George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876
Daniel Deronda - George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876
Klesmer made a preliminary answer in noises which sounded like words bitten in two and swallowed before they were half out, shaking his fingers the while, before he said, quite distinctly, "I shall introduce you to Astorga: he is the foster-father of good singing and will give you advice." Then addressing Mrs. Meyrick, he added, "Mrs. Klesmer will call before Wednesday, with your permission."
"We shall feel that to be a great kindness," said Mrs. Meyrick.
"You will sing to her," said Klesmer, turning again to Mirah. "She is a thorough musician, and has a soul with more ears to it than you will often get in a musician. Your singing will satisfy her:--
He had certainly chosen the most delicate way of praising Mirah, and the Meyrick girls had now given him all their esteem. But imagine Mab's feeling when suddenly fixing his eyes on her, he said decisively, "That young lady is musical, I see!" She was a mere blush and sense of scorching.
"Yes," said Mirah, on her behalf. "And she has a touch."
"Oh, please, Mirah--a scramble, not a touch," said Mab, in anguish, with a horrible fear of what the next thing might be: this dreadful divining personage--evidently Satan in gray trousers--might order her to sit down to the piano, and her heart was like molten wax in the midst of her. But this was cheap payment for her amazed joy when Klesmer said benignantly, turning to Mrs. Meyrick, "Will she like to accompany Miss Lapidoth and hear the music on Wednesday?"
"There could hardly be a greater pleasure for her," said Mrs. Meyrick. "She will be most glad and grateful."
Thereupon Klesmer bowed round to the three sisters more grandly than they had ever been bowed to before. Altogether it was an amusing picture--the little room with so much of its diagonal taken up in Klesmer's magnificent bend to the small feminine figures like images a little less than life- size, the grave Holbein faces on the walls, as many as were not otherwise occupied, looking hard at this stranger who by his face seemed a dignified contemporary of their own, but whose garments seemed a deplorable mockery of the human form.
Mrs. Meyrick could not help going out of the room with Klesmer and closing the door behind her. He understood her, and said with a frowning nod--
"She will do: if she doesn't attempt too much and her voice holds out, she can make an income. I know that is the great point: Deronda told me. You are taking care of her. She looks like a good girl."
"She is an angel," said the warm-hearted woman.
"No," said Klesmer, with a playful nod; "she is a pretty Jewess: the angels must not get the credit of her. But I think she has found a guardian angel," he ended, bowing himself out in this amiable way.
The four young creatures had looked at each other mutely till the door banged and Mrs. Meyrick re-entered. Then there was an explosion. Mab clapped her hands and danced everywhere inconveniently; Mrs. Meyrick kissed Mirah and blessed her; Amy said emphatically, "We can never get her a new dress before Wednesday!" and Kate exclaimed, "Thank heaven my table is not knocked over!"
Mirah had reseated herself on the music-stool without speaking, and the tears were rolling down her cheeks as she looked at her friends.
"Now, now, Mab!" said Mrs. Meyrick; "come and sit down reasonably and let us talk?"
"Yes, let us talk," said Mab, cordially, coming back to her low seat and caressing her knees. "I am beginning to feel large again. Hans said he was coming this afternoon. I wish he had been here--only there would have been no room for him. Mirah, what are you looking sad for?"
"I am too happy," said Mirah. "I feel so full of gratitude to you all; and he was so very kind."
"Yes, at last," said Mab, sharply. "But he might have said something encouraging sooner. I thought him dreadfully ugly when he sat frowning, and only said, 'Continue.' I hated him all the long way from the top of his hair to the toe of his polished boot."
"Nonsense, Mab; he has a splendid profile," said Kate.
"Now, but not then. I cannot bear people to keep their minds bottled up for the sake of letting them off with a pop. They seem to grudge making you happy unless they can make you miserable beforehand. However, I forgive him everything," said Mab, with a magnanimous air, "but he has invited me. I wonder why he fixed on me as the musical one? Was it because I have a bulging forehead, ma, and peep from under it like a newt from under a stone?"
"It was your way of listening to the singing, child," said Mrs. Meyrick. "He has magic spectacles and sees everything through them, depend upon it. But what was that German quotation you were so ready with, Mirah--you learned puss?"
"Oh, that was not learning," said Mirah, her tearful face breaking into an amused smile. "I said it so many times for a lesson. It means that it is safer to do anything--singing or anything else--before those who know and understand all about it."
"That was why you were not one bit frightened, I suppose," said Amy. "But now, what we have to talk about is a dress for you on Wednesday."
"I don't want anything better than this black merino," said Mirah, rising to show the effect. "Some white gloves and some new bottines." She put out her little foot, clad in the famous felt slipper.
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