed the operation,
though not without considerable expense of pain to his patient,
who turned so pitiably pale while tightening his mind, that Joel
remarked, “Ah, sir, you aren’t used to it, that’s how it is. I’s see lots
and lots o’ joints out. I see a man with his eye pushed out once—
that was a rum go as ever I see. You can’t have a bit o’ fun wi’out
such sort o’ things. But it went in again. I’s swallowed three teeth
mysen, as sure as I’m alive. Now, sirrey” (this was addressed to Prim-
rose), “come alonk—you musn’t make believe as you can’t.”
   Joel being clearly a low character, it is, happily, not necessary to
say more of him to the refined reader, than that he helped Rex to get
home with as little delay as possible. There was no alternative but to
get home, though all the while he was in anxiety about Gwendolen,
and more miserable in the thought that she, too, might have had an
accident, than in the pain of his own bruises and the annoyance he
was about to cause his father. He comforted himself about her by
reflecting that every one would be anxious to take care of her, and
that some acquaintance would be sure to conduct her home.
   Mr. Gascoigne was already at home, and was writing letters in his
study, when he was interrupted by seeing poor Rex come in with a
face which was not the less handsome and ingratiating for being
pale and a little distressed. He was secretly the favorite son, and a
young portrait of the father; who, however, never treated him with
any partiality—rather, with an extra rigor. Mr. Gascoigne having

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                                                            George Eliot

inquired of Anna, knew that Rex had gone with Gwendolen to the
meet at the Three Barns.
  “What is the matter?” he said hastily, not laying down his pen.
  “I’m very sorry, sir; Primrose has fallen down and broken his knees.”
  “Where have you been with him?” said Mr. Gascoigne, with a
touch of severity. He rarely gave way to temper.
  “To the Three Barns to see the hounds throw off.”
  “And you were fool enough to follow?”
  “Yes, sir. I didn’t go at any fences, but the horse got his leg into a
hole.”
  “And you got hurt yourself, I hope, eh!”
  “I got my shoulder put out, but a young blacksmith put it in
again for me. I’m just a little battered, that’s all.”
  “Well, sit down.”
  “I’m very sorry about the horse, sir; I knew it would be a vexation
to you.”
  “And what has become of Gwendolen?” said Mr. Gascoigne,
abruptly. Rex, who did not imagine that his father had made any
inquiries about him, answered at first with a blush, which was the
more remarkable for his previous paleness. Then he said, nervously—
  “I am anxious to know—I should like to go or send at once to
Offendene—but she rides so well, and I think she would keep up—
there would most likely be many round her.”
  “I suppose it was she who led you on, eh?” said Mr. Gascoigne,
laying down his pen, leaning back in his chair, and looking at Rex
with more marked examination.
  “It was natural for her to want to go: she didn’t intend it before-
hand—she was led away by the spirit of the thing. And, of course, I
went when she went.”
  Mr. Gascoigne left a brief interval of silence, and then said, with
quiet irony,—”But now you observe, young gentleman, that you
are not furnished with a horse which will enable you to play the
squire to your cousin. You must give up that amusement. You have
spoiled my nag for me, and that is enough mischief for one vaca-
tion. I shall beg you to get ready to start for Southampton to-mor-
row and join Stilfox, till you go up to Oxford with him. That will be
good for your bruises as well as your studies.”

                                                                     73
Daniel Deronda

   Poor Rex felt his heart swelling and comporting itself as if it had
been no better than a girl’s.
   “I hope you will not insist on my going immediately, sir.”
   “Do you feel too ill?”
   “No, not that—but—” here Rex bit his lips and felt the tears
starting, to his great vexation; then he rallied and tried to say more
firmly, “I want to go to Offendene, but I can go this evening.”
   “I am going there myself. I can bring word about Gwendolen, if
that is what you want.”
   Rex broke down. He thought he discerned an intention fatal to
his happiness, nay, his life. He was accustomed to believe in his
father’s penetration, and to expect firmness. “Father, I can’t go away
without telling her that I love her, and knowing that she loves me.”
   Mr. Gascoigne was inwardly going through some self-rebuke for
not being more wary, and was now really sorry for the lad; but every
consideration was subordinate to that of using the wisest tactics in
the case. He had quickly made up his mind and to answer the more
quietly—
   “My dear boy, you are too young to be taking momentous, deci-
sive steps of that sort. This is a fancy which you have got into your
head during an idle week or two: you must set to work at something
and dismiss it. There is every reason against it. An engagement at
your age would be totally rash and unjustifiable; and moreover, alli-
ances between first cousins are undesirable. Make up your mind to
a brief disappointment. Life is full of them. We have all got to be
broken in; and this is a mild beginning for you.”
   “No, not mild. I can’t bear it. I shall be good for nothing. I shouldn’t
mind anything, if it were settled between us. I could do anything
then,” said Rex, impetuously. “But it’s of no use to pretend that I
will obey you. I can’t do it. If I said I would, I should be sure to
break my word. I should see Gwendolen again.”
   “Well, wait till to-morrow morning, that we may talk of the mat-
ter again—you will promise me that,” said Mr. Gascoigne, quietly;
and Rex did not, could not refuse.
   The rector did not even tell his wife that he had any other reason
for going to Offendene that evening than his desire to ascertain that
Gwendolen had got home safely. He found her more than safe—

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                                                             George Eliot

elated. Mr. Quallon, who had won the brush, had delivered the
trophy to her, and she had brought it before her, fastened on the
saddle; more than that, Lord Brackenshaw had conducted her home,
and had shown himself delighted with her spirited riding. All this
was told at once to her uncle, that he might see how well justified
she had been in acting against his advice; and the prudential rector
did feel himself in a slight difficulty, for at that moment he was
particularly sensible that it was his niece’s serious interest to be well
regarded by the Brackenshaws, and their opinion as to her follow-
ing the hounds really touched the essence of his objection. How-
ever, he was not obliged to say anything immediately, for Mrs.
Davilow followed up Gwendolen’s brief triumphant phrases with—
  “Still, I do hope you will not do it again, Gwendolen. I should
never have a moment’s quiet. Her father died by an accident, you
know.”
  Here Mrs. Davilow had turned away from Gwendolen, and looked
at Mr. Gascoigne.
  “Mamma, dear,” said Gwendolen, kissing her merrily, and pass-
ing over the question of the fears which Mrs. Davilow had meant to
account for, “children don’t take after their parents in broken legs.”
  Not one word had yet been said about Rex. In fact there had been
no anxiety about him at Offendene. Gwendolen had observed to
her mamma, “Oh, he must have been left far behind, and gone
home in despair,” and it could not be denied that this was fortunate
so far as it made way for Lord Brackenshaw’s bringing her home.
But now Mr. Gascoigne said, with some emphasis, looking at
Gwendolen—
  “Well, the exploit has ended better for you than for Rex.”
  “Yes, I dare say he had to make a terrible round. You have not
taught Primrose to take the fences, uncle,” said Gwendolen, with-
out the faintest shade of alarm in her looks and tone.
  “Rex has had a fall,” said Mr. Gascoigne, curtly, throwing himself
into an arm-chair resting his elbows and fitting his palms and fin-
gers together, while he closed his lips and looked at Gwendolen,
who said—
  “Oh, poor fellow! he is not hurt, I hope?” with a correct look of
anxiety such as elated mortals try to super-induce when their pulses

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Daniel Deronda

are all the while quick with triumph; and Mrs. Davilow, in the same
moment, uttered a low “Good heavens! There!”
   Mr. Gascoigne went on: “He put his shoulder out, and got some
bruises, I believe.” Here he made another little pause of observa-
tion; but Gwendolen, instead of any such symptoms as pallor and
silence, had only deepened the compassionateness of her brow and
eyes, and said again, “Oh, poor fellow! it is nothing serious, then?”
and Mr. Gascoigne held his diagnosis complete. But he wished to
make assurance doubly sure, and went on still with a purpose.
   “He got his arm set again rather oddly. Some blacksmith—not a
parishioner of mine—was on the field—a loose fish, I suppose, but
handy, and set the arm for him immediately. So after all, I believe, I
and Primrose come off worst. The horse’s knees are cut to pieces.
He came down in a hole, it seems, and pitched Rex over his head.”
   Gwendolen’s face had allowably become contented again, since Rex’s
arm had been reset; and now, at the descriptive suggestions in the
latter part of her uncle’s speech, her elated spirits made her features
less unmanageable than usual; the smiles broke forth, and finally a
descending scale of laughter.
   “You are a pretty young lady—to laugh at other people’s calami-
ties,” said Mr. Gascoigne, with a milder sense of disapprobation
than if he had not had counteracting reasons to be glad that
Gwendolen showed no deep feeling on the occasion.
   “Pray forgive me, uncle. Now Rex is safe, it is so droll to fancy the
figure he and Primrose would cut—in a lane all by themselves—
only a blacksmith running up. It would make a capital caricature of
‘Following the Hounds.’”
   Gwendolen rather valued herself on her superior freedom in laugh-
ing where others might only see matter for seriousness. Indeed, the
laughter became her person so well that her opinion of its graceful-
ness was often shared by others; and it even entered into her uncle’s
course of thought at this moment, that it was no wonder a boy
should be fascinated by this young witch—who, however, was more
mischievous than could be desired.
   “How can you laugh at broken bones, child?” said Mrs. Davilow,
still under her dominant anxiety. “I wish we had never allowed you to
have the horse. You will see that we were wrong,” she added, looking

76
                                                            George Eliot

with a grave nod at Mr. Gascoigne—”at least I was, to encourage her
in asking for it.”
   “Yes, seriously, Gwendolen,” said Mr. Gascoigne, in a judicious
tone of rational advice to a person understood to be altogether ra-
tional, “I strongly recommend you—I shall ask you to oblige me so
far—not to repeat your adventure of to-day. Lord Brackenshaw is
very kind, but I feel sure that he would concur with me in what I
say. To be spoken of as ‘the young lady who hunts’ by way of excep-
tion, would give a tone to the language about you which I am sure
you would not like. Depend upon it, his lordship would not choose
that Lady Beatrice or Lady Maria should hunt in this part of the
country, if they were old enough to do so. When you are married, it
will be different: you may do whatever your husband sanctions. But
if you intend to hunt, you must marry a man who can keep horses.”
   “I don’t know why I should do anything so horrible as to marry
without that prospect, at least,” said Gwendolen, pettishly. Her
uncle’s speech had given her annoyance, which she could not show
more directly; but she felt that she was committing herself, and
after moving carelessly to another part of the room, went out.
   “She always speaks in that way about marriage,” said Mrs. Davilow;
“but it will be different when she has seen the right person.”
   “Her heart has never been in the least touched, that you know
of?” said Mr. Gascoigne.
   Mrs. Davilow shook her head silently. “It was only last night she
said to me, ‘Mamma, I wonder how girls manage to fall in love. It is
easy to make them do it in books. But men are too ridiculous.’”
   Mr. Gascoigne laughed a little, and made no further remark on
the subject. The next morning at breakfast he said—
   “How are your bruises, Rex?”
   “Oh, not very mellow yet, sir; only beginning to turn a little.”
   “You don’t feel quite ready for a journey to Southampton?”
   “Not quite,” answered Rex, with his heart metaphorically in his
mouth.
   “Well, you can wait till to-morrow, and go to say goodbye to them
at Offendene.”
   Mrs. Gascoigne, who now knew the whole affair, looked steadily at
her coffee lest she also should begin to cry, as Anna was doing already.

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Daniel Deronda

   Mr. Gascoigne felt that he was applying a sharp remedy to poor
Rex’s acute attack, but he believed it to be in the end the kindest. To
let him know the hopelessness of his love from Gwendolen’s own
lips might be curative in more ways than one.
   “I can only be thankful that she doesn’t care about him,” said
Mrs. Gascoigne, when she joined her husband in his study. “There
are things in Gwendolen I cannot reconcile myself to. My Anna is
worth two of her, with all her beauty and talent. It looks very ill in
her that she will not help in the schools with Anna—not even in the
Sunday-school. What you or I advise is of no consequence to her:
and poor Fannie is completely under her thumb. But I know you
think better of her,” Mrs. Gascoigne ended with a deferential hesi-
tation.
   “Oh, my dear, there is no harm in the girl. It is only that she has a
high spirit, and it will not do to hold the reins too tight. The point is,
to get her well married. She has a little too much fire in her for her
present life with her mother and sisters. It is natural and right that she
should be married soon—not to a poor man, but one who can give
her a fitting position.”
   Presently Rex, with his arm in a sling, was on his two miles’ walk
to Offendene. He was rather puzzled by the unconditional permis-
sion to see Gwendolen, but his father’s real ground of action could
not enter into his conjectures. If it had, he would first have thought
it horribly cold-blooded, and then have disbelieved in his father’s
conclusions.
   When he got to the house, everybody was there but Gwendolen.
The four girls, hearing him speak in the hall, rushed out of the
library, which was their school-room, and hung round him with
compassionate inquiries about his arm. Mrs. Davilow wanted to
know exactly what had happened, and where the blacksmith lived,
that she might make him a present; while Miss Merry, who took a
subdued and melancholy part in all family affairs, doubted whether
it would not be giving too much encouragement to that kind of
character. Rex had never found the family troublesome before, but
just now he wished them all away and Gwendolen there, and he
was too uneasy for good-natured feigning. When at last he had said,
“Where is Gwendolen?” and Mrs. Davilow had told Alice to go and

78
                                                             George Eliot

see if her sister were come down, adding, “I sent up her breakfast
this morning. She needed a long rest.” Rex took the shortest way
out of his endurance by saying, almost impatiently, “Aunt, I want to
speak to Gwendolen—I want to see her alone.”
   “Very well, dear; go into the drawing-room. I will send her there,”
said Mrs. Davilow, who had observed that he was fond of being
with Gwendolen, as was natural, but had not thought of this as
having any bearing on the realities of life: it seemed merely part of
the Christmas holidays which were spinning themselves out.
   Rex for his part thought that the realities of life were all hanging
on this interview. He had to walk up and down the drawing-room
in expectation for nearly ten minutes—ample space for all imagina-
tive fluctuations; yet, strange to say, he was unvaryingly occupied in
thinking what and how much he could do, when Gwendolen had
accepted him, to satisfy his father that the engagement was the most
prudent thing in the world, since it inspired him with double en-
ergy for work. He was to be a lawyer, and what reason was there
why he should not rise as high as Eldon did? He was forced to look
at life in the light of his father’s mind.
   But when the door opened and she whose presence he was longing
for entered, there came over him suddenly and mysteriously a state of
tremor and distrust which he had never felt before. Miss Gwendolen,
simple as she stood there, in her black silk, cut square about the round
white pillar of her throat, a black band fastening her hair which
streamed backward in smooth silky abundance, seemed more queenly
than usual. Perhaps it was that there was none of the latent fun and
tricksiness which had always pierced in her greeting of Rex. How
much of this was due to her presentiment from what he had said
yesterday that he was going to talk of love? How much from her
desire to show regret about his accident? Something of both. But the
wisdom of ages has hinted that there is a side of the bed which has a
malign influence if you happen to get out on it; and this accident
befalls some charming persons rather frequently. Perhaps it had be-
fallen Gwendolen this morning. The hastening of her toilet, the way
in which Bugle used the brush, the quality of the shilling serial mis-
takenly written for her amusement, the probabilities of the coming
day, and, in short, social institutions generally, were all objectionable

                                                                      79
Daniel Deronda

to her. It was not that she was out of temper, but that the world was
not equal to the demands of her fine organism.
   However it might be, Rex saw an awful majesty about her as she
entered and put out her hand to him, without the least approach to
a smile in eyes or mouth. The fun which had moved her in the
evening had quite evaporated from the image of his accident, and
the whole affair seemed stupid to her. But she said with perfect
propriety, “I hope you are not much hurt, Rex; I deserve that you
should reproach me for your accident.”
   “Not at all,” said Rex, feeling the soul within him spreading itself
like an attack of illness. “There is hardly any thing the matter with
me. I am so glad you had the pleasure: I would willingly pay for it
by a tumble, only I was sorry to break the horse’s knees.”
   Gwendolen walked to the hearth and stood looking at the fire in
the most inconvenient way for conversation, so that he could only
get a side view of her face.
   “My father wants me to go to Southampton for the rest of the
vacation,” said Rex, his baritone trembling a little.
   “Southampton! That’s a stupid place to go to, isn’t it?” said
Gwendolen, chilly.
   “It would be to me, because you would not be there.” Silence.
   “Should you mind about me going away, Gwendolen?”
   “Of course. Every one is of consequence in this dreary country,”
said Gwendolen, curtly. The perception that poor Rex wanted to be
tender made her curl up and harden like a sea-anemone at the touch
of a finger.
   “Are you angry with me, Gwendolen? Why do you treat me in
this way all at once?” said Rex, flushing, and with more spirit in his
voice, as if he too were capable of being angry.
   Gwendolen looked round at him and smiled. “Treat you? Non-
sense! I am only rather cross. Why did you come so very early? You
must expect to find tempers in dishabille.”
   “Be as cross with me as you like—only don’t treat me with indif-
ference,” said Rex, imploringly. “All the happiness of my life de-
pends on your loving me—if only a little—better than any one else.”
   He tried to take her hand, but she hastily eluded his grasp and
moved to the other end of the hearth, facing him.

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                                                           George Eliot

  “Pray don’t make love to me! I hate it!” she looked at him fiercely.
  Rex turned pale and was silent, but could not take his eyes off her,
and the impetus was not yet exhausted that made hers dart death at
him. Gwendolen herself could not have foreseen that she should feel
in this way. It was all a sudden, new experience to her. The day before
she had been quite aware that her cousin was in love with her; she did
not mind how much, so that he said nothing about it; and if any one
had asked her why she objected to love-making speeches, she would
have said, laughingly, “Oh I am tired of them all in the books.” But
now the life of passion had begun negatively in her. She felt passion-
ately averse to this volunteered love.
  To Rex at twenty the joy of life seemed at an end more absolutely
than it can do to a man at forty. But before they had ceased to look
at each other, he did speak again.
  “Is that last word you have to say to me, Gwendolen? Will it al-
ways be so?”
  She could not help seeing his wretchedness and feeling a little
regret for the old Rex who had not offended her. Decisively, but yet
with some return of kindness, she said—
  “About making love? Yes. But I don’t dislike you for anything else.”
  There was just a perceptible pause before he said a low “good-
bye.” and passed out of the room. Almost immediately after, she
heard the heavy hall door bang behind him.
  Mrs. Davilow, too, had heard Rex’s hasty departure, and presently
came into the drawing-room, where she found Gwendolen seated
on the low couch, her face buried, and her hair falling over her
figure like a garment. She was sobbing bitterly. “My child, my child,
what is it?” cried the mother, who had never before seen her darling
struck down in this way, and felt something of the alarmed anguish
that women, feel at the sight of overpowering sorrow in a strong
man; for this child had been her ruler. Sitting down by her with
circling arms, she pressed her cheek against Gwendolen’s head, and
then tried to draw it upward. Gwendolen gave way, and letting her
head rest against her mother, cried out sobbingly, “Oh, mamma,
what can become of my life? There is nothing worth living for!”
  “Why, dear?” said Mrs. Davilow. Usually she herself had been
rebuked by her daughter for involuntary signs of despair.

                                                                    81
Daniel Deronda

  “I shall never love anybody. I can’t love people. I hate them.”
  “The time will come, dear, the time will come.”
  Gwendolen was more and more convulsed with sobbing; but put-
ting her arms round her mother’s neck with an almost painful cling-
ing, she said brokenly, “I can’t bear any one to be very near me but
you.”
  Then the mother began to sob, for this spoiled child had never
shown such dependence on her before: and so they clung to each
other.




82
                                                           George Eliot




                     CHAPTER VIII
                  What name doth Joy most borrow
                  When life is fair?
                              “To-morrow.”
                  What name doth best fit Sorrow
                  In young despair?
                              “To-morrow.”


THERE WAS A MUCH more lasting trouble at the rectory. Rex arrived
there only to throw himself on his bed in a state of apparent apathy,
unbroken till the next day, when it began to be interrupted by more
positive signs of illness. Nothing could be said about his going to
Southampton: instead of that, the chief thought of his mother and
Anna was how to tend this patient who did not want to be well, and
from being the brightest, most grateful spirit in the household, was
metamorphosed into an irresponsive, dull-eyed creature who met
all affectionate attempts with a murmur of “Let me alone.” His fa-
ther looked beyond the crisis, and believed it to be the shortest way
out of an unlucky affair; but he was sorry for the inevitable suffer-
ing, and went now and then to sit by him in silence for a few min-
utes, parting with a gentle pressure of his hand on Rex’s blank brow,
and a “God bless you, my boy.” Warham and the younger children
used to peep round the edge of the door to see this incredible thing
of their lively brother being laid low; but fingers were immediately
shaken at them to drive them back. The guardian who was always
there was Anna, and her little hand was allowed to rest within her
brother’s, though he never gave it a welcoming pressure. Her soul
was divided between anguish for Rex and reproach of Gwendolen.
  “Perhaps it is wicked of me, but I think I never can love her again,”
came as the recurrent burden of poor little Anna’s inward monody.
And even Mrs. Gascoigne had an angry feeling toward her niece
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Daniel Deronda

which she could not refrain from expressing (apologetically) to her
husband.
   “I know of course it is better, and we ought to be thankful that she
is not in love with the poor boy; but really. Henry, I think she is
hard; she has the heart of a coquette. I can not help thinking that
she must have made him believe something, or the disappointment
would not have taken hold of him in that way. And some blame
attaches to poor Fanny; she is quite blind about that girl.”
   Mr. Gascoigne answered imperatively: “The less said on that point
the better, Nancy. I ought to have been more awake myself. As to
the boy, be thankful if nothing worse ever happens to him. Let the
thing die out as quickly as possible; and especially with regard to
Gwendolen—let it be as if it had never been.”
   The rector’s dominant feeling was that there had been a great es-
cape. Gwendolen in love with Rex in return would have made a
much harder problem, the solution of which might have been taken
out of his hands. But he had to go through some further difficulty.
   One fine morning Rex asked for his bath, and made his toilet as
usual. Anna, full of excitement at this change, could do nothing but
listen for his coming down, and at last hearing his step, ran to the
foot of the stairs to meet him. For the first time he gave her a faint
smile, but it looked so melancholy on his pale face that she could
hardly help crying.
   “Nannie!” he said gently, taking her hand and leading her slowly along
with him to the drawing-room. His mother was there, and when she
came to kiss him, he said: “What a plague I am!”
   Then he sat still and looked out of the bow-window on the lawn
and shrubs covered with hoar-frost, across which the sun was send-
ing faint occasional gleams:—something like that sad smile on Rex’s
face, Anna thought. He felt as if he had had a resurrection into a
new world, and did not know what to do with himself there, the old
interests being left behind. Anna sat near him, pretending to work,
but really watching him with yearning looks. Beyond the garden
hedge there was a road where wagons and carts sometimes went on
field-work: a railed opening was made in the hedge, because the
upland with its bordering wood and clump of ash-trees against the
sky was a pretty sight. Presently there came along a wagon laden

84
                                                             George Eliot

with timber; the horses were straining their grand muscles, and the
driver having cracked his whip, ran along anxiously to guide the
leader’s head, fearing a swerve. Rex seemed to be shaken into atten-
tion, rose and looked till the last quivering trunk of the timber had
disappeared, and then walked once or twice along the room. Mrs.
Gascoigne was no longer there, and when he came to sit down again,
Anna, seeing a return of speech in her brother’s eyes, could not re-
sist the impulse to bring a little stool and seat herself against his
knee, looking up at him with an expression which seemed to say,
“Do speak to me.” And he spoke.
   “I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of, Nannie. I will go to Canada, or
somewhere of that sort.” (Rex had not studied the character of our
colonial possessions.)
   “Oh, Rex, not for always!”
   “Yes, to get my bread there. I should like to build a hut, and work
hard at clearing, and have everything wild about me, and a great
wide quiet.”
   “And not take me with you?” said Anna, the big tears coming fast.
   “How could I?”
   “I should like it better than anything; and settlers go with their
families. I would sooner go there than stay here in England. I could
make the fires, and mend the clothes, and cook the food; and I
could learn how to make the bread before we went. It would be
nicer than anything—like playing at life over again, as we used to
do when we made our tent with the drugget, and had our little
plates and dishes.”
   “Father and mother would not let you go.”
   “Yes, I think they would, when I explained everything. It would
save money; and papa would have more to bring up the boys with.”
   There was further talk of the same practical kind at intervals, and it
ended in Rex’s being obliged to consent that Anna should go with him
when he spoke to his father on the subject.
   Of course it was when the rector was alone in his study. Their
mother would become reconciled to whatever he decided on, but
mentioned to her first, the question would have distressed her.
   “Well, my children!” said Mr. Gascoigne, cheerfully, as they en-
tered. It was a comfort to see Rex about again.

                                                                      85
Daniel Deronda

  “May we sit down with you a little, papa?” said Anna. “Rex has
something to say.”
  “With all my heart.”
  It was a noticeable group that these three creatures made, each of
them with a face of the same structural type—the straight brow, the
nose suddenly straightened from an intention of being aquiline, the
short upper lip, the short but strong and well-hung chin: there was
even the same tone of complexion and set of the eye. The gray-
haired father was at once massive and keen-looking; there was a
perpendicular line in his brow which when he spoke with any force
of interest deepened; and the habit of ruling gave him an air of
reserved authoritativeness. Rex would have seemed a vision of his
father’s youth, if it had been possible to imagine Mr. Gascoigne
without distinct plans and without command, smitten with a heart
sorrow, and having no more notion of concealment than a sick ani-
mal; and Anna was a tiny copy of Rex, with hair drawn back and
knotted, her face following his in its changes of expression, as if
they had one soul between them.
  “You know all about what has upset me, father,” Rex began, and
Mr. Gascoigne nodded.
  “I am quite done up for life in this part of the world. I am sure it
will be no use my going back to Oxford. I couldn’t do any reading.
I should fail, and cause you expense for nothing. I want to have
your consent to take another course, sir.”
  Mr. Gascoigne nodded more slowly, the perpendicular line on his
brow deepened, and Anna’s trembling increased.
  “If you would allow me a small outfit, I should like to go to the
colonies and work on the land there.” Rex thought the vagueness of
the phrase prudential; “the colonies” necessarily embracing more
advantages, and being less capable of being rebutted on a single
ground than any particular settlement.
  “Oh, and with me, papa,” said Anna, not bearing to be left out
from the proposal even temporarily. “Rex would want some one to
take care of him, you know—some one to keep house. And we shall
never, either of us, be married. And I should cost nothing, and I
should be so happy. I know it would be hard to leave you and
mamma; but there are all the others to bring up, and we two should

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                                                            George Eliot

be no trouble to you any more.”
   Anna had risen from her seat, and used the feminine argument of
going closer to her papa as she spoke. He did not smile, but he drew
her on his knee and held her there, as if to put her gently out of the
question while he spoke to Rex.
   “You will admit that my experience gives me some power of judg-
ing for you, and that I can probably guide you in practical matters
better than you can guide yourself?”
   Rex was obliged to say, “Yes, sir.”
   “And perhaps you will admit—though I don’t wish to press that
point—that you are bound in duty to consider my judgment and
wishes?”
   “I have never yet placed myself in opposition to you, sir.” Rex in
his secret soul could not feel that he was bound not to go to the
colonies, but to go to Oxford again—which was the point in ques-
tion.
   “But you will do so if you persist in setting your mind toward a
rash and foolish procedure, and deafening yourself to considerations
which my experience of life assures me of. You think, I suppose,
that you have had a shock which has changed all your inclinations,
stupefied your brains, unfitted you for anything but manual labor,
and given you a dislike to society? Is that what you believe?”
   “Something like that. I shall never be up to the sort of work I
must do to live in this part of the world. I have not the spirit for it.
I shall never be the same again. And without any disrespect to you,
father, I think a young fellow should be allowed to choose his way
of life, if he does nobody any harm. There are plenty to stay at
home, and those who like might be allowed to go where there are
empty places.”
   “But suppose I am convinced on good evidence—as I am—that
this state of mind of yours is transient, and that if you went off as
you propose, you would by-and-by repent, and feel that you had let
yourself slip back from the point you have been gaining by your
education till now? Have you not strength of mind enough to see
that you had better act on my assurance for a time, and test it? In
my opinion, so far from agreeing with you that you should be free
to turn yourself into a colonist and work in your shirt-sleeves with

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spade and hatchet—in my opinion you have no right whatever to
expatriate yourself until you have honestly endeavored to turn to
account the education you have received here. I say nothing of the
grief to your mother and me.”
   “I’m very sorry; but what can I do? I can’t study—that’s certain,”
said Rex.
   “Not just now, perhaps. You will have to miss a term. I have made
arrangements for you—how you are to spend the next two months.
But I confess I am disappointed in you, Rex. I thought you had
more sense than to take up such ideas—to suppose that because
you have fallen into a very common trouble, such as most men have
to go through, you are loosened from all bonds of duty—just as if
your brain had softened and you were no longer a responsible be-
ing.”
   What could Rex say? Inwardly he was in a state of rebellion, but he
had no arguments to meet his father’s; and while he was feeling, in
spite of any thing that might be said, that he should like to go off to
“the colonies” to-morrow, it lay in a deep fold of his consciousness
that he ought to feel—if he had been a better fellow he would have
felt—more about his old ties. This is the sort of faith we live by in our
soul sicknesses.
   Rex got up from his seat, as if he held the conference to be at an
end. “You assent to my arrangement, then?” said Mr. Gascoigne,
with that distinct resolution of tone which seems to hold one in a
vise.
   There was a little pause before Rex answered, “I’ll try what I can
do, sir. I can’t promise.” His thought was, that trying would be of
no use.
   Her father kept Anna, holding her fast, though she wanted to
follow Rex. “Oh, papa,” she said, the tears coming with her words
when the door had closed; “it is very hard for him. Doesn’t he look
ill?”
   “Yes, but he will soon be better; it will all blow over. And now,
Anna, be as quiet as a mouse about it all. Never let it be mentioned
when he is gone.”
   “No, papa. But I would not be like Gwendolen for any thing—to
have people fall in love with me so. It is very dreadful.”

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                                                          George Eliot

  Anna dared not say that she was disappointed at not being al-
lowed to go to the colonies with Rex; but that was her secret feeling,
and she often afterward went inwardly over the whole affair, saying
to herself, “I should have done with going out, and gloves, and crino-
line, and having to talk when I am taken to dinner—and all that!”
  I like to mark the time, and connect the course of individual lives
with the historic stream, for all classes of thinkers. This was the
period when the broadening of gauge in crinolines seemed to de-
mand an agitation for the general enlargement of churches, ball-
rooms, and vehicles. But Anna Gascoigne’s figure would only allow
the size of skirt manufactured for young ladies of fourteen.




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                       CHAPTER IX
          I’ll tell thee, Berthold, what men’s hopes are like:
          A silly child that, quivering with joy,
          Would cast its little mimic fishing-line
          Baited with loadstone for a bowl of toys
          In the salt ocean.


EIGHT MONTHS after the arrival of the family at Offendene, that is to
say in the end of the following June, a rumor was spread in the
neighborhood which to many persons was matter of exciting inter-
est. It had no reference to the results of the American war, but it was
one which touched all classes within a certain circuit round
Wanchester: the corn-factors, the brewers, the horse-dealers, and
saddlers, all held it a laudable thing, and one which was to be re-
joiced in on abstract grounds, as showing the value of an aristocracy
in a free country like England; the blacksmith in the hamlet of
Diplow felt that a good time had come round; the wives of laboring
men hoped their nimble boys of ten or twelve would be taken into
employ by the gentlemen in livery; and the farmers about Diplow
admitted, with a tincture of bitterness and reserve that a man might
now again perhaps have an easier market or exchange for a rick of
old hay or a wagon-load of straw. If such were the hopes of low
persons not in society, it may be easily inferred that their betters had
better reasons for satisfaction, probably connected with the plea-
sures of life rather than its business. Marriage, however, must be
considered as coming under both heads; and just as when a visit of
majesty is announced, the dream of knighthood or a baronetcy is to
be found under various municipal nightcaps, so the news in ques-
tion raised a floating indeterminate vision of marriage in several
well-bred imaginations.
  The news was that Diplow Hall, Sir Hugo Mallinger’s place, which
90
                                                           George Eliot

had for a couple of years turned its white window-shutters in a pain-
fully wall-eyed manner on its fine elms and beeches, its lilied pool
and grassy acres specked with deer, was being prepared for a tenant,
and was for the rest of the summer and through the hunting season
to be inhabited in a fitting style both as to house and stable. But not
by Sir Hugo himself: by his nephew, Mr. Mallinger Grandcourt,
who was presumptive heir to the baronetcy, his uncle’s marriage
having produced nothing but girls. Nor was this the only contin-
gency with which fortune flattered young Grandcourt, as he was
pleasantly called; for while the chance of the baronetcy came through
his father, his mother had given a baronial streak to his blood, so
that if certain intervening persons slightly painted in the middle
distance died, he would become a baron and peer of this realm.
   It is the uneven allotment of nature that the male bird alone has
the tuft, but we have not yet followed the advice of hasty philoso-
phers who would have us copy nature entirely in these matters; and
if Mr. Mallinger Grandcourt became a baronet or a peer, his wife
would share the title—which in addition to his actual fortune was
certainly a reason why that wife, being at present unchosen, should
be thought of by more than one person with a sympathetic interest
as a woman sure to be well provided for.
   Some readers of this history will doubtless regard it as incredible
that people should construct matrimonial prospects on the mere
report that a bachelor of good fortune and possibilities was coming
within reach, and will reject the statement as a mere outflow of gall:
they will aver that neither they nor their first cousins have minds so
unbridled; and that in fact this is not human nature, which would
know that such speculations might turn out to be fallacious, and
would therefore not entertain them. But, let it be observed, nothing
is here narrated of human nature generally: the history in its present
stage concerns only a few people in a corner of Wessex—whose
reputation, however, was unimpeached, and who, I am in the proud
position of being able to state, were all on visiting terms with per-
sons of rank.
   There were the Arrowpoints, for example, in their beautiful place
at Quetcham: no one could attribute sordid views in relation to
their daughter’s marriage to parents who could leave her at least half

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a million; but having affectionate anxieties about their Catherine’s
position (she having resolutely refused Lord Slogan, an unexcep-
tionable Irish peer, whose estate wanted nothing but drainage and
population), they wondered, perhaps from something more than a
charitable impulse, whether Mr. Grandcourt was good-looking, of
sound constitution, virtuous, or at least reformed, and if liberal-
conservative, not too liberal-conservative; and without wishing any-
body to die, thought his succession to the title an event to be de-
sired.
   If the Arrowpoints had such ruminations, it is the less surprising
that they were stimulated in Mr. Gascoigne, who for being a clergy-
man was not the less subject to the anxieties of a parent and guard-
ian; and we have seen how both he and Mrs. Gascoigne might by
this time have come to feel that he was overcharged with the man-
agement of young creatures who were hardly to be held in with bit
or bridle, or any sort of metaphor that would stand for judicious
advice.
   Naturally, people did not tell each other all they felt and thought
about young Grandcourt’s advent: on no subject is this openness
found prudently practicable—not even on the generation of acids,
or the destination of the fixed stars: for either your contemporary
with a mind turned toward the same subjects may find your ideas
ingenious and forestall you in applying them, or he may have other
views on acids and fixed stars, and think ill of you in consequence.
Mr. Gascoigne did not ask Mr. Arrowpoint if he had any trustwor-
thy source of information about Grandcourt considered as a hus-
band for a charming girl; nor did Mrs. Arrowpoint observe to Mrs.
Davilow that if the possible peer sought a wife in the neighborhood
of Diplow, the only reasonable expectation was that he would offer
his hand to Catherine, who, however, would not accept him unless
he were in all respects fitted to secure her happiness. Indeed, even to
his wife the rector was silent as to the contemplation of any matri-
monial result, from the probability that Mr. Grandcourt would see
Gwendolen at the next Archery Meeting; though Mrs. Gascoigne’s
mind was very likely still more active in the same direction. She had
said interjectionally to her sister, “It would be a mercy, Fanny, if that
girl were well married!” to which Mrs. Davilow discerning some criti-

92
                                                          George Eliot

cism of her darling in the fervor of that wish, had not chosen to make
any audible reply, though she had said inwardly, “You will not get her
to marry for your pleasure”; the mild mother becoming rather saucy
when she identified herself with her daughter.
  To her husband Mrs. Gascoigne said, “I hear Mr. Grandcourt has
got two places of his own, but he comes to Diplow for the hunting.
It is to be hoped he will set a good example in the neighborhood.
Have you heard what sort of a young man he is, Henry?”
  Mr. Gascoigne had not heard; at least, if his male acquaintances
had gossiped in his hearing, he was not disposed to repeat their
gossip, or to give it any emphasis in his own mind. He held it futile,
even if it had been becoming, to show any curiosity as to the past of
a young man whose birth, wealth, and consequent leisure made
many habits venial which under other circumstances would have
been inexcusable. Whatever Grandcourt had done, he had not ru-
ined himself; and it is well-known that in gambling, for example,
whether of the business or holiday sort, a man who has the strength
of mind to leave off when he has only ruined others, is a reformed
character. This is an illustration merely: Mr. Gascoigne had not heard
that Grandcourt had been a gambler; and we can hardly pronounce
him singular in feeling that a landed proprietor with a mixture of
noble blood in his veins was not to be an object of suspicious in-
quiry like a reformed character who offers himself as your butler or
footman. Reformation, where a man can afford to do without it,
can hardly be other than genuine. Moreover, it was not certain on
any other showing hitherto, that Mr. Grandcourt had needed refor-
mation more than other young men in the ripe youth of five-and-
thirty; and, at any rate, the significance of what he had been must
be determined by what he actually was.
  Mrs. Davilow, too, although she would not respond to her sister’s
pregnant remark, could not be inwardly indifferent to an advent
that might promise a brilliant lot for Gwendolen. A little specula-
tion on “what may be” comes naturally, without encouragement—
comes inevitably in the form of images, when unknown persons are
mentioned; and Mr. Grandcourt’s name raised in Mrs. Davilow’s
mind first of all the picture of a handsome, accomplished, excellent
young man whom she would be satisfied with as a husband for her

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daughter; but then came the further speculation—would Gwendolen
be satisfied with him? There was no knowing what would meet that
girl’s taste or touch her affections—it might be something else than
excellence; and thus the image of the perfect suitor gave way before
a fluctuating combination of qualities that might be imagined to
win Gwendolen’s heart. In the difficulty of arriving at the particular
combination which would insure that result, the mother even said
to herself, “It would not signify about her being in love, if she would
only accept the right person.” For whatever marriage had been for
herself, how could she the less desire it for her daughter? The differ-
ence her own misfortunes made was, that she never dared to dwell
much to Gwendolen on the desirableness of marriage, dreading an
answer something like that of the future Madame Roland, when
her gentle mother urging the acceptance of a suitor, said, “Tu seras
heureuse, ma chère.” “Oui, maman, comme toi.”
  In relation to the problematic Mr. Grandcourt least of all would
Mrs. Davilow have willingly let fall a hint of the aerial castle-build-
ing which she had the good taste to be ashamed of; for such a hint
was likely enough to give an adverse poise to Gwendolen’s own
thought, and make her detest the desirable husband beforehand.
Since that scene after poor Rex’s farewell visit, the mother had felt a
new sense of peril in touching the mystery of her child’s feeling, and
in rashly determining what was her welfare: only she could think of
welfare in no other shape than marriage.
  The discussion of the dress that Gwendolen was to wear at the
Archery Meeting was a relevant topic, however; and when it had
been decided that as a touch of color on her white cashmere, noth-
ing, for her complexion, was comparable to pale green—a feather
which she was trying in her hat before the looking-glass having settled
the question—Mrs. Davilow felt her ears tingle when Gwendolen,
suddenly throwing herself into the attitude of drawing her bow,
said with a look of comic enjoyment—
  “How I pity all the other girls at the Archery Meeting—all think-
ing of Mr. Grandcourt! And they have not a shadow of a chance.”
  Mrs. Davilow had not the presence of mind to answer immedi-
ately, and Gwendolen turned round quickly toward her, saying,
wickedly—

94
                                                          George Eliot

   “Now you know they have not, mamma. You and my uncle and
aunt—you all intend him to fall in love with me.”
   Mrs. Davilow, pigued into a little stratagem, said, “Oh, my, dear,
that is not so certain. Miss Arrowpoint has charms which you have
not.”
   “I know, but they demand thought. My arrow will pierce him
before he has time for thought. He will declare himself my slave—
I shall send him round the world to bring me back the wedding ring
of a happy woman—in the meantime all the men who are between
him and the title will die of different diseases—he will come back
Lord Grandcourt—but without the ring—and fall at my feet. I shall
laugh at him—he will rise in resentment—I shall laugh more—he
will call for his steed and ride to Quetcham, where he will find Miss
Arrowpoint just married to a needy musician, Mrs. Arrowpoint tear-
ing her cap off, and Mr. Arrowpoint standing by. Exit Lord
Grandcourt, who returns to Diplow, and, like M. Jabot, change de
linge.”
   Was ever any young witch like this? You thought of hiding things
from her —sat upon your secret and looked innocent, and all the
while she knew by the corner of your eye that it was exactly five
pounds ten you were sitting on! As well turn the key to keep out the
damp! It was probable that by dint of divination she already knew
more than any one else did of Mr. Grandcourt. That idea in Mrs.
Davilow’s mind prompted the sort of question which often comes
without any other apparent reason than the faculty of speech and
the not knowing what to do with it.
   “Why, what kind of a man do you imagine him to be, Gwendolen?”
   “Let me see!” said the witch, putting her forefinger to her lips,
with a little frown, and then stretching out the finger with decision.
“Short—just above my shoulder—crying to make himself tall by
turning up his mustache and keeping his beard long—a glass in his
right eye to give him an air of distinction—a strong opinion about
his waistcoat, but uncertain and trimming about the weather, on
which he will try to draw me out. He will stare at me all the while,
and the glass in his eye will cause him to make horrible faces, espe-
cially when he smiles in a flattering way. I shall cast down my eyes
in consequence, and he will perceive that I am not indifferent to his

                                                                   95
Daniel Deronda

attentions. I shall dream that night that I am looking at the extraor-
dinary face of a magnified insect—and the next morning he will
make an offer of his hand; the sequel as before.”
  “That is a portrait of some one you have seen already, Gwen. Mr.
Grandcourt may be a delightful young man for what you know.”
  “Oh, yes,” said Gwendolen, with a high note of careless admis-
sion, taking off her best hat and turning it round on her hand con-
templatively. “I wonder what sort of behavior a delightful young
man would have? I know he would have hunters and racers, and a
London house and two country-houses—one with battlements and
another with a veranda. And I feel sure that with a little murdering
he might get a title.”
  The irony of this speech was of the doubtful sort that has some
genuine belief mixed up with it. Poor Mrs. Davilow felt uncomfort-
able under it. Her own meanings being usually literal and in inten-
tion innocent; and she said with a distressed brow:
  “Don’t talk in that way, child, for heaven’s sake! you do read such
books—they give you such ideas of everything. I declare when your
aunt and I were your age we knew nothing about wickedness. I
think it was better so.”
  “Why did you not bring me up in that way, mamma?” said
Gwendolen. But immediately perceiving in the crushed look and
rising sob that she had given a deep wound, she tossed down her hat
and knelt at her mother’s feet crying—
  “Mamma, mamma! I was only speaking in fun. I meant noth-
ing.”
  “How could I, Gwendolen?” said poor Mrs. Davilow, unable to
hear the retraction, and sobbing violently while she made the effort
to speak. “Your will was always too strong for me—if everything
else had been different.”
  This disjoined logic was intelligible enough to the daughter. “Dear
mamma, I don’t find fault with you—I love you,” said Gwendolen,
really compunctious. “How can you help what I am? Besides, I am
very charming. Come, now.” Here Gwendolen with her handker-
chief gently rubbed away her mother’s tears. “Really—I am con-
tented with myself. I like myself better than I should have liked my
aunt and you. How dreadfully dull you must have been!”

96
                                                           George Eliot

  Such tender cajolery served to quiet the mother, as it had often
done before after like collisions. Not that the collisions had often
been repeated at the same point; for in the memory of both they left
an association of dread with the particular topics which had occa-
sioned them: Gwendolen dreaded the unpleasant sense of compunc-
tion toward her mother, which was the nearest approach to self-con-
demnation and self-distrust that she had known; and Mrs. Davilow’s
timid maternal conscience dreaded whatever had brought on the slight-
est hint of reproach. Hence, after this little scene, the two concurred
in excluding Mr. Grandcourt from their conversation.
  When Mr. Gascoigne once or twice referred to him, Mrs. Davilow
feared least Gwendolen should betray some of her alarming keen-
sightedness about what was probably in her uncle’s mind; but the
fear was not justified. Gwendolen knew certain differences in the
characters with which she was concerned as birds know climate and
weather; and for the very reason that she was determined to evade
her uncle’s control, she was determined not to clash with him. The
good understanding between them was much fostered by their en-
joyment of archery together: Mr. Gascoigne, as one of the best bow-
men in Wessex, was gratified to find the elements of like skill in his
niece; and Gwendolen was the more careful not to lose the shelter
of his fatherly indulgence, because since the trouble with Rex both
Mrs. Gascoigne and Anna had been unable to hide what she felt to
be a very unreasonable alienation from her. Toward Anna she took
some pains to behave with a regretful affectionateness; but neither
of them dared to mention Rex’s name, and Anna, to whom the
thought of him was part of the air she breathed, was ill at ease with
the lively cousin who had ruined his happiness. She tried dutifully
to repress any sign of her changed feeling; but who in pain can
imitate the glance and hand-touch of pleasure.
  This unfair resentment had rather a hardening effect on
Gwendolen, and threw her into a more defiant temper. Her uncle
too might be offended if she refused the next person who fell in love
with her; and one day when that idea was in her mind she said—
  “Mamma, I see now why girls are glad to be married—to escape
being expected to please everybody but themselves.”
  Happily, Mr. Middleton was gone without having made any

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Daniel Deronda

avowal; and notwithstanding the admiration for the handsome Miss
Harleth, extending perhaps over thirty square miles in a part of
Wessex well studded with families whose numbers included several
disengaged young men, each glad to seat himself by the lively girl
with whom it was so easy to get on in conversation,—notwithstand-
ing these grounds for arguing that Gwendolen was likely to have
other suitors more explicit than the cautious curate, the fact was not
so.
   Care has been taken not only that the trees should not sweep the
stars down, but also that every man who admires a fair girl should
not be enamored of her, and even that every man who is enamored
should not necessarily declare himself. There are various refined
shapes in which the price of corn, known to be potent cause in their
relation, might, if inquired into, show why a young lady, perfect in
person, accomplishments, and costume, has not the trouble of re-
jecting many offers; and nature’s order is certainly benignant in not
obliging us one and all to be desperately in love with the most ad-
mirable mortal we have ever seen. Gwendolen, we know, was far
from holding that supremacy in the minds of all observers. Besides,
it was but a poor eight months since she had come to Offendene,
and some inclinations become manifest slowly, like the sunward
creeping of plants.
   In face of this fact that not one of the eligible young men already
in the neighborhood had made Gwendolen an offer, why should
Mr. Grandcourt be thought of as likely to do what they had left
undone?
   Perhaps because he was thought of as still more eligible; since a
great deal of what passes for likelihood in the world is simply the
reflex of a wish. Mr. and Mrs. Arrowpoint, for example, having no
anxiety that Miss Harleth should make a brilliant marriage, had
quite a different likelihood in their minds.




98
                                                          George Eliot




                       CHAPTER X
  1st Gent. What woman should be? Sir, consult the taste
            Of marriageable men. This planet’s store
            In iron, cotton, wool, or chemicals—
            All matter rendered to our plastic skill,
            Is wrought in shapes responsive to demand;
            The market’s pulse makes index high or low,
            By rule sublime. Our daughters must be wives,
            And to the wives must be what men will choose;
            Men’s taste is woman’s test. You mark the phrase?
            ’Tis good, I think?—the sense well-winged and poised
            With t’s and s’s.
  2nd Gent.                   Nay, but turn it round;
            Give us the test of taste. A fine menu—
            Is it to-day what Roman epicures
            Insisted that a gentleman must eat
            To earn the dignity of dining well?


BRACKENSHAW PARK, where the Archery Meeting was held, looked
out from its gentle heights far over the neighboring valley to the
outlying eastern downs and the broad, slow rise of cultivated coun-
try, hanging like a vast curtain toward the west. The castle which
stood on the highest platform of the clustered hills, was built of
rough-hewn limestone, full of lights and shadows made by the dark
dust of lichens and the washings of the rain. Masses of beech and fir
sheltered it on the north, and spread down here and there along the
green slopes like flocks seeking the water which gleamed below. The
archery-ground was a carefully-kept enclosure on a bit of table-land
at the farthest end of the park, protected toward the southwest by
tall elms and a thick screen of hollies, which kept the gravel walk
and the bit of newly-mown turf where the targets were placed in

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Daniel Deronda

agreeable afternoon shade. The Archery Hall with an arcade in front
showed like a white temple against the greenery on the north side.
   What could make a better background for the flower-groups of
ladies, moving and bowing and turning their necks as it would be-
come the leisurely lilies to do if they took to locomotion. The sounds
too were very pleasant to hear, even when the military band from
Wanchester ceased to play: musical laughs in all the registers and a
harmony of happy, friendly speeches, now rising toward mild ex-
citement, now sinking to an agreeable murmur.
   No open-air amusement could be much freer from those noisy,
crowding conditions which spoil most modern pleasures; no Ar-
chery Meeting could be more select, the number of friends accom-
panying the members being restricted by an award of tickets, so as
to keep the maximum within the limits of convenience for the din-
ner and ball to be held in the castle. Within the enclosure no plebe-
ian spectators were admitted except Lord Brackenshaw’s tenants and
their families, and of these it was chiefly the feminine members
who used the privilege, bringing their little boys and girls or younger
brothers and sisters. The males among them relieved the insipidity
of the entertainment by imaginative betting, in which the stake was
“anything you like,” on their favorite archers; but the young maid-
ens, having a different principle of discrimination, were consider-
ing which of those sweetly-dressed ladies they would choose to be,
if the choice were allowed them. Probably the form these rural souls
would most have striven for as a tabernacle, was some other than
Gwendolen’s—one with more pink in her cheeks and hair of the
most fashionable yellow; but among the male judges in the ranks
immediately surrounding her there was unusual unanimity in pro-
nouncing her the finest girl present.
   No wonder she enjoyed her existence on that July day. Pre-emi-
nence is sweet to those who love it, even under mediocre circum-
stances. Perhaps it was not quite mythical that a slave has been proud
to be bought first; and probably a barn-door fowl on sale, though
he may not have understood himself to be called the best of a bad
lot, may have a self-informed consciousness of his relative impor-
tance, and strut consoled. But for complete enjoyment the outward
and the inward must concur. And that concurrence was happening

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to Gwendolen.
   Who can deny that bows and arrows are among the prettiest weap-
ons in the world for feminine forms to play with? They prompt
attitudes full of grace and power, where that fine concentration of
energy seen in all markmanship, is freed from associations of blood-
shed. The time-honored British resources of “killing something” is
no longer carried on with bow and quiver; bands defending their
passes against an invading nation fight under another sort of shade
than a cloud of arrows; and poisoned darts are harmless survivals
either in rhetoric or in regions comfortably remote. Archery has no
ugly smell of brimstone; breaks nobody’s shins, breeds no athletic
monsters; its only danger is that of failing, which for generous blood
is enough to mould skilful action. And among the Brackenshaw
archers the prizes were all of the nobler symbolic kind; not properly
to be carried off in a parcel, degrading honor into gain; but the gold
arrow and the silver, the gold star and the silver, to be worn for a
long time in sign of achievement and then transferred to the next
who did excellently. These signs of pre-eminence had the virtue of
wreaths without their inconveniences, which might have produced
a melancholy effect in the heat of the ball-room. Altogether the
Brackenshaw Archery Club was an institution framed with good
taste, so as not to have by necessity any ridiculous incidents.
   And to-day all incalculable elements were in its favor. There was
mild warmth, and no wind to disturb either hair or drapery or the
course of the arrow; all skillful preparation had fair play, and when
there was a general march to extract the arrows, the promenade of
joyous young creatures in light speech and laughter, the graceful
movement in common toward a common object, was a show worth
looking at. Here Gwendolen seemed a Calypso among her nymphs.
It was in her attitudes and movements that every one was obliged to
admit her surpassing charm.
   “That girl is like a high-mettled racer,” said Lord Brackenshaw to
young Clintock, one of the invited spectators.
   “First chop! tremendously pretty too,” said the elegant Grecian,
who had been paying her assiduous attention; “I never saw her look
better.”
   Perhaps she had never looked so well. Her face was beaming with

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young pleasure in which there was no malign rays of discontent; for
being satisfied with her own chances, she felt kindly toward every-
body and was satisfied with the universe. Not to have the highest
distinction in rank, not to be marked out as an heiress, like Miss
Arrowpoint, gave an added triumph in eclipsing those advantages.
For personal recommendation she would not have cared to change
the family group accompanying her for any other: her mamma’s
appearance would have suited an amiable duchess; her uncle and
aunt Gascoigne with Anna made equally gratifying figures in their
way; and Gwendolen was too full of joyous belief in herself to feel
in the least jealous though Miss Arrowpoint was one of the best
archeresses.
   Even the reappearance of the formidable Herr Klesmer, which
caused some surprise in the rest of the company, seemed only to fall
in with Gwendolen’s inclination to be amused. Short of Apollo him-
self, what great musical maestro could make a good figure at an ar-
chery meeting? There was a very satirical light in Gwendolen’s eyes
as she looked toward the Arrowpoint party on their first entrance,
when the contrast between Klesmer and the average group of En-
glish country people seemed at its utmost intensity in the close neigh-
borhood of his hosts—or patrons, as Mrs. Arrowpoint would have
liked to hear them called, that she might deny the possibility of any
longer patronizing genius, its royalty being universally acknowledged.
The contrast might have amused a graver personage than
Gwendolen. We English are a miscellaneous people, and any chance
fifty of us will present many varieties of animal architecture or facial
ornament; but it must be admitted that our prevailing expression is
not that of a lively, impassioned race, preoccupied with the ideal
and carrying the real as a mere make-weight. The strong point of
the English gentleman pure is the easy style of his figure and cloth-
ing; he objects to marked ins and outs in his costume, and he also
objects to looking inspired.
   Fancy an assemblage where the men had all that ordinary stamp
of the well-bred Englishman, watching the entrance of Herr
Klesmer—his mane of hair floating backward in massive inconsis-
tency with the chimney-pot hat, which had the look of having been
put on for a joke above his pronounced but well-modeled features

102
                                                             George Eliot

and powerful clear-shaven mouth and chin; his tall, thin figure clad
in a way which, not being strictly English, was all the worse for its
apparent emphasis of intention. Draped in a loose garment with a
Florentine berretta on his head, he would have been fit to stand by
the side of Leonardo de Vinci; but how when he presented himself
in trousers which were not what English feeling demanded about
the knees?—and when the fire that showed itself in his glances and
the movements of his head, as he looked round him with curiosity,
was turned into comedy by a hat which ruled that mankind should
have well-cropped hair and a staid demeanor, such, for example, as
Mr. Arrowsmith’s, whose nullity of face and perfect tailoring might
pass everywhere without ridicule? One feels why it is often better
for greatness to be dead, and to have got rid of the outward man.
   Many present knew Klesmer, or knew of him; but they had only
seen him on candle-light occasions when he appeared simply as a
musician, and he had not yet that supreme, world-wide celebrity
which makes an artist great to the most ordinary people by their
knowledge of his great expensiveness. It was literally a new light for
them to see him in—presented unexpectedly on this July afternoon
in an exclusive society: some were inclined to laugh, others felt a
little disgust at the want of judgment shown by the Arrowpoints in
this use of an introductory card.
   “What extreme guys those artistic fellows usually are?” said young
Clintock to Gwendolen. “Do look at the figure he cuts, bowing
with his hand on his heart to Lady Brackenshaw—and Mrs.
Arrowpoint’s feather just reaching his shoulder.”
   “You are one of the profane,” said Gwendolen. “You are blind to
the majesty of genius. Herr Klesmer smites me with awe; I feel
crushed in his presence; my courage all oozes from me.”
   “Ah, you understand all about his music.”
   “No, indeed,” said Gwendolen, with a light laugh; “it is he who
understands all about mine and thinks it pitiable.” Klesmer’s ver-
dict on her singing had been an easier joke to her since he had been
struck by her plastik.
   “It is not addressed to the ears of the future, I suppose. I’m glad of
that: it suits mine.”
   “Oh, you are very kind. But how remarkably well Miss Arrowpoint

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looks to-day! She would make quite a fine picture in that gold-
colored dress.”
   “Too splendid, don’t you think?”
   “Well, perhaps a little too symbolical—too much like the figure
of Wealth in an allegory.”
   This speech of Gwendolen’s had rather a malicious sound, but it
was not really more than a bubble of fun. She did not wish Miss
Arrowpoint or any one else to be out of the way, believing in her own
good fortune even more than in her skill. The belief in both naturally
grew stronger as the shooting went on, for she promised to achieve
one of the best scores—a success which astonished every one in a new
member; and to Gwendolen’s temperament one success determined
another. She trod on air, and all things pleasant seemed possible. The
hour was enough for her, and she was not obliged to think what she
should do next to keep her life at the due pitch.
   “How does the scoring stand, I wonder?” said Lady Brackenshaw,
a gracious personage who, adorned with two little girls and a boy of
stout make, sat as lady paramount. Her lord had come up to her in
one of the intervals of shooting. “It seems to me that Miss Harleth
is likely to win the gold arrow.”
   “Gad, I think she will, if she carries it on! she is running Juliet
Fenn hard. It is wonderful for one in her first year. Catherine is not
up to her usual mark,” continued his lordship, turning to the heiress’s
mother who sat near. “But she got the gold arrow last time. And
there’s a luck even in these games of skill. That’s better. It gives the
hinder ones a chance.”
   “Catherine will be very glad for others to win,” said Mrs.
Arrowpoint, “she is so magnanimous. It was entirely her consider-
ateness that made us bring Herr Klesmer instead of Canon Stopley,
who had expressed a wish to come. For her own pleasure, I am sure
she would rather have brought the Canon; but she is always think-
ing of others. I told her it was not quite en règle to bring one so far
out of our own set; but she said, ‘Genius itself is not en règle; it
comes into the world to make new rules.’ And one must admit that.”
   “Ay, to be sure,” said Lord Brackenshaw, in a tone of careless dis-
missal, adding quickly, “For my part, I am not magnanimous; I
should like to win. But, confound it! I never have the chance now.

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                                                           George Eliot

I’m getting old and idle. The young ones beat me. As old Nestor
says—the gods don’t give us everything at one time: I was a young
fellow once, and now I am getting an old and wise one. Old, at any
rate; which is a gift that comes to everybody if they live long enough,
so it raises no jealousy.” The Earl smiled comfortably at his wife.
  “Oh, my lord, people who have been neighbors twenty years must
not talk to each other about age,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint. “Years, as
the Tuscans say, are made for the letting of houses. But where is our
new neighbor? I thought Mr. Grandcourt was to be here to-day.”
  “Ah, by the way, so he was. The time’s getting on too,” said his
lordship, looking at his watch. “But he only got to Diplow the other
day. He came to us on Tuesday and said he had been a little both-
ered. He may have been pulled in another direction. Why,
Gascoigne!”—the rector was just then crossing at a little distance
with Gwendolen on his arm, and turned in compliance with the
call—”this is a little too bad; you not only beat us yourself, but you
bring up your niece to beat all the archeresses.”
  “It is rather scandalous in her to get the better of elder members,”
said Mr. Gascoigne, with much inward satisfaction curling his short
upper lip. “But it is not my doing, my lord. I only meant her to
make a tolerable figure, without surpassing any one.”
  “It is not my fault, either,” said Gwendolen, with pretty archness.
“If I am to aim, I can’t help hitting.”
  “Ay, ay, that may be a fatal business for some people,” said Lord
Brackenshaw, good-humoredly; then taking out his watch and look-
ing at Mrs. Arrowpoint again—“The time’s getting on, as you say.
But Grandcourt is always late. I notice in town he’s always late, and
he’s no bowman—understands nothing about it. But I told him he
must come; he would see the flower of the neighborhood here. He
asked about you—had seen Arrowpoint’s card. I think you had not
made his acquaintance in town. He has been a good deal abroad.
People don’t know him much.”
  “No; we are strangers,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint. “But that is not
what might have been expected. For his uncle Sir Hugo Mallinger
and I are great friends when we meet.”
  “I don’t know; uncles and nephews are not so likely to be seen
together as uncles and nieces,” said his lordship, smiling toward the

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Daniel Deronda

rector. “But just come with me one instant, Gascoigne, will you? I
want to speak a word about the clout-shooting.”
   Gwendolen chose to go too and be deposited in the same group
with her mamma and aunt until she had to shoot again. That Mr.
Grandcourt might after all not appear on the archery-ground, had
begun to enter into Gwendolen’s thought as a possible deduction
from the completeness of her pleasure. Under all her saucy satire,
provoked chiefly by her divination that her friends thought of him
as a desirable match for her, she felt something very far from indif-
ference as to the impression she would make on him. True, he was
not to have the slightest power over her (for Gwendolen had not
considered that the desire to conquer is itself a sort of subjection);
she had made up her mind that he was to be one of those compli-
mentary and assiduously admiring men of whom even her narrow
experience had shown her several with various-colored beards and
various styles of bearing; and the sense that her friends would want
her to think him delightful, gave her a resistant inclination to pre-
suppose him ridiculous. But that was no reason why she could spare
his presence: and even a passing prevision of trouble in case she
despised and refused him, raised not the shadow of a wish that he
should save her that trouble by showing no disposition to make her
an offer. Mr. Grandcourt taking hardly any notice of her, and be-
coming shortly engaged to Miss Arrowpoint, was not a picture which
flattered her imagination.
   Hence Gwendolen had been all ear to Lord Brackenshaw’s mode
of accounting for Grandcourt’s non-appearance; and when he did
arrive, no consciousness —not even Mrs. Arrowpoint’s or Mr.
Gascoigne’s—was more awake to the fact than hers, although she
steadily avoided looking toward any point where he was likely to
be. There should be no slightest shifting of angles to betray that it
was of any consequence to her whether the much-talked-of Mr.
Mallinger Grandcourt presented himself or not. She became again
absorbed in the shooting, and so resolutely abstained from looking
round observantly that, even supposing him to have taken a con-
spicuous place among the spectators, it might be clear she was not
aware of him. And all the while the certainty that he was there made
a distinct thread in her consciousness. Perhaps her shooting was the

106
                                                             George Eliot

better for it: at any rate, it gained in precision, and she at last raised
a delightful storm of clapping and applause by three hits running in
the gold—a feat which among the Brackenshaw arches had not the
vulgar reward of a shilling poll-tax, but that of a special gold star to
be worn on the breast. That moment was not only a happy one to
herself—it was just what her mamma and her uncle would have
chosen for her. There was a general falling into ranks to give her
space that she might advance conspicuously to receive the gold star
from the hands of Lady Brackenshaw; and the perfect movement of
her fine form was certainly a pleasant thing to behold in the clear
afternoon light when the shadows were long and still. She was the
central object of that pretty picture, and every one present must
gaze at her. That was enough: she herself was determined to see
nobody in particular, or to turn her eyes any way except toward
Lady Brackenshaw, but her thoughts undeniably turned in other
ways. It entered a little into her pleasure that Herr Klesmer must be
observing her at a moment when music was out of the question,
and his superiority very far in the back-ground; for vanity is as ill at
ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot
return; and the unconquered Klesmer threw a trace of his malign
power even across her pleasant consciousness that Mr. Grandcourt
was seeing her to the utmost advantage, and was probably giving
her an admiration unmixed with criticism. She did not expect to
admire him, but that was not necessary to her peace of mind.
  Gwendolen met Lady Brackenshaw’s gracious smile without blush-
ing (which only came to her when she was taken by surprise), but with
a charming gladness of expression, and then bent with easy grace to
have the star fixed near her shoulder. That little ceremony had been
over long enough for her to have exchanged playful speeches and re-
ceived congratulations as she moved among the groups who were now
interesting themselves in the results of the scoring; but it happened that
she stood outside examining the point of an arrow with rather an ab-
sent air when Lord Brackenshaw came up to her and said:
  “Miss Harleth, here is a gentleman who is not willing to wait any
longer for an introduction. He has been getting Mrs. Davilow to
send me with him. Will you allow me to introduce Mr. Mallinger
Grandcourt?”

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Daniel Deronda




              BOOK II
          MEETING STREAMS
                        CHAPTER XI
              The beginning of an acquaintance whether
              with persons or things is to get a definite out-
              line for our ignorance.


MR. GRANDCOURT’S WISH to be introduced had no suddenness for
Gwendolen; but when Lord Brackenshaw moved aside a little for the
prefigured stranger to come forward and she felt herself face to face
with the real man, there was a little shock which flushed her cheeks
and vexatiously deepened with her consciousness of it. The shock
came from the reversal of her expectations: Grandcourt could hardly
have been more unlike all her imaginary portraits of him. He was
slightly taller than herself, and their eyes seemed to be on a level; there
was not the faintest smile on his face as he looked at her, not a trace of
self-consciousness or anxiety in his bearing: when he raised his hat he
showed an extensive baldness surrounded with a mere fringe of red-
dish-blonde hair, but he also showed a perfect hand; the line of fea-
ture from brow to chin undisguised by beard was decidedly hand-
some, with only moderate departures from the perpendicular, and
the slight whisker too was perpendicular. It was not possible for a
human aspect to be freer from grimace or solicitous wrigglings: also it
was perhaps not possible for a breathing man wide awake to look less
animated. The correct Englishman, drawing himself up from his bow
into rigidity, assenting severely, and seemed to be in a state of internal
drill, suggests a suppressed vivacity, and may be suspected of letting

108
                                                            George Eliot

go with some violence when he is released from parade; but
Grandcourt’s bearing had no rigidity, it inclined rather to the flaccid.
His complexion had a faded fairness resembling that of an actress
when bare of the artificial white and red; his long narrow gray eyes
expressed nothing but indifference. Attempts at description are stu-
pid: who can all at once describe a human being? even when he is
presented to us we only begin that knowledge of his appearance which
must be completed by innumerable impressions under differing cir-
cumstances. We recognize the alphabet; we are not sure of the lan-
guage. I am only mentioning the point that Gwendolen saw by the
light of a prepared contrast in the first minutes of her meeting with
Grandcourt: they were summed up in the words, “He is not ridicu-
lous.” But forthwith Lord Brackenshaw was gone, and what is called
conversation had begun, the first and constant element in it being
that Grandcourt looked at Gwendolen persistently with a slightly
exploring gaze, but without change of expression, while she only oc-
casionally looked at him with a flash of observation a little softened
by coquetry. Also, after her answers there was a longer or shorter pause
before he spoke again.
   “I used to think archery was a great bore,” Grandcourt began. He
spoke with a fine accent, but with a certain broken drawl, as of a
distinguished personage with a distinguished cold on his chest.
   “Are you converted to-day?” said Gwendolen.
   (Pause, during which she imagined various degrees and modes of
opinion about herself that might be entertained by Grandcourt.)
   “Yes, since I saw you shooting. In things of this sort one generally
sees people missing and simpering.”
   “I suppose you are a first-rate shot with a rifle.”
   (Pause, during which Gwendolen, having taken a rapid observa-
tion of Grandcourt, made a brief graphic description of him to an
indefinite hearer.)
   “I have left off shooting.”
   “Oh then you are a formidable person. People who have done
things once and left them off make one feel very contemptible, as if
one were using cast-off fashions. I hope you have not left off all
follies, because I practice a great many.”
   (Pause, during which Gwendolen made several interpretations of

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Daniel Deronda

her own speech.)
   “What do you call follies?”
   “Well, in general I think, whatever is agreeable is called a folly.
But you have not left off hunting, I hear.”
   (Pause, wherein Gwendolen recalled what she had heard about
Grandcourt’s position, and decided that he was the most aristo-
cratic-looking man she had ever seen.)
   “One must do something.”
   “And do you care about the turf?—or is that among the things
you have left off?”
   (Pause, during which Gwendolen thought that a man of extremely
calm, cold manners might be less disagreeable as a husband than
other men, and not likely to interfere with his wife’s preferences.)
   “I run a horse now and then; but I don’t go in for the thing as
some men do. Are you fond of horses?”
   “Yes, indeed: I never like my life so well as when I am on horse-
back, having a great gallop. I think of nothing. I only feel myself
strong and happy.”
   (Pause, wherein Gwendolen wondered whether Grandcourt would
like what she said, but assured herself that she was not going to
disguise her tastes.)
   “Do you like danger?”
   “I don’t know. When I am on horseback I never think of danger.
It seems to me that if I broke my bones I should not feel it. I should
go at anything that came in my way.”
   (Pause during which Gwendolen had run through a whole hunt-
ing season with two chosen hunters to ride at will.)
   “You would perhaps like tiger-hunting or pig-sticking. I saw some
of that for a season or two in the East. Everything here is poor stuff
after that.”
   “You are fond of danger, then?”
   (Pause, wherein Gwendolen speculated on the probability that
the men of coldest manners were the most adventurous, and felt the
strength of her own insight, supposing the question had to be de-
cided.)
   “One must have something or other. But one gets used to it.”
   “I begin to think I am very fortunate, because everything is new

110
                                                           George Eliot

to me: it is only that I can’t get enough of it. I am not used to
anything except being dull, which I should like to leave off as you
have left off shooting.”
   (Pause, during which it occurred to Gwendolen that a man of
cold and distinguished manners might possibly be a dull compan-
ion; but on the other hand she thought that most persons were dull,
that she had not observed husbands to be companions—and that
after all she was not going to accept Grandcourt.)
   “Why are you dull?”
   “This is a dreadful neighborhood. There is nothing to be done in
it. That is why I practiced my archery.”
   (Pause, during which Gwendolen reflected that the life of an un-
married woman who could not go about and had no command of
anything must necessarily be dull through all degrees of compari-
son as time went on.)
   “You have made yourself queen of it. I imagine you will carry the
first prize.”
   “I don’t know that. I have great rivals. Did you not observe how
well Miss Arrowpoint shot?”
   (Pause, wherein Gwendolen was thinking that men had been
known to choose some one else than the woman they most ad-
mired, and recalled several experiences of that kind in novels.)
   “Miss Arrowpoint. No—that is, yes.”
   “Shall we go now and hear what the scoring says? Every one is
going to the other end now—shall we join them? I think my uncle
is looking toward me. He perhaps wants me.”
   Gwendolen found a relief for herself by thus changing the situa-
tion: not that the tete-à-tete was quite disagreeable to her; but while
it lasted she apparently could not get rid of the unwonted flush in
her cheeks and the sense of surprise which made her feel less mis-
tress of herself than usual. And this Mr. Grandcourt, who seemed
to feel his own importance more than he did hers—a sort of unrea-
sonableness few of us can tolerate—must not take for granted that
he was of great moment to her, or that because others speculated on
him as a desirable match she held herself altogether at his beck.
How Grandcourt had filled up the pauses will be more evident here-
after.

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Daniel Deronda

   “You have just missed the gold arrow, Gwendolen,” said Mr.
Gascoigne. “Miss Juliet Fenn scores eight above you.”
   “I am very glad to hear it. I should have felt that I was making
myself too disagreeable—taking the best of everything,” said
Gwendolen, quite easily.
   It was impossible to be jealous of Juliet Fenn, a girl as middling as
mid-day market in everything but her archery and plainness, in which
last she was noticeable like her father: underhung and with receding
brow resembling that of the more intelligent fishes. (Surely, consid-
ering the importance which is given to such an accident in female
offspring, marriageable men, or what the new English calls “intend-
ing bridegrooms,” should look at themselves dispassionately in the
glass, since their natural selection of a mate prettier than themselves
is not certain to bar the effect of their own ugliness.)
   There was now a lively movement in the mingling groups, which
carried the talk along with it. Every one spoke to every one else by
turns, and Gwendolen, who chose to see what was going on around
her now, observed that Grandcourt was having Klesmer presented
to him by some one unknown to her—a middle-aged man, with
dark, full face and fat hands, who seemed to be on the easiest terms
with both, and presently led the way in joining the Arrowpoints,
whose acquaintance had already been made by both him and
Grandcourt. Who this stranger was she did not care much to know;
but she wished to observe what was Grandcourt’s manner toward
others than herself. Precisely the same: except that he did not look
much at Miss Arrowpoint, but rather at Klesmer, who was speaking
with animation—now stretching out his long fingers horizontally,
now pointing downward with his fore-finger, now folding his arms
and tossing his mane, while he addressed himself first to one and
then to the other, including Grandcourt, who listened with an im-
passive face and narrow eyes, his left fore-finger in his waistcoat-
pocket, and his right slightly touching his thin whisker.
   “I wonder which style Miss Arrowpoint admires most,” was a
thought that glanced through Gwendolen’s mind, while her eyes
and lips gathered rather a mocking expression. But she would not
indulge her sense of amusement by watching, as if she were curious,
and she gave all her animation to those immediately around her,

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                                                          George Eliot

determined not to care whether Mr. Grandcourt came near her again
or not.
  He did not come, however, and at a moment when he could pro-
pose to conduct Mrs. Davilow to her carriage, “Shall we meet again
in the ball-room?” she said as he raised his hat at parting. The “yes”
in reply had the usual slight drawl and perfect gravity.
  “You were wrong for once Gwendolen,” said Mrs. Davilow, dur-
ing their few minutes’ drive to the castle.
  “In what, mamma?”
  “About Mr. Grandcourt’s appearance and manners. You can’t find
anything ridiculous in him.”
  “I suppose I could if I tried, but I don’t want to do it,” said
Gwendolen, rather pettishly; and her mother was afraid to say more.
  It was the rule on these occasions for the ladies and gentlemen to
dine apart, so that the dinner might make a time of comparative
ease and rest for both. Indeed, the gentlemen had a set of archery
stories about the epicurism of the ladies, who had somehow been
reported to show a revolting masculine judgment in venison, even
asking for the fat—a proof of the frightful rate at which corruption
might go on in women, but for severe social restraint, and every
year the amiable Lord Brackenshaw, who was something of a gour-
met, mentioned Byron’s opinion that a woman should never be seen
eating,—introducing it with a confidential—”The fact is” as if he
were for the first time admitting his concurrence in that sentiment
of the refined poet.
  In the ladies’ dining-room it was evident that Gwendolen was not
a general favorite with her own sex: there were no beginnings of
intimacy between her and other girls, and in conversation they rather
noticed what she said than spoke to her in free exchange. Perhaps it
was that she was not much interested in them, and when left alone
in their company had a sense of empty benches. Mrs. Vulcany once
remarked that Miss Harleth was too fond of the gentlemen; but we
know that she was not in the least fond of them—she was only fond
of their homage—and women did not give her homage. The excep-
tion to this willing aloofness from her was Miss Arrowpoint, who
often managed unostentatiously to be by her side, and talked to her
with quiet friendliness.

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  “She knows, as I do, that our friends are ready to quarrel over a
husband for us,” thought Gwendolen, “and she is determined not
to enter into the quarrel.”
  “I think Miss Arrowpoint has the best manners I ever saw,” said
Mrs. Davilow, when she and Gwendolen were in a dressing-room
with Mrs. Gascoigne and Anna, but at a distance where they could
have their talk apart.
  “I wish I were like her,” said Gwendolen.
  “Why? Are you getting discontented with yourself, Gwen?”
  “No; but I am discontented with things. She seems contented.”
  “I am sure you ought to be satisfied to-day. You must have en-
joyed the shooting. I saw you did.”
  “Oh, that is over now, and I don’t know what will come next,”
said Gwendolen, stretching herself with a sort of moan and throw-
ing up her arms. They were bare now; it was the fashion to dance in
the archery dress, throwing off the jacket; and the simplicity of her
white cashmere with its border of pale green set off her form to the
utmost. A thin line of gold round her neck, and the gold star on her
breast, were her only ornaments. Her smooth soft hair piled up into
a grand crown made a clear line about her brow. Sir Joshua would
have been glad to take her portrait; and he would have had an easier
task than the historian at least in this, that he would not have had to
represent the truth of change—only to give stability to one beauti-
ful moment.
  “The dancing will come next,” said Mrs. Davilow “You We sure
to enjoy that.”
  “I shall only dance in the quadrille. I told Mr. Clintock so. I shall
not waltz or polk with any one.”
  “Why in the world do you say that all on a sudden?”
  “I can’t bear having ugly people so near me.”
  “Whom do you mean by ugly people?”
  “Oh, plenty.”
  “Mr. Clintock, for example, is not ugly.” Mrs. Davilow dared not
mention Grandcourt.
  “Well, I hate woolen cloth touching me.”
  “Fancy!” said Mrs. Davilow to her sister who now came up from the
other end of the room. “Gwendolen says she will not waltz or polk.”

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  “She is rather given to whims, I think,” said Mrs. Gascoigne,
gravely. “It would be more becoming in her to behave as other young
ladies do on such an occasion as this; especially when she has had
the advantage of first-rate dancing lessons.”
  “Why should I dance if I don’t like it, aunt? It is not in the cat-
echism.”
  “My dear!” said Mrs. Gascoigne, in a tone of severe check, and
Anna looked frightened at Gwendolen’s daring. But they all passed
on without saying any more.
  Apparently something had changed Gwendolen’s mood since the
hour of exulting enjoyment in the archery-ground. But she did not
look the worse under the chandeliers in the ball-room, where the
soft splendor of the scene and the pleasant odors from the conserva-
tory could not but be soothing to the temper, when accompanied
with the consciousness of being preeminently sought for. Hardly a
dancing man but was anxious to have her for a partner, and each
whom she accepted was in a state of melancholy remonstrance that
she would not waltz or polk.
  “Are you under a vow, Miss Harleth?”—”Why are you so cruel to
us all?”—“You waltzed with me in February.”—“And you who waltz
so perfectly!” were exclamations not without piquancy for her. The
ladies who waltzed naturally thought that Miss Harleth only wanted
to make herself particular; but her uncle when he overheard her
refusal supported her by saying—
  “Gwendolen has usually good reasons.” He thought she was cer-
tainly more distinguished in not waltzing, and he wished her to be
distinguished. The archery ball was intended to be kept at the sub-
dued pitch that suited all dignities clerical and secular; it was not an
escapement for youthful high spirits, and he himself was of opinion
that the fashionable dances were too much of a romp.
  Among the remonstrant dancing men, however, Mr. Grandcourt
was not numbered. After standing up for a quadrille with Miss
Arrowpoint, it seemed that he meant to ask for no other partner.
Gwendolen observed him frequently with the Arrowpoints, but he
never took an opportunity of approaching her. Mr. Gascoigne was
sometimes speaking to him; but Mr. Gascoigne was everywhere. It
was in her mind now that she would probably after all not have the

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least trouble about him: perhaps he had looked at her without any
particular admiration, and was too much used to everything in the
world to think of her as more than one of the girls who were invited
in that part of the country. Of course! It was ridiculous of elders to
entertain notions about what a man would do, without having seen
him even through a telescope. Probably he meant to marry Miss
Arrowpoint. Whatever might come, she, Gwendolen, was not go-
ing to be disappointed: the affair was a joke whichever way it turned,
for she had never committed herself even by a silent confidence in
anything Mr. Grandcourt would do. Still, she noticed that he did
sometimes quietly and gradually change his position according to
hers, so that he could see her whenever she was dancing, and if he
did not admire her—so much the worse for him.
  This movement for the sake of being in sight of her was more
direct than usual rather late in the evening, when Gwendolen had
accepted Klesmer as a partner; and that wide-glancing personage,
who saw everything and nothing by turns, said to her when they
were walking, “Mr. Grandcourt is a man of taste. He likes to see you
dancing.”
  “Perhaps he likes to look at what is against his taste,” said
Gwendolen, with a light laugh; she was quite courageous with
Klesmer now. “He may be so tired of admiring that he likes disgust
for variety.”
  “Those words are not suitable to your lips,” said Klesmer, quickly,
with one of his grand frowns, while he shook his hand as if to ban-
ish the discordant sounds.
  “Are you as critical of words as of music?”
  “Certainly I am. I should require your words to be what your face
and form are—always among the meanings of a noble music.”
  “That is a compliment as well as a correction. I am obliged for
both. But do you know I am bold enough to wish to correct you,
and require you to understand a joke?”
  “One may understand jokes without liking them,” said the terrible
Klesmer. “I have had opera books sent me full of jokes; it was just
because I understood them that I did not like them. The comic people
are ready to challenge a man because he looks grave. ‘You don’t see the
witticism, sir?’ ‘No, sir, but I see what you meant.’ Then I am what we

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                                                             George Eliot

call ticketed as a fellow without esprit. But, in fact,” said Klesmer,
suddenly dropping from his quick narrative to a reflective tone, with
an impressive frown, “I am very sensible to wit and humor.”
   “I am glad you tell me that,” said Gwendolen, not without some
wickedness of intention. But Klesmer’s thoughts had flown off on the
wings of his own statement, as their habit was, and she had the wicked-
ness all to herself. “Pray, who is that standing near the card-room door?”
she went on, seeing there the same stranger with whom Klesmer had
been in animated talk on the archery ground. “He is a friend of yours,
I think.”
   “No, no; an amateur I have seen in town; Lush, a Mr. Lush—too
fond of Meyerbeer and Scribe—too fond of the mechanical-dra-
matic.”
   “Thanks. I wanted to know whether you thought his face and
form required that his words should be among the meanings of
noble music?” Klesmer was conquered, and flashed at her a delight-
ful smile which made them quite friendly until she begged to be
deposited by the side of her mamma.
   Three minutes afterward her preparations for Grandcourt’s indif-
ference were all canceled. Turning her head after some remark to
her mother, she found that he had made his way up to her.
   “May I ask if you are tired of dancing, Miss Harleth?” he began,
looking down with his former unperturbed expression.
   “Not in the least.”
   “Will you do me the honor—the next—or another quadrille?”
   “I should have been very happy,” said Gwendolen looking at her
card, “but I am engaged for the next to Mr. Clintock—and indeed
I perceive that I am doomed for every quadrille; I have not one to
dispose of.” She was not sorry to punish Mr. Grandcourt’s tardi-
ness, yet at the same time she would have liked to dance with him.
She gave him a charming smile as she looked up to deliver her an-
swer, and he stood still looking down at her with no smile at all.
   “I am unfortunate in being too late,” he said, after a moment’s
pause.
   “It seemed to me that you did not care for dancing,” said
Gwendolen. “I thought it might be one of the things you had left
off.”

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Daniel Deronda

   “Yes, but I have not begun to dance with you,” said. Grandcourt.
Always there was the same pause before he took up his cue. “You
make dancing a new thing, as you make archery.”
   “Is novelty always agreeable?”
   “No, no—not always.”
   “Then I don’t know whether to feel flattered or not. When you
had once danced with me there would be no more novelty in it.”
   “On the contrary, there would probably be much more.”
   “That is deep. I don’t understand.”
   “It is difficult to make Miss Harleth understand her power?” Here
Grandcourt had turned to Mrs. Davilow, who, smiling gently at her
daughter, said—
   “I think she does not generally strike people as slow to under-
stand.”
   “Mamma,” said Gwendolen, in a deprecating tone, “I am ador-
ably stupid, and want everything explained to me—when the mean-
ing is pleasant.”
   “If you are stupid, I admit that stupidity is adorable,” returned
Grandcourt, after the usual pause, and without change of tone. But
clearly he knew what to say.
   “I begin to think that my cavalier has forgotten me,” Gwendolen
observed after a little while. “I see the quadrille is being formed.”
   “He deserves to be renounced,” said Grandcourt.
   “I think he is very pardonable,” said Gwendolen.
   “There must have been some misunderstanding,” said Mrs.
Davilow. “Mr. Clintock was too anxious about the engagement to
have forgotten it.”
   But now Lady Brackenshaw came up and said, “Miss Harleth,
Mr. Clintock has charged me to express to you his deep regret that
he was obliged to leave without having the pleasure of dancing with
you again. An express came from his father, the archdeacon; some-
thing important; he was to go. He was au désespoir.”
   “Oh, he was very good to remember the engagement under the
circumstances,” said Gwendolen. “I am sorry he was called away.”
It was easy to be politely sorrowful on so felicitous an occasion.
   “Then I can profit by Mr. Clintock’s misfortune?” said Grandcourt.
“May I hope that you will let me take his place?”

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                                                          George Eliot

   “I shall be very happy to dance the next quadrille with you.”
   The appropriateness of the event seemed an augury, and as
Gwendolen stood up for the quadrille with Grandcourt, there was a
revival in her of the exultation—the sense of carrying everything
before her, which she had felt earlier in the day. No man could have
walked through the quadrille with more irreproachable ease than
Grandcourt; and the absence of all eagerness in his attention to her
suited his partner’s taste. She was now convinced that he meant to
distinguish her, to mark his admiration of her in a noticeable way;
and it began to appear probable that she would have it in her power
to reject him, whence there was a pleasure in reckoning up the ad-
vantages which would make her rejection splendid, and in giving
Mr. Grandcourt his utmost value. It was also agreeable to divine
that this exclusive selection of her to dance with, from among all
the unmarried ladies present, would attract observation; though She
studiously avoided seeing this, and at the end of the quadrille walked
away on Grandcourt’s arm as if she had been one of the shortest
sighted instead of the longest and widest sighted of mortals. They
encountered Miss Arrowpoint, who was standing with Lady
Brackenshaw and a group of gentlemen. The heiress looked at
Gwendolen invitingly and said, “I hope you will vote with us, Miss
Harleth, and Mr. Grandcourt too, though he is not an archer.”
Gwendolen and Grandcourt paused to join the group, and found
that the voting turned on the project of a picnic archery meeting to
be held in Cardell Chase, where the evening entertainment would
be more poetic than a ball under, chandeliers—a feast of sunset
lights along the glades and through the branches and over the sol-
emn tree-tops.
   Gwendolen thought the scheme delightful—equal to playing Robin
Hood and Maid Marian: and Mr. Grandcourt, when appealed to a
second time, said it was a thing to be done; whereupon Mr. Lush,
who stood behind Lady Brackenshaw’s elbow, drew Gwendolen’s no-
tice by saying with a familiar look and tone to Grandcourt, “Diplow
would be a good place for the meeting, and more convenient: there’s
a fine bit between the oaks toward the north gate.”
   Impossible to look more unconscious of being addressed than
Grandcourt; but Gwendolen took a new survey of the speaker, de-

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Daniel Deronda

ciding, first, that he must be on terms of intimacy with the tenant
of Diplow, and, secondly, that she would never, if she could help it,
let him come within a yard of her. She was subject to physical an-
tipathies, and Mr. Lush’s prominent eyes, fat though not clumsy
figure, and strong black gray-besprinkled hair of frizzy thickness,
which, with the rest of his prosperous person, was enviable to many,
created one of the strongest of her antipathies. To be safe from his
looking at her, she murmured to Grandcourt, “I should like to con-
tinue walking.”
   He obeyed immediately; but when they were thus away from any
audience, he spoke no word for several minutes, and she, out of a
half-amused, half-serious inclination for experiment, would not speak
first. They turned into the large conservatory, beautifully lit up with
Chinese lamps. The other couples there were at a distance which
would not have interfered with any dialogue, but still they walked
in silence until they had reached the farther end where there was a
flush of pink light, and the second wide opening into the ball-room.
Grandcourt, when they had half turned round, paused and said
languidly—
   “Do you like this kind of thing?”
   If the situation had been described to Gwendolen half an hour
before, she would have laughed heartily at it, and could only have
imagined herself returning a playful, satirical answer. But for some
mysterious reason—it was a mystery of which she had a faint won-
dering consciousness—she dared not be satirical: she had begun to
feel a wand over her that made her afraid of offending Grandcourt.
   “Yes,” she said, quietly, without considering what “kind of thing”
was meant—whether the flowers, the scents, the ball in general, or
this episode of walking with Mr. Grandcourt in particular. And they
returned along the conservatory without farther interpretation. She
then proposed to go and sit down in her old place, and they walked
among scattered couples preparing for the waltz to the spot where
Mrs. Davilow had been seated all the evening. As they approached it
her seat was vacant, but she was coming toward it again, and, to
Gwendolen’s shuddering annoyance, with Mr. Lush at her elbow. There
was no avoiding the confrontation: her mamma came close to her
before they had reached the seats, and, after a quiet greeting smile,

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                                                         George Eliot

said innocently, “Gwendolen, dear, let me present Mr. Lush to you.”
Having just made the acquaintance of this personage, as an intimate
and constant companion of Mr. Grandcourt’s, Mrs. Davilow imag-
ined it altogether desirable that her daughter also should make the
acquaintance.
  It was hardly a bow that Gwendolen gave—rather, it was the slight-
est forward sweep of the head away from the physiognomy that
inclined itself toward her, and she immediately moved toward her
seat, saying, “I want to put on my burnous.” No sooner had she
reached it, than Mr. Lush was there, and had the burnous in his
hand: to annoy this supercilious young lady, he would incur the
offense of forestalling Grandcourt; and, holding up the garment
close to Gwendolen, he said, “Pray, permit me?” But she, wheeling
away from him as if he had been a muddy hound, glided on to the
ottoman, saying, “No, thank you.”
  A man who forgave this would have much Christian feeling, sup-
posing he had intended to be agreeable to the young lady; but be-
fore he seized the burnous Mr. Lush had ceased to have that inten-
tion. Grandcourt quietly took the drapery from him, and Mr. Lush,
with a slight bow, moved away. “You had perhaps better put it on,”
said Mr. Grandcourt, looking down on her without change of ex-
pression.
  “Thanks; perhaps it would be wise,” said Gwendolen, rising, and
submitting very gracefully to take the burnous on her shoulders.
  After that, Mr. Grandcourt exchanged a few polite speeches with
Mrs. Davilow, and, in taking leave, asked permission to call at
Offendene the next day. He was evidently not offended by the in-
sult directed toward his friend. Certainly Gwendolen’s refusal of the
burnous from Mr. Lush was open to the interpretation that she
wished to receive it from Mr. Grandcourt. But she, poor child, had
no design in this action, and was simply following her antipathy
and inclination, confiding in them as she did in the more reflective
judgments into which they entered as sap into leafage. Gwendolen
had no sense that these men were dark enigmas to her, or that she
needed any help in drawing conclusions about them—Mr.
Grandcourt at least. The chief question was, how far his character
and ways might answer her wishes; and unless she were satisfied

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about that, she had said to herself that she would not accept his
offer.
  Could there be a slenderer, more insignificant thread in human
history than this consciousness of a girl, busy with her small infer-
ences of the way in which she could make her life pleasant?—in a
time, too, when ideas were with fresh vigor making armies of them-
selves, and the universal kinship was declaring itself fiercely; when
women on the other side of the world would not mourn for the
husbands and sons who died bravely in a common cause, and men
stinted of bread on our side of the world heard of that willing loss
and were patient: a time when the soul of man was walking to pulses
which had for centuries been beating in him unfelt, until their full
sum made a new life of terror or of joy.
  What in the midst of that mighty drama are girls and their blind
visions? They are the Yea or Nay of that good for which men are
enduring and fighting. In these delicate vessels is borne onward
through the ages the treasure of human affections.




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                                                          George Eliot




                      CHAPTER XII
            “O gentlemen, the time of life is short;
            To spend that shortness basely were too long,
            If life did ride upon a dial’s point,
            Still ending at the arrival of an hour.”
                               —SHAKESPEARE: Henry IV.


ON THE SECOND DAY after the Archery Meeting, Mr. Henleigh
Mallinger Grandcourt was at his breakfast-table with Mr. Lush.
Everything around them was agreeable: the summer air through the
open windows, at which the dogs could walk in from the old green
turf on the lawn; the soft, purplish coloring of the park beyond,
stretching toward a mass of bordering wood; the still life in the
room, which seemed the stiller for its sober antiquated elegance, as
if it kept a conscious, well-bred silence, unlike the restlessness of
vulgar furniture.
   Whether the gentlemen were agreeable to each other was less evi-
dent. Mr. Grandcourt had drawn his chair aside so as to face the
lawn, and with his left leg over another chair, and his right elbow on
the table, was smoking a large cigar, while his companion was still
eating. The dogs—half-a-dozen of various kinds were moving lazily
in and out, taking attitudes of brief attention—gave a vacillating
preference first to one gentleman, then to the other; being dogs in
such good circumstances that they could play at hunger, and liked
to be served with delicacies which they declined to put in their
mouths; all except Fetch, the beautiful liver-colored water-spaniel,
which sat with its forepaws firmly planted and its expressive brown
face turned upward, watching Grandcourt with unshaken constancy.
He held in his lap a tiny Maltese dog with a tiny silver collar and
bell, and when he had a hand unused by cigar or coffee-cup, it
rested on this small parcel of animal warmth. I fear that Fetch was
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Daniel Deronda

jealous, and wounded that her master gave her no word or look; at
last it seemed that she could bear this neglect no longer, and she
gently put her large silky paw on her master’s leg. Grandcourt looked
at her with unchanged face for half a minute, and then took the
trouble to lay down his cigar while he lifted the unimpassioned Fluff
close to his chin and gave it caressing pats, all the while gravely
watching Fetch, who, poor thing, whimpered interruptedly, as if
trying to repress that sign of discontent, and at last rested her head
beside the appealing paw, looking up with piteous beseeching. So,
at least, a lover of dogs must have interpreted Fetch, and Grandcourt
kept so many dogs that he was reputed to love them; at any rate, his
impulse to act just in that way started from such an interpretation.
But when the amusing anguish burst forth in a howling bark,
Grandcourt pushed Fetch down without speaking, and, depositing
Fluff carelessly on the table (where his black nose predominated
over a salt-cellar), began to look to his cigar, and found, with some
annoyance against Fetch as the cause, that the brute of a cigar re-
quired relighting. Fetch, having begun to wail, found, like others of
her sex, that it was not easy to leave off; indeed, the second howl
was a louder one, and the third was like unto it.
  “Turn out that brute, will you?” said Grandcourt to Lush, with-
out raising his voice or looking at him—as if he counted on atten-
tion to the smallest sign.
  And Lush immediately rose, lifted Fetch, though she was rather
heavy, and he was not fond of stooping, and carried her out, dispos-
ing of her in some way that took him a couple of minutes before he
returned. He then lit a cigar, placed himself at an angle where he
could see Grandcourt’s face without turning, and presently said—
  “Shall you ride or drive to Quetcham to-day?”
  “I am not going to Quetcham.”
  “You did not go yesterday.”
  Grandcourt smoked in silence for half a minute, and then said—
  “I suppose you sent my card and inquiries.”
  “I went myself at four, and said you were sure to be there shortly.
They would suppose some accident prevented you from fulfilling
the intention. Especially if you go to-day.”
  Silence for a couple of minutes. Then Grandcourt said, “What

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                                                        George Eliot

men are invited here with their wives?”
  Lush drew out a note-book. “The Captain and Mrs. Torrington
come next week. Then there are Mr. Hollis and Lady Flora, and the
Cushats and the Gogoffs.”
  “Rather a ragged lot,” remarked Grandcourt, after a while. “Why
did you ask the Gogoffs? When you write invitations in my name,
be good enough to give me a list, instead of bringing down a giant-
ess on me without my knowledge. She spoils the look of the room.”
  “You invited the Gogoffs yourself when you met them in Paris.”
  “What has my meeting them in Paris to do with it? I told you to
give me a list.”
  Grandcourt, like many others, had two remarkably different voices.
Hitherto we have heard him speaking in a superficial interrupted
drawl suggestive chiefly of languor and ennui. But this last brief
speech was uttered in subdued inward, yet distinct, tones, which
Lush had long been used to recognize as the expression of a pe-
remptory will.
  “Are there any other couples you would like to invite?”
  “Yes; think of some decent people, with a daughter or two. And
one of your damned musicians. But not a comic fellow.”
  “I wonder if Klesmer would consent to come to us when he leaves
Quetcham. Nothing but first-class music will go down with Miss
Arrowpoint.”
  Lush spoke carelessly, but he was really seizing an opportunity
and fixing an observant look on Grandcourt, who now for the first
time, turned his eyes toward his companion, but slowly and with-
out speaking until he had given two long luxuriant puffs, when he
said, perhaps in a lower tone than ever, but with a perceptible edge
of contempt—
  “What in the name of nonsense have I to do with Miss Arrowpoint
and her music?”
  “Well, something,” said Lush, jocosely. “You need not give your-
self much trouble, perhaps. But some forms must be gone through
before a man can marry a million.”
  “Very likely. But I am not going to marry a million.”
  “That’s a pity—to fling away an opportunity of this sort, and
knock down your own plans.”

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Daniel Deronda

   “Your plans, I suppose you mean.”
   “You have some debts, you know, and things may turn out incon-
veniently after all. The heirship is not absolutely certain.”
   Grandcourt did not answer, and Lush went on.
   “It really is a fine opportunity. The father and mother ask for
nothing better, I can see, and the daughter’s looks and manners
require no allowances, any more than if she hadn’t a sixpence. She is
not beautiful; but equal to carrying any rank. And she is not likely
to refuse such prospects as you can offer her.”
   “Perhaps not.”
   “The father and mother would let you do anything you like with
them.”
   “But I should not like to do anything with them.”
   Here it was Lush who made a little pause before speaking again,
and then he said in a deep voice of remonstrance, “Good God,
Grandcourt! after your experience, will you let a whim interfere with
your comfortable settlement in life?”
   “Spare your oratory. I know what I am going to do.”
   “What?” Lush put down his cigar and thrust his hands into his
side pockets, as if he had to face something exasperating, but meant
to keep his temper.
   “I am going to marry the other girl.”
   “Have you fallen in love?” This question carried a strong sneer.
   “I am going to marry her.”
   “You have made her an offer already, then?”
   “No.”
   “She is a young lady with a will of her own, I fancy. Extremely
well fitted to make a rumpus. She would know what she liked.”
   “She doesn’t like you,” said Grandcourt, with the ghost of a smile.
   “Perfectly true,” said Lush, adding again in a markedly sneering
tone. “However, if you and she are devoted to each other, that will
be enough.”
   Grandcourt took no notice of this speech, but sipped his coffee,
rose, and strolled out on the lawn, all the dogs following him.
   Lush glanced after him a moment, then resumed his cigar and lit
it, but smoked slowly, consulting his beard with inspecting eyes and
fingers, till he finally stroked it with an air of having arrived at some

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                                                         George Eliot

conclusion, and said in a subdued voice—
  “Check, old boy!”
  Lush, being a man of some ability, had not known Grandcourt
for fifteen years without learning what sort of measures were useless
with him, though what sort might be useful remained often dubi-
ous. In the beginning of his career he held a fellowship, and was
near taking orders for the sake of a college living, but not being
fond of that prospect accepted instead the office of traveling com-
panion to a marquess, and afterward to young Grandcourt, who
had lost his father early, and who found Lush so convenient that he
had allowed him to become prime minister in all his more personal
affairs. The habit of fifteen years had made Grandcourt more and
more in need of Lush’s handiness, and Lush more and more in need
of the lazy luxury to which his transactions on behalf of Grandcourt
made no interruption worth reckoning. I cannot say that the same
lengthened habit had intensified Grandcourt’s want of respect for
his companion since that want had been absolute from the begin-
ning, but it had confirmed his sense that he might kick Lush if he
chose—only he never did choose to kick any animal, because the
act of kicking is a compromising attitude, and a gentleman’s dogs
should be kicked for him. He only said things which might have
exposed himself to be kicked if his confidant had been a man of
independent spirit. But what son of a vicar who has stinted his wife
and daughters of calico in order to send his male offspring to Ox-
ford, can keep an independent spirit when he is bent on dining
with high discrimination, riding good horses, living generally in the
most luxuriant honey-blossomed clover—and all without working?
Mr. Lush had passed for a scholar once, and had still a sense of
scholarship when he was not trying to remember much of it; but
the bachelor’s and other arts which soften manners are a time-hon-
ored preparation for sinecures; and Lush’s present comfortable pro-
vision was as good a sinecure in not requiring more than the odor of
departed learning. He was not unconscious of being held kickable,
but he preferred counting that estimate among the peculiarities of
Grandcourt’s character, which made one of his incalculable moods
or judgments as good as another. Since in his own opinion he had
never done a bad action, it did not seem necessary to consider

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whether he should be likely to commit one if his love of ease re-
quired it. Lush’s love of ease was well-satisfied at present, and if his
puddings were rolled toward him in the dust, he took the inside bits
and found them relishing.
  This morning, for example, though he had encountered more
annoyance than usual, he went to his private sitting-room and played
a good hour on the violoncello.




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                                                               George Eliot




                       CHAPTER XIII
                     “Philistia, be thou glad of me!”

GRANDCOURT having made up his mind to marry Miss Harleth,
showed a power of adapting means to ends. During the next fort-
night there was hardly a day on which by some arrangement or
other he did not see her, or prove by emphatic attentions that she
occupied his thoughts. His cousin, Mrs. Torrington, was now doing
the honors of his house, so that Mrs. Davilow and Gwendolen could
be invited to a large party at Diplow in which there were many
witnesses how the host distinguished the dowerless beauty, and
showed no solicitude about the heiress. The world—I mean Mr.
Gascoigne and all the families worth speaking of within visiting
distance of Pennicote—felt an assurance on the subject which in
the rector’s mind converted itself into a resolution to do his duty by
his niece and see that the settlements were adequate. Indeed the
wonder to him and Mrs. Davilow was that the offer for which so
many suitable occasions presented themselves had not been already
made; and in this wonder Grandcourt himself was not without a
share. When he had told his resolution to Lush he had thought that
the affair would be concluded more quickly, and to his own surprise
he had repeatedly promised himself in a morning that he would to-
day give Gwendolen the opportunity of accepting him, and had
found in the evening that the necessary formality was still
unaccomplished. This remarkable fact served to heighten his deter-
mination on another day. He had never admitted to himself that
Gwendolen might refuse him, but—heaven help us all!—we are
often unable to act on our certainties; our objection to a contrary
issue (were it possible) is so strong that it rises like a spectral illusion
between us and our certainty; we are rationally sure that the blind
worm can not bite us mortally, but it would be so intolerable to be
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Daniel Deronda

bitten, and the creature has a biting look—we decline to handle it.
   He had asked leave to have a beautiful horse of his brought for
Gwendolen to ride. Mrs. Davilow was to accompany her in the
carriage, and they were to go to Diplow to lunch, Grandcourt con-
ducting them. It was a fine mid-harvest time, not too warm for a
noonday ride of five miles to be delightful; the poppies glowed on
the borders of the fields, there was enough breeze to move gently
like a social spirit among the ears of uncut corn, and to wing the
shadow of a cloud across the soft gray downs; here the sheaves were
standing, there the horses were straining their muscles under the
last load from a wide space of stubble, but everywhere the green
pasture made a broader setting for the corn-fields, and the cattle
took their rest under wide branches. The road lay through a bit of
country where the dairy-farms looked much as they did in the days
of our forefathers—where peace and permanence seemed to find a
home away from the busy change that sent the railway train flying
in the distance.
   But the spirit of peace and permanence did not penetrate poor
Mrs. Davilow’s mind so as to overcome her habit of uneasy fore-
boding. Gwendolen and Grandcourt cantering in front of her, and
then slackening their pace to a conversational walk till the carriage
came up with them again, made a gratifying sight; but it served
chiefly to keep up the conflict of hopes and fears about her daughter’s
lot. Here was an irresistible opportunity for a lover to speak and put
an end to all uncertainties, and Mrs. Davilow could only hope with
trembling that Gwendolen’s decision would be favorable. Certainly
if Rex’s love had been repugnant to her, Mr. Grandcourt had the
advantage of being in complete contrast with Rex; and that he had
produced some quite novel impression on her seemed evident in
her marked abstinence from satirical observations, nay, her total
silence about his characteristics, a silence which Mrs. Davilow did
not dare to break. “Is he a man she would be happy with?”—was a
question that inevitably arose in the mother’s mind. “Well, perhaps
as happy as she would be with any one else—or as most other women
are”—was the answer with which she tried to quiet herself; for she
could not imagine Gwendolen under the influence of any feeling
which would make her satisfied in what we traditionally call “mean

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                                                           George Eliot

circumstances.”
   Grandcourt’s own thought was looking in the same direction: he
wanted to have done with the uncertainty that belonged to his not
having spoken. As to any further uncertainty—well, it was some-
thing without any reasonable basis, some quality in the air which
acted as an irritant to his wishes.
   Gwendolen enjoyed the riding, but her pleasure did not break forth
in girlish unpremeditated chat and laughter as it did on that morning
with Rex. She spoke a little, and even laughed, but with a lightness as
of a far-off echo: for her too there was some peculiar quality in the
air—not, she was sure, any subjugation of her will by Mr. Grandcourt,
and the splendid prospects he meant to offer her; for Gwendolen
desired every one, that dignified gentleman himself included, to un-
derstand that she was going to do just as she liked, and that they had
better not calculate on her pleasing them. If she chose to take this
husband, she would have him know that she was not going to re-
nounce her freedom, or according to her favorite formula, “not going
to do as other women did.”
   Grandcourt’s speeches this morning were, as usual, all of that brief
sort which never fails to make a conversational figure when the
speaker is held important in his circle. Stopping so soon, they give
signs of a suppressed and formidable ability so say more, and have
also the meritorious quality of allowing lengthiness to others.
   “How do you like Criterion’s paces?” he said, after they had entered
the park and were slacking from a canter to a walk.
   “He is delightful to ride. I should like to have a leap with him, if
it would not frighten mamma. There was a good wide channel we
passed five minutes ago. I should like to have a gallop back and take
it.”
   “Pray do. We can take it together.”
   “No, thanks. Mamma is so timid—if she saw me it might make
her ill.”
   “Let me go and explain. Criterion would take it without fail.”
   “No—indeed—you are very kind—but it would alarm her too
much. I dare take any leap when she is not by; but I do it and don’t
tell her about it.”
   “We can let the carriage pass and then set off.”

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Daniel Deronda

   “No, no, pray don’t think of it any more: I spoke quite randomly,”
said Gwendolen; she began to feel a new objection to carrying out
her own proposition.
   “But Mrs. Davilow knows I shall take care of you.”
   “Yes, but she would think of you as having to take care of my
broken neck.”
   There was a considerable pause before Grandcourt said, looking to-
ward her, “I should like to have the right always to take care of you.”
   Gwendolen did not turn her eyes on him; it seemed to her a long
while that she was first blushing, and then turning pale, but to
Grandcourt’s rate of judgment she answered soon enough, with the
lightest flute-tone and a careless movement of the head, “Oh, I am
not sure that I want to be taken care of: if I chose to risk breaking
my neck, I should like to be at liberty to do it.”
   She checked her horse as she spoke, and turned in her saddle,
looking toward the advancing carriage. Her eyes swept across
Grandcourt as she made this movement, but there was no language
in them to correct the carelessness of her reply. At that very moment
she was aware that she was risking something—not her neck, but
the possibility of finally checking Grandcourt’s advances, and she
did not feel contented with the possibility.
   “Damn her!” thought Grandcourt, as he to checked his horse. He
was not a wordy thinker, and this explosive phrase stood for mixed
impressions which eloquent interpreters might have expanded into
some sentences full of an irritated sense that he was being mystified,
and a determination that this girl should not make a fool of him.
Did she want him to throw himself at her feet and declare that he
was dying for her? It was not by that gate that she could enter on the
privileges he could give her. Or did she expect him to write his
proposals? Equally a delusion. He would not make his offer in any
way that could place him definitely in the position of being rejected.
But as to her accepting him, she had done it already in accepting his
marked attentions: and anything which happened to break them
off would be understood to her disadvantage. She was merely co-
quetting, then?
   However, the carriage came up, and no further tete-à-tete could well
occur before their arrival at the house, where there was abundant

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                                                          George Eliot

company, to whom Gwendolen, clad in riding-dress, with her hat
laid aside, clad also in the repute of being chosen by Mr. Grandcourt,
was naturally a centre of observation; and since the objectionable Mr.
Lush was not there to look at her, this stimulus of admiring attention
heightened her spirits, and dispersed, for the time, the uneasy con-
sciousness of divided impulses which threatened her with repentance
of her own acts. Whether Grandcourt had been offended or not there
was no judging: his manners were unchanged, but Gwendolen’s acute-
ness had not gone deeper than to discern that his manners were no
clue for her, and because these were unchanged she was not the less
afraid of him.
  She had not been at Diplow before except to dine; and since cer-
tain points of view from the windows and the garden were worth
showing, Lady Flora Hollis proposed after luncheon, when some of
the guests had dispersed, and the sun was sloping toward four o’clock,
that the remaining party should make a little exploration. Here came
frequent opportunities when Grandcourt might have retained
Gwendolen apart, and have spoken to her unheard. But no! He
indeed spoke to no one else, but what he said was nothing more
eager or intimate than it had been in their first interview. He looked
at her not less than usual; and some of her defiant spirit having
come back, she looked full at him in return, not caring—rather
preferring—that his eyes had no expression in them.
  But at last it seemed as if he entertained some contrivance. After
they had nearly made the tour of the grounds, the whole party stopped
by the pool to be amused with Fetch’s accomplishment of bringing a
water lily to the bank like Cowper’s spaniel Beau, and having been
disappointed in his first attempt insisted on his trying again.
  Here Grandcourt, who stood with Gwendolen outside the group,
turned deliberately, and fixing his eyes on a knoll planted with
American shrubs, and having a winding path up it, said languidly—
  “This is a bore. Shall we go up there?”
  “Oh, certainly—since we are exploring,” said Gwendolen. She
was rather pleased, and yet afraid.
  The path was too narrow for him to offer his arm, and they walked
up in silence. When they were on the bit of platform at the summit,
Grandcourt said—

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Daniel Deronda

   “There is nothing to be seen here: the thing was not worth climbing.”
   How was it that Gwendolen did not laugh? She was perfectly si-
lent, holding up the folds of her robe like a statue, and giving a
harder grasp to the handle of her whip, which she had snatched up
automatically with her hat when they had first set off.
   “What sort of a place do you prefer?” said Grandcourt.
   “Different places are agreeable in their way. On the whole, I think,
I prefer places that are open and cheerful. I am not fond of anything
sombre.”
   “Your place of Offendene is too sombre.”
   “It is, rather.”
   “You will not remain there long, I hope.”
   “Oh, yes, I think so. Mamma likes to be near her sister.”
   Silence for a short space.
   “It is not to be supposed that you will always live there, though
Mrs. Davilow may.”
   “I don’t know. We women can’t go in search of adventures—to
find out the North-West Passage or the source of the Nile, or to
hunt tigers in the East. We must stay where we grow, or where the
gardeners like to transplant us. We are brought up like the flowers,
to look as pretty as we can, and be dull without complaining. That
is my notion about the plants; they are often bored, and that is the
reason why some of them have got poisonous. What do you think?”
Gwendolen had run on rather nervously, lightly whipping the rhodo-
dendron bush in front of her.
   “I quite agree. Most things are bores,” said Grandcourt, his mind
having been pushed into an easy current, away from its intended
track. But, after a moment’s pause, he continued in his broken, re-
fined drawl—
   “But a woman can be married.”
   “Some women can.”
   “You, certainly, unless you are obstinately cruel.”
   “I am not sure that I am not both cruel and obstinate.” Here
Gwendolen suddenly turned her head and looked full at Grandcourt,
whose eyes she had felt to be upon her throughout their conversation.
She was wondering what the effect of looking at him would be on
herself rather than on him.

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                                                          George Eliot

   He stood perfectly still, half a yard or more away from her; and it
flashed through her mind what a sort of lotus-eater’s stupor had
begun in him and was taking possession of her. Then he said—
   “Are you as uncertain about yourself as you make others about
you?”
   “I am quite uncertain about myself; I don’t know how uncertain
others may be.”
   “And you wish them to understand that you don’t care?” said
Grandcourt, with a touch of new hardness in his tone.
   “I did not say that,” Gwendolen replied, hesitatingly, and turning
her eyes away whipped the rhododendron bush again. She wished
she were on horseback that she might set off on a canter. It was
impossible to set off running down the knoll.
   “You do care, then,” said Grandcourt, not more quickly, but with
a softened drawl.
   “Ha! my whip!” said Gwendolen, in a little scream of distress. She
had let it go—what could be more natural in a slight agitation?—
and—but this seemed less natural in a gold-handled whip which
had been left altogether to itself—it had gone with some force over
the immediate shrubs, and had lodged itself in the branches of an
azalea half-way down the knoll. She could run down now, laughing
prettily, and Grandcourt was obliged to follow; but she was before-
hand with him in rescuing the whip, and continued on her way to
the level ground, when she paused and looked at Grandcourt with
an exasperating brightness in her glance and a heightened color, as
if she had carried a triumph, and these indications were still notice-
able to Mrs. Davilow when Gwendolen and Grandcourt joined the
rest of the party.
   “It is all coquetting,” thought Grandcourt; “the next time I beckon
she will come down.”
   It seemed to him likely that this final beckoning might happen
the very next day, when there was to be a picnic archery meeting in
Cardell Chase, according to the plan projected on the evening of
the ball.
   Even in Gwendolen’s mind that result was one of two likelihoods
that presented themselves alternately, one of two decisions toward
which she was being precipitated, as if they were two sides of a

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Daniel Deronda

boundary-line, and she did not know on which she should fall. This
subjection to a possible self, a self not to be absolutely predicted
about, caused her some astonishment and terror; her favorite key of
life—doing as she liked—seemed to fail her, and she could not fore-
see what at a given moment she might like to do. The prospect of
marrying Grandcourt really seemed more attractive to her than she
had believed beforehand that any marriage could be: the dignities,
the luxuries, the power of doing a great deal of what she liked to do,
which had now come close to her, and within her choice to secure
or to lose, took hold of her nature as if it had been the strong odor
of what she had only imagined and longed for before. And
Grandcourt himself? He seemed as little of a flaw in his fortunes as
a lover and husband could possibly be. Gwendolen wished to mount
the chariot and drive the plunging horses herself, with a spouse by
her side who would fold his arms and give her his countenance
without looking ridiculous. Certainly, with all her perspicacity, and
all the reading which seemed to her mamma dangerously instruc-
tive, her judgment was consciously a little at fault before Grandcourt.
He was adorably quiet and free from absurdities—he would be a
husband to suit with the best appearance a woman could make. But
what else was he? He had been everywhere, and seen everything.
That was desirable, and especially gratifying as a preamble to his
supreme preference for Gwendolen Harleth. He did not appear to
enjoy anything much. That was not necessary: and the less he had
of particular tastes, or desires, the more freedom his wife was likely
to have in following hers. Gwendolen conceived that after marriage
she would most probably be able to manage him thoroughly.
   How was it that he caused her unusual constraint now?—that she
was less daring and playful in her talk with him than with any other
admirer she had known? That absence of demonstrativeness which
she was glad of, acted as a charm in more senses than one, and was
slightly benumbing. Grandcourt after all was formidable—a hand-
some lizard of a hitherto unknown species, riot of the lively, darting
kind. But Gwendolen knew hardly anything about lizards, and ig-
norance gives one a large range of probabilities. This splendid speci-
men was probably gentle, suitable as a boudoir pet: what may not a
lizard be, if you know nothing to the contrary? Her acquaintance

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                                                              George Eliot

with Grandcourt was such that no accomplishment suddenly re-
vealed in him would have surprised her. And he was so little sugges-
tive of drama, that it hardly occurred to her to think with any detail
how his life of thirty-six years had been passed: in general, she imag-
ined him always cold and dignified, not likely ever to have commit-
ted himself. He had hunted the tiger—had he ever been in love or
made love? The one experience and the other seemed alike remote
in Gwendolen’s fancy from the Mr. Grandcourt who had come to
Diplow in order apparently to make a chief epoch in her destiny—
perhaps by introducing her to that state of marriage which she had
resolved to make a state of greater freedom than her girlhood. And
on the whole she wished to marry him; he suited her purpose; her
prevailing, deliberate intention was, to accept him.
   But was she going to fulfill her deliberate intention? She began to
be afraid of herself, and to find out a certain difficulty in doing as she
liked. Already her assertion of independence in evading his advances
had been carried farther than was necessary, and she was thinking
with some anxiety what she might do on the next occasion.
   Seated according to her habit with her back to the horses on their
drive homeward, she was completely under the observation of her
mamma, who took the excitement and changefulness in the expres-
sion of her eyes, her unwonted absence of mind and total silence, as
unmistakable signs that something unprecedented had occurred
between her and Grandcourt. Mrs. Davilow’s uneasiness determined
her to risk some speech on the subject: the Gascoignes were to dine
at Offendene, and in what had occurred this morning there might
be some reason for consulting the rector; not that she expected him
anymore than herself to influence Gwendolen, but that her anxious
mind wanted to be disburdened.
   “Something has happened, dear?” she began, in a tender tone of
question.
   Gwendolen looked round, and seeming to be roused to the con-
sciousness of her physical self, took off her gloves and then her hat,
that the soft breeze might blow on her head. They were in a retired
bit of the road, where the long afternoon shadows from the border-
ing trees fell across it and no observers were within sight. Her eyes
continued to meet her mother’s, but she did not speak.

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Daniel Deronda

   “Mr. Grandcourt has been saying something?—Tell me, dear.”
The last words were uttered beseechingly.
   “What am I to tell you, mamma?” was the perverse answer.
   “I am sure something has agitated you. You ought to confide in
me, Gwen. You ought not to leave me in doubt and anxiety.” Mrs.
Davilow’s eyes filled with tears.
   “Mamma, dear, please don’t be miserable,” said Gwendolen, with
pettish remonstrance. “It only makes me more so. I am in doubt
myself.”
   “About Mr. Grandcourt’s intentions?” said Mrs. Davilow, gather-
ing determination from her alarms.
   “No; not at all,” said Gwendolen, with some curtness, and a pretty
little toss of the head as she put on her hat again.
   “About whether you will accept him, then?”
   “Precisely.”
   “Have you given him a doubtful answer?”
   “I have given him no answer at all.”
   “He has spoken so that you could not misunderstand him?”
   “As far as I would let him speak.”
   “You expect him to persevere?” Mrs. Davilow put this question
rather anxiously, and receiving no answer, asked another: “You don’t
consider that you have discouraged him?”
   “I dare say not.”
   “I thought you liked him, dear,” said Mrs. Davilow, timidly.
   “So I do, mamma, as liking goes. There is less to dislike about him
than about most men. He is quiet and distingué.” Gwendolen so far
spoke with a pouting sort of gravity; but suddenly she recovered
some of her mischievousness, and her face broke into a smile as she
added—“Indeed he has all the qualities that would make a husband
tolerable—battlement, veranda, stable, etc., no grins and no glass
in his eye.”
   “Do be serious with me for a moment, dear. Am I to understand
that you mean to accept him?”
   “Oh, pray, mamma, leave me to myself,” said Gwendolen, with a
pettish distress in her voice.
   And Mrs. Davilow said no more.
   When they got home Gwendolen declared that she would not

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dine. She was tired, and would come down in the evening after she
had taken some rest. The probability that her uncle would hear
what had passed did not trouble her. She was convinced that what-
ever he might say would be on the side of her accepting Grandcourt,
and she wished to accept him if she could. At this moment she
would willingly have had weights hung on her own caprice.
  Mr. Gascoigne did hear—not Gwendolen’s answers repeated ver-
batim, but a softened generalized account of them. The mother con-
veyed as vaguely as the keen rector’s questions would let her the
impression that Gwendolen was in some uncertainty about her own
mind, but inclined on the whole to acceptance. The result was that
the uncle felt himself called on to interfere; he did not conceive that
he should do his duty in witholding direction from his niece in a
momentous crisis of this kind. Mrs. Davilow ventured a hesitating
opinion that perhaps it would be safer to say nothing—Gwendolen
was so sensitive (she did not like to say willful). But the rector’s was
a firm mind, grasping its first judgments tenaciously and acting on
them promptly, whence counter-judgments were no more for him
than shadows fleeting across the solid ground to which he adjusted
himself.
  This match with Grandcourt presented itself to him as a sort of
public affair; perhaps there were ways in which it might even
strengthen the establishment. To the rector, whose father (nobody
would have suspected it, and nobody was told) had risen to be a
provincial corn-dealer, aristocratic heirship resembled regal heirship
in excepting its possessor from the ordinary standard of moral judg-
ments, Grandcourt, the almost certain baronet, the probable peer,
was to be ranged with public personages, and was a match to be
accepted on broad general grounds national and ecclesiastical. Such
public personages, it is true, are often in the nature of giants which
an ancient community may have felt pride and safety in possessing,
though, regarded privately, these born eminences must often have
been inconvenient and even noisome. But of the future husband
personally Mr. Gascoigne was disposed to think the best. Gossip is
a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of of those
who diffuse it: it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.
But if Grandcourt had really made any deeper or more unfortunate

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Daniel Deronda

experiments in folly than were common in young men of high pros-
pects, he was of an age to have finished them. All accounts can be
suitably wound up when a man has not ruined himself, and the
expense may be taken as an insurance against future error. This was
the view of practical wisdom; with reference to higher views, repen-
tance had a supreme moral and religious value. There was every
reason to believe that a woman of well-regulated mind would be
happy with Grandcourt.
  It was no surprise to Gwendolen on coming down to tea to be
told that her uncle wished to see her in the dining-room. He threw
aside the paper as she entered and greeted her with his usual kind-
ness. As his wife had remarked, he always “made much” of
Gwendolen, and her importance had risen of late. “My dear,” he
said, in a fatherly way, moving a chair for her as he held her hand, “I
want to speak to you on a subject which is more momentous than
any other with regard to your welfare. You will guess what I mean.
But I shall speak to you with perfect directness: in such matters I
consider myself bound to act as your father. You have no objection,
I hope?”
  “Oh dear, no, uncle. You have always been very kind to me,” said
Gwendolen, frankly. This evening she was willing, if it were pos-
sible, to be a little fortified against her troublesome self, and her
resistant temper was in abeyance. The rector’s mode of speech al-
ways conveyed a thrill of authority, as of a word of command: it
seemed to take for granted that there could be no wavering in the
audience, and that every one was going to be rationally obedient.
  “It is naturally a satisfaction to me that the prospect of a marriage
for you—advantageous in the highest degree—has presented itself
so early. I do not know exactly what has passed between you and
Mr. Grandcourt, but I presume there can be little doubt, from the
way in which he has distinguished you, that he desires to make you
his wife.”
  Gwendolen did not speak immediately, and her uncle said with
more emphasis—
  “Have you any doubt of that yourself, my dear?”
  “I suppose that is what he has been thinking of. But he may have
changed his mind to-morrow,” said Gwendolen.

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   “Why to-morrow? Has he made advances which you have dis-
couraged?”
   “I think he meant—he began to make advances—but I did not
encourage them. I turned the conversation.”
   “Will you confide in me so far as to tell me your reasons?”
   “I am not sure that I had any reasons, uncle.” Gwendolen laughed
rather artificially.
   “You are quite capable of reflecting, Gwendolen. You are aware
that this is not a trivial occasion, and it concerns your establishment
for life under circumstances which may not occur again. You have a
duty here both to yourself and your family. I wish to understand
whether you have any ground for hesitating as to your acceptance
of Mr. Grandcourt.”
   “I suppose I hesitate without grounds.” Gwendolen spoke rather
poutingly, and her uncle grew suspicious.
   “Is he disagreeable to you personally?”
   “No.”
   “Have you heard anything of him which has affected you dis-
agreeably?” The rector thought it impossible that Gwendolen could
have heard the gossip he had heard, but in any case he must en-
deavor to put all things in the right light for her.
   “I have heard nothing about him except that he is a great match,”
said Gwendolen, with some sauciness; “and that affects me very
agreeably.”
   “Then, my dear Gwendolen, I have nothing further to say than
this: you hold your fortune in your own hands—a fortune such as
rarely happens to a girl in your circumstances—a fortune in fact
which almost takes the question out of the range of mere personal
feeling, and makes your acceptance of it a duty. If Providence offers
you power and position—especially when unclogged by any condi-
tions that are repugnant to you—your course is one of responsibil-
ity, into which caprice must not enter. A man does not like to have
his attachment trifled with: he may not be at once repelled—these
things are matters of individual disposition. But the trifling may be
carried too far. And I must point out to you that in case Mr.
Grandcourt were repelled without your having refused him—with-
out your having intended ultimately to refuse him, your situation

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Daniel Deronda

would be a humiliating and painful one. I, for my part, should re-
gard you with severe disapprobation, as the victim of nothing else
than your own coquetry and folly.”
  Gwendolen became pallid as she listened to this admonitory
speech. The ideas it raised had the force of sensations. Her resistant
courage would not help her here, because her uncle was not urging
her against her own resolve; he was pressing upon her the motives
of dread which she already felt; he was making her more conscious
of the risks that lay within herself. She was silent, and the rector
observed that he had produced some strong effect.
  “I mean this in kindness, my dear.” His tone had softened.
  “I am aware of that, uncle,” said Gwendolen, rising and shaking
her head back, as if to rouse herself out of painful passivity. “I am not
foolish. I know that I must be married some time—before it is too
late. And I don’t see how I could do better than marry Mr. Grandcourt.
I mean to accept him, if possible.” She felt as if she were reinforcing
herself by speaking with this decisiveness to her uncle.
  But the rector was a little startled by so bare a version of his own
meaning from those young lips. He wished that in her mind his
advice should be taken in an infusion of sentiments proper to a girl,
and such as are presupposed in the advice of a clergyman, although
he may not consider them always appropriate to be put forward. He
wished his niece parks, carriages, a title—everything that would make
this world a pleasant abode; but he wished her not to be cynical—
to be, on the contrary, religiously dutiful, and have warm domestic
affections.
  “My dear Gwendolen,” he said, rising also, and speaking with
benignant gravity, “I trust that you will find in marriage a new foun-
tain of duty and affection. Marriage is the only true and satisfactory
sphere of a woman, and if your marriage with Mr. Grandcourt should
be happily decided upon, you will have, probably, an increasing
power, both of rank and wealth, which may be used for the benefit
of others. These considerations are something higher than romance!
You are fitted by natural gifts for a position which, considering your
birth and early prospects, could hardly be looked forward to as in
the ordinary course of things; and I trust that, you will grace it, not
only by those personal gifts, but by a good and consistent life.”

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                                                         George Eliot

  “I hope mamma will be the happier,” said Gwendolen, in a more
cheerful way, lifting her hands backward to her neck and moving
toward the door. She wanted to waive those higher considerations.
  Mr. Gascoigne felt that he had come to a satisfactory understand-
ing with his niece, and had furthered her happy settlement in life by
furthering her engagement to Grandcourt. Meanwhile there was
another person to whom the contemplation of that issue had been a
motive for some activity, and who believed that he, too, on this
particular day had done something toward bringing about a favor-
able decision in his sense—which happened to be the reverse of the
rector’s.
  Mr. Lush’s absence from Diplow during Gwendolen’s visit had
been due, not to any fear on his part of meeting that supercilious
young lady, or of being abashed by her frank dislike, but to an en-
gagement from which he expected important consequences. He was
gone, in fact, to the Wanchester station to meet a lady, accompa-
nied by a maid and two children, whom he put into a fly, and after-
ward followed to the hotel of the Golden Keys, in that town. An
impressive woman, whom many would turn to look at again in
passing; her figure was slim and sufficiently tall, her face rather
emaciated, so that its sculpturesque beauty was the more pronounced,
her crisp hair perfectly black, and her large, anxious eyes what we
call black. Her dress was soberly correct, her age, perhaps, physi-
cally more advanced than the number of years would imply, but
hardly less than seven-and-thirty. An uneasy-looking woman: her
glance seemed to presuppose that the people and things were going
to be unfavorable to her, while she was, nevertheless, ready to meet
them with resolution. The children were lovely—a dark-haired girl
of six or more, a fairer boy of five. When Lush incautiously ex-
pressed some surprise at her having brought the children, she said,
with a sharp-toned intonation—
  “Did you suppose I should come wandering about here by my-
self? Why should I not bring all four if I liked?”
  “Oh, certainly,” said Lush, with his usual fluent nonchalance.
  He stayed an hour or so in conference with her, and rode back to
Diplow in a state of mind that was at once hopeful and busily anx-
ious as to the execution of the little plan on which his hopefulness

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Daniel Deronda

was based. Grandcourt’s marriage to Gwendolen Harleth would not,
he believed, be much of a good to either of them, and it would
plainly be fraught with disagreeables to himself. But now he felt
confident enough to say inwardly, “I will take, nay, I will lay odds
that the marriage will never happen.”




144
                                                          George Eliot




                     CHAPTER XIV
         I will not clothe myself in wreck—wear gems
         Sawed from cramped finger-bones of women drowned;
         Feel chilly vaporous hands of ireful ghosts
         Clutching my necklace: trick my maiden breast
         With orphans’ heritage. Let your dead love
         Marry it’s dead.

GWENDOLEN LOOKED LOVELY and vigorous as a tall, newly-opened
lily the next morning: there was a reaction of young energy in her,
and yesterday’s self-distrust seemed no more than the transient shiver
on the surface of a full stream. The roving archery match in Cardell
Chase was a delightful prospect for the sport’s sake: she felt herself
beforehand moving about like a wood-nymph under the beeches
(in appreciative company), and the imagined scene lent a charm to
further advances on the part of Grandcourt—not an impassioned
lyrical Daphnis for the wood-nymph, certainly: but so much the
better. To-day Gwendolen foresaw him making slow conversational
approaches to a declaration, and foresaw herself awaiting and en-
couraging it according to the rational conclusion which she had
expressed to her uncle.
   When she came down to breakfast (after every one had left the
table except Mrs. Davilow) there were letters on her plate. One of
them she read with a gathering smile, and then handed it to her
mamma, who, on returning it, smiled also, finding new cheerful-
ness in the good spirits her daughter had shown ever since waking,
and said—
   “You don’t feel inclined to go a thousand miles away?”
   “Not exactly so far.”
   “It was a sad omission not to have written again before this. Can’t
you write how—before we set out this morning?”
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Daniel Deronda

   “It is not so pressing. To-morrow will do. You see they leave town
to-day. I must write to Dover. They will be there till Monday.”
   “Shall I write for you, dear—if it teases you?”
   Gwendolen did not speak immediately, but after sipping her cof-
fee, answered brusquely, “Oh no, let it be; I will write to-morrow.”
Then, feeling a touch of compunction, she looked up and said with
playful tenderness, “Dear, old, beautiful mamma!”
   “Old, child, truly.”
   “Please don’t, mamma! I meant old for darling. You are hardly
twenty-five years older than I am. When you talk in that way my
life shrivels up before me.”
   “One can have a great deal of happiness in twenty-five years, my
dear.”
   “I must lose no time in beginning,” said Gwendolen, merrily. “The
sooner I get my palaces and coaches the better.”
   “And a good husband who adores you, Gwen,” said Mrs. Davilow,
encouragingly.
   Gwendolen put out her lips saucily and said nothing.
   It was a slight drawback on her pleasure in starting that the rector
was detained by magistrate’s business, and would probably not be
able to get to Cardell Chase at all that day. She cared little that Mrs.
Gascoigne and Anna chose not to go without him, but her uncle’s
presence would have seemed to make it a matter of course that the
decision taken would be acted on. For decision in itself began to be
formidable. Having come close to accepting Grandcourt, Gwendolen
felt this lot of unhoped-for fullness rounding itself too definitely.
When we take to wishing a great deal for ourselves, whatever we get
soon turns into mere limitation and exclusion. Still there was the
reassuring thought that marriage would be the gate into a larger
freedom.
   The place of meeting was a grassy spot called Green Arbor, where
a bit of hanging wood made a sheltering amphitheatre. It was here
that the coachful of servants with provisions had to prepare the pic-
nic meal; and the warden of the Chase was to guide the roving
archers so as to keep them within the due distance from this centre,
and hinder them from wandering beyond the limit which had been
fixed on—a curve that might be drawn through certain well-known

146
                                                         George Eliot

points, such as the double Oak, the Whispering Stones, and the
High Cross. The plan was to take only a preliminary stroll before
luncheon, keeping the main roving expedition for the more exquis-
ite lights of the afternoon. The muster was rapid enough to save
every one from dull moments of waiting, and when the groups be-
gan to scatter themselves through the light and shadow made here
by closely neighboring beeches and thereby rarer oaks, one may
suppose that a painter would have been glad to look on. This roving
archery was far prettier than the stationary game, but success in
shooting at variable marks were less favored by practice, and the
hits were distributed among the volunteer archers otherwise than
they would have been in target-shooting. From this cause, perhaps,
as well as from the twofold distraction of being preoccupied and
wishing not to betray her preoccupation, Gwendolen did not greatly
distinguish herself in these first experiments, unless it were by the
lively grace with which she took her comparative failure. She was in
white and green as on the day of the former meeting, when it made
an epoch for her that she was introduced to Grandcourt; he was
continually by her side now, yet it would have been hard to tell
from mere looks and manners that their relation to each other had
at all changed since their first conversation. Still there were other
grounds that made most persons conclude them to be, if not en-
gaged already, on the eve of being so. And she believed this herself.
As they were all returning toward Green Arbor in divergent groups,
not thinking at all of taking aim but merely chattering, words passed
which seemed really the beginning of that end—the beginning of
her acceptance. Grandcourt said, “Do you know how long it is since
I first saw you in this dress?”
   “The archery meeting was on the 25th, and this is the 13th,” said
Gwendolen, laughingly. “I am not good at calculating, but I will
venture to say that it must be nearly three weeks.”
   A little pause, and then he said, “That is a great loss of time.”
   “That your knowing me has caused you? Pray don’t be uncompli-
mentary; I don’t like it.”
   Pause again. “It is because of the gain that I feel the loss.”
   Here Gwendolen herself let a pause. She was thinking, “He is
really very ingenious. He never speaks stupidly.” Her silence was so

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Daniel Deronda

unusual that it seemed the strongest of favorable answers, and he
continued:
   “The gain of knowing you makes me feel the time I lose in uncer-
tainty. Do you like uncertainty?”
   “I think I do, rather,” said Gwendolen, suddenly beaming on him
with a playful smile. “There is more in it.”
   Grandcourt met her laughing eyes with a slow, steady look right
into them, which seemed like vision in the abstract, and then said,
“Do you mean more torment for me?”
   There was something so strange to Gwendolen in this moment
that she was quite shaken out of her usual self-consciousness. Blush-
ing and turning away her eyes, she said, “No, that would make me
sorry.”
   Grandcourt would have followed up this answer, which the change
in her manner made apparently decisive of her favorable intention;
but he was not in any way overcome so as to be unaware that they
were now, within sight of everybody, descending the space into Green
Arbor, and descending it at an ill-chosen point where it began to be
inconveniently steep. This was a reason for offering his hand in the
literal sense to help her; she took it, and they came down in silence,
much observed by those already on the level—among others by
Mrs. Arrowpoint, who happened to be standing with Mrs. Davilow.
That lady had now made up her mind that Grandcourt’s merits
were not such as would have induced Catherine to accept him,
Catherine having so high a standard as to have refused Lord Slogan.
Hence she looked at the tenant of Diplow with dispassionate eyes.
   “Mr. Grandcourt is not equal as a man to his uncle, Sir Hugo
Mallinger—too languid. To be sure, Mr. Grandcourt is a much
younger man, but I shouldn’t wonder if Sir Hugo were to outlive
him, notwithstanding the difference of years. It is ill calculating on
successions,” concluded Mrs. Arrowpoint, rather too loudly.
   “It is indeed,” said Mrs. Davilow, able to assent with quiet cheer-
fulness, for she was so well satisfied with the actual situation of af-
fairs that her habitual melancholy in their general unsatisfactoriness
was altogether in abeyance.
   I am not concerned to tell of the food that was eaten in that green
refectory, or even to dwell on the stories of the forest scenery that

148
                                                            George Eliot

spread themselves out beyond the level front of the hollow; being
just now bound to tell a story of life at a stage when the blissful
beauty of earth and sky entered only by narrow and oblique inlets
into the consciousness, which was busy with a small social drama
almost as little penetrated by a feeling of wider relations as if it had
been a puppet-show. It will be understood that the food and cham-
pagne were of the best—the talk and laughter too, in the sense of
belonging to the best society, where no one makes an invidious dis-
play of anything in particular, and the advantages of the world are
taken with that high-bred depreciation which follows from being
accustomed to them. Some of the gentlemen strolled a little and
indulged in a cigar, there being a sufficient interval before, four
o’clock—the time for beginning to rove again. Among these, strange
to say, was Grandcourt; but not Mr. Lush, who seemed to be taking
his pleasure quite generously to-day by making himself particularly
serviceable, ordering everything for everybody, and by this activity
becoming more than ever a blot on the scene to Gwendolen, though
he kept himself amiably aloof from her, and never even looked at
her obviously. When there was a general move to prepare for start-
ing, it appeared that the bows had all been put under the charge of
Lord Brackenshaw’s valet, and Mr. Lush was concerned to save la-
dies the trouble of fetching theirs from the carriage where they were
propped. He did not intend to bring Gwendolen’s, but she, fearful
lest he should do so, hurried to fetch it herself. The valet, seeing her
approach, met her with it, and in giving it into her hand gave also a
letter addressed to her. She asked no question about it, perceived at
a glance that the address was in a lady’s handwriting (of the delicate
kind which used to be esteemed feminine before the present uncial
period), and moving away with her bow in her hand, saw Mr. Lush
coming to fetch other bows. To avoid meeting him she turned aside
and walked with her back toward the stand of carriages, opening
the letter. It contained these words—

  If Miss Harleth is in doubt whether she should accept Mr.
  Grandcourt, let her break from her party after they have passed
  the Whispering Stones and return to that spot. She will then

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Daniel Deronda


  hear something to decide her; but she can only hear it by keep-
  ing this letter a strict secret from every one. If she does not act
  according to this letter, she will repent, as the woman who
  writes it has repented. The secrecy Miss Harleth will feel her-
  self bound in honor to guard.

  Gwendolen felt an inward shock, but her immediate thought was,
“It is come in time.” It lay in her youthfulness that she was absorbed
by the idea of the revelation to be made, and had not even a momen-
tary suspicion of contrivance that could justify her in showing the
letter. Her mind gathered itself up at once into the resolution, that
she would manage to go unobserved to the Whispering Stones; and
thrusting the letter into her pocket she turned back to rejoin the com-
pany, with that sense of having something to conceal which to her
nature had a bracing quality and helped her to be mistress of herself.
  It was a surprise to every one that Grandcourt was not, like the
other smokers, on the spot in time to set out roving with the rest. “We
shall alight on him by-and-by,” said Lord Brackenshaw; “he can’t be
gone far.” At any rate, no man could be waited for. This apparent
forgetfulness might be taken for the distraction of a lover so absorbed
in thinking of the beloved object as to forget an appointment which
would bring him into her actual presence. And the good-natured Earl
gave Gwendolen a distant jocose hint to that effect, which she took
with suitable quietude. But the thought in her mind was “Can he too
be starting away from a decision?” It was not exactly a pleasant thought
to her; but it was near the truth. “Starting away,” however, was not
the right expression for the languor of intention that came over
Grandcourt, like a fit of diseased numbness, when an end seemed
within easy reach: to desist then, when all expectation was to the
contrary, became another gratification of mere will, sublimely inde-
pendent of definite motive. At that moment he had begun a second
large cigar in a vague, hazy obstinacy which, if Lush or any other
mortal who might be insulted with impunity had interrupted by over-
taking him with a request for his return, would have expressed itself
by a slow removal of his cigar, to say in an undertone, “You’ll be kind
enough to go to the devil, will you?”

150
                                                         George Eliot

  But he was not interrupted, and the rovers set off without any
visible depression of spirits, leaving behind only a few of the less
vigorous ladies, including Mrs. Davilow, who preferred a quiet stroll
free from obligation to keep up with others. The enjoyment of the
day was soon at its highest pitch, the archery getting more spirited
and the changing scenes of the forest from roofed grove to open
glade growing lovelier with the lengthening shadows, and the deeply-
felt but undefinable gradations of the mellowing afternoon. It was
agreed that they were playing an extemporized “As you like it;” and
when a pretty compliment had been turned to Gwendolen about
her having the part of Rosalind, she felt the more compelled to be
surpassing in loveliness. This was not very difficult to her, for the
effect of what had happened to-day was an excitement which needed
a vent—a sense of adventure rather than alarm, and a straining to-
ward the management of her retreat, so as not to be impeded.
  The roving had been lasting nearly an hour before the arrival at
the Whispering Stones, two tall conical blocks that leaned toward
each other like gigantic gray-mantled figures. They were soon sur-
veyed and passed by with the remark that they would be good ghosts
on a starlit night. But a soft sunlight was on them now, and
Gwendolen felt daring. The stones were near a fine grove of beeches,
where the archers found plenty of marks.
  “How far are we from Green Arbor now?” said Gwendolen, hav-
ing got in front by the side of the warden.
  “Oh, not more than half a mile, taking along the avenue we’re
going to cross up there: but I shall take round a Couple of miles, by
the High Cross.”
  She was falling back among the rest, when suddenly they seemed
all to be hurrying obliquely forward under the guidance of Mr. Lush,
and lingering a little where she was, she perceived her opportunity
of slipping away. Soon she was out of sight, and without running
she seemed to herself to fly along the ground and count the mo-
ments nothing till she found herself back again at the Whispering
Stones. They turned their blank gray sides to her: what was there on
the other side? If there were nothing after all? That was her only
dread now—to have to turn back again in mystification; and walk-
ing round the right-hand stone without pause, she found herself in

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Daniel Deronda

front of some one whose large dark eyes met hers at a foot’s dis-
tance. In spite of expectation, she was startled and shrank bank, but
in doing so she could take in the whole figure of this stranger and
perceive that she was unmistakably a lady, and one who must have
been exceedingly handsome. She perceived, also, that a few yards
from her were two children seated on the grass.
  “Miss Harleth?” said the lady.
  “Yes.” All Gwendolen’s consciousness was wonder.
  “Have you accepted Mr. Grandcourt?”
  “No.”
  “I have promised to tell you something. And you will promise to
keep my secret. However you may decide you will not tell Mr.
Grandcourt, or any one else, that you have seen me?”
  “I promise.”
  “My name is Lydia Glasher. Mr. Grandcourt ought not to marry
any one but me. I left my husband and child for him nine years ago.
Those two children are his, and we have two others—girls—who
are older. My husband is dead now, and Mr. Grandcourt ought to
marry me. He ought to make that boy his heir.”
  She looked at the boy as she spoke, and Gwendolen’s eyes fol-
lowed hers. The handsome little fellow was puffing out his cheeks
in trying to blow a tiny trumpet which remained dumb. His hat
hung backward by a string, and his brown purls caught the sun-
rays. He was a cherub.
  The two women’s eyes met again, and Gwendolen said proudly,
“I will not interfere with your wishes.” She looked as if she were
shivering, and her lips were pale.
  “You are very attractive, Miss Harleth. But when he first knew
me, I too was young. Since then my life has been broken up and
embittered. It is not fair that he should be happy and I miserable,
and my boy thrust out of sight for another.”
  These words were uttered with a biting accent, but with a deter-
mined abstinence from anything violent in tone or manner.
Gwendolen, watching Mrs. Glasher’s face while she spoke, felt a
sort of terror: it was as if some ghastly vision had come to her in a
dream and said, “I am a woman’s life.”
  “Have you anything more to say to me?” she asked in a low tone,

152
                                                         George Eliot

but still proud and coldly. The revulsion within her was not tending
to soften her. Everyone seemed hateful.
  “Nothing. You know what I wished you to know. You can inquire
about me if you like. My husband was Colonel Glasher.”
  “Then I will go,” said Gwendolen, moving away with a ceremoni-
ous inclination, which was returned with equal grace.
  In a few minutes Gwendolen was in the beech grove again but her
party had gone out of sight and apparently had not sent in search of
her, for all was solitude till she had reached the avenue pointed out
by the warden. She determined to take this way back to Green Ar-
bor, which she reached quickly; rapid movements seeming to her
just now a means of suspending the thoughts which might prevent
her from behaving with due calm. She had already made up her
mind what step she would take.
  Mrs. Davilow was of course astonished to see Gwendolen return-
ing alone, and was not without some uneasiness which the presence
of other ladies hindered her from showing. In answer to her words
of surprise Gwendolen said—
  “Oh, I have been rather silly. I lingered behind to look at the
Whispering Stones, and the rest hurried on after something, so I
lost sight of them. I thought it best to come home by the short
way—the avenue that the warden had old me of. I’m not sorry after
all. I had had enough walking.”
  “Your party did not meet Mr. Grandcourt, I presume,” said Mrs.
Arrowpoint, not without intention.
  “No,” said Gwendolen, with a little flash of defiance, and a light
laugh. “And we didn’t see any carvings on the trees, either. Where
can he be? I should think he has fallen into the pool or had an
apoplectic fit.”
  With all Gwendolen’s resolve not to betray any agitation, she could
not help it that her tone was unusually high and hard, and her mother
felt sure that something unpropitious had happened.
  Mrs. Arrowpoint thought that the self-confident young lady was
much piqued, and that Mr. Grandcourt was probably seeing reason
to change his mind.
  “If you have no objection, mamma, I will order the carriage,” said
Gwendolen. “I am tired. And every one will be going soon.”

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Daniel Deronda

   Mrs. Davilow assented; but by the time the carriage was announced
as, ready—the horses having to be fetched from the stables on the
warden’s premises—the roving party reappeared, and with them Mr.
Grandcourt.
   “Ah, there you are!” said Lord Brackenshaw, going up to Gwendolen,
who was arranging her mamma’s shawl for the drive. “We thought at
first you had alighted on Grandcourt and he had taken you home.
Lush said so. But after that we met Grandcourt. However, we didn’t
suppose you could be in any danger. The warden said he had told you
a near way back.”
   “You are going?” said Grandcourt, coming up with his usual air,
as if he did not conceive that there had been any omission on his
part. Lord Brackenshaw gave place to him and moved away.
   “Yes, we are going,” said Gwendolen, looking busily at her scarf,
which she was arranging across her shoulders Scotch fashion.
   “May I call at Offendene to-morrow?”
   “Oh yes, if you like,” said Gwendolen, sweeping him from a dis-
tance with her eyelashes. Her voice was light and sharp as the first
touch of frost.
   Mrs. Davilow accepted his arm to lead her to the carriage; but
while that was happening, Gwendolen with incredible swiftness had
got in advance of them, and had sprung into the carriage.
   “I got in, mamma, because I wished to be on this side,” she said,
apologetically. But she had avoided Grandcourt’s touch: he only
lifted his hat and walked away—with the not unsatisfactory im-
pression that she meant to show herself offended by his neglect.
   The mother and daughter drove for five minutes in silence. Then
Gwendolen said, “I intend to join the Langens at Dover, mamma. I
shall pack up immediately on getting home, and set off by the early
train. I shall be at Dover almost as soon as they are; we can let them
know by telegraph.”
   “Good heavens, child! what can be your reason for saying so?”
   “My reason for saying it, mamma, is that I mean to do it.”
   “But why do you mean to do it?”
   “I wish to go away.”
   “Is it because you are offended with Mr. Grandcourt’s odd behav-
ior in walking off to-day?”

154
                                                             George Eliot

   “It is useless to enter into such questions. I am not going in any
case to marry Mr. Grandcourt. Don’t interest yourself further about
it.”
   “What can I say to your uncle, Gwendolen? Consider the posi-
tion you place me in. You led him to believe only last night that you
had made up your mind in favor of Mr. Grandcourt.”
   “I am very sorry to cause you annoyance, mamma, dear, but I
can’t help it,” said Gwendolen, with still harder resistance in her
tone. “Whatever you or my uncle may think or do, I shall not alter
my resolve, and I shall not tell my reason. I don’t care what comes of
it. I don’t care if I never marry any one. There is nothing worth
caring for. I believe all men are bad, and I hate them.”
   “But need you set off in this way, Gwendolen,” said Mrs. Davilow,
miserable and helpless.
   “Now mamma, don’t interfere with me. If you have ever had any
trouble in your own life, remember it and don’t interfere with me. If I
am to be miserable, let it be by my own choice.”
   The mother was reduced to trembling silence. She began to see
that the difficulty would be lessened if Gwendolen went away.
   And she did go. The packing was all carefully done that evening,
and not long after dawn the next day Mrs. Davilow accompanied
her daughter to the railway station. The sweet dews of morning, the
cows and horses looking over the hedges without any particular rea-
son, the early travelers on foot with their bundles, seemed all very
melancholy and purposeless to them both. The dingy torpor of the
railway station, before the ticket could be taken, was still worse.
Gwendolen had certainly hardened in the last twenty-four hours:
her mother’s trouble evidently counted for little in her present state
of mind, which did not essentially differ from the mood that makes
men take to worse conduct when their belief in persons or things is
upset. Gwendolen’s uncontrolled reading, though consisting chiefly
in what are called pictures of life, had somehow not prepared her
for this encounter with reality. Is that surprising? It is to be believed
that attendance at the opéra bouffe in the present day would not
leave men’s minds entirely without shock, if the manners observed
there with some applause were suddenly to start up in their own
families. Perspective, as its inventor remarked, is a beautiful thing.

                                                                    155
Daniel Deronda

What horrors of damp huts, where human beings languish, may
not become picturesque through aerial distance! What hymning of
cancerous vices may we not languish over as sublimest art in the safe
remoteness of a strange language and artificial phrase! Yet we keep a
repugnance to rheumatism and other painful effects when presented
incur personal experience.
  Mrs. Davilow felt Gwendolen’s new phase of indifference keenly,
and as she drove back alone, the brightening morning was sadder to
her than before.
  Mr. Grandcourt called that day at Offendene, but nobody was at
home.




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                                                          George Eliot




                      CHAPTER XV

  “Festina lente—celerity should be contempered with cunctation.”
                                      —SIR THOMAS BROWNE.



GWENDOLEN, we have seen, passed her time abroad in the new ex-
citement of gambling, and in imagining herself an empress of luck,
having brought from her late experience a vague impression that in
this confused world it signified nothing what any one did, so that
they amused themselves. We have seen, too, that certain persons,
mysteriously symbolized as Grapnell & Co., having also thought of
reigning in the realm of luck, and being also bent on amusing them-
selves, no matter how, had brought about a painful change in her
family circumstances; whence she had returned home—carrying with
her, against her inclination, a necklace which she had pawned and
some one else had redeemed.
   While she was going back to England, Grandcourt was coming to
find her; coming, that is, after his own manner—not in haste by
express straight from Diplow to Leubronn, where she was under-
stood to be; but so entirely without hurry that he was induced by
the presence of some Russian acquaintances to linger at Baden-Baden
and make various appointments with them, which, however, his
desire to be at Leubronn ultimately caused him to break.
Grandcourt’s passions were of the intermittent, flickering kind: never
flaming out strongly. But a great deal of life goes on without strong
passion: myriads of cravats are carefully tied, dinners attended, even
speeches made proposing the health of august personages without
the zest arising from a strong desire. And a man may make a good
appearance in high social positions—may be supposed to know the
classics, to have his reserves on science, a strong though repressed

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opinion on politics, and all the sentiments of the English gentle-
man, at a small expense of vital energy. Also, he may be obstinate or
persistent at the same low rate, and may even show sudden im-
pulses which have a false air of daemonic strength because they seem
inexplicable, though perhaps their secret lies merely in the want of
regulated channels for the soul to move in—good and sufficient
ducts of habit without which our nature easily turns to mere ooze
and mud, and at any pressure yields nothing but a spurt or a puddle.
   Grandcourt had not been altogether displeased by Gwendolen’s
running away from the splendid chance he was holding out to her.
The act had some piquancy for him. He liked to think that it was
due to resentment of his careless behavior in Cardell Chase, which,
when he came to consider it, did appear rather cool. To have brought
her so near a tender admission, and then to have walked headlong
away from further opportunities of winning the consent which he
had made her understand him to be asking for, was enough to pro-
voke a girl of spirit; and to be worth his mastering it was proper that
she should have some spirit. Doubtless she meant him to follow
her, and it was what he meant too. But for a whole week he took no
measures toward starting, and did not even inquire where Miss
Harleth was gone. Mr. Lush felt a triumph that was mingled with
much distrust; for Grandcourt had said no word to him about her,
and looked as neutral as an alligator; there was no telling what might
turn up in the slowly-churning chances of his mind. Still, to have
put off a decision was to have made room for the waste of
Grandcourt’s energy.
   The guests at Diplow felt more curiosity than their host. How
was it that nothing more was heard of Miss Harleth? Was it credible
that she had refused Mr. Grandcourt? Lady Flora Hollis, a lively
middle-aged woman, well endowed with curiosity, felt a sudden
interest in making a round of calls with Mrs. Torrington, including
the rectory, Offendene, and Quetcham, and thus not only got twice
over, but also discussed with the Arrowpoints, the information that
Miss Harleth was gone to Leubronn, with some old friends, the
Baron and Baroness von Langen; for the immediate agitation and
disappointment of Mrs. Davilow and the Gascoignes had resolved
itself into a wish that Gwendolen’s disappearance should not be in-

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terpreted as anything eccentric or needful to be kept secret. The
rector’s mind, indeed, entertained the possibility that the marriage
was only a little deferred, for Mrs. Davilow had not dared to tell
him of the bitter determination with which Gwendolen had spo-
ken. And in spite of his practical ability, some of his experience had
petrified into maxims and quotations. Amaryllis fleeing desired that
her hiding-place should be known; and that love will find out the
way “over the mountain and over the wave” may be said without
hyperbole in this age of steam. Gwendolen, he conceived, was an
Amaryllis of excellent sense but coquettish daring; the question was
whether she had dared too much.
   Lady Flora, coming back charged with news about Miss Harleth,
saw no good reason why she should not try whether she could elec-
trify Mr. Grandcourt by mentioning it to him at the table; and in
doing so shot a few hints of a notion having got abroad that he was a
disappointed adorer. Grandcourt heard with quietude, but with at-
tention; and the next day he ordered Lush to bring about a decent
reason for breaking up the party at Diplow by the end of another
week, as he meant to go yachting to the Baltic or somewhere—it
being impossible to stay at Diplow as if he were a prisoner on parole,
with a set of people whom he had never wanted. Lush needed no
clearer announcement that Grandcourt was going to Leubronn; but
he might go after the manner of a creeping billiard-ball and stick on
the way. What Mr. Lush intended was to make himself indispensable
so that he might go too, and he succeeded; Gwendolen’s repulsion for
him being a fact that only am used his patron, and made him none
the less willing to have Lush always at hand.
   This was how it happened that Grandcourt arrived at the Czarina
on the fifth day after Gwendolen had left Leubronn, and found
there his uncle, Sir Hugo Mallinger, with his family, including
Deronda. It is not necessarily a pleasure either to the reigning power
or the heir presumptive when their separate affairs—a—touch of
gout, say, in the one, and a touch of willfulness in the other—hap-
pen to bring them to the same spot. Sir Hugo was an easy-tempered
man, tolerant both of differences and defects; but a point of view
different from his own concerning the settlement of the family es-
tates fretted him rather more than if it had concerned Church disci-

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Daniel Deronda

pline or the ballot, and faults were the less venial for belonging to a
person whose existence was inconvenient to him. In no case could
Grandcourt have been a nephew after his own heart; but as the
presumptive heir to the Mallinger estates he was the sign and em-
bodiment of a chief grievance in the baronet’s life—the want of a
son to inherit the lands, in no portion of which had he himself
more than a life-interest. For in the ill-advised settlement which his
father, Sir Francis, had chosen to make by will, even Diplow with
its modicum of land had been left under the same conditions as the
ancient and wide inheritance of the two Toppings—Diplow, where
Sir Hugo had lived and hunted through many a season in his younger
years, and where his wife and daughters ought to have been able to
retire after his death.
   This grievance had naturally gathered emphasis as the years ad-
vanced, and Lady Mallinger, after having had three daughters in
quick succession, had remained for eight years till now that she was
over forty without producing so much as another girl; while Sir
Hugo, almost twenty years older, was at a time of life when, not-
withstanding the fashionable retardation of most things from din-
ners to marriages, a man’s hopefulness is apt to show signs of wear,
until restored by second childhood.
   In fact, he had begun to despair of a son, and this confirmation of
Grandcourt’s interest in the estates certainly tended to make his
image and presence the more unwelcome; but, on the other hand, it
carried circumstances which disposed Sir Hugo to take care that the
relation between them should be kept as friendly as possible. It led
him to dwell on a plan which had grown up side by side with his
disappointment of an heir; namely, to try and secure Diplow as a
future residence for Lady Mallinger and her daughters, and keep
this pretty bit of the family inheritance for his own offspring in
spite of that disappointment. Such knowledge as he had of his
nephew’s disposition and affairs encouraged the belief that
Grandcourt might consent to a transaction by which he would get a
good sum of ready money, as an equivalent for his prospective inter-
est in the domain of Diplow and the moderate amount of land
attached to it. If, after all, the unhoped-for son should be born, the
money would have been thrown away, and Grandcourt would have

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been paid for giving up interests that had turned out good for noth-
ing; but Sir Hugo set down this risk as nil, and of late years he had
husbanded his fortune so well by the working of mines and the sale
of leases that he was prepared for an outlay.
  Here was an object that made him careful to avoid any quarrel
with Grandcourt. Some years before, when he was making improve-
ments at the Abbey, and needed Grandcourt’s concurrence in his
felling an obstructive mass of timber on the demesne, he had con-
gratulated himself on finding that there was no active spite against
him in his nephew’s peculiar mind; and nothing had since occurred
to make them hate each other more than was compatible with per-
fect politeness, or with any accommodation that could be strictly
mutual.
  Grandcourt, on his side, thought his uncle a superfluity and a bore,
and felt that the list of things in general would be improved whenever
Sir Hugo came to be expunged. But he had been made aware through
Lush, always a useful medium, of the baronet’s inclinations concerning
Diplow, and he was gratified to have the alternative of the money in his
mind: even if he had not thought it in the least likely that he would
choose to accept it, his sense of power would have been flattered by his
being able to refuse what Sir Hugo desired. The hinted transaction had
told for something among the motives which had made him ask for a
year’s tenancy of Diplow, which it had rather annoyed Sir Hugo to
grant, because the excellent hunting in the neighborhood might decide
Grandcourt not to part with his chance of future possession;—a man
who has two places, in one of which the hunting is less good, naturally
desiring a third where it is better. Also, Lush had thrown out to Sir
Hugo the probability that Grandcourt would woo and win Miss
Arrowpoint, and in that case ready money might be less of a tempta-
tion to him. Hence, on this unexpected meeting at Leubronn, the bar-
onet felt much curiosity to know how things had been going on at
Diplow, was bent on being as civil as possible to his nephew, and looked
forward to some private chat with Lush.
  Between Deronda and Grandcourt there was a more faintly-marked
but peculiar relation, depending on circumstances which have yet to
be made known. But on no side was there any sign of suppressed
chagrin on the first meeting at the table d’hôte, an hour after

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Daniel Deronda

Grandcourt’s arrival; and when the quartette of gentlemen afterward
met on the terrace, without Lady Mallinger, they moved off together
to saunter through the rooms, Sir Hugo saying as they entered the
large saal—
   “Did you play much at Baden, Grandcourt?”
   “No; I looked on and betted a little with some Russians there.”
   “Had you luck?”
   “What did I win, Lush?”
   “You brought away about two hundred,” said Lush.
   “You are not here for the sake of the play, then?” said Sir Hugo.
   “No; I don’t care about play now. It’s a confounded strain,” said
Grandcourt, whose diamond ring and demeanor, as he moved along
playing slightly with his whisker, were being a good deal stared at by
rouged foreigners interested in a new milord.
   “The fact is, somebody should invent a mill to do amusements
for you, my dear fellow,” said Sir Hugo, “as the Tartars get their
praying done. But I agree with you; I never cared for play. It’s mo-
notonous—knits the brain up into meshes. And it knocks me up to
watch it now. I suppose one gets poisoned with the bad air. I never
stay here more than ten minutes. But where’s your gambling beauty,
Deronda? Have you seen her lately?”
   “She’s gone,” said Deronda, curtly.
   “An uncommonly fine girl, a perfect Diana,” said Sir Hugo, turn-
ing to Grandcourt again. “Really worth a little straining to look at
her. I saw her winning, and she took it as coolly as if she had known
it all beforehand. The same day Deronda happened to see her losing
like wildfire, and she bore it with immense pluck. I suppose she was
cleaned out, or was wise enough to stop in time. How do you know
she’s gone?”
   “Oh, by the Visitor-list,” said Deronda, with a scarcely percep-
tible shrug. “Vandernoodt told me her name was Harleth, and she
was with the Baron and Baroness von Langen. I saw by the list that
Miss Harleth was no longer there.”
   This held no further information for Lush than that Gwendolen
had been gambling. He had already looked at the list, and ascer-
tained that Gwendolen had gone, but he had no intention of thrust-
ing this knowledge on Grandcourt before he asked for it; and he

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had not asked, finding it enough to believe that the object of search
would turn up somewhere or other.
   But now Grandcourt had heard what was rather piquant, and not
a word about Miss Harleth had been missed by ham. After a
moment’s pause he said to Deronda—
   “Do you know those people—the Langens?”
   “I have talked with them a little since Miss Harleth went away. I
knew nothing of them before.”
   “Where is she gone—do you know?”
   “She is gone home,” said Deronda, coldly, as if he wished to say
no more. But then, from a fresh impulse, he turned to look mark-
edly at Grandcourt, and added, “But it is possible you know her.
Her home is not far from Diplow: Offendene, near Winchester.”
   Deronda, turning to look straight at Grandcourt, who was on his
left hand, might have been a subject for those old painters who
liked contrasts of temperament. There was a calm intensity of life
and richness of tint in his face that on a sudden gaze from him was
rather startling, and often made him seem to have spoken, so that
servants and officials asked him automatically, “What did you say,
sir?” when he had been quite silent. Grandcourt himself felt an irri-
tation, which he did not show except by a slight movement of the
eyelids, at Deronda’s turning round on him when he was not asked
to do more than speak. But he answered, with his usual drawl, “Yes,
I know her,” and paused with his shoulder toward Deronda, to look
at the gambling.
   “What of her, eh?” asked Sir Hugo of Lush, as the three moved on
a little way. “She must be a new-comer at Offendene. Old Blenny
lived there after the dowager died.”
   “A little too much of her,” said Lush, in a low, significant tone;
not sorry to let Sir Hugo know the state of affairs.
   “Why? how?” said the baronet. They all moved out of the salon
into an airy promenade.
   “He has been on the brink of marrying her,” Lush went on. “But
I hope it’s off now. She’s a niece of the clergyman—Gascoigne—at
Pennicote. Her mother is a widow with a brood of daughters. This
girl will have nothing, and is as dangerous as gunpowder. It would
be a foolish marriage. But she has taken a freak against him, for she

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Daniel Deronda

ran off here without notice, when he had agreed to call the next day.
The fact is, he’s here after her; but he was in no great hurry, and
between his caprice and hers they are likely enough not to get to-
gether again. But of course he has lost his chance with the heiress.”
  Grandcourt joining them said, “What a beastly den this is!—a
worse hole than Baden. I shall go back to the hotel.”
  When Sir Hugo and Deronda were alone, the baronet began—
  “Rather a pretty story. That girl has something in her. She must
be worth running after—has de l’imprévu. I think her appearance
on the scene has bettered my chance of getting Diplow, whether the
marriage comes off or not.”
  “I should hope a marriage like that would not come off,” said
Deronda, in a tone of disgust.
  “What! are you a little touched with the sublime lash?” said Sir
Hugo, putting up his glasses to help his short sight in looking at his
companion. “Are you inclined to run after her?”
  “On the contrary,” said Deronda, “I should rather be inclined to
run away from her.”
  “Why, you would easily cut out Grandcourt. A girl with her spirit
would think you the finer match of the two,” said Sir Hugo, who
often tried Deronda’s patience by finding a joke in impossible ad-
vice. (A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affec-
tions.)
  “I suppose pedigree and land belong to a fine match,” said
Deronda, coldly.
  “The best horse will win in spite of pedigree, my boy. You remem-
ber Napoleon’s mot—Je suis un ancêtre” said Sir Hugo, who habitu-
ally undervalued birth, as men after dining well often agree that the
good of life is distributed with wonderful equality.
  “I am not sure that I want to be an ancestor,” said Deronda. “It
doesn’t seem to me the rarest sort of origination.”
  “You won’t run after the pretty gambler, then?” said Sir Hugo,
putting down his glasses.
  “Decidedly not.”
  This answer was perfectly truthful; nevertheless it had passed
through Deronda’s mind that under other circumstances he should
have given way to the interest this girl had raised in him, and tried

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to know more of her. But his history had given him a stronger bias
in another direction. He felt himself in no sense free.




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Daniel Deronda




                      CHAPTER XVI
  Men, like planets, have both a visible and an invisible history. The
  astronomer threads the darkness with strict deduction, accounting
  so for every visible arc in the wanderer’s orbit; and the narrator of
  human actions, if he did his work with the same completeness, would
  have to thread the hidden pathways of feeling and thought which
  lead up to every moment of action, and to those moments of intense
  suffering which take the quality of action—like the cry of
  Prometheus, whose chained anguish seems a greater energy than the
  sea and sky he invokes and the deity he defies.


DERONDA’S CIRCUMSTANCES, indeed, had been exceptional. One
moment had been burned into his life as its chief epoch—a mo-
ment full of July sunshine and large pink roses shedding their last
petals on a grassy court enclosed on three sides by a gothic cloister.
Imagine him in such a scene: a boy of thirteen, stretched prone on
the grass where it was in shadow, his curly head propped on his
arms over a book, while his tutor, also reading, sat on a camp-stool
under shelter. Deronda’s book was Sismondi’s “History of the Ital-
ian Republics”;—the lad had a passion for history, eager to know
how time had been filled up since the flood, and how things were
carried on in the dull periods. Suddenly he let down his left arm
and looked at his tutor, saying in purest boyish tones—
  “Mr. Fraser, how was it that the popes and cardinals always had so
many nephews?”
  The tutor, an able young Scotchman, who acted as Sir Hugo
Mallinger’s secretary, roused rather unwillingly from his political
economy, answered with the clear-cut emphatic chant which makes
a truth doubly telling in Scotch utterance—
  “Their own children were called nephews.”
  “Why?” said Deronda.
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                                                          George Eliot

  “It was just for the propriety of the thing; because, as you know
very well, priests don’t marry, and the children were illegitimate.”
  Mr. Fraser, thrusting out his lower lip and making his chant of the
last word the more emphatic for a little impatience at being inter-
rupted, had already turned his eyes on his book again, while Deronda,
as if something had stung him, started up in a sitting attitude with
his back to the tutor.
  He had always called Sir Hugo Mallinger his uncle, and when it
once occurred to him to ask about his father and mother, the bar-
onet had answered, “You lost your father and mother when you
were quite a little one; that is why I take care of you.” Daniel then
straining to discern something in that early twilight, had a dim sense
of having been kissed very much, and surrounded by thin, cloudy,
scented drapery, till his fingers caught in something hard, which
hurt him, and he began to cry. Every other memory he had was of
the little world in which he still lived. And at that time he did not
mind about learning more, for he was too fond of Sir Hugo to be
sorry for the loss of unknown parents. Life was very delightful to
the lad, with an uncle who was always indulgent and cheerful—a
fine man in the bright noon of life, whom Daniel thought abso-
lutely perfect, and whose place was one of the finest in England, at
once historical; romantic, and home-like: a picturesque architec-
tural outgrowth from an abbey, which had still remnants of the old
monastic trunk. Diplow lay in another county, and was a compara-
tively landless place which had come into the family from a rich
lawyer on the female side who wore the perruque of the restoration;
whereas the Mallingers had the grant of Monk’s Topping under
Henry the Eighth, and ages before had held the neighboring lands
of King’s Topping, tracing indeed their origin to a certain Hugues le
Malingre, who came in with the Conqueror—and also apparently
with a sickly complexion which had been happily corrected in his
descendants. Two rows of these descendants, direct and collateral,
females of the male line, and males of the female, looked down in
the gallery over the cloisters on the nephew Daniel as he walked
there: men in armor with pointed beards and arched eyebrows,
pinched ladies in hoops and ruffs with no face to speak of; grave-
looking men in black velvet and stuffed hips, and fair, frightened

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Daniel Deronda

women holding little boys by the hand; smiling politicians in mag-
nificent perruques, and ladies of the prize-animal kind, with rose-
bud mouths and full eyelids, according to Lely; then a generation
whose faces were revised and embellished in the taste of Kneller;
and so on through refined editions of the family types in the time of
Reynolds and Romney, till the line ended with Sir Hugo and his
younger brother Henleigh. This last had married Miss Grandcourt,
and taken her name along with her estates, thus making a junction
between two equally old families, impaling the three Saracens’ heads
proper and three bezants of the one with the tower and falcons ar-
gent of the other, and, as it happened, uniting their highest advan-
tages in the prospects of that Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt who
is at present more of an acquaintance to us than either Sir Hugo or
his nephew Daniel Deronda.
   In Sir Hugo’s youthful portrait with rolled collar and high cravat,
Sir Thomas Lawrence had done justice to the agreeable alacrity of
expression and sanguine temperament still to be seen in the origi-
nal, but had done something more than justice in slightly lengthen-
ing the nose, which was in reality shorter than might have been
expected in a Mallinger. Happily the appropriate nose of the family
reappeared in his younger brother, and was to be seen in all its re-
fined regularity in his nephew Mallinger Grandcourt. But in the
nephew Daniel Deronda the family faces of various types, seen on
the walls of the gallery; found no reflex. Still he was handsomer
than any of them, and when he was thirteen might have served as
model for any painter who wanted to image the most memorable of
boys: you could hardly have seen his face thoroughly meeting yours
without believing that human creatures had done nobly in times
past, and might do more nobly in time to come. The finest childlike
faces have this consecrating power, and make us shudder anew at all
the grossness and basely-wrought griefs of the world, lest they should
enter here and defile.
   But at this moment on the grass among the rose-petals, Daniel
Deronda was making a first acquaintance with those griefs. A new
idea had entered his mind, and was beginning to change the aspect
of his habitual feelings as happy careless voyagers are changed with
the sky suddenly threatened and the thought of danger arises. He

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sat perfectly still with his back to the tutor, while his face expressed
rapid inward transition. The deep blush, which had come when he
first started up, gradually subsided; but his features kept that inde-
scribable look of subdued activity which often accompanies a new
mental survey of familiar facts. He had not lived with other boys,
and his mind showed the same blending of child’s ignorance with
surprising knowledge which is oftener seen in bright girls. Having
read Shakespeare as well as a great deal of history, he could have
talked with the wisdom of a bookish child about men who were
born out of wedlock and were held unfortunate in consequence,
being under disadvantages which required them to be a sort of he-
roes if they were to work themselves up to an equal standing with
their legally born brothers. But he had never brought such knowl-
edge into any association with his own lot, which had been too easy
for him ever to think about it—until this moment when there had
darted into his mind with the magic of quick comparison, the pos-
sibility that here was the secret of his own birth, and that the man
whom he called uncle was really his father. Some children, even
younger than Daniel, have known the first arrival of care, like an
ominous irremovable guest in their tender lives, on the discovery
that their parents, whom they had imagined able to buy everything,
were poor and in hard money troubles. Daniel felt the presence of a
new guest who seemed to come with an enigmatic veiled face, and
to carry dimly-conjectured, dreaded revelations. The ardor which
he had given to the imaginary world in his books suddenly rushed
toward his own history and spent its pictorial energy there, explain-
ing what he knew, representing the unknown. The uncle whom he
loved very dearly took the aspect of a father who held secrets about
him—who had done him a wrong—yes, a wrong: and what had
become of his mother, for whom he must have been taken away?—
Secrets about which he, Daniel, could never inquire; for to speak or
to be spoken to about these new thoughts seemed like falling flakes
of fire to his imagination. Those who have known an impassioned
childhood will understand this dread of utterance about any shame
connected with their parents. The impetuous advent of new images
took possession of him with the force of fact for the first time told,
and left him no immediate power for the reflection that he might

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Daniel Deronda

be trembling at a fiction of his own. The terrible sense of collision
between a strong rush of feeling and the dread of its betrayal, found
relief at length in big slow tears, which fell without restraint until
the voice of Mr. Fraser was heard saying:
   “Daniel, do you see that you are sitting on the bent pages of your
book?”
   Daniel immediately moved the book without turning round, and
after holding it before him for an instant, rose with it and walked
away into the open grounds, where he could dry his tears unob-
served. The first shock of suggestion past, he could remember that
he had no certainty how things really had been, and that he had
been making conjectures about his own history, as he had often
made stories about Pericles or Columbus, just to fill up the blanks
before they became famous. Only there came back certain facts which
had an obstinate reality,—almost like the fragments of a bridge,
telling you unmistakably how the arches lay. And again there came
a mood in which his conjectures seemed like a doubt of religion, to
be banished as an offense, and a mean prying after what he was not
meant to know; for there was hardly a delicacy of feeling this lad
was not capable of. But the summing-up of all his fluctuating expe-
rience at this epoch was, that a secret impression had come to him
which had given him something like a new sense in relation to all
the elements of his life. And the idea that others probably knew
things concerning which they did not choose to mention, set up in
him a premature reserve which helped to intensify his inward expe-
rience. His ears open now to words which before that July day would
have passed by him unnoted; and round every trivial incident which
imagination could connect with his suspicions, a newly-roused set
of feelings were ready to cluster themselves.
   One such incident a month later wrought itself deeply into his
life. Daniel had not only one of those thrilling boy voices which
seem to bring an idyllic heaven and earth before our eyes, but a fine
musical instinct, and had early made out accompaniments for him-
self on the piano, while he sang from memory. Since then he had
had some teaching, and Sir Hugo, who delighted in the boy, used to
ask for his music in the presence of guests. One morning after he
had been singing “Sweet Echo” before a small party of gentlemen

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whom the rain had kept in the house, the baronet, passing from a
smiling remark to his next neighbor said:
   “Come here, Dan!”
   The boy came forward with unusual reluctance. He wore an em-
broidered holland blouse which set off the rich coloring of his head
and throat, and the resistant gravity about his mouth and eyes as he
was being smiled upon, made their beauty the more impressive.
Every one was admiring him.
   “What do you say to being a great singer? Should you like to be
adored by the world and take the house by storm; like Mario and
Tamberlik?”
   Daniel reddened instantaneously, but there was a just perceptible
interval before he answered with angry decision—
   “No; I should hate it!”
   “Well, well, well!” said Sir Hugo, with surprised kindliness in-
tended to be soothing. But Daniel turned away quickly, left the
room, and going to his own chamber threw himself on the broad
window-sill, which was a favorite retreat of his when he had noth-
ing particular to do. Here he could see the rain gradually subsiding
with gleams through the parting clouds which lit up a great reach of
the park, where the old oaks stood apart from each other, and the
bordering wood was pierced with a green glade which met the east-
ern sky. This was a scene which had always been part of his home—
part of the dignified ease which had been a matter of course in his
life. And his ardent clinging nature had appropriated it all with af-
fection. He knew a great deal of what it was to be a gentleman by
inheritance, and without thinking much about himself—for he was
a boy of active perceptions and easily forgot his own existence in
that of Robert Bruce—he had never supposed that he could be shut
out from such a lot, or have a very different part in the world from
that of the uncle who petted him. It is possible (though not greatly
believed in at present) to be fond of poverty and take it for a bride,
to prefer scoured deal, red quarries and whitewash for one’s private
surroundings, to delight in no splendor but what has open doors
for the whole nation, and to glory in having no privileges except
such as nature insists on; and noblemen have been known to run
away from elaborate ease and the option of idleness, that they might

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Daniel Deronda

bind themselves for small pay to hard-handed labor. But Daniel’s
tastes were altogether in keeping with his nurture: his disposition
was one in which everyday scenes and habits beget not ennui or
rebellion, but delight, affection, aptitudes; and now the lad had been
stung to the quick by the idea that his uncle—perhaps his father—
thought of a career for him which was totally unlike his own, and
which he knew very well was not thought of among possible desti-
nations for the sons of English gentlemen. He had often stayed in
London with Sir Hugo, who to indulge the boy’s ear had carried
him to the opera to hear the great tenors, so that the image of a
singer taking the house by storm was very vivid to him; but now,
spite of his musical gift, he set himself bitterly against the notion of
being dressed up to sing before all those fine people, who would not
care about him except as a wonderful toy. That Sir Hugo should
have thought of him in that position for a moment, seemed to Daniel
an unmistakable proof that there was something about his birth
which threw him out from the class of gentlemen to which the bar-
onet belonged. Would it ever be mentioned to him? Would the time
come when his uncle would tell him everything? He shrank from
the prospect: in his imagination he preferred ignorance. If his father
had been wicked—Daniel inwardly used strong words, for he was
feeling the injury done him as a maimed boy feels the crushed limb
which for others is merely reckoned in an average of accidents—if
his father had done any wrong, he wished it might never be spoken
of to him: it was already a cutting thought that such knowledge
might be in other minds. Was it in Mr. Fraser’s? probably not, else
he would not have spoken in that way about the pope’s nephews.
Daniel fancied, as older people do, that every one else’s conscious-
ness was as active as his own on a matter which was vital to him.
Did Turvey the valet know?—and old Mrs. French the house-
keeper?—and Banks the bailiff, with whom he had ridden about
the farms on his pony?—And now there came back the recollection
of a day some years before when he was drinking Mrs. Banks’s whey,
and Banks said to his wife with a wink and a cunning laugh, “He
features the mother, eh?” At that time little Daniel had merely
thought that Banks made a silly face, as the common farming men
often did, laughing at what was not laughable; and he rather re-

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                                                          George Eliot

sented being winked at and talked of as if he did not understand
everything. But now that small incident became information: it was
to be reasoned on. How could he be like his mother and not like his
father? His mother must have been a Mallinger, if Sir Hugo were his
uncle. But no! His father might have been Sir Hugo’s brother and
have changed his name, as Mr. Henleigh Mallinger did when he
married Miss Grandcourt. But then, why had he never heard Sir
Hugo speak of his brother Deronda, as he spoke of his brother
Grandcourt? Daniel had never before cared about the family tree—
only about that ancestor who had killed three Saracens in one en-
counter. But now his mind turned to a cabinet of estate-maps in the
library, where he had once seen an illuminated parchment hanging
out, that Sir Hugo said was the family tree. The phrase was new and
odd to him—he was a little fellow then—hardly mare than half his
present age—and he gave it no precise meaning. He knew more
now and wished that he could examine that parchment. He imag-
ined that the cabinet was always locked, and longed to try it. But
here he checked himself. He might be seen: and he would never
bring himself near even a silent admission of the sore that had opened
in him.
  It is in such experiences of a boy or girlhood, while elders are
debating whether most education lies in science or literature, that
the main lines of character are often laid down. If Daniel had been
of a less ardently affectionate nature, the reserve about himself and
the supposition that others had something to his disadvantage in
their minds, might have turned into a hard, proud antagonism. But
inborn lovingness was strong enough to keep itself level with re-
sentment. There was hardly any creature in his habitual world that
he was not fond of; teasing them occasionally, of course—all except
his uncle, or “Nunc,” as Sir Hugo had taught him to say; for the
baronet was the reverse of a strait-laced man, and left his dignity to
take care of itself. Him Daniel loved in that deep-rooted filial way
which makes children always the happier for being in the same room
with father or mother, though their occupations may be quite apart.
Sir Hugo’s watch-chain and seals, his handwriting, his mode of smok-
ing and of talking to his dogs and horses, had all a rightness and
charm about them to the boy which went along with the happiness

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Daniel Deronda

of morning and breakfast time. That Sir Hugo had always been a
Whig, made Tories and Radicals equally opponents of the truest
and best; and the books he had written were all seen under the same
consecration of loving belief which differenced what was his from
what was not his, in spite of general resemblance. Those writings
were various, from volumes of travel in the brilliant style, to articles
on things in general, and pamphlets on political crises; but to Daniel
they were alike in having an unquestionable rightness by which other
people’s information could be tested.
  Who cannot imagine the bitterness of a first suspicion that some-
thing in this object of complete love was not quite right? Children
demand that their heroes should be fleckless, and easily believe them
so: perhaps a first discovery to the contrary is hardly a less revolu-
tionary shock to a passionate child than the threatened downfall of
habitual beliefs which makes the world seem to totter for us in ma-
turer life.
  But some time after this renewal of Daniel’s agitation it appeared
that Sir Hugo must have been making a merely playful experiment
in his question about the singing. He sent for Daniel into the li-
brary, and looking up from his writing as the boy entered threw
himself sideways in his armchair. “Ah, Dan!” he said kindly, draw-
ing one of the old embroidered stools close to him. “Come and sit
down here.”
  Daniel obeyed, and Sir Hugo put a gentle hand on his shoulder,
looking at him affectionately.
  “What is it, my boy? Have you heard anything that has put you
out of spirits lately?”
  Daniel was determined not to let the tears come, but he could not
speak.
  “All changes are painful when people have been happy, you know,”
said Sir Hugo, lifting his hand from the boy’s shoulder to his dark
curls and rubbing them gently. “You can’t be educated exactly as I
wish you to be without our parting. And I think you will find a
great deal to like at school.”
  This was not what Daniel expected, and was so far a relief, which
gave him spirit to answer—
  “Am I to go to school?”

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                                                         George Eliot

  “Yes, I mean you to go to Eton. I wish you to have the education
of an English gentleman; and for that it is necessary that you should
go to a public school in preparation for the university: Cambridge I
mean you to go to; it was my own university.”
  Daniel’s color came went.
  “What do you say, sirrah?” said Sir Hugo, smiling.
  “I should like to be a gentleman,” said Daniel, with firm distinct-
ness, “and go to school, if that is what a gentleman’s son must do.”
  Sir Hugo watched him silently for a few moments, thinking he
understood now why the lad had seemed angry at the notion of
becoming a singer. Then he said tenderly—
  “And so you won’t mind about leaving your old Nunc?”
  “Yes, I shall,” said Daniel, clasping Sir Hugo’s caressing arm with
both his hands. “But shan’t I come home and be with you in the
holidays?”
  “Oh yes, generally,” said Sir Hugo. “But now I mean you to go at
once to a new tutor, to break the change for you before you go to
Eton.”
  After this interview Daniel’s spirit rose again. He was meant to be
a gentleman, and in some unaccountable way it might be that his
conjectures were all wrong. The very keenness of the lad taught him
to find comfort in his ignorance. While he was busying his mind in
the construction of possibilities, it became plain to him that there
must be possibilities of which he knew nothing. He left off brood-
ing, young joy and the spirit of adventure not being easily quenched
within him, and in the interval before his going away he sang about
the house, danced among the old servants, making them parting
gifts, and insisted many times to the groom on the care that was to
be taken of the black pony.
  “Do you think I shall know much less than the other boys, Mr.
Fraser?” said Daniel. It was his bent to think that every stranger
would be surprised at his ignorance.
  “There are dunces to be found everywhere,” said the judicious
Fraser. “You’ll not be the biggest; but you’ve not, the makings of a
Porson in you, or a Leibnitz either.”
  “I don’t want to be a Porson or a Leibnitz,” said Daniel. “I would
rather be a greater leader, like Pericles or Washington.”

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Daniel Deronda

  “Ay, ay; you’ve a notion they did with little parsing, and less alge-
bra,” said Fraser. But in reality he thought his pupil a remarkable
lad, to whom one thing was as easy as another, if he had only a
mind to it.
  Things went on very well with Daniel in his new world, except
that a boy with whom he was at once inclined to strike up a close
friendship talked to him a great deal about his home and parents,
and seemed to expect a like expansiveness in return. Daniel imme-
diately shrank into reserve, and this experience remained a check on
his naturally strong bent toward the formation of intimate friend-
ship. Every one, his tutor included, set him down as a reserved boy,
though he was so good-humored and unassuming, as well as quick,
both at study and sport, that nobody called his reserve disagreeable.
Certainly his face had a great deal to do with that favorable inter-
pretation; but in this instance the beauty of the closed lips told no
falsehood.
  A surprise that came to him before his first vacation strengthened
the silent consciousness of a grief within, which might be compared
in some ways with Byron’s susceptibility about his deformed foot.
Sir Hugo wrote word that he was married to Miss Raymond, a sweet
lady, whom Daniel must remember having seen. The event would
make no difference about his spending the vacation at the Abbey;
he would find Lady Mallinger a new friend whom he would be sure
to love—and much more to the usual effect when a man, having
done something agreeable to himself, is disposed to congratulate
others on his own good fortune, and the deducible satisfactoriness
of events in general.
  Let Sir Hugo be partly excused until the grounds of his action can
be more fully known. The mistakes in his behavior to Deronda were
due to that dullness toward what may be going on in other minds,
especially the minds of children, which is among the commonest
deficiencies, even in good-natured men like him, when life has been
generally easy to themselves, and their energies have been quietly
spent in feeling gratified. No one was better aware than he that
Daniel was generally suspected to be his own son. But he was pleased
with that suspicion; and his imagination had never once been
troubled with the way in which the boy himself might be affected,

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                                                         George Eliot

either then or in the future, by the enigmatic aspect of his circum-
stances. He was as fond of him as could be, and meant the best by
him. And, considering the lightness with which the preparation of
young lives seem to lie on respectable consciences, Sir Hugo
Mallinger can hardly be held open to exceptional reproach. He had
been a bachelor till he was five-and-forty, had always been regarded
as a fascinating man of elegant tastes; what could be more natural,
even according to the index of language, than that he should have a
beautiful boy like the little Deronda to take care of? The mother
might even, perhaps, be in the great world—met with in Sir Hugo’s
residence abroad. The only person to feel any objection was the boy
himself, who could not have been consulted. And the boy’s objec-
tions had never been dreamed of by anybody but himself.
   By the time Deronda was ready to go to Cambridge, Lady
Mallinger had already three daughters—charming babies, all three,
but whose sex was announced as a melancholy alternative, the off-
spring desired being a son; if Sir Hugo had no son the succession
must go to his nephew, Mallinger Grandcourt. Daniel no longer
held a wavering opinion about his own birth. His fuller knowledge
had tended to convince him that Sir Hugo was his father, and he
conceived that the baronet, since he never approached a communi-
cation on the subject, wished him to have a tacit understanding of
the fact, and to accept in silence what would be generally consid-
ered more than the due love and nurture. Sir Hugo’s marriage might
certainly have been felt as a new ground of resentment by some
youths in Deronda’s position, and the timid Lady Mallinger with
her fast-coming little ones might have been images to scowl at, as
likely to divert much that was disposable in the feelings and posses-
sions of the baronet from one who felt his own claim to be prior.
But hatred of innocent human obstacles was a form of moral stu-
pidity not in Deronda’s grain; even the indignation which had long
mingled itself with his affection for Sir Hugo took the quality of
pain rather than of temper; and as his mind ripened to the idea of
tolerance toward error, he habitually liked the idea with his own
silent grievances.
   The sense of an entailed disadvantage—the deformed foot doubt-
fully hidden by the shoe, makes a restlessly active spiritual yeast,

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Daniel Deronda

and easily turns a self-centered, unloving nature into an Ishmaelite.
But in the rarer sort, who presently see their own frustrated claim as
one among a myriad, the inexorable sorrow takes the form of fel-
lowship and makes the imagination tender. Deronda’s early-weak-
ened susceptibility, charged at first with ready indignation and re-
sistant pride, had raised in him a premature reflection on certain
questions of life; it had given a bias to his conscience, a sympathy
with certain ills, and a tension of resolve in certain directions, who
marked him off from other youths much more than any talents he
possessed.
   One day near the end of the long vacation, when he had been
making a tour in the Rhineland with his Eton tutor, and was come
for a farewell stay at the Abbey before going to Cambridge, he said
to Sir Hugo—
   “What do you intend me to be, sir?” They were in the library, and
it was the fresh morning. Sir Hugo had called him in to read a letter
from a Cambridge Don who was to be interested in him; and since
the baronet wore an air at once business-like and leisurely, the mo-
ment seemed propitious for entering on a grave subject which had
never yet been thoroughly discussed.
   “Whatever your inclination leads you to, my boy. I thought it right
to give you the option of the army, but you shut the door on that, and
I was glad. I don’t expect you to choose just yet—by-and-by, when
you have looked about you a little more and tried your mettle among
older men. The university has a good wide opening into the forum.
There are prizes to be won, and a bit of good fortune often gives the
turn to a man’s taste. From what I see and hear, I should think you
can take up anything you like. You are in the deeper water with your
classics than I ever got into, and if you are rather sick of that swim-
ming, Cambridge is the place where you can go into mathematics
with a will, and disport yourself on the dry sand as much as you like.
I floundered along like a carp.”
   “I suppose money will make some difference, sir,” said Daniel
blushing. “I shall have to keep myself by-and-by.”
   “Not exactly. I recommend you not to be extravagant—yes, yes, I
know—you are not inclined to that;—but you need not take up
anything against the grain. You will have a bachelor’s income—

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                                                           George Eliot

enough for you to look about with. Perhaps I had better tell you
that you may consider yourself secure of seven hundred a year. You
might make yourself a barrister—be a writer—take up politics. I
confess that is what would please me best. I should like to have you
at my elbow and pulling with me.”
  Deronda looked embarrassed. He felt that he ought to make some
sign of gratitude, but other feelings clogged his tongue. A moment
was passing by in which a question about his birth was throbbing
within him, and yet it seemed more impossible than ever that the
question should find vent—more impossible than ever that he could
hear certain things from Sir Hugo’s lips. The liberal way in which he
was dealt with was the more striking because the baronet had of late
cared particularly for money, and for making the utmost of his life-
interest in the estate by way of providing for his daughters; and as
all this flashed through Daniel’s mind it was momentarily within
his imagination that the provision for him might come in some way
from his mother. But such vaporous conjecture passed away as
quickly as it came.
  Sir Hugo appeared not to notice anything peculiar in Daniel’s
manner, and presently went on with his usual chatty liveliness.
  “I am glad you have done some good reading outside your clas-
sics, and have got a grip of French and German. The truth is, unless
a man can get the prestige and income of a Don and write donnish
books, it’s hardly worth while for him to make a Greek and Latin
machine of himself and be able to spin you out pages of the Greek
dramatists at any verse you’ll give him as a cue. That’s all very fine,
but in practical life nobody does give you the cue for pages of Greek.
In fact, it’s a nicety of conversation which I would have you attend
to—much quotation of any sort, even in English is bad. It tends to
choke ordinary remark. One couldn’t carry on life comfortably with-
out a little blindness to the fact that everything had been said better
than we can put it ourselves. But talking of Dons, I have seen Dons
make a capital figure in society; and occasionally he can shoot you
down a cart-load of learning in the right place, which will tell in
politics. Such men are wanted; and if you have any turn for being a
Don, I say nothing against it.”
  “I think there’s not much chance of that. Quicksett and Puller are

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Daniel Deronda

both stronger than I am. I hope you will not be much disappointed
if I don’t come out with high honors.”
   “No, no. I should like you to do yourself credit, but for God’s
sake don’t come out as a superior expensive kind of idiot, like young
Brecon, who got a Double First, and has been learning to knit braces
ever since. What I wish you to get is a passport in life. I don’t go
against our university system: we want a little disinterested culture
to make head against cotton and capital, especially in the House.
My Greek has all evaporated; if I had to construe a verse on a sud-
den, I should get an apoplectic fit. But it formed my taste. I dare say
my English is the better for it.”
   On this point Daniel kept a respectful silence. The enthusiastic
belief in Sir Hugo’s writings as a standard, and in the Whigs as the
chosen race among politicians, had gradually vanished along with
the seraphic boy’s face. He had not been the hardest of workers at
Eton. Though some kinds of study and reading came as easily as
boating to him, he was not of the material that usually makes the
first-rate Eton scholar. There had sprung up in him a meditative
yearning after wide knowledge which is likely always to abate ardor
in the fight for prize acquirement in narrow tracks. Happily he was
modest, and took any second-rate-ness in himself simply as a fact,
not as a marvel necessarily to be accounted for by a superiority. Still
Mr. Eraser’s high opinion of the lad had not been altogether belied
by the youth: Daniel had the stamp of rarity in a subdued fervor of
sympathy, an activity of imagination on behalf of others which did
not show itself effusively, but was continually seen in acts of consid-
erateness that struck his companions as moral eccentricity. “Deronda
would have been first-rate if he had had more ambition,” was a
frequent remark about him. But how could a fellow push his way
properly when he objected to swop for his own advantage, knocked
under by choice when he was within an inch of victory, and, unlike
the great Clive, would rather be the calf than the butcher? It was a
mistake, however, to suppose that Deronda had not his share of
ambition. We know he had suffered keenly from the belief that there
was a tinge of dishonor in his lot; but there are some cases, and his
was one of them, in which the sense of injury breeds—not the will
to inflict injuries and climb over them as a ladder, but a hatred of all

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                                                           George Eliot

injury. He had his flashes of fierceness and could hit out upon occa-
sion, but the occasions were not always what might have been ex-
pected. For in what related to himself his resentful impulses had
been early checked by a mastering affectionateness. Love has a habit
of saying “Never mind” to angry self, who, sitting down for the
nonce in the lower place, by-and-by gets used to it. So it was that as
Deronda approached manhood his feeling for Sir Hugo, while it
was getting more and more mixed with criticism, was gaining in
that sort of allowance which reconciles criticism with tenderness.
The dear old beautiful home and everything within it, Lady
Mallinger and her little ones included, were consecrated for the youth
as they had been for the boy—only with a certain difference of light
on the objects. The altarpiece was no longer miraculously perfect,
painted under infallible guidance, but the human hand discerned
in the work was appealing to a reverent tenderness safer from the
gusts of discovery. Certainly Deronda’s ambition, even in his spring-
time, lay exceptionally aloof from conspicuous, vulgar triumph, and
from other ugly forms of boyish energy; perhaps because he was
early impassioned by ideas, and burned his fire on those heights.
One may spend a good deal of energy in disliking and resisting
what others pursue, and a boy who is fond of somebody else’s pen-
cil-case may not be more energetic than another who is fond of
giving his own pencil-case away. Still it was not Deronda’s disposi-
tion to escape from ugly scenes; he was more inclined to sit through
them and take care of the fellow least able to take care of himself. It
had helped to make him popular that he was sometimes a little
compromised by this apparent comradeship. For a meditative inter-
est in learning how human miseries are wrought—as precocious in
him as another sort of genius in the poet who writes a Queen Mab
at nineteen—was so infused with kindliness that it easily passed for
comradeship. Enough. In many of our neighbors’ lives there is much
not only of error and lapse, but of a certain exquisite goodness which
can never be written or even spoken—only divined by each of us,
according to the inward instruction of our own privacy.
  The impression he made at Cambridge corresponded to his posi-
tion at Eton. Every one interested in him agreed that he might have
taken a high place if his motives had been of a more pushing sort, and

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Daniel Deronda

if he had not, instead of regarding studies as instruments of success,
hampered himself with the notion that they were to feed motive and
opinion—a notion which set him criticising methods and arguing
against his freight and harness when he should have been using all his
might to pull. In the beginning his work at the university had a new
zest for him: indifferent to the continuation of Eton classical drill, he
applied himself vigorously to mathematics, for which he had shown
an early aptitude under Mr. Fraser, and he had the delight of feeling
his strength in a comparatively fresh exercise of thought. That de-
light, and the favorable opinion of his tutor, determined him to try
for a mathematical scholarship in the Easter of his second year: he
wished to gratify Sir Hugo by some achievement, and the study of the
higher mathematics, having the growing fascination inherent in all
thinking which demands intensity, was making him a more exclusive
worker than he had been before.
   But here came the old check which had been growing with his
growth. He found the inward bent toward comprehension and thor-
oughness diverging more and more from the track marked out by
the standards of examination: he felt a heightening discontent with
the wearing futility and enfeebling strain of a demand for excessive
retention and dexterity without any insight into the principles which
form the vital connections of knowledge. (Deronda’s
undergraduateship occurred fifteen years ago, when the perfection
of our university methods was not yet indisputable.) In hours when
his dissatisfaction was strong upon him he reproached himself for
having been attracted by the conventional advantage of belonging
to an English university, and was tempted toward the project of
asking Sir Hugo to let him quit Cambridge and pursue a more in-
dependent line of study abroad. The germs of this inclination had
been already stirring in his boyish love of universal history, which
made him want to be at home in foreign countries, and follow in
imagination the traveling students of the middle ages. He longed
now to have the sort of apprenticeship to life which would not shape
him too definitely, and rob him of the choice that might come from
a free growth. One sees that Deronda’s demerits were likely to be on
the side of reflective hesitation, and this tendency was encouraged
by his position; there was no need for him to get an immediate

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                                                            George Eliot

income, or to fit himself in haste for a profession; and his sensibility
to the half-known facts of his parentage made him an excuse for
lingering longer than others in a state of social neutrality. Other
men, he inwardly said, had a more definite place and duties. But
the project which flattered his inclination might not have gone be-
yond the stage of ineffective brooding, if certain circumstances had
not quickened it into action.
  The circumstances arose out of an enthusiastic friendship which
extended into his after-life. Of the same year with himself, and oc-
cupying small rooms close to his, was a youth who had come as an
exhibitioner from Christ’s Hospital, and had eccentricities enough
for a Charles Lamb. Only to look at his pinched features and blonde
hair hanging over his collar reminded one of pale quaint heads by
early German painters; and when this faint coloring was lit up by a
joke, there came sudden creases about the mouth and eyes which
might have been moulded by the soul of an aged humorist. His
father, an engraver of some distinction, had been dead eleven years,
and his mother had three girls to educate and maintain on a meagre
annuity. Hans Meyrick—he had been daringly christened after
Holbein—felt himself the pillar, or rather the knotted and twisted
trunk, round which these feeble climbing plants must cling. There
was no want of ability or of honest well-meaning affection to make
the prop trustworthy: the ease and quickness with which he studied
might serve him to win prizes at Cambridge, as he had done among
the Blue Coats, in spite of irregularities. The only danger was, that
the incalculable tendencies in him might be fatally timed, and that
his good intentions might be frustrated by some act which was not
due to habit but to capricious, scattered impulses. He could not be
said to have any one bad habit; yet at longer or shorter intervals he
had fits of impish recklessness, and did things that would have made
the worst habits.
  Hans in his right mind, however, was a lovable creature, and in
Deronda he had happened to find a friend who was likely to stand
by him with the more constancy, from compassion for these brief
aberrations that might bring a long repentance. Hans, indeed, shared
Deronda’s rooms nearly as much as he used his own: to Deronda he
poured himself out on his studies, his affairs, his hopes; the poverty

                                                                   183
Daniel Deronda

of his home, and his love for the creatures there; the itching of his
fingers to draw, and his determination to fight it away for the sake
of getting some sort of a plum that he might divide with his mother
and the girls. He wanted no confidence in return, but seemed to
take Deronda as an Olympian who needed nothing—an egotism in
friendship which is common enough with mercurial, expansive na-
tures. Deronda was content, and gave Meyrick all the interest he
claimed, getting at last a brotherly anxiety about him, looking after
him in his erratic moments, and contriving by adroitly delicate de-
vices not only to make up for his friend’s lack of pence, but to save
him from threatening chances. Such friendship easily becomes ten-
der: the one spreads strong sheltering wings that delight in spread-
ing, the other gets the warm protection which is also a delight.
Meyrick was going in for a classical scholarship, and his success, in
various ways momentous, was the more probable from the steady-
ing influence of Deronda’s friendship.
  But an imprudence of Meyrick’s, committed at the beginning of
the autumn term, threatened to disappoint his hopes. With his usual
alternation between unnecessary expense and self-privation, he had
given too much money for an old engraving which fascinated him,
and to make up for it, had come from London in a third-class car-
riage with his eyes exposed to a bitter wind and any irritating par-
ticles the wind might drive before it. The consequence was a severe
inflammation of the eyes, which for some time hung over him the
threat of a lasting injury. This crushing trouble called out all
Deronda’s readiness to devote himself, and he made every other oc-
cupation secondary to that of being companion and eyes to Hans,
working with him and for him at his classics, that if possible his
chance of the classical scholarship might be saved. Hans, to keep
the knowledge of his suffering from his mother and sisters, alleged
his work as a reason for passing the Christmas at Cambridge, and
his friend stayed up with him.
  Meanwhile Deronda relaxed his hold on his mathematics, and Hans,
reflecting on this, at length said: “Old fellow, while you are hoisting
me you are risking yourself. With your mathematical cram one may
be like Moses or Mahomet or somebody of that sort who had to
cram, and forgot in one day what it had taken him forty to learn.”

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                                                               George Eliot

  Deronda would not admit that he cared about the risk, and he had
really been beguiled into a little indifference by double sympathy: he
was very anxious that Hans should not miss the much-needed schol-
arship, and he felt a revival of interest in the old studies. Still, when
Hans, rather late in the day, got able to use his own eyes, Deronda
had tenacity enough to try hard and recover his lost ground. He failed,
however; but he had the satisfaction of seeing Meyrick win.
  Success, as a sort of beginning that urged completion, might have
reconciled Deronda to his university course; but the emptiness of
all things, from politics to pastimes, is never so striking to us as
when we fail in them. The loss of the personal triumph had no
severity for him, but the sense of having spent his time ineffectively
in a mode of working which had been against the grain, gave him a
distaste for any renewal of the process, which turned his imagined
project of quitting Cambridge into a serious intention. In speaking
of his intention to Meyrick he made it appear that he was glad of
the turn events had taken—glad to have the balance dip decidedly,
and feel freed from his hesitations; but he observed that he must of
course submit to any strong objection on the part of Sir Hugo.
  Meyrick’s joy and gratitude were disturbed by much uneasiness. He
believed in Deronda’s alleged preference, but he felt keenly that in
serving him Daniel had placed himself at a disadvantage in Sir Hugo’s
opinion, and he said mournfully, “If you had got the scholarship, Sir
Hugo would have thought that you asked to leave us with a better
grace. You have spoiled your luck for my sake, and I can do nothing
to amend it.”
  “Yes, you can; you are to be a first-rate fellow. I call that a first-rate
investment of my luck.”
  “Oh, confound it! You save an ugly mongrel from drowning, and
expect him to cut a fine figure. The poets have made tragedies enough
about signing one’s self over to wickedness for the sake of getting
something plummy; I shall write a tragedy of a fellow who signed
himself over to be good, and was uncomfortable ever after.”
  But Hans lost no time in secretly writing the history of the affair
to Sir Hugo, making it plain that but for Deronda’s generous devo-
tion he could hardly have failed to win the prize he had been work-
ing for.

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Daniel Deronda

   The two friends went up to town together: Meyrick to rejoice
with his mother and the girls in their little home at Chelsea; Deronda
to carry out the less easy task of opening his mind to Sir Hugo. He
relied a little on the baronet’s general tolerance of eccentricities, but
he expected more opposition than he met with. He was received
with even warmer kindness than usual, the failure was passed over
lightly, and when he detailed his reasons for wishing to quit the
university and go to study abroad. Sir Hugo sat for some time in a
silence which was rather meditative than surprised. At last he said,
looking at Daniel with examination, “So you don’t want to be an
Englishman to the backbone after all?”
   “I want to be an Englishman, but I want to understand other
points of view. And I want to get rid of a merely English attitude in
studies.”
   “I see; you don’t want to be turned out in the same mould as every
other youngster. And I have nothing to say against your doffing
some of our national prejudices. I feel the better myself for having
spent a good deal of my time abroad. But, for God’s sake, keep an
English cut, and don’t become indifferent to bad tobacco! And, my
dear boy, it is good to be unselfish and generous; but don’t carry
that too far. It will not do to give yourself to be melted down for the
benefit of the tallow-trade; you must know where to find yourself.
However, I shall put no vote on your going. Wait until I can get off
Committee, and I’ll run over with you.”
   So Deronda went according to his will. But not before he had
spent some hours with Hans Meyrick, and been introduced to the
mother and sisters in the Chelsea home. The shy girls watched and
registered every look of their brother’s friend, declared by Hans to
have been the salvation of him, a fellow like nobody else, and, in
fine, a brick. They so thoroughly accepted Deronda as an ideal, that
when he was gone the youngest set to work, under the criticism of
the two elder girls, to paint him as Prince Camaralzaman.




186
                                                         George Eliot




                    CHAPTER XVII
                         “This is truth the poet sings,
  That a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.”
                                         —TENNYSON: Locksley Hall.


ON A FINE EVENING near the end of July, Deronda was rowing him-
self on the Thames. It was already a year or more since he had come
back to England, with the understanding that his education was
finished, and that he was somehow to take his place in English soci-
ety; but though, in deference to Sir Hugo’s wish, and to fence off
idleness, he had began to read law, this apparent decision had been
without other result than to deepen the roots of indecision. His old
love of boating had revived with the more force now that he was in
town with the Mallingers, because he could nowhere else get the
same still seclusion which the river gave him. He had a boat of his
own at Putney, and whenever Sir Hugo did not want him, it was his
chief holiday to row till past sunset and come in again with the
stars. Not that he was in a sentimental stage; but he was in another
sort of contemplative mood perhaps more common in the young
men of our day—that of questioning whether it were worth while
to take part in the battle of the world: I mean, of course, the young
men in whom the unproductive labor of questioning is sustained by
three or five per cent, on capital which somebody else has battled
for. It puzzled Sir Hugo that one who made a splendid contrast
with all that was sickly and puling should be hampered with ideas
which, since they left an accomplished Whig like himself unob-
structed, could be no better than spectral illusions; especially as
Deronda set himself against authorship—a vocation which is un-
derstood to turn foolish thinking into funds.
  Rowing in his dark-blue shirt and skull-cap, his curls closely
                                                                187
Daniel Deronda

clipped, his mouth beset with abundant soft waves of beard, he
bore only disguised traces of the seraphic boy “trailing clouds of
glory.” Still, even one who had never seen him since his boyhood
might have looked at him with slow recognition, due perhaps to the
peculiarity of the gaze which Gwendolen chose to call “dreadful,”
though it had really a very mild sort of scrutiny. The voice, some-
times audible in subdued snatches of song, had turned out merely a
high baritone; indeed, only to look at his lithe, powerful frame and
the firm gravity of his face would have been enough for an experi-
enced guess that he had no rare and ravishing tenor such as nature
reluctantly makes at some sacrifice. Look at his hands: they are not
small and dimpled, with tapering fingers that seem to have only a
deprecating touch: they are long, flexible, firmly-grasping hands,
such as Titian has painted in a picture where he wanted to show the
combination of refinement with force. And there is something of a
likeness, too, between the faces belonging to the hands—in both
the uniform pale-brown skin, the perpendicular brow, the calmly
penetrating eyes. Not seraphic any longer: thoroughly terrestrial and
manly; but still of a kind to raise belief in a human dignity which
can afford to recognize poor relations.
   Such types meet us here and there among average conditions; in a
workman, for example, whistling over a bit of measurement and lift-
ing his eyes to answer our question about the road. And often the
grand meanings of faces as well as of written words may lie chiefly in
the impressions that happen just now to be of importance in relation
to Deronda, rowing on the Thames in a very ordinary equipment for
a young Englishman at leisure, and passing under Kew Bridge with
no thought of an adventure in which his appearance was likely to play
any part. In fact, he objected very strongly to the notion, which oth-
ers had not allowed him to escape, that his appearance was of a kind
to draw attention; and hints of this, intended to be complimentary,
found an angry resonance in him, coming from mingled experiences,
to which a clue has already been given. His own face in the glass had
during many years associated for him with thoughts of some one
whom he must be like—one about whose character and lot he con-
tinually wondered, and never dared to ask.
   In the neighborhood of Kew Bridge, between six and seven o’clock,

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                                                              George Eliot

the river was no solitude. Several persons were sauntering on the
towing-path, and here and there a boat was plying. Deronda had
been rowing fast to get over this spot, when, becoming aware of a
great barge advancing toward him, he guided his boat aside, and
rested on his oar within a couple of yards of the river-brink. He was
all the while unconsciously continuing the low-toned chant which
had haunted his throat all the way up the river—the gondolier’s
song in the “Otello,” where Rossini has worthily set to music the
immortal words of Dante—

                       “Nessun maggior dolore
                  Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
                  Nella miseria”:*

and, as he rested on his oar, the pianissimo fall of the melodic wail
“nella miseria” was distinctly audible on the brink of the water. Three
or four persons had paused at various spots to watch the barge pass-
ing the bridge, and doubtless included in their notice the young
gentleman in the boat; but probably it was only to one ear that the
low vocal sounds came with more significance than if they had been
an insect-murmur amidst the sum of current noises. Deronda, await-
ing the barge, now turning his head to the river-side, and saw at a
few yards’ distant from him a figure which might have been an im-
personation of the misery he was unconsciously giving voice to: a
girl hardly more than eighteen, of low slim figure, with most deli-
cate little face, her dark curls pushed behind her ears under a large
black hat, a long woolen cloak over her shoulders. Her hands were
hanging down clasped before her, and her eyes were fixed on the
river with a look of immovable, statue-like despair. This strong ar-
rest of his attention made him cease singing: apparently his voice
had entered her inner world without her taking any note of whence
it came, for when it suddenly ceased she changed her attitude slightly,
and, looking round with a frightened glance, met Deronda’s face. It
was but a couple of moments, but that seemed a long while for two


* Dante’s words are best rendered by our own poet in the lines at the head
of the chapter.
                                                                     189
Daniel Deronda

people to look straight at each other. Her look was something like
that of a fawn or other gentle animal before it turns to run away: no
blush, no special alarm, but only some timidity which yet could not
hinder her from a long look before she turned. In fact, it seemed to
Deronda that she was only half conscious of her surroundings: was
she hungry, or was there some other cause of bewilderment? He felt
an outleap of interest and compassion toward her; but the next in-
stant she had turned and walked away to a neighboring bench un-
der a tree. He had no right to linger and watch her: poorly-dressed,
melancholy women are common sights; it was only the delicate
beauty, picturesque lines and color of the image that was excep-
tional, and these conditions made it more markedly impossible that
he should obtrude his interest upon her. He began to row away and
was soon far up the river; but no other thoughts were busy enough
quite to expel that pale image of unhappy girlhood. He fell again
and again to speculating on the probable romance that lay behind
that loneliness and look of desolation; then to smile at his own share
in the prejudice that interesting faces must have interesting adven-
tures; then to justify himself for feeling that sorrow was the more
tragic when it befell delicate, childlike beauty.
  “I should not have forgotten the look of misery if she had been
ugly and vulgar,” he said to himself. But there was no denying that
the attractiveness of the image made it likelier to last. It was clear to
him as an onyx cameo; the brown-black drapery, the white face
with small, small features and dark, long-lashed eyes. His mind
glanced over the girl-tragedies that are going on in the world, hid-
den, unheeded, as if they were but tragedies of the copse or hedgerow,
where the helpless drag wounded wings forsakenly, and streak the
shadowed moss with the red moment-hand of their own death.
Deronda of late, in his solitary excursions, had been occupied chiefly
with uncertainties about his own course; but those uncertainties,
being much at their leisure, were wont to have such wide-sweeping
connections with all life and history that the new image of helpless
sorrow easily blent itself with what seemed to him the strong array
of reasons why he should shrink from getting into that routine of
the world which makes men apologize for all its wrong-doing, and
take opinions as mere professional equipment—why he should not

190
                                                            George Eliot

draw strongly at any thread in the hopelessly-entangled scheme of
things.
   He used his oars little, satisfied to go with the tide and be taken
back by it. It was his habit to indulge himself in that solemn passiv-
ity which easily comes with the lengthening shadows and mellow
light, when thinking and desiring melt together imperceptibly, and
what in other hours may have seemed argument takes the quality of
passionate vision. By the time he had come back again with the tide
past Richmond Bridge the sun was near setting: and the approach
of his favorite hour—with its deepening stillness and darkening
masses of tree and building between the double glow of the sky and
the river—disposed him to linger as if they had been an unfinished
strain of music. He looked out for a perfectly solitary spot where he
could lodge his boat against the bank, and, throwing himself on his
back with his head propped on the cushions, could watch out the
light of sunset and the opening of that bead-roll which some orien-
tal poet describes as God’s call to the little stars, who each answer,
“Here am I.” He chose a spot in the bend of the river just opposite
Kew Gardens, where he had a great breadth of water before him
reflecting the glory of the sky, while he himself was in shadow. He
lay with his hands behind his head, propped on a level with the
boat’s edge, so that he could see all round him, but could not be
seen by any one at a few yards’ distance; and for a long while he
never turned his eyes from the view right in front of him. He was
forgetting everything else in a half-speculative, half-involuntary iden-
tification of himself with the objects he was looking at, thinking
how far it might be possible habitually to shift his centre till his own
personality would be no less outside him than the landscape—when
the sense of something moving on the bank opposite him where it
was bordered by a line of willow bushes, made him turn his glance
thitherward. In the first moment he had a darting presentiment
about the moving figure; and now he could see the small face with
the strange dying sunlight upon it. He feared to frighten her by a
sudden movement, and watched her with motionless attention. She
looked round, but seemed only to gather security from the apparent
solitude, hid her hat among the willows, and immediately took off
her woolen cloak. Presently she seated herself and deliberately dipped

                                                                   191
Daniel Deronda

the cloak in the water, holding it there a little while, then taking it
out with effort, rising from her seat as she did so. By this time
Deronda felt sure that she meant to wrap the wet cloak round her as
a drowning shroud; there was no longer time to hesitate about fright-
ening her. He rose and seized his oar to ply across; happily her posi-
tion lay a little below him. The poor thing, overcome with terror at
this sign of discovery from the opposite bank, sank down on the
brink again, holding her cloak half out of the water. She crouched
and covered her face as if she kept a faint hope that she had not been
seen, and that the boatman was accidentally coming toward her.
But soon he was within brief space of her, steadying his boat against
the bank, and speaking, but very gently—
   “Don’t be afraid. You are unhappy. Pray, trust me. Tell me what I
can do to help you.”
   She raised her head and looked up at him. His face now was to-
ward the light, and she knew it again. But she did not speak for a
few moments which were a renewal of their former gaze at each
other. At last she said in a low sweet voice, with an accent so distinct
that it suggested foreignness and yet was not foreign, “I saw you
before,” and then added dreamily, after a like pause, “nella miseria.”
   Deronda, not understanding the connection of her thoughts, sup-
posed that her mind was weakened by distress and hunger.
   “It was you, singing?” she went on, hesitatingly—”Nessun maggior
dolore.” The mere words themselves uttered in her sweet under-
tones seemed to give the melody to Deronda’s ear.
   “Ah, yes,” he said, understanding now, “I am often singing them.
But I fear you will injure yourself staying here. Pray let me take you in
my boat to some place of safety. And that wet cloak—let me take it.”
   He would not attempt to take it without her leave, dreading lest
he should scare her. Even at his words, he fancied that she shrank
and clutched the cloak more tenaciously. But her eyes were fixed on
him with a question in them as she said, “You look good. Perhaps it
is God’s command.”
   “Do trust me. Let me help you. I will die before I will let any
harm come to you.”
   She rose from her sitting posture, first dragging the saturated cloak
and then letting it fall on the ground—it was too heavy for her tired

192
                                                          George Eliot

arms. Her little woman’s figure as she laid her delicate chilled hands
together one over the other against her waist, and went a step back-
ward while she leaned her head forward as if not to lose sight of his
face, was unspeakably touching.
  “Great God!” the words escaped Deronda in a tone so low and
solemn that they seemed like a prayer become unconsciously vocal.
The agitating impression this forsaken girl was making on him stirred
a fibre that lay close to his deepest interest in the fates of women—
”perhaps my mother was like this one.” The old thought had come
now with a new impetus of mingled feeling, and urged that excla-
mation in which both East and West have for ages concentrated
their awe in the presence of inexorable calamity.
  The low-toned words seemed to have some reassurance in them
for the hearer: she stepped forward close to the boat’s side, and
Deronda put out his hand, hoping now that she would let him help
her in. She had already put her tiny hand into his which closed
around it, when some new thought struck her, and drawing back
she said—
  “I have nowhere to go—nobody belonging to me in all this land.”
  “I will take you to a lady who has daughters,” said Deronda, im-
mediately. He felt a sort of relief in gathering that the wretched
home and cruel friends he imagined her to be fleeing from were not
in the near background. Still she hesitated, and said more timidly
than ever—
  “Do you belong to the theatre?”
  “No; I have nothing to do with the theatre,” said Deronda, in a
decided tone. Then beseechingly, “I will put you in perfect safety at
once; with a lady, a good woman; I am sure she will be kind. Let us
lose no time: you will make yourself ill. Life may still become sweet
to you. There are good people—there are good women who will
take care of you.”
  She drew backward no more, but stepped in easily, as if she were
used to such action, and sat down on the cushions.
  “You had a covering for your head,” said Deronda.
  “My hat?” (She lifted up her hands to her head.) “It is quite hid-
den in the bush.”
  “I will find it,” said Deronda, putting out his hand deprecatingly

                                                                 193
Daniel Deronda

as she attempted to rise. “The boat is fixed.”
   He jumped out, found the hat, and lifted up the saturated cloak,
wringing it and throwing it into the bottom of the boat.
   “We must carry the cloak away, to prevent any one who may have
noticed you from thinking you have been drowned,” he said, cheer-
fully, as he got in again and presented the old hat to her. “I wish I
had any other garment than my coat to offer you. But shall you
mind throwing it over your shoulders while we are on the water? It
is quite an ordinary thing to do, when people return late and are not
enough provided with wraps.” He held out the coat toward her with
a smile, and there came a faint melancholy smile in answer, as she
took it and put it on very cleverly.
   “I have some biscuits—should you like them?” said Deronda.
   “No; I cannot eat. I had still some money left to buy bread.”
   He began to ply his oar without further remark, and they went
along swiftly for many minutes without speaking. She did not look
at him, but was watching the oar, leaning forward in an attitude of
repose, as if she were beginning to feel the comfort of returning
warmth and the prospect of life instead of death. The twilight was
deepening; the red flush was all gone and the little stars were giving
their answer one after another. The moon was rising, but was still
entangled among the trees and buildings. The light was not such
that he could distinctly discern the expression of her features or her
glance, but they were distinctly before him nevertheless—features
and a glance which seemed to have given a fuller meaning for him
to the human face. Among his anxieties one was dominant: his first
impression about her, that her mind might be disordered, had not
been quite dissipated: the project of suicide was unmistakable, and
given a deeper color to every other suspicious sign. He longed to
begin a conversation, but abstained, wishing to encourage the con-
fidence that might induce her to speak first. At last she did speak.
   “I like to listen to the oar.”
   “So do I.”
   “If you had not come, I should have been dead now.”
   “I cannot bear you to speak of that. I hope you will never be sorry
that I came.”
   “I cannot see how I shall be glad to live. The maggior dolore and

194
                                                             George Eliot

the miseria have lasted longer than the tempo felice.” She paused and
then went on dreamily,—“Dolore—miseria—I think those words
are alive.”
  Deronda was mute: to question her seemed an unwarrantable free-
dom; he shrank from appearing to claim the authority of a benefac-
tor, or to treat her with the less reverence because she was in distress.
She went on musingly—
  “I thought it was not wicked. Death and life are one before the
Eternal. I know our fathers slew their children and then slew them-
selves, to keep their souls pure. I meant it so. But now I am com-
manded to live. I cannot see how I shall live.”
  “You will find friends. I will find them for you.”
  She shook her head and said mournfully, “Not my mother and
brother. I cannot find them.”
  “You are English? You must be—speaking English so perfectly.”
  She did not answer immediately, but looked at Deronda again,
straining to see him in the double light. Until now she had been
watching the oar. It seemed as if she were half roused, and won-
dered which part of her impression was dreaming and which wak-
ing. Sorrowful isolation had benumbed her sense of reality, and the
power of distinguishing outward and inward was continually slip-
ping away from her. Her look was full of wondering timidity such
as the forsaken one in the desert might have lifted to the angelic
vision before she knew whether his message was in anger or in pity.
  “You want to know if I am English?” she said at last, while Deronda
was reddening nervously under a gaze which he felt more fully than
he saw.
  “I want to know nothing except what you like to tell me,” he said,
still uneasy in the fear that her mind was wandering. “Perhaps it is
not good for you to talk.”
  “Yes, I will tell you. I am English-born. But I am a Jewess.”
  Deronda was silent, inwardly wondering that he had not said this
to himself before, though any one who had seen delicate-faced Span-
ish girls might simply have guessed her to be Spanish.
  “Do you despise me for it?” she said presently in low tones, which
had a sadness that pierced like a cry from a small dumb creature in
fear.

                                                                    195
Daniel Deronda

   “Why should I?” said Deronda. “I am not so foolish.”
   “I know many Jews are bad.”
   “So are many Christians. But I should not think it fair for you to
despise me because of that.”
   “My mother and brother were good. But I shall never find them.
I am come a long way—from abroad. I ran away; but I cannot tell
you—I cannot speak of it. I thought I might find my mother again—
God would guide me. But then I despaired. This morning when the
light came, I felt as if one word kept sounding within me—Never!
never! But now—I begin—to think—” her words were broken by
rising sobs—”I am commanded to live—perhaps we are going to
her.”
   With an outburst of weeping she buried her head on her knees.
He hoped that this passionate weeping might relieve her excitement.
Meanwhile he was inwardly picturing in much embarrassment how
he should present himself with her in Park Lane—the course which
he had at first unreflectingly determined on. No one kinder and
more gentle than Lady Mallinger; but it was hardly probable that
she would be at home; and he had a shuddering sense of a lackey
staring at this delicate, sorrowful image of womanhood—of glaring
lights and fine staircases, and perhaps chilling suspicious manners
from lady’s maid and housekeeper, that might scare the mind al-
ready in a state of dangerous susceptibility. But to take her to any
other shelter than a home already known to him was not to be con-
templated: he was full of fears about the issue of the adventure which
had brought on him a responsibility all the heavier for the strong
and agitating impression this childlike creature had made on him.
But another resource came to mind: he could venture to take her to
Mrs. Meyrick’s—to the small house at Chelsea—where he had been
often enough since his return from abroad to feel sure that he could
appeal there to generous hearts, which had a romantic readiness to
believe in innocent need and to help it. Hans Meyrick was safe away
in Italy, and Deronda felt the comfort of presenting himself with
his charge at a house where he would be met by a motherly figure of
quakerish neatness, and three girls who hardly knew of any evil
closer to them than what lay in history-books, and dramas, and
would at once associate a lovely Jewess with Rebecca in “Ivanhoe,”

196
                                                          George Eliot

besides thinking that everything they did at Deronda’s request would
be done for their idol, Hans. The vision of the Chelsea home once
raised, Deronda no longer hesitated.
  The rumbling thither in the cab after the stillness of the water
seemed long. Happily his charge had been quiet since her fit of
weeping, and submitted like a tired child. When they were in the
cab, she laid down her hat and tried to rest her head, but the jolting
movement would not let it rest. Still she dozed, and her sweet head
hung helpless, first on one side, then on the other.
  “They are too good to have any fear about taking her in,” thought
Deronda. Her person, her voice, her exquisite utterance, were one
strong appeal to belief and tenderness. Yet what had been the his-
tory which had brought her to this desolation? He was going on a
strange errand—to ask shelter for this waif. Then there occurred to
him the beautiful story Plutarch somewhere tells of the Delphic
women: how when the Maenads, outworn with their torch-lit wan-
derings, lay down to sleep in the market-place, the matrons came
and stood silently round them to keep guard over their slumbers;
then, when they waked, ministered to them tenderly and saw them
safely to their own borders. He could trust the women he was going
to for having hearts as good.
  Deronda felt himself growing older this evening and entering on
a new phase in finding a life to which his own had come—perhaps
as a rescue; but how to make sure that snatching from death was
rescue? The moment of finding a fellow-creature is often as full of
mingled doubt and exultation as the moment of finding an idea.




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Daniel Deronda




                    CHAPTER XVIII
        Life is a various mother: now she dons
        Her plumes and brilliants, climbs the marble stairs
        With head aloft, nor ever turns her eyes
        On lackeys who attend her; now she dwells
        Grim-clad, up darksome allyes, breathes hot gin,
        And screams in pauper riot.

                                   But to these
        She came a frugal matron, neat and deft,
        With cheerful morning thoughts and quick device
        To find the much in little.

MRS. MEYRICK’S HOUSE was not noisy: the front parlor looked on
the river, and the back on gardens, so that though she was reading
aloud to her daughters, the window could be left open to freshen
the air of the small double room where a lamp and two candles were
burning. The candles were on a table apart for Kate, who was draw-
ing illustrations for a publisher; the lamp was not only for the reader
but for Amy and Mab, who were embroidering satin cushions for
“the great world.”
   Outside, the house looked very narrow and shabby, the bright
light through the holland blind showing the heavy old-fashioned
window-frame; but it is pleasant to know that many such grim-
walled slices of space in our foggy London have been and still are
the homes of a culture the more spotlessly free from vulgarity, be-
cause poverty has rendered everything like display an impersonal
question, and all the grand shows of the world simply a spectacle
which rouses petty rivalry or vain effort after possession.
   The Meyricks’ was a home of that kind: and they all clung to this
particular house in a row because its interior was filled with objects

198
                                                           George Eliot

always in the same places, which, for the mother held memories of
her marriage time, and for the young ones seemed as necessary and
uncriticised a part of their world as the stars of the Great Bear seen
from the back windows. Mrs. Meyrick had borne much stint of
other matters that she might be able to keep some engravings spe-
cially cherished by her husband; and the narrow spaces of wall held
a world history in scenes and heads which the children had early
learned by heart. The chairs and tables were also old friends pre-
ferred to new. But in these two little parlors with no furniture that a
broker would have cared to cheapen except the prints and piano,
there was space and apparatus for a wide-glancing, nicely-select life,
opened to the highest things in music, painting and poetry. I am
not sure that in the times of greatest scarcity, before Kate could get
paid-work, these ladies had always had a servant to light their fires
and sweep their rooms; yet they were fastidious in some points, and
could not believe that the manners of ladies in the fashionable world
were so full of coarse selfishness, petty quarreling, and slang as they
are represented to be in what are called literary photographs. The
Meyricks had their little oddities, streaks of eccentricity from the
mother’s blood as well as the father’s, their minds being like mediæval
houses with unexpected recesses and openings from this into that,
flights of steps and sudden outlooks.
   But mother and daughters were all united by a triple bond—fam-
ily love; admiration for the finest work, the best action; and ha-
bitual industry. Hans’ desire to spend some of his money in making
their lives more luxurious had been resisted by all of them, and both
they and he had been thus saved from regrets at the threatened tri-
umphs of his yearning for art over the attractions of secured in-
come—a triumph that would by-and-by oblige him to give up his
fellowship. They could all afford to laugh at his Gavarni-caricatures
and to hold him blameless in following a natural bent which their
unselfishness and independence had left without obstacle. It was
enough for them to go on in their old way, only having a grand treat
of opera-going (to the gallery) when Hans came home on a visit.
   Seeing the group they made this evening, one could hardly wish
them to change their way of life. They were all alike small, and so in
due proportion to their miniature rooms. Mrs. Meyrick was read-

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Daniel Deronda

ing aloud from a French book; she was a lively little woman, half
French, half Scotch, with a pretty articulateness of speech that seemed
to make daylight in her hearer’s understanding. Though she was
not yet fifty, her rippling hair, covered by a quakerish net cap, was
chiefly gray, but her eyebrows were brown as the bright eyes below
them; her black dress, almost like a priest’s cassock with its rows of
buttons, suited a neat figure hardly five feet high. The daughters
were to match the mother, except that Mab had Hans’ light hair
and complexion, with a bossy, irregular brow, and other quaintnesses
that reminded one of him. Everything about them was compact,
from the firm coils of their hair, fastened back à la Chinoise, to their
gray skirts in Puritan nonconformity with the fashion, which at
that time would have demanded that four feminine circumferences
should fill all the free space in the front parlor. All four, if they had
been wax-work, might have been packed easily in a fashionable lady’s
traveling trunk. Their faces seemed full of speech, as if their minds
had been shelled, after the manner of horse-chestnuts, and become
brightly visible. The only large thing of its kind in the room was
Hafiz, the Persian cat, comfortably poised on the brown leather back
of a chair, and opening his large eyes now and then to see that the
lower animals were not in any mischief.
  The book Mrs. Meyrick had before her was Erckmann-Chatrian’s
Historie d’un Conscrit. She had just finished reading it aloud, and
Mab, who had let her work fall on the ground while she stretched
her head forward and fixed her eyes on the reader, exclaimed—
  “I think that is the finest story in the world.”
  “Of course, Mab!” said Amy, “it is the last you have heard. Every-
thing that pleases you is the best in its turn.”
  “It is hardly to be called a story,” said Kate. “It is a bit of history
brought near us with a strong telescope. We can see the soldiers’
faces: no, it is more than that—we can hear everything—we can
almost hear their hearts beat.”
  “I don’t care what you call it,” said Mab, flirting away her thimble.
“Call it a chapter in Revelations. It makes me want to do something
good, something grand. It makes me so sorry for everybody. It makes
me like Schiller—I want to take the world in my arms and kiss it. I
must kiss you instead, little mother?” She threw her arms round her

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mother’s neck.
  “Whenever you are in that mood, Mab, down goes your work,”
said Amy. “It would be doing something good to finish your cush-
ion without soiling it.”
  “Oh—oh—oh!” groaned Mab, as she stooped to pick up her work
and thimble. “I wish I had three wounded conscripts to take care of.”
  “You would spill their beef-tea while you were talking,” said Amy.
  “Poor Mab! don’t be hard on her,” said the mother. “Give me the
embroidery now, child. You go on with your enthusiasm, and I will
go on with the pink and white poppy.”
  “Well, ma, I think you are more caustic than Amy,” said Kate,
while she drew her head back to look at her drawing.
  “Oh—oh—oh!” cried Mab again, rising and stretching her arms.
“I wish something wonderful would happen. I feel like the deluge.
The waters of the great deep are broken up, and the windows of
heaven are opened. I must sit down and play the scales.”
  Mab was opening the piano while the others were laughing at this
climax, when a cab stopped before the house, and there forthwith
came a quick rap of the knocker.
  “Dear me!” said Mrs. Meyrick, starting up, “it is after ten, and
Phoebe is gone to bed.” She hastened out, leaving the parlor door
open.
  “Mr. Deronda!” The girls could hear this exclamation from their
mamma. Mab clasped her hands, saying in a loud whisper, “There
now! something is going to happen.” Kate and Amy gave up their
work in amazement. But Deronda’s tone in reply was so low that
they could not hear his words, and Mrs. Meyrick immediately closed
the parlor door.
  “I know I am trusting to your goodness in a most extraordinary
way,” Deronda went on, after giving his brief narrative; “but you
can imagine how helpless I feel with a young creature like this on
my hands. I could not go with her among strangers, and in her
nervous state I should dread taking her into a house full of servants.
I have trusted to your mercy. I hope you will not think my act
unwarrantable.”
  “On the contrary. You have honored me by trusting me. I see your
difficulty. Pray bring her in. I will go and prepare the girls.”

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  While Deronda went back to the cab, Mrs. Meyrick turned into
the parlor again and said: “Here is somebody to take care of instead
of your wounded conscripts, Mab: a poor girl who was going to
drown herself in despair. Mr. Deronda found her only just in time
to save her. He brought her along in his boat, and did not know
what else it would be safe to do with her, so he has trusted us and
brought her here. It seems she is a Jewess, but quite refined, he
says—knowing Italian and music.”
  The three girls, wondering and expectant, came forward and stood
near each other in mute confidence that they were all feeling alike
under this appeal to their compassion. Mab looked rather awe-
stricken, as if this answer to her wish were something preternatural.
  Meanwhile Deronda going to the door of the cab where the pale
face was now gazing out with roused observation, said, “I have
brought you to some of the kindest people in the world: there are
daughters like you. It is a happy home. Will you let me take you to
them?”
  She stepped out obediently, putting her hand in his and forget-
ting her hat; and when Deronda led her into the full light of the
parlor where the four little women stood awaiting her, she made a
picture that would have stirred much duller sensibilities than theirs.
At first she was a little dazed by the sudden light, and before she had
concentrated her glance he had put her hand into the mother’s. He
was inwardly rejoicing that the Meyricks were so small: the dark-
curled head was the highest among them. The poor wanderer could
not be afraid of these gentle faces so near hers: and now she was
looking at each of them in turn while the mother said, “You must
be weary, poor child.”
  “We will take care of you—we will comfort you—we will love you,”
cried Mab, no longer able to restrain herself, and taking the small
right hand caressingly between both her own. This gentle welcoming
warmth was penetrating the bewildered one: she hung back just enough
to see better the four faces in front of her, whose good will was being
reflected in hers, not in any smile, but in that undefinable change
which tells us that anxiety is passing in contentment. For an instant
she looked up at Deronda, as if she were referring all this mercy to
him, and then again turning to Mrs. Meyrick, said with more

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collectedness in her sweet tones than he had heard before—
   “I am a stranger. I am a Jewess. You might have thought I was
wicked.”
   “No, we are sure you are good,” burst out Mab.
   “We think no evil of you, poor child. You shall be safe with us,”
said Mrs. Meyrick. “Come now and sit down. You must have some
food, and then you must go to rest.”
   The stranger looked up again at Deronda, who said—
   “You will have no more fears with these friends? You will rest to-
night?”
   “Oh, I should not fear. I should rest. I think these are the minis-
tering angels.”
   Mrs. Meyrick wanted to lead her to seat, but again hanging back
gently, the poor weary thing spoke as if with a scruple at being re-
ceived without a further account of herself.
   “My name is Mirah Lapidoth. I am come a long way, all the way
from Prague by myself. I made my escape. I ran away from dreadful
things. I came to find my mother and brother in London. I had
been taken from my mother when I was little, but I thought I could
find her again. I had trouble—the houses were all gone—I could
not find her. It has been a long while, and I had not much money.
That is why I am in distress.”
   “Our mother will be good to you,” cried Mab. “See what a nice
little mother she is!”
   “Do sit down now,” said Kate, moving a chair forward, while Amy
ran to get some tea.
   Mirah resisted no longer, but seated herself with perfect grace,
crossing her little feet, laying her hands one over the other on her
lap, and looking at her friends with placid reverence; whereupon
Hafiz, who had been watching the scene restlessly came forward
with tail erect and rubbed himself against her ankles. Deronda felt
it time to go.
   “Will you allow me to come again and inquire—perhaps at five
to-morrow?” he said to Mrs. Meyrick.
   “Yes, pray; we shall have had time to make acquaintance then.”
   “Good-bye,” said Deronda, looking down at Mirah, and putting
out his hand. She rose as she took it, and the moment brought back

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to them both strongly the other moment when she had first taken
that outstretched hand. She lifted her eyes to his and said with rev-
erential fervor, “The God of our fathers bless you and deliver you
from all evil as you have delivered me. I did not believe there was
any man so good. None before have thought me worthy of the best.
You found me poor and miserable, yet you have given me the best.”
  Deronda could not speak, but with silent adieux to the Meyricks,
hurried away.




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                                                               George Eliot




           BOOK III
      MAIDENS CHOOSING
                      CHAPTER XIX

            “I pity the man who can travel from Dan to
          Beersheba, and say, ’Tis all barren’: and so it is: and
          so is all the world to him who will not cultivate the
          fruits it offers.”
                             —STERNE: Sentimental Journey.


TO SAY THAT DERONDA was romantic would be to misrepresent him;
but under his calm and somewhat self-repressed exterior there was a
fervor which made him easily find poetry and romance among the
events of every-day life. And perhaps poetry and romance are as
plentiful as ever in the world except for those phlegmatic natures
who I suspect would in any age have regarded them as a dull form
of erroneous thinking. They exist very easily in the same room with
the microscope and even in railway carriages: what banishes them
in the vacuum in gentlemen and lady passengers. How should all
the apparatus of heaven and earth, from the farthest firmament to
the tender bosom of the mother who nourished us, make poetry for
a mind that had no movements of awe and tenderness, no sense of
fellowship which thrills from the near to the distant, and back again
from the distant to the near?
   To Deronda this event of finding Mirah was as heart-stirring as
anything that befell Orestes or Rinaldo. He sat up half the night,
living again through the moments since he had first discerned Mirah
on the river-brink, with the fresh and fresh vividness which belongs
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Daniel Deronda

to emotive memory. When he took up a book to try and dull this
urgency of inward vision, the printed words were no more than a
network through which he saw and heard everything as clearly as
before—saw not only the actual events of two hours, but possibili-
ties of what had been and what might be which those events were
enough to feed with the warm blood of passionate hope and fear.
Something in his own experience caused Mirah’s search after her
mother to lay hold with peculiar force on his imagination. The first
prompting of sympathy was to aid her in her search: if given per-
sons were extant in London there were ways of finding them, as
subtle as scientific experiment, the right machinery being set at work.
But here the mixed feelings which belonged to Deronda’s kindred
experience naturally transfused themselves into his anxiety on be-
half of Mirah.
   The desire to know his own mother, or to know about her, was
constantly haunted with dread; and in imagining what might befall
Mirah it quickly occurred to him that finding the mother and brother
from whom she had been parted when she was a little one might
turn out to be a calamity. When she was in the boat she said that her
mother and brother were good; but the goodness might have been
chiefly in her own ignorant innocence and yearning memory, and
the ten or twelve years since the parting had been time enough for
much worsening. Spite of his strong tendency to side with the ob-
jects of prejudice, and in general with those who got the worst of it,
his interest had never been practically drawn toward existing Jews,
and the facts he knew about them, whether they walked conspicu-
ous in fine apparel or lurked in by-streets, were chiefly of a sort
most repugnant to him. Of learned and accomplished Jews he took
it for granted that they had dropped their religion, and wished to be
merged in the people of their native lands. Scorn flung at a Jew as
such would have roused all his sympathy in griefs of inheritance;
but the indiscriminate scorn of a race will often strike a specimen
who has well earned it on his own account, and might fairly be
gibbeted as a rascally son of Adam. It appears that the Caribs, who
know little of theology, regard thieving as a practice peculiarly con-
nected with Christian tenets, and probably they could allege experi-
mental grounds for this opinion. Deronda could not escape (who

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can?) knowing ugly stories of Jewish characteristics and occupations;
and though one of his favorite protests was against the severance of
past and present history, he was like others who shared his protest,
in never having cared to reach any more special conclusions about
actual Jews than that they retained the virtues and vices of a long-
oppressed race. But now that Mirah’s longing roused his mind to a
closer survey of details, very disagreeable images urged themselves
of what it might be to find out this middle-aged Jewess and her son.
To be sure, there was the exquisite refinement and charm of the
creature herself to make a presumption in favor of her immediate
kindred, but—he must wait to know more: perhaps through Mrs.
Meyrick he might gather some guiding hints from Mirah’s own lips.
Her voice, her accent, her looks—all the sweet purity that clothed
her as with a consecrating garment made him shrink the more from
giving her, either ideally or practically, an association with what was
hateful or contaminating. But these fine words with which we fu-
migate and becloud unpleasant facts are not the language in which
we think. Deronda’s thinking went on in rapid images of what might
be: he saw himself guided by some official scout into a dingy street;
he entered through a dim doorway, and saw a hawk-eyed woman,
rough-headed, and unwashed, cheapening a hungry girl’s last bit of
finery; or in some quarter only the more hideous for being smarter,
he found himself under the breath of a young Jew talkative and
familiar, willing to show his acquaintance with gentlemen’s tastes,
and not fastidious in any transactions with which they would favor
him—and so on through the brief chapter of his experience in this
kind. Excuse him: his mind was not apt to run spontaneously into
insulting ideas, or to practice a form of wit which identifies Moses
with the advertisement sheet; but he was just now governed by dread,
and if Mirah’s parents had been Christian, the chief difference would
have been that his forebodings would have been fed with wider
knowledge. It was the habit of his mind to connect dread with un-
known parentage, and in this case as well as his own there was enough
to make the connection reasonable.
   But what was to be done with Mirah? She needed shelter and
protection in the fullest sense, and all his chivalrous sentiment roused
itself to insist that the sooner and the more fully he could engage for

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Daniel Deronda

her the interest of others besides himself, the better he should fulfill
her claims on him. He had no right to provide for her entirely,
though he might be able to do so; the very depth of the impression
she had produced made him desire that she should understand her-
self to be entirely independent of him; and vague visions of the
future which he tried to dispel as fantastic left their influence in an
anxiety stronger than any motive he could give for it, that those
who saw his actions closely should be acquainted from the first with
the history of his relation to Mirah. He had learned to hate secrecy
about the grand ties and obligations of his life—to hate it the more
because a strong spell of interwoven sensibilities hindered him from
breaking such secrecy. Deronda had made a vow to himself that—
since the truths which disgrace mortals are not all of their own mak-
ing—the truth should never be made a disgrace to another by his
act. He was not without terror lest he should break this vow, and fall
into the apologetic philosophy which explains the world into con-
taining nothing better than one’s own conduct.
  At one moment he resolved to tell the whole of his adventure to
Sir Hugo and Lady Mallinger the next morning at breakfast, but
the possibility that something quite new might reveal itself on his
next visit to Mrs. Meyrick’s checked this impulse, and he finally
went to sleep on the conclusion that he would wait until that visit
had been made.




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                       CHAPTER XX
    “It will hardly be denied that even in this frail and corrupted world,
  we sometimes meet persons who, in their very mien and aspect, as
  well as in the whole habit of life, manifest such a signature and stamp
  of virtue, as to make our judgment of them a matter of intuition
  rather than the result of continued examination.”
         —ALEXANDER KNOX: quoted in Southey’s Life of Wesley.


MIRAH SAID that she had slept well that night; and when she came
down in Mab’s black dress, her dark hair curling in fresh fibrils as it
gradually dried from its plenteous bath, she looked like one who
was beginning to take comfort after the long sorrow and watching
which had paled her cheek and made blue semicircles under her
eyes. It was Mab who carried her breakfast and ushered her down—
with some pride in the effect produced by a pair of tiny felt slippers
which she had rushed out to buy because there were no shoes in the
house small enough for Mirah, whose borrowed dress ceased about
her ankles and displayed the cheap clothing that, moulding itself on
her feet, seemed an adornment as choice as the sheaths of buds. The
farthing buckles were bijoux.
   “Oh, if you please, mamma?” cried Mab, clasping her hands and
stooping toward Mirah’s feet, as she entered the parlor; “look at the
slippers, how beautiful they fit! I declare she is like the Queen
Budoor—’ two delicate feet, the work of the protecting and all-
recompensing Creator, support her; and I wonder how they can
sustain what is above them.’”
   Mirah looked down at her own feet in a childlike way and then
smiled at Mrs. Meyrick, who was saying inwardly, “One could hardly
imagine this creature having an evil thought. But wise people would
tell me to be cautious.” She returned Mirah’s smile and said, “I fear

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Daniel Deronda

the feet have had to sustain their burden a little too often lately. But
to-day she will rest and be my companion.”
   “And she will tell you so many things and I shall not hear them,”
grumbled Mab, who felt herself in the first volume of a delightful
romance and obliged to miss some chapters because she had to go
to pupils.
   Kate was already gone to make sketches along the river, and Amy
was away on business errands. It was what the mother wished, to be
alone with this stranger, whose story must be a sorrowful one, yet
was needful to be told.
   The small front parlor was as good as a temple that morning. The
sunlight was on the river and soft air came in through the open
window; the walls showed a glorious silent cloud of witnesses—the
Virgin soaring amid her cherubic escort; grand Melancholia with
her solemn universe; the Prophets and Sibyls; the School of Athens;
the Last Supper; mystic groups where far-off ages made one mo-
ment; grave Holbein and Rembrandt heads; the Tragic Muse; last-
century children at their musings or their play; Italian poets—all
were there through the medium of a little black and white. The neat
mother who had weathered her troubles, and come out of them
with a face still cheerful, was sorting colored wools for her embroi-
dery. Hafiz purred on the window-ledge, the clock on the mantle-
piece ticked without hurry, and the occasional sound of wheels
seemed to lie outside the more massive central quiet. Mrs. Meyrick
thought that this quiet might be the best invitation to speech on the
part of her companion, and chose not to disturb it by remark. Mirah
sat opposite in her former attitude, her hands clasped on her lap,
her ankles crossed, her eyes at first traveling slowly over the objects
around her, but finally resting with a sort of placid reverence on
Mrs. Meyrick. At length she began to speak softly.
   “I remember my mother’s face better than anything; yet I was not
seven when I was taken away, and I am nineteen now.”
   “I can understand that,” said Mrs. Meyrick. “There are some ear-
liest things that last the longest.”
   “Oh, yes, it was the earliest. I think my life began with waking up
and loving my mother’s face: it was so near to me, and her arms
were round me, and she sang to me. One hymn she sang so often,

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so often: and then she taught me to sing it with her: it was the first
I ever sang. They were always Hebrew hymns she sang; and because
I never knew the meaning of the words they seemed full of nothing
but our love and happiness. When I lay in my little bed and it was
all white above me, she used to bend over me, between me and the
white, and sing in a sweet, low voice. I can dream myself back into
that time when I am awake, and it often comes back to me in my
sleep—my hand is very little, I put it up to her face and she kisses it.
Sometimes in my dreams I begin to tremble and think that we are
both dead; but then I wake up and my hand lies like this, and for a
moment I hardly know myself. But if I could see my mother again
I should know her.”
   “You must expect some change after twelve years,” said Mrs.
Meyrick, gently. “See my grey hair: ten years ago it was bright brown.
The days and months pace over us like restless little birds, and leave
the marks of their feet backward and forward; especially when they
are like birds with heavy hearts-then they tread heavily.”
   “Ah, I am sure her heart has been heavy for want of me. But to
feel her joy if we could meet again, and I could make her know I
love her and give her deep comfort after all her mourning! If that
could be, I should mind nothing; I should be glad that I have lived
through my trouble. I did despair. The world seemed miserable and
wicked; none helped me so that I could bear their looks and words;
I felt that my mother was dead, and death was the only way to her.
But then in the last moment—yesterday, when I longed for the
water to close over me—and I thought that death was the best im-
age of mercy—then goodness came to me living, and I felt trust in
the living. And—it is strange—but I began to hope that she was
living too. And now I with you—here—this morning, peace and
hope have come into me like a flood. I want nothing; I can wait;
because I hope and believe and am grateful—oh, so grateful! You
have not thought evil of me—you have not despised me.”
   Mirah spoke with low-toned fervor, and sat as still as a picture all
the while.
   “Many others would have felt as we do, my dear,” said Mrs.
Meyrick, feeling a mist come over her eyes as she looked at her
work.

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Daniel Deronda

   “But I did not meet them—they did not come to me.”
   “How was it that you were taken from your mother?”
   “Ah, I am a long while coming to that. It is dreadful to speak of,
yet I must tell you—I must tell you everything. My father—it was
he that took me away. I thought we were only going on a little
journey; and I was pleased. There was a box with all my little things
in. But we went on board a ship, and got farther and farther away
from the land. Then I was ill; and I thought it would never end—it
was the first misery, and it seemed endless. But at last we landed. I
knew nothing then, and believed what my father said. He com-
forted me, and told me I should go back to my mother. But it was
America we had reached, and it was long years before we came back
to Europe. At first I often asked my father when we were going
back; and I tried to learn writing fast, because I wanted to write to
my mother; but one day when he found me trying to write a letter,
he took me on his knee and told me that my mother and brother
were dead; that was why we did not go back. I remember my brother
a little; he carried me once; but he was not always at home. I be-
lieved my father when he said that they were dead. I saw them un-
der the earth when he said they were there, with their eyes forever
closed. I never thought of its not being true; and I used to cry every
night in my bed for a long while. Then when she came so often to
me, in my sleep, I thought she must be living about me though I
could not always see her, and that comforted me. I was never afraid
in the dark, because of that; and very often in the day I used to shut
my eyes and bury my face and try to see her and to hear her singing.
I came to do that at last without shutting my eyes.”
   Mirah paused with a sweet content in her face, as if she were hav-
ing her happy vision, while she looked out toward the river.
   “Still your father was not unkind to you, I hope,” said Mrs.
Meyrick, after a minute, anxious to recall her.
   “No; he petted me, and took pains to teach me. He was an actor;
and I found out, after, that the ‘Coburg’ I used to hear of his going
to at home was a theatre. But he had more to do with the theatre
than acting. He had not always been an actor; he had been a teacher,
and knew many languages. His acting was not very good; I think,
but he managed the stage, and wrote and translated plays. An Ital-

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ian lady, a singer, lived with us a long time. They both taught me,
and I had a master besides, who made me learn by heart and recite.
I worked quite hard, though I was so little; and I was not nine when
I first went on the stage. I could easily learn things, and I was not
afraid. But then and ever since I hated our way of life. My father
had money, and we had finery about us in a disorderly way; always
there were men and women coming and going; there was loud laugh-
ing and disputing, strutting, snapping of fingers, jeering, faces I did
not like to look at—though many petted and caressed me. But then
I remembered my mother. Even at first when I understood nothing,
I shrank away from all those things outside me into companionship
with thoughts that were not like them; and I gathered thoughts
very fast, because I read many things—plays and poetry, Shakespeare
and Schiller, and learned evil and good. My father began to believe
that I might be a great singer: my voice was considered wonderful
for a child; and he had the best teaching for me. But it was painful
that he boasted of me, and set me to sing for show at any minute, as
if I had been a musical box. Once when I was nine years old, I
played the part of a little girl who had been forsaken and did not
know it, and sat singing to herself while she played with flowers. I
did it without any trouble; but the clapping and all the sounds of
the theatre were hateful to me; and I never liked the praise I had,
because it all seemed very hard and unloving: I missed the love and
trust I had been born into. I made a life in my own thoughts quite
different from everything about me: I chose what seemed to me
beautiful out of the plays and everything, and made my world out
of it; and it was like a sharp knife always grazing me that we had two
sorts of life which jarred so with each other—women looking good
and gentle on the stage, and saying good things as if they felt them,
and directly after I saw them with coarse, ugly manners. My father
sometimes noticed my shrinking ways; and Signora said one day,
when I had been rehearsing, ‘She will never be an artist: she has no
notion of being anybody but herself. That does very well now, but
by-and-by you will see—she will have no more face and action than
a singing-bird.’ My father was angry, and they quarreled. I sat alone
and cried, because what she had said was like a long unhappy future
unrolled before me. I did not want to be an artist; but this was what

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my father expected of me. After a while Signora left us, and a gov-
erness used to come and give me lessons in different things, because
my father began to be afraid of my singing too much; but I still
acted from time to time. Rebellious feelings grew stronger in me,
and I wished to get away from this life; but I could not tell where to
go, and I dreaded the world. Besides, I felt it would be wrong to
leave my father: I dreaded doing wrong, for I thought I might get
wicked and hateful to myself, in the same way that many others
seemed hateful to me. For so long, so long I had never felt my out-
side world happy; and if I got wicked I should lose my world of
happy thoughts where my mother lived with me. That was my child-
ish notion all through those years. Oh how long they were!”
  Mirah fell to musing again.
  “Had you no teaching about what was your duty?” said Mrs.
Meyrick. She did not like to say “religion”—finding herself on in-
spection rather dim as to what the Hebrew religion might have turned
into at this date.
  “No—only that I ought to do what my father wished. He did not
follow our religion at New York, and I think he wanted me not to
know much about it. But because my mother used to take me to the
synagogue, and I remembered sitting on her knee and looking
through the railing and hearing the chanting and singing, I longed
to go. One day when I was quite small I slipped out and tried to
find the synagogue, but I lost myself a long while till a peddler
questioned me and took me home. My father, missing me, had been
much in fear, and was very angry. I too had been so frightened at
losing myself that it was long before I thought of venturing out
again. But after Signora left us we went to rooms where our land-
lady was a Jewess and observed her religion. I asked her to take me
with her to the synagogue; and I read in her prayer-books and Bible,
and when I had money enough I asked her to buy me books of my
own, for these books seemed a closer companionship with my
mother: I knew that she must have looked at the very words and
said them. In that way I have come to know a little of our religion,
and the history of our people, besides piecing together what I read
in plays and other books about Jews and Jewesses; because I was
sure my mother obeyed her religion. I had left off asking my father

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                                                            George Eliot

about her. It is very dreadful to say it, but I began to disbelieve him.
I had found that he did not always tell the truth, and made prom-
ises without meaning to keep them; and that raised my suspicion
that my mother and brother were still alive though he had told me
they were dead. For in going over the past again as I got older and
knew more, I felt sure that my mother had been deceived, and had
expected to see us back again after a very little while; and my father
taking me on his knee and telling me that my mother and brother
were both dead seemed to me now but a bit of acting, to set my
mind at rest. The cruelty of that falsehood sank into me, and I
hated all untruth because of it. I wrote to my mother secretly: I
knew the street, Colman Street, where we lived, and that it was not
Blackfriars Bridge and the Coburg, and that our name was Cohen
then, though my father called us Lapidoth, because, he said, it was
a name of his forefathers in Poland. I sent my letter secretly; but no
answer came, and I thought there was no hope for me. Our life in
America did not last much longer. My father suddenly told me we
were to pack up and go to Hamburg, and I was rather glad. I hoped
we might get among a different sort of people, and I knew German
quite well—some German plays almost all by heart. My father spoke
it better than he spoke English. I was thirteen then, and I seemed to
myself quite old—I knew so much, and yet so little. I think other
children cannot feel as I did. I had often wished that I had been
drowned when I was going away from my mother. But I set myself
to obey and suffer: what else could I do? One day when we were on
our voyage, a new thought came into my mind. I was not very ill
that time, and I kept on deck a good deal. My father acted and sang
and joked to amuse people on board, and I used often to hear re-
marks about him. One day, when I was looking at the sea and no-
body took notice of me, I overheard a gentleman say, ‘Oh, he is one
of those clever Jews—a rascal, I shouldn’t wonder. There’s no race
like them for cunning in the men and beauty in the women. I won-
der what market he means that daughter for.’ When I heard this it
darted into my mind that the unhappiness in my life came from my
being a Jewess, and that always to the end the world would think
slightly of me and that I must bear it, for I should be judged by that
name; and it comforted me to believe that my suffering was part of

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Daniel Deronda

the affliction of my people, my part in the long song of mourning
that has been going on through ages and ages. For if many of our
race were wicked and made merry in their wickedness—what was
that but part of the affliction borne by the just among them, who
were despised for the sins of their brethren?—But you have not
rejected me.”
  Mirah had changed her tone in this last sentence, having sud-
denly reflected that at this moment she had reason not for com-
plaint but for gratitude.
  “And we will try to save you from being judged unjustly by oth-
ers, my poor child,” said Mrs. Meyrick, who had now given up all
attempt at going on with her work, and sat listening with folded
hands and a face hardly less eager than Mab’s would have been. “Go
on, go on: tell me all.”
  “After that we lived in different towns—Hamburg and Vienna,
the longest. I began to study singing again: and my father always
got money about the theatres. I think he brought a good deal of
money from America, I never knew why we left. For some time he
was in great spirits about my singing, and he made me rehearse
parts and act continually. He looked forward to my coming out in
the opera. But by-and-by it seemed that my voice would never be
strong enough—it did not fulfill its promise. My master at Vienna
said, ‘Don’t strain it further: it will never do for the public:—it is
gold, but a thread of gold dust.’ My father was bitterly disappointed:
we were not so well off at that time. I think I have not quite told
you what I felt about my father. I knew he was fond of me and
meant to indulge me, and that made me afraid of hurting him; but
he always mistook what would please me and give me happiness. It
was his nature to take everything lightly; and I soon left off asking
him any questions about things that I cared for much, because he
always turned them off with a joke. He would even ridicule our
own people; and once when he had been imitating their movements
and their tones in praying, only to make others laugh, I could not
restrain myself—for I always had an anger in my heart about my
mother—and when we were alone, I said, ‘Father, you ought not to
mimic our own people before Christians who mock them: would it
not be bad if I mimicked you, that they might mock you?’ But he

216
                                                           George Eliot

only shrugged his shoulders and laughed and pinched my chin, and
said, ‘You couldn’t do it, my dear.” It was this way of turning off
everything, that made a great wall between me and my father, and
whatever I felt most I took the most care to hide from him. For
there were some things—when they were laughed at I could not
bear it: the world seemed like a hell to me. Is this world and all the
life upon it only like a farce or a vaudeville, where you find no great
meanings? Why then are there tragedies and grand operas, where
men do difficult things and choose to suffer? I think it is silly to
speak of all things as a joke. And I saw that his wishing me to sing
the greatest music, and parts in grand operas, was only wishing for
what would fetch the greatest price. That hemmed in my gratitude
for his affectionateness, and the tenderest feeling I had toward him
was pity. Yes, I did sometimes pity him. He had aged and changed.
Now he was no longer so lively. I thought he seemed worse—less
good to others than to me. Every now and then in the latter years
his gaiety went away suddenly, and he would sit at home silent and
gloomy; or he would come in and fling himself down and sob, just
as I have done myself when I have been in trouble. If I put my hand
on his knee and say, ‘What is the matter, father?’ he would make no
answer, but would draw my arm round his neck and put his arm
round me and go on crying. There never came any confidence be-
tween us; but oh, I was sorry for him. At those moments I knew he
must feel his life bitter, and I pressed my cheek against his head and
prayed. Those moments were what most bound me to him; and I
used to think how much my mother once loved him, else she would
not have married him.
   “But soon there came the dreadful time. We had been at Pesth
and we came back to Vienna. In spite of what my master Leo had
said, my father got me an engagement, not at the opera, but to take
singing parts at a suburb theatre in Vienna. He had nothing to do
with the theatre then; I did not understand what he did, but I think
he was continually at a gambling house, though he was careful al-
ways about taking me to the theatre. I was very miserable. The plays
I acted in were detestable to me. Men came about us and wanted to
talk to me: women and men seemed to look at me with a sneering
smile; it was no better than a fiery furnace. Perhaps I make it worse

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Daniel Deronda

than it was—you don’t know that life: but the glare and the faces,
and my having to go on and act and sing what I hated, and then see
people who came to stare at me behind the scenes—it was all so
much worse than when I was a little girl. I went through with it; I
did it; I had set my mind to obey my father and work, for I saw
nothing better that I could do. But I felt that my voice was getting
weaker, and I knew that my acting was not good except when it was
not really acting, but the part was one that I could be myself in, and
some feeling within me carried me along. That was seldom.
  “Then, in the midst of all this, the news came to me one morning
that my father had been taken to prison, and he had sent for me. He
did not tell me the reason why he was there, but he ordered me to
go to an address he gave me, to see a Count who would be able to
get him released. The address was to some public rooms where I was
to ask for the Count, and beg him to come to my father. I found
him, and recognized him as a gentleman whom I had seen the other
night for the first time behind the scenes. That agitated me, for I
remembered his way of looking at me and kissing my hand—I
thought it was in mockery. But I delivered my errand, and he prom-
ised to go immediately to my father, who came home again that
very evening, bringing the Count with him. I now began to feel a
horrible dread of this man, for he worried me with his attentions,
his eyes were always on me: I felt sure that whatever else there might
be in his mind toward me, below it all there was scorn for the Jewess
and the actress. And when he came to me the next day in the theatre
and would put my shawl around me, a terror took hold of me; I saw
that my father wanted me to look pleased. The Count was neither
very young nor very old; his hair and eyes were pale; he was tall and
walked heavily, and his face was heavy and grave except when he
looked at me. He smiled at me, and his smile went through me with
horror: I could not tell why he was so much worse to me than other
men. Some feelings are like our hearing: they come as sounds do,
before we know their reason. My father talked to me about him
when we were alone, and praised him—said what a good friend he
had been. I said nothing, because I supposed he had got my father
out of prison. When the Count came again, my father left the room.
He asked me if I liked being on the stage. I said No, I only acted in

218
                                                           George Eliot

obedience to my father. He always spoke French, and called me
‘petite ange’ and such things, which I felt insulting. I knew he meant
to make love to me, and I had it firmly in my mind that a nobleman
and one who was not a Jew could have no love for me that was not
half contempt. But then he told me that I need not act any longer;
he wished me to visit him at his beautiful place, where I might be
queen of everything. It was difficult to me to speak, I felt so shaken
with anger: I could only say, ‘I would rather stay on the stage for-
ever,’ and I left him there. Hurrying out of the room I saw my
father sauntering in the passage. My heart was crushed. I went past
him and locked myself up. It had sunk into me that my father was
in a conspiracy with that man against me. But the next day he per-
suaded me to come out: he said that I had mistaken everything, and
he would explain: if I did not come out and act and fulfill my en-
gagement, we should be ruined and he must starve. So I went on
acting, and for a week or more the Count never came near me. My
father changed our lodgings, and kept at home except when he went
to the theatre with me. He began one day to speak discouragingly
of my acting, and say, I could never go on singing in public—I
should lose my voice—I ought to think of my future, and not put
my nonsensical feelings between me and my fortune. He said, ‘What
will you do? You will be brought down to sing and beg at people’s
doors. You have had a splendid offer and ought to accept it.’ I could
not speak: a horror took possession of me when I thought of my
mother and of him. I felt for the first time that I should not do
wrong to leave him. But the next day he told me that he had put an
end to my engagement at the theatre, and that we were to go to
Prague. I was getting suspicious of everything, and my will was hard-
ening to act against him. It took us two days to pack and get ready;
and I had it in my mind that I might be obliged to run away from
my father, and then I would come to London and try if it were
possible to find my mother. I had a little money, and I sold some
things to get more. I packed a few clothes in a little bag that I could
carry with me, and I kept my mind on the watch. My father’s si-
lence—his letting drop that subject of the Count’s offer—made me
feel sure that there was a plan against me. I felt as if it had been a
plan to take me to a madhouse. I once saw a picture of a madhouse,

                                                                  219
Daniel Deronda

that I could never forget; it seemed to me very much like some of
the life I had seen—the people strutting, quarreling, leering—the
faces with cunning and malice in them. It was my will to keep my-
self from wickedness; and I prayed for help. I had seen what de-
spised women were: and my heart turned against my father, for I
saw always behind him that man who made me shudder. You will
think I had not enough reason for my suspicions, and perhaps I had
not, outside my own feeling; but it seemed to me that my mind had
been lit up, and all that might be stood out clear and sharp. If I
slept, it was only to see the same sort of things, and I could hardly
sleep at all. Through our journey I was everywhere on the watch. I
don’t know why, but it came before me like a real event, that my
father would suddenly leave me and I should find myself with the
Count where I could not get away from him. I thought God was
warning me: my mother’s voice was in my soul. It was dark when
we reached Prague, and though the strange bunches of lamps were
lit it was difficult to distinguish faces as we drove along the street.
My father chose to sit outside—he was always smoking now—and
I watched everything in spite of the darkness. I do believe I could
see better then than I ever did before: the strange clearness within
seemed to have got outside me. It was not my habit to notice faces
and figures much in the street; but this night I saw every one; and
when we passed before a great hotel I caught sight only of a back
that was passing in—the light of the great bunch of lamps a good
way off fell on it. I knew it—before the face was turned, as it fell
into shadow, I knew who it was. Help came to me. I feel sure help
came. I did not sleep that night. I put on my plainest things—the
cloak and hat I have worn ever since; and I sat watching for the light
and the sound of the doors being unbarred. Some one rose early—
at four o’clock, to go to the railway. That gave me courage. I slipped
out, with my little bag under my cloak, and none noticed me. I had
been a long while attending to the railway guide that I might learn
the way to England; and before the sun had risen I was in the train
for Dresden. Then I cried for joy. I did not know whether my money
would last out, but I trusted. I could sell the things in my bag, and
the little rings in my ears, and I could live on bread only. My only
terror was lest my father should follow me. But I never paused. I

220
                                                              George Eliot

came on, and on, and on, only eating bread now and then. When I
got to Brussels I saw that I should not have enough money, and I
sold all that I could sell; but here a strange thing happened. Putting
my hand into the pocket of my cloak, I found a half-napoleon.
Wondering and wondering how it came there, I remembered that
on the way from Cologne there was a young workman sitting against
me. I was frightened at every one, and did not like to be spoken to.
At first he tried to talk, but when he saw that I did not like it, he left
off. It was a long journey; I ate nothing but a bit of bread, and he
once offered me some of the food he brought in, but I refused it. I
do believe it was he who put that bit of gold in my pocket. Without
it I could hardly have got to Dover, and I did walk a good deal of
the way from Dover to London. I knew I should look like a miser-
able beggar-girl. I wanted not to look very miserable, because if I
found my mother it would grieve her to see me so. But oh, how vain
my hope was that she would be there to see me come! As soon as I
set foot in London, I began to ask for Lambeth and Blackfriars
Bridge, but they were a long way off, and I went wrong. At last I got
to Blackfriars Bridge and asked for Colman Street. People shook
their heads. None knew it. I saw it in my mind—our doorsteps,
and the white tiles hung in the windows, and the large brick build-
ing opposite with wide doors. But there was nothing like it. At last
when I asked a tradesman where the Coburg Theatre and Colman
Street were, he said, ‘Oh, my little woman, that’s all done away
with. The old streets have been pulled down; everything is new.’ I
turned away and felt as if death had laid a hand on me. He said:
‘Stop, stop! young woman; what is it you’re wanting with Colman
Street, eh?’ meaning well, perhaps. But his tone was what I could
not bear; and how could I tell him what I wanted? I felt blinded and
bewildered with a sudden shock. I suddenly felt that I was very
weak and weary, and yet where could I go? for I looked so poor and
dusty, and had nothing with me—I looked like a street-beggar. And
I was afraid of all places where I could enter. I lost my trust. I thought
I was forsaken. It seemed that I had been in a fever of hope—deliri-
ous—all the way from Prague: I thought that I was helped, and I
did nothing but strain my mind forward and think of finding my
mother; and now—there I stood in a strange world. All who saw

                                                                     221
Daniel Deronda

me would think ill of me, and I must herd with beggars. I stood on
the bridge and looked along the river. People were going on to a
steamboat. Many of them seemed poor, and I felt as if it would be a
refuge to get away from the streets; perhaps the boat would take me
where I could soon get into a solitude. I had still some pence left,
and I bought a loaf when I went on the boat. I wanted to have a
little time and strength to think of life and death. How could I live?
And now again it seemed that if ever I were to find my mother
again, death was the way to her. I ate, that I might have strength to
think. The boat set me down at a place along the river—I don’t
know where—and it was late in the evening. I found some large
trees apart from the road, and I sat down under them that I might
rest through the night. Sleep must have soon come to me, and when
I awoke it was morning. The birds were singing, and the dew was
white about me, I felt chill and oh, so lonely! I got up and walked
and followed the river a long way and then turned back again. There
was no reason why I should go anywhere. The world about me
seemed like a vision that was hurrying by while I stood still with my
pain. My thoughts were stronger than I was; they rushed in and
forced me to see all my life from the beginning; ever since I was
carried away from my mother I had felt myself a lost child taken up
and used by strangers, who did not care what my life was to me, but
only what I could do for them. It seemed all a weary wandering and
heart-loneliness—as if I had been forced to go to merrymakings
without the expectation of joy. And now it was worse. I was lost
again, and I dreaded lest any stranger should notice me and speak
to me. I had a terror of the world. None knew me; all would mis-
take me. I had seen so many in my life who made themselves glad
with scorning, and laughed at another’s shame. What could I do?
This life seemed to be closing in upon me with a wall of fire—
everywhere there was scorching that made me shrink. The high sun-
light made me shrink. And I began to think that my despair was the
voice of God telling me to die. But it would take me long to die of
hunger. Then I thought of my people, how they had been driven
from land to land and been afflicted, and multitudes had died of
misery in their wandering—was I the first? And in the wars and
troubles when Christians were cruelest, our fathers had sometimes

222
                                                          George Eliot

slain their children and afterward themselves: it was to save them
from being false apostates. That seemed to make it right for me to
put an end to my life; for calamity had closed me in too, and I saw
no pathway but to evil. But my mind got into war with itself, for
there were contrary things in it. I knew that some had held it wrong
to hasten their own death, though they were in the midst of flames;
and while I had some strength left it was a longing to bear if I ought
to bear—else where was the good of all my life? It had not been
happy since the first years: when the light came every morning I
used to think, ‘I will bear it.’ But always before I had some hope;
now it was gone. With these thoughts I wandered and wandered,
inwardly crying to the Most High, from whom I should not flee in
death more than in life—though I had no strong faith that He cared
for me. The strength seemed departing from my soul; deep below
all my cries was the feeling that I was alone and forsaken. The more
I thought the wearier I got, till it seemed I was not thinking at all,
but only the sky and the river and the Eternal God were in my soul.
And what was it whether I died or lived? If I lay down to die in the
river, was it more than lying down to sleep?—for there too I com-
mitted my soul—I gave myself up. I could not bear memories any
more; I could only feel what was present in me—it was all one long-
ing to cease from my weary life, which seemed only a pain outside the
great peace that I might enter into. That was how it was. When the
evening came and the sun was gone, it seemed as if that was all I had
to wait for. And a new strength came into me to will what I would do.
You know what I did. I was going to die. You know what happened—
did he not tell you? Faith came to me again; I was not forsaken. He
told you how he found me?”
   Mrs. Meyrick gave no audible answer, but pressed her lips against
Mirah’s forehead.

                            *     *     *

“She’s just a pearl; the mud has only washed her,” was the fervid
little woman’s closing commentary when, tete-à-tete with Deronda
in the back parlor that evening, she had conveyed Mirah’s story to
him with much vividness.

                                                                 223
Daniel Deronda

  “What is your feeling about a search for this mother?” said
Deronda. “Have you no fears? I have, I confess.”
  “Oh, I believe the mother’s good,” said Mrs. Meyrick, with rapid
decisiveness; “or was good. She may be dead—that’s my fear. A good
woman, you may depend: you may know it by the scoundrel the
father is. Where did the child get her goodness from? Wheaten flour
has to be accounted for.”
  Deronda was rather disappointed at this answer; he had wanted a
confirmation of his own judgment, and he began to put in demur-
rers. The argument about the mother would not apply to the brother;
and Mrs. Meyrick admitted that the brother might be an ugly like-
ness of the father. Then, as to advertising, if the name was Cohen,
you might as well advertise for two undescribed terriers; and here
Mrs. Meyrick helped him, for the idea of an advertisement, already
mentioned to Mirah, had roused the poor child’s terror; she was
convinced that her father would see it—he saw everything in the
papers. Certainly there were safer means than advertising; men might
be set to work whose business it was to find missing persons; but
Deronda wished Mrs. Meyrick to feel with him that it would be
wiser to wait, before seeking a dubious—perhaps a deplorable re-
sult; especially as he was engaged to go abroad the next week for a
couple of months. If a search were made, he would like to be at
hand, so that Mrs. Meyrick might not be unaided in meeting any
consequences—supposing that she would generously continue to
watch over Mirah.
  “We should be very jealous of any one who took the task from
us,” said Mrs. Meyrick. “She will stay under my roof; there is Hans’s
old room for her.”
  “Will she be content to wait?” said Deronda, anxiously.
  “No trouble there. It is not her nature to run into planning and
devising: only to submit. See how she submitted to that father! It
was a wonder to herself how she found the will and contrivance to
run away from him. About finding her mother, her only notion
now is to trust; since you were sent to save her and we are good to
her, she trusts that her mother will be found in the same unsought
way. And when she is talking I catch her feeling like a child.”
  Mrs. Meyrick hoped that the sum Deronda put into her hands as

224
                                                            George Eliot

a provision for Mirah’s wants was more than would be needed; after
a little while Mirah would perhaps like to occupy herself as the other
girls did, and make herself independent. Deronda pleaded that she
must need a long rest. “Oh, yes; we will hurry nothing,” said Mrs.
Meyrick.
   “Rely upon it, she shall be taken tender care of. If you like to give
me your address abroad, I will write to let you know how we get on.
It is not fair that we should have all the pleasure of her salvation to
ourselves. And besides, I want to make believe that I am doing some-
thing for you as well as for Mirah.”
   “That is no make-believe. What should I have done without you
last night? Everything would have gone wrong. I shall tell Hans that
the best of having him for a friend is, knowing his mother.”
   After that they joined the girls in the other room, where Mirah
was seated placidly, while the others were telling her what they knew
about Mr. Deronda—his goodness to Hans, and all the virtues that
Hans had reported of him.
   “Kate burns a pastille before his portrait every day,” said Mab.
“And I carry his signature in a little black-silk bag round my neck to
keep off the cramp. And Amy says the multiplication-table in his
name. We must all do something extra in honor of him, now he has
brought you to us.”
   “I suppose he is too great a person to want anything,” said Mirah,
smiling at Mab, and appealing to the graver Amy. “He is perhaps
very high in the world?”
   “He is very much above us in rank,” said Amy. “He is related to
grand people. I dare say he leans on some of the satin cushions we
prick our fingers over.”
   “I am glad he is of high rank,” said Mirah, with her usual quiet-
ness.
   “Now, why are you glad of that?” said Amy, rather suspicious of
this sentiment, and on the watch for Jewish peculiarities which had
not appeared.
   “Because I have always disliked men of high rank before.”
   “Oh, Mr. Deronda is not so very high,” said Kate, “He need not
hinder us from thinking ill of the whole peerage and baronetage if
we like.”

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Daniel Deronda

   When he entered, Mirah rose with the same look of grateful rev-
erence that she had lifted to him the evening before: impossible to
see a creature freer at once from embarrassment and boldness. Her
theatrical training had left no recognizable trace; probably her man-
ners had not much changed since she played the forsaken child at
nine years of age; and she had grown up in her simplicity and truth-
fulness like a little flower-seed that absorbs the chance confusion of
its surrounding into its own definite mould of beauty. Deronda felt
that he was making acquaintance with something quite new to him
in the form of womanhood. For Mirah was not childlike from igno-
rance: her experience of evil and trouble was deeper and stranger
than his own. He felt inclined to watch her and listen to her as if she
had come from a far off shore inhabited by a race different from our
own.
   But for that very reason he made his visit brief with his usual
activity of imagination as to how his conduct might affect others,
he shrank from what might seem like curiosity or the assumption of
a right to know as much as he pleased of one to whom he had done
a service. For example, he would have liked to hear her sing, but he
would have felt the expression of such a wish to be rudeness in
him—since she could not refuse, and he would all the while have a
sense that she was being treated like one whose accomplishments
were to be ready on demand. And whatever reverence could be shown
to woman, he was bent on showing to this girl. Why? He gave him-
self several good reasons; but whatever one does with a strong un-
hesitating outflow of will has a store of motive that it would be hard
to put into words. Some deeds seem little more than interjections
which give vent to the long passion of a life.
   So Deronda soon took his farewell for the two months during
which he expected to be absent from London, and in a few days he
was on his way with Sir Hugo and Lady Mallinger to Leubronn.
   He had fulfilled his intention of telling them about Mirah. The
baronet was decidedly of opinion that the search for the mother
and brother had better be let alone. Lady Mallinger was much in-
terested in the poor girl, observing that there was a society for the
conversion of the Jews, and that it was to be hoped Mirah would
embrace Christianity; but perceiving that Sir Hugo looked at her

226
                                                        George Eliot

with amusement, she concluded that she had said something fool-
ish. Lady Mallinger felt apologetically about herself as a woman
who had produced nothing but daughters in a case where sons were
required, and hence regarded the apparent contradictions of the
world as probably due to the weakness of her own understanding.
But when she was much puzzled, it was her habit to say to herself,
“I will ask Daniel.” Deronda was altogether a convenience in the
family; and Sir Hugo too, after intending to do the best for him,
had begun to feel that the pleasantest result would be to have this
substitute for a son always ready at his elbow.
  This was the history of Deronda, so far as he knew it, up to the
time of that visit to Leubronn in which he saw Gwendolen Harleth
at the gaming-table.




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Daniel Deronda




                      CHAPTER XXI
     It is a common sentence that Knowledge is power; but who hath
  duly Considered or set forth the power of Ignorance? Knowledge
  slowly builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down. Knowl-
  edge, through patient and frugal centuries, enlarges discovery and
  makes record of it; Ignorance, wanting its day’s dinner, lights a fire
  with the record, and gives a flavor to its one roast with the burned
  souls of many generations. Knowledge, instructing the sense, refin-
  ing and multiplying needs, transforms itself into skill and makes life
  various with a new six days’ work; comes Ignorance drunk on the
  seventh, with a firkin of oil and a match and an easy “Let there not
  be,” and the many-colored creation is shriveled up in blackness. Of
  a truth, Knowledge is power, but it is a power reined by scruple,
  having a conscience of what must be and what may be; whereas
  Ignorance is a blind giant who, let him but wax unbound, would
  make it a sport to seize the pillars that hold up the long-wrought
  fabric of human good, and turn all the places of joy dark as a buried
  Babylon. And looking at life parcel-wise, in the growth of a single


IT WAS HALF-PAST TEN in the morning when Gwendolen Harleth,
after her gloomy journey from Leubronn, arrived at the station from
which she must drive to Offendene. No carriage or friend was await-
ing her, for in the telegram she had sent from Dover she had men-
tioned a later train, and in her impatience of lingering at a London
station she had set off without picturing what it would be to arrive
unannounced at half an hour’s drive from home—at one of those
stations which have been fixed on not as near anywhere, but as equi-
distant from everywhere. Deposited as a femme sole with her large
trunks, and having to wait while a vehicle was being got from the
large-sized lantern called the Railway Inn, Gwendolen felt that the
dirty paint in the waiting-room, the dusty decanter of flat water,

228
                                                           George Eliot

and the texts in large letters calling on her to repent and be con-
verted, were part of the dreary prospect opened by her family
troubles; and she hurried away to the outer door looking toward the
lane and fields. But here the very gleams of sunshine seemed melan-
choly, for the autumnal leaves and grass were shivering, and the
wind was turning up the feathers of a cock and two croaking hens
which had doubtless parted with their grown-up offspring and did
not know what to do with themselves. The railway official also
seemed without resources, and his innocent demeanor in observing
Gwendolen and her trunks was rendered intolerable by the cast in
his eye; especially since, being a new man, he did not know her, and
must conclude that she was not very high in the world. The ve-
hicle—a dirty old barouche—was within sight, and was being slowly
prepared by an elderly laborer. Contemptible details these, to make
part of a history; yet the turn of most lives is hardly to be accounted
for without them. They are continually entering with cumulative
force into a mood until it gets the mass and momentum of a theory
or a motive. Even philosophy is not quite free from such determin-
ing influences; and to be dropped solitary at an ugly, irrelevant-
looking spot, with a sense of no income on the mind, might well
prompt a man to discouraging speculation on the origin of things
and the reason of a world where a subtle thinker found himself so
badly off. How much more might such trifles tell on a young lady
equipped for society with a fastidious taste, an Indian shawl over
her arm, some twenty cubic feet of trunks by her side, and a mortal
dislike to the new consciousness of poverty which was stimulating
her imagination of disagreeables? At any rate they told heavily on
poor Gwendolen, and helped to quell her resistant spirit. What was
the good of living in the midst of hardships, ugliness, and humilia-
tion? This was the beginning of being at home again, and it was a
sample of what she had to expect.
  Here was the theme on which her discontent rung its sad changes
during her slow drive in the uneasy barouche, with one great trunk
squeezing the meek driver, and the other fastened with a rope on
the seat in front of her. Her ruling vision all the way from Leubronn
had been that the family would go abroad again; for of course there
must be some little income left—her mamma did not mean that

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they would have literally nothing. To go to a dull place abroad and
live poorly, was the dismal future that threatened her: she had seen
plenty of poor English people abroad and imagined herself plunged
in the despised dullness of their ill-plenished lives, with Alice, Ber-
tha, Fanny and Isabel all growing up in tediousness around her,
while she advanced toward thirty and her mamma got more and
more melancholy. But she did not mean to submit, and let misfor-
tune do what it would with her: she had not yet quite believed in
the misfortune; but weariness and disgust with this wretched arrival
had begun to affect her like an uncomfortable waking, worse than
the uneasy dreams which had gone before. The self-delight with
which she had kissed her image in the glass had faded before the
sense of futility in being anything whatever—charming, clever, reso-
lute—what was the good of it all? Events might turn out anyhow,
and men were hateful. Yes, men were hateful. But in these last hours,
a certain change had come over their meaning. It is one thing to
hate stolen goods, and another thing to hate them the more because
their being stolen hinders us from making use of them. Gwendolen
had begun to be angry with Grandcourt for being what had hin-
dered her from marrying him, angry with him as the cause of her
present dreary lot.
   But the slow drive was nearly at an end, and the lumbering ve-
hicle coming up the avenue was within sight of the windows. A
figure appearing under the portico brought a rush of new and less
selfish feeling in Gwendolen, and when springing from the carriage
she saw the dear beautiful face with fresh lines of sadness in it, she
threw her arms round her mother’s neck, and for the moment felt
all sorrows only in relation to her mother’s feeling about them.
   Behind, of course, were the sad faces of the four superfluous girls,
each, poor thing—like those other many thousand sisters of us all—
having her peculiar world which was of no importance to any one
else, but all of them feeling Gwendolen’s presence to be somehow a
relenting of misfortune: where Gwendolen was, something inter-
esting would happen; even her hurried submission to their kisses,
and “Now go away, girls,” carried the sort of comfort which all weak-
ness finds in decision and authoritativeness. Good Miss Merry, whose
air of meek depression, hitherto held unaccountable in a governess

230
                                                            George Eliot

affectionately attached to the family, was now at the general level of
circumstances, did not expect any greeting, but busied herself with
the trunks and the coachman’s pay; while Mrs. Davilow and
Gwendolen hastened up-stairs and shut themselves in the black and
yellow bedroom.
  “Never mind, mamma dear,” said Gwendolen, tenderly pressing
her handkerchief against the tears that were rolling down Mrs.
Davilow’s cheeks. “Never mind. I don’t mind. I will do something.
I will be something. Things will come right. It seemed worse be-
cause I was away. Come now! you must be glad because I am here.”
  Gwendolen felt every word of that speech. A rush of compassion-
ate tenderness stirred all her capability of generous resolution; and
the self-confident projects which had vaguely glanced before her
during her journey sprang instantaneously into new definiteness.
Suddenly she seemed to perceive how she could be “something.” It
was one of her best moments, and the fond mother, forgetting ev-
erything below that tide mark, looked at her with a sort of adora-
tion. She said—
  “Bless you, my good, good darling! I can be happy, if you can!”
  But later in the day there was an ebb; the old slippery rocks, the
old weedy places reappeared. Naturally, there was a shrinking of
courage as misfortune ceased to be a mere announcement, and be-
gan to disclose itself as a grievous tyrannical inmate. At first—that
ugly drive at an end—it was still Offendene that Gwendolen had
come home to, and all surroundings of immediate consequence to
her were still there to secure her personal ease; the roomy stillness of
the large solid house while she rested; all the luxuries of her toilet
cared for without trouble to her; and a little tray with her favorite
food brought to her in private. For she had said, “Keep them all
away from us to-day, mamma. Let you and me be alone together.”
  When Gwendolen came down into the drawing-room, fresh as a
newly-dipped swan, and sat leaning against the cushions of the set-
tee beside her mamma, their misfortune had not yet turned its face
and breath upon her. She felt prepared to hear everything, and be-
gan in a tone of deliberate intention—
  “What have you thought of doing, exactly, mamma?”
  “Oh, my dear, the next thing to be done is to move away from

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Daniel Deronda

this house. Mr. Haynes most fortunately is as glad to have it now as
he would have been when we took it. Lord Brackenshaw’s agent is
to arrange everything with him to the best advantage for us: Bazley,
you know; not at all an ill-natured man.”
   “I cannot help thinking that Lord Brackenshaw would let you
stay here rent-free, mamma,” said Gwendolen, whose talents had
not been applied to business so much as to discernment of the ad-
miration excited by her charms.
   “My dear child, Lord Brackenshaw is in Scotland, and knows
nothing about us. Neither your uncle nor I would choose to apply
to him. Besides, what could we do in this house without servants,
and without money to warm it? The sooner we are out the better.
We have nothing to carry but our clothes, you know?”
   “I suppose you mean to go abroad, then?” said Gwendolen. After
all, this is what she had familiarized her mind with.
   “Oh, no, dear, no. How could we travel? You never did learn any-
thing about income and expenses,” said Mrs. Davilow, trying to
smile, and putting her hand on Gwendolen’s as she added, mourn-
fully, “that makes it so much harder for you, my pet.”
   “But where are we to go?” said Gwendolen, with a trace of sharp-
ness in her tone. She felt a new current of fear passing through her.
   “It is all decided. A little furniture is to be got in from the rec-
tory—all that can be spared.” Mrs. Davilow hesitated. She dreaded
the reality for herself less than the shock she must give to Gwendolen,
who looked at her with tense expectancy, but was silent.
   “It is Sawyer’s Cottage we are to go to.”
   At first, Gwendolen remained silent, paling with anger—justifi-
able anger, in her opinion. Then she said with haughtiness—
   “That is impossible. Something else than that ought to have been
thought of. My uncle ought not to allow that. I will not submit to
it.”
   “My sweet child, what else could have been thought of? Your uncle,
I am sure, is as kind as he can be: but he is suffering himself; he has
his family to bring up. And do you quite understand? You must
remember—we have nothing. We shall have absolutely nothing ex-
cept what he and my sister give us. They have been as wise and
active a possible, and we must try to earn something. I and the girls

232
                                                         George Eliot

are going to work a table-cloth border for the Ladies’ Charity at
Winchester, and a communion cloth that the parishioners are to
present to Pennicote Church.”
  Mrs. Davilow went into these details timidly: but how else was
she to bring the fact of their position home to this poor child who,
alas! must submit at present, whatever might be in the background
for her? and she herself had a superstition that there must be some-
thing better in the background.
  “But surely somewhere else than Sawyer’s Cottage might have been
found,” Gwendolen persisted—taken hold of (as if in a nightmare)
by the image of this house where an exciseman had lived.
  “No, indeed, dear. You know houses are scarce, and we may be
thankful to get anything so private. It is not so very bad. There are
two little parlors and four bedrooms. You shall sit alone whenever
you like.”
  The ebb of sympathetic care for her mamma had gone so low just
now, that Gwendolen took no notice of these deprecatory words.
  “I cannot conceive that all your property is gone at once, mamma.
How can you be sure in so short a time? It is not a week since you
wrote to me.”
  “The first news came much earlier, dear. But I would not spoil
your pleasure till it was quite necessary.”
  “Oh, how vexatious!” said Gwendolen, coloring with fresh anger.
“If I had known, I could have brought home the money I had won:
and for want of knowing, I stayed and lost it. I had nearly two
hundred pounds, and it would have done for us to live on a little
while, till I could carry out some plan.” She paused an instant and
then added more impetuously, “Everything has gone against me.
People have come near me only to blight me.”
  Among the “people” she was including Deronda. If he had not
interfered in her life she would have gone to the gaming-table again
with a few napoleons, and might have won back her losses.
  “We must resign ourselves to the will of Providence, my child,”
said poor Mrs. Davilow, startled by this revelation of the gambling,
but not daring to say more. She felt sure that “people” meant
Grandcourt, about whom her lips were sealed. And Gwendolen
answered immediately—

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Daniel Deronda

   “But I don’t resign myself. I shall do what I can against it. What is
the good of calling the people’s wickedness Providence? You said in
your letter it was Mr. Lassman’s fault we had lost our money. Has he
run away with it all?”
   “No, dear, you don’t understand. There were great speculations:
he meant to gain. It was all about mines and things of that sort. He
risked too much.”
   “I don’t call that Providence: it was his improvidence with our
money, and he ought to be punished. Can’t we go to law and re-
cover our fortune? My uncle ought to take measures, and not sit
down by such wrongs. We ought to go to law.”
   “My dear child, law can never bring back money lost in that way.
Your uncle says it is milk spilled upon the ground. Besides, one
must have a fortune to get any law: there is no law for people who
are ruined. And our money has only gone along with other’s people’s.
We are not the only sufferers: others have to resign themselves be-
sides us.”
   “But I don’t resign myself to live at Sawyer’s Cottage and see you
working for sixpences and shillings because of that. I shall not do it.
I shall do what is more befitting our rank and education.”
   “I am sure your uncle and all of us will approve of that, dear, and
admire you the more for it,” said Mrs. Davilow, glad of an unex-
pected opening for speaking on a difficult subject. “I didn’t mean
that you should resign yourself to worse when anything better of-
fered itself. Both your uncle and aunt have felt that your abilities
and education were a fortune for you, and they have already heard
of something within your reach.”
   “What is that, mamma?” some of Gwendolen’s anger gave way to
interest, and she was not without romantic conjectures.
   “There are two situations that offer themselves. One is in a bishop’s
family, where there are three daughters, and the other is in quite a
high class of school; and in both, your French, and music, and danc-
ing—and then your manners and habits as a lady, are exactly what
is wanted. Each is a hundred a year—and—just for the present,”—
Mrs. Davilow had become frightened and hesitating,—”to save you
from the petty, common way of living that we must go to—you
would perhaps accept one of the two.”

234
                                                              George Eliot

  “What! be like Miss Graves at Madame Meunier’s? No.”
  “I think, myself, that Dr. Monpert’s would be more suitable. There
could be no hardship in a bishop’s family.”
  “Excuse me, mamma. There are hardships everywhere for a gov-
erness. And I don’t see that it would be pleasanter to be looked
down on in a bishop’s family than in any other. Besides, you know
very well I hate teaching. Fancy me shut up with three awkward
girls something like Alice! I would rather emigrate than be a gov-
erness.”
  What it precisely was to emigrate, Gwendolen was not called on
to explain. Mrs. Davilow was mute, seeing no outlet, and thinking
with dread of the collision that might happen when Gwendolen
had to meet her uncle and aunt. There was an air of reticence in
Gwendolen’s haughty, resistant speeches which implied that she had
a definite plan in reserve; and her practical ignorance continually
exhibited, could not nullify the mother’s belief in the effectiveness
of that forcible will and daring which had held mastery over herself.
  “I have some ornaments, mamma, and I could sell them,” said
Gwendolen. “They would make a sum: I want a little sum—just to
go on with. I dare say Marshall, at Wanchester, would take them: I
know he showed me some bracelets once that he said he had bought
from a lady. Jocosa might go and ask him. Jocosa is going to leave
us, of course. But she might do that first.”
  “She would do anything she could, poor, dear soul. I have not
told you yet—she wanted me to take all her savings—her three hun-
dred pounds. I tell her to set up a little school. It will be hard for her
to go into a new family now she has been so long with us.”
  “Oh, recommend her for the bishop’s daughter’s,” said Gwendolen,
with a sudden gleam of laughter in her face. “I am sure she will do
better than I should.”
  “Do take care not to say such things to your uncle,” said Mrs.
Davilow. “He will be hurt at your despising what he has exerted
himself about. But I dare say you have something else in your mind
that he might not disapprove, if you consulted him.”
  “There is some one else I want to consult first. Are the Arrowpoint’s
at Quetcham still, and is Herr Klesmer there? But I daresay you
know nothing about it, poor, dear mamma. Can Jeffries go on horse-

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Daniel Deronda

back with a note?”
   “Oh, my dear, Jefferies is not here, and the dealer has taken the
horses. But some one could go for us from Leek’s farm. The
Arrowpoints are at Quetcham, I know. Miss Arrowpoint left her
card the other day: I could not see her. But I don’t know about Herr
Klesmer. Do you want to send before to-morrow?”
   “Yes, as soon as possible. I will write a note,” said Gwendolen,
rising.
   “What can you be thinking of, Gwen?” said Mrs. Davilow, re-
lieved in the midst of her wonderment by signs of alacrity and bet-
ter humor.
   “Don’t mind what, there’s a dear, good mamma,” said Gwendolen,
reseating herself a moment to give atoning caresses. “I mean to do
something. Never mind what until it is all settled. And then you
shall be comforted. The dear face!—it is ten years older in these
three weeks. Now, now, now! don’t cry”—Gwendolen, holding her
mamma’s head with both hands, kissed the trembling eyelids. “But
mind you don’t contradict me or put hindrances in my way. I must
decide for myself. I cannot be dictated to by my uncle or any one
else. My life is my own affair. And I think”—here her tone took an
edge of scorn—“I think I can do better for you than let you live in
Sawyer’s Cottage.”
   In uttering this last sentence Gwendolen again rose, and went to
a desk where she wrote the following note to Klesmer:—

     Miss Harleth presents her compliments to Herr Klesmer, and
  ventures to request of him the very great favor that he will call
  upon her, if possible, to-morrow. Her reason for presuming so
  far on his kindness is of a very serious nature. Unfortunate fam-
  ily circumstances have obliged her to take a course in which she
  can only turn for advice to the great knowledge and judgment
  of Herr Klesmer.


 “Pray get this sent to Quetcham at once, mamma,” said
Gwendolen, as she addressed the letter. “The man must be told to
wait for an answer. Let no time be lost.”

236
                                                            George Eliot

   For the moment, the absorbing purpose was to get the letter dis-
patched; but when she had been assured on this point, another anxi-
ety arose and kept her in a state of uneasy excitement. If Klesmer
happened not to be at Quetcham, what could she do next?
Gwendolen’s belief in her star, so to speak, had had some bruises.
Things had gone against her. A splendid marriage which presented
itself within reach had shown a hideous flaw. The chances of rou-
lette had not adjusted themselves to her claims; and a man of whom
she knew nothing had thrust himself between her and her inten-
tions. The conduct of those uninteresting people who managed the
business of the world had been culpable just in the points most
injurious to her in particular. Gwendolen Harleth, with all her beauty
and conscious force, felt the close threats of humiliation: for the
first time the conditions of this world seemed to her like a hurrying
roaring crowd in which she had got astray, no more cared for and
protected than a myriad of other girls, in spite of its being a peculiar
hardship to her. If Klesmer were not at Quetcham—that would be
all of a piece with the rest: the unwelcome negative urged itself as a
probability, and set her brain working at desperate alternatives which
might deliver her from Sawyer’s Cottage or the ultimate necessity of
“taking a situation,” a phrase that summed up for her the
disagreeables most wounding to her pride, most irksome to her tastes;
at least so far as her experience enabled her to imagine disagreeables.
   Still Klesmer might be there, and Gwendolen thought of the re-
sult in that case with a hopefulness which even cast a satisfactory
light over her peculiar troubles, as what might well enter into the
biography of celebrities and remarkable persons. And if she had
heard her immediate acquaintances cross-examined as to whether
they thought her remarkable, the first who said “No” would have
surprised her.




                                                                   237
Daniel Deronda




                     CHAPTER XXII
                 We please our fancy with ideal webs
                 Of innovation, but our life meanwhile
                 Is in the loom, where busy passion plies
                 The shuttle to and fro, and gives our deeds
                 The accustomed pattern.

GWENDOLEN’S NOTE, coming “pat betwixt too early and too late,”
was put into Klesmer’s hands just when he was leaving Quetcham,
and in order to meet her appeal to his kindness he, with some in-
convenience to himself spent the night at Wanchester. There were
reasons why he would not remain at Quetcham.
  That magnificent mansion, fitted with regard to the greatest ex-
pense, had in fact became too hot for him, its owners having, like
some great politicians, been astonished at an insurrection against
the established order of things, which we plain people after the event
can perceive to have been prepared under their very noses.
  There were as usual many guests in the house, and among them
one in whom Miss Arrowpoint foresaw a new pretender to her hand:
a political man of good family who confidently expected a peerage,
and felt on public grounds that he required a larger fortune to sup-
port the title properly. Heiresses vary, and persons interested in one
of them beforehand are prepared to find that she is too yellow or
too red, tall and toppling or short and square, violent and capri-
cious or moony and insipid; but in every case it is taken for granted
that she will consider herself an appendage to her fortune, and marry
where others think her fortunes ought to go. Nature, however, not
only accommodates herself ill to our favorite practices by making
“only children” daughters, but also now and then endows the mis-
placed daughter with a clear head and a strong will. The Arrowpoints
had already felt some anxiety owing to these endowments of their

238
                                                             George Eliot

Catherine. She would not accept the view of her social duty which
required her to marry a needy nobleman or a commoner on the
ladder toward nobility; and they were not without uneasiness con-
cerning her persistence in declining suitable offers. As to the possi-
bility of her being in love with Klesmer they were not at all un-
easy—a very common sort of blindness. For in general mortals have
a great power of being astonished at the presence of an effect toward
which they have done everything, and at the absence of an effect
toward which they had done nothing but desire it. Parents are as-
tonished at the ignorance of their sons, though they have used the
most time-honored and expensive means of securing it; husbands
and wives are mutually astonished at the loss of affection which
they have taken no pains to keep; and all of us in our turn are apt to
be astonished that our neighbors do not admire us. In this way it
happens that the truth seems highly improbable. The truth is some-
thing different from the habitual lazy combinations begotten by
our wishes. The Arrowpoints’ hour of astonishment was come.
  When there is a passion between an heiress and a proud indepen-
dent-spirited man, it is difficult for them to come to an understand-
ing; but the difficulties are likely to be overcome unless the proud
man secures himself by a constant alibi. Brief meetings after studied
absence are potent in disclosure: but more potent still is frequent
companionship, with full sympathy in taste and admirable qualities
on both sides; especially where the one is in the position of teacher
and the other is delightedly conscious of receptive ability which also
gives the teacher delight. The situation is famous in history, and has
no less charm now than it had in the days of Abelard.
  But this kind of comparison had not occurred to the Arrowpoints
when they first engaged Klesmer to come down to Quetcham. To
have a first-rate musician in your house is a privilege of wealth;
Catherine’s musical talent demanded every advantage; and she par-
ticularly desired to use her quieter time in the country for more
thorough study. Klesmer was not yet a Liszt, understood to be adored
by ladies of all European countries with the exception of Lapland:
and even with that understanding it did not follow that he would
make proposals to an heiress. No musician of honor would do so.
Still less was it conceivable that Catherine would give him the slightest

                                                                    239
Daniel Deronda

pretext for such daring. The large check that Mr. Arrowpoint was to
draw in Klesmer’s name seemed to make him as safe an inmate as a
footman. Where marriage is inconceivable, a girl’s sentiments are
safe.
   Klesmer was eminently a man of honor, but marriages rarely be-
gin with formal proposals, and moreover, Catherine’s limit of the
conceivable did not exactly correspond with her mother’s.
   Outsiders might have been more apt to think that Klesmer’s posi-
tion was dangerous for himself if Miss Arrowpoint had been an
acknowledged beauty; not taking into account that the most pow-
erful of all beauty is that which reveals itself after sympathy and not
before it. There is a charm of eye and lip which comes with every
little phrase that certifies delicate perception or fine judgment, with
every unostentatious word or smile that shows a heart awake to
others; and no sweep of garment or turn of figure is more satisfying
than that which enters as a restoration of confidence that one per-
son is present on whom no intention will be lost. What dignity of
meaning, goes on gathering in frowns and laughs which are never
observed in the wrong place; what suffused adorableness in a hu-
man frame where there is a mind that can flash out comprehension
and hands that can execute finely! The more obvious beauty, also
adorable sometimes—one may say it without blasphemy—begins
by being an apology for folly, and ends like other apologies in be-
coming tiresome by iteration; and that Klesmer, though very sus-
ceptible to it, should have a passionate attachment to Miss
Arrowpoint, was no more a paradox than any other triumph of a
manifold sympathy over a monotonous attraction. We object less to
be taxed with the enslaving excess of our passions than with our
deficiency in wider passion; but if the truth were known, our re-
puted intensity is often the dullness of not knowing what else to do
with ourselves. Tannhäuser, one suspects, was a knight of ill-fur-
nished imagination, hardly of larger discourse than a heavy Guards-
man; Merlin had certainly seen his best days, and was merely re-
peating himself, when he fell into that hopeless captivity; and we
know that Ulysses felt so manifest an ennui under similar circum-
stances that Calypso herself furthered his departure. There is in-
deed a report that he afterward left Penelope; but since she was

240
                                                            George Eliot

habitually absorbed in worsted work, and it was probably from her
that Telemachus got his mean, pettifogging disposition, always anx-
ious about the property and the daily consumption of meat, no
inference can be drawn from this already dubious scandal as to the
relation between companionship and constancy.
   Klesmer was as versatile and fascinating as a young Ulysses on a
sufficient acquaintance—one whom nature seemed to have first made
generously and then to have added music as a dominant power us-
ing all the abundant rest, and, as in Mendelssohn, finding expres-
sion for itself not only in the highest finish of execution, but in that
fervor of creative work and theoretic belief which pierces devoted
purpose. His foibles of arrogance and vanity did not exceed such as
may be found in the best English families; and Catherine Arrowpoint
had no corresponding restlessness to clash with his: notwithstand-
ing her native kindliness she was perhaps too coolly firm and self-
sustained. But she was one of those satisfactory creatures whose in-
tercourse has the charm of discovery; whose integrity of faculty and
expression begets a wish to know what they will say on all subjects
or how they will perform whatever they undertake; so that they end
by raising not only a continual expectation but a continual sense of
fulfillment—the systole and diastole of blissful companionship. In
such cases the outward presentment easily becomes what the image
is to the worshipper. It was not long before the two became aware
that each was interesting to the other; but the “how far” remained a
matter of doubt. Klesmer did not conceive that Miss Arrowpoint
was likely to think of him as a possible lover, and she was not accus-
tomed to think of herself as likely to stir more than a friendly re-
gard, or to fear the expression of more from any man who was not
enamored of her fortune. Each was content to suffer some unshared
sense of denial for the sake of loving the other’s society a little too
well; and under these conditions no need had been felt to restrict
Klesmer’s visits for the last year either in country or in town. He
knew very well that if Miss Arrowpoint had been poor he would
have made ardent love to her instead of sending a storm through
the piano, or folding his arms and pouring out a hyperbolical tirade
about something as impersonal as the north pole; and she was not
less aware that if it had been possible for Klesmer to wish for her

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Daniel Deronda

hand she would have found overmastering reasons for giving it to
him. Here was the safety of full cups, which are as secure from over-
flow as the half-empty, always supposing no disturbance. Naturally,
silent feeling had not remained at the same point any more than the
stealthly dial-hand, and in the present visit to Quetcham, Klesmer
had begun to think that he would not come again; while Catherine
was more sensitive to his frequent brusquerie, which she rather re-
sented as a needless effort to assert his footing of superior in every
sense except the conventional.
   Meanwhile enters the expectant peer, Mr. Bult, an esteemed party
man who, rather neutral in private life, had strong opinions con-
cerning the districts of the Niger, was much at home also in Brazils,
spoke with decision of affairs in the South Seas, was studious of his
Parliamentary and itinerant speeches, and had the general solidity
and suffusive pinkness of a healthy Briton on the central table-land
of life. Catherine, aware of a tacit understanding that he was an
undeniable husband for an heiress, had nothing to say against him
but that he was thoroughly tiresome to her. Mr. Bult was amiably
confident, and had no idea that his insensibility to counterpoint
could ever be reckoned against him. Klesmer he hardly regarded in
the light of a serious human being who ought to have a vote; and he
did not mind Miss Arrowpoint’s addiction to music any more than
her probable expenses in antique lace. He was consequently a little
amazed at an after-dinner outburst of Klesmer’s on the lack of ideal-
ism in English politics, which left all mutuality between distant races
to be determined simply by the need of a market; the crusades, to
his mind, had at least this excuse, that they had a banner of senti-
ment round which generous feelings could rally: of course, the scoun-
drels rallied too, but what then? they rally in equal force round your
advertisement van of “Buy cheap, sell dear.” On this theme Klesmer’s
eloquence, gesticulatory and other, went on for a little while like
stray fireworks accidentally ignited, and then sank into immovable
silence. Mr. Bult was not surprised that Klesmer’s opinions should
be flighty, but was astonished at his command of English idiom and
his ability to put a point in a way that would have told at a constitu-
ents’ dinner—to be accounted for probably by his being a Pole, or a
Czech, or something of that fermenting sort, in a state of political

242
                                                             George Eliot

refugeeism which had obliged him to make a profession of his mu-
sic; and that evening in the drawing-room he for the first time went
up to Klesmer at the piano, Miss Arrowpoint being near, and said—
   “I had no idea before that you were a political man.”
   Klesmer’s only answer was to fold his arms, put out his nether lip,
and stare at Mr. Bult.
   “You must have been used to public speaking. You speak uncom-
monly well, though I don’t agree with you. From what you said
about sentiment, I fancy you are a Panslavist.”
   “No; my name is Elijah. I am the Wandering Jew,” said Klesmer,
flashing a smile at Miss Arrowpoint, and suddenly making a myste-
rious, wind-like rush backward and forward on the piano. Mr. Bult
felt this buffoonery rather offensive and Polish, but—Miss
Arrowpoint being there—did not like to move away.
   “Herr Klesmer has cosmopolitan ideas,” said Miss Arrowpoint,
trying to make the best of the situation. “He looks forward to a
fusion of races.”
   “With all my heart,” said Mr. Bult, willing to be gracious. “I was
sure he had too much talent to be a mere musician.”
   “Ah, sir, you are under some mistake there,” said Klesmer, firing up.
“No man has too much talent to be a musician. Most men have too
little. A creative artist is no more a mere musician than a great states-
man is a mere politician. We are not ingenious puppets, sir, who live
in a box and look out on the world only when it is gaping for amuse-
ment. We help to rule the nations and make the age as much as any
other public men. We count ourselves on level benches with legisla-
tors. And a man who speaks effectively through music is compelled to
something more difficult than parliamentary eloquence.”
   With the last word Klesmer wheeled from the piano and walked
away.
   Miss Arrowpoint colored, and Mr. Bult observed, with his usual
phlegmatic stolidity, “Your pianist does not think small beer of him-
self.”
   “Herr Klesmer is something more than a pianist,” said Miss
Arrowpoint, apologetically. “He is a great musician in the fullest
sense of the word. He will rank with Schubert and Mendelssohn.”
   “Ah, you ladies understand these things,” said Mr. Bult, none the

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Daniel Deronda

less convinced that these things were frivolous because Klesmer had
shown himself a coxcomb.
   Catherine, always sorry when Klesmer gave himself airs, found an
opportunity the next day in the music-room to say, “Why were you
so heated last night with Mr. Bult? He meant no harm.”
   “You wish me to be complaisant to him?” said Klesmer, rather
fiercely.
   “I think it is hardly worth your while to be other than civil.”
   “You find no difficulty in tolerating him, then?—you have a re-
spect for a political platitudinarian as insensible as an ox to every-
thing he can’t turn into political capital. You think his monumental
obtuseness suited to the dignity of the English gentleman.”
   “I did not say that.”
   “You mean that I acted without dignity, and you are offended
with me.”
   “Now you are slightly nearer the truth,” said Catherine, smiling.
   “Then I had better put my burial-clothes in my portmanteau and
set off at once.”
   “I don’t see that. If I have to bear your criticism of my operetta,
you should not mind my criticism of your impatience.”
   “But I do mind it. You would have wished me to take his ignorant
impertinence about a ‘mere musician’ without letting him know his
place. I am to hear my gods blasphemed as well as myself insulted.
But I beg pardon. It is impossible you should see the matter as I do.
Even you can’t understand the wrath of the artist: he is of another
caste for you.”
   “That is true,” said Catherine, with some betrayal of feeling. “He is
of a caste to which I look up—a caste above mine.”
   Klesmer, who had been seated at a table looking over scores, started
up and walked to a little distance, from which he said—
   “That is finely felt—I am grateful. But I had better go, all the
same. I have made up my mind to go, for good and all. You can get
on exceedingly well without me: your operetta is on wheels—it will
go of itself. And your Mr. Bull’s company fits me ‘wie die Faust ins
Auge.’ I am neglecting my engagements. I must go off to St. Peters-
burg.”
   There was no answer.

244
                                                             George Eliot

   “You agree with me that I had better go?” said Klesmer, with some
irritation.
   “Certainly; if that is what your business and feeling prompt. I
have only to wonder that you have consented to give us so much of
your time in the last year. There must be treble the interest to you
anywhere else. I have never thought of you consenting to come here
as anything else than a sacrifice.”
   “Why should I make the sacrifice?” said Klesmer, going to seat himself
at the piano, and touching the keys so as to give with the delicacy of an
echo in the far distance a melody which he had set to Heine’s “Ich hab’
dich geliebet und liebe dich noch.”
   “That is the mystery,” said Catherine, not wanting to affect any-
thing, but from mere agitation. From the same cause she was tear-
ing a piece of paper into minute morsels, as if at a task of utmost
multiplication imposed by a cruel fairy.
   “You can conceive no motive?” said Klesmer, folding his arms.
   “None that seems in the least probable.”
   “Then I shall tell you. It is because you are to me the chief woman
in the world—the throned lady whose colors I carry between my
heart and my armor.”
   Catherine’s hands trembled so much that she could no longer tear
the paper: still less could her lips utter a word. Klesmer went on—
   “This would be the last impertinence in me, if I meant to found
anything upon it. That is out of the question. I meant no such
thing. But you once said it was your doom to suspect every man
who courted you of being an adventurer, and what made you angri-
est was men’s imputing to you the folly of believing that they courted
you for your own sake. Did you not say so?”
   “Very likely,” was the answer, in a low murmur.
   “It was a bitter word. Well, at least one man who has seen women
as plenty as flowers in May has lingered about you for your own
sake. And since he is one whom you can never marry, you will be-
lieve him. There is an argument in favor of some other man. But
don’t give yourself for a meal to a minotaur like Bult. I shall go now
and pack. I shall make my excuses to Mrs. Arrowpoint.” Klesmer
rose as he ended, and walked quickly toward the door.
   “You must take this heap of manuscript,” then said Catherine,

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Daniel Deronda

suddenly making a desperate effort. She had risen to fetch the heap
from another table. Klesmer came back, and they had the length of
the folio sheets between them.
   “Why should I not marry the man who loves me, if I love him?”
said Catherine. To her the effort was something like the leap of a
woman from the deck into the lifeboat.
   “It would be too hard—impossible—you could not carry it through.
I am not worth what you would have to encounter. I will not accept
the sacrifice. It would be thought a mésalliance for you and I should
be liable to the worst accusations.”
   “Is it the accusations you are afraid of? I am afraid of nothing but
that we should miss the passing of our lives together.”
   The decisive word had been spoken: there was no doubt concern-
ing the end willed by each: there only remained the way of arriving
at it, and Catherine determined to take the straightest possible. She
went to her father and mother in the library, and told them that she
had promised to marry Klesmer.
   Mrs. Arrowpoint’s state of mind was pitiable. Imagine Jean Jacques,
after his essay on the corrupting influence of the arts, waking up
among children of nature who had no idea of grilling the raw bone
they offered him for breakfast with the primitive flint knife; or Saint
Just, after fervidly denouncing all recognition of pre-eminence, re-
ceiving a vote of thanks for the unbroken mediocrity of his speech,
which warranted the dullest patriots in delivering themselves at equal
length. Something of the same sort befell the authoress of “Tasso,”
when what she had safely demanded of the dead Leonora was en-
acted by her own Catherine. It is hard for us to live up to our own
eloquence, and keep pace with our winged words, while we are tread-
ing the solid earth and are liable to heavy dining. Besides, it has
long been understood that the proprieties of literature are not those
of practical life. Mrs. Arrowpoint naturally wished for the best of
everything. She not only liked to feel herself at a higher level of
literary sentiment than the ladies with whom she associated; she
wished not to be behind them in any point of social consideration.
While Klesmer was seen in the light of a patronized musician, his
peculiarities were picturesque and acceptable: but to see him by a
sudden flash in the light of her son-in-law gave her a burning sense

246
                                                           George Eliot

of what the world would say. And the poor lady had been used to
represent her Catherine as a model of excellence.
  Under the first shock she forgot everything but her anger, and
snatched at any phrase that would serve as a weapon.
  “If Klesmer has presumed to offer himself to you, your father
shall horsewhip him off the premises. Pray, speak, Mr. Arrowpoint.”
  The father took his cigar from his mouth, and rose to the occa-
sion by saying, “This will never do, Cath.”
  “Do!” cried Mrs. Arrowpoint; “who in their senses ever thought it
would do? You might as well say poisoning and strangling will not
do. It is a comedy you have got up, Catherine. Else you are mad.”
  “I am quite sane and serious, mamma, and Herr Klesmer is not to
blame. He never thought of my marrying him. I found out that he
loved me, and loving him, I told him I would marry him.”
  “Leave that unsaid, Catherine,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, bitterly.
“Every one else will say that for you. You will be a public fable.
Every one will say that you must have made an offer to a man who
has been paid to come to the house—who is nobody knows what—
a gypsy, a Jew, a mere bubble of the earth.”
  “Never mind, mamma,” said Catherine, indignant in her turn.
“We all know he is a genius—as Tasso was.”
  “Those times were not these, nor is Klesmer Tasso,” said Mrs.
Arrowpoint, getting more heated. “There is no sting in that sar-
casm, except the sting of undutifulness.”
  “I am sorry to hurt you, mamma. But I will not give up the hap-
piness of my life to ideas that I don’t believe in and customs I have
no respect for.”
  “You have lost all sense of duty, then? You have forgotten that you
are our only child—that it lies with you to place a great property in
the right hands?”
  “What are the right hands? My grandfather gained the property
in trade.”
  “Mr. Arrowpoint, will you sit by and hear this without speaking?”
  “I am a gentleman, Cath. We expect you to marry a gentleman,”
said the father, exerting himself.
  “And a man connected with the institutions of this country,” said the
mother. “A woman in your position has serious duties. Where duty and

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Daniel Deronda

inclination clash, she must follow duty.”
   “I don’t deny that,” said Catherine, getting colder in proportion
to her mother’s heat. “But one may say very true things and apply
them falsely. People can easily take the sacred word duty as a name
for what they desire any one else to do.”
   “Your parent’s desire makes no duty for you, then?”
   “Yes, within reason. But before I give up the happiness of my
life—”
   “Catherine, Catherine, it will not be your happiness,” said Mrs.
Arrowpoint, in her most raven-like tones.
   “Well, what seems to me my happiness—before I give it up, I must
see some better reason than the wish that I should marry a nobleman,
or a man who votes with a party that he may be turned into a noble-
man. I feel at liberty to marry the man I love and think worthy, unless
some higher duty forbids.”
   “And so it does, Catherine, though you are blinded and cannot
see it. It is a woman’s duty not to lower herself. You are lowering
yourself. Mr. Arrowpoint, will you tell your daughter what is her
duty?”
   “You must see, Catherine, that Klesmer is not the man for you,”
said Mr. Arrowpoint. “He won’t do at the head of estates. He has a
deuced foreign look—is an unpractical man.”
   “I really can’t see what that has to do with it, papa. The land of
England has often passed into the hands of foreigners—Dutch sol-
diers, sons of foreign women of bad character:—if our land were
sold to-morrow it would very likely pass into the hands of some
foreign merchant on ‘Change. It is in everybody’s mouth that suc-
cessful swindlers may buy up half the land in the country. How can
I stem that tide?”
   “It will never do to argue about marriage, Cath,” said Mr.
Arrowpoint. “It’s no use getting up the subject like a parliamentary
question. We must do as other people do. We must think of the
nation and the public good.”
   “I can’t see any public good concerned here, papa,” said Catherine.
“Why is it to be expected of any heiress that she should carry the
property gained in trade into the hands of a certain class? That seems
to be a ridiculous mishmash of superannuated customs and false

248
                                                          George Eliot

ambition. I should call it a public evil. People had better make a
new sort of public good by changing their ambitions.”
   “That is mere sophistry, Catherine,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint. “Be-
cause you don’t wish to marry a nobleman, you are not obliged to
marry a mountebank or a charlatan.”
   “I cannot understand the application of such words, mamma.”
   “No, I dare say not,” rejoined Mrs. Arrowpoint, with significant
scorn. “You have got to a pitch at which we are not likely to under-
stand each other.”
   “It can’t be done, Cath,” said Mr. Arrowpoint, wishing to substi-
tute a better-humored reasoning for his wife’s impetuosity. “A man
like Klesmer can’t marry such a property as yours. It can’t be done.”
   “It certainly will not be done,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, imperi-
ously. “Where is the man? Let him be fetched.”
   “I cannot fetch him to be insulted,” said Catherine. “Nothing
will be achieved by that.”
   “I suppose you would wish him to know that in marrying you he
will not marry your fortune,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint.
   “Certainly; if it were so, I should wish him to know it.”
   “Then you had better fetch him.”
   Catherine only went into the music-room and said, “Come.” She
felt no need to prepare Klesmer.
   “Herr Klesmer,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint, with a rather contemptu-
ous stateliness, “it is unnecessary to repeat what has passed between
us and our daughter. Mr. Arrowpoint will tell you our resolution.”
   “Your marrying is out of the question,” said Mr. Arrowpoint, rather
too heavily weighted with his task, and standing in an embarrass-
ment unrelieved by a cigar. “It is a wild scheme altogether. A man
has been called out for less.”
   “You have taken a base advantage of our confidence,” burst in
Mrs. Arrowpoint, unable to carry out her purpose and leave the
burden of speech to her husband.
   Klesmer made a low bow in silent irony.
   “The pretension is ridiculous. You had better give it up and leave
the house at once,” continued Mr. Arrowpoint. He wished to do
without mentioning the money.
   “I can give up nothing without reference to your daughter’s wish,”

                                                                 249
Daniel Deronda

said Klesmer. “My engagement is to her.”
  “It is useless to discuss the question,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint. “We
shall never consent to the marriage. If Catherine disobeys us we
shall disinherit her. You will not marry her fortune. It is right you
should know that.”
  “Madam, her fortune has been the only thing I have had to regret
about her. But I must ask her if she will not think the sacrifice greater
than I am worthy of.”
  “It is no sacrifice to me,” said Catherine, “except that I am sorry
to hurt my father and mother. I have always felt my fortune to be a
wretched fatality of my life.”
  “You mean to defy us, then?” said Mrs. Arrowpoint.
  “I mean to marry Herr Klesmer,” said Catherine, firmly.
  “He had better not count on our relenting,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint,
whose manners suffered from that impunity in insult which has been
reckoned among the privileges of women.
  “Madam,” said Klesmer, “certain reasons forbid me to retort. But
understand that I consider it out of the power either of you, or of
your fortune, to confer on me anything that I value. My rank as an
artist is of my own winning, and I would not exchange it for any
other. I am able to maintain your daughter, and I ask for no change
in my life but her companionship.”
  “You will leave the house, however,” said Mrs. Arrowpoint.
  “I go at once,” said Klesmer, bowing and quitting the room.
  “Let there be no misunderstanding, mamma,” said Catherine; “I
consider myself engaged to Herr Klesmer, and I intend to marry
him.”
  The mother turned her head away and waved her hand in sign of
dismissal.
  “It’s all very fine,” said Mr. Arrowpoint, when Catherine was gone;
“but what the deuce are we to do with the property?”
  “There is Harry Brendall. He can take the name.”
  “Harry Brendall will get through it all in no time,” said Mr.
Arrowpoint, relighting his cigar.
  And thus, with nothing settled but the determination of the lov-
ers, Klesmer had left Quetcham.


250
                                                               George Eliot




                     CHAPTER XXIII
    Among the heirs of Art, as is the division of the promised land,
  each has to win his portion by hard fighting: the bestowal is after the
  manner of prophecy, and is a title without possession. To carry the
  map of an ungotten estate in your pocket is a poor sort of copyhold.
  And in fancy to cast his shoe over Eden is little warrant that a man
  shall ever set the sole of his foot on an acre of his own there.
    The most obstinate beliefs that mortals entertain about themselves
  are such as they have no evidence for beyond a constant, spontane-
  ous pulsing of their self-satisfaction—as it were a hidden seed of
  madness, a confidence that they can move the world without precise
  notion of standing-place or lever.


“PRAY GO TO CHURCH, mamma,” said Gwendolen the next morning.
“I prefer seeing Herr Klesmer alone.” (He had written in reply to
her note that he would be with her at eleven.)
   “That is hardly correct, I think,” said Mrs. Davilow, anxiously.
   “Our affairs are too serious for us to think of such nonsensical
rules,” said Gwendolen, contemptuously. “They are insulting as well
as ridiculous.”
   “You would not mind Isabel sitting with you? She would be read-
ing in a corner.”
   “No; she could not: she would bite her nails and stare. It would be
too irritating. Trust my judgment, mamma, I must be alone, Take
them all to church.”
   Gwendolen had her way, of course; only that Miss Merry and two
of the girls stayed at home, to give the house a look of habitation by
sitting at the dining-room windows.
   It was a delicious Sunday morning. The melancholy waning sun-
shine of autumn rested on the half-strown grass and came mildly
through the windows in slanting bands of brightness over the old
                                                                       251
Daniel Deronda

furniture, and the glass panel that reflected the furniture; over the
tapestried chairs with their faded flower-wreaths, the dark enigmatic
pictures, the superannuated organ at which Gwendolen had pleased
herself with acting Saint Cecelia on her first joyous arrival, the crowd
of pallid, dusty knicknacks seen through the open doors of the an-
techamber where she had achieved the wearing of her Greek dress
as Hermione. This last memory was just now very busy in her; for
had not Klesmer then been struck with admiration of her pose and
expression? Whatever he had said, whatever she imagined him to
have thought, was at this moment pointed with keenest interest for
her: perhaps she had never before in her life felt so inwardly depen-
dent, so consciously in need of another person’s opinion. There was
a new fluttering of spirit within her, a new element of deliberation
in her self-estimate which had hitherto been a blissful gift of intu-
ition. Still it was the recurrent burden of her inward soliloquy that
Klesmer had seen but little of her, and any unfavorable conclusion
of his must have too narrow a foundation. She really felt clever
enough for anything.
   To fill up the time she collected her volumes and pieces of music,
and laying them on the top of the piano, set herself to classify them.
Then catching the reflection of her movements in the glass panel,
she was diverted to the contemplation of the image there and walked
toward it. Dressed in black, without a single ornament, and with
the warm whiteness of her skin set off between her light-brown
coronet of hair and her square-cut bodice, she might have tempted
an artist to try again the Roman trick of a statue in black, white,
and tawny marble. Seeing her image slowly advancing, she thought
“I am beautiful”—not exultingly, but with grave decision. Being
beautiful was after all the condition on which she most needed ex-
ternal testimony. If any one objected to the turn of her nose or the
form of her neck and chin, she had not the sense that she could
presently show her power of attainment in these branches of femi-
nine perfection.
   There was not much time to fill up in this way before the sound
of wheels, the loud ring, and the opening doors assured her that she
was not by any accident to be disappointed. This slightly increased
her inward flutter. In spite of her self-confidence, she dreaded

252
                                                          George Eliot

Klesmer as part of that unmanageable world which was indepen-
dent of her wishes—something vitriolic that would not cease to
burn because you smiled or frowned at it. Poor thing! she was at a
higher crisis of her woman’s fate than in her last experience with
Grandcourt. The questioning then, was whether she should take a
particular man as a husband. The inmost fold of her questioning
now was whether she need take a husband at all—whether she could
not achieve substantially for herself and know gratified ambition
without bondage.
   Klesmer made his most deferential bow in the wide doorway of
the antechamber—showing also the deference of the finest gray
kerseymere trousers and perfect gloves (the ‘masters of those who
know’ are happily altogether human). Gwendolen met him with
unusual gravity, and holding out her hand said, “It is most kind of
you to come, Herr Klesmer. I hope you have not thought me pre-
sumptuous.”
   “I took your wish as a command that did me honor,” said Klesmer,
with answering gravity. He was really putting by his own affairs in
order to give his utmost attention to what Gwendolen might have to
say; but his temperament was still in a state of excitation from the
events of yesterday, likely enough to give his expressions a more than
usually biting edge.
   Gwendolen for once was under too great a strain of feeling to re-
member formalities. She continued standing near the piano, and
Klesmer took his stand near the other end of it with his back to the
light and his terribly omniscient eyes upon her. No affectation was of
use, and she began without delay.
   “I wish to consult you, Herr Klesmer. We have lost all our for-
tune; we have nothing. I must get my own bread, and I desire to
provide for my mamma, so as to save her from any hardship. The
only way I can think of—and I should like it better than anything—
is to be an actress—to go on the stage. But, of course, I should like
to take a high position, and I thought—if you thought I could”—
here Gwendolen became a little more nervous—”it would be better
for me to be a singer—to study singing also.”
   Klesmer put down his hat upon the piano, and folded his arms as
if to concentrate himself.

                                                                 253
Daniel Deronda

   “I know,” Gwendolen resumed, turning from pale to pink and
back again—“I know that my method of singing is very defective;
but I have been ill taught. I could be better taught; I could study.
And you will understand my wish:—to sing and act too, like Grisi,
is a much higher position. Naturally, I should wish to take as high
rank as I can. And I can rely on your judgment. I am sure you will
tell me the truth.”
   Gwendolen somehow had the conviction that now she made this
serious appeal the truth would be favorable.
   Still Klesmer did not speak. He drew off his gloves quickly, tossed
them into his hat, rested his hands on his hips, and walked to the
other end of the room. He was filled with compassion for this girl:
he wanted to put a guard on his speech. When he turned again, he
looked at her with a mild frown of inquiry, and said with gentle
though quick utterance, “You have never seen anything, I think, of
artists and their lives?—I mean of musicians, actors, artists of that
kind?”
   “Oh, no,” said Gwendolen, not perturbed by a reference to this
obvious fact in the history of a young lady hitherto well provided for.
   “You are—pardon me,” said Klesmer, again pausing near the pi-
ano—“in coming to a conclusion on such a matter as this, every-
thing must be taken into consideration—you are perhaps twenty?”
   “I am twenty-one,” said Gwendolen, a slight fear rising in her.
“Do you think I am too old?”
   Klesmer pouted his under lip and shook his long fingers upward
in a manner totally enigmatic.
   “Many persons begin later than others,” said Gwendolen, betrayed
by her habitual consciousness of having valuable information to
bestow.
   Klesmer took no notice, but said with more studied gentleness
than ever, “You have probably not thought of an artistic career until
now: you did not entertain the notion, the longing—what shall I
say?—you did not wish yourself an actress, or anything of that sort,
till the present trouble?”
   “Not exactly: but I was fond of acting. I have acted; you saw me,
if you remember—you saw me here in charades, and as Hermione,”
said Gwendolen, really fearing that Klesmer had forgotten.

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   “Yes, yes,” he answered quickly, “I remember—I remember per-
fectly,” and again walked to the other end of the room, It was diffi-
cult for him to refrain from this kind of movement when he was in
any argument either audible or silent.
   Gwendolen felt that she was being weighed. The delay was un-
pleasant. But she did not yet conceive that the scale could dip on
the wrong side, and it seemed to her only graceful to say, “I shall be
very much obliged to you for taking the trouble to give me your
advice, whatever it maybe.”
   “Miss Harleth,” said Klesmer, turning toward her and speaking
with a slight increase of accent, “I will veil nothing from you in this
matter. I should reckon myself guilty if I put a false visage on things—
made them too black or too white. The gods have a curse for him
who willingly tells another the wrong road. And if I misled one who
is so young, so beautiful —who, I trust, will find her happiness
along the right road, I should regard myself as a—Bösewicht.” In the
last word Klesmer’s voice had dropped to a loud whisper.
   Gwendolen felt a sinking of heart under this unexpected solemnity,
and kept a sort of fascinated gaze on Klesmer’s face, as he went on.
   “You are a beautiful young lady—you have been brought up in
ease—you have done what you would—you have not said to your-
self, ‘I must know this exactly,’ ‘I must understand this exactly,’ ‘I
must do this exactly,’”—in uttering these three terrible musts, Klesmer
lifted up three long fingers in succession. “In sum, you have not
been called upon to be anything but a charming young lady, whom
it is an impoliteness to find fault with.”
   He paused an instant; then resting his fingers on his hips again,
and thrusting out his powerful chin, he said—
   “Well, then, with that preparation, you wish to try the life of an
artist; you wish to try a life of arduous, unceasing work, and—un-
certain praise. Your praise would have to be earned, like your bread;
and both would come slowly, scantily—what do I say?—they may
hardly come at all.”
   This tone of discouragement, which Klesmer had hoped might
suffice without anything more unpleasant, roused some resistance
in Gwendolen. With a slight turn of her head away from him, and
an air of pique, she said—

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Daniel Deronda

   “I thought that you, being an artist, would consider the life one of
the most honorable and delightful. And if I can do nothing better?—
I suppose I can put up with the same risks as other people do.”
   “Do nothing better?” said Klesmer, a little fired. “No, my dear
Miss Harleth, you could do nothing better—neither man nor woman
could do anything better—if you could do what was best or good of
its kind. I am not decrying the life of the true artist. I am exalting it.
I say, it is out of the reach of any but choice organizations—natures
framed to love perfection and to labor for it; ready, like all true
lovers, to endure, to wait, to say, I am not yet worthy, but she—Art,
my mistress—is worthy, and I will live to merit her. An honorable
life? Yes. But the honor comes from the inward vocation and the
hard-won achievement: there is no honor in donning the life as a
livery.”
   Some excitement of yesterday had revived in Klesmer and hurried
him into speech a little aloof from his immediate friendly purpose.
He had wished as delicately as possible to rouse in Gwendolen a
sense of her unfitness for a perilous, difficult course; but it was his
wont to be angry with the pretensions of incompetence, and he was
in danger of getting chafed. Conscious of this, he paused suddenly.
But Gwendolen’s chief impression was that he had not yet denied
her the power of doing what would be good of its kind. Klesmer’s
fervor seemed to be a sort of glamor such as he was prone to throw
over things in general; and what she desired to assure him of was
that she was not afraid of some preliminary hardships. The belief
that to present herself in public on the stage must produce an effect
such as she had been used to feel certain of in private life; was like a
bit of her flesh—it was not to be peeled off readily, but must come
with blood and pain. She said, in a tone of some insistance—
   “I am quite prepared to bear hardships at first. Of course no one
can become celebrated all at once. And it is not necessary that every
one should be first-rate—either actresses or singers. If you would be
so kind as to tell me what steps I should take, I shall have the cour-
age to take them. I don’t mind going up hill. It will be easier than
the dead level of being a governess. I will take any steps you recom-
mend.”
   Klesmer was convinced now that he must speak plainly.

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                                                          George Eliot

   “I will tell you the steps, not that I recommend, but that will be
forced upon you. It is all one, so far, what your goal will be—excel-
lence, celebrity, second, third rateness—it is all one. You must go to
town under the protection of your mother. You must put yourself
under training —musical, dramatic, theatrical:—whatever you de-
sire to do you have to learn”—here Gwendolen looked as if she were
going to speak, but Klesmer lifted up his hand and said, decisively,
“I know. You have exercised your talents—you recite—you sing—
from the drawing-room standpunkt. My dear Fräulein, you must
unlearn all that. You have not yet conceived what excellence is: you
must unlearn your mistaken admirations. You must know what you
have to strive for, and then you must subdue your mind and body
to unbroken discipline. Your mind, I say. For you must not be think-
ing of celebrity: put that candle out of your eyes, and look only at
excellence. You would of course earn nothing—you could get no
engagement for a long while. You would need money for yourself
and your family. But that,” here Klesmer frowned and shook his
fingers as if to dismiss a triviality, “that could perhaps be found.”
   Gwendolen turned pink and pale during this speech. Her pride
had felt a terrible knife-edge, and the last sentence only made the
smart keener. She was conscious of appearing moved, and tried to
escape from her weakness by suddenly walking to a seat and point-
ing out a chair to Klesmer. He did not take it, but turned a little in
order to face her and leaned against the piano. At that moment she
wished that she had not sent for him: this first experience of being
taken on some other ground than that of her social rank and her
beauty was becoming bitter to her. Klesmer, preoccupied with a
serious purpose, went on without change of tone.
   “Now, what sort of issue might be fairly expected from all this
self-denial? You would ask that. It is right that your eyes should be
open to it. I will tell you truthfully. This issue would be uncertain,
and, most probably, would not be worth much.”
   At these relentless words Klesmer put out his lip and looked
through his spectacles with the air of a monster impenetrable by
beauty.
   Gwendolen’s eyes began to burn, but the dread of showing weak-
ness urged her to added self-control. She compelled herself to say,

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Daniel Deronda

in a hard tone—
   “You think I want talent, or am too old to begin.”
   Klesmer made a sort of hum, and then descended on an emphatic
“Yes! The desire and the training should have begun seven years
ago—or a good deal earlier. A mountebank’s child who helps her
father to earn shillings when she is six years old—a child that inher-
its a singing throat from a long line of choristers and learns to sing
as it learns to talk, has a likelier beginning. Any great achievement
in acting or in music grows with the growth. Whenever an artist has
been able to say, ‘I came, I saw, I conquered,’ it has been at the end
of patient practice. Genius at first is little more than a great capacity
for receiving discipline. Singing and acting, like the fine dexterity of
the juggler with his cups and balls, require a shaping of the organs
toward a finer and finer certainty of effect. Your muscles—your whole
frame—must go like a watch, true, true to a hair. That is the work
of spring-time, before habits have been determined.”
   “I did not pretend to genius,” said Gwendolen, still feeling that
she might somehow do what Klesmer wanted to represent as im-
possible. “I only suppose that I might have a little talent—enough
to improve.”
   “I don’t deny that,” said Klesmer. “If you had been put in the
right track some years ago and had worked well you might now
have made a public singer, though I don’t think your voice would
have counted for much in public. For the stage your personal charms
and intelligence might then have told without the present draw-
back of inexperience—lack of discipline—lack of instruction.”
   Certainly Klesmer seemed cruel, but his feeling was the reverse of
cruel. Our speech, even when we are most single-minded, can never
take its line absolutely from one impulse; but Klesmer’s was, as far
as possible, directed by compassion for poor Gwendolen’s ignorant
eagerness to enter on a course of which he saw all the miserable
details with a definiteness which he could not if he would have
conveyed to her mind.
   Gwendolen, however, was not convinced. Her self-opinion ral-
lied, and since the counselor whom she had called in gave a decision
of such severe peremptoriness, she was tempted to think that his
judgment was not only fallible but biased. It occurred to her that a

258
                                                          George Eliot

simpler and wiser step for her to have taken would have been to
send a letter through the post to the manager of a London theatre,
asking him to make an appointment. She would make no further
reference to her singing; Klesmer, she saw, had set himself against
her singing. But she felt equal to arguing with him about her going
on the stage, and she answered in a resistant tone—
   “I understood, of course, that no one can be a finished actress at
once. It may be impossible to tell beforehand whether I should suc-
ceed; but that seems to me a reason why I should try. I should have
thought that I might have taken an engagement at a theatre mean-
while, so as to earn money and study at the same time.”
   “Can’t be done, my dear Miss Harleth—I speak plainly—it can’t
be done. I must clear your mind of these notions which have no
more resemblance to reality than a pantomime. Ladies and gentle-
men think that when they have made their toilet and drawn on
their gloves they are as presentable on the stage as in a drawing-
room. No manager thinks that. With all your grace and charm, if
you were to present yourself as an aspirant to the stage, a manager
would either require you to pay as an amateur for being allowed to
perform or he would tell you to go and be taught—trained to bear
yourself on the stage, as a horse, however beautiful, must be trained
for the circus; to say nothing of that study which would enable you
to personate a character consistently, and animate it with the natu-
ral language of face, gesture, and tone. For you to get an engage-
ment fit for you straight away is out of the question.”
   “I really cannot understand that,” said Gwendolen, rather haugh-
tily—then, checking herself, she added in another tone—“I shall be
obliged to you if you will explain how it is that such poor actresses
get engaged. I have been to the theatre several times, and I am sure
there were actresses who seemed to me to act not at all well and who
were quite plain.”
   “Ah, my dear Miss Harleth, that is the easy criticism of the buyer.
We who buy slippers toss away this pair and the other as clumsy;
but there went an apprenticeship to the making of them. Excuse
me; you could not at present teach one of those actresses; but there
is certainly much that she could teach you. For example, she can
pitch her voice so as to be heard: ten to one you could not do it till

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Daniel Deronda

after many trials. Merely to stand and move on the stage is an art—
requires practice. It is understood that we are not now talking of a
comparse in a petty theatre who earns the wages of a needle-woman.
That is out of the question for you.”
   “Of course I must earn more than that,” said Gwendolen, with a
sense of wincing rather than of being refuted, “but I think I could soon
learn to do tolerably well all those little things you have mentioned. I
am not so very stupid. And even in Paris, I am sure, I saw two actresses
playing important ladies’ parts who were not at all ladies and quite ugly.
I suppose I have no particular talent, but I must think it is an advantage,
even on the stage, to be a lady and not a perfect fright.”
   “Ah, let us understand each other,” said Klesmer, with a flash of
new meaning. “I was speaking of what you would have to go through
if you aimed at becoming a real artist—if you took music and the
drama as a higher vocation in which you would strive after excellence.
On that head, what I have said stands fast. You would find—after
your education in doing things slackly for one-and-twenty years—
great difficulties in study; you would find mortifications in the treat-
ment you would get when you presented yourself on the footing of
skill. You would be subjected to tests; people would no longer feign
not to see your blunders. You would at first only be accepted on trial.
You would have to bear what I may call a glaring insignificance: any
success must be won by the utmost patience. You would have to keep
your place in a crowd, and after all it is likely you would lose it and get
out of sight. If you determine to face these hardships and still try, you
will have the dignity of a high purpose, even though you may have
chosen unfortunately. You will have some merit, though you may win
no prize. You have asked my judgment on your chances of winning. I
don’t pretend to speak absolutely; but measuring probabilities, my
judgment is:—you will hardly achieve more than mediocrity.”
   Klesmer had delivered himself with emphatic rapidity, and now
paused a moment. Gwendolen was motionless, looking at her hands,
which lay over each other on her lap, till the deep-toned, long-drawn
“But,” with which he resumed, had a startling effect, and made her
look at him again.
   “But—there are certainly other ideas, other dispositions with which
a young lady may take up an art that will bring her before the pub-

260
                                                          George Eliot

lic. She may rely on the unquestioned power of her beauty as a
passport. She may desire to exhibit herself to an admiration which
dispenses with skill. This goes a certain way on the stage: not in
music: but on the stage, beauty is taken when there is nothing more
commanding to be had. Not without some drilling, however: as I
have said before, technicalities have in any case to be mastered. But
these excepted, we have here nothing to do with art. The woman
who takes up this career is not an artist: she is usually one who
thinks of entering on a luxurious life by a short and easy road—
perhaps by marriage—that is her most brilliant chance, and the rar-
est. Still, her career will not be luxurious to begin with: she can
hardly earn her own poor bread independently at once, and the
indignities she will be liable to are such as I will not speak of.”
   “I desire to be independent,” said Gwendolen, deeply stung and
confusedly apprehending some scorn for herself in Klesmer’s words.
“That was my reason for asking whether I could not get an immedi-
ate engagement. Of course I cannot know how things go on about
theatres. But I thought that I could have made myself independent.
I have no money, and I will not accept help from any one.”
   Her wounded pride could not rest without making this disclaimer.
It was intolerable to her that Klesmer should imagine her to have
expected other help from him than advice.
   “That is a hard saying for your friends,” said Klesmer, recovering
the gentleness of tone with which he had begun the conversation.
“I have given you pain. That was inevitable. I was bound to put the
truth, the unvarnished truth, before you. I have not said—I will not
say—you will do wrong to choose the hard, climbing path of an
endeavoring artist. You have to compare its difficulties with those of
any less hazardous—any more private course which opens itself to
you. If you take that more courageous resolve I will ask leave to
shake hands with you on the strength of our freemasonry, where we
are all vowed to the service of art, and to serve her by helping every
fellow-servant.”
   Gwendolen was silent, again looking at her hands. She felt herself
very far away from taking the resolve that would enforce accep-
tance; and after waiting an instant or two, Klesmer went on with
deepened seriousness.

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Daniel Deronda

   “Where there is the duty of service there must be the duty of
accepting it. The question is not one of personal obligation. And in
relation to practical matters immediately affecting your future—
excuse my permitting myself to mention in confidence an affair of
my own. I am expecting an event which would make it easy for me
to exert myself on your behalf in furthering your opportunities of
instruction and residence in London—under the care, that is, of
your family—without need for anxiety on your part. If you resolve
to take art as a bread-study, you need only undertake the study at
first; the bread will be found without trouble. The event I mean is
my marriage—in fact—you will receive this as a matter of confi-
dence—my marriage with Miss Arrowpoint, which will more than
double such right as I have to be trusted by you as a friend. Your
friendship will have greatly risen in value for her by your having
adopted that generous labor.”
   Gwendolen’s face had begun to burn. That Klesmer was about to
marry Miss Arrowpoint caused her no surprise, and at another mo-
ment she would have amused herself in quickly imagining the scenes
that must have occurred at Quetcham. But what engrossed her feel-
ing, what filled her imagination now, was the panorama of her own
immediate future that Klesmer’s words seemed to have unfolded. The
suggestion of Miss Arrowpoint as a patroness was only another detail
added to its repulsiveness: Klesmer’s proposal to help her seemed an
additional irritation after the humiliating judgment he had passed on
her capabilities. His words had really bitten into her self-confidence
and turned it into the pain of a bleeding wound; and the idea of
presenting herself before other judges was now poisoned with the
dread that they also might be harsh; they also would not recognize
the talent she was conscious of. But she controlled herself, and rose
from her seat before she made any answer. It seemed natural that she
should pause. She went to the piano and looked absently at leaves of
music, pinching up the corners. At last she turned toward Klesmer
and said, with almost her usual air of proud equality, which in this
interview had not been hitherto perceptible.
   “I congratulate you sincerely, Herr Klesmer. I think I never saw
any one so admirable as Miss Arrowpoint. And I have to thank you
for every sort of kindness this morning. But I can’t decide now. If I

262
                                                           George Eliot

make the resolve you have spoken of, I will use your permission—I
will let you know. But I fear the obstacles are too great. In any case,
I am deeply obliged to you. It was very bold of me to ask you to take
this trouble.”
   Klesmer’s inward remark was, “She will never let me know.” But
with the most thorough respect in his manner, he said, “Command
me at any time. There is an address on this card which will always
find me with little delay.”
   When he had taken up his hat and was going to make his bow,
Gwendolen’s better self, conscious of an ingratitude which the clear-
seeing Klesmer must have penetrated, made a desperate effort to
find its way above the stifling layers of egoistic disappointment and
irritation. Looking at him with a glance of the old gayety, she put
out her hand, and said with a smile, “If I take the wrong road, it will
not be because of your flattery.”
   “God forbid that you should take any road but one where you
will find and give happiness!” said Klesmer, fervently. Then, in for-
eign fashion, he touched her fingers lightly with his lips, and in
another minute she heard the sound of his departing wheels getting
more distant on the gravel.
   Gwendolen had never in her life felt so miserable. No sob came,
no passion of tears, to relieve her. Her eyes were burning; and the
noonday only brought into more dreary clearness the absence of
interest from her life. All memories, all objects, the pieces of music
displayed, the open piano—the very reflection of herself in the
glass—seemed no better than the packed-up shows of a departing
fair. For the first time since her consciousness began, she was having
a vision of herself on the common level, and had lost the innate
sense that there were reasons why she should not be slighted, el-
bowed, jostled—treated like a passenger with a third-class ticket, in
spite of private objections on her own part. She did not move about;
the prospects begotten by disappointment were too oppressively
preoccupying; she threw herself into the shadiest corner of a settee,
and pressed her fingers over her burning eyelids. Every word that
Klesmer had said seemed to have been branded into her memory, as
most words are which bring with them a new set of impressions and
make an epoch for us. Only a few hours before, the dawning smile

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Daniel Deronda

of self-contentment rested on her lips as she vaguely imagined a
future suited to her wishes: it seemed but the affair of a year or so
for her to become the most approved Juliet of the time: or, if Klesmer
encouraged her idea of being a singer, to proceed by more gradual
steps to her place in the opera, while she won money and applause
by occasional performances. Why not? At home, at school, among
acquaintances, she had been used to have her conscious superiority
admitted; and she had moved in a society where everything, from
low arithmetic to high art, is of the amateur kind, politely supposed
to fall short of perfection only because gentlemen and ladies are not
obliged to do more than they like—otherwise they would probably
give forth abler writings, and show themselves more commanding
artists than any the world is at present obliged to put up with. The
self-confident visions that had beguiled her were not of a highly
exceptional kind; and she had at least shown some nationality in
consulting the person who knew the most and had flattered her the
least. In asking Klesmer’s advice, however, she had rather been borne
up by a belief in his latent admiration than bent on knowing any-
thing more unfavorable that might have lain behind his slight ob-
jections to her singing; and the truth she had asked for, with an
expectation that it would be agreeable, had come like a lacerating
thong.
  “Too old—should have begun seven years ago—you will not, at
best, achieve more than mediocrity—hard, incessant work, uncer-
tain praise—bread coming slowly, scantily, perhaps not at all—
mortifications, people no longer feigning not to see your blunders—
glaring insignificance”—all these phrases rankled in her; and even
more galling was the hint that she could only be accepted on the
stage as a beauty who hoped to get a husband. The “indignities”
that she might be visited with had no very definite form for her, but
the mere association of anything called “indignity” with herself,
roused a resentful alarm. And along with the vaguer images which
were raised by those biting words, came the precise conception of
disagreeables which her experience enabled her to imagine. How
could she take her mamma and the four sisters to London? if it were
not possible for her to earn money at once? And as for submitting
to be a protégé, and asking her mamma to submit with her to the

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humiliation of being supported by Miss Arrowpoint—that was as
bad as being a governess; nay, worse; for suppose the end of all her
study to be as worthless as Klesmer clearly expected it to be, the
sense of favors received and never repaid, would embitter the miser-
ies of disappointment. Klesmer doubtless had magnificent ideas
about helping artists; but how could he know the feelings of ladies
in such matters? It was all over: she had entertained a mistaken hope;
and there was an end of it.
   “An end of it!” said Gwendolen, aloud, starting from her seat as
she heard the steps and voices of her mamma and sisters coming in
from church. She hurried to the piano and began gathering together
her pieces of music with assumed diligence, while the expression on
her pale face and in her burning eyes was what would have suited a
woman enduring a wrong which she might not resent, but would
probably revenge.
   “Well, my darling,” said gentle Mrs. Davilow, entering, “I see by
the wheel-marks that Klesmer has been here. Have you been satis-
fied with the interview?” She had some guesses as to its object, but
felt timid about implying them.
   “Satisfied, mamma? oh, yes,” said Gwendolen, in a high, hard
tone, for which she must be excused, because she dreaded a scene of
emotion. If she did not set herself resolutely to feign proud indiffer-
ence, she felt that she must fall into a passionate outburst of despair,
which would cut her mamma more deeply than all the rest of their
calamities.
   “Your uncle and aunt were disappointed at not seeing you,” said
Mrs. Davilow, coming near the piano, and watching Gwendolen’s
movements. “I only said that you wanted rest.”
   “Quite right, mamma,” said Gwendolen, in the same tone, turn-
ing to put away some music.
   “Am I not to know anything now, Gwendolen? Am I always to be
in the dark?” said Mrs. Davilow, too keenly sensitive to her daughter’s
manner and expression not to fear that something painful had oc-
curred.
   “There is really nothing to tell now, mamma,” said Gwendolen,
in a still higher voice. “I had a mistaken idea about something I
could do. Herr Klesmer has undeceived me. That is all.”

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Daniel Deronda

   “Don’t look and speak in that way, my dear child: I cannot bear
it,” said Mrs. Davilow, breaking down. She felt an undefinable ter-
ror.
   Gwendolen looked at her a moment in silence, biting her inner
lip; then she went up to her, and putting her hands on her mamma’s
shoulders, said, with a drop in her voice to the lowest undertone,
“Mamma, don’t speak to me now. It is useless to cry and waste our
strength over what can’t be altered. You will live at Sawyer’s Cottage,
and I am going to the bishop’s daughters. There is no more to be
said. Things cannot be altered, and who cares? It makes no differ-
ence to any one else what we do. We must try not to care ourselves.
We must not give way. I dread giving way. Help me to be quiet.”
   Mrs. Davilow was like a frightened child under her daughter’s
face and voice; her tears were arrested and she went away in silence.




266
                                                        George Eliot




                   CHAPTER XXIV
                “I question things but do not find
                One that will answer to my mind:
                And all the world appears unkind.”
                                 —WORDSWORTH.

GWENDOLEN was glad that she had got through her interview with
Klesmer before meeting her uncle and aunt. She had made up her
mind now that there were only disagreeables before her, and she felt
able to maintain a dogged calm in the face of any humiliation that
might be proposed.
  The meeting did not happen until the Monday, when Gwendolen
went to the rectory with her mamma. They had called at Sawyer’s
Cottage by the way, and had seen every cranny of the narrow rooms
in a mid-day light, unsoftened by blinds and curtains; for the fur-
nishing to be done by gleanings from the rectory had not yet begun.
  “How shall you endure it, mamma?” said Gwendolen, as they
walked away. She had not opened her lips while they were looking
round at the bare walls and floors, and the little garden with the
cabbage-stalks, and the yew arbor all dust and cobwebs within. “You
and the four girls all in that closet of a room, with the green and
yellow paper pressing on your eyes? And without me?”
  “It will be some comfort that you have not to bear it too, dear.”
  “If it were not that I must get some money, I would rather be
there than go to be a governess.”
  “Don’t set yourself against it beforehand, Gwendolen. If you go
to the palace you will have every luxury about you. And you know
how much you have always cared for that. You will not find it so
hard as going up and down those steep narrow stairs, and hearing
the crockery rattle through the house, and the dear girls talking.”

                                                               267
Daniel Deronda

   “It is like a bad dream,” said Gwendolen, impetuously. “I cannot
believe that my uncle will let you go to such a place. He ought to
have taken some other steps.”
   “Don’t be unreasonable, dear child. What could he have done?”
   “That was for him to find out. It seems to me a very extraordinary
world if people in our position must sink in this way all at once,”
said Gwendolen, the other worlds with which she was conversant
being constructed with a sense of fitness that arranged her own fu-
ture agreeably.
   It was her temper that framed her sentences under this entirely
new pressure of evils: she could have spoken more suitably on the
vicissitudes in other people’s lives, though it was never her aspira-
tion to express herself virtuously so much as cleverly—a point to be
remembered in extenuation of her words, which were usually worse
than she was.
   And, notwithstanding the keen sense of her own bruises, she was
capable of some compunction when her uncle and aunt received
her with a more affectionate kindness than they had ever shown
before. She could not but be struck by the dignified cheerfulness
with which they talked of the necessary economies in their way of
living, and in the education of the boys. Mr. Gascoigne’s worth of
character, a little obscured by worldly opportunities—as the poetic
beauty of women is obscured by the demands of fashionable dress-
ing—showed itself to great advantage under this sudden reduction
of fortune. Prompt and methodical, he had set himself not only to
put down his carriage, but to reconsider his worn suits of clothes, to
leave off meat for breakfast, to do without periodicals, to get Edwy
from school and arrange hours of study for all the boys under him-
self, and to order the whole establishment on the sparest footing
possible. For all healthy people economy has its pleasures; and the
rector’s spirit had spread through the household. Mrs. Gascoigne
and Anna, who always made papa their model, really did not miss
anything they cared about for themselves, and in all sincerity felt
that the saddest part of the family losses was the change for Mrs.
Davilow and her children.
   Anna for the first time could merge her resentment on behalf of
Rex in her sympathy with Gwendolen; and Mrs. Gascoigne was

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                                                           George Eliot

disposed to hope that trouble would have a salutary effect on her
niece, without thinking it her duty to add any bitters by way of
increasing the salutariness. They had both been busy devising how
to get blinds and curtains for the cottage out of the household stores;
but with delicate feeling they left these matters in the back-ground,
and talked at first of Gwendolen’s journey, and the comfort it was to
her mamma to have her at home again.
   In fact there was nothing for Gwendolen to take as a justification
for extending her discontent with events to the persons immedi-
ately around her, and she felt shaken into a more alert attention, as
if by a call to drill that everybody else was obeying, when her uncle
began in a voice of firm kindness to talk to her of the efforts he had
been making to get her a situation which would offer her as many
advantages as possible. Mr. Gascoigne had not forgotten Grandcourt,
but the possibility of further advances from that quarter was some-
thing too vague for a man of his good sense to be determined by it:
uncertainties of that kind must not now slacken his action in doing
the best he could for his niece under actual conditions.
   “I felt that there was no time to be lost, Gwendolen; for a position
in a good family where you will have some consideration is not to
be had at a moment’s notice. And however long we waited we could
hardly find one where you would be better off than at Bishop
Mompert’s. I am known to both him and Mrs. Mompert, and that
of course is an advantage to you. Our correspondence has gone on
favorably; but I cannot be surprised that Mrs. Mompert wishes to
see you before making an absolute engagement. She thinks of ar-
ranging for you to meet her at Wanchester when she is on her way
to town. I dare say you will feel the interview rather trying for you,
my dear; but you will have a little time to prepare your mind.”
   “Do you know why she wants to see me, uncle?” said Gwendolen,
whose mind had quickly gone over various reasons that an imagi-
nary Mrs. Mompert with three daughters might be supposed to
entertain, reasons all of a disagreeable kind to the person presenting
herself for inspection.
   The rector smiled. “Don’t be alarmed, my dear. She would like to
have a more precise idea of you than my report can give. And a mother
is naturally scrupulous about a companion for her daughters. I have

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Daniel Deronda

told her you are very young. But she herself exercises a close supervi-
sion over her daughters’ education, and that makes her less anxious as
to age. She is a woman of taste and also of strict principle, and objects
to having a French person in the house. I feel sure that she will think
your manners and accomplishments as good as she is likely to find;
and over the religious and moral tone of the education she, and in-
deed the bishop himself, will preside.”
   Gwendolen dared not answer, but the repression of her decided
dislike to the whole prospect sent an unusually deep flush over her
face and neck, subsiding as quickly as it came. Anna, full of tender
fears, put her little hand into her cousin’s, and Mr. Gascoigne was
too kind a man not to conceive something of the trial which this
sudden change must be for a girl like Gwendolen. Bent on giving a
cheerful view of things, he went on, in an easy tone of remark, not
as if answering supposed objections—
   “I think so highly of the position, that I should have been tempted
to try and get it for Anna, if she had been at all likely to meet Mrs.
Mompert’s wants. It is really a home, with a continuance of educa-
tion in the highest sense: ‘governess’ is a misnomer. The bishop’s
views are of a more decidedly Low Church color than my own—he
is a close friend of Lord Grampian’s; but, though privately strict, he
is not by any means narrow in public matters. Indeed, he has cre-
ated as little dislike in his diocese as any bishop on the bench. He
has always remained friendly to me, though before his promotion,
when he was an incumbent of this diocese, we had a little contro-
versy about the Bible Society.”
   The rector’s words were too pregnant with satisfactory meaning
to himself for him to imagine the effect they produced in the mind
of his niece. “Continuance of education”— “bishop’s views”—“pri-
vately strict”—“Bible Society,”—it was as if he had introduced a
few snakes at large for the instruction of ladies who regarded them
as all alike furnished with poison-bags, and, biting or stinging, ac-
cording to convenience. To Gwendolen, already shrinking from the
prospect open to her, such phrases came like the growing heat of a
burning glass—not at all as the links of persuasive reflection which
they formed for the good uncle. She began, desperately, to seek an
alternative.

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                                                             George Eliot

   “There was another situation, I think, mamma spoke of?” she
said, with determined self-mastery.
   ‘“Yes,” said the rector, in rather a depreciatory tone; “but that is in
a school. I should not have the same satisfaction in your taking that.
It would be much harder work, you are aware, and not so good in
any other respect. Besides, you have not an equal chance of getting
it.”
   “Oh dear no,” said Mrs. Gascoigne, “it would be much less ap-
propriate, You might not have a bedroom to yourself.” And
Gwendolen’s memories of school suggested other particulars which
forced her to admit to herself that this alternative would be no re-
lief. She turned to her uncle again and said, apparently in accep-
tance of his ideas—
   “When is Mrs. Mompert likely to send for me?”
   “That is rather uncertain, but she has promised not to entertain
any other proposal till she has seen you. She has entered with much
feeling into your position. It will be within the next fortnight, prob-
ably. But I must be off now. I am going to let part of my glebe
uncommonly well.”
   The rector ended very cheerfully, leaving the room with the satis-
factory conviction that Gwendolen was going to adapt herself to
circumstances like a girl of good sense. Having spoken appropri-
ately, he naturally supposed that the effects would be appropriate;
being accustomed, as a household and parish authority, to be asked
to “speak to” refractory persons, with the understanding that the
measure was morally coercive.
   “What a stay Henry is to us all?” said Mrs. Gascoigne, when her
husband had left the room.
   “He is indeed,” said Mrs. Davilow, cordially. “I think cheerful-
ness is a fortune in itself. I wish I had it.”
   “And Rex is just like him,” said Mrs. Gascoigne. “I must tell you
the comfort we have had in a letter from him. I must read you a
little bit,” she added, taking the letter from her pocket, while Anna
looked rather frightened—she did not know why, except that it had
been a rule with her not to mention Rex before Gwendolen.
   The proud mother ran her eyes over the letter, seeking for sen-
tences to read aloud. But apparently she had found it sown with

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Daniel Deronda

what might seem to be closer allusions than she desired to the re-
cent past, for she looked up, folding the letter, and saying—
   “However, he tells us that our trouble has made a man of him; he
sees a reason for any amount of work: he means to get a fellowship,
to take pupils, to set one of his brothers going, to be everything that
is most remarkable. The letter is full of fun—just like him. He says,
‘Tell mother she has put out an advertisement for a jolly good hard-
working son, in time to hinder me from taking ship; and I offer
myself for the place.’ The letter came on Friday. I never saw my
husband so much moved by anything since Rex was born. It seemed
a gain to balance our loss.”
   This letter, in fact, was what had helped both Mrs. Gascoigne and
Anna to show Gwendolen an unmixed kindliness; and she herself felt
very amiably about it, smiling at Anna, and pinching her chin, as
much as to say, “Nothing is wrong with you now, is it?” She had no
gratuitously ill-natured feeling, or egoistic pleasure in making men
miserable. She only had an intense objection to their making her mis-
erable.
   But when the talk turned on furniture for the cottage Gwendolen
was not roused to show even a languid interest. She thought that
she had done as much as could be expected of her this morning,
and indeed felt at an heroic pitch in keeping to herself the struggle
that was going on within her. The recoil of her mind from the only
definite prospect allowed her, was stronger than even she had imag-
ined beforehand. The idea of presenting herself before Mrs. Mompert
in the first instance, to be approved or disapproved, came as pres-
sure on an already painful bruise; even as a governess, it appeared
she was to be tested and was liable to rejection. After she had done
herself the violence to accept the bishop and his wife, they were still
to consider whether they would accept her; it was at her peril that
she was to look, speak, or be silent. And even when she had entered
on her dismal task of self-constraint in the society of three girls
whom she was bound incessantly to edify, the same process of in-
spection was to go on: there was always to be Mrs. Mompert’s su-
pervision; always something or other would be expected of her to
which she had not the slightest inclination; and perhaps the bishop
would examine her on serious topics. Gwendolen, lately used to the

272
                                                          George Eliot

social successes of a handsome girl, whose lively venturesomeness of
talk has the effect of wit, and who six weeks before would have
pitied the dullness of the bishop rather than have been embarrassed
by him, saw the life before her as an entrance into a penitentiary.
Wild thoughts of running away to be an actress, in spite of Klesmer,
came to her with the lure of freedom; but his words still hung heavily
on her soul; they had alarmed her pride and even her maidenly
dignity: dimly she conceived herself getting amongst vulgar people
who would treat her with rude familiarity—odious men, whose grins
and smirks would not be seen through the strong grating of polite
society. Gwendolen’s daring was not in the least that of the adven-
turess; the demand to be held a lady was in her very marrow; and
when she had dreamed that she might be the heroine of the gam-
ing-table, it was with the understanding that no one should treat
her with the less consideration, or presume to look at her with irony
as Deronda had done. To be protected and petted, and to have her
susceptibilities consulted in every detail, had gone along with her
food and clothing as matters of course in her life: even without any
such warning as Klesmer’s she could not have thought it an attrac-
tive freedom to be thrown in solitary dependence on the doubtful
civility of strangers. The endurance of the episcopal penitentiary
was less repulsive than that; though here too she would certainly
never be petted or have her susceptibilities consulted. Her rebellion
against this hard necessity which had come just to her of all people
in the world—to her whom all circumstances had concurred in pre-
paring for something quite different—was exaggerated instead of
diminished as one hour followed another, with the imagination of
what she might have expected in her lot and what it was actually to
be. The family troubles, she thought, were easier for every one than
for her—even for poor dear mamma, because she had always used
herself to not enjoying. As to hoping that if she went to the
Momperts’ and was patient a little while, things might get better—
it would be stupid to entertain hopes for herself after all that had
happened: her talents, it appeared, would never be recognized as
anything remarkable, and there was not a single direction in which
probability seemed to flatter her wishes. Some beautiful girls who,
like her, had read romances where even plain governesses are centres

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Daniel Deronda

of attraction and are sought in marriage, might have solaced them-
selves a little by transporting such pictures into their own future;
but even if Gwendolen’s experience had led her to dwell on love-
making and marriage as her elysium, her heart was too much op-
pressed by what was near to her, in both the past and the future, for
her to project her anticipations very far off. She had a world-nausea
upon her, and saw no reason all through her life why she should
wish to live. No religious view of trouble helped her: her troubles
had in her opinion all been caused by other people’s disagreeable or
wicked conduct; and there was really nothing pleasant to be counted
on in the world: that was her feeling; everything else she had heard
said about trouble was mere phrase-making not attractive enough
for her to have caught it up and repeated it. As to the sweetness of
labor and fulfilled claims; the interest of inward and outward activ-
ity; the impersonal delights of life as a perpetual discovery; the dues
of courage, fortitude, industry, which it is mere baseness not to pay
toward the common burden; the supreme worth of the teacher’s
vocation;—these, even if they had been eloquently preached to her,
could have been no more than faintly apprehended doctrines: the
fact which wrought upon her was her invariable observation that
for a lady to become a governess—to “take a situation”—was to
descend in life and to be treated at best with a compassionate pa-
tronage. And poor Gwendolen had never dissociated happiness from
personal pre-eminence and éclat. That where these threatened to
forsake her, she should take life to be hardly worth the having, can-
not make her so unlike the rest of us, men or women, that we should
cast her out of our compassion; our moments of temptation to a
mean opinion of things in general being usually dependent on some
susceptibility about ourselves and some dullness to subjects which
every one else would consider more important. Surely a young crea-
ture is pitiable who has the labyrinth of life before her and no clue—
to whom distrust in herself and her good fortune has come as a
sudden shock, like a rent across the path that she was treading care-
lessly.
  In spite of her healthy frame, her irreconcilable repugnance af-
fected her even physically; she felt a sort of numbness and could set
about nothing; the least urgency, even that she should take her meals,

274
                                                            George Eliot

was an irritation to her; the speech of others on any subject seemed
unreasonable, because it did not include her feeling and was an ig-
norant claim on her. It was not in her nature to busy herself with
the fancies of suicide to which disappointed young people are prone:
what occupied and exasperated her was the sense that there was
nothing for her but to live in a way she hated. She avoided going to
the rectory again: it was too intolerable to have to look and talk as if
she were compliant; and she could not exert herself to show interest
about the furniture of that horrible cottage. Miss Merry was staying
on purpose to help, and such people as Jocosa liked that sort of
thing. Her mother had to make excuses for her not appearing, even
when Anna came to see her. For that calm which Gwendolen had
promised herself to maintain had changed into sick motivelessness:
she thought, “I suppose I shall begin to pretend by-and-by, but why
should I do it now?”
  Her mother watched her with silent distress; and, lapsing into the
habit of indulgent tenderness, she began to think what she imag-
ined that Gwendolen was thinking, and to wish that everything
should give way to the possibility of making her darling less miser-
able.
  One day when she was in the black and yellow bedroom and her
mother was lingering there under the pretext of considering and ar-
ranging Gwendolen’s articles of dress, she suddenly roused herself to
fetch the casket which contained the ornaments.
  “Mamma,” she began, glancing over the upper layer, “I had for-
gotten these things. Why didn’t you remind me of them? Do see
about getting them sold. You will not mind about parting with them.
You gave them all to me long ago.”
  She lifted the upper tray and looked below.
  “If we can do without them, darling, I would rather keep them
for you,” said Mrs. Davilow, seating herself beside Gwendolen with
a feeling of relief that she was beginning to talk about something.
The usual relation between them had become reversed. It was now
the mother who tried to cheer the daughter. “Why, how came you
to put that pocket handkerchief in here?”
  It was the handkerchief with the corner torn off which Gwendolen
had thrust in with the turquoise necklace.

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Daniel Deronda

  “It happened to be with the necklace—I was in a hurry.” said
Gwendolen, taking the handkerchief away and putting it in her
pocket. “Don’t sell the necklace, mamma,” she added, a new feeling
having come over her about that rescue of it which had formerly
been so offensive.
  “No, dear, no; it was made out of your dear father’s chain. And I
should prefer not selling the other things. None of them are of any
great value. All my best ornaments were taken from me long ago.”
  Mrs. Davilow colored. She usually avoided any reference to such
facts about Gwendolen’s step-father as that he had carried off his
wife’s jewelry and disposed of it. After a moment’s pause she went
on—
  “And these things have not been reckoned on for any expenses.
Carry them with you.”
  “That would be quite useless, mamma,” said Gwendolen, coldly.
“Governesses don’t wear ornaments. You had better get me a gray
frieze livery and a straw poke, such as my aunt’s charity children
wear.”
  “No, dear, no; don’t take that view of it. I feel sure the Momperts
will like you the better for being graceful and elegant.”
  “I am not at all sure what the Momperts will like me to be. It is
enough that I am expected to be what they like,” said Gwendolen
bitterly.
  “If there is anything you would object to less—anything that could
be done—instead of your going to the bishop’s, do say so,
Gwendolen. Tell me what is in your heart. I will try for anything
you wish,” said the mother, beseechingly. “Don’t keep things away
from me. Let us bear them together.”
  “Oh, mamma, there is nothing to tell. I can’t do anything better.
I must think myself fortunate if they will have me. I shall get some
money for you. That is the only thing I have to think of. I shall not
spend any money this year: you will have all the eighty pounds. I
don’t know how far that will go in housekeeping; but you need not
stitch your poor fingers to the bone, and stare away all the sight that
the tears have left in your dear eyes.”
  Gwendolen did not give any caresses with her words as she had
been used to do. She did not even look at her mother, but was

276
                                                            George Eliot

looking at the turquoise necklace as she turned it over her fingers.
  “Bless you for your tenderness, my good darling!” said Mrs.
Davilow, with tears in her eyes. “Don’t despair because there are
clouds now. You are so young. There may be great happiness in
store for you yet.”
  “I don’t see any reason for expecting it, mamma,” said Gwendolen,
in a hard tone; and Mrs. Davilow was silent, thinking as she had
often thought before—“What did happen between her and Mr.
Grandcourt?”
  “I will keep this necklace, mamma,” said Gwendolen, laying it
apart and then closing the casket. “But do get the other things sold,
even if they will not bring much. Ask my uncle what to do with
them. I shall certainly not use them again. I am going to take the
veil. I wonder if all the poor wretches who have ever taken it felt as
I do.”
  “Don’t exaggerate evils, dear.”
  “How can any one know that I exaggerate, when I am speaking of
my own feeling? I did not say what any one else felt.”
  She took out the torn handkerchief from her pocket again, and
wrapped it deliberately round the necklace. Mrs. Davilow observed
the action with some surprise, but the tone of her last words dis-
couraged her from asking any question.
  The “feeling” Gwendolen spoke of with an air of tragedy was not to
be explained by the mere fact that she was going to be a governess: she
was possessed by a spirit of general disappointment. It was not simply
that she had a distaste for what she was called on to do: the distaste
spread itself over the world outside her penitentiary, since she saw
nothing very pleasant in it that seemed attainable by her even if she
were free. Naturally her grievances did not seem to her smaller than
some of her male contemporaries held theirs to be when they felt a
profession too narrow for their powers, and had an à priori conviction
that it was not worth while to put forth their latent abilities. Because
her education had been less expensive than theirs, it did not follow
that she should have wider emotions or a keener intellectual vision.
Her griefs were feminine; but to her as a woman they were not the
less hard to bear, and she felt an equal right to the Promethean tone.
  But the movement of mind which led her to keep the necklace, to

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Daniel Deronda

fold it up in the handkerchief, and rise to put it in her nécessaire,
where she had first placed it when it had been returned to her, was
more peculiar, and what would be called less reasonable. It came
from that streak of superstition in her which attached itself both to
her confidence and her terror—a superstition which lingers in an
intense personality even in spite of theory and science; any dread or
hope for self being stronger than all reasons for or against it. Why
she should suddenly determine not to part with the necklace was
not much clearer to her than why she should sometimes have been
frightened to find herself in the fields alone: she had a confused
state of emotion about Deronda—was it wounded pride and re-
sentment, or a certain awe and exceptional trust? It was something
vague and yet mastering, which impelled her to this action about
the necklace. There, is a great deal of unmapped country within us
which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our
gusts and storms.




278
                                                               George Eliot




                      CHAPTER XXV
    How trace the why and wherefore in a mind reduced to the bar-
  renness of a fastidious egoism, in which all direct desires are dulled,
  and have dwindled from motives into a vacillating expectation of
  motives: a mind made up of moods, where a fitful impulse springs
  here and there conspicuously rank amid the general weediness? ’Tis
  a condition apt to befall a life too much at large, unmoulded by the
  pressure of obligation. Nam deteriores omnes sumus licentiae, or, as a
  more familiar tongue might deliver it, “As you like” is a bad finger-
  post.

POTENTATES MAKE KNOWN their intentions and affect the funds at a
small expense of words. So when Grandcourt, after learning that
Gwendolen had left Leubronn, incidentally pronounced that resort
of fashion a beastly hole, worse than Baden, the remark was conclu-
sive to Mr. Lush that his patron intended straightway to return to
Diplow. The execution was sure to be slower than the intention,
and, in fact, Grandcourt did loiter through the next day without
giving any distinct orders about departure—perhaps because he dis-
cerned that Lush was expecting them: he lingered over his toilet,
and certainly came down with a faded aspect of perfect distinction
which made fresh complexions and hands with the blood in them,
seem signs of raw vulgarity; he lingered on the terrace, in the gam-
bling-rooms, in the reading-room, occupying himself in being in-
different to everybody and everything around him. When he met
Lady Mallinger, however, he took some trouble—raised his hat,
paused, and proved that he listened to her recommendation of the
waters by replying, “Yes; I heard somebody say how providential it
was that there always happened to be springs at gambling places.”
  “Oh, that was a joke,” said innocent Lady Mallinger, misled by
Grandcourt’s languid seriousness, “in imitation of the old one about

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Daniel Deronda

the towns and the rivers, you know.”
   “Ah, perhaps,” said Grandcourt, without change of expression.
Lady Mallinger thought this worth telling to Sir Hugo, who said,
“Oh, my dear, he is not a fool. You must not suppose that he can’t
see a joke. He can play his cards as well as most of us.”
   “He has never seemed to me a very sensible man,” said Lady
Mallinger, in excuse of herself. She had a secret objection to meet-
ing Grandcourt, who was little else to her than a large living sign of
what she felt to be her failure as a wife—the not having presented
Sir Hugo with a son. Her constant reflection was that her husband
might fairly regret his choice, and if he had not been very good
might have treated her with some roughness in consequence, gentle-
men naturally disliking to be disappointed.
   Deronda, too, had a recognition from Grandcourt, for which he
was not grateful, though he took care to return it with perfect civil-
ity. No reasoning as to the foundations of custom could do away
with the early-rooted feeling that his birth had been attended with
injury for which his father was to blame; and seeing that but for this
injury Grandcourt’s prospects might have been his, he was proudly
resolute not to behave in any way that might be interpreted into
irritation on that score. He saw a very easy descent into mean un-
reasoning rancor and triumph in others’ frustration; and being de-
termined not to go down that ugly pit, he turned his back on it,
clinging to the kindlier affections within him as a possession. Pride
certainly helped him well—the pride of not recognizing a disadvan-
tage for one’s self which vulgar minds are disposed to exaggerate,
such as the shabby equipage of poverty: he would not have a man
like Grandcourt suppose himself envied by him. But there is no
guarding against interpretation. Grandcourt did believe that
Deronda, poor devil, who he had no doubt was his cousin by the
father’s side, inwardly winced under their mutual position; where-
fore the presence of that less lucky person was more agreeable to
him than it would otherwise have been. An imaginary envy, the
idea that others feel their comparative deficiency, is the ordinary
cortège of egoism; and his pet dogs were not the only beings that
Grandcourt liked to feel his power over in making them jealous.
Hence he was civil enough to exchange several words with Deronda

280
                                                           George Eliot

on the terrace about the hunting round Diplow, and even said, “You
had better come over for a run or two when the season begins.”
   Lush, not displeased with delay, amused himself very well, partly
in gossiping with Sir Hugo and in answering his questions about
Grandcourt’s affairs so far as they might affect his willingness to
part with his interest in Diplow. Also about Grandcourt’s personal
entanglements, the baronet knew enough already for Lush to feel
released from silence on a sunny autumn day, when there was noth-
ing more agreeable to do in lounging promenades than to speak
freely of a tyrannous patron behind his back. Sir Hugo willingly
inclined his ear to a little good-humored scandal, which he was fond
of calling traits de moeurs; but he was strict in keeping such commu-
nications from hearers who might take them too seriously. What-
ever knowledge he had of his nephew’s secrets, he had never spoken
of it to Deronda, who considered Grandcourt a pale-blooded mor-
tal, but was far from wishing to hear how the red corpuscles had
been washed out of him. It was Lush’s policy and inclination to
gratify everybody when he had no reason to the contrary; and the
baronet always treated him well, as one of those easy-handled per-
sonages who, frequenting the society of gentlemen, without being
exactly gentlemen themselves, can be the more serviceable, like the
second-best articles of our wardrobe, which we use with a comfort-
able freedom from anxiety.
   “Well, you will let me know the turn of events,” said Sir Hugo, “if
this marriage seems likely to come off after all, or if anything else
happens to make the want of money pressing. My plan would be
much better for him than burdening Ryelands.”
   “That’s true,” said Lush, “only it must not be urged on him—just
placed in his way that the scent may tickle him. Grandcourt is not a
man to be always led by what makes for his own interest; especially
if you let him see that it makes for your interest too. I’m attached to
him, of course. I’ve given up everything else for the sake of keeping
by him, and it has lasted a good fifteen years now. He would not
easily get any one else to fill my place. He’s a peculiar character, is
Henleigh Grandcourt, and it has been growing on him of late years.
However, I’m of a constant disposition, and I’ve been a sort of guard-
ian to him since he was twenty; an uncommonly fascinating fellow

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Daniel Deronda

he was then, to be sure—and could be now, if he liked. I’m attached
to him; and it would be a good deal worse for him if he missed me
at his elbow.”
   Sir Hugo did not think it needful to express his sympathy or even
assent, and perhaps Lush himself did not expect this sketch of his
motives to be taken as exact. But how can a man avoid himself as a
subject in conversation? And he must make some sort of decent
toilet in words, as in cloth and linen. Lush’s listener was not severe:
a member of Parliament could allow for the necessities of verbal
toilet; and the dialogue went on without any change of mutual esti-
mate.
   However, Lush’s easy prospect of indefinite procrastination was
cut off the next morning by Grandcourt’s saluting him with the
question—
   “Are you making all the arrangements for our starting by the Paris
train?”
   “I didn’t know you meant to start,” said Lush, not exactly taken
by surprise.
   “You might have known,” said Grandcourt, looking at the burned
length of his cigar, and speaking in that lowered tone which was
usual with him when he meant to express disgust and be peremp-
tory. “Just see to everything, will you? and mind no brute gets into
the same carriage with us. And leave my P. P. C. at the Mallingers.”
   In consequence they were at Paris the next day; but here Lush was
gratified by the proposal or command that he should go straight on
to Diplow and see that everything was right, while Grandcourt and
the valet remained behind; and it was not until several days later
that Lush received the telegram ordering the carriage to the
Wanchester station.
   He had used the interim actively, not only in carrying out
Grandcourt’s orders about the stud and household, but in learning
all he could of Gwendolen, and how things were going on at
Offendene. What was the probable effect that the news of the fam-
ily misfortunes would have on Grandcourt’s fitful obstinacy he felt
to be quite incalculable. So far as the girl’s poverty might be an
argument that she would accept an offer from him now in spite of
any previous coyness, it might remove that bitter objection to risk a

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repulse which Lush divined to be one of Grandcourt’s deterring
motives; on the other hand, the certainty of acceptance was just
“the sort of thing” to make him lapse hither and thither with no
more apparent will than a moth. Lush had had his patron under
close observation for many years, and knew him perhaps better than
he knew any other subject; but to know Grandcourt was to doubt
what he would do in any particular case. It might happen that he
would behave with an apparent magnanimity, like the hero of a
modern French drama, whose sudden start into moral splendor af-
ter much lying and meanness, leaves you little confidence as to any
part of his career that may follow the fall of the curtain. Indeed,
what attitude would have been more honorable for a final scene
than that of declining to seek an heiress for her money, and deter-
mining to marry the attractive girl who had none? But Lush had
some general certainties about Grandcourt, and one was that of all
inward movements those of generosity were least likely to occur in
him. Of what use, however, is a general certainty that an insect will
not walk with his head hindmost, when what you need to know is
the play of inward stimulus that sends him hither and thither in a
network of possible paths? Thus Lush was much at fault as to the
probable issue between Grandcourt and Gwendolen, when what he
desired was a perfect confidence that they would never be married.
He would have consented willingly that Grandcourt should marry
an heiress, or that he should marry Mrs. Glasher: in the one match
there would have been the immediate abundance that prospective
heirship could not supply, in the other there would have been the
security of the wife’s gratitude, for Lush had always been Mrs.
Glasher’s friend; and that the future Mrs. Grandcourt should not be
socially received could not affect his private comfort. He would not
have minded, either, that there should be no marriage in question at
all; but he felt himself justified in doing his utmost to hinder a
marriage with a girl who was likely to bring nothing but trouble to
her husband—not to speak of annoyance if not ultimate injury to
her husband’s old companion, whose future Mr. Lush earnestly
wished to make as easy as possible, considering that he had well
deserved such compensation for leading a dog’s life, though that of
a dog who enjoyed many tastes undisturbed, and who profited by a

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Daniel Deronda

large establishment. He wished for himself what he felt to be good,
and was not conscious of wishing harm to any one else; unless per-
haps it were just now a little harm to the inconvenient and imperti-
nent Gwendolen. But the easiest-humored of luxury and music, the
toad-eater the least liable to nausea, must be expected to have his
susceptibilities. And Mr. Lush was accustomed to be treated by the
world in general as an apt, agreeable fellow: he had not made up his
mind to be insulted by more than one person.
  With this imperfect preparation of a war policy, Lush was awaiting
Grandcourt’s arrival, doing little more than wondering how the cam-
paign would begin. The first day Grandcourt was much occupied
with the stables, and amongst other things he ordered a groom to put
a side-saddle on Criterion and let him review the horse’s paces. This
marked indication of purpose set Lush on considering over again
whether he should incur the ticklish consequences of speaking first,
while he was still sure that no compromising step had been taken;
and he rose the next morning almost resolved that if Grandcourt
seemed in as good a humor as yesterday and entered at all into talk, he
would let drop the interesting facts about Gwendolen and her family,
just to see how they would work, and to get some guidance. But
Grandcourt did not enter into talk, and in answer to a question even
about his own convenience, no fish could have maintained a more
unwinking silence. After he had read his letters he gave various orders
to be executed or transmitted by Lush, and then thrust his shoulder
toward that useful person, who accordingly rose to leave the room.
But before he was out of the door Grandcourt turned his head slightly
and gave a broken, languid “Oh.”
  “What is it?” said Lush, who, it must have been observed, did not
take his dusty puddings with a respectful air.
  “Shut the door, will you? I can’t speak into the corridor.”
  Lush closed the door, came forward, and chose to sit down.
  After a little pause Grandcourt said, “Is Miss Harleth at
Offendene?” He was quite certain that Lush had made it his busi-
ness to inquire about her, and he had some pleasure in thinking that
Lush did not want him to inquire.
  “Well, I hardly know,” said Lush, carelessly. “The family’s utterly
done up. They and the Gascoignes too have lost all their money. It’s

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owing to some rascally banking business. The poor mother hasn’t a
sou, it seems. She and the girls have to huddle themselves into a
little cottage like a laborer’s.”
   “Don’t lie to me, if you please,” said Grandcourt, in his lowest
audible tone. “It’s not amusing, and it answers no other purpose.”
   “What do you mean?” said Lush, more nettled than was common
with him—the prospect before him being more than commonly
disturbing.
   “Just tell me the truth, will you?”
   “It’s no invention of mine. I have heard the story from several—
Bazley, Brackenshaw’s man, for one. He is getting a new tenant for
Offendene.”
   “I don’t mean that. Is Miss Harleth there, or is she not?” said
Grandcourt, in his former tone.
   “Upon my soul, I can’t tell,” said Lush, rather sulkily. “She may
have left yesterday. I heard she had taken a situation as governess;
she may be gone to it for what I know. But if you wanted to see her
no doubt the mother would send for her back.” This sneer slipped
off his tongue without strict intention.
   “Send Hutchins to inquire whether she will be there tomorrow.”
Lush did not move. Like many persons who have thought over be-
forehand what they shall say in given cases, he was impelled by an
unexpected irritation to say some of those prearranged things be-
fore the cases were given. Grandcourt, in fact, was likely to get into
a scrape so tremendous that it was impossible to let him take the
first step toward it without remonstrance. Lush retained enough
caution to use a tone of rational friendliness, still he felt his own
value to his patron, and was prepared to be daring.
   “It would be as well for you to remember, Grandcourt, that you
are coming under closer fire now. There can be none of the ordinary
flirting done, which may mean everything or nothing. You must
make up your mind whether you wish to be accepted; and more
than that, how you would like being refused. Either one or the other.
You can’t be philandering after her again for six weeks.”
   Grandcourt said nothing, but pressed the newspaper down on his
knees and began to light another cigar. Lush took this as a sign that
he was willing to listen, and was the more bent on using the oppor-

                                                                 285
Daniel Deronda

tunity; he wanted, if possible, to find out which would be the more
potent cause of hesitation—probable acceptance or probable refusal.
   “Everything has a more serious look now than it had before. There
is her family to be provided for. You could not let your wife’s mother
live in beggary. It will be a confoundedly hampering affair. Mar-
riage will pin you down in a way you haven’t been used to; and in
point of money you have not too much elbow-room. And after all,
what will you get by it? You are master over your estates, present or
future, as far as choosing your heir goes; it’s a pity to go on encum-
bering them for a mere whim, which you may repent of in a
twelvemonth. I should be sorry to see you making a mess of your
life in that way. If there were anything solid to be gained by the
marriage, that would be a different affair.”
   Lush’s tone had gradually become more and more unctuous in its
friendliness of remonstrance, and he was almost in danger of forget-
ting that he was merely gambling in argument. When he left off,
Grandcourt took his cigar out of his mouth, and looking steadily at
the moist end while he adjusted the leaf with his delicate finger-
tips, said—
   “I knew before that you had an objection to my marrying Miss
Harleth.” Here he made a little pause before he continued. “But I
never considered that a reason against it.”
   “I never supposed you did,” answered Lush, not unctuously but
dryly. “It was not that I urged as a reason. I should have thought it
might have been a reason against it, after all your experience, that
you would be acting like the hero of a ballad, and making yourself
absurd—and all for what? You know you couldn’t make up your
mind before. It’s impossible you can care much about her. And as
for the tricks she is likely to play, you may judge of that from what
you heard at Leubronn. However, what I wished to point out to you
was, that there can be no shilly-shally now.”
   “Perfectly,” said Grandcourt, looking round at Lush and fixing
him with narrow eyes; “I don’t intend that there should be. I dare
say it’s disagreeable to you. But if you suppose I care a damn for that
you are most stupendously mistaken.”
   “Oh, well,” said Lush, rising with his hands in his pockets, and
feeling some latent venom still within him, “if you have made up

286
                                                            George Eliot

your mind!—only there’s another aspect of the affair. I have been
speaking on the supposition that it was absolutely certain she would
accept you, and that destitution would have no choice. But I am not
so sure that the young lady is to be counted on. She is kittle cattle to
shoe, I think. And she had her reasons for running away before.”
Lush had moved a step or two till he stood nearly in front of
Grandcourt, though at some distance from him. He did not feel him-
self much restrained by consequences, being aware that the only strong
hold he had on his present position was his serviceableness; and even
after a quarrel the want of him was likely sooner or later to recur. He
foresaw that Gwendolen would cause him to be ousted for a time,
and his temper at this moment urged him to risk a quarrel.
   “She had her reasons,” he repeated more significantly.
   “I had come to that conclusion before,” said Grandcourt, with
contemptuous irony.
   “Yes, but I hardly think you know what her reasons were.”
   “You do, apparently,” said Grandcourt, not betraying by so much
as an eyelash that he cared for the reasons.
   “Yes, and you had better know too, that you may judge of the
influence you have over her if she swallows her reasons and accepts
you. For my own part I would take odds against it. She saw Lydia in
Cardell Chase and heard the whole story.”
   Grandcourt made no immediate answer, and only went on smok-
ing. He was so long before he spoke that Lush moved about and
looked out of the windows, unwilling to go away without seeing some
effect of his daring move. He had expected that Grandcourt would
tax him with having contrived the affair, since Mrs. Glasher was then
living at Gadsmere, a hundred miles off, and he was prepared to ad-
mit the fact: what he cared about was that Grandcourt should be
staggered by the sense that his intended advances must be made to a
girl who had that knowledge in her mind and had been scared by it.
At length Grandcourt, seeing Lush turn toward him, looked at him
again and said, contemptuously, “What follows?”
   Here certainly was a “mate” in answer to Lush’s “check:” and
though his exasperation with Grandcourt was perhaps stronger than
it had ever been before, it would have been idiocy to act as if any
further move could be useful. He gave a slight shrug with one shoul-

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Daniel Deronda

der, and was going to walk away, when Grandcourt, turning on his
seat toward the table, said, as quietly as if nothing had occurred,
“Oblige me by pushing that pen and paper here, will you?”
   No thunderous, bullying superior could have exercised the impe-
rious spell that Grandcourt did. Why, instead of being obeyed, he
had never been told to go to a warmer place, was perhaps a mystery
to those who found themselves obeying him. The pen and paper
were pushed to him, and as he took them he said, “Just wait for this
letter.”
   He scrawled with ease, and the brief note was quickly addressed.
“Let Hutchins go with it at once, will you?” said Grandcourt, push-
ing the letter away from him.
   As Lush had expected, it was addressed to Miss Harleth,
Offendene. When his irritation had cooled down he was glad there
had been no explosive quarrel; but he felt sure that there was a notch
made against him, and that somehow or other he was intended to
pay. It was also clear to him that the immediate effect of his revela-
tion had been to harden Grandcourt’s previous determination. But
as to the particular movements that made this process in his baf-
fling mind, Lush could only toss up his chin in despair of a theory.




288
                                                              George Eliot




                    CHAPTER XXVI
          He brings white asses laden with the freight
          Of Tyrian vessels, purple, gold and balm,
          To bribe my will: I’ll bid them chase him forth,
          Nor let him breathe the taint of his surmise
          On my secure resolve.
                                   Ay, ’tis secure:
          And therefore let him come to spread his freight.
          For firmness hath its appetite and craves
          The stronger lure, more strongly to resist;
          Would know the touch of gold to fling it off;
          Scent wine to feel its lip the soberer;
          Behold soft byssus, ivory, and plumes
          To say, “They’re fair, but I will none of them,”
          And flout Enticement in the very face.


MR. GASCOIGNE one day came to Offendene with what he felt to be
the satisfactory news that Mrs. Mompert had fixed Tuesday in the
following week for her interview with Gwendolen at Wanchester.
He said nothing of his having incidentally heard that Mr. Grandcourt
had returned to Diplow; knowing no more than she did that
Leubronn had been the goal of her admirer’s journeying, and feel-
ing that it would be unkind uselessly to revive the memory of a
brilliant prospect under the present reverses. In his secret soul he
thought of his niece’s unintelligible caprice with regret, but he vin-
dicated her to himself by considering that Grandcourt had been the
first to behave oddly, in suddenly walking away when there had the
best opportunity for crowning his marked attentions. The rector’s
practical judgment told him that his chief duty to his niece now was
to encourage her resolutely to face the change in her lot, since there
was no manifest promise of any event that would avert it.
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Daniel Deronda

   “You will find an interest in varied experience, my dear, and I
have no doubt you will be a more valuable woman for having sus-
tained such a part as you are called to.”
   “I cannot pretend to believe that I shall like it,” said Gwendolen,
for the first time showing her uncle some petulance. “But I am quite
aware that I am obliged to bear it.”
   She remembered having submitted to his admonition on a differ-
ent occasion when she was expected to like a very different pros-
pect.
   “And your good sense will teach you to behave suitably under it,”
said Mr. Gascoigne, with a shade more gravity. “I feel sure that Mrs.
Mompert will be pleased with you. You will know how to conduct
yourself to a woman who holds in all senses the relation of a supe-
rior to you. This trouble has come on you young, but that makes it
in some respects easier, and there is a benefit in all chastisement if
we adjust our minds to it.”
   This was precisely what Gwendolen was unable to do; and after
her uncle was gone, the bitter tears, which had rarely come during
the late trouble, rose and fell slowly as she sat alone. Her heart de-
nied that the trouble was easier because she was young. When was
she to have any happiness, if it did not come while she was young?
Not that her visions of possible happiness for herself were as un-
mixed with necessary evil as they used to be—not that she could
still imagine herself plucking the fruits of life without suspicion of
their core. But this general disenchantment with the world—nay,
with herself, since it appeared that she was not made for easy pre-
eminence—only intensified her sense of forlornness; it was a visibly
sterile distance enclosing the dreary path at her feet, in which she
had no courage to tread. She was in that first crisis of passionate
youthful rebellion against what is not fitly called pain, but rather
the absence of joy—that first rage of disappointment in life’s morn-
ing, which we whom the years have subdued are apt to remember
but dimly as part of our own experience, and so to be intolerant of
its self-enclosed unreasonableness and impiety. What passion seems
more absurd, when we have got outside it and looked at calamity as
a collective risk, than this amazed anguish that I and not Thou, He
or She, should be just the smitten one? Yet perhaps some who have

290
                                                             George Eliot

afterward made themselves a willing fence before the breast of an-
other, and have carried their own heart-wound in heroic silence—
some who have made their deeds great, nevertheless began with this
angry amazement at their own smart, and on the mere denial of
their fantastic desires raged as if under the sting of wasps which
reduced the universe for them to an unjust infliction of pain. This
was nearly poor Gwendolen’s condition. What though such a re-
verse as hers had often happened to other girls? The one point she
had been all her life learning to care for was, that it had happened to
her: it was what she felt under Klesmer’s demonstration that she was
not remarkable enough to command fortune by force of will and
merit; it was what she would feel under the rigors of Mrs. Mompert’s
constant expectation, under the dull demand that she should be
cheerful with three Miss Momperts, under the necessity of showing
herself entirely submissive, and keeping her thoughts to herself. To be
a queen disthroned is not so hard as some other down-stepping: imag-
ine one who had been made to believe in his own divinity finding all
homage withdrawn, and himself unable to perform a miracle that
would recall the homage and restore his own confidence. Something
akin to this illusion and this helplessness had befallen the poor spoiled
child, with the lovely lips and eyes and the majestic figure—which
seemed now to have no magic in them.
   She rose from the low ottoman where she had been sitting pur-
poseless, and walked up and down the drawing-room, resting her
elbow on one palm while she leaned down her cheek on the other,
and a slow tear fell. She thought, “I have always, ever since I was
little, felt that mamma was not a happy woman; and now I dare say
I shall be more unhappy than she has been.”
   Her mind dwelt for a few moments on the picture of herself los-
ing her youth and ceasing to enjoy—not minding whether she did
this or that: but such picturing inevitably brought back the image
of her mother.
   “Poor mamma! it will be still worse for her now. I can get a little
money for her—that is all I shall care about now.” And then with
an entirely new movement of her imagination, she saw her mother
getting quite old and white, and herself no longer young but faded,
and their two faces meeting still with memory and love, and she

                                                                    291
Daniel Deronda

knowing what was in her mother’s mind —“Poor Gwen too is sad
and faded now”—and then, for the first time, she sobbed, not in
anger, but with a sort of tender misery.
  Her face was toward the door, and she saw her mother enter. She
barely saw that; for her eyes were large with tears, and she pressed
her handkerchief against them hurriedly. Before she took it away
she felt her mother’s arms round her, and this sensation, which
seemed a prolongation of her inward vision, overcame her will to be
reticent; she sobbed anew in spite of herself, as they pressed their
cheeks together.
  Mrs. Davilow had brought something in her hand which had al-
ready caused her an agitating anxiety, and she dared not speak until
her darling had become calmer. But Gwendolen, with whom weep-
ing had always been a painful manifestation to be resisted, if pos-
sible, again pressed her handkerchief against her eyes, and, with a
deep breath, drew her head backward and looked at her mother,
who was pale and tremulous.
  “It was nothing, mamma,” said Gwendolen, thinking that her
mother had been moved in this way simply by finding her in dis-
tress. “It is all over now.”
  But Mrs. Davilow had withdrawn her arms, and Gwendolen per-
ceived a letter in her hand.
  “What is that letter?—worse news still?” she asked, with a touch
of bitterness.
  “I don’t know what you will think it, dear,” said Mrs. Davilow,
keeping the letter in her hand. “You will hardly guess where it comes
from.”
  “Don’t ask me to guess anything,” said Gwendolen, rather impa-
tiently, as if a bruise were being pressed.
  “It is addressed to you, dear.”
  Gwendolen gave the slightest perceptible toss of the head.
  “It comes from Diplow,” said Mrs. Davilow, giving her the letter.
  She knew Grandcourt’s indistinct handwriting, and her mother
was not surprised to see her blush deeply; but watching her as she
read, and wondering much what was the purport of the letter, she
saw the color die out. Gwendolen’s lips even were pale as she turned
the open note toward her mother. The words were few and formal:

292
                                                           George Eliot

   Mr. Grandcourt presents his compliments to Miss Harleth, and
begs to know whether he may be permitted to call at Offendene
tomorrow after two and to see her alone. Mr. Grandcourt has just
returned from Leubronn, where he had hoped to find Miss Harleth.
   Mrs. Davilow read, and then looked at her daughter inquiringly,
leaving the note in her hand. Gwendolen let it fall to the floor, and
turned away.
   “It must be answered, darling,” said Mrs. Davilow, timidly. “The
man waits.”
   Gwendolen sank on the settee, clasped her hands, and looked
straight before her, not at her mother. She had the expression of one
who had been startled by a sound and was listening to know what
would come of it. The sudden change of the situation was bewilder-
ing. A few minutes before she was looking along an inescapable
path of repulsive monotony, with hopeless inward rebellion against
the imperious lot which left her no choice: and lo, now, a moment
of choice was come. Yet—was it triumph she felt most or terror?
Impossible for Gwendolen not to feel some triumph in a tribute to
her power at a time when she was first tasting the bitterness of insig-
nificance: again she seemed to be getting a sort of empire over her
own life. But how to use it? Here came the terror. Quick, quick, like
pictures in a book beaten open with a sense of hurry, came back
vividly, yet in fragments, all that she had gone through in relation to
Grandcourt —the allurements, the vacillations, the resolve to ac-
cede, the final repulsion; the incisive face of that dark-eyed lady
with the lovely boy: her own pledge (was it a pledge not to marry
him?)—the new disbelief in the worth of men and things for which
that scene of disclosure had become a symbol. That unalterable ex-
perience made a vision at which in the first agitated moment, be-
fore tempering reflections could suggest themselves, her native ter-
ror shrank.
   Where was the good of choice coming again? What did she wish?
Anything different? No! And yet in the dark seed-growths of con-
sciousness a new wish was forming itself—“I wish I had never known
it!” Something, anything she wished for that would have saved her
from the dread to let Grandcourt come.
   It was no long while—yet it seemed long to Mrs. Davilow, before

                                                                  293
Daniel Deronda

she thought it well to say, gently—
  “It will be necessary for you to write, dear. Or shall I write an
answer for you—which you will dictate?”
  “No, mamma,” said Gwendolen, drawing a deep breath. “But
please lay me out the pen and paper.”
  That was gaining time. Was she to decline Grandcourt’s visit—
close the shutters—not even look out on what would happen?—
though with the assurance that she should remain just where she
was? The young activity within her made a warm current through
her terror and stirred toward something that would be an event—
toward an opportunity in which she could look and speak with the
former effectiveness. The interest of the morrow was no longer at a
deadlock.
  “There is really no reason on earth why you should be so alarmed
at the man’s waiting a few minutes, mamma,” said Gwendolen, re-
monstrantly, as Mrs. Davilow, having prepared the writing materi-
als, looked toward her expectantly. “Servants expect nothing else
than to wait. It is not to be supposed that I must write on the in-
stant.”
  “No, dear,” said Mrs. Davilow, in the tone of one corrected, turn-
ing to sit down and take up a bit of work that lay at hand; “he can
wait another quarter of an hour, if you like.”
  If was very simple speech and action on her part, but it was what
might have been subtly calculated. Gwendolen felt a contradictory
desire to be hastened: hurry would save her from deliberate choice.
  “I did not mean him to wait long enough for that needlework to
be finished,” she said, lifting her hands to stroke the backward curves
of her hair, while she rose from her seat and stood still.
  “But if you don’t feel able to decide?” said Mrs. Davilow,
sympathizingly.
  “I must decide,” said Gwendolen, walking to the writing-table
and seating herself. All the while there was a busy undercurrent in
her, like the thought of a man who keeps up a dialogue while he is
considering how he can slip away. Why should she not let him come?
It bound her to nothing. He had been to Leubronn after her: of
course he meant a direct unmistakable renewal of the suit which
before had been only implied. What then? She could reject him.

294
                                                            George Eliot

Why was she to deny herself the freedom of doing this—which she
would like to do?
   “If Mr. Grandcourt has only just returned from Leubronn,” said
Mrs. Davilow, observing that Gwendolen leaned back in her chair
after taking the pen in her hand—“I wonder whether he has heard
of our misfortunes?”
   “That could make no difference to a man in his position,” said
Gwendolen, rather contemptuously,
   “It would to some men,” said Mrs. Davilow. “They would not
like to take a wife from a family in a state of beggary almost, as we
are. Here we are at Offendene with a great shell over us, as usual.
But just imagine his finding us at Sawyer’s Cottage. Most men are
afraid of being bored or taxed by a wife’s family. If Mr. Grandcourt
did know, I think it a strong proof of his attachment to you.”
   Mrs. Davilow spoke with unusual emphasis: it was the first time
she had ventured to say anything about Grandcourt which would
necessarily seem intended as an argument in favor of him, her ha-
bitual impression being that such arguments would certainly be use-
less and might be worse. The effect of her words now was stronger
than she could imagine. They raised a new set of possibilities in
Gwendolen’s mind—a vision of what Grandcourt might do for her
mother if she, Gwendolen, did—what she was no going to do. She
was so moved by a new rush of ideas that, like one conscious of
being urgently called away, she felt that the immediate task must be
hastened: the letter must be written, else it might be endlessly de-
ferred. After all, she acted in a hurry, as she had wished to do. To act
in a hurry was to have a reason for keeping away from an absolute
decision, and to leave open as many issues as possible.
   She wrote: “Miss Harleth presents her compliments to Mr.
Grandcourt. She will be at home after two o’clock to-morrow.”
   Before addressing the note she said, “Pray ring the bell, mamma,
if there is any one to answer it.” She really did not know who did
the work of the house.
   It was not till after the letter had been taken away and Gwendolen
had risen again, stretching out one arm and then resting it on her
head, with a low moan which had a sound of relief in it, that Mrs.
Davilow ventured to ask—

                                                                   295
Daniel Deronda

  “What did you say, Gwen?”
  “I said that I should be at home,” answered Gwendolen, rather
loftily. Then after a pause, “You must not expect, because Mr.
Grandcourt is coming, that anything is going to happen, mamma.”
  “I don’t allow myself to expect anything, dear. I desire you to
follow your own feeling. You have never told me what that was.”
  “What is the use of telling?” said Gwendolen, hearing a reproach
in that true statement. “When I have anything pleasant to tell, you
may be sure I will tell you.”
  “But Mr. Grandcourt will consider that you have already accepted
him, in allowing him to come. His note tells you plainly enough
that he is coming to make you an offer.”
  “Very well; and I wish to have the pleasure of refusing him.”
  Mrs. Davilow looked up in wonderment, but Gwendolen implied
her wish not to be questioned further by saying—
  “Put down that detestable needle-work, and let us walk in the
avenue. I am stifled.”




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                                                           George Eliot




                   CHAPTER XXVII
        Desire has trimmed the sails, and Circumstance
        Brings but the breeze to fill them.

WHILE GRANDCOURT on his beautiful black Yarico, the groom be-
hind him on Criterion, was taking the pleasant ride from Diplow to
Offendene, Gwendolen was seated before the mirror while her
mother gathered up the lengthy mass of light-brown hair which she
had been carefully brushing.
   “Only gather it up easily and make a coil, mamma,” said
Gwendolen.
   “Let me bring you some ear-rings, Gwen,” said Mrs. Davilow,
when the hair was adjusted, and they were both looking at the re-
flection in the glass. It was impossible for them not to notice that
the eyes looked brighter than they had done of late, that there seemed
to be a shadow lifted from the face, leaving all the lines once more
in their placid youthfulness. The mother drew some inference that
made her voice rather cheerful. “You do want your earrings?”
   “No, mamma; I shall not wear any ornaments, and I shall put on
my black silk. Black is the only wear when one is going to refuse an
offer,” said Gwendolen, with one of her old smiles at her mother,
while she rose to throw off her dressing-gown.
   “Suppose the offer is not made after all,” said Mrs. Davilow, not
without a sly intention.
   “Then that will be because I refuse it beforehand,” said Gwendolen.
“It comes to the same thing.”
   There was a proud little toss of the head as she said this; and when
she walked down-stairs in her long black robes, there was just that
firm poise of head and elasticity of form which had lately been miss-
ing, as in a parched plant. Her mother thought, “She is quite herself
again. It must be pleasure in his coming. Can her mind be really
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made up against him?”
   Gwendolen would have been rather angry if that thought had
been uttered; perhaps all the more because through the last twenty
hours, with a brief interruption of sleep, she had been so occupied
with perpetually alternating images and arguments for and against
the possibility of her marrying Grandcourt, that the conclusion which
she had determined on beforehand ceased to have any hold on her
consciousness: the alternate dip of counterbalancing thoughts be-
gotten of counterbalancing desires had brought her into a state in
which no conclusion could look fixed to her. She would have ex-
pressed her resolve as before; but it was a form out of which the
blood had been sucked—no more a part of quivering life than the
“God’s will be done” of one who is eagerly watching chances. She
did not mean to accept Grandcourt; from the first moment of re-
ceiving his letter she had meant to refuse him; still, that could not
but prompt her to look the unwelcome reasons full in the face until
she had a little less awe of them, could not hinder her imagination
from filling out her knowledge in various ways, some of which
seemed to change the aspect of what she knew. By dint of looking at
a dubious object with a constructive imagination, who can give it
twenty different shapes. Her indistinct grounds of hesitation before
the interview at the Whispering Stones, at present counted for noth-
ing; they were all merged in the final repulsion. If it had not been
for that day in Cardell Chase, she said to herself now, there would
have been no obstacle to her marrying Grandcourt. On that day
and after it, she had not reasoned and balanced; she had acted with
a force of impulse against which all questioning was no more than a
voice against a torrent. The impulse had come—not only from her
maidenly pride and jealousy, not only from the shock of another
woman’s calamity thrust close on her vision, but—from her dread
of wrong-doing, which was vague, it was true, and aloof from the
daily details of her life, but not the less strong. Whatever was ac-
cepted as consistent with being a lady she had no scruple about; but
from the dim region of what was called disgraceful, wrong, guilty,
she shrunk with mingled pride and terror; and even apart from
shame, her feeling would have made her place any deliberate injury
of another in the region of guilt.

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  But now—did she know exactly what was the state of the case
with regard to Mrs. Glasher and her children? She had given a sort
of promise—had said, “I will not interfere with your wishes.” But
would another woman who married Grandcourt be in fact the deci-
sive obstacle to her wishes, or be doing her and her boy any real
injury? Might it not be just as well, nay better, that Grandcourt
should marry? For what could not a woman do when she was mar-
ried, if she knew how to assert herself? Here all was constructive
imagination. Gwendolen had about as accurate a conception of
marriage—that is to say, of the mutual influences, demands, duties
of man and woman in the state of matrimony—as she had of mag-
netic currents and the law of storms.
  “Mamma managed baldly,” was her way of summing up what she
had seen of her mother’s experience: she herself would manage quite
differently. And the trials of matrimony were the last theme into
which Mrs. Davilow could choose to enter fully with this daughter.
  “I wonder what mamma and my uncle would say if they knew
about Mrs. Glasher!” thought Gwendolen in her inward debating;
not that she could imagine herself telling them, even if she had not
felt bound to silence. “I wonder what anybody would say; or what
they would say to Mr. Grandcourt’s marrying some one else and
having other children!” To consider what “anybody” would say, was
to be released from the difficulty of judging where everything was
obscure to her when feeling had ceased to be decisive. She had only
to collect her memories, which proved to her that “anybody” re-
garded the illegitimate children as more rightfully to be looked shy
on and deprived of social advantages than illegitimate fathers. The
verdict of “anybody” seemed to be that she had no reason to con-
cern herself greatly on behalf of Mrs. Glasher and her children.
  But there was another way in which they had caused her concern.
What others might think, could not do away with a feeling which
in the first instance would hardly be too strongly described as indig-
nation and loathing that she should have been expected to unite
herself with an outworn life, full of backward secrets which must
have been more keenly felt than any association with her. True, the
question of love on her own part had occupied her scarcely at all in
relation to Grandcourt. The desirability of marriage for her had

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Daniel Deronda

always seemed due to other feeling than love; and to be enamored
was the part of the man, on whom the advances depended.
Gwendolen had found no objection to Grandcourt’s way of being
enamored before she had had that glimpse of his past, which she
resented as if it had been a deliberate offense against her. His ad-
vances to her were deliberate, and she felt a retrospective disgust for
them. Perhaps other men’s lives were of the same kind—full of se-
crets which made the ignorant suppositions of the women they
wanted to marry a farce at which they were laughing in their sleeves.
  These feelings of disgust and indignation had sunk deep; and
though other troublous experience in the last weeks had dulled them
from passion into remembrance, it was chiefly their reverberating
activity which kept her firm to the understanding with herself, that
she was not going to accept Grandcourt. She had never meant to
form a new determination; she had only been considering what might
be thought or said. If anything could have induced her to change, it
would have been the prospect of making all things easy for “poor
mamma:” that, she admitted, was a temptation. But no! she was
going to refuse him. Meanwhile, the thought that he was coming to
be refused was inspiriting: she had the white reins in her hands
again; there was a new current in her frame, reviving her from the
beaten-down consciousness in which she had been left by the inter-
view with Klesmer. She was not now going to crave an opinion of
her capabilities; she was going to exercise her power.
  Was this what made her heart palpitate annoyingly when she heard
the horse’s footsteps on the gravel?—when Miss Merry, who opened
the door to Grandcourt, came to tell her that he was in the drawing-
room? The hours of preparation and the triumph of the situation
were apparently of no use: she might as well have seen Grandcourt
coming suddenly on her in the midst of her despondency. While
walking into the drawing-room, she had to concentrate all her en-
ergy in that self-control, which made her appear gravely gracious—
as she gave her hand to him, and answered his hope that she was
quite well in a voice as low and languid as his own. A moment
afterward, when they were both of them seated on two of the wreath-
painted chairs—Gwendolen upright with downcast eyelids,
Grandcourt about two yards distant, leaning one arm over the back

300
                                                         George Eliot

of his chair and looking at her, while he held his hat in his left
hand—any one seeing them as a picture would have concluded that
they were in some stage of love-making suspense. And certainly the
love-making had begun: she already felt herself being wooed by this
silent man seated at an agreeable distance, with the subtlest atmo-
sphere of attar of roses and an attention bent wholly on her. And he
also considered himself to be wooing: he was not a man to suppose
that his presence carried no consequences; and he was exactly the
man to feel the utmost piquancy in a girl whom he had not found
quite calculable.
   “I was disappointed not to find you at Leubronn,” he began, his
usual broken drawl having just a shade of amorous languor in it.
“The place was intolerable without you. A mere kennel of a place.
Don’t you think so?”
   “I can’t judge what it would be without myself,” said Gwendolen,
turning her eyes on him, with some recovered sense of mischief.
“With myself I like it well enough to have stayed longer, if I could.
But I was obliged to come home on account of family troubles.”
   “It was very cruel of you to go to Leubronn,” said Grandcourt,
taking no notice of the troubles, on which Gwendolen—she hardly
knew why—wished that there should be a clear understanding at
once. “You must have known that it would spoil everything: you
knew you were the heart and soul of everything that went on. Are
you quite reckless about me?”
   It would be impossible to say “yes” in a tone that would be taken
seriously; equally impossible to say “no;” but what else could she
say? In her difficulty, she turned down her eyelids again and blushed
over face and neck. Grandcourt saw her in a new phase, and be-
lieved that she was showing her inclination. But he was determined
that she should show it more decidedly.
   “Perhaps there is some deeper interest? Some attraction—some en-
gagement—which it would have been only fair to make me aware of?
Is there any man who stands between us?”
   Inwardly the answer framed itself. “No; but there is a woman.”
Yet how could she utter this? Even if she had not promised that
woman to be silent, it would have been impossible for her to enter
on the subject with Grandcourt. But how could she arrest his woo-

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Daniel Deronda

ing by beginning to make a formal speech—“I perceive your inten-
tion—it is most flattering, etc.”? A fish honestly invited to come
and be eaten has a clear course in declining, but how if it finds itself
swimming against a net? And apart from the network, would she
have dared at once to say anything decisive? Gwendolen had not
time to be clear on that point. As it was, she felt compelled to si-
lence, and after a pause, Grandcourt said—
  “Am I to understand that some one else is preferred?”
  Gwendolen, now impatient of her own embarrassment, deter-
mined to rush at the difficulty and free herself. She raised her eyes
again and said with something of her former clearness and defiance,
“No”—wishing him to understand, “What then? I may not be ready
to take you.” There was nothing that Grandcourt could not under-
stand which he perceived likely to affect his amour propre.
  “The last thing I would do, is to importune you. I should not
hope to win you by making myself a bore. If there were no hope for
me, I would ask you to tell me so at once, that I might just ride
away to—no matter where.”
  Almost to her own astonishment, Gwendolen felt a sudden alarm
at the image of Grandcourt finally riding away. What would be left
her then? Nothing but the former dreariness. She liked him to be
there. She snatched at the subject that would defer any decisive
answer.
  “I fear you are not aware of what has happened to us. I have lately
had to think so much of my mamma’s troubles, that other subjects
have been quite thrown into the background. She has lost all her
fortune, and we are going to leave this place. I must ask you to excuse
my seeming preoccupied.”
  In eluding a direct appeal Gwendolen recovered some of her self-
possession. She spoke with dignity and looked straight at Grandcourt,
whose long, narrow, impenetrable eyes met hers, and mysteriously
arrested them: mysteriously; for the subtly-varied drama between
man and woman is often such as can hardly be rendered in words
put together like dominoes, according to obvious fixed marks. The
word of all work, Love, will no more express the myriad modes of
mutual attraction, than the word Thought can inform you what is
passing through your neighbor’s mind. It would be hard to tell on

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which side—Gwendolen’s or Grandcourt’s—the influence was more
mixed. At that moment his strongest wish was to be completely
master of this creature—this piquant combination of maidenliness
and mischief: that she knew things which had made her start away
from him, spurred him to triumph over that repugnance; and he
was believing that he should triumph. And she—ah, piteous equal-
ity in the need to dominate!—she was overcome like the thirsty one
who is drawn toward the seeming water in the desert, overcome by
the suffused sense that here in this man’s homage to her lay the
rescue from helpless subjection to an oppressive lot.
   All the while they were looking at each other; and Grandcourt
said, slowly and languidly, as if it were of no importance, other things
having been settled—
   “You will tell me now, I hope, that Mrs. Davilow’s loss of fortune
will not trouble you further. You will trust me to prevent it from
weighing upon her. You will give me the claim to provide against
that.”
   The little pauses and refined drawlings with which this speech
was uttered, gave time for Gwendolen to go through the dream of a
life. As the words penetrated her, they had the effect of a draught of
wine, which suddenly makes all things easier, desirable things not
so wrong, and people in general less disagreeable. She had a mo-
mentary phantasmal love for this man who chose his words so well,
and who was a mere incarnation of delicate homage. Repugnance,
dread, scruples—these were dim as remembered pains, while she
was already tasting relief under the immediate pain of hopelessness.
She imagined herself already springing to her mother, and being
playful again. Yet when Grandcourt had ceased to speak, there was
an instant in which she was conscious of being at the turning of the
ways.
   “You are very generous,” she said, not moving her eyes, and speak-
ing with a gentle intonation.
   “You accept what will make such things a matter of course?” said
Grandcourt, without any new eagerness. “You consent to become
my wife?”
   This time Gwendolen remained quite pale. Something made her
rise from her seat in spite of herself and walk to a little distance.

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Daniel Deronda

Then she turned and with her hands folded before her stood in
silence.
   Grandcourt immediately rose too, resting his hat on the chair, but
still keeping hold of it. The evident hesitation of this destitute girl
to take his splendid offer stung him into a keenness of interest such
as he had not known for years. None the less because he attributed
her hesitation entirely to her knowledge about Mrs. Glasher. In that
attitude of preparation, he said—
   “Do you command me to go?” No familiar spirit could have sug-
gested to him more effective words.
   “No,” said Gwendolen. She could not let him go: that negative
was a clutch. She seemed to herself to be, after all, only drifted to-
ward the tremendous decision—but drifting depends on something
besides the currents when the sails have been set beforehand.
   “You accept my devotion?” said Grandcourt, holding his hat by his
side and looking straight into her eyes, without other movement. Their
eyes meeting in that way seemed to allow any length of pause: but
wait as long as she would, how could she contradict herself! What had
she detained him for? He had shut out any explanation.
   “Yes,” came as gravely from Gwendolen’s lips as if she had been
answering to her name in a court of justice. He received it gravely,
and they still looked at each other in the same attitude. Was there
ever such a way before of accepting the bliss-giving “Yes”? Grandcourt
liked better to be at that distance from her, and to feel under a
ceremony imposed by an indefinable prohibition that breathed from
Gwendolen’s bearing.
   But he did at length lay down his hat and advance to take her
hand, just pressing his lips upon it and letting it go again. She thought
his behavior perfect, and gained a sense of freedom which made her
almost ready to be mischievous. Her “Yes” entailed so little at this
moment that there was nothing to screen the reversal of her gloomy
prospects; her vision was filled by her own release from the
Momperts, and her mother’s release from Sawyer’s Cottage. With a
happy curl of the lips, she said—
   “Will you not see mamma? I will fetch her.”
   “Let us wait a little,” said Grandcourt, in his favorite attitude,
having his left forefinger and thumb in his waist-coat pocket, and

304
                                                             George Eliot

with his right hand caressing his whisker, while he stood near
Gwendolen and looked at her—not unlike a gentleman who has a
felicitous introduction at an evening party.
  “Have you anything else to say to me,” said Gwendolen, play-
fully.
  “Yes—I know having things said to you is a great bore,” said
Grandcourt, rather sympathetically.
  “Not when they are things I like to hear.”
  “Will it bother you to be asked how soon we can be married?”
  “I think it will, to-day,” said Gwendolen, putting up her chin
saucily.
  “Not to-day, then, but to-morrow. Think of it before I come to-
morrow. In a fortnight—or three weeks—as soon as possible.”
  “Ah, you think you will be tired of my company,” said Gwendolen.
“I notice when people are married the husband is not so much with
his wife as when they are engaged. But perhaps I shall like that
better, too.”
  She laughed charmingly.
  “You shall have whatever you like,” said Grandcourt.
  “And nothing that I don’t like?—please say that; because I think I
dislike what I don’t like more than I like what I like,” said Gwendolen,
finding herself in the woman’s paradise, where all her nonsense is
adorable.
  Grandcourt paused; these were subtilties in which he had much ex-
perience of his own. “I don’t know—this is such a brute of a world,
things are always turning up that one doesn’t like. I can’t always hinder
your being bored. If you like to ride Criterion, I can’t hinder his coming
down by some chance or other.”
  “Ah, my friend Criterion, how is he?”
  “He is outside: I made the groom ride him, that you might see
him. He had the side-saddle on for an hour or two yesterday. Come
to the window and look at him.”
  They could see the two horses being taken slowly round the sweep,
and the beautiful creatures, in their fine grooming, sent a thrill of
exultation through Gwendolen. They were the symbols of com-
mand and luxury, in delightful contrast with the ugliness of poverty
and humiliation at which she had lately been looking close.

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  “Will you ride Criterion to-morrow?” said Grandcourt. “If you
will, everything shall be arranged.”
  “I should like it of all things,” said Gwendolen. “I want to lose
myself in a gallop again. But now I must go and fetch mamma.”
  “Take my arm to the door, then,” said Grandcourt, and she ac-
cepted. Their faces were very near each other, being almost on a
level, and he was looking at her. She thought his manners as a lover
more agreeable than any she had seen described. She had no alarm
lest he meant to kiss her, and was so much at her ease, that she
suddenly paused in the middle of the room and said half archly, half
earnestly—
  “Oh, while I think of it—there is something I dislike that you can
save me from. I do not like Mr. Lush’s company.”
  “You shall not have it. I’ll get rid of him.”
  “You are not fond of him yourself?”
  “Not in the least. I let him hang on me because he has always
been a poor devil,” said Grandcourt, in an adagio of utter indiffer-
ence. “They got him to travel with me when I was a lad. He was
always that coarse-haired kind of brute—sort of cross between a
hog and a dilettante.”
  Gwendolen laughed. All that seemed kind and natural enough:
Grandcourt’s fastidiousness enhanced the kindness. And when they
reached the door, his way of opening it for her was the perfection of
easy homage. Really, she thought, he was likely to be the least dis-
agreeable of husbands.
  Mrs. Davilow was waiting anxiously in her bed-room when
Gwendolen entered, stepped toward her quickly, and kissing her on
both cheeks said in a low tone, “Come down, mamma, and see Mr.
Grandcourt. I am engaged to him.”
  “My darling child,” said Mrs. Davilow, with a surprise that was
rather solemn than glad.
  “Yes,” said Gwendolen, in the same tone, and with a quickness
which implied that it was needless to ask questions. “Everything is
settled. You are not going to Sawyer’s Cottage, I am not going to be
inspected by Mrs. Mompert, and everything is to be as I like. So
come down with me immediately.”


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                                                             George Eliot




        BOOK IV
   GWENDOLEN GETS HER
        CHOICE
                   CHAPTER XXVIII
           “Il est plus aisé de connoître l’homme en général que
         de connoître un homme en particulier.
                                  —LA ROCHEFOUCAULD.”



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.
   “My dear, let me congratulate you on having created a strong at-
tachment,” 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.”
   Mr. Gascoigne referred to Grandcourt’s mode of implying that he
would provide for Mrs. Davilow—a part of the love-making which
Gwendolen had remembered to cite to her mother with perfect ac-
curacy.
   “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

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Daniel Deronda

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.”
  “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 en-
gaged.”
  The rector patted her shoulder and smiled as at a bit of innocent
naughtiness, and his wife took his behavior 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 back-
ground 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 some-
thing else. Miss Merry and the four girls, Alice with the high shoul-
ders, Bertha and Fanny the whisperers, and Isabel the listener, were
all present on this family occasion, when everything seemed appro-
priately turning to the honor 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.
  “I should like to know exactly what sort of places Ryelands and
Gadsmere are,” said Mrs. Davilow.
  “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 burdens on the land. Still, Mr. Grandcourt was an only
child.”

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                                                          George Eliot

   “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.
   “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 cor-
responding properties, is a valuable talent enough for any man to
have committed to him. Let us hope it will be well used.”
   “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.”
   “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

                                                                 309
Daniel Deronda

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 be-
hind 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 envel-
oping her, seemed to concentrate themselves in the vague concep-
tion of avenging power. 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 imme-
diately before her; and yet they had come to her hunger like food
with the taint of sacrilege upon it, which she must snatch with ter-
ror. In the darkness and loneliness of her little bed, her more resis-
tant 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 gradu-
ally 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 win-
dow-curtain; the chillness increased. She could bear it no longer,
and cried “Mamma!”
   “Yes, dear,” said Mrs. Davilow, immediately, in a wakeful voice.
   “Let me come to you.”
   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.
   “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.”

310
                                                          George Eliot

  Gwendolen sat up in bed and opened the packet. It was a delicate
enameled casket, and inside was a splendid diamond ring with a
letter which contained a folded bit of colored paper and these
words:—

    Pray wear this ring when I come at twelve in sign of our
  betrothal. I enclose a check 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,
                        H. M. Grandcourt

   The checks was for five hundred pounds, and Gwendolen turned
it toward her mother, with the letter.
   “How very kind and delicate!” said Mrs. Davilow, with much feel-
ing. “But I really should like better not to be dependent on a son-
in-law. I and the girls could get along very well.”
   “Mamma, if you say that again, I will not marry him,” said
Gwendolen, angrily.
   “My dear child, I trust you are not going to marry only for my
sake,” said Mrs. Davilow, depreciatingly.
   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 conscious-
ness that she was not going to marry solely for her mamma’s sake—
that she was drawn toward the marriage in ways against which stron-
ger 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 argu-
ments of the night, must be met by daylight, in which probably
they would show themselves weak. “What I long for is your happi-
ness, dear,” continued Mrs. Davilow, pleadingly. “I will not say any-
thing to vex you. Will you not put on the ring?”
   For a few moments Gwendolen did not answer, but her thoughts

                                                                 311
Daniel Deronda

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.
   “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.
   “Why?”
   “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.”
   “That is very moderate praise, Gwen.”
   “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?”
   “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.
   The mood was necessarily passing through a new phase this morn-
ing. 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
toward Mrs. Glasher’s children.
   “Of what use would it be to her that I should not marry him? He
could have married her if he 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.”

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                                                           George Eliot

  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 comprehen-
sion of this feeling prompted another way of reconciling claims.
  “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.”
  This made Mrs. Glasher appear quite unreasonable in demand-
ing 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.
  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 ques-
tion with her, any agreeableness he had was so much gain. Poor
Gwendolen had no awe of unmanageable forces in the state of mat-
rimony, 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.
  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.

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Daniel Deronda

  “Go back and make yourself look like a duchess, mamma,” she
said, turning suddenly as she was going down-stairs. “Put your point-
lace over your head. I must have you look like a duchess. You must
not take things humbly.”
  When Grandcourt raised her left hand gently and looked at the
ring, she said gravely, “It was very good of you to think of every-
thing and send me that packet.”
  “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.”
  “But I am very unreasonable in my wishes,” said Gwendolen,
smiling.
  “Yes, I expect that. Women always are.”
  “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.”
  “I did not say that,” said Grandcourt, looking at her with his
usual gravity. “You are what no other woman is.”
  “And what is that, pray?” said Gwendolen, moving to a distance
with a little air of menace.
  Grandcourt made his pause before he answered. “You are the
woman I love.”
  “Oh, what nice speeches!” said Gwendolen, laughing. The sense
of that love which he must once have given to another woman un-
der strange circumstances was getting familiar.
  “Give me a nice speech in return. Say when we are to be married.”
  “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!”
  “Let us be married in ten days, then,” said Grandcourt, “and we
shall not be bored about the stables.”
  “What do women always say in answer to that?” said Gwendolen,
mischievously.
  “They agree to it,” said the lover, rather off his guard.
  “Then I will not!” said Gwendolen, taking up her gauntlets and

314
                                                           George Eliot

putting them on, while she kept her eyes on him with gathering fun
in them.
   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 ease, 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.
   When they had had a glorious gallop, however, she was in a state
of exhilaration that disposed her to think well of hastening the mar-
riage which would make her life all of apiece 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 wed-
ding on that day three weeks, notwithstanding the difficulty of ful-
filling the customary laws of the trousseau.
   Lush, of course, was made aware of the engagement by abundant
signs, without being formally told. But he expected some commu-
nication 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 neces-
sary, 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 dress-
ing-room. But a tete-à-tete was not to be avoided in a house empty

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Daniel Deronda

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—
   “And when is the marriage to take place?”
   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 back-ground for his pale-
tinted, well-cut features and exquisite long hands. Omitting the ci-
gar, you might have imagined him a portrait by Moroni, who would
have rendered wonderfully the impenetrable gaze and air of distinc-
tion; and a portrait by that great master would have been quite as
lively a companion as Grandcourt was disposed to be. But he an-
swered without unusual delay.
   “On the tenth.”
   “I suppose you intend to remain here.”
   “We shall go to Ryelands for a little while; but we shall return here
for the sake of the hunting.”
   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 in-
troduced the mildly uttered suggestion—
   “You had better make some new arrangement for yourself.”
   “What! I am to cut and run?” said Lush, prepared to be good-
tempered on the occasion.
   “Something of that kind.”
   “The bride objects to me. I hope she will make up to you for the
want of my services.”
   “I can’t help your being so damnably disagreeable to women,”
said Grandcourt, in soothing apology.
   “To one woman, if you please.”
   “It makes no difference since she is the one in question.”
   “I suppose I am not to be turned adrift after fifteen years without
some provision.”
   “You must have saved something out of me.”

316
                                                           George Eliot

  “Deuced little. I have often saved something for you.”
  “You can have three hundred a year. But you must live in town
and be ready to look after things when I want you. I shall be rather
hard up.”
  “If you are not going to be at Ryelands this winter, I might run
down there and let you know how Swinton goes on.”
  “If you like. I don’t care a toss where you are, so that you keep out
of sight.”
  “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.
  “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.”
  “With all my heart. Can’t I be of use in going to Gadsmere.”
  “No. I am going myself.”
  “About your being rather hard up. Have you thought of that plan—”
  “Just leave me alone, will you?” said Grandcourt, in his lowest
audible tone, tossing his cigar into the fire, and rising to walk away.
  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 on hand without touching, he employed
himself (as a philosopher might have done) in sitting meditatively
on the sofa and abstaining from literature—political, comic, cyni-
cal, or romantic. In this way hours may pass surprisingly soon, with-
out 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 rejec-
tion of even a shadowy fulfillment. That is a condition which often
comes with whitening hair; and sometimes, too, an intense obsti-
nacy and tenacity of rule, like the main trunk of an exorbitant ego-
ism, conspicuous in proportion as the varied susceptibilities of
younger years are stripped away.
  But Grandcourt’s hair, though he had not much of it, was of a
fine, sunny blonde, and his moods were not entirely to be explained

                                                                  317
Daniel Deronda

as ebbing energy. We mortals have a strange spiritual chemistry go-
ing on within us, so that a lazy stagnation or even a cottony milki-
ness may be preparing one knows not what biting or explosive ma-
terial. The navvy waking from sleep and without malice heaving a
stone to crush the life out of his still sleeping comrade, is under-
stood to lack the trained motive which makes a character fairly cal-
culable 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, that sadly spoils companionship.
  Grandcourt’s thoughts this evening were like the circlets one sees
in a dark pool, continually dying out and continually started again
by some impulse from below the surface. The deeper central im-
pulse 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 mas-
tering reluctance flourished along with the habitual persuasion that
no woman whom he favored could be quite indifferent to his per-
sonal influence; and it seemed to him not unlikely that by-and-by
Gwendolen might be more enamored 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

318
                                                           George Eliot

tenderness to him, full of petitioning solicitude and willing obedi-
ence. He meant to be master of a woman who would have liked to
master him, and who perhaps would have been capable of master-
ing another man.
  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 fol-
lowing 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 invi-
  tation (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 intro-
  duce 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 lodg-
  ment in his mind; and though at present he has a great notion
  of the hunting here, I see a likelihood, under the circumstances,


                                                                  319
Daniel Deronda


  that he will get a distaste for the neighborhood, 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 humor 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,
                       Thomas Cranmer Lush

  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 par-
ticular disappointments; and his affection for Deronda was not di-
minished 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 de-

320
                                                           George Eliot

tails, while he had a certain inflexibility of judgment, and indepen-
dence of opinion, held to be rightfully masculine.
   When he had read the letter, he returned it without speaking,
inwardly wincing under Lush’s mode of attributing a neutral useful-
ness to him in the family affairs.
   “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.
   “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.
   “I think Lush’s notion is a good one. And it would be a pity to lose
the occasion.”
   “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.
   “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,” he added, turning to Lady
Mallinger, as if she too had read the letter.
   “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.
   “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.”

                                                                  321
Daniel Deronda

   “Dear me! Is that a good match for him?”
   “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.”
   “I wish you would not talk of dying in that light way, dear.”
   “It’s rather a heavy way, Lou, for I shall have to pay a heavy sum—
forty thousand, at least.”
   “But why are we to invite them to the Abbey?” said Lady Mallinger.
“I do not like women who gamble, like Lady Cragstone.”
   “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 humor, 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.
   “Daniel is not fond of Mr. Grandcourt, I think, is he?” said Lady
Mallinger, looking at Deronda inquiringly.
   “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 any-
thing better to do—since Sir Hugo wishes it.”
   “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.”
   “Yes; but I have seen that man, and something of his manners
too,” said Deronda.
   “Not nice manners, I think,” said Lady Mallinger.
   “Well, you see they succeed with your sex,” said Sir Hugo, pro-
vokingly. “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

322
                                                             George Eliot

fine principality.”
  Deronda, in anticipating the projected visit, felt less disinclination
than when consenting to it. The story of that girl’s marriage did inter-
est 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 exist-
ence. Persons attracted him, as Hans Meyrick had done, in propor-
tion to the possibility of his defending them, rescuing them, telling
upon their lives with some sort of redeeming influence; and he had to
resist an inclination, easily accounted for, to withdraw coldly from
the fortunate. But in the movement which had led him to repurchase
Gwendolen’s necklace for her, and which was at work in him still,
there was something beyond his habitual compassionate fervor—some-
thing due to the fascination of her womanhood. He was very open to
that sort of charm, and mingled it with the consciously Utopian pic-
tures of his own future; yet any one able to trace the folds of his
character might have conceived that he would be 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 fore-
shadow 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.
  Deronda wrote without delay to announce his visit to Diplow, and
received in reply a polite assurance that his coming would give great

                                                                    323
Daniel Deronda

pleasure. That was not altogether untrue. Grandcourt thought it prob-
able 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 jeal-
ousy, Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt play the commanding part of
betrothed lover to a splendid girl whom the cousin had already looked
at with admiration.
  Grandcourt himself was not jealous of anything unless it threat-
ened his mastery—which he did not think himself likely to lose.




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                    CHAPTER XXIX

       “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.”
                                          —WALT WHITMAN.



“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.”
   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 impres-
sion that all the folly lay with other people, who did what he did

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Daniel Deronda

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 be-
havior as a lover had hardly at all passed the limit of an amorous
homage which was inobtrusive as a wafted odor of roses, and spent
all its effects 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.
   To-day a slight rain hindered riding; but to compensate, a pack-
age 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—
   “Why is to-morrow the only day?”
   “Because the next day is the first with the hounds,” said
Grandcourt.
   “And after that?”
   “After that I must go away for a couple of days—it’s 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?”
   “It’s 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 —the temptation to make a clean breast, speaking
without restraint.
   “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 mo-
ment.

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                                                        George Eliot

  “Then don’t put off going, but travel at night,” said Gwendolen,
feeling that she could command him, and finding in this perempto-
riness a small outlet for her irritation.
  “Then you will go to Diplow to-morrow?”
  “Oh, yes, if you wish it,” said Gwendolen, in a high tone of care-
less assent. Her concentration in other feelings had really hindered
her from taking notice that her hand was being held.
  “How you treat us poor devils of men!” said Grandcourt, lower-
ing his tone. “We are always getting the worst of it.”
  “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?”
  “Yes. Are you as kind to me as I am to you?” said Grandcourt,
looking into her eyes with his narrow gaze.
  Gwendolen felt herself stricken. She was conscious of having re-
ceived 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 pen-
ance 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—
  “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.”
  “Then I am not to ask for one kiss,” said Grandcourt, contented
to pay a large price for this new kind of love-making, which intro-
duced marriage by the finest contrast.
  “Not one?” said Gwendolen, getting saucy, and nodding at him
defiantly.

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Daniel Deronda

  He lifted her little left hand to his lips, and then released it re-
spectfully. 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.
  “Apropos,” she said, taking up her work again, “is there any one
besides Captain and Mrs. Torrington at Diplow?—or do you leave
them tete-à-tete? I suppose he converses in cigars, and she answers
with her chignon.”
  “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.”
  “Ah, then, I have a poor opinion of him,” said Gwendolen, shak-
ing her head.
  “You saw him at Leubronn—young Deronda—a young fellow
with the Mallingers.”
  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.
  “I never spoke to him,” she said, dreading any discernible change
in herself. “Is he not disagreeable?”
  “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.”
  “No. Some one told me his name the evening before I came away?
that was all. What is he?”
  “A sort of ward of Sir Hugo Mallinger’s. Nothing of any conse-
quence.”
  “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.
  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 con-

328
                                                         George Eliot

sciousness in any meeting which seems formidable. Her anger to-
ward Deronda had changed into a superstitious dread—due, per-
haps, to the coercion he had exercised over her thought—lest the
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.
   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.
   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.
   When he took his place at lunch, Grandcourt had said, “Deronda,
Miss Harleth tells me you were not introduced to her at Leubronn?”
   “Miss Harleth hardly remembers me, I imagine,” said Deronda,
looking at her quite simply, as they bowed. “She was intensely occu-
pied when I saw her.”
   Now, did he suppose that she had not suspected him of being the
person who redeemed her necklace?
   “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.”
   “How did you come to that conclusion?” said Deronda, gravely.
   “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.”
   “Roulette in such a kennel as Leubronn is a horrid bore,” said
Grandcourt.
   “I found it a bore when I began to lose,” said Gwendolen. Her
face was turned toward Grandcourt as she smiled and spoke, but

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Daniel Deronda

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 was some-
how 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 after-
noon sunshine. Grandcourt, she inwardly conjectured, was perhaps
right in saying that Deronda thought too much of himself:—a fa-
vorite 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 Jamaica 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.
   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.
   “I wonder what he thinks of me, really? He must have felt inter-
ested 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?”
   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

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“nothing of any consequence”? She had no time to find the rea-
son—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—
   “Shall you hunt to-morrow, Mr. Deronda?”
   “Yes, I believe so.”
   “You don’t object to hunting, then?”
   “I find excuses for it. It is a sin I am inclined to—when I can’t get
boating or cricketing.”
   “Do you object to my hunting?” said Gwendolen, with a saucy
movement of the chin.
   “I have no right to object to anything you choose to do.”
   “You thought you had a right to object to my gambling,” per-
sisted Gwendolen.
   “I was sorry for it. I am not aware that I told you of my objec-
tion,” 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.
   “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 neck-
lace he had taken a questionable freedom.
   It was impossible to speak further; and she turned away to a win-
dow, 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 like 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

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Daniel Deronda

of crude self-confidence: among the forces she had come to dread was
something within her that troubled satisfaction.
   That evening Mrs. Davilow said, “Was it really so, or only a joke
of yours, about Mr. Deronda’s spoiling your play, Gwen?”
   Her curiosity had been excited, and she could venture to ask a
question that did not concern Mr. Grandcourt.
   “Oh, it merely happened that he was looking on when I began to
lose,” said Gwendolen, carelessly. “I noticed him.”
   “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.”
   “Is there?” said Gwendolen.
   “Mrs. Torrington says so. I asked particularly who he was, and she
told me that his mother was some foreigner of high rank.”
   “His mother?” said Gwendolen, rather sharply. “Then who was
his father?”
   “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.”
   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.
   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 woman, no longer young, had become “stuff o’ the conscience”
to Gwendolen.
   That night when she had got into her little bed, and only a dim
light was burning, she said—
   “Mamma, have men generally children before they are married?”
   “No, dear, no,” said Mrs. Davilow. “Why do you ask such a ques-
tion?” (But she began to think that she saw the why.)

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   “If it were so, I ought to know,” said Gwendolen, with some in-
dignation.
   “You are thinking of what I said about Mr. Deronda and Sir Hugo
Mallinger. That is a very unusual case, dear.”
   “Does Lady Mallinger know?”
   “She knows enough to satisfy her. That is quite clear, because Mr.
Deronda has lived with them.”
   “And people think no worse of him?”
   “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.”
   “I wonder whether he knows about it; and whether he is angry
with his father?”
   “My dear child, why should you think of that?”
   “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?”
   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 mar-
riage a forbidden thing.
   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 mar-
riage did not include the fact that she had accepted Grandcourt
solely as a 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;

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Daniel Deronda

that kind of appearance making the larger part of the world’s his-
tory.
   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 ex-
pected, 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 differ-
ence in events he might have been as important as Grandcourt,
nay—her imagination inevitably went into 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 unquestionable 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 sur-
rounded 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 de-
spise 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 judg-
ment of her powers; but she found larger room for resistance to a
disapproval of her marriage, because it is easier to make our con-
duct seem justifiable to ourselves than to make our ability strike
others. “How can I help it?” is not our favorite apology for incom-
petency. But Gwendolen felt some strength in saying—
   “How can I help what other people have done? Things would not

334
                                                          George Eliot

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.
   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 anx-
ious to say anything to him. Indeed, the hunt would be too absorb-
ing.
   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 the agreeable sombreness of the gray November after-
noon, 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 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

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Daniel Deronda

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, wav-
ing her whip and nodding sideways with playful imperiousness, said,
“Go on! I want to speak to Mr. Deronda.”
  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—
  “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?”
  “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 to-
gether, 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 excep-
tional 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.
  “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.”
  “Clearly. Because of that, we should help it where we can.”
  Gwendolen, biting her lip inside, paused a moment, and then
forcing herself to speak with an air of playfulness again, said—
  “But why should you regret it more because I am a woman?”
  “Perhaps because we need that you should be better than we are.”
  “But suppose we need that men should be better than we are,”

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                                                        George Eliot

said Gwendolen with a little air of “check!”
  “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.”
  “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.
  “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 con-
duct.
  “A—no,” said Grandcourt, coldly.
  “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.
  “I wish to hear what you say to me—not to other men,” said
Grandcourt.
  “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.”
  “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 toward Diplow, while her
lover attended her to Offendene, where he was to bid farewell be-
fore 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.




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Daniel Deronda




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

IMAGINE A RAMBLING, patchy house, the best part built of gray stone,
and red-tiled, a round tower jutting at one of the corners, the mel-
low darkness of its conical roof surmounted by a weather-cock mak-
ing an agreeable object either amidst the gleams and greenth of sum-
mer or the low-hanging clouds and snowy branches of winter: the
ground shady with spreading trees: a great tree 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 over-
hung 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 ledges 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 candles stuck in their hats, and with a diabolic com-
plexion 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 keep-
ing 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
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                                                             George Eliot

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 any-
thing 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.
   It was full ten years since the elopement of an Irish officer’s beau-
tiful 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.
   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 harbor with his colors flying, registered as
seaworthy as ever.
   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 under-
standing often expressed between them during the days of his first
ardor. 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 wish-
ing to have his domestic habits printed in evidence.

                                                                    339
Daniel Deronda

   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 of the kind
to be expected in young men of fortune who have seen everything.
She was an impassioned, vivacious woman, fond of adoration, exas-
perated 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 honors of a dull, disregarded wife:
the one spot which spoiled her vision of her new pleasant world,
was the sense that she left her three-year-old boy, who died two
years afterward, 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 be-
come 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 direc-
tion. 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 could 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 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

340
                                                          George Eliot

under beseeching, had created a reasonable dread:—a slow discov-
ery, 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 had 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 pros-
pects 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 bar-
rier 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.
  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

                                                                 341
Daniel Deronda

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 in-
tention.
  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 particu-
lar 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 keep-
ing 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 disposi-
tion 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 melan-
choly position of this woman who depended on his will, made a
standing banquet for his delight in dominating. But there was some-
thing else than this in his forbearance toward 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 toward solicita-
tions 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.
  Mrs. Glasher was seated in the pleasant room where she habitu-
ally passed her mornings with her children round her. It had a square

342
                                                          George Eliot

projecting window and looked on broad gravel and grass, sloping
toward 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 widow, 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 blonde head over the ani-
mals from a Noah’s ark, admonishing them separately in a voice of
threatening command, and occasionally licking the spotted ones to
see if the colors 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 emacia-
tion, had an ineffaceable beauty in the fine profile, crisp curves of
hair, and clearly-marked eyebrows, rose impressively above her
bronze-colored 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 high-
est 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.
  Suddenly Mrs. Glasher turned away her head from Josephine’s
book and listened. “Hush, dear! I think some one is coming.”
  Henleigh the boy jumped up and said, “Mamma, is it the miller
with my donkey?”
  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

                                                                 343
Daniel Deronda

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.
   “How far are you come?” said Mrs. Glasher, as Grandcourt put
away his hat and overcoat.
   “From Diplow,” he answered slowly, seating himself opposite her
and looking at her with an unnoting gaze which she noted.
   “You are tired, then.”
   “No, I rested at the Junction—a hideous hole. These railway jour-
neys are always a confounded bore. But I had coffee and smoked.”
   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 toward hope or dread. But he was really occu-
pied 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 eager-
ness, and this man whom they were dulling into a more neutral
obstinacy.
   “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 speak-
ing that seemed to go with her features, as the tone and timbre of a
violin go with its form.
   “Yes,” drawled Grandcourt. “But you found the money paid into
the bank.”
   “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.

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                                                            George Eliot

   “Yes,” he resumed, playing with his whisker, and at first not look-
ing 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 happen-
ing, as you know”—here he turned his eyes upon her.
   “What do I know?” said she, sharply.
   He left a pause before he said, without change of manner, “That I
was thinking of marrying. You saw Miss Harleth?”
   “She told you that?”
   The pale cheeks looked even paler, perhaps from the fierce bright-
ness in the eyes above them.
   “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.
   “Good God! say at once that you are going to marry her,” she
burst out, passionately, her knees shaking and her hands tightly
clasped.
   “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.
   “You didn’t always see the necessity.”
   “Perhaps not. I see it now.”
   In those few under-toned words of Grandcourt’s she felt as abso-
lute 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 spas-
modic effort, and, unconscious of every thing but her wretched-
ness, pressed her forehead against the hard, cold glass of the win-
dow. 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 exer-
tion, sank back in the nearest chair.

                                                                   345
Daniel Deronda

   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 the future. He was leaning against
the corner of the fire-place. She looked up at him and said, bit-
terly—
   “All this is of no consequence to you. I and the children are im-
portunate creatures. You wish to get away again and be with Miss
Harleth.”
   “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, its
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.”
   Silence. She dared not answer. This woman with the intense, ea-
ger 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 shriek-
ing 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—
   “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. Every thing has gone on in a hurry.”
   Grandcourt ceased his slow delivery of sentences. He did not ex-
pect 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—
   “You have never had any reason to fear that I should be illiberal. I
don’t care a curse about the money.”
   “If you did care about it, I suppose you would not give it us,” said
Lydia. The sarcasm was irrepressible.
   “That’s a devilishly unfair thing to say,” Grandcourt replied, in a
lower tone; “and I advise you not to say that sort of thing again.”

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                                                          George Eliot

   “Should you punish me by leaving the children in beggary?” In
spite of herself, the one outlet of venom had brought the other.
   “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.”
   “I am used to repenting,” said she, bitterly. “Perhaps you will re-
pent. You have already repented of loving me.”
   “All this will only make it uncommonly difficult for us to meet
again. What friend have you besides me?”
   “Quite true.”
   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 that had to suffer.
   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—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 imagi-
native. He acquitted himself with all the advantage of a man whose
grace of bearing has long been moulded on an experience of bore-
dom—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 beauti-
ful 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

                                                                 347
Daniel Deronda

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.
  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.”
  “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 exasperat-
ing him. During the hours of silence she had longed to recall the
words which had only widened the breach between them.
  “They are in this house, I suppose?”
  “No; not in this house.”
  “I thought you said you kept them by you.”
  “When I said so it was true. They are in the bank at Dudley.”
  “Get them away, will you? I must make an arrangement for your
delivering them to some one.”
  “Make no arrangement. They shall be delivered to the person you
intended them for. I will make the arrangement.”
  “What do you mean?”
  “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.”
  “This is foolery,” said Grandcourt, with undertoned disgust. It
was too irritating that this indulgence of Lydia had given her a sort
of mastery over him in spite of dependent condition.
  She did not speak. He also rose now, but stood leaning against the
mantle-piece with his side-face toward her.

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                                                              George Eliot

   “The diamonds must be delivered to me before my marriage,” he
began again.
   “What is your wedding-day?”
   “The tenth. There is no time to be lost.”
   “And where do you go after the marriage?”
   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.”
   “No; I shall not do that. They shall be delivered to her safely. I
shall keep my word.”
   “Do you mean to say,” said Grandcourt, just audibly, turning to
face her, “that you will not do as I tell you?”
   “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.
   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 his mother’s diamonds. He shrank from the only sort 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
toward her again, leaning as before, and said—
   “Infernal idiots that women are!”
   “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.
   “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.”
   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

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Daniel Deronda

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-colored 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.
   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 sum-
mons, and remained silent without turning his eyes upon her.
   She was suffering the horrible conflict of self-reproach and tenac-
ity. She saw beforehand Grandcourt leaving her without even look-
ing at her again—herself left behind in lonely uncertainty—hear-
ing 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 mo-
tives. 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.
   “Don’t let us part in anger, Henleigh,” she began, without chang-
ing her voice 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 differ-
ent: 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 deliv-
ered to her without scandal. Without scandal,” she repeated en-
treatingly.
   “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?”
   “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

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                                                           George Eliot

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.”
   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 incon-
gruous 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.”
   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.”
   Grandcourt had a baffling sense that he had to deal with some-
thing like madness; he could only govern by giving way. The ser-
vant came to say the fly was ready. When the door was shut again
Grandcourt said sullenly, “We are going to Ryelands then.”
   “They shall be delivered to her there,” said Lydia, with decision.
   “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 propi-
tiate him.
   “Forgive me; I will never vex you again,” she said, with beseech-
ing looks. Her inward voice said distinctly—“It is only I who have

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Daniel Deronda

to forgive.” Yet she was obliged to ask forgiveness.
  “You had better keep that promise. You have made me feel uncom-
monly ill with your folly,” said Grandcourt, apparently choosing this
statement as the strongest possible use of language.
  “Poor thing!” cried Lydia, with a faint smile;—was he aware of
the minor fact that he made her feel ill this morning?
  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.
  “Light a cigar,” she said, soothingly, taking the case from his breast-
pocket and opening it.
  Amidst such caressing signs of mutual fear they parted. The effect
that clung and gnawed within Grandcourt was a sense of imperfect
mastery.




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                    CHAPTER XXXI
                  “A wild dedication of yourselves
           To unpath’d waters, undreamed shores.”
                                    —SHAKESPEARE.


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 occa-
sion—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, per-
haps it might be thought that a title required something more rosy;
but the bridegroom himself not being fresh-colored—being indeed,
as the miller’s wife observed, very much of her own husband’s com-
plexion—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

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Daniel Deronda

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.”
   “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.”
   “The Lord gave it ‘em to use, I suppose,” said Mrs. Girdle. “He
never meant you to have it all your own way.”
   “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 with-
out his ordering.”
   “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!”
   “What wonderful long corners she’s got to her eyes!” said the tai-
lor. “She makes you feel comical when she looks at you.”
   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 gam-
bling-table when Deronda was looking at her, and she began to
lose. There was an 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 poi-
soning 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 effect 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 think-
ing 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—

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                                                            George Eliot

above all, that the cord which united her with this lover and which
she had heretofore 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 every-
thing 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 circumstances—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 a 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 foot-
step she was walking among illusions; and yet, too, there was an
under-consciousness of her that she was a little intoxicated.
  “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 traveling 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.
  “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 tender-
ness—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.”
  “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.”

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Daniel Deronda

  “Not gladly, mamma, no!” said Gwendolen, shaking her head,
with a bright smile. “Willingly you would bear it, but always sor-
rowfully. 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 glorious—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.”
  “My sweet child!—But I shall not be jealous if you love your hus-
band better; and he will expect to be first.”
  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.”
  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.”
  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.
  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—
  “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 hus-
band 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

356
                                                           George Eliot

drive bordered with evergreens backed by huge gray 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 back-ground, and the rising and
sinking balustrade of a terrace in front.
  Gwendolen had been at her liveliest during the journey, chatting
incessantly, ignoring any change in their mutual position since yes-
terday; 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 sus-
ceptibility to changes of light and scenery helped to make her heart
palpitate newly. Was it at the novelty simply, or the almost incred-
ible fulfilment about to be given to her girlish dreams of being “some-
body”—walking through her own furlong of corridor and under
her own ceilings of an out-of-sight loftiness, where her own painted
Spring was shedding painted flowers, and her own fore-shortened
Zephyrs were blowing their trumpets over her; while her own ser-
vants, 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 sup-
pressed 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.
  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 absorb-
ing 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-willful excitement of the day, a numbness had come over
her personality.
  But there was a brilliant light in the hall—warmth, matting, car-
pets, full-length portraits, Olympian statues, assiduous servants. Not

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Daniel Deronda

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 house-
keeper. Gwendolen felt herself being led by Grandcourt along a
subtly-scented corridor, into an ante-room where she saw an open
doorway sending out a rich glow of light and color.
   “These are our dens,” said Grandcourt. “You will like to be quiet
here till dinner. We shall dine early.”
   He pressed her hand to his lips and moved away, more in love
than he had ever expected to be.
   Gwendolen, yielded 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.”
   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.”
   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 con-
tain the diamonds which Grandcourt had spoken of as being de-
posited 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.
   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 them 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;

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                                                         George Eliot

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 beau-
  tiful 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.

  It seemed at first as if Gwendolen’s eyes were spell-bound in read-
ing 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 toward the fire, lest accusation and proof
at once should meet all eyes. It flew like a feather from her trem-
bling fingers and was caught up in a 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

                                                                359
Daniel Deronda

written words kept repeating themselves to her.
  Truly here were poisoned gems, and the poison had entered into
this poor young creature.
  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 vio-
lence. 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?
  In some form or other the furies had crossed his threshold.




360
                                                              George Eliot




                    CHAPTER XXXII
    In all ages it hath been a favorite 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 un-
  proven firmaments, and have its scale set to the grander orbits of
  what hath been and shall be.


DERONDA, on his return to town, could assure Sir Hugo of his hav-
ing 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 evi-
dently inclined to keep up friendly communications.
  “And what did you think of the future bride on a nearer survey?”
said Sir Hugo.
  “I thought better of her than I did in Leubronn. Roulette was not
a good setting for her; it brought out something of the demon. At
Dinlow she seemed much more womanly and attractive—less hard
and self-possessed. I thought her mouth and eyes had quite a differ-
ent expression.”
  “Don’t flirt with her too much, Dan,” said Sir Hugo, meaning to
be agreeably playful. “If you make Grandcourt savage when they

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Daniel Deronda

come to the Abbey at Christmas, it will interfere with my affairs.”
   “I can stay in town, sir.”
   “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.”
   “I don’t think you ever saw me flirt,” said Deronda, not amused.
   “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 you running
after them.”
   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 repurchase of Gwendolen’s
necklace to feed his taste for this kind of rallying.
   He would be on his guard in future; for example, in his behavior
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.
   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 toward 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 con-
tented 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

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                                                            George Eliot

thoughts of what has been. That is the way old people like me feel a
beautiful voice.”
  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.
  “Excuse me, Mirah, but does it seem quite right to you that the
women should sit behind rails in a gallery apart?”
  “Yes, I never thought of anything else,” said Mirah, with mild
surprise.
  “And you like better to see the men with their hats on?” said Mab,
cautiously proposing the smallest item of difference.
  “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.”
  After this, any criticism, whether of doctrine or 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.
  “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. “Per-
haps 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.”
  “Oh, oh, oh!” cried Mab. “I wish I were not such a hideous Chris-
tian. How can an ugly Christian, who is always dropping her work,
convert a beautiful Jewess, who has not a fault?”
  “It may be wicked of me,” said shrewd Kate, “but I cannot help
wishing that her mother may not be found. There might be some-
thing unpleasant.”
  “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

                                                                   363
Daniel Deronda

feelings are not worth reckoning, I suppose” (she shot a mischie-
vous glance at her own daughters), “and a dead mother is worth
more that a living one?”
   “Well, and so she may be, little mother,” said Kate; “but we would
rather hold you cheaper, and have you alive.”
   Not only the Meyricks, whose various knowledge had been ac-
quired by the irregular foraging to which clever girls have usually
been reduced, but Deronda himself, with all his masculine instruc-
tion, had been roused by this apparition of Mirah to the conscious-
ness of knowing hardly anything about modern Judaism or the in-
ner 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 en-
tirely otherwise; and Deronda, like his neighbors, had regarded Ju-
daism as a sort of eccentric fossilized 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 afterward set out with
Sir Hugo he began to look for the outsides of synagogues, and the
title of books about the Jews. This awakening 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 pre-
scription; 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 deter-
mine in him certain traits worth mentioning for those who are in-
terested in his future. True, when a young man has a fine person, no

364
                                                            George Eliot

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 exami-
nation 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 any one 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.
   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 sym-
pathy, 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 par-
tisanship, unless it were against an immediate oppression, had be-
come an insincerity for him. His plenteous, flexible sympathy had
ended by falling into one current with that reflective analysis which
tends to neutralize sympathy. Few men were able to keep them-
selves 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 conser-
vative; voracious of speculations on government and religion, yet
both 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 lov-
ing 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

                                                                   365
Daniel Deronda

world often forces upon us and makes it treason against the com-
mon weal to reject. And yet his fear of falling into an unreasoning
narrow hatred made a check for him: he apologized 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 paralyzing in him that indigna-
tion 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 ex-
cept 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 make him what he longed to be, yet was un-
able to make himself—an organic part of social life, instead of roam-
ing in it like a yearning disembodied spirit, stirred with a vague
social passion, but without fixed local habitation to render fellow-
ship real? To make a little difference for the better was what he was
not contented to live without; but how to 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 spe-
cial demands on him and had given him no fixed relationship ex-
cept 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 sen-
timent 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
way worth living. He wanted some way of keeping emotion and its
progeny of sentiments—which make the savors of life—substantial
and strong in the face of a reflectiveness that threatened to nullify

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                                                            George Eliot

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 en-
close it with iron; whatever you do keeping fast hold of your round
hole. Yet how distinguish what our will may wisely save in its com-
pleteness, from the heaping of cat-mummies and the expensive cult
of enshrined putrefactions?
   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 par-
ticular 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.
   I have said that under his calm exterior he had a fervor 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 begin-
nings of faiths and institutions, and their obscure lingering decay;
the dust and withered remnants with which they are apt to be cov-
ered, only enhancing for the awakened perception the impressive-
ness 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.
   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, neutralized 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 want-
ing, not the fine new building of the Reformed but the old Rab-
binical 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

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Daniel Deronda

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 background glooms of the shop and also shouted in
the same dialect. In fact, Deronda saw various queer-looking Israel-
ites 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 dissi-
dents 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, with-
out prejudice to his interests in the Hebrew destiny, or his wish to
find the Rabbinische Schule, which he arrived at by sunset, and en-
tered with a good congregation of men.
   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 ample white beard and felt hat fram-
ing 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 toward him and had to bow his thanks. However, the
congregation 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 pas-
sages 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 limi-
tations of our own weakness and an invocation of all Good to enter

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                                                         George Eliot

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
exaltation gathering their utmost force from the sense of commun-
ion 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 bless-
ing; but this evening, all were one for Deronda: the chant of the
Chazaris or Reader’s grand wide-ranging voice with its passage from
monotony to sudden cries, the outburst of sweet boys’ voices from
the little choir, the devotional swaying of men’s bodies backward
and forward, the very commonness of the building and shabbiness
of the scene where a national faith, which had penetrated the think-
ing 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 burden a passionate regret, which, if he
had known the liturgy for the Day of Reconciliation, he might have
clad in its authentic burden; “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.”
  But with the cessation of the devotional sounds and the move-
ment 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 neighbor
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 neighbor, who said to him in German, “Excuse
me, young gentleman—allow me—what is your parentage—your

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Daniel Deronda

mother’s family—her maiden name?”
  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.”
  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 espe-
cially to women, he did actions which others would have called
romantic; but he never took a romantic view of them, and in gen-
eral smiled at the introduction of motives on a grand scale, or of
reasons that lay very far off. This was the point of strongest differ-
ence between him and Deronda, who rarely ate at breakfast without
some silent discursive flight after grounds for filling up his day ac-
cording to the practice of his contemporaries.
  This halt at Frankfort was taken on their way home, and its im-
pressions 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 revela-
tion, and 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? He had written to Mrs. Meyrick to
announce his visit at four o’clock, and he found Mirah seated at

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                                                            George Eliot

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 good will to men,” made a con-
trast 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—
   “See how different I am from the miserable creature by the river!
all because you found me and brought me to the very best.”
   “It was my good chance to find you,” said Deronda. “Any other
man would have been glad to do what I did.”
   “That is not the right way to be 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.”
   “I agree with Mirah,” said Mrs. Meyrick. “Saint Anybody is a bad
saint to pray to.”
   “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 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.”
   “What is it you are afraid of?” said Deronda with anxiety.
   “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.
   “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?”
   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

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Daniel Deronda

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, so
that we can remember her together. 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 al-
ways tried not to do what would hurt her. Only, she might be sorry
that I was not a good Jewess.”
   “In what way are you not a good Jewess?” said Deronda.
   “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 some-
thing like that.”
   “Antigone,” said Deronda.
   “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 light-
ing 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!”
   “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.”
   “He is good; I feel sure Ezra is good,” said Mirah, eagerly. “He

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                                                          George Eliot

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 a 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.”
   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—
   “Is it not wonderful how I remember the voices better than any-
thing else? I think they must go deeper into us than other things. I
have often fancied heaven might be made of voices.”
   “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.”
   “Would it be disagreeable to you to sing now?” said Deronda,
with a more deferential gentleness than he had ever been conscious
of before.
   “Oh, I shall like it,” said Mirah. “My voice has come back a little
with rest.”
   Perhaps her ease of manner was due to something more than the
simplicity of her nature. The circumstances of her life 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.
   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 every-
thing as quietly as if she had been a child going to breakfast.
   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

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Daniel Deronda

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.
   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 cover-
ing his eyes with his hand, wanting to seclude the melody in dark-
ness; then he refrained from what might seem oddity, and was ready
to meet the look of mute appeal which she turned toward him at
the end.
   “I think I never enjoyed a song more than that,” he said, grate-
fully.
   “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.”
   “I think I know some ladies who would find you many pupils
after Christmas,” said Deronda. “You would not mind singing be-
fore any one who wished to hear you?”
   “Oh no, I want to do something to get money. I could teach read-
ing 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 dare say I should find her poor—I
mean my mother. I should want to get money for her. And I can
not always live on charity; though”—here she turned so as to take
all three of her companions in one glance—“it is the sweetest char-

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                                                              George Eliot

ity in all the world.”
   “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.”
   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.”
   “It is too childish,” said Mirah. “It is like lisping.”
   “What is the hymn?” said Deronda.
   “It is the Hebrew hymn she remembers her mother singing over
her when she lay in her cot,” said Mrs. Meyrick.
   “I should like very much to hear it,” said Deronda, “if you think
I am worthy to hear what is so sacred.”
   “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.”
   Deronda shook his head. “It will be quite good Hebrew to me.”
   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 child-
ish lisping to her audience; the voice in which she gave it forth had
gathered even a sweeter, more cooing tenderness than was heard in
her other songs.
   “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.
   “Why not?” said Deronda. “The lisped syllables are very full of
meaning.”
   “Yes, indeed,” said Mrs. Meyrick. “A mother hears something of a
lisp in her children’s talk to the very last. Their words are not just
what everybody else says, though they may be spelled 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.”

                                                                      375
Daniel Deronda

  “Is not that the way with friendship, too?” said Deronda, smiling.
“We must not let the mothers be too arrogant.”
  The little woman shook her head over her darning.
  “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.”
  “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 im-
pressed me just as much as if I had followed the words—perhaps
more.”
  “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.
  “I understand,” said Deronda. “But there is not really such a sepa-
ration—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 an-
other race—and yet”—here Deronda hesitated in his turn—“that is
perhaps not always so.”
  “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?”
  “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.
  “But you are not like that,” said Mirah, looking at him with un-
conscious fixedness.
  “No, I think not,” said Deronda; “but you know I was not brought
up as a Jew.”
  “Ah, I am always forgetting,” said Mirah, with a look of disap-

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                                                           George Eliot

pointed recollection, and slightly blushing.
  Deronda also felt rather embarrassed, and there was an awkward
pause, which he put an end to by saying playfully—
  “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 differ-
ence, just the same.”
  “To be sure. We should go on forever in zig-zags,” said Mrs.
Meyrick. “I think it is very weak-minded to make your creed up by
the rule of the contrary. Still one may honor 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 honor my parents’ memory.”
  “But I could not make myself not a Jewess,” said Mirah, insis-
tently, “even if I changed my belief.”
  “No, my dear. But if Jews and Jewesses went on changing their
religion, and making no difference between themselves and Chris-
tians, there would come a time when there would be no Jews to be
seen,” said Mrs. Meyrick, taking that consummation very cheer-
fully.
  “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.”
  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.”
  “Mirah, Mirah, my dear child, you mistake me!” said Mrs. Meyrick,

                                                                  377
Daniel Deronda

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 any-
body you feel has more right to you.”
   “I would do anything else for you. I owe you my life,” said Mirah,
not yet quite calm.
   “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.”
   “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.
   Deronda smiled at the irregular, blonde face, brought into strange
contrast by the side of Mirah’s—smiled, Mab thought, rather sar-
castically 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.”
   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—
   “I only meant that we must have courage to hear things, else there
is hardly anything we can talk about.” Mab felt herself unanswer-
able here, inclining to the opinion of Socrates: “What motive has a
man to live, if not for the pleasure of discourse?”
   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.”
   “You have written to Rome about that?” said Mrs. Meyrick, her
face lighting up. “How very good and thoughtful of you! You men-
tioned Mirah, then?”
   “Yes, I referred to her. I concluded he knew everything from you.”
   “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

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                                                          George Eliot

without saying a word. And I told the girls to leave it to me. How-
ever!—Thank you a thousand times.”
  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 fervor 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.
  “I have my hands on the reins now,” he thought, “and I will not
drop them. I shall go there as little as possible.”
  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 con-
science as remorse.
  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 lov-
ing, 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.”
  “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,

                                                                 379
Daniel Deronda

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?”
   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 suc-
ceed in his trying; on the contrary, he found himself going inwardly
through a scene where on the first discovery of Han’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 dan-
gers until they came nearer. To save an unhappy Jewess from drown-
ing herself, would not have seemed a startling variation among po-
lice 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 supposi-
tion 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 perturba-
tion.
   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 there might

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                                                          George Eliot

be an unfulfilled duty to a parent, but in both cases there was an
overpowering repugnance to the possible truth, which threw a turn-
ing weight into the scale of argument.
  “At least, I will look about,” was his final determination. “I may
find some special Jewish machinery. I will wait till after Christmas.”
  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.




                                                                 381
Daniel Deronda




                   CHAPTER XXXIII
    “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 ma-
  terial. 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.


DERONDA MEANWHILE took to a less fashionable form of exercise
than riding in Rotton 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 ob-
served 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 find-
ing 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 pro-
cessions: 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 scen-
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                                                          George Eliot

ery 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 blood-hounds; 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 fervor 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 midday falling on common-
place, 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, in-
stead of floating among cloud-pictures. To glory in a prophetic vi-
sion of knowledge covering the earth, is an easier exercise of believ-
ing imagination than to see its beginning in newspaper placards,
staring at you from the bridge beyond the corn-fields; 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.
   It lay in Deronda’s nature usually to contemn the feeble, fastidi-
ous 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
a comparison with her, and had a presentiment of the collision be-
tween her idea of the unknown mother and brother and the discov-
ered fact—a presentiment all the keener in him because of a sup-
pressed 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 expecta-
tion of a more pregnant result than a little preparation of his own

                                                                 383
Daniel Deronda

mind, perhaps for future theorizing 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.
   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 de-
sired 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 abso-
lutely 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.
   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 traveled 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 jewelry, lace and all
equivocal objects introduced as bric-à-brac. A placard in one corner
announced—Watches and Jewlery 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 encour-
agement, “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 shopkeeper’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.
   There might be a hundred Ezra Cohens lettered above shop win-

384
                                                           George Eliot

dows, 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 endeavor as he drove
homeward 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 an-
other 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?
  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—
  “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

                                                                  385
Daniel Deronda

time. And you know that would gratify me.”
   “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.”
   “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.”
   “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 dare say many better fellows than I don’t mind getting
on to a platform to praise themselves, and giving their word of honor
for a party.”
   “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, impracti-
cable 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 pro-
cession against the plague. It’s no use having an Order in Council
against popular shallowness. There is no action possible without a
little acting.”
   “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 practice 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 success for public expediency.”
   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

386
                                                            George Eliot

this unattractive thoroughfare. It might soon become an immediate
practical question with him how far he could call it a wise expedi-
ency 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 conceal-
ment 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 grat-
ing. 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 rea-
soning had decided that all likelihood was against this man’s being
Mirah’s brother.
   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 some-
thing 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 show-
ing that nonchalance about sales which seems to belong universally to
the second-hand book-business. In most other trades you find gener-
ous 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 affection-
ate 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 secondhand 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.

                                                                   387
Daniel Deronda

   But instead of the ordinary tradesman, he saw, on the dark back-
ground of books in the long narrow shop, a figure that was some-
what 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 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 pre-
cisely such a physiognomy as that might possibly have been seen in
a prophet of the Exile, or in some New Hebrew poet of the mediæval
time. It was a fine 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 imag-
ined one’s self coming upon it in some past prison of the Inquisi-
tion, which a mob had suddenly burst upon; 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 unex-
citing 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 observa-
tion before he asked his question; “What is the price of this book?”
   After taking the book and examining the fly-leaves without ris-
ing, 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 close on his
lap with his hand on 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

388
                                                            George Eliot

you know how much it is worth?”
  “Not its market-price. May I ask have you read it?”
  “No. I have read an account of it, which makes me want to buy it.”
  “You are a man of learning—you are interested in Jewish history?”
This was said in a deepened tone of eager inquiry.
  “I am certainly interested in Jewish history,” said Deronda, qui-
etly, curiosity overcoming his dislike to the sort of inspection as well
as questioning he was under.
  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—
  “You are perhaps of our race?”
  Deronda colored 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 uninter-
ested 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.”
  The effect of this change on Deronda—he afterward 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.”
  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, con-
cerning 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—com-
ing directly.”

                                                                   389
Daniel Deronda

  Deronda could not help looking toward 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-humor of the
glance remained and shone out in a motherly way at Deronda, as
she said, in a mild guttural tone—
  “How can I serve you, sir?”
  “I should like to look at the silver clasps in the window,” said
Deronda; “the larger ones, please, in the corner there.”
  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—
  “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 gentle-
man customer, sir, I daren’t do any other than call her. But I can’t let
her do herself mischief with stretching.”
  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

390
                                                         George Eliot

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.
  Deronda began to examine the clasps as if he had many points to
observe before he could come to a decision.
  “They are only three guineas, sir,” said the mother, encouragingly.
  “First-rate workmanship, sir—worth twice the money; only I get
‘em a bargain from Cologne,” said the son, parenthetically, from a
distance.
  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 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 un-
welcome 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 minia-
ture knickerbockers, looked at him with a precocious air of survey.
Perhaps it was chiefly with a diplomatic design to linger and ingra-
tiate himself that Deronda patted the boy’s head, saying—
  “What is your name, sirrah?”
  “Jacob Alexander Cohen,” said the small man, with much ease
and distinctness.
  “You are not named after your father, then?”
  “No, after my grandfather; he sells knives and razors and scis-

                                                                391
Daniel Deronda

sors—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.
   “Is not that a dangerous plaything?” said Deronda, turning to the
grandmother.
   “He’ll never hurt himself, bless you!” said she, contemplating her
grandson with placid rapture.
   “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.
   “Yes. Do you want to see it?” said Deronda, taking a small pen-
knife from his waistcoat-pocket.
   Jacob seized it immediately and retreated a little, holding the two
knives in his palms and bending over them in meditative compari-
son. By this time the other clients were gone, and the whole family
had gathered to the spot, centering their attention on the marvelous
Jacob: the father, mother, and grandmother behind the counter,
with baby held staggering thereon, and the little girl in front lean-
ing at her brother’s elbow to assist him in looking at the knives.
   “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.
   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—
   “Are these the only grandchildren you have?”
   “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—
   “And you have no daughter?”
   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

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                                                            George Eliot

gave a significant glance, set up his shoulders an instant and just put
his fingers 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.”
   “No,” said Deronda, with a preoccupied air, “I have nothing to
do with the city.”
   “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.”
   “A little,” said Deronda, taking up the clasps a moment and lay-
ing them down again. That unwelcome bit of circumstantial evi-
dence 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 un-
certainty.
   “To tell you the truth,” he went on, “my errand is not so much to
buy as to borrow. I dare say you go into rather heavy transactions
occasionally.”
   “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 honorable, 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 con-
nection with the world at large. I say it’s like the government rev-
enue—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?”
   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

                                                                   393
Daniel Deronda

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 pros-
perous, 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—
   “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.”
   “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?”
   “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 opportu-
nity of observing points in the family character, and might even be
able to put some decisive question.
   Cohen assented; but here the marvelous Jacob, whose physique
supported a precocity that would have shattered a Gentile of his
years, showed that he had been listening with much comprehen-
sion by saying, “You are coming again. Have you got any more
knives at home?”
   “I think I have one,” said Deronda, smiling down at him.
   “Has it two blades and a hook—and a white handle like that?”
said Jacob, pointing to the waistcoat-pocket.
   “I dare say it has?”
   “Do you like a cork-screw?” said Jacob, exhibiting that article in
his own knife again, and looking up with serious inquiry.
   “Yes,” said Deronda, experimentally.
   “Bring your knife, then, and we’ll shwop,” said Jacob, returning
the knife to his pocket, and stamping about with the sense that he

394
                                                           George Eliot

had concluded a good transaction.
   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 seat-
ing 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.
   “Adelaide Rebekah is her name,” said her mother, proudly. “Speak
to the gentleman, lovey.”
   “Shlav’m Shabbes fyock on,” said Adelaide Rebekah.
   “Her Sabbath frock, she means,” said the father, in explanation.
“She’ll have her Sabbath frock on this evening.”
   “And will you let me see you in it, Adelaide?” said Deronda, with
that gentle intonation which came very easily to him.
   “Say yes, lovey—yes, if you please, sir,” said her mother, enchanted
with this handsome young gentleman, who appreciated remarkable
children.
   “And will you give me a kiss this evening?” said Deronda with a
hand on each of her little brown shoulders.
   Adelaide Rebekah (her miniature crinoline and monumental fea-
tures corresponded with the combination of her names) immedi-
ately put up her lips to pay the kiss in advance; whereupon her
father rising in still more glowing satisfaction with the general meri-
toriousness of his circumstances, and with the stranger who was an
admiring witness, said cordially—
   “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 dia-
mond, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”
   Deronda thus left the most favorable impression behind him, as a
preparation for more 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 fulfillment of a painful
duty. What did this vaunting brother need? And with the most fa-

                                                                  395
Daniel Deronda

vorable 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 con-
clusion, 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.




396
                                                              George Eliot




                    CHAPTER XXXIV
           “Er ist geheissen
           Israel. Ihn hat verwandelt
           Hexenspruch in elnen Hund.

           *    *     *     *   *
           Aber jeden Freitag Abend,
           In der Dämmrungstunde, plötzlich
           Weicht der Zauber, und der Hund
           Wird aufs Neu’ ein menschlich Wesen.”
                               —HEINE: Prinzessin Sabbaz.

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 how 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 coloring. 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 roll of gray 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 super-
cilious dislike these happy-looking creatures had raised in him by day-
light. Nothing could be more cordial than the greeting he received, and
                                                                      397
Daniel Deronda

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 up on
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.
  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,—
  “Is that the sort of thing you want, Jacob?”
  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.
  “Why do you like a hook better than a cork-screw?” said Deronda.
  “‘Caush I can get hold of things with a hook. A corkscrew won’t
go into anything but corks. But it’s better for you, you can draw
corks.”
  “You agree to change, then?” said Deronda, observing that the
grandmother was listening with delight.
  “What else have you got in your pockets?” said Jacob, with delib-
erative seriousness.
  “Hush, hush, Jacob, love,” said the grandmother. And Deronda,
mindful of discipline, answered—
  “I think I must not tell you that. Our business was with the knives.”
  Jacob looked up into his face scanningly for a moment or two,
and apparently arriving at his conclusions, said gravely—
  “I’ll shwop,” handing the cork-screw knife to Deronda, who pock-
eted it with corresponding gravity.
  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

398
                                                           George Eliot

two children went up to him and clasped his knees: then he laid his
hands on each in turn and uttered his Hebrew benediction; where-
upon 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.
   “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 to fit
every sort of box. It’s bracing to the mind. Now then! let us see, let
us see.”
   “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.”
   Cohen’s glistening eyes seemed to get a little nearer together as he
met the ingenuous look of this crude young gentleman, who appar-
ently supposed that redemption was a satisfaction to pawnbrokers.
He took the ring, examined and returned it, saying with indiffer-
ence, “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 honored, and
so will mother; won’t you, mother?”
   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!”
   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 toward the open
door; and there, to his astonishment, he saw the figure of the enig-
matic 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.

                                                                  399
Daniel Deronda

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.
   Cohen now washed his hands, pronouncing Hebrew words the
while: afterward, he took off the napkin covering the dish and dis-
closed the two long flat loaves besprinkled with seed—the memo-
rial 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-colored garment, her little Jewish nose lengthened by
compression of the lip in the effort to make a suitable appearance.
Cohen then uttered another Hebrew blessing, and after that, the
male 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 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 prehistoric prac-
tice, not yet generally admitted to be superstitious.
   Mr. Cohen kept up the conversation with much liveliness, intro-
ducing 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 distin-
guished 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.

400
                                                          George Eliot

  “I dare say 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.
  “Our baby is named Eugenie Esther,” said young Mrs. Cohen,
vivaciously.
  “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.”
  “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 chuck-
led a little at his own humor.
  “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.”
  “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.”
  “What does—what makes a sharp knife, father?” said Jacob, his
cheek very much swollen with sweet-cake.
  The father winked at his guest and said, “Having your nose put
on the grindstone.”
  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 grind-
stone?”
  “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 keep-
ing 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

                                                                 401
Daniel Deronda

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.
   “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?”
   “I have studied,” was the quiet answer. “And you?—You know
German by the book you were buying.”
   “Yes, I have studied in Germany. Are you generally engaged in
bookselling?” said Deronda.
   “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 neutralized the
former disappointment. After a slight pause, he said, “Perhaps you
know Hebrew?”
   “I am sorry to say, not at all.”
   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 in breathing, which he thought must be a sign of con-
sumption.
   “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?”
   “Fifty or sixty pounds,” Deronda answered, rather too carelessly.
   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.”
   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.”

402
                                                            George Eliot

   “Good. I’ll make you out the ticket by-and-by,” said Cohen, in-
differently. 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 oth-
ers’ 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 con-
dition, imposed a certain awe on Deronda, and an embarrassment
at not meeting his expectations.
   No sooner had Mordecai finished his devotional strain, than ris-
ing, with a slight bend of his head to the stranger, he walked back
into his room, and shut the door behind him.
   “That seems to be rather a remarkable man,” said Deronda, turn-
ing to Cohen, who immediately set up his shoulders, put out his
tongue slightly, and tapped his own brow. It was clearly to be un-
derstood that Mordecai did not come up to the standard of sanity
which was set by Mr. Cohen’s view of men and things.
   “Does he belong to your family?” said Deronda.
   This idea appeared to be rather ludicrous to the ladies as well as to
Cohen, and the family interchanged looks of amusement.
   “No, no,” said Cohen. “Charity! charity! he worked for me, and
when he got weaker and weaker I took him in. He’s an incum-
brance; but he brings a blessing down, and he teaches the boy. Be-
sides, he does the repairing at the watches and jewelry.”
   Deronda hardly abstained from smiling at this mixture of kindli-
ness 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

                                                                   403
Daniel Deronda

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
endeavor 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.




404
                                                            George Eliot




                     BOOK V
                    MORDECAI
                       CHAPTER XXXV

     Were uneasiness of conscience measured by extent of crime, hu-
  man history had been different, and one should look to see the con-
  trivers of greedy wars and the mighty marauders of the money-mar-
  ket in one troop of self-lacerating penitents with the meaner robber
  and cut-purse and the murderer that doth his butchery in small
  with his own hand. No doubt wickedness hath its rewards to dis-
  tribute; but who so wins in this devil’s game must needs be baser,
  more cruel, more brutal than the order of this planet will allow for
  the multitude born of woman, the most of these carrying a form of
  conscience—a fear which is the shadow of justice, a pity which is
  the shadow of love—that hindereth from the prize of serene wicked-
  ness, itself difficult of maintenance in our composite flesh.


ON THE TWENTY-NINTH of December Deronda knew that the
Grandcourts had arrived at the Abbey, but he had had no glimpse
of them before he went to dress for dinner. There had been a splen-
did fall of snow, allowing the party of children the rare pleasures of
snow-balling and snow-building, and in the Christmas holidays the
Mallinger girls were content with no amusement unless it were joined
in and managed by “cousin,” as they had always called Deronda.
After that outdoor exertion he had been playing billiards, and thus
the hours had passed without his dwelling at all on the prospect of
meeting Gwendolen at dinner. Nevertheless that prospect was in-
teresting to him; and when, a little tired and heated with working at
amusement, he went to his room before the half-hour bell had rung,

                                                                    405
Daniel Deronda

he began to think of it with some speculation on the sort of influ-
ence her marriage with Grandcourt would have on her, and on the
probability that there would be some discernible shades of change
in her manner since he saw her at Diplow, just as there had been
since his first vision of her at Leubronn.
   “I fancy there are some natures one could see growing or degenerat-
ing every day, if one watched them,” was his thought. “I suppose
some of us go on faster than others: and I am sure she is a creature
who keeps strong traces of anything that has once impressed her. That
little affair of the necklace, and the idea that somebody thought her
gambling wrong, had evidently bitten into her. But such impressibil-
ity leads both ways: it may drive one to desperation as soon as to
anything better. And whatever fascinations Grandcourt may have for
capricious tastes—good heavens! who can believe that he would call
out the tender affections in daily companionship? One might be
tempted to horsewhip him for the sake of getting some show of pas-
sion into his face and speech. I’m afraid she married him out of ambi-
tion—to escape poverty. But why did she run out of his way at first?
The poverty came after, though. Poor thing! she may have been urged
into it. How can one feel anything else than pity for a young creature
like that—full of unused life—ignorantly rash—hanging all her blind
expectations on that remnant of a human being.”
   Doubtless the phrases which Deronda’s meditation applied to the
bridegroom were the less complimentary for the excuses and pity in
which it clad the bride. His notion of Grandcourt as a “remnant”
was founded on no particular knowledge, but simply on the im-
pression which ordinary polite intercourse had given him that
Grandcourt had worn out all his natural healthy interest in things.
   In general, one may be sure that whenever a marriage of any mark
takes place, male acquaintances are likely to pity the bride, female
acquaintances the bridegroom: each, it is thought, might have done
better; and especially where the bride is charming, young gentle-
men on the scene are apt to conclude that she can have no real
attachment to a fellow so uninteresting to themselves as her hus-
band, but has married him on other grounds. Who, under such
circumstances, pities the husband? Even his female friends are apt
to think his position retributive: he should have chosen some one

406
                                                         George Eliot

else. But perhaps Deronda may be excused that he did not prepare
any pity for Grandcourt, who had never struck acquaintances as
likely to come out of his experiences with more suffering than he
inflicted; whereas, for Gwendolen, young, headlong, eager for plea-
sure, fed with the flattery which makes a lovely girl believe in her
divine right to rule—how quickly might life turn from expectancy
to a bitter sense of the irremediable! After what he had seen of her
he must have had rather dull feelings not to have looked forward
with some interest to her entrance into the room. Still, since the
honeymoon was already three weeks in the distance, and Gwendolen
had been enthroned, not only at Ryeland’s, but at Diplow, she was
likely to have composed her countenance with suitable manifesta-
tion or concealment, not being one who would indulge the curious
by a helpless exposure of her feelings.
   A various party had been invited to meet the new couple; the old
aristocracy was represented by Lord and Lady Pentreath; the old
gentry by young Mr. and Mrs. Fitzadam of the Worcestershire branch
of the Fitzadams; politics and the public good, as specialized in the
cider interest, by Mr. Fenn, member for West Orchards, accompa-
nied by his two daughters; Lady Mallinger’s family, by her brother,
Mr. Raymond, and his wife; the useful bachelor element by Mr.
Sinker, the eminent counsel, and by Mr. Vandernoodt, whose ac-
quaintance Sir Hugo had found pleasant enough at Leubronn to be
adopted in England.
   All had assembled in the drawing-room before the new couple
appeared. Meanwhile, the time was being passed chiefly in noticing
the children—various little Raymonds, nephews and nieces of Lady
Mallinger’s with her own three girls, who were always allowed to
appear at this hour. The scene was really delightful—enlarged by
full-length portraits with deep backgrounds, inserted in the cedar
paneling—surmounted by a ceiling that glowed with the rich colors
of the coats of arms ranged between the sockets—illuminated al-
most as much by the red fire of oak-boughs as by the pale wax-
lights—stilled by the deep-piled carpet and by the high English
breeding that subdues all voices; while the mixture of ages, from the
white-haired Lord and Lady Pentreath to the four-year-old Edgar
Raymond, gave a varied charm to the living groups. Lady Mallinger,

                                                                407
Daniel Deronda

with fair matronly roundness and mildly prominent blue eyes, moved
about in her black velvet, carrying a tiny white dog on her arm as a
sort of finish to her costume; the children were scattered among the
ladies, while most of the gentlemen were standing rather aloof, con-
versing with that very moderate vivacity observable during the long
minutes before dinner. Deronda was a little out of the circle in a
dialogue fixed upon him by Mr. Vandernoodt, a man of the best
Dutch blood imported at the revolution: for the rest, one of those
commodious persons in society who are nothing particular them-
selves, but are understood to be acquainted with the best in every
department; close-clipped, pale-eyed, nonchalant, as good a foil as
could well be found to the intense coloring and vivid gravity of
Deronda.
  He was talking of the bride and bridegroom, whose appearance
was being waited for. Mr. Vandernoodt was an industrious gleaner
of personal details, and could probably tell everything about a great
philosopher or physicist except his theories or discoveries; he was
now implying that he had learned many facts about Grandcourt
since meeting him at Leubronn.
  “Men who have seen a good deal of life don’t always end by choos-
ing their wives so well. He has had rather an anecdotic history—
gone rather deep into pleasures, I fancy, lazy as he is. But, of course,
you know all about him.”
  “No, really,” said Deronda, in an indifferent tone. “I know little
more of him than that he is Sir Hugo’s nephew.”
  But now the door opened and deferred any satisfaction of Mr.
Vandernoodt’s communicativeness.
  The scene was one to set off any figure of distinction that entered
on it, and certainly when Mr. and Mrs. Grandcourt entered, no
beholder could deny that their figures had distinction. The bride-
groom had neither more nor less easy perfection of costume, nei-
ther more nor less well-cut impassibility of face, than before his
marriage. It was to be supposed of him that he would put up with
nothing less than the best in outward equipment, wife included;
and the bride was what he might have been expected to choose. “By
George, I think she’s handsomer, if anything!” said Mr. Vandernoodt.
And Deronda was of the same opinion, but he said nothing. The

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                                                            George Eliot

white silk and diamonds—it may seem strange, but she did wear
diamonds on her neck, in her ears, in her hair—might have some-
thing to do with the new imposingness of her beauty, which flashed
on him as more unquestionable if not more thoroughly satisfactory
than when he had first seen her at the gaming-table. Some faces
which are peculiar in their beauty are like original works of art: for
the first time they are almost always met with question. But in see-
ing Gwendolen at Diplow, Deronda had discerned in her more than
he had expected of that tender appealing charm which we call wom-
anly. Was there any new change since then? He distrusted his im-
pressions; but as he saw her receiving greetings with what seemed a
proud cold quietude and a superficial smile, there seemed to be at
work within her the same demonic force that had possessed her
when she took him in her resolute glance and turned away a loser
from the gaming-table. There was no time for more of a conclu-
sion—no time even for him to give his greeting before the sum-
mons to dinner.
  He sat not far from opposite to her at table, and could sometimes
hear what she said in answer to Sir Hugo, who was at his liveliest in
conversation with her; but though he looked toward her with the
intention of bowing, she gave him no opportunity of doing so for
some time. At last Sir Hugo, who might have imagined that they
had already spoken to each other, said, “Deronda, you will like to
hear what Mrs. Grandcourt tells me about your favorite Klesmer.”
  Gwendolen’s eyelids had been lowered, and Deronda, already look-
ing at her, thought he discovered a quivering reluctance as she was
obliged to raise them and return his unembarrassed bow and smile,
her own smile being one of the lip merely. It was but an instant, and
Sir Hugo continued without pause—
  “The Arrowpoints have condoned the marriage, and he is spend-
ing the Christmas with his bride at Quetcham.”
  “I suppose he will be glad of it for the sake of his wife, else I dare
say he would not have minded keeping at a distance,” said Deronda.
  “It’s a sort of troubadour story,” said Lady Pentreath, an easy, deep-
voiced old lady; “I’m glad to find a little romance left among us. I
think our young people now are getting too worldly wise.”
  “It shows the Arrowpoints’ good sense, however, to have adopted

                                                                   409
Daniel Deronda

the affair, after the fuss in the paper,” said Sir Hugo. “And disowning
your own child because of a mésalliance is something like disowning
your one eye: everybody knows it’s yours, and you have no other to
make an appearance with.”
   “As to mésalliance, there’s no blood on any side,” said Lady
Pentreath. “Old Admiral Arrowpoint was one of Nelson’s men, you
know—a doctor’s son. And we all know how the mother’s money
came.”
   “If they were any mésalliance in the case, I should say it was on
Klesmer’s side,” said Deronda.
   “Ah, you think it is a case of the immortal marrying the mortal.
What is your opinion?” said Sir Hugo, looking at Gwendolen.
   “I have no doubt that Herr Klesmer thinks himself immortal. But
I dare say his wife will burn as much incense before him as he re-
quires,” said Gwendolen. She had recovered any composure that
she might have lost.
   “Don’t you approve of a wife burning incense before her hus-
band?” said Sir Hugo, with an air of jocoseness.
   “Oh, yes,” said Gwendolen, “if it were only to make others be-
lieve in him.” She paused a moment and then said with more gay-
ety, “When Herr Klesmer admires his own genius, it will take off
some of the absurdity if his wife says Amen.”
   “Klesmer is no favorite of yours, I see,” said Sir Hugo.
   “I think very highly of him, I assure you,” said Gwendolen. “His
genius is quite above my judgment, and I know him to be exceed-
ingly generous.”
   She spoke with the sudden seriousness which is often meant to
correct an unfair or indiscreet sally, having a bitterness against Klesmer
in her secret soul which she knew herself unable to justify. Deronda
was wondering what he should have thought of her if he had never
heard of her before: probably that she put on a little hardness and
defiance by way of concealing some painful consciousness—if, in-
deed, he could imagine her manners otherwise than in the light of his
suspicion. But why did she not recognize him with more friendliness?
   Sir Hugo, by way of changing the subject, said to her, “Is not this
a beautiful room? It was part of the refectory of the Abbey. There
was a division made by those pillars and the three arches, and after-

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ward they were built up. Else it was half as large again originally.
There used to be rows of Benedictines sitting where we are sitting.
Suppose we were suddenly to see the lights burning low and the
ghosts of the old monks rising behind all our chairs!”
  “Please don’t!” said Gwendolen, with a playful shudder. “It is very
nice to come after ancestors and monks, but they should know their
places and keep underground. I should be rather frightened to go
about this house all alone. I suppose the old generations must be
angry with us because we have altered things so much.”
  “Oh, the ghosts must be of all political parties,” said Sir Hugo.
“And those fellows who wanted to change things while they lived
and couldn’t do it must be on our side. But if you would not like to
go over the house alone, you will like to go in company, I hope. You
and Grandcourt ought to see it all. And we will ask Deronda to go
found with us. He is more learned about it than I am.” The baronet
was in the most complaisant of humors.
  Gwendolen stole a glance at Deronda, who must have heard what
Sir Hugo said, for he had his face turned toward them helping him-
self to an entrée; but he looked as impassive as a picture. At the
notion of Deronda’s showing her and Grandcourt the place which
was to be theirs, and which she with painful emphasis remembered
might have been his (perhaps, if others had acted differently), cer-
tain thoughts had rushed in—thoughts repeated within her, but
now returning on an occasion embarrassingly new; and was con-
scious of something furtive and awkward in her glance which Sir
Hugo must have noticed. With her usual readiness of resource against
betrayal, she said, playfully, “You don’t know how much I am afraid
of Mr. Deronda.”
  “How’s that? Because you think him too learned?” said Sir Hugo,
whom the peculiarity of her glance had not escaped.
  “No. It is ever since I first saw him at Leubronn. Because when he
came to look on at the roulette-table, I began to lose. He cast an evil
eye on my play. He didn’t approve it. He has told me so. And now
whatever I do before him, I am afraid he will cast an evil eye upon it.”
  “Gad! I’m rather afraid of him myself when he doesn’t approve,”
said Sir Hugo, glancing at Deronda; and then turning his face to-
ward Gwendolen, he said less audibly, “I don’t think ladies gener-

                                                                   411
Daniel Deronda

ally object to have his eyes upon them.” The baronet’s small chronic
complaint of facetiousness was at this moment almost as annoying
to Gwendolen as it often was to Deronda.
   “I object to any eyes that are critical,” she said, in a cool, high
voice, with a turn of her neck. “Are there many of these old rooms
left in the Abbey?”
   “Not many. There is a fine cloistered court with a long gallery
above it. But the finest bit of all is turned into stables. It is part of
the old church. When I improved the place I made the most of
every other bit; but it was out of my reach to change the stables, so
the horses have the benefit of the fine old choir. You must go and
see it.”
   “I shall like to see the horses as well as the building,” said
Gwendolen.
   “Oh, I have no stud to speak of. Grandcourt will look with con-
tempt at my horses,” said Sir Hugo. “I’ve given up hunting, and go
on in a jog-trot way, as becomes an old gentlemen with daughters.
The fact is, I went in for doing too much at this place. We all lived
at Diplow for two years while the alterations were going on: Do you
like Diplow?”
   “Not particularly,” said Gwendolen, with indifference. One would
have thought that the young lady had all her life had more family
seats than she cared to go to.
   “Ah! it will not do after Ryelands,” said Sir Hugo, well pleased.
“Grandcourt, I know, took it for the sake of the hunting. But he
found something so much better there,” added the baronet, lower-
ing his voice, “that he might well prefer it to any other place in the
world.”
   “It has one attraction for me,” said Gwendolen, passing over this
compliment with a chill smile, “that it is within reach of Offendene.”
   “I understand that,” said Sir Hugo, and then let the subject drop.
   What amiable baronet can escape the effect of a strong desire for
a particular possession? Sir Hugo would have been glad that
Grandcourt, with or without reason, should prefer any other place
to Diplow; but inasmuch as in the pure process of wishing we can
always make the conditions of our gratification benevolent, he did
wish that Grandcourt’s convenient disgust for Diplow should not

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                                                           George Eliot

be associated with his marriage with this very charming bride.
Gwendolen was much to the baronet’s taste, but, as he observed
afterward to Lady Mallinger, he should never have taken her for a
young girl who had married beyond her expectations.
   Deronda had not heard much of this conversation, having given
his attention elsewhere, but the glimpses he had of Gwendolen’s
manner deepened the impression that it had something newly arti-
ficial.
   Later, in the drawing-room, Deronda, at somebody’s request, sat
down to the piano and sang. Afterward, Mrs. Raymond took his
place; and on rising he observed that Gwendolen had left her seat,
and had come to this end of the room, as if to listen more fully, but
was now standing with her back to every one, apparently contem-
plating a fine cowled head carved in ivory which hung over a small
table. He longed to go to her and speak. Why should he not obey
such an impulse, as he would have done toward any other lady in
the room? Yet he hesitated some moments, observing the graceful
lines of her back, but not moving.
   If you have any reason for not indulging a wish to speak to a fair
woman, it is a bad plan to look long at her back: the wish to see
what it screens becomes the stronger. There may be a very sweet
smile on the other side. Deronda ended by going to the end of the
small table, at right angles to Gwendolen’s position, but before he
could speak she had turned on him no smile, but such an appealing
look of sadness, so utterly different from the chill effort of her rec-
ognition at table, that his speech was checked. For what was an
appreciative space of time to both, though the observation of others
could not have measured it, they looked at each other—she seem-
ing to take the deep rest of confession, he with an answering depth
of sympathy that neutralized all other feelings.
   “Will you not join in the music?” he said by way of meeting the
necessity for speech.
   That her look of confession had been involuntary was shown by
that just perceptible shake and change of countenance with which
she roused herself to reply calmly, “I join in it by listening. I am
fond of music.”
   “Are you not a musician?”

                                                                  413
Daniel Deronda

   “I have given a great deal of time to music. But I have not talent
enough to make it worth while. I shall never sing again.”
   “But if you are fond of music, it will always be worth while in
private, for your own delight. I make it a virtue to be content with
my middlingness,” said Deronda, smiling; “it is always pardonable,
so that one does not ask others to take it for superiority.”
   “I cannot imitate you,” said Gwendolen, recovering her tone of
artificial vivacity. “To be middling with me is another phrase for be-
ing dull. And the worst fault I have to find with the world is, that it is
dull. Do you know, I am going to justify gambling in spite of you. It
is a refuge from dullness.”
   “I don’t admit the justification,” said Deronda. “I think what we
call the dullness of things is a disease in ourselves. Else how can any
one find an intense interest in life? And many do.”
   “Ah, I see! The fault I find in the world is my own fault,” said
Gwendolen, smiling at him. Then after a moment, looking up at
the ivory again, she said, “Do you never find fault with the world or
with others?”
   “Oh, yes. When I am in a grumbling mood.”
   “And hate people? Confess you hate them when they stand in
your way—when their gain is your loss? That is your own phrase,
you know.”
   “We are often standing in each other’s way when we can’t help it.
I think it is stupid to hate people on that ground.”
   “But if they injure you and could have helped it?” said Gwendolen
with a hard intensity unaccountable in incidental talk like this.
   Deronda wondered at her choice of subjects. A painful impres-
sion arrested his answer a moment, but at last he said, with a graver,
deeper intonation, “Why, then, after all, I prefer my place to theirs.”
   “There I believe you are right,” said Gwendolen, with a sudden
little laugh, and turned to join the group at the piano.
   Deronda looked around for Grandcourt, wondering whether he
followed his bride’s movements with any attention; but it was rather
undiscerning to him to suppose that he could find out the fact.
Grandcourt had a delusive mood of observing whatever had an in-
terest for him, which could be surpassed by no sleepy-eyed animal
on the watch for prey. At that moment he was plunged in the depth

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                                                           George Eliot

of an easy chair, being talked to by Mr. Vandernoodt, who appar-
ently thought the acquaintance of such a bridegroom worth culti-
vating; and an incautious person might have supposed it safe to
telegraph secrets in front of him, the common prejudice being that
your quick observer is one whose eyes have quick movements. Not
at all. If you want a respectable witness who will see nothing incon-
venient, choose a vivacious gentleman, very much on the alert, with
two eyes wide open, a glass in one of them, and an entire impartial-
ity as to the purpose of looking. If Grandcourt cared to keep any
one under his power he saw them out of the corners of his long
narrow eyes, and if they went behind him he had a constructive
process by which he knew what they were doing there. He knew
perfectly well where his wife was, and how she was behaving. Was
he going to be a jealous husband? Deronda imagined that to be
likely; but his imagination was as much astray about Grandcourt as
it would have been about an unexplored continent where all the
species were peculiar. He did not conceive that he himself was a
likely subject of jealousy, or that he should give any pretext for it;
but the suspicion that a wife is not happy naturally leads one to
speculate on the husband’s private deportment; and Deronda found
himself after one o’clock in the morning in the rather ludicrous
position of sitting up severely holding a Hebrew grammar in his
hands (for somehow, in deference to Mordecai, he had begun to
study Hebrew), with the consciousness that he had been in that
attitude nearly an hour, and had thought of nothing but Gwendolen
and her husband. To be an unusual young man means for the most
part to get a difficult mastery over the usual, which is often like the
sprite of ill-luck you pack up your goods to escape from, and see
grinning at you from the top of your luggage van. The peculiarities
of Deronda’s nature had been acutely touched by the brief incident
and words which made the history of his intercourse with
Gwendolen; and this evening’s slight addition had given them an
importunate recurrence. It was not vanity—it was ready sympathy
that had made him alive to a certain appealingness in her behavior
toward him; and the difficulty with which she had seemed to raise
her eyes to bow to him, in the first instance, was to be interpreted
now by that unmistakable look of involuntary confidence which

                                                                  415
Daniel Deronda

she had afterward turned on him under the consciousness of his
approach.
   “What is the use of it all?” thought Deronda, as he threw down
his grammar, and began to undress. “I can’t do anything to help
her—nobody can, if she has found out her mistake already. And it
seems to me that she has a dreary lack of the ideas that might help
her. Strange and piteous to human flesh like that might be, wrapped
round with fine raiment, her ears pierced for gems, her head held
loftily, her mouth all smiling pretence, the poor soul within her
sitting in sick distaste of all things! But what do I know of her?
There may be a demon in her to match the worst husband, for what
I can tell. She was clearly an ill-educated, worldly girl: perhaps she
is a coquette.”
   This last reflection, not much believed in, was a self-administered
dose of caution, prompted partly by Sir Hugo’s much-contemned
joking on the subject of flirtation. Deronda resolved not to volun-
teer any tete-à-tete with Gwendolen during the days of her stay at
the Abbey; and he was capable of keeping a resolve in spite of much
inclination to the contrary.
   But a man cannot resolve about a woman’s actions, least of all
about those of a woman like Gwendolen, in whose nature there was
a combination of proud reserve with rashness, of perilously poised
terror with defiance, which might alternately flatter and disappoint
control. Few words could less represent her than “coquette.” She
had native love of homage, and belief in her own power; but no
cold artifice for the sake of enslaving. And the poor thing’s belief in
her power, with her other dreams before marriage, had often to be
thrust aside now like the toys of a sick child, which it looks at with
dull eyes, and has no heart to play with, however it may try.
   The next day at lunch Sir Hugo said to her, “The thaw has gone
on like magic, and it’s so pleasant out of doors just now—shall we
go and see the stables and the other odd bits about the place?”
   “Yes, pray,” said Gwendolen. “You will like to see the stables,
Henleigh?” she added, looking at her husband.
   “Uncommonly,” said Grandcourt, with an indifference which
seemed to give irony to the word, as he returned her look. It was the
first time Deronda had seen them speak to each other since their

416
                                                          George Eliot

arrival, and he thought their exchange of looks as cold or official as
if it had been a a ceremony to keep up a charter. Still, the English
fondness for reserve will account for much negation; and
Grandcourt’s manners with an extra veil of reserve over them might
be expected to present the extreme type of the national taste.
   “Who else is inclined to make the tour of the house and pre-
mises?” said Sir Hugo. “The ladies must muffle themselves; there is
only just about time to do it well before sunset. You will go, Dan,
won’t you?”
   “Oh, yes,” said Deronda, carelessly, knowing that Sir Hugo would
think any excuse disobliging.
   “All meet in the library, then, when they are ready—say in half an
hour,” said the baronet. Gwendolen made herself ready with won-
derful quickness, and in ten minutes came down into the library in
her sables, plume, and little thick boots. As soon as she entered the
room she was aware that some one else was there: it was precisely
what she had hoped for. Deronda was standing with his back to-
ward her at the far end of the room, and was looking over a newspa-
per. How could little thick boots make any noise on an Axminster
carpet? And to cough would have seemed an intended signaling
which her pride could not condescend to; also, she felt bashful about
walking up to him and letting him know that she was there, though
it was her hunger to speak to him which had set her imagination on
constructing this chance of finding him, and had made her hurry
down, as birds hover near the water which they dare not drink.
Always uneasily dubious about his opinion of her, she felt a peculiar
anxiety to-day, lest he might think of her with contempt, as one
triumphantly conscious of being Grandcourt’s wife, the future lady
of this domain. It was her habitual effort now to magnify the satis-
factions of her pride, on which she nourished her strength; but some-
how Deronda’s being there disturbed them all. There was not the
faintest touch of coquetry in the attitude of her mind toward him:
he was unique to her among men, because he had impressed her as
being not her admirer but her superior: in some mysterious way he
was becoming a part of her conscience, as one woman whose nature
is an object of reverential belief may become a new conscience to a
man.

                                                                 417
Daniel Deronda

   And now he would not look round and find out that she was there!
The paper crackled in his hand, his head rose and sank, exploring
those stupid columns, and he was evidently stroking his beard; as if
this world were a very easy affair to her. Of course all the rest of the
company would soon be down, and the opportunity of her saying
something to efface her flippancy of the evening before, would be
quite gone. She felt sick with irritation—so fast do young creatures
like her absorb misery through invisible suckers of their own fan-
cies—and her face had gathered that peculiar expression which comes
with a mortification to which tears are forbidden.
   At last he threw down the paper and turned round.
   “Oh, you are there already,” he said, coming forward a step or
two: “I must go and put on my coat.”
   He turned aside and walked out of the room. This was behaving
quite badly. Mere politeness would have made him stay to exchange
some words before leaving her alone. It was true that Grandcourt
came in with Sir Hugo immediately after, so that the words must
have been too few to be worth anything. As it was, they saw him
walking from the library door.
   “A—you look rather ill,” said Grandcourt, going straight up to
her, standing in front of her, and looking into her eyes. “Do you feel
equal to the walk?”
   “Yes, I shall like it,” said Gwendolen, without the slightest move-
ment except this of the lips.
   “We could put off going over the house, you know, and only go
out of doors,” said Sir Hugo, kindly, while Grandcourt turned aside.
   “Oh, dear no!” said Gwendolen, speaking with determination;
“let us put off nothing. I want a long walk.”
   The rest of the walking party—two ladies and two gentlemen be-
sides Deronda—had now assembled; and Gwendolen rallying, went
with due cheerfulness by the side of Sir Hugo, paying apparently an
equal attention to the commentaries Deronda was called upon to give
on the various architectural fragments, to Sir Hugo’s reasons for not
attempting to remedy the mixture of the undisguised modern with
the antique—which in his opinion only made the place the more
truly historical. On their way to the buttery and kitchen they took
the outside of the house and paused before a beautiful pointed door-

418
                                                            George Eliot

way, which was the only old remnant in the east front.
  “Well, now, to my mind,” said Sir Hugo, “that is more interesting
standing as it is in the middle of what is frankly four centuries later,
than if the whole front had been dressed up in a pretense of the
thirteenth century. Additions ought to smack of the time when they
are made and carry the stamp of their period. I wouldn’t destroy any
old bits, but that notion of reproducing the old is a mistake, I think.
At least, if a man likes to do it he must pay for his whistle. Besides,
where are you to stop along that road—making loopholes where
you don’t want to peep, and so on? You may as well ask me to wear
out the stones with kneeling; eh, Grandcourt?”
  “A confounded nuisance,” drawled Grandcourt. “I hate fellows
wanting to howl litanies—acting the greatest bores that have ever
existed.”
  “Well, yes, that’s what their romanticism must come to,” said Sir
Hugo, in a tone of confidential assent—”that is if they carry it out
logically.”
  “I think that way of arguing against a course because it may be
ridden down to an absurdity would soon bring life to a standstill,”
said Deronda. “It is not the logic of human action, but of a roast-
ing-jack, that must go on to the last turn when it has been once
wound up. We can do nothing safely without some judgment as to
where we are to stop.”
  “I find the rule of the pocket the best guide,” said Sir Hugo, laugh-
ingly. “And as for most of your new-old building, you had need to
hire men to scratch and chip it all over artistically to give it an eld-
erly-looking surface; which at the present rate of labor would not
answer.”
  “Do you want to keep up the old fashions, then, Mr. Deronda?”
said Gwendolen, taking advantage of the freedom of grouping to
fall back a little, while Sir Hugo and Grandcourt went on.
  “Some of them. I don’t see why we should not use our choice
there as we do elsewhere—or why either age or novelty by itself is
an argument for or against. To delight in doing things because our
fathers did them is good if it shuts out nothing better; it enlarges
the range of affection—and affection is the broadest basis of good
in life.”

                                                                   419
Daniel Deronda

  “Do you think so?” said Gwendolen with a little surprise. “I should
have thought you cared most about ideas, knowledge, wisdom, and
all that.”
  “But to care about them is a sort of affection,” said Deronda, smil-
ing at her sudden naïveté. “Call it attachment; interest, willing to bear
a great deal for the sake of being with them and saving them from
injury. Of course, it makes a difference if the objects of interest are
human beings; but generally in all deep affections the objects are a
mixture—half persons and half ideas—sentiments and affections flow
in together.”
  “I wonder whether I understand that,” said Gwendolen, putting
up her chin in her old saucy manner. “I believe I am not very affec-
tionate; perhaps you mean to tell me, that is the reason why I don’t
see much good in life.”
  “No, I did not mean to tell you that; but I admit that I should
think it true if I believed what you say of yourself,” said Deronda,
gravely.
  Here Sir Hugo and Grandcourt turned round and paused.
  “I never can get Mr. Deronda to pay me a compliment,” said
Gwendolen. “I have quite a curiosity to see whether a little flattery
can be extracted from him.”
  “Ah!” said Sir Hugo, glancing at Deronda, “the fact is, it is useless
to flatter a bride. We give it up in despair. She has been so fed on
sweet speeches that every thing we say seems tasteless.”
  “Quite true,” said Gwendolen, bending her head and smiling. “Mr.
Grandcourt won me by neatly-turned compliments. If there had been
one word out of place it would have been fatal.”
  “Do you hear that?” said Sir Hugo, looking at the husband.
  “Yes,” said Grandcourt, without change of countenance. “It’s a
deucedly hard thing to keep up, though.”
  All this seemed to Sir Hugo a natural playfulness between such a
husband and wife; but Deronda wondered at the misleading alter-
nations in Gwendolen’s manner, which at one moment seemed to
excite sympathy by childlike indiscretion, at another to repel it by
proud concealment. He tried to keep out of her way by devoting
himself to Miss Juliet Fenn, a young lady whose profile had been so
unfavorably decided by circumstances over which she had no con-

420
                                                            George Eliot

trol, that Gwendolen some months ago had felt it impossible to be
jealous of her. Nevertheless, when they were seeing the kitchen—a
part of the original building in perfect preservation—the depth of
shadow in the niches of the stone-walls and groined vault, the play
of light from the huge glowing fire on polished tin, brass, and cop-
per, the fine resonance that came with every sound of voice or metal,
were all spoiled for Gwendolen, and Sir Hugo’s speech about them
was made rather importunate, because Deronda was discoursing to
the other ladies and kept at a distance from her. It did not signify
that the other gentlemen took the opportunity of being near her: of
what use in the world was their admiration while she had an uneasy
sense that there was some standard in Deronda’s mind which mea-
sured her into littleness? Mr. Vandernoodt, who had the mania of
always describing one thing while you were looking at another, was
quite intolerable with his insistence on Lord Blough’s kitchen, which
he had seen in the north.
   “Pray don’t ask us to see two kitchens at once. It makes the heat
double. I must really go out of it,” she cried at last, marching reso-
lutely into the open air, and leaving the others in the rear. Grandcourt
was already out, and as she joined him, he said—
   “I wondered how long you meant to stay in that damned place”—
one of the freedoms he had assumed as a husband being the use of
his strongest epithets. Gwendolen, turning to see the rest of the
party approach, said—
   “It was certainly rather too warm in one’s wraps.”
   They walked on the gravel across a green court, where the snow
still lay in islets on the grass, and in masses on the boughs of the
great cedar and the crenelated coping of the stone walls, and then
into a larger court, where there was another cedar, to find the beau-
tiful choir long ago turned into stables, in the first instance perhaps
after an impromptu fashion by troopers, who had a pious satisfac-
tion in insulting the priests of Baal and the images of Ashtoreth, the
queen of heaven. The exterior—its west end, save for the stable door,
walled in with brick and covered with ivy—was much defaced,
maimed of finial and gurgoyle, the friable limestone broken and
fretted, and lending its soft gray to a powdery dark lichen; the long
windows, too, were filled in with brick as far as the springing of the

                                                                   421
Daniel Deronda

arches, the broad clerestory windows with wire or ventilating blinds.
With the low wintry afternoon sun upon it, sending shadows from
the cedar boughs, and lighting up the touches of snow remaining
on every ledge, it had still a scarcely disturbed aspect of antique
solemnity, which gave the scene in the interior rather a startling
effect; though, ecclesiastical or reverential indignation apart, the eyes
could hardly help dwelling with pleasure on its piquant picturesque-
ness. Each finely-arched chapel was turned into a stall, where in the
dusty glazing of the windows there still gleamed patches of crim-
son, orange, blue, and palest violet; for the rest, the choir had been
gutted, the floor leveled, paved, and drained according to the most
approved fashion, and a line of loose boxes erected in the middle: a
soft light fell from the upper windows on sleek brown or gray flanks
and haunches; on mild equine faces looking out with active nostrils
over the varnished brown boarding; on the hay hanging from racks
where the saints once looked down from the altar-pieces, and on
the pale golden straw scattered or in heaps; on a little white-and-
liver-colored spaniel making his bed on the back of an elderly hack-
ney, and on four ancient angels, still showing signs of devotion like
mutilated martyrs—while over all, the grand pointed roof, untouched
by reforming wash, showed its lines and colors mysteriously through
veiling shadow and cobweb, and a hoof now and then striking against
the boards seemed to fill the vault with thunder, while outside there
was the answering bay of the blood-hounds.
   “Oh, this is glorious!” Gwendolen burst forth, in forgetfulness of
everything but the immediate impression: there had been a little
intoxication for her in the grand spaces of courts and building, and
the fact of her being an important person among them. “This is
glorious! Only I wish there were a horse in every one of the boxes. I
would ten times rather have these stables than those at Diplow.”
   But she had no sooner said this than some consciousness arrested
her, and involuntarily she turned her eyes toward Deronda, who oddly
enough had taken off his felt hat and stood holding it before him as if
they had entered a room or an actual church. He, like others, hap-
pened to be looking at her, and their eyes met—to her intense vexa-
tion, for it seemed to her that by looking at him she had betrayed the
reference of her thoughts, and she felt herself blushing: she exagger-

422
                                                              George Eliot

ated the impression that even Sir Hugo as well as Deronda would
have of her bad taste in referring to the possession of anything at the
Abbey: as for Deronda, she had probably made him despise her. Her
annoyance at what she imagined to be the obviousness of her confu-
sion robbed her of her usual facility in carrying it off by playful speech,
and turning up her face to look at the roof, she wheeled away in that
attitude. If any had noticed her blush as significant, they had cer-
tainly not interpreted it by the secret windings and recesses of her
feeling. A blush is no language: only a dubious flag-signal which may
mean either of two contradictories. Deronda alone had a faint guess
at some part of her feeling; but while he was observing her he was
himself under observation.
   “Do you take off your hat to horses?” said Grandcourt, with a
slight sneer.
   “Why not?” said Deronda, covering himself. He had really taken
off the hat automatically, and if he had been an ugly man might
doubtless have done so with impunity; ugliness having naturally
the air of involuntary exposure, and beauty, of display.
   Gwendolen’s confusion was soon merged in the survey of the
horses, which Grandcourt politely abstained from appraising, lan-
guidly assenting to Sir Hugo’s alternate depreciation and eulogy of
the same animal, as one that he should not have bought when he
was younger, and piqued himself on his horses, but yet one that had
better qualities than many more expensive brutes.
   “The fact is, stables dive deeper and deeper into the pocket nowa-
days, and I am very glad to have got rid of that démangeaison,” said
Sir Hugo, as they were coming out.
   “What is a man to do, though?” said Grandcourt. “He must ride.
I don’t see what else there is to do. And I don’t call it riding to sit
astride a set of brutes with every deformity under the sun.”
   This delicate diplomatic way of characterizing Sir Hugo’s stud did
not require direct notice; and the baronet, feeling that the conversa-
tion had worn rather thin, said to the party generally, “Now we are
going to see the cloister—the finest bit of all—in perfect preserva-
tion; the monks might have been walking there yesterday.”
   But Gwendolen had lingered behind to look at the kenneled blood-
hounds, perhaps because she felt a little dispirited; and Grandcourt

                                                                      423
Daniel Deronda

waited for her.
  “You had better take my arm,” he said, in his low tone of com-
mand; and she took it.
  “It’s a great bore being dragged about in this way, and no cigar,”
said Grandcourt.
  “I thought you would like it.”
  “Like it!—one eternal chatter. And encouraging those ugly girls—
inviting one to meet such monsters. How that fat Deronda can bear
looking at her—”
  “Why do you call him fat? Do you object to him so much?”
  “Object? no. What do I care about his being a fat? It’s of no conse-
quence to me. I’ll invite him to Diplow again if you like.”
  “I don’t think he would come. He is too clever and learned to care
about us,” said Gwendolen, thinking it useful for her husband to be
told (privately) that it was possible for him to be looked down upon.
  “I never saw that make much difference in a man. Either he is a
gentleman, or he is not,” said Grandcourt.
  That a new husband and wife should snatch, a moment’s tete-à-
tete was what could be understood and indulged; and the rest of the
party left them in the rear till, re-entering the garden, they all paused
in that cloistered court where, among the falling rose-petals thir-
teen years before, we saw a boy becoming acquainted with his first
sorrow. This cloister was built of a harder stone than the church,
and had been in greater safety from the wearing weather. It was a
rare example of a northern cloister with arched and pillard openings
not intended for glazing, and the delicately-wrought foliage of the
capitals seemed still to carry the very touches of the chisel.
Gwendolen had dropped her husband’s arm and joined the other
ladies, to whom Deronda was noticing the delicate sense which had
combined freedom with accuracy in the imitation of natural forms.
  “I wonder whether one oftener learns to love real objects through
their representations, or the representations through the real ob-
jects,” he said, after pointing out a lovely capital made by the curled
leaves of greens, showing their reticulated under-side with the firm
gradual swell of its central rib. “When I was a little fellow these
capitals taught me to observe and delight in the structure of leaves.”
  “I suppose you can see every line of them with your eyes shut,”

424
                                                           George Eliot

said Juliet Fenn.
  “Yes. I was always repeating them, because for a good many years
this court stood for me as my only image of a convent, and when-
ever I read of monks and monasteries, this was my scenery for them.”
  “You must love this place very much,” said Miss Fenn, innocently,
not thinking of inheritance. “So many homes are like twenty oth-
ers. But this is unique, and you seem to know every cranny of it. I
dare say you could never love another home so well.”
  “Oh, I carry it with me,” said Deronda, quietly, being used to all
possible thoughts of this kind. “To most men their early home is no
more than a memory of their early years, and I’m not sure but they
have the best of it. The image is never marred. There’s no disap-
pointment in memory, and one’s exaggerations are always on the
good side.”
  Gwendolen felt sure that he spoke in that way out of delicacy to
her and Grandcourt—because he knew they must hear him; and
that he probably thought of her as a selfish creature who only cared
about possessing things in her own person. But whatever he might
say, it must have been a secret hardship to him that any circum-
stances of his birth had shut him out from the inheritance of his
father’s position; and if he supposed that she exulted in her husband’s
taking it, what could he feel for her but scornful pity? Indeed it
seemed clear to her that he was avoiding her, and preferred talking
to others—which nevertheless was not kind in him.
  With these thoughts in her mind she was prevented by a mixture
of pride and timidity from addressing him again, and when they
were looking at the rows of quaint portraits in the gallery above the
cloisters, she kept up her air of interest and made her vivacious re-
marks without any direct appeal to Deronda. But at the end she was
very weary of her assumed spirits, and Grandcourt turned into the
billiard-room, she went to the pretty boudoir which had been as-
signed to her, and shut herself up to look melancholy at her ease.
No chemical process shows a more wonderful activity than the trans-
forming influence of the thoughts we imagine to be going on in
another. Changes in theory, religion, admirations, may begin with a
suspicion of dissent or disapproval, even when the grounds of dis-
approval are but matter of searching conjecture.

                                                                  425
Daniel Deronda

  Poor Gwendolen was conscious of an uneasy, transforming pro-
cess—all the old nature shaken to its depths, its hopes spoiled, its
pleasures perturbed, but still showing wholeness and strength in the
will to reassert itself. After every new shock of humiliation she tried
to adjust herself and seize her old supports—proud concealment,
trust in new excitements that would make life go by without much
thinking; trust in some deed of reparation to nullify her self-blame
and shield her from a vague, ever-visiting dread of some horrible
calamity; trust in the hardening effect of use and wont that would
make her indifferent to her miseries.
  Yes—miseries. This beautiful, healthy young creature, with her
two-and-twenty years and her gratified ambition, no longer felt in-
clined to kiss her fortunate image in the glass. She looked at it with
wonder that she could be so miserable. One belief which had ac-
companied her through her unmarried life as a self-cajoling super-
stition, encouraged by the subordination of every one about her—
the belief in her own power of dominating—was utterly gone. Al-
ready, in seven short weeks, which seemed half her life, her husband
had gained a mastery which she could no more resist than she could
have resisted the benumbing effect from the touch of a torpedo.
Gwendolen’s will had seemed imperious in its small girlish sway;
but it was the will of a creature with a large discourse of imaginative
fears: a shadow would have been enough to relax its hold. And she
had found a will like that of a crab or a boa-constrictor, which goes
on pinching or crushing without alarm at thunder. Not that
Grandcourt was without calculation of the intangible effects which
were the chief means of mastery; indeed, he had a surprising acute-
ness in detecting that situation of feeling in Gwendolen which made
her proud and rebellious spirit dumb and helpless before him.
  She had burned Lydia Glasher’s letter with an instantaneous ter-
ror lest other eyes should see it, and had tenaciously concealed from
Grandcourt that there was any other cause of her violent hysterics
than the excitement and fatigue of the day: she had been urged into
an implied falsehood. “Don’t ask me—it was my feeling about ev-
erything—it was the sudden change from home.” The words of
that letter kept repeating themselves, and hung on her conscious-
ness with the weight of a prophetic doom. “I am the grave in which

426
                                                          George Eliot

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.”
   The words had nestled their venomous life within her, and stirred
continually the vision of the scene at the Whispering Stones. That
scene was now like an accusing apparition: she dreaded that
Grandcourt should know of it—so far out of her sight now was that
possibility she had once satisfied herself with, of speaking to him
about Mrs. Glasher and her children, and making them rich amends.
Any endurance seemed easier than the mortal humiliation of con-
fessing that she knew all before she married him, and in marrying
him had broken her word. For the reasons by which she had justi-
fied herself when the marriage tempted her, and all her easy ar-
rangement of her future power over her husband to make him do
better than he might be inclined to do, were now as futile as the
burned-out lights which set off a child’s pageant. Her sense of being
blameworthy was exaggerated by a dread both definite and vague.
The definite dread was lest the veil of secrecy should fall between
her and Grandcourt, and give him the right to taunt her. With the
reading of that letter had begun her husband’s empire of fear.
   And her husband all the while knew it. He had not, indeed, any
distinct knowledge of her broken promise, and would not have rated
highly the effect of that breach on her conscience; but he was aware
not only of what Lush had told him about the meeting at the Whis-
pering Stones, but also of Gwendolen’s concealment as to the cause
of her sudden illness. He felt sure that Lydia had enclosed some-
thing with the diamonds, and that this something, whatever it was,
had at once created in Gwendolen a new repulsion for him and a
reason for not daring to manifest it. He did not greatly mind, or feel

                                                                 427
Daniel Deronda

as many men might have felt, that his hopes in marriage were
blighted: he had wanted to marry Gwendolen, and he was not a
man to repent. Why should a gentleman whose other relations in
life are carried on without the luxury of sympathetic feeling, be
supposed to require that kind of condiment in domestic life? What
he chiefly felt was that a change had come over the conditions of his
mastery, which, far from shaking it, might establish it the more
thoroughly. And it was established. He judged that he had not mar-
ried a simpleton unable to perceive the impossibility of escape, or to
see alternative evils: he had married a girl who had spirit and pride
enough not to make a fool of herself by forfeiting all the advantages
of a position which had attracted her; and if she wanted pregnant
hints to help her in making up her mind properly he would take
care not to withhold them.
   Gwendolen, indeed, with all that gnawing trouble in her conscious-
ness, had hardly for a moment dropped the sense that it was her part
to bear herself with dignity, and appear what is called happy. In dis-
closure of disappointment or sorrow she saw nothing but a humilia-
tion which would have been vinegar to her wounds. Whatever her
husband might have come at last to be to her, she meant to wear the
yoke so as not to be pitied. For she did think of the coming years with
presentiment: she was frightened at Grandcourt. The poor thing had
passed from her girlish sauciness of superiority over this inert speci-
men of personal distinction into an amazed perception of her former
ignorance about the possible mental attitude of a man toward the
woman he sought in marriage—of her present ignorance as to what
their life with each other might turn into. For novelty gives immea-
surableness to fear, and fills the early time of all sad changes with
phantoms of the future. Her little coquetries, voluntary or involun-
tary, had told on Grandcourt during courtship, and formed a me-
dium of communication between them, showing him in the light of
a creature such as she could understand and manage: But marriage
had nulified all such interchange, and Grandcourt had become a blank
uncertainty to her in everything but this, that he would do just what
he willed, and that she had neither devices at her command to deter-
mine his will, nor any rational means of escaping it.
   What had occurred between them and her wearing the diamonds

428
                                                          George Eliot

was typical. One evening, shortly before they came to the Abbey,
they were going to dine at Brackenshaw Castle. Gwendolen had
said to herself that she would never wear those diamonds: they had
horrible words clinging and crawling about them, as from some bad
dream, whose images lingered on the perturbed sense. She came
down dressed in her white, with only a streak of gold and a pendant
of emeralds, which Grandcourt had given her, round her neck, and
the little emerald stars in her ears.
   Grandcourt stood with his back to the fire and looked at her as
she entered.
   “Am I altogether as you like?” she said, speaking rather gaily. She
was not without enjoyment in this occasion of going to Brackenshaw
Castle with her new dignities upon her, as men whose affairs are sadly
involved will enjoy dining out among persons likely to be under a
pleasant mistake about them.
   “No,” said Grandcourt.
   Gwendolen felt suddenly uncomfortable, wondering what was to
come. She was not unprepared for some struggle about the dia-
monds; but suppose he were going to say, in low, contemptuous
tones, “You are not in any way what I like.” It was very bad for her
to be secretly hating him; but it would be much worse when he gave
the first sign of hating her.
   “Oh, mercy!” she exclaimed, the pause lasting till she could bear
it no longer. “How am I to alter myself?”
   “Put on the diamonds,” said Grandcourt, looking straight at her
with his narrow glance.
   Gwendolen paused in her turn, afraid of showing any emotion,
and feeling that nevertheless there was some change in her eyes as
they met his. But she was obliged to answer, and said as indifferently
as she could, “Oh, please not. I don’t think diamonds suit me.”
   “What you think has nothing to do with it,” said Grandcourt, his
sotto voce imperiousness seeming to have an evening quietude and
finish, like his toilet. “I wish you to wear the diamonds.”
   “Pray excuse me; I like these emeralds,” said Gwendolen, fright-
ened in spite of her preparation. That white hand of his which was
touching his whisker was capable, she fancied, of clinging round
her neck and threatening to throttle her; for her fear of him, min-

                                                                 429
Daniel Deronda

gling with the vague foreboding of some retributive calamity which
hung about her life, had reached a superstitious point.
  “Oblige me by telling me your reason for not wearing the dia-
monds when I desire it,” said Grandcourt. His eyes were still fixed
upon her, and she felt her own eyes narrowing under them as if to
shut out an entering pain.
  Of what use was the rebellion within her? She could say nothing
that would not hurt her worse than submission. Turning slowing
and covering herself again, she went to her dressing-room. As she
reached out the diamonds it occurred to her that her unwillingness
to wear them might have already raised a suspicion in Grandcourt
that she had some knowledge about them which he had not given
her. She fancied that his eyes showed a delight in torturing her.
How could she be defiant? She had nothing to say that would touch
him—nothing but what would give him a more painful grasp on
her consciousness.
  “He delights in making the dogs and horses quail: that is half his
pleasure in calling them his,” she said to herself, as she opened the
jewel-case with a shivering sensation.
  “It will come to be so with me; and I shall quail. What else is there
for me? I will not say to the world, ‘Pity me.’”
  She was about to ring for her maid when she heard the door open
behind her. It was Grandcourt who came in.
  “You want some one to fasten them,” he said, coming toward her.
  She did not answer, but simply stood still, leaving him to take out
the ornaments and fasten them as he would. Doubtless he had been
used to fasten them on some one else. With a bitter sort of sarcasm
against herself, Gwendolen thought, “What a privilege this is, to have
robbed another woman of!”
  “What makes you so cold?” said Grandcourt, when he had fas-
tened the last ear-ring. “Pray put plenty of furs on. I hate to see a
woman come into a room looking frozen. If you are to appear as a
bride at all, appear decently.”
  This martial speech was not exactly persuasive, but it touched the
quick of Gwendolen’s pride and forced her to rally. The words of
the bad dream crawled about the diamonds still, but only for her: to
others they were brilliants that suited her perfectly, and Grandcourt

430
                                                        George Eliot

inwardly observed that she answered to the rein.
   “Oh, yes, mamma, quite happy,” Gwendolen had said on her re-
turn to Diplow. “Not at all disappointed in Ryelands. It is a much
finer place than this—larger in every way. But don’t you want some
more money?”
   “Did you not know that Mr. Grandcourt left me a letter on your
wedding-day? I am to have eight hundred a year. He wishes me to
keep Offendene for the present, while you are at Diplow. But if
there were some pretty cottage near the park at Ryelands we might
live there without much expense, and I should have you most of the
year, perhaps.”
   “We must leave that to Mr. Grandcourt, mamma.”
   “Oh, certainly. It is exceedingly handsome of him to say that he
will pay the rent for Offendene till June. And we can go on very
well—without any man-servant except Crane, just for out-of-doors.
Our good Merry will stay with us and help me to manage every-
thing. It is natural that Mr. Grandcourt should wish me to live in a
good style of house in your neighborhood, and I cannot decline. So
he said nothing about it to you?”
   “No; he wished me to hear it from you, I suppose.”
   Gwendolen in fact had been very anxious to have some definite
knowledge of what would be done for her mother, but at no mo-
ment since her marriage had she been able to overcome the diffi-
culty of mentioning the subject to Grandcourt. Now, however, she
had a sense of obligation which would not let her rest without say-
ing to him, “It is very good of you to provide for mamma. You took
a great deal on yourself in marrying a girl who had nothing but
relations belonging to her.”
   Grandcourt was smoking, and only said carelessly, “Of course I
was not going to let her live like a gamekeeper’s mother.”
   “At least he is not mean about money,” thought Gwendolen, “and
mamma is the better off for my marriage.”
   She often pursued the comparison between what might have been,
if she had not married Grandcourt, and what actually was, trying to
persuade herself that life generally was barren of satisfaction, and
that if she had chosen differently she might now have been looking
back with a regret as bitter as the feeling she was trying to argue

                                                               431
Daniel Deronda

away. Her mother’s dullness, which used to irritate her, she was at
present inclined to explain as the ordinary result of woman’s experi-
ence. True, she still saw that she would “manage differently from
mamma;” but her management now only meant that she would
carry her troubles with spirit, and let none suspect them. By and by
she promised herself that she should get used to her heart-sores, and
find excitements that would carry her through life, as a hard gallop
carried her through some of the morning hours. There was gam-
bling: she had heard stories at Leubronn of fashionable women who
gambled in all sorts of ways. It seemed very flat to her at this dis-
tance, but perhaps if she began to gamble again, the passion might
awake. Then there was the pleasure of producing an effect by her
appearance in society: what did celebrated beauties do in town when
their husbands could afford display? All men were fascinated by
them: they had a perfect equipage and toilet, walked into public
places, and bowed, and made the usual answers, and walked out
again, perhaps they bought china, and practiced accomplishments.
If she could only feel a keen appetite for those pleasures—could
only believe in pleasure as she used to do! Accomplishments had
ceased to have the exciting quality of promising any pre-eminence
to her; and as for fascinated gentlemen—adorers who might hover
round her with languishment, and diversify married life with the
romantic stir of mystery, passion, and danger, which her French
reading had given her some girlish notion of—they presented them-
selves to her imagination with the fatal circumstance that, instead
of fascinating her in return, they were clad in her own weariness
and disgust. The admiring male, rashly adjusting the expression of
his features and the turn of his conversation to her supposed tastes,
had always been an absurd object to her, and at present seemed
rather detestable. Many courses are actually pursued—follies and
sins both convenient and inconvenient—without pleasure or hope
of pleasure; but to solace ourselves with imagining any course be-
forehand, there must be some foretaste of pleasure in the shape of
appetite; and Gwendolen’s appetite had sickened. Let her wander
over the possibilities of her life as she would, an uncertain shadow
dogged her. Her confidence in herself and her destiny had turned
into remorse and dread; she trusted neither herself nor her future.

432
                                                          George Eliot

   This hidden helplessness gave fresh force to the hold Deronda
had from the first taken on her mind, as one who had an unknown
standard by which he judged her. Had he some way of looking at
things which might be a new footing for her—an inward safeguard
against possible events which she dreaded as stored-up retribution?
It is one of the secrets in that change of mental poise which has been
fitly named conversion, that to many among us neither heaven nor
earth has any revelation till some personality touches theirs with a
peculiar influence, subduing them into receptiveness. It had been
Gwendolen’s habit to think of the persons around her as stale books,
too familiar to be interesting. Deronda had lit up her attention with
a sense of novelty: not by words only, but by imagined facts, his
influence had entered into the current of that self-suspicion and
self-blame which awakens a new consciousness.
   “I wish he could know everything about me without my telling
him,” was one of her thoughts, as she sat leaning over the end of a
couch, supporting her head with her hand, and looking at herself in
a mirror—not in admiration, but in a sad kind of companionship.
“I wish he knew that I am not so contemptible as he thinks me; that
I am in deep trouble, and want to be something better if I could.”
Without the aid of sacred ceremony or costume, her feelings had
turned this man, only a few years older than herself, into a priest; a
sort of trust less rare than the fidelity that guards it. Young rever-
ence for one who is also young is the most coercive of all: there is
the same level of temptation, and the higher motive is believed in as
a fuller force—not suspected to be a mere residue from weary expe-
rience.
   But the coercion is often stronger on the one who takes the rever-
ence. Those who trust us educate us. And perhaps in that ideal con-
secration of Gwendolen’s, some education was being prepared for
Deronda.




                                                                 433
Daniel Deronda




                  CHAPTER XXXVI
              “Rien ne pese tant qu’un secret
              Le porter loin est difficile aux dames:
              Et je sçais mesme sur ce fait
              Bon nombre d’hommes qui sont femmes.”
                                     —LA FONTAINE.

MEANWHILE D ERONDA had been fastened and led off by Mr.
Vandernoodt, who wished for a brisker walk, a cigar, and a little
gossip. Since we cannot tell a man his own secrets, the restraint of
being in his company often breeds a desire to pair off in conversa-
tion with some more ignorant person, and Mr. Vandernoodt pres-
ently said—
  “What a washed-out piece of cambric Grandcourt is! But if he is a
favorite of yours, I withdraw the remark.”
  “Not the least in the world,” said Deronda.
  “I thought not. One wonders how he came to have a great passion
again; and he must have had—to marry in this way. Though Lush,
his old chum, hints that he married this girl out of obstinacy. By
George! it was a very accountable obstinacy. A man might make up
his mind to marry her without the stimulus of contradiction. But
he must have made himself a pretty large drain of money, eh?”
  “I know nothing of his affairs.”
  “What! not of the other establishment he keeps up?”
  “Diplow? Of course. He took that of Sir Hugo. But merely for the
year.”
  “No, no; not Diplow: Gadsmere. Sir Hugo knows, I’ll answer for it.”
  Deronda said nothing. He really began to feel some curiosity, but
he foresaw that he should hear what Mr. Vandernoodt had to tell,
without the condescension of asking.
  “Lush would not altogether own to it, of course. He’s a confident
434
                                                             George Eliot

and go-between of Grandcourt’s. But I have it on the best authority.
The fact is, there’s another lady with four children at Gadsmere.
She has had the upper hand of him these ten years and more, and
by what I can understand has it still—left her husband for him, and
used to travel with him everywhere. Her husband’s dead now; I
found a fellow who was in the same regiment with him, and knew
this Mrs. Glasher before she took wing. A fiery dark-eyed woman—
a noted beauty at that time—he thought she was dead. They say she
has Grandcourt under her thumb still, and it’s a wonder he didn’t
marry her, for there’s a very fine boy, and I understand Grandcourt
can do absolutely as he pleases with the estates. Lush told me as
much as that.”
   “What right had he to marry this girl?” said Deronda, with dis-
gust.
   Mr. Vandernoodt, adjusting the end of his cigar, shrugged his
shoulders and put out his lips.
   “She can know nothing of it,” said Deronda, emphatically. But
that positive statement was immediately followed by an inward
query—”Could she have known anything of it?”
   “It’s rather a piquant picture,” said Mr. Vandernoodt—
”Grandcourt between two fiery women. For depend upon it this
light-haired one has plenty of devil in her. I formed that opinion of
her at Leubronn. It’s a sort of Medea and Creüsa business. Fancy
the two meeting! Grandcourt is a new kind of Jason: I wonder what
sort of a part he’ll make of it. It’s a dog’s part at best. I think I hear
Ristori now, saying, ‘Jasone! Jasone!’ These fine women generally
get hold of a stick.”
   “Grandcourt can bite, I fancy,” said Deronda. “He is no stick.”
   “No, no; I meant Jason. I can’t quite make out Grandcourt. But
he’s a keen fellow enough—uncommonly well built too. And if he
comes into all this property, the estates will bear dividing. This girl,
whose friends had come to beggary, I understand, may think herself
lucky to get him. I don’t want to be hard on a man because he gets
involved in an affair of that sort. But he might make himself more
agreeable. I was telling him a capital story last night, and he got up
and walked away in the middle. I felt inclined to kick him. Do you
suppose that is inattention or insolence, now?”

                                                                     435
Daniel Deronda

   “Oh, a mixture. He generally observes the forms: but he doesn’t
listen much,” said Deronda. Then, after a moment’s pause, he went
on, “I should think there must be some exaggeration or inaccuracy
in what you have heard about this lady at Gadsmere.”
   “Not a bit, depend upon it; it has all lain snug of late years. People
have forgotten all about it. But there the nest is, and the birds are in
it. And I know Grandcourt goes there. I have good evidence that he
goes there. However, that’s nobody’s business but his own. The af-
fair has sunk below the surface.”
   “I wonder you could have learned so much about it,” said Deronda,
rather drily.
   “Oh, there are plenty of people who knew all about it; but such
stories get packed away like old letters. They interest me. I like to
know the manners of my time—contemporary gossip, not antedi-
luvian. These Dryasdust fellows get a reputation by raking up some
small scandal about Semiramis or Nitocris, and then we have a thou-
sand and one poems written upon it by all the warblers big and
little. But I don’t care a straw about the faux pas of the mummies.
You do, though. You are one of the historical men—more inter-
ested in a lady when she’s got a rag face and skeleton toes peeping
out. Does that flatter your imagination?”
   “Well, if she had any woes in her love, one has the satisfaction of
knowing that she’s well out of them.”
   “Ah, you are thinking of the Medea, I see.”
   Deronda then chose to point to some giant oaks worth looking at
in their bareness. He also felt an interest in this piece of contempo-
rary gossip, but he was satisfied that Mr. Vandernoodt had no more
to tell about it.
   Since the early days when he tried to construct the hidden story
of his own birth, his mind had perhaps never been so active in weav-
ing probabilities about any private affair as it had now begun to be
about Gwendolen’s marriage. This unavowed relation of
Grandcourt’s—could she have gained some knowledge of it, which
caused her to shrink from the match—a shrinking finally overcome
by the urgence of poverty? He could recall almost every word she
had said to him, and in certain of these words he seemed to discern
that she was conscious of having done some wrong—inflicted some

436
                                                           George Eliot

injury. His own acute experience made him alive to the form of
injury which might affect the unavowed children and their mother.
Was Mrs. Grandcourt, under all her determined show of satisfac-
tion, gnawed by a double, a treble-headed grief—self-reproach, dis-
appointment, jealousy? He dwelt especially on all the slight signs of
self-reproach: he was inclined to judge her tenderly, to excuse, to
pity. He thought he had found a key now by which to interpret her
more clearly: what magnifying of her misery might not a young
creature get into who had wedded her fresh hopes to old secrets! He
thought he saw clearly enough now why Sir Hugo had never dropped
any hint of this affair to him; and immediately the image of this
Mrs. Glasher became painfully associated with his own hidden birth.
Gwendolen knowing of that woman and her children, marrying
Grandcourt, and showing herself contented, would have been among
the most repulsive of beings to him; but Gwendolen tasting the
bitterness of remorse for having contributed to their injury was
brought very near to his fellow-feeling. If it were so, she had got to
a common plane of understanding with him on some difficulties of
life which a woman is rarely able to judge of with any justice or
generosity; for, according to precedent, Gwendolen’s view of her
position might easily have been no other than that her husband’s
marriage with her was his entrance on the path of virtue, while Mrs.
Glasher represented his forsaken sin. And Deronda had naturally
some resentment on behalf of the Hagars and Ishmaels.
   Undeniably Deronda’s growing solicitude about Gwendolen de-
pended chiefly on her peculiar manner toward him; and I suppose
neither man nor woman would be the better for an utter insensibility
to such appeals. One sign that his interest in her had changed its
footing was that he dismissed any caution against her being a co-
quette setting snares to involve him in a vulgar flirtation, and deter-
mined that he would not again evade any opportunity of talking to
her. He had shaken off Mr. Vandernoodt, and got into a solitary cor-
ner in the twilight; but half an hour was long enough to think of
those possibilities in Gwendolen’s position and state of mind; and on
forming the determination not to avoid her, he remembered that she
was likely to be at tea with the other ladies in the drawing-room. The
conjecture was true; for Gwendolen, after resolving not to go down

                                                                  437
Daniel Deronda

again for the next four hours, began to feel, at the end of one, that in
shutting herself up she missed all chances of seeing and hearing, and
that her visit would only last two days more. She adjusted herself, put
on her little air of self-possession, and going down, made herself reso-
lutely agreeable. Only ladies were assembled, and Lady Pentreath was
amusing them with a description of a drawing-room under the Re-
gency, and the figure that was cut by ladies and gentlemen in 1819,
the year she was presented—when Deronda entered.
   “Shall I be acceptable?” he said. “Perhaps I had better go back and
look for the others. I suppose they are in the billiard-room.”
   “No, no; stay where you are,” said Lady Pentreath. “They were all
getting tired of me; let us hear what you have to say.”
   “That is rather an embarrassing appeal,” said Deronda, drawing
up a chair near Lady Mallinger’s elbow at the tea-table. “I think I
had better take the opportunity of mentioning our songstress,” he
added, looking at Lady Mallinger— “unless you have done so.”
   “Oh, the little Jewess!” said Lady Mallinger. “No, I have not men-
tioned her. It never entered my head that any one here wanted sing-
ing lessons.”
   “All ladies know some one else who wants singing lessons,” said
Deronda. “I have happened to find an exquisite singer,”—here he
turned to Lady Pentreath. “She is living with some ladies who are
friends of mine—the mother and sisters of a man who was my chum
at Cambridge. She was on the stage at Vienna; but she wants to
leave that life, and maintain herself by teaching.”
   “There are swarms of those people, aren’t there?” said the old lady.
“Are her lessons to be very cheap or very expensive? Those are the
two baits I know of.”
   “There is another bait for those who hear her,” said Deronda.
“Her singing is something quite exceptional, I think. She has had
such first-rate teaching—or rather first-rate instinct with her teach-
ing—that you might imagine her singing all came by nature.”
   “Why did she leave the stage, then?” said Lady Pentreath. “I’m
too old to believe in first-rate people giving up first-rate chances.”
   “Her voice was too weak. It is a delicious voice for a room. You
who put up with my singing of Schubert would be enchanted with
hers,” said Deronda, looking at Mrs. Raymond. “And I imagine she

438
                                                             George Eliot

would not object to sing at private parties or concerts. Her voice is
quite equal to that.”
   “I am to have her in my drawing-room when we go up to town,”
said Lady Mallinger. “You shall hear her then. I have not heard her
myself yet; but I trust Daniel’s recommendation. I mean my girls to
have lessons of her.”
   “Is it a charitable affair?” said Lady Pentreath. “I can’t bear chari-
table music.”
   Lady Mallinger, who was rather helpless in conversation, and felt
herself under an engagement not to tell anything of Mirah’s story,
had an embarrassed smile on her face, and glanced at Deronda.
   “It is a charity to those who want to have a good model of femi-
nine singing,” said Deronda. “I think everybody who has ears would
benefit by a little improvement on the ordinary style. If you heard
Miss Lapidoth”—here he looked at Gwendolen—”perhaps you
would revoke your resolution to give up singing.”
   “I should rather think my resolution would be confirmed,” said
Gwendolen. “I don’t feel able to follow your advice of enjoying my
own middlingness.”
   “For my part,” said Deronda, “people who do anything finely
always inspirit me to try. I don’t mean that they make me believe I
can do it as well. But they make the thing, whatever it may be, seem
worthy to be done. I can bear to think my own music not good for
much, but the world would be more dismal if I thought music itself
not good for much. Excellence encourages one about life generally;
it shows the spiritual wealth of the world.”
   “But then, if we can’t imitate it, it only makes our own life seem
the tamer,” said Gwendolen, in a mood to resent encouragement
founded on her own insignificance.
   “That depends on the point of view, I think,” said Deronda. “We
should have a poor life of it if we were reduced for all our pleasure to
our own performances. A little private imitation of what is good is a
sort of private devotion to it, and most of us ought to practice art
only in the light of private study—preparation to understand and
enjoy what the few can do for us. I think Miss Lapidoth is one of
the few.”
   “She must be a very happy person, don’t you think?” said

                                                                    439
Daniel Deronda

Gwendolen, with a touch of sarcasm, and a turn of her neck toward
Mrs. Raymond.
   “I don’t know,” answered the independent lady; “I must hear more
of her before I say that.”
   “It may have been a bitter disappointment to her that her voice
failed her for the stage,” said Juliet Fenn, sympathetically.
   “I suppose she’s past her best, though,” said the deep voice of
Lady Pentreath.
   “On the contrary, she has not reached it,” said Deronda. “She is
barely twenty.”
   “And very pretty,” interposed Lady Mallinger, with an amiable
wish to help Deronda. “And she has very good manners. I’m sorry
she’s a bigoted Jewess; I should not like it for anything else, but it
doesn’t matter in singing.”
   “Well, since her voice is too weak for her to scream much, I’ll tell
Lady Clementina to set her on my nine granddaughters,” said Lady
Pentreath; “and I hope she’ll convince eight of them that they have
not voice enough to sing anywhere but at church. My notion is,
that many of our girls nowadays want lessons not to sing.”
   “I have had my lessons in that,” said Gwendolen, looking at
Deronda. “You see Lady Pentreath is on my side.”
   While she was speaking, Sir Hugo entered with some of the other
gentlemen, including Grandcourt, and standing against the group
at the low tea-table said—
   “What imposition is Deronda putting on you, ladies—slipping
in among you by himself?”
   “Wanting to pass off an obscurity on us as better than any celeb-
rity,” said Lady Pentreath—”a pretty singing Jewess who is to aston-
ish these young people. You and I, who heard Catalani in her prime,
are not so easily astonished.”
   Sir Hugo listened with his good-humored smile as he took a cup
of tea from his wife, and then said, “Well, you know, a Liberal is
bound to think that there have been singers since Catalani’s time.”
   “Ah, you are younger than I am. I dare say you are one of the men
who ran after Alcharisi. But she married off and left you all in the lurch.”
   “Yes, yes; it’s rather too bad when these great singers marry them-
selves into silence before they have a crack in their voices. And the

440
                                                          George Eliot

husband is a public robber. I remember Leroux saying, ‘A man might
as well take down a fine peal of church bells and carry them off to
the steppes,” said Sir Hugo, setting down his cup and turning away,
while Deronda, who had moved from his place to make room for
others, and felt that he was not in request, sat down a little apart.
Presently he became aware that, in the general dispersion of the
group, Gwendolen had extricated herself from the attentions of Mr.
Vandernoodt and had walked to the piano, where she stood appar-
ently examining the music which lay on the desk. Will any one be
surprised at Deronda’s concluding that she wished him to join her?
Perhaps she wanted to make amends for the unpleasant tone of re-
sistance with which she had met his recommendation of Mirah, for
he had noticed that her first impulse often was to say what she after-
ward wished to retract. He went to her side and said—
   “Are you relenting about the music and looking for something to
play or sing?”
   “I am not looking for anything, but I am relenting,” said
Gwendolen, speaking in a submissive tone.
   “May I know the reason?”
   “I should like to hear Miss Lapidoth and have lessons from her,
since you admire her so much,—that is, of course, when we go to
town. I mean lessons in rejoicing at her excellence and my own
deficiency,” said Gwendolen, turning on him a sweet, open smile.
   “I shall be really glad for you to see and hear her,” said Deronda,
returning the smile in kind.
   “Is she as perfect in every thing else as in her music?”
   “I can’t vouch for that exactly. I have not seen enough of her. But
I have seen nothing in her that I could wish to be different. She has
had an unhappy life. Her troubles began in early childhood, and
she has grown up among very painful surroundings. But I think
you will say that no advantages could have given her more grace
and truer refinement.”
   “I wonder what sort of trouble hers were?”
   “I have not any very precise knowledge. But I know that she was
on the brink of drowning herself in despair.”
   “And what hindered her?” said Gwendolen, quickly, looking at
Deronda.

                                                                 441
Daniel Deronda

   “Some ray or other came—which made her feel that she ought to
live—that it was good to live,” he answered, quietly. “She is full of
piety, and seems capable of submitting to anything when it takes
the form of duty.”
   “Those people are not to be pitied,” said Gwendolen, impatiently.
“I have no sympathy with women who are always doing right. I
don’t believe in their great sufferings.” Her fingers moved quickly
among the edges of the music.
   “It is true,” said Deronda, “that the consciousness of having done
wrong is something deeper, more bitter. I suppose we faulty crea-
tures can never feel so much for the irreproachable as for those who
are bruised in the struggle with their own faults. It is a very ancient
story, that of the lost sheep—but it comes up afresh every day.”
   “That is a way of speaking—it is not acted upon, it is not real,”
said Gwendolen, bitterly. “You admire Miss Lapidoth because you
think her blameless, perfect. And you know you would despise a
woman who had done something you thought very wrong.”
   “That would depend entirely upon her own view of what she had
done,” said Deronda.
   “You would be satisfied if she were very wretched, I suppose,”
said Gwendolen, impetuously.
   “No, not satisfied—full of sorrow for her. It was not a mere way
of speaking. I did not mean to say that the finer nature is not more
adorable; I meant that those who would be comparatively uninter-
esting beforehand may become worthier of sympathy when they do
something that awakens in them a keen remorse. Lives are enlarged
in different ways. I dare say some would never get their eyes opened
if it were not for a violent shock from the consequences of their own
actions. And when they are suffering in that way one must care for
them more than, for the comfortably self-satisfied.” Deronda for-
got everything but his vision of what Gwendolen’s experience had
probably been, and urged by compassion let his eyes and voice ex-
press as much interest as they would.
   Gwendolen had slipped on to the music-stool, and looked up at
him with pain in her long eyes, like a wounded animal asking for
help.
   “Are you persuading Mrs. Grandcourt to play to us, Dan?” said

442
                                                         George Eliot

Sir Hugo, coming up and putting his hand on Deronda’s shoulder
with a gentle, admonitory pinch.
   “I cannot persuade myself,” said Gwendolen, rising.
   Others had followed Sir Hugo’s lead, and there was an end of any
liability to confidences for that day. But the next was New Year’s
Eve; and a grand dance, to which the chief tenants were invited, was
to be held in the picture-gallery above the cloister—the sort of en-
tertainment in which numbers and general movement may create
privacy. When Gwendolen was dressing, she longed, in remembrance
of Leubronn, to put on the old turquoise necklace for her sole orna-
ment; but she dared not offend her husband by appearing in that
shabby way on an occasion when he would demand her utmost
splendor. Determined to wear the memorial necklace somehow, she
wound it thrice round her wrist and made a bracelet of it—having
gone to her room to put it on just before the time of entering the
ball-room.
   It was always a beautiful scene, this dance on New Year’s Eve,
which had been kept up by the family tradition as nearly in the old
fashion as inexorable change would allow. Red carpet was laid down
for the occasion: hot-house plants and evergreens were arranged in
bowers at the extremities and in every recess of the gallery; and the
old portraits stretching back through generations, even to the pre-
portraying period, made a piquant line of spectators. Some neigh-
boring gentry, major and minor, were invited; and it was certainly
an occasion when a prospective master and mistress of Abbott’s and
King’s Topping might see their future glory in an agreeable light, as
a picturesque provincial supremacy with a rent-roll personified by
the most prosperous-looking tenants. Sir Hugo expected Grandcourt
to feel flattered by being asked to the Abbey at a time which in-
cluded this festival in honor of the family estate; but he also hoped
that his own hale appearance might impress his successor with the
probable length of time that would elapse before the succession came,
and with the wisdom of preferring a good actual sum to a minor
property that must be waited for. All present, down to the least
important farmer’s daughter, knew that they were to see “young
Grandcourt,” Sir Hugo’s nephew, the presumptive heir and future
baronet, now visiting the Abbey with his bride after an absence of

                                                                443
Daniel Deronda

many years; any coolness between uncle and nephew having, it is
understood, given way to a friendly warmth. The bride opening the
ball with Sir Hugo was necessarily the cynosure of all eyes; and less
than a year before, if some magic mirror could have shown
Gwendolen her actual position, she would have imagined herself
moving in it with a glow of triumphant pleasure, conscious that she
held in her hands a life full of favorable chances which her clever-
ness and spirit would enable her to make the best of. And now she
was wondering that she could get so little joy out of the exultation
to which she had been suddenly lifted, away from the distasteful
petty empire of her girlhood with its irksome lack of distinction and
superfluity of sisters. She would have been glad to be even unrea-
sonably elated, and to forget everything but the flattery of the mo-
ment; but she was like one courting sleep, in whom thoughts insist
like willful tormentors.
   Wondering in this way at her own dullness, and all the while long-
ing for an excitement that would deaden importunate aches, she
was passing through files of admiring beholders in the country-dance
with which it was traditional to open the ball, and was being gener-
ally regarded by her own sex as an enviable woman. It was remarked
that she carried herself with a wonderful air, considering that she
had been nobody in particular, and without a farthing to her for-
tune. If she had been a duke’s daughter, or one of the royal prin-
cesses, she could not have taken the honors of the evening more as
a matter of course. Poor Gwendolen! It would by-and-by become a
sort of skill in which she was automatically practiced to hear this
last great gambling loss with an air of perfect self-possession.
   The next couple that passed were also worth looking at. Lady
Pentreath had said, “I shall stand up for one dance, but I shall choose
my partner. Mr. Deronda, you are the youngest man, I mean to
dance with you. Nobody is old enough to make a good pair with
me. I must have a contrast.” And the contrast certainly set off the
old lady to the utmost. She was one of those women who are never
handsome till they are old, and she had had the wisdom to embrace
the beauty of age as early as possible. What might have seemed harsh-
ness in her features when she was young, had turned now into a
satisfactory strength of form and expression which defied wrinkles,

444
                                                            George Eliot

and was set off by a crown of white hair; her well-built figure was
well covered with black drapery, her ears and neck comfortably ca-
ressed with lace, showing none of those withered spaces which one
would think it a pitiable condition of poverty to expose. She glided
along gracefully enough, her dark eyes still with a mischievous smile
in them as she observed the company. Her partner’s young richness
of tint against the flattened hues and rougher forms of her aged
head had an effect something like that of a fine flower against a
lichenous branch. Perhaps the tenants hardly appreciated this pair.
Lady Pentreath was nothing more than a straight, active old lady:
Mr. Deronda was a familiar figure regarded with friendliness; but if
he had been the heir, it would have been regretted that his face was
not as unmistakably English as Sir Hugo’s.
   Grandcourt’s appearance when he came up with Lady Mallinger
was not impeached with foreignness: still the satisfaction in it was not
complete. It would have been matter of congratulation if one who
had the luck to inherit two old f