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Daniel Deronda

George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876

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Daniel Deronda - George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876

Daniel_Deronda MAIN

"I only knew about them," said Anna, a little flushed with excitement, what she had heard and now saw of the lovely Jewess being an almost startling novelty to her. "I have not even seen them. But some months ago, my cousin married Sir Hugo Mallinger's nephew, Mr. Grandcourt, who lived in Sir Hugo's place at Diplow, near us."

"There!" exclaimed Mab, clasping her hands. "Something must come of that. Mrs. Grandcourt, the Vandyke duchess, is your cousin?"

"Oh, yes; I was her bridesmaid," said Anna. "Her mamma and mine are sisters. My aunt was much richer before last year, but then she and mamma lost all their fortune. Papa is a clergyman, you know, so it makes very little difference to us, except that we keep no carriage, and have no dinner parties--and I like it better. But it was very sad for poor Aunt Davilow, for she could not live with us, because she has four daughters besides Gwendolen; but then, when she married Mr. Grandcourt, it did not signify so much, because of his being so rich."

"Oh, this finding out relationships is delightful!" said Mab. "It is like a Chinese puzzle that one has to fit together. I feel sure something wonderful may be made of it, but I can't tell what."

"Dear me, Mab," said Amy, "relationships must branch out. The only difference is, that we happen to know some of the people concerned. Such things are going on every day."

"And pray, Amy, why do you insist on the number nine being so wonderful?" said Mab. "I am sure that is happening every day. Never mind, Miss Gascoigne; please go on. And Mr. Deronda?--have you never seen Mr. Deronda? You must bring him in."

"No, I have not seen him," said Anna; "but he was at Diplow before my cousin was married, and I have heard my aunt speaking of him to papa. She said what you have been saying about him--only not so much: I mean, about Mr. Deronda living with Sir Hugo Mallinger, and being so nice, she thought. We talk a great deal about every one who comes near Pennicote, because it is so seldom there is any one new. But I remember, when I asked Gwendolen what she thought of Mr. Deronda, she said, 'Don't mention it, Anna: but I think his hair is dark.' That was her droll way of answering: she was always so lively. It is really rather wonderful that I should come to hear so much about him, all through Mr. Hans knowing Rex, and then my having the pleasure of knowing you," Anna ended, looking at Mrs. Meyrick with a shy grace.

"The pleasure is on our side too; but the wonder would have been, if you had come to this house without hearing of Mr. Deronda--wouldn't it, Mirah?" said Mrs. Meyrick.

Mirah smiled acquiescently, but had nothing to say. A confused discontent took possession of her at the mingling of names and images to which she had been listening.

"My son calls Mrs. Grandcourt the Vandyke duchess," continued Mrs. Meyrick, turning again to Anna; "he thinks her so striking and picturesque."

"Yes," said Anna. "Gwendolen was always so beautiful--people fell dreadfully in love with her. I thought it a pity, because it made them unhappy."

"And how do you like Mr. Grandcourt, the happy lover?" said Mrs. Meyrick, who, in her way, was as much interested as Mab in the hints she had been hearing of vicissitude in in the life of a widow with daughters.

"Papa approved of Gwendolen's accepting him, and my aunt says he is very generous," said Anna, beginning with a virtuous intention of repressing her own sentiments; but then, unable to resist a rare occasion for speaking them freely, she went on--"else I should have thought he was not very nice--rather proud, and not at all lively, like Gwendolen. I should have thought some one younger and more lively would have suited her better. But, perhaps, having a brother who seems to us better than any one makes us think worse of others."

"Wait till you see Mr. Deronda," said Mab, nodding significantly. "Nobody's brother will do after him."

"Our brothers must do for people's husbands," said Kate, curtly, "because they will not get Mr. Deronda. No woman will do for him to marry."

"No woman ought to want him to marry him," said Mab, with indignation. "I never should. Fancy finding out that he had a tailor's bill, and used boot-hooks, like Hans. Who ever thought of his marrying?"

"I have," said Kate. "When I drew a wedding for a frontispiece to 'Hearts and Diamonds,' I made a sort of likeness to him for the bridegroom, and I went about looking for a grand woman who would do for his countess, but I saw none that would not be poor creatures by the side of him."

"You should have seen this Mrs. Grandcourt then," said Mrs. Meyrick. "Hans says that she and Mr. Deronda set each other off when they are side by side. She is tall and fair. But you know her, Mirah--you can always say something descriptive. What do you think of Mrs. Grandcourt?"

"I think she is the Princess of Eboli in Don Carlos," said Mirah, with a quick intensity. She was pursuing an association in her own mind not intelligible to her hearers--an association with a certain actress as well as the part she represented.

"Your comparison is a riddle for me, my dear," said Mrs. Meyrick, smiling.

"You said that Mrs. Grandcourt was tall and fair," continued Mirah, slightly paler. "That is quite true."

Mrs. Meyrick's quick eye and ear detected something unusual, but immediately explained it to herself. Fine ladies had often wounded Mirah by caprices of manner and intention.

"Mrs. Grandcourt had thought of having lessons of Mirah," she said turning to Anna. "But many have talked of having lessons, and then have found no time. Fashionable ladies have too much work to do."

And the chat went on without further insistance on the Princess of Eboli. That comparison escaped Mirah's lips under the urgency of a pang unlike anything she had felt before. The conversation from the beginning had revived unpleasant impressions, and Mrs. Meyrick's suggestion of Gwendolen's figure by the side of Deronda's had the stinging effect of a voice outside her, confirming her secret conviction that this tall and fair woman had some hold on his lot. For a long while afterward she felt as if she had had a jarring shock through her frame.

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