George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876
Daniel Deronda - George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876
One might be tempted to envy Deronda providing new clothes for Mordecai, and pleasing himself as if he were sketching a picture in imagining the effect of the fine gray flannel shirts and a dressing-gown very much like a Franciscan's brown frock, with Mordecai's head and neck above them. Half his pleasure was the sense of seeing Mirah's brother through her eyes, and securing her fervid joy from any perturbing impression. And yet, after he had made all things ready, he was visited with doubt whether he were not mistaking her, and putting the lower effect for the higher: was she not just as capable as he himself had been of feeling the impressive distinction in her brother all the more for that aspect of poverty which was among the memorials of his past? But there were the Meyricks to be propitiated toward this too Judaic brother; and Deronda detected himself piqued into getting out of sight everything that might feed the ready repugnance in minds unblessed with that precious "seeing," that bathing of all objects in a solemnity as of sun-set glow, which is begotten of a loving reverential emotion.
And his inclination would have been the more confirmed if he had heard the dialogue round Mrs. Meyrick's fire late in the evening, after Mirah had gone to her room. Hans, settled now in his Chelsea rooms, had stayed late, and Mrs. Meyrick, poking the fire into a blaze, said--
"Now, Kate, put out your candle, and all come round the fire cosily. Hans, dear, do leave off laughing at those poems for the ninety-ninth time, and come too. I have something wonderful to tell."
"As if I didn't know that, ma. I have seen it in the corner of your eye ever so long, and in your pretense of errands," said Kate, while the girls came up to put their feet on the fender, and Hans, pushing his chair near them, sat astride it, resting his fists and chin on the back.
"Well, then, if you are so wise, perhaps you know that Mirah's brother is found!" said Mrs. Meyrick, in her clearest accents.
"Oh, confound it!" said Hans, in the same moment.
"Hans, that is wicked," said Mab. "Suppose we had lost you?"
"I cannot help being rather sorry," said Kate. "And her mother?--where is she?"
"Her mother is dead."
"I hope the brother is not a bad man," said Amy.
"Nor a fellow all smiles and jewelry--a Crystal Palace Assyrian with a hat on," said Hans, in the worst humor.
"Were there ever such unfeeling children?" said Mrs. Meyrick, a little strengthened by the need for opposition. "You don't think the least bit of Mirah's joy in the matter."
"You know, ma, Mirah hardly remembers her brother," said Kate.
"People who are lost for twelve years should never come back again," said Hans. "They are always in the way."
"Hans!" said Mrs. Meyrick, reproachfully. "If you had lost me for twenty years, I should have thought--" "I said twelve years," Hans broke in. "Anywhere about twelve years is the time at which lost relations should keep out of the way."
"Well, but it's nice finding people--there is something to tell," said Mab, clasping her knees. "Did Prince Camaralzaman find him?"
Then Mrs. Meyrick, in her neat, narrative way, told all she knew without interruption. "Mr. Deronda has the highest admiration for him," she ended --"seems quite to look up to him. And he says Mirah is just the sister to understand this brother."
"Deronda is getting perfectly preposterous about those Jews," said Hans with disgust, rising and setting his chair away with a bang. "He wants to do everything he can to encourage Mirah in her prejudices."
"Oh, for shame, Hans!--to speak in that way of Mr. Deronda," said Mab. And Mrs. Meyrick's face showed something like an under-current of expression not allowed to get to the surface.
"And now we shall never be all together," Hans went on, walking about with his hands thrust into the pockets of his brown velveteen coat, "but we must have this prophet Elijah to tea with us, and Mirah will think of nothing but sitting on the ruins of Jerusalem. She will be spoiled as an artist--mind that--she will get as narrow as a nun. Everything will be spoiled--our home and everything. I shall take to drinking."
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