Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 13
"Philistia, be thou glad of me!"
Grandcourt having made up his mind to marry Miss Harleth, showed a power of
adapting means to ends. During the next fortnight there was hardly a day on
which by some arrangement or other he did not see her, or prove by emphatic
attentions that she occupied his thoughts. His cousin, Mrs. Torrington, was now
doing the honors of his house, so that Mrs. Davilow and Gwendolen could be
invited to a large party at Diplow in which there were many witnesses how the
host distinguished the dowerless beauty, and showed no solicitude about the
heiress. The world--I mean Mr. Gascoigne and all the families worth speaking of
within visiting distance of Pennicote--felt an assurance on the subject which in
the rector's mind converted itself into a resolution to do his duty by his niece and
see that the settlements were adequate. Indeed the wonder to him and Mrs.
Davilow was that the offer for which so many suitable occasions presented
themselves had not been already made; and in this wonder Grandcourt himself
was not without a share. When he had told his resolution to Lush he had thought
that the affair would be concluded more quickly, and to his own surprise he had
repeatedly promised himself in a morning that he would to-day give Gwendolen
the opportunity of accepting him, and had found in the evening that the
necessary formality was still unaccomplished. This remarkable fact served to
heighten his determination on another day. He had never admitted to himself that
Gwendolen might refuse him, but--heaven help us all!--we are often unable to act
on our certainties; our objection to a contrary issue (were it possible) is so strong
that it rises like a spectral illusion between us and our certainty; we are rationally
sure that the blind worm can not bite us mortally, but it would be so intolerable to
be bitten, and the creature has a biting look--we decline to handle it.
He had asked leave to have a beautiful horse of his brought for Gwendolen to
ride. Mrs. Davilow was to accompany her in the carriage, and they were to go to
Diplow to lunch, Grandcourt conducting them. It was a fine mid- harvest time, not
too warm for a noonday ride of five miles to be delightful; the poppies glowed on
the borders of the fields, there was enough breeze to move gently like a social
spirit among the ears of uncut corn, and to wing the shadow of a cloud across the
soft gray downs; here the sheaves were standing, there the horses were
straining their muscles under the last load from a wide space of stubble, but
everywhere the green pasture made a broader setting for the corn-fields, and the
cattle took their rest under wide branches. The road lay through a bit of country
where the dairy-farms looked much as they did in the days of our forefathers--
where peace and permanence seemed to find a home away from the busy
change that sent the railway train flying in the distance.