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Daniel Deronda

Chapter 37
Aspern. Pardon, my lord--I speak for Sigismund.
Fronsberg. For him? Oh, ay--for him I always hold
A pardon safe in bank, sure he will draw
Sooner or later on me. What his need?
Mad project broken? fine mechanic wings
That would not fly? durance, assault on watch,
Bill for Epernay, not a crust to eat?
Aspern. Oh, none of these, my lord; he has escaped
From Circe's herd, and seeks to win the love
Of your fair ward Cecilia: but would win
First your consent. You frown.
Fronsberg. Distinguish words.
I said I held a pardon, not consent.
In spite of Deronda's reasons for wishing to be in town again--reasons in which
his anxiety for Mirah was blent with curiosity to know more of the enigmatic
Mordecai--he did not manage to go up before Sir Hugo, who preceded his family
that he might be ready for the opening of Parliament on the sixth of February.
Deronda took up his quarters in Park Lane, aware that his chambers were
sufficiently tenanted by Hans Meyrick. This was what he expected; but he found
other things not altogether according to his expectations.
Most of us remember Retzsch's drawing of destiny in the shape of
Mephistopheles playing at chess with man for his soul, a game in which we may
imagine the clever adversary making a feint of unintended moves so as to set the
beguiled mortal on carrying his defensive pieces away from the true point of
attack. The fiend makes preparation his favorite object of mockery, that he may
fatally persuade us against our taking out waterproofs when he is well aware the
sky is going to clear, foreseeing that the imbecile will turn this delusion into a
prejudice against waterproofs instead of giving a closer study to the weather-
signs. It is a peculiar test of a man's metal when, after he has painfully adjusted
himself to what seems a wise provision, he finds all his mental precaution a little
beside the mark, and his excellent intentions no better than miscalculated
dovetails, accurately cut from a wrong starting-point. His magnanimity has got
itself ready to meet misbehavior, and finds quite a different call upon it.
Something of this kind happened to Deronda.
His first impression was one of pure pleasure and amusement at finding his
sitting-room transformed into an atelier strewed with miscellaneous drawings and
with the contents of two chests from Rome, the lower half of the windows
darkened with baize, and the blonde Hans in his weird youth as the presiding
genius of the littered place--his hair longer than of old, his face more whimsically
 
 
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