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Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Part 9 out of 16

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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 hackney, 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

"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, happened to be
looking at her, and their eyes met--to her intense vexation, for it seemed
to her that by looking at him she had betrayed the reference of her
thoughts, and she felt herself blushing: she exaggerated 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 confusion 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 certainly 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

"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, languidly 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

"The fact is, stables dive deeper and deeper into the pocket nowadays, and
I am very glad to have got rid of that _demangeaison_," 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 conversation had
worn rather thin, said to the party generally, "Now we are going to see
the cloister--the finest bit of all--in perfect preservation; 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 waited for

"You had better take my arm," he said, in his low tone of command; and she
took it.

"It's a great bore being dragged about in this way, and no cigar," said

"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

"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
consequence 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-a-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 thirteen 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 objects," 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," 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 whenever 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 others. 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 disappointment 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 circumstances 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 remarks 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 assigned to her, and shut herself up to look
melancholy at her ease. No chemical process shows a more wonderful
activity than the transforming 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
disapproval are but matter of searching conjecture.

Poor Gwendolen was conscious of an uneasy, transforming process--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

Yes--miseries. This beautiful, healthy young creature, with her two-and-
twenty years and her gratified ambition, no longer felt inclined to kiss
her fortunate image in the glass. She looked at it with wonder that she
could be so miserable. One belief which had accompanied her through her
unmarried life as a self-cajoling superstition, encouraged by the
subordination of every one about her--the belief in her own power of
dominating--was utterly gone. Already, 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 acuteness 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 terror 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 everything--it was the
sudden change from home." The words of that letter kept repeating
themselves, and hung on her consciousness with the weight of a prophetic
doom. "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."

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 confessing that she knew all before she married
him, and in marrying him had broken her word. For the reasons by which she
had justified herself when the marriage tempted her, and all her easy
arrangement 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 Whispering Stones, but also of
Gwendolen's concealment as to the cause of her sudden illness. He felt
sure that Lydia had enclosed something 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 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 married 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 consciousness, 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 disclosure of
disappointment or sorrow she saw nothing but a humiliation 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 specimen 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 immeasurableness to fear, and fills the early time of all
sad changes with phantoms of the future. Her little coquetries, voluntary
or involuntary, had told on Grandcourt during courtship, and formed a
medium 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 determine his
will, nor any rational means of escaping it.

What had occurred between them and her wearing the diamonds 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

"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

"No," said Grandcourt.

Gwendolen felt suddenly uncomfortable, wondering what was to come. She was
not unprepared for some struggle about the diamonds; 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, frightened 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, mingling 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 diamonds 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

"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 fastened 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

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 inwardly observed
that she answered to the rein.

"Oh, yes, mamma, quite happy," Gwendolen had said on her return 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 everything. 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 moment since her marriage had
she been able to overcome the difficulty of mentioning the subject to
Grandcourt. Now, however, she had a sense of obligation which would not
let her rest without saying 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 away. Her mother's dullness, which
used to irritate her, she was at present inclined to explain as the
ordinary result of woman's experience. 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 gambling: she had
heard stories at Leubronn of fashionable women who gambled in all sorts of
ways. It seemed very flat to her at this distance, 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 themselves 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 beforehand, 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.

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 reverence 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 experience.

But the coercion is often stronger on the one who takes the reverence.
Those who trust us educate us. And perhaps in that ideal consecration of
Gwendolen's, some education was being prepared for Deronda.


"Rien ne pese tant qu'un secret
Le porter loin est difficile aux dames:
Et je scais mesme sur ce fait
Bon nombre d'hommes qui sont femmes."

Meanwhile Deronda 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 conversation with some more ignorant
person, and Mr. Vandernoodt presently 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 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 disgust.

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 Creusa 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?"

"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 affair has sunk
below the surface."

"I wonder you could have learned so much about it," said Deronda, rather

"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 antediluvian. These Dryasdust
fellows get a reputation by raking up some small scandal about Semiramis
or Nitocris, and then we have a thousand 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 interested 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 contemporary 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 weaving
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 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
satisfaction, gnawed by a double, a treble-headed grief--self-reproach,
disappointment, 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

Undeniably Deronda's growing solicitude about Gwendolen depended 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 coquette setting snares to involve him in a
vulgar flirtation, and determined that he would not again evade any
opportunity of talking to her. He had shaken off Mr. Vandernoodt, and got
into a solitary corner 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 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 resolutely
agreeable. Only ladies were assembled, and Lady Pentreath was amusing them
with a description of a drawing-room under the Regency, 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 mentioned
her. It never entered my head that any one here wanted singing 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

"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 teaching--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 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 charitable

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 feminine
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

"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 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

"On the contrary, she has not reached it," said Deronda. "She is barely

"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

"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 celebrity,"
said Lady Pentreath--"a pretty singing Jewess who is to astonish 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 themselves
into silence before they have a crack in their voices. And the 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
apparently 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 resistance with which
she had met his recommendation of Mirah, for he had noticed that her first
impulse often was to say what she afterward wished to retract. He went to
her side and said--

"Are you relenting about the music and looking for something to play or

"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.

"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

"It is true," said Deronda, "that the consciousness of having done wrong
is something deeper, more bitter. I suppose we faulty creatures 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

"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 uninteresting
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 forgot everything but his vision of
what Gwendolen's experience had probably been, and urged by compassion let
his eyes and voice express 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 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 entertainment 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 ornament; 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

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 neighboring 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
included 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 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 cleverness 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 unreasonably elated, and to forget everything
but the flattery of the moment; 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 longing 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 generally 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 fortune. If she had been a duke's daughter, or
one of the royal princesses, 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 harshness in her features when she was young, had turned now into a
satisfactory strength of form and expression which defied wrinkles, 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 caressed 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 family estates had had move hair, a fresher color, and a
look of greater animation; but that fine families dwindled off into
females, and estates ran together into the single heirship of a mealy-
complexioned male, was a tendency in things which seemed to be accounted
for by a citation of other instances. It was agreed that Mr. Grandcourt
could never be taken for anything but what he was--a born gentleman; and
that, in fact, he looked like an heir. Perhaps the person least
complacently disposed toward him at that moment was Lady Mallinger, to
whom going in procession up this country-dance with Grandcourt was a
blazonment of herself as the infelicitous wife who had produced nothing
but daughters, little better than no children, poor dear things, except
for her own fondness and for Sir Hugo's wonderful goodness to them. But
such inward discomfort could not prevent the gentle lady from looking fair
and stout to admiration, or her full blue eyes from glancing mildly at her
neighbors. All the mothers and fathers held it a thousand pities that she
had not had a. fine boy, or even several--which might have been expected,
to look at her when she was first married.

The gallery included only three sides of the quadrangle, the fourth being
shut off as a lobby or corridor: one side was used for dancing, and the
opposite side for the supper-table, while the intermediate part was less
brilliantly lit, and fitted with comfortable seats. Later in the evening
Gwendolen was in one of these seats, and Grandcourt was standing near her.
They were not talking to each other: she was leaning backward in her
chair, and he against the wall; and Deronda, happening to observe this,
went up to ask her if she had resolved not to dance any more. Having
himself been doing hard duty in this way among the guests, he thought he
had earned the right to sink for a little while into the background, and
he had spoken little to Gwendolen since their conversation at the piano
the day before. Grandcourt's presence would only make it the easier to
show that pleasure in talking to her even about trivialities which would
be a sign of friendliness; and he fancied that her face looked blank. A
smile beamed over it as she saw him coming, and she raised herself from
her leaning posture. Grandcourt had been grumbling at the _ennui_ of
staying so long in this stupid dance, and proposing that they should
vanish: she had resisted on the ground of politeness--not without being a
little frightened at the probability that he was silently, angry with her.
She had her reason for staying, though she had begun to despair of the
opportunity for the sake of which she had put the old necklace on her
wrist. But now at last Deronda had come.

"Yes; I shall not dance any more. Are you not glad?" she said, with some
gayety, "you might have felt obliged humbly to offer yourself as a
partner, and I feel sure you have danced more than you like already."

"I will not deny that," said Deronda, "since you have danced as much as
you like."

"But will you take trouble for me in another way, and fetch me a glass of
that fresh water?"

It was but a few steps that Deronda had to go for the water. Gwendolen was
wrapped in the lightest, softest of white woolen burnouses, under which
her hands were hidden. While he was gone she had drawn off her glove,
which was finished with a lace ruffle, and when she put up her hand to
take the glass and lifted it to her mouth, the necklace-bracelet, which in
its triple winding adapted itself clumsily to her wrist, was necessarily
conspicuous. Grandcourt saw it, and saw that it was attracting Deronda's

"What is that hideous thing you have got on your wrist?" said the husband.

"That?" said Gwendolen, composedly, pointing to the turquoises, while she
still held the glass; "it is an old necklace I like to wear. I lost it
once, and someone found it for me."

With that she gave the glass again to Deronda, who immediately carried it
away, and on returning said, in order to banish any consciousness about
the necklace--

"It is worth while for you to go and look out at one of the windows on
that side. You can see the finest possible moonlight on the stone pillars
and carving, and shadows waving across it in the wind."

"I should like to see it. Will you go?" said Gwendolen, looking up at her

He cast his eyes down at her, and saying, "No, Deronda will take you,"
slowly moved from his leaning attitude, and walked away.

Gwendolen's face for a moment showed a fleeting vexation: she resented
this show of indifference toward her. Deronda felt annoyed, chiefly for
her sake; and with a quick sense, that it would relieve her most to behave
as if nothing peculiar had occurred, he said, "Will you take my arm and
go, while only servants are there?" He thought that he understood well her
action in drawing his attention to the necklace: she wished him to infer
that she had submitted her mind to rebuke--her speech and manner had from
the first fluctuated toward that submission--and that she felt no
lingering resentment. Her evident confidence in his interpretation of her
appealed to him as a peculiar claim.

When they were walking together, Gwendolen felt as it the annoyance which
had just happened had removed another film of reserve from between them,
and she had more right than before to be as open as she wished. She did
not speak, being filled with the sense of silent confidence, until they
were in front of the window looking out on the moonlit court. A sort of
bower had been made round the window, turning it into a recess. Quitting
his arm, she folded her hands in her burnous, and pressed her brow against
the glass. He moved slightly away, and held the lapels of his coat with
his thumbs under the collar as his manner was: he had a wonderful power of
standing perfectly still, and in that position reminded one sometimes of
Dante's _spiriti magni con occhi tardi e gravi_. (Doubtless some of these
danced in their youth, doubted of their own vocation, and found their own
times too modern.) He abstained from remarking on the scene before them,
fearing that any indifferent words might jar on her: already the calm
light and shadow, the ancient steadfast forms, and aloofness enough from
those inward troubles which he felt sure were agitating her. And he judged
aright: she would have been impatient of polite conversation. The
incidents of the last minute or two had receded behind former thoughts
which she had imagined herself uttering to Deronda, which now urged
themselves to her lips. In a subdued voice, she said--

"Suppose I had gambled again, and lost the necklace again, what should you
have thought of me?"

"Worse than I do now."

"Then you are mistaken about me. You wanted me not to do that--not to make
my gain out of another's loss in that way--and I have done a great deal

"I can't imagine temptations," said Deronda. "Perhaps I am able to
understand what you mean. At least I understand self-reproach." In spite
of preparation he was almost alarmed at Gwendolen's precipitancy of
confidence toward him, in contrast with her habitual resolute concealment.

"What should you do if you were like me--feeling that you were wrong and
miserable, and dreading everything to come?" It seemed that she was
hurrying to make the utmost use of this opportunity to speak as she would.

"That is not to be amended by doing one thing only--but many," said
Deronda, decisively.

"What?" said Gwendolen, hastily, moving her brow from the glass and
looking at him.

He looked full at her in return, with what she thought was severity. He
felt that it was not a moment in which he must let himself be tender, and
flinch from implying a hard opinion.

"I mean there are many thoughts and habits that may help us to bear
inevitable sorrow. Multitudes have to bear it."

She turned her brow to the window again, and said impatiently, "You must
tell me then what to think and what to do; else why did you not let me go
on doing as I liked and not minding? If I had gone on gambling I might
have won again, and I might have got not to care for anything else. You
would not let me do that. Why shouldn't I do as I like, and not mind?
Other people do." Poor Gwendolen's speech expressed nothing very clearly
except her irritation.

"I don't believe you would ever get not to mind," said Deronda, with deep-
toned decision. "If it were true that baseness and cruelty made an escape
from pain, what difference would that make to people who can't be quite
base or cruel? Idiots escape some pain; but you can't be an idiot. Some
may do wrong to another without remorse; but suppose one does feel
remorse? I believe you could never lead an injurious life--all reckless
lives are injurious, pestilential--without feeling remorse." Deronda's
unconscious fervor had gathered as he went on: he was uttering thoughts
which he had used for himself in moments of painful meditation.

"Then tell me what better I can do," said Gwendolen, insistently.

"Many things. Look on other lives besides your own. See what their
troubles are, and how they are borne. Try to care about something in this
vast world besides the gratification of small selfish desires. Try to care
for what is best in thought and action--something that is good apart from
the accidents of your own lot."

For an instant or two Gwendolen was mute. Then, again moving her brow from
the glass, she said--

"You mean that I am selfish and ignorant."

He met her fixed look in silence before he answered firmly--"You will not
go on being selfish and ignorant!"

She did not turn away her glance or let her eyelids fall, but a change
came over her face--that subtle change in nerve and muscle which will
sometimes give a childlike expression even to the elderly: it is the
subsidence of self-assertion.

"Shall I lead you back?" said Deronda, gently, turning and offering her
his arm again. She took it silently, and in that way they came in sight of
Grandcourt, who was walking slowly near their former place. Gwendolen went
up to him and said, "I am ready to go now. Mr. Deronda will excuse us to
Lady Mallinger."

"Certainly," said Deronda. "Lord and Lady Pentreath disappeared some time

Grandcourt gave his arm in silent compliance, nodding over his shoulder to
Deronda, and Gwendolen too only half turned to bow and say, "Thanks." The
husband and wife left the gallery and paced the corridors in silence. When
the door had closed on them in the boudoir, Grandcourt threw himself into
a chair and said, with undertoned peremptoriness, "Sit down." She, already
in the expectation of something unpleasant, had thrown off her burnous
with nervous unconsciousness, and immediately obeyed. Turning his eyes
toward her, he began--

"Oblige me in future by not showing whims like a mad woman in a play."

"What do you mean?" said Gwendolen.

"I suppose there is some understanding between you and Deronda about that
thing you have on your wrist. If you have anything to say to him, say it.
But don't carry on a telegraphing which other people are supposed not to
see. It's damnably vulgar."

"You can know all about the necklace," said Gwendolen, her angry pride
resisting the nightmare of fear.

"I don't want to know. Keep to yourself whatever you like." Grandcourt
paused between each sentence, and in each his speech seemed to become more
preternaturally distinct in its inward tones. "What I care to know I shall
know without your telling me. Only you will please to behave as becomes my
wife. And not make a spectacle of yourself."

"Do you object to my talking to Mr. Deronda?"

"I don't care two straws about Deronda, or any other conceited hanger-on.
You may talk to him as much as you like. He is not going to take my place.
You are my wife. And you will either fill your place properly--to the
world and to me--or you will go to the devil."

"I never intended anything but to fill my place properly," said Gwendolen,
with bitterest mortification in her soul.

"You put that thing on your wrist, and hid it from me till you wanted him
to see it. Only fools go into that deaf and dumb talk, and think they're
secret. You will understand that you are not to compromise yourself.
Behave with dignity. That's all I have to say."

With that last word Grandcourt rose, turned his back to the fire and
looked down on her. She was mute. There was no reproach that she dared to
fling back at him in return for these insulting admonitions, and the very
reason she felt them to be insulting was that their purport went with the
most absolute dictate of her pride. What she would least like to incur was
the making a fool of herself and being compromised. It was futile and
irrelevant to try and explain that Deronda too had only been a monitor--
the strongest of all monitors. Grandcourt was contemptuous, not jealous;
contemptuously certain of all the subjection he cared for. Why could she
not rebel and defy him? She longed to do it. But she might as well have
tried to defy the texture of her nerves and the palpitation of her heart.
Her husband had a ghostly army at his back, that could close round her
wherever she might turn. She sat in her splendid attire, like a white
image of helplessness, and he seemed to gratify himself with looking at
her. She could not even make a passionate exclamation, or throw up her
arms, as she would have done in her maiden days. The sense of his scorn
kept her still.

"Shall I ring?" he said, after what seemed to her a long while. She moved
her head in assent, and after ringing he went to his dressing-room.

Certain words were gnawing within her. "The wrong you have done me will be
your own curse." As he closed the door, the bitter tears rose, and the
gnawing words provoked an answer: "Why did you put your fangs into me and
not into him?" It was uttered in a whisper, as the tears came up silently.
But she immediately pressed her handkerchief against her eyes, and checked
her tendency to sob.

The next day, recovered from the shuddering fit of this evening scene, she
determined to use the charter which Grandcourt had scornfully given her,
and to talk as much as she liked with Deronda; but no opportunities
occurred, and any little devices she could imagine for creating them were
rejected by her pride, which was now doubly active. Not toward Deronda
himself--she was singularly free from alarm lest he should think her
openness wanting in dignity: it was part of his power over her that she
believed him free from all misunderstanding as to the way in which she
appealed to him; or rather, that he should misunderstand her had never
entered into her mind. But the last morning came, and still she had never
been able to take up the dropped thread of their talk, and she was without
devices. She and Grandcourt were to leave at three o'clock. It was too
irritating that after a walk in the grounds had been planned in Deronda's
hearing, he did not present himself to join in it. Grandcourt was gone
with Sir Hugo to King's Topping, to see the old manor-house; others of the
gentlemen were shooting; she was condemned to go and see the decoy and the
waterfowl, and everything else that she least wanted to see, with the
ladies, with old Lord Pentreath and his anecdotes, with Mr. Vandernoodt
and his admiring manners. The irritation became too strong for her;
without premeditation, she took advantage of the winding road to linger a
little out of sight, and then set off back to the house, almost running
when she was safe from observation. She entered by a side door, and the
library was on her left hand; Deronda, she knew, was often there; why
might she not turn in there as well as into any other room in the house?
She had been taken there expressly to see the illuminated family tree, and
other remarkable things--what more natural than that she should like to
look in again? The thing most to be feared was that the room would be
empty of Deronda, for the door was ajar. She pushed it gently, and looked
round it. He was there, writing busily at a distant table, with his back
toward the door (in fact, Sir Hugo had asked him to answer some
constituents' letters which had become pressing). An enormous log fire,
with the scent of Russia from the books, made the great room as warmly
odorous as a private chapel in which the censors have been swinging. It
seemed too daring to go in--too rude to speak and interrupt him; yet she
went in on the noiseless carpet, and stood still for two or three minutes,
till Deronda, having finished a letter, pushed it aside for signature, and
threw himself back to consider whether there were anything else for him to
do, or whether he could walk out for the chance of meeting the party which
included Gwendolen, when he heard her voice saying, "Mr. Deronda."

It was certainly startling. He rose hastily, turned round, and pushed away
his chair with a strong expression of surprise.

"Am I wrong to come in?" said Gwendolen.

"I thought you were far on your walk," said Deronda.

"I turned back," said Gwendolen.

"Do you intend to go out again? I could join you now, if you would allow

"No; I want to say something, and I can't stay long," said Gwendolen,
speaking quickly in a subdued tone, while she walked forward and rested
her arms and muff on the back of the chair he had pushed away from him. "I
want to tell you that it is really so--I can't help feeling remorse for
having injured others. That was what I meant when I said that I had done
worse than gamble again and pawn the necklace again--something more
injurious, as you called it. And I can't alter it. I am punished, but I
can't alter it. You said I could do many things. Tell me again. What
should you do--what should you feel if you were in my place?"

The hurried directness with which she spoke--the absence of all her little
airs, as if she were only concerned to use the time in getting an answer
that would guide her, made her appeal unspeakably touching.

Deronda said,--"I should feel something of what you feel--deep sorrow."

"But what would you try to do?" said Gwendolen, with urgent quickness.

"Order my life so as to make any possible amends, and keep away from doing
any sort of injury again," said Deronda, catching her sense that the time
for speech was brief.

"But I can't--I can't; I must go on," said Gwendolen, in a passionate loud
whisper. "I have thrust out others--I have made my gain out of their loss
--tried to make it--tried. And I must go on. I can't alter it."

It was impossible to answer this instantaneously. Her words had confirmed
his conjecture, and the situation of all concerned rose in swift images
before him. His feeling for those who had been thrust out sanctioned her
remorse; he could not try to nullify it, yet his heart was full of pity
for her. But as soon as he could he answered--taking up her last words--

"That is the bitterest of all--to wear the yoke of our own wrong-doing.
But if you submitted to that as men submit to maiming or life-long
incurable disease?--and made the unalterable wrong a reason for more
effort toward a good, that may do something to counterbalance the evil?
One who has committed irremediable errors may be scourged by that
consciousness into a higher course than is common. There are many
examples. Feeling what it is to have spoiled one life may well make us
long to save other lives from being spoiled."

"But you have not wronged any one, or spoiled their lives," said
Gwendolen, hastily. "It is only others who have wronged _you_."

Deronda colored slightly, but said immediately--"I suppose our keen
feeling for ourselves might end in giving us a keen feeling for others,
if, when we are suffering acutely, we were to consider that others go
through the same sharp experience. That is a sort of remorse before
commission. Can't you understand that?"

"I think I do--now," said Gwendolen. "But you were right--I _am_ selfish.
I have never thought much of any one's feelings, except my mother's. I
have not been fond of people. But what can I do?" she went on, more
quickly. "I must get up in the morning and do what every one else does. It
is all like a dance set beforehand. I seem to see all that can be--and I
am tired and sick of it. And the world is all confusion to me"--she made a
gesture of disgust. "You say I am ignorant. But what is the good of trying
to know more, unless life were worth more?"

"This good," said Deronda promptly, with a touch of indignant severity,
which he was inclined to encourage as his own safeguard; "life _would_ be
worth more to you: some real knowledge would give you an interest in the
world beyond the small drama of personal desires. It is the curse of your
life--forgive me--of so many lives, that all passion is spent in that
narrow round, for want of ideas and sympathies to make a larger home for
it. Is there any single occupation of mind that you care about with
passionate delight or even independent interest?"

Deronda paused, but Gwendolen, looking startled and thrilled as by an
electric shock, said nothing, and he went on more insistently--

"I take what you said of music for a small example--it answers for all
larger things--you will not cultivate it for the sake of a private joy in
it. What sort of earth or heaven would hold any spiritual wealth in it for
souls pauperized by inaction? If one firmament has no stimulus for our
attention and awe, I don't see how four would have it. We should stamp
every possible world with the flatness of our own inanity--which is
necessarily impious, without faith or fellowship. The refuge you are
needing from personal trouble is the higher, the religious life, which
holds an enthusiasm for something more than our own appetites and
vanities. The few may find themselves in it simply by an elevation of
feeling; but for us who have to struggle for our wisdom, the higher life
must be a region in which the affections are clad with knowledge."

The half-indignant remonstrance that vibrated in Deronda's voice came, as
often happens, from the habit of inward argument with himself rather than
from severity toward Gwendolen: but it had a more beneficial effect on her
than any soothings. Nothing is feebler than the indolent rebellion of
complaint; and to be roused into self-judgment is comparative activity.
For the moment she felt like a shaken child--shaken out of its wailing
into awe, and she said humbly--

"I will try. I will think."

They both stood silent for a minute, as if some third presence had
arrested them,--for Deronda, too, was under that sense of pressure which
is apt to come when our own winged words seem to be hovering around us,
--till Gwendolen began again--

"You said affection was the best thing, and I have hardly any--none about
me. If I could, I would have mamma; but that is impossible. Things have
changed to me so--in such a short time. What I used not to like I long for
now. I think I am almost getting fond of the old things now they are
gone." Her lip trembled.

"Take the present suffering as a painful letting in of light," said
Deronda, more gently. "You are conscious of more beyond the round of your
own inclinations--you know more of the way in which your life presses on
others, and their life on yours. I don't think you could have escaped the
painful process in some form or other."

"But it is a very cruel form," said Gwendolen, beating her foot on the
ground with returning agitation. "I am frightened at everything. I am
frightened at myself. When my blood is fired I can do daring things--take
any leap; but that makes me frightened at myself." She was looking at
nothing outside her; but her eyes were directed toward the window, away
from Deronda, who, with quick comprehension said--

"Turn your fear into a safeguard. Keep your dread fixed on the idea of
increasing that remorse which is so bitter to you. Fixed meditation may do
a great deal toward defining our longing or dread. We are not always in a
state of strong emotion, and when we are calm we can use our memories and
gradually change the bias of our fear, as we do our tastes. Take your fear
as a safeguard. It is like quickness of hearing. It may make consequences
passionately present to you. Try to take hold of your sensibility, and use
it as if it were a faculty, like vision." Deronda uttered each sentence
more urgently; he felt as if he were seizing a faint chance of rescuing
her from some indefinite danger.

"Yes, I know; I understand what you mean," said Gwendolen in her loud
whisper, not turning her eyes, but lifting up her small gloved hand and
waving it in deprecation of the notion that it was easy to obey that
advice. "But if feelings rose--there are some feelings--hatred and anger--
how can I be good when they keep rising? And if there came a moment when I
felt stifled and could bear it no longer----" She broke off, and with
agitated lips looked at Deronda, but the expression on his face pierced
her with an entirely new feeling. He was under the baffling difficulty of
discerning, that what he had been urging on her was thrown into the pallid
distance of mere thought before the outburst of her habitual emotion. It
was as if he saw her drowning while his limbs were bound. The pained
compassion which was spread over his features as he watched her, affected
her with a compunction unlike any she had felt before, and in a changed
and imploring tone she said--

"I am grieving you. I am ungrateful. You _can_ help me. I will think of
everything. I will try. Tell me--it will not be a pain to you that I have
dared to speak of my trouble to you? You began it, you know, when you
rebuked me." There was a melancholy smile on her lips as she said that,
but she added more entreatingly, "It will not be a pain to you?"

"Not if it does anything to save you from an evil to come," said Deronda,
with strong emphasis; "otherwise, it will be a lasting pain."

"No--no--it shall not be. It may be--it shall be better with me because I
have known you." She turned immediately, and quitted the room.

When she was on the first landing of the staircase, Sir Hugo passed across
the hall on his way to the library, and saw her. Grandcourt was not with

Deronda, when the baronet entered, was standing in his ordinary attitude,
grasping his coat-collar, with his back to the table, and with that
indefinable expression by which we judge that a man is still in the shadow
of a scene which he has just gone through. He moved, however, and began to
arrange the letters.

"Has Mrs. Grandcourt been in here?" said Sir Hugo.

"Yes, she has."

"Where are the others?"

"I believe she left them somewhere in the grounds."

After a moment's silence, in which Sir Hugo looked at a letter without
reading it, he said "I hope you are not playing with fire, Dan--you
understand me?"

"I believe I do, sir," said Deronda, after a slight hesitation, which had
some repressed anger in it. "But there is nothing answering to your
metaphor--no fire, and therefore no chance of scorching."

Sir Hugo looked searchingly at him, and then said, "So much the better.
For, between ourselves, I fancy there may be some hidden gunpowder in that


_Aspern._ Pardon, my lord--I speak for Sigismund.
_Fronsberg._ For him? Oh, ay--for him I always hold
A pardon safe in bank, sure he will draw
Sooner or later on me. What his need?
Mad project broken? fine mechanic wings
That would not fly? durance, assault on watch,
Bill for Epernay, not a crust to eat?
_Aspern._ Oh, none of these, my lord; he has escaped
From Circe's herd, and seeks to win the love
Of your fair ward Cecilia: but would win
First your consent. You frown.
_Fronsberg._ Distinguish words.
I said I held a pardon, not consent.

In spite of Deronda's reasons for wishing to be in town again--reasons in
which his anxiety for Mirah was blent with curiosity to know more of the
enigmatic Mordecai--he did not manage to go up before Sir Hugo, who
preceded his family that he might be ready for the opening of Parliament
on the sixth of February. Deronda took up his quarters in Park Lane, aware
that his chambers were sufficiently tenanted by Hans Meyrick. This was
what he expected; but he found other things not altogether according to
his expectations.

Most of us remember Retzsch's drawing of destiny in the shape of
Mephistopheles playing at chess with man for his soul, a game in which we
may imagine the clever adversary making a feint of unintended moves so as
to set the beguiled mortal on carrying his defensive pieces away from the
true point of attack. The fiend makes preparation his favorite object of
mockery, that he may fatally persuade us against our taking out
waterproofs when he is well aware the sky is going to clear, foreseeing
that the imbecile will turn this delusion into a prejudice against
waterproofs instead of giving a closer study to the weather-signs. It is a
peculiar test of a man's metal when, after he has painfully adjusted
himself to what seems a wise provision, he finds all his mental precaution
a little beside the mark, and his excellent intentions no better than
miscalculated dovetails, accurately cut from a wrong starting-point. His
magnanimity has got itself ready to meet misbehavior, and finds quite a
different call upon it. Something of this kind happened to Deronda.

His first impression was one of pure pleasure and amusement at finding his
sitting-room transformed into an _atelier_ strewed with miscellaneous
drawings and with the contents of two chests from Rome, the lower half of
the windows darkened with baize, and the blonde Hans in his weird youth as
the presiding genius of the littered place--his hair longer than of old,
his face more whimsically creased, and his high voice as usual getting
higher under the excitement of rapid talk. The friendship of the two had
been kept up warmly since the memorable Cambridge time, not only by
correspondence but by little episodes of companionship abroad and in
England, and the original relation of confidence on one side and
indulgence on the other had been developed in practice, as is wont to be
the case where such spiritual borrowing and lending has been well begun.

"I knew you would like to see my casts and antiquities," said Hans, after
the first hearty greetings and inquiries, "so I didn't scruple to unlade
my chests here. But I've found two rooms at Chelsea not many hundred yards
from my mother and sisters, and I shall soon be ready to hang out there--
when they've scraped the walls and put in some new lights. That's all I'm
waiting for. But you see I don't wait to begin work: you can't conceive
what a great fellow I'm going to be. The seed of immortality has sprouted
within me."

"Only a fungoid growth, I dare say--a growing disease in the lungs," said
Deronda, accustomed to treat Hans in brotherly fashion. He was walking
toward some drawings propped on the ledge of his bookcases; five rapidly-
sketched heads--different aspects of the same face. He stood at a
convenient distance from them, without making any remark. Hans, too, was
silent for a minute, took up his palette and began touching the picture on
his easel.

"What do you think of them?" he said at last.

"The full face looks too massive; otherwise the likenesses are good," said
Deronda, more coldly than was usual with him.

"No, it is not too massive," said Hans, decisively. "I have noted that.
There is always a little surprise when one passes from the profile to the
full face. But I shall enlarge her scale for Berenice. I am making a
Berenice series--look at the sketches along there--and now I think of it,
you are just the model I want for the Agrippa." Hans, still with pencil
and palette in hand, had moved to Deronda's side while he said this, but
he added hastily, as if conscious of a mistake, "No, no, I forgot; you
don't like sitting for your portrait, confound you! However, I've picked
up a capital Titus. There are to be five in the series. The first is
Berenice clasping the knees of Gessius Florus and beseeching him to spare
her people; I've got that on the easel. Then, this, where she is standing
on the Xystus with Agrippa, entreating the people not to injure themselves
by resistance."

"Agrippa's legs will never do," said Deronda.

"The legs are good realistically," said Hans, his face creasing drolly;
"public men are often shaky about the legs--' Their legs, the emblem of
their various thought,' as somebody says in the 'Rehearsal.'"

"But these are as impossible as the legs of Raphael's Alcibiades," said

"Then they are good ideally," said Hans. "Agrippa's legs were possibly
bad; I idealize that and make them impossibly bad. Art, my Eugenius, must
intensify. But never mind the legs now: the third sketch in the series is
Berenice exulting in the prospects of being Empress of Rome, when the news
has come that Vespasian is declared Emperor and her lover Titus his

"You must put a scroll in her mouth, else people will not understand that.
You can't tell that in a picture."

"It will make them feel their ignorance then--an excellent asthetic
effect. The fourth is, Titus sending Berenice away from Rome after she has
shared his palace for ten years--both reluctant, both sad--_invitus
invitam_, as Suetonius hath it. I've found a model for the Roman brute."

"Shall you make Berenice look fifty? She must have been that."

"No, no; a few mature touches to show the lapse of time. Dark-eyed beauty
wears well, hers particularly. But now, here is the fifth: Berenice seated
lonely on the ruins of Jerusalem. That is pure imagination. That is what
ought to have been--perhaps was. Now, see how I tell a pathetic negative.
Nobody knows what became of her--that is finely indicated by the series
coming to a close. There is no sixth picture." Here Hans pretended to
speak with a gasping sense of sublimity, and drew back his head with a
frown, as if looking for a like impression on Deronda. "I break off in the
Homeric style. The story is chipped off, so to speak, and passes with a
ragged edge into nothing--_le neant_; can anything be more sublime,
especially in French? The vulgar would desire to see her corpse and
burial--perhaps her will read and her linen distributed. But now come and
look at this on the easel. I have made some way there."

"That beseeching attitude is really good," said Deronda, after a moment's
contemplation. "You have been very industrious in the Christmas holidays;
for I suppose you have taken up the subject since you came to London."
Neither of them had yet mentioned Mirah.

"No," said Hans, putting touches to his picture, "I made up my mind to the
subject before. I take that lucky chance for an augury that I am going to
burst on the world as a great painter. I saw a splendid woman in the
Trastevere--the grandest women there are half Jewesses--and she set me
hunting for a fine situation of a Jewess at Rome. Like other men of vast
learning, I ended by taking what lay on the surface. I'll show you a
sketch of the Trasteverina's head when I can lay my hands on it."

"I should think she would be a more suitable model for Berenice," said
Deronda, not knowing exactly how to express his discontent.

"Not a bit of it. The model ought to be the most beautiful Jewess in the
world, and I have found her."

"Have you made yourself sure that she would like to figure in that
character? I should think no woman would be more abhorrent to her. Does
she quite know what you are doing?"

"Certainly. I got her to throw herself precisely into this attitude.
Little mother sat for Gessius Florus, and Mirah clasped her knees." Here
Hans went a little way off and looked at the effect of his touches.

"I dare say she knows nothing about Berenice's history," said Deronda,
feeling more indignation than he would have been able to justify.

"Oh, yes, she does--ladies' edition. Berenice was a fervid patriot, but
was beguiled by love and ambition into attaching herself to the arch-enemy
of her people. Whence the Nemesis. Mirah takes it as a tragic parable, and
cries to think what the penitent Berenice suffered as she wandered back to
Jerusalem and sat desolate amidst desolation. That was her own phrase. I
couldn't find it in my heart to tell her I invented that part of the

"Show me your Trasteverina," said Deronda, chiefly in order to hinder
himself from saying something else.

"Shall you mind turning over that folio?" said Hans. "My studies of heads
are all there. But they are in confusion. You will perhaps find her next
to a crop-eared undergraduate."

After Deronda had been turning over the drawings a minute or two, he

"These seem to be all Cambridge heads and bits of country. Perhaps I had
better begin at the other end."

"No; you'll find her about the middle. I emptied one folio into another."

"Is this one of your undergraduates?" said Deronda, holding up a drawing.
"It's an unusually agreeable face."

"That! Oh, that's a man named Gascoigne--Rex Gascoigne. An uncommonly good
fellow; his upper lip, too, is good. I coached him before he got his
scholarship. He ought to have taken honors last Easter. But he was ill,
and has had to stay up another year. I must look him up. I want to know
how he's going on."

"Here she is, I suppose," said Deronda, holding up a sketch of the

"Ah," said Hans, looking at it rather contemptuously, "too coarse. I was
unregenerate then."

Deronda was silent while he closed the folio, leaving the Trasteverina
outside. Then clasping his coat-collar, and turning toward Hans, he said,
"I dare say my scruples are excessive, Meyrick, but I must ask you to
oblige me by giving up this notion."

Hans threw himself into a tragic attitude, and screamed, "What! my series
--my immortal Berenice series? Think of what you are saying, man--
destroying, as Milton says, not a life but an immortality. Wait before
you, answer, that I may deposit the implements of my art and be ready to
uproot my hair."

Here Hans laid down his pencil and palette, threw himself backward into a
great chair, and hanging limply over the side, shook his long hair over
his face, lifted his hooked fingers on each side his head, and looked up
with comic terror at Deronda, who was obliged to smile, as he said--

"Paint as many Berenices as you like, but I wish you could feel with me--
perhaps you will, on reflection--that you should choose another model."

"Why?" said Hans, standing up, and looking serious again.

"Because she may get into such a position that her face is likely to be
recognized. Mrs. Meyrick and I are anxious for her that she should be
known as an admirable singer. It is right, and she wishes it, that she
should make herself independent. And she has excellent chances. One good
introduction is secured already, and I am going to speak to Klesmer. Her
face may come to be very well known, and--well, it is useless to attempt
to explain, unless you feel as I do. I believe that if Mirah saw the
circumstances clearly, she would strongly object to being exhibited in
this way--to allowing herself to be used as a model for a heroine of this

As Hans stood with his thumbs in the belt of his blouse, listening to this
speech, his face showed a growing surprise melting into amusement, that at
last would have its way in an explosive laugh: but seeing that Deronda
looked gravely offended, he checked himself to say, "Excuse my laughing,
Deronda. You never gave me an advantage over you before. If it had been
about anything but my own pictures, I should have swallowed every word
because you said it. And so you actually believe that I should get my five
pictures hung on the line in a conspicuous position, and carefully studied
by the public? Zounds, man! cider-cup and conceit never gave me half such
a beautiful dream. My pictures are likely to remain as private as the
utmost hypersensitiveness could desire."

Hans turned to paint again as a way of filling up awkward pauses. Deronda
stood perfectly still, recognizing his mistake as to publicity, but also
conscious that his repugnance was not much diminished. He was the reverse
of satisfied either with himself or with Hans; but the power of being
quiet carries a man well through moments of embarrassment. Hans had a
reverence for his friend which made him feel a sort of shyness at
Deronda's being in the wrong; but it were not in his nature to give up
anything readily, though it were only a whim--or rather, especially if it
were a whim, and he presently went on, painting the while--

"But even supposing I had a public rushing after my pictures as if they
were a railway series including nurses, babies and bonnet-boxes, I can't
see any justice in your objection. Every painter worth remembering has
painted the face he admired most, as often as he could. It is a part of
his soul that goes out into his pictures. He diffuses its influence in
that way. He puts what he hates into a caricature. He puts what he adores
into some sacred, heroic form. If a man could paint the woman he loves a
thousand times as the Stella Marts to put courage into the sailors on
board a thousand ships, so much the more honor to her. Isn't that better
than painting a piece of staring immodesty and calling it by a worshipful

"Every objection can be answered if you take broad ground enough, Hans: no
special question of conduct can be properly settled in that way," said
Deronda, with a touch of peremptoriness. "I might admit all your
generalities, and yet be right in saying you ought not to publish Mirah's
face as a model for Berenice. But I give up the question of publicity. I
was unreasonable there." Deronda hesitated a moment. "Still, even as a
private affair, there might be good reasons for your not indulging
yourself too much in painting her from the point of view you mention. You
must feel that her situation at present is a very delicate one; and until
she is in more independence, she should be kept as carefully as a bit of
Venetian glass, for fear of shaking her out of the safe place she is
lodged in. Are you quite sure of your own discretion? Excuse me, Hans. My
having found her binds me to watch over her. Do you understand me?"

"Perfectly," said Hans, turning his face into a good-humored smile. "You
have the very justifiable opinion of me that I am likely to shatter all
the glass in my way, and break my own skull into the bargain. Quite fair.
Since I got into the scrape of being born, everything I have liked best
has been a scrape either for myself or somebody else. Everything I have
taken to heartily has somehow turned into a scrape. My painting is the
last scrape; and I shall be all my life getting out of it. You think now I
shall get into a scrape at home. No; I am regenerate. You think I must be
over head and ears in love with Mirah. Quite right; so I am. But you think
I shall scream and plunge and spoil everything. There you are mistaken--
excusably, but transcendently mistaken. I have undergone baptism by
immersion. Awe takes care of me. Ask the little mother."

"You don't reckon a hopeless love among your scrapes, then," said Deronda,
whose voice seemed to get deeper as Hans's went higher.

"I don't mean to call mine hopeless," said Hans, with provoking coolness,
laying down his tools, thrusting his thumbs into his belt, and moving away
a little, as if to contemplate his picture more deliberately.

"My dear fellow, you are only preparing misery for yourself," said
Deronda, decisively. "She would not marry a Christian, even if she loved
him. Have you heard her--of course you have--heard her speak of her people
and her religion?"

"That can't last," said Hans. "She will see no Jew who is tolerable. Every
male of that race is insupportable,--'insupportably advancing'--his nose."

"She may rejoin her family. That is what she longs for. Her mother and
brother are probably strict Jews."

"I'll turn proselyte, if she wishes it," said Hans, with a shrug and a

"Don't talk nonsense, Hans. I thought you professed a serious love for
her," said Deronda, getting heated.

"So I do. You think it desperate, but I don't."

"I know nothing; I can't tell what has happened. We must be prepared for
surprises. But I can hardly imagine a greater surprise to me than that
there should have seemed to be anything in Mirah's sentiments for you to
found a romantic hope on." Deronda felt that he was too contemptuous.

"I don't found my romantic hopes on a woman's sentiments," said Hans,
perversely inclined to be the merrier when he was addressed with gravity.
"I go to science and philosophy for my romance. Nature designed Mirah to
fall in love with me. The amalgamation of races demands it--the mitigation
of human ugliness demands it--the affinity of contrasts assures it. I am
the utmost contrast to Mirah--a bleached Christian, who can't sing two
notes in tune. Who has a chance against me?"

"I see now; it was all _persiflage_. You don't mean a word you say,
Meyrick," said Deronda, laying his hand on Meyrick's shoulder, and
speaking in a tone of cordial relief. "I was a wiseacre to answer you

"Upon my honor I do mean it, though," said Hans, facing round and laying
his left hand on Deronda's shoulder, so that their eyes fronted each other
closely. "I am at the confessional. I meant to tell you as soon as you
came. My mother says you are Mirah's guardian, and she thinks herself
responsible to you for every breath that falls on Mirah in her house.
Well, I love her--I worship her--I won't despair--I mean to deserve her."

"My dear fellow, you can't do it," said Deronda, quickly.

"I should have said, I mean to try."

"You can't keep your resolve, Hans. You used to resolve what you would do
for your mother and sisters."

"You have a right to reproach me, old fellow," said Hans, gently.

"Perhaps I am ungenerous," said Deronda, not apologetically, however. "Yet
it can't be ungenerous to warn you that you are indulging mad, Quixotic

"Who will be hurt but myself, then?" said Hans, putting out his lip. "I am
not going to say anything to her unless I felt sure of the answer. I dare
not ask the oracles: I prefer a cheerful caliginosity, as Sir Thomas
Browne might say. I would rather run my chance there and lose, than be
sure of winning anywhere else. And I don't mean to swallow the poison of
despair, though you are disposed to thrust it on me. I am giving up wine,
so let me get a little drunk on hope and vanity."

"With all my heart, if it will do you any good," said Deronda, loosing
Hans's shoulder, with a little push. He made his tone kindly, but his
words were from the lip only. As to his real feeling he was silenced.

He was conscious of that peculiar irritation which will sometimes befall
the man whom others are inclined to trust as a mentor--the irritation of
perceiving that he is supposed to be entirely off the same plane of desire
and temptation as those who confess to him. Our guides, we pretend, must
be sinless: as if those were not often the best teachers who only
yesterday got corrected for their mistakes. Throughout their friendship
Deronda had been used to Hans's egotism, but he had never before felt
intolerant of it: when Hans, habitually pouring out his own feelings and
affairs, had never cared for any detail in return, and, if he chanced to
know any, and soon forgotten it. Deronda had been inwardly as well as
outwardly indulgent--nay, satisfied. But now he had noted with some
indignation, all the stronger because it must not be betrayed, Hans's
evident assumption that for any danger of rivalry or jealousy in relation
to Mirah, Deronda was not as much out of the question as the angel
Gabriel. It is one thing to be resolute in placing one's self out of the
question, and another to endure that others should perform that exclusion
for us. He had expected that Hans would give him trouble: what he had not
expected was that the trouble would have a strong element of personal
feeling. And he was rather ashamed that Hans's hopes caused him uneasiness
in spite of his well-warranted conviction that they would never be
fulfilled. They had raised an image of Mirah changing; and however he
might protest that the change would not happen, the protest kept up the
unpleasant image. Altogether poor Hans seemed to be entering into
Deronda's experience in a disproportionate manner--going beyond his part
of rescued prodigal, and rousing a feeling quite distinct from
compassionate affection.

When Deronda went to Chelsea he was not made as comfortable as he ought to
have been by Mrs. Meyrick's evident release from anxiety about the beloved
but incalculable son. Mirah seemed livelier than before, and for the first
time he' saw her laugh. It was when they were talking of Hans, he being
naturally the mother's first topic. Mirah wished to know if Deronda had
seen Mr. Hans going through a sort of character piece without changing his

"He passes from one figure to another as if he were a bit of flame where
you fancied the figures without seeing them," said Mirah, full of her
subject; "he is so wonderfully quick. I used never to like comic things on
the stage--they were dwelt on too long; but all in one minute Mr. Hans
makes himself a blind bard, and then Rienzi addressing the Romans, and
then an opera-dancer, and then a desponding young gentleman--I am sorry
for them all, and yet I laugh, all in one"--here Mirah gave a little laugh
that might have entered into a song.

"We hardly thought that Mirah could laugh till Hans came," said Mrs.
Meyrick, seeing that Deronda, like herself, was observing the pretty

"Hans seems in great force just now," said Deronda in a tone of
congratulation. "I don't wonder at his enlivening you."

"He's been just perfect ever since he came back," said Mrs. Meyrick,
keeping to herself the next clause--"if it will but last."

"It is a great happiness," said Mirah, "to see the son and brother come
into this dear home. And I hear them all talk about what they did together
when they were little. That seems like heaven, and to have a mother and
brother who talk in that way. I have never had it."

"Nor I," said Deronda, involuntarily.

"No?" said Mirah, regretfully. "I wish you had. I wish you had had every
good." The last words were uttered with a serious ardor as if they had
been part of a litany, while her eyes were fixed on Deronda, who with his
elbow on the back of his chair was contemplating her by the new light of
the impression she had made on Hans, and the possibility of her being
attracted by that extraordinary contrast. It was no more than what had
happened on each former visit of his, that Mirah appeared to enjoy
speaking of what she felt very much as a little girl fresh from school
pours forth spontaneously all the long-repressed chat for which she has
found willing ears. For the first time in her life Mirah was among those
whom she entirely trusted, and her original visionary impression that
Deronda was a divinely-sent messenger hung about his image still, stirring
always anew the disposition to reliance and openness. It was in this way
she took what might have been the injurious flattery of admiring attention
into which her helpless dependence had been suddenly transformed. Every
one around her watched for her looks and words, and the effect on her was
simply that of having passed from a trifling imprisonment into an
exhilarating air which made speech and action a delight. To her mind it
was all a gift from others' goodness. But that word of Deronda's implying
that there had been some lack in his life which might be compared with
anything she had known in hers, was an entirely new inlet of thought about
him. After her first expression of sorrowful surprise she went on--

"But Mr. Hans said yesterday that you thought so much of others you hardly
wanted anything for yourself. He told us a wonderful story of Buddha
giving himself to the famished tigress to save her and her little ones
from starving. And he said you were like Buddha. That is what we all
imagine of you."

"Pray don't imagine that," said Deronda, who had lately been finding such
suppositions rather exasperating. Even if it were true that I thought so
much of others, it would not follow that I had no wants for myself. When
Buddha let the tigress eat him he might have been very hungry himself."

"Perhaps if he was starved he would not mind so much about being eaten,"
said Mab, shyly.

"Please don't think that, Mab; it takes away the beauty of the action,"
said Mirah.

"But if it were true, Mirah?" said the rational Amy, having a half-holiday
from her teaching; "you always take what is beautiful as if it were true."

"So it is," said Mirah, gently. "If people have thought what is the most
beautiful and the best thing, it must be true. It is always there."

"Now, Mirah, what do you mean?" said Amy.

"I understand her," said Deronda, coming to the rescue.

"It is a truth in thought though it may never have been carried out in
action. It lives as an idea. Is that it?" He turned to Mirah, who was
listening with a blind look in her lovely eyes.

"It must be that, because you understand me, but I cannot quite explain,"
said Mirah, rather abstractedly--still searching for some expression.

"But _was_ it beautiful for Buddha to let the tiger eat him?" said Amy,
changing her ground. "It would be a bad pattern."

"The world would get full of fat tigers," said Mab.

Deronda laughed, but defended the myth. "It is like a passionate word," he
said; "the exaggeration is a flash of fervor. It is an extreme image of
what is happening every day-the transmutation of self."

"I think I can say what I mean, now," said Mirah, who had not heard the
intermediate talk. "When the best thing comes into our thoughts, it is
like what my mother has been to me. She has been just as really with me as
all the other people about me--often more really with me."

Deronda, inwardly wincing under this illustration, which brought other
possible realities about that mother vividly before him, presently turned
the conversation by saying, "But we must not get too far away from
practical matters. I came, for one thing, to tell of an interview I had
yesterday, which I hope Mirah will find to have been useful to her. It was
with Klesmer, the great pianist."

"Ah?" said Mrs. Meyrick, with satisfaction. "You think he will help her?"

"I hope so. He is very much occupied, but has promised to fix a time for
receiving and hearing Miss Lapidoth. as we must learn to call her"--here
Deronda smiled at Mirah--"If she consents to go to him."

"I shall be very grateful," said Mirah. "He wants to hear me sing, before
he can judge whether I ought to be helped."

Deronda was struck with her plain sense about these matters of practical

"It will not be at all trying to you, I hope, if Mrs. Meyrick will kindly
go with you to Klesmer's house."

"Oh, no, not at all trying. I have been doing that all my life--I mean,
told to do things that others may judge of me. And I have gone through a
bad trial of that sort. I am prepared to bear it, and do some very small
thing. Is Klesmer a severe man?"

"He is peculiar, but I have not had experience enough of him to know
whether he would be what you would call severe."

"I know he is kind-hearted--kind in action, if not in speech."

"I have been used to be frowned at and not praised," said Mirah.

"By the by, Klesmer frowns a good deal," said Deronda, "but there is often
a sort of smile in his eyes all the while. Unhappily he wears spectacles,
so you must catch him in the right light to see the smile."

"I shall not be frightened," said Mirah. "If he were like a roaring lion,
he only wants me to sing. I shall do what I can."

"Then I feel sure you will not mind being invited to sing in Lady
Mallinger's drawing-room," said Deronda. "She intends to ask you next
month, and will invite many ladies to hear you, who are likely to want
lessons from you for their daughters."

"How fast we are mounting!" said Mrs. Meyrick, with delight. "You never
thought of getting grand so quickly, Mirah."

"I am a little frightened at being called Miss Lapidoth," said Mirah,
coloring with a new uneasiness. "Might I be called Cohen?"

"I understand you," said Deronda, promptly. "But I assure you, you must
not be called Cohen. The name is inadmissible for a singer. This is' one
of the trifles in which we must conform to vulgar prejudice. We could
choose some other name, however--such as singers ordinarily choose--an
Italian or Spanish name, which would suit your _physique_." To Deronda
just now the name Cohen was equivalent to the ugliest of yellow badges.

Mirah reflected a little, anxiously, then said, "No. If Cohen will not do,
I will keep the name I have been called by. I will not hide myself. I have
friends to protect me. And now--if my father were very miserable and
wanted help--no," she said, looking at Mrs. Meyrick, "I should think,
then, that he was perhaps crying as I used to see him, and had nobody to
pity him, and I had hidden myself from him. He had none belonging to him

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