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Daniel Deronda

George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876

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Daniel Deronda - George Eliot's Zionist Novel - 1876

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In the evening, putting her cheek against her brother's shoulder as she was sitting by him, while he sat propped up in bed under a new difficulty of breathing, she said--

"Ezra, does it ever hurt your love for Mr. Deronda that so much of his life was all hidden away from you--that he is amongst persons and cares about persons who are all so unlike us--I mean unlike you?"

"No, assuredly no," said Mordecai. "Rather it is a precious thought to me that he has a preparation which I lacked, and is an accomplished Egyptian." Then, recollecting that his words had reference which his sister must not yet understand, he added. "I have the more to give him, since his treasure differs from mine. That is a blessedness in friendship."

Mirah mused a little.

"Still," she said, "it would be a trial to your love for him if that other part of his life were like a crowd in which he had got entangled, so that he was carried away from you--I mean in his thoughts, and not merely carried out of sight as he is now--and not merely for a little while, but continually. How should you bear that! Our religion commands us to bear. But how should you bear it?"

"Not well, my sister--not well; but it will never happen," said Mordecai, looking at her with a tender smile. He thought that her heart needed comfort on his account.

Mirah said no more. She mused over the difference between her own state of mind and her brother's, and felt her comparative pettiness. Why could she not be completely satisfied with what satisfied his larger judgment? She gave herself no fuller reason than a painful sense of unfitness--in what? Airy possibilities to which she could give no outline, but to which one name and one figure gave the wandering persistency of a blot in her vision. Here lay the vaguer source of the hidden sadness rendered noticeable to Hans by some diminution of that sweet ease, that ready joyousness of response in her speech and smile, which had come with the new sense of freedom and safety, and had made her presence like the freshly-opened daisies and clear bird-notes after the rain. She herself regarded her uneasiness as a sort of ingratitude and dullness of sensibility toward the great things that had been given her in her new life; and whenever she threw more energy than usual into her singing, it was the energy of indignation against the shallowness of her own content. In that mood she once said, "Shall I tell you what is the difference between you and me, Ezra? You are a spring in the drought, and I am an acorn-cup; the waters of heaven fill me, but the least little shake leaves me empty."

"Why, what has shaken thee?" said Mordecai. He fell into this antique form of speech habitually in talking to his sister and to the Cohen children.

"Thoughts," said Mirah; "thoughts that come like the breeze and shake me-- bad people, wrong things, misery--and how they might touch our life."

"We must take our portion, Mirah. It is there. On whose shoulder would we lay it, that we might be free?"

The one voluntary sign she made of her inward care was this distant allusion.

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