George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876
Daniel Deronda - George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876
"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 concern.
"It will not be at all trying to you, I hope, if Mrs. Meyrick will kindly go with you to Klesmer's house."
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