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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 know I am trusting to your goodness in a most extraordinary way," Deronda went on, after giving his brief narrative; "but you can imagine how helpless I feel with a young creature like this on my hands. I could not go with her among strangers, and in her nervous state I should dread taking her into a house full of servants. I have trusted to your mercy. I hope you will not think my act unwarrantable."

"On the contrary. You have honored me by trusting me. I see your difficulty. Pray bring her in. I will go and prepare the girls."

While Deronda went back to the cab, Mrs. Meyrick turned into the parlor again and said: "Here is somebody to take care of instead of your wounded conscripts, Mab: a poor girl who was going to drown herself in despair. Mr. Deronda found her only just in time to save her. He brought her along in his boat, and did not know what else it would be safe to do with her, so he has trusted us and brought her here. It seems she is a Jewess, but quite refined, he says--knowing Italian and music."

The three girls, wondering and expectant, came forward and stood near each other in mute confidence that they were all feeling alike under this appeal to their compassion. Mab looked rather awe-stricken, as if this answer to her wish were something preternatural.

Meanwhile Deronda going to the door of the cab where the pale face was now gazing out with roused observation, said, "I have brought you to some of the kindest people in the world: there are daughters like you. It is a happy home. Will you let me take you to them?"

She stepped out obediently, putting her hand in his and forgetting her hat; and when Deronda led her into the full light of the parlor where the four little women stood awaiting her, she made a picture that would have stirred much duller sensibilities than theirs. At first she was a little dazed by the sudden light, and before she had concentrated her glance he had put her hand into the mother's. He was inwardly rejoicing that the Meyricks were so small: the dark-curled head was the highest among them. The poor wanderer could not be afraid of these gentle faces so near hers: and now she was looking at each of them in turn while the mother said, "You must be weary, poor child."

"We will take care of you--we will comfort you--we will love you," cried Mab, no longer able to restrain herself, and taking the small right hand caressingly between both her own. This gentle welcoming warmth was penetrating the bewildered one: she hung back just enough to see better the four faces in front of her, whose good will was being reflected in hers, not in any smile, but in that undefinable change which tells us that anxiety is passing in contentment. For an instant she looked up at Deronda, as if she were referring all this mercy to him, and then again turning to Mrs. Meyrick, said with more collectedness in her sweet tones than he had heard before--

"I am a stranger. I am a Jewess. You might have thought I was wicked."

"No, we are sure you are good," burst out Mab.

"We think no evil of you, poor child. You shall be safe with us," said Mrs. Meyrick. "Come now and sit down. You must have some food, and then you must go to rest."

The stranger looked up again at Deronda, who said--

"You will have no more fears with these friends? You will rest to-night?"

"Oh, I should not fear. I should rest. I think these are the ministering angels."

Mrs. Meyrick wanted to lead her to seat, but again hanging back gently, the poor weary thing spoke as if with a scruple at being received without a further account of herself.

"My name is Mirah Lapidoth. I am come a long way, all the way from Prague by myself. I made my escape. I ran away from dreadful things. I came to find my mother and brother in London. I had been taken from my mother when I was little, but I thought I could find her again. I had trouble--the houses were all gone--I could not find her. It has been a long while, and I had not much money. That is why I am in distress."

"Our mother will be good to you," cried Mab. "See what a nice little mother she is!"

"Do sit down now," said Kate, moving a chair forward, while Amy ran to get some tea.

Mirah resisted no longer, but seated herself with perfect grace, crossing her little feet, laying her hands one over the other on her lap, and looking at her friends with placid reverence; whereupon Hafiz, who had been watching the scene restlessly came forward with tail erect and rubbed himself against her ankles. Deronda felt it time to go.

"Will you allow me to come again and inquire--perhaps at five to-morrow?" he said to Mrs. Meyrick.

"Yes, pray; we shall have had time to make acquaintance then."

"Good-bye," said Deronda, looking down at Mirah, and putting out his hand. She rose as she took it, and the moment brought back to them both strongly the other moment when she had first taken that outstretched hand. She lifted her eyes to his and said with reverential fervor, "The God of our fathers bless you and deliver you from all evil as you have delivered me. I did not believe there was any man so good. None before have thought me worthy of the best. You found me poor and miserable, yet you have given me the best."

Deronda could not speak, but with silent adieux to the Meyricks, hurried away.

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