Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 2
This man contrives a secret 'twixt us two,
That he may quell me with his meeting eyes
Like one who quells a lioness at bay.
This was the letter Gwendolen found on her table:--
DEAREST CHILD.--I have been expecting to hear from you for a week. In your
last you said the Langens thought of leaving Leubronn and going to Baden. How
could you be so thoughtless as to leave me in uncertainty about your address? I
am in the greatest anxiety lest this should not reach you. In any case, you were
to come home at the end of September, and I must now entreat you to return as
quickly as possible, for if you spent all your money it would be out of my power to
send you any more, and you must not borrow of the Langens, for I could not
repay them. This is the sad truth, my child--I wish I could prepare you for it better-
-but a dreadful calamity has befallen us all. You know nothing about business
and will not understand it; but Grapnell & Co. have failed for a million, and we are
totally ruined-- your aunt Gascoigne as well as I, only that your uncle has his
benefice, so that by putting down their carriage and getting interest for the boys,
the family can go on. All the property our poor father saved for us goes to pay the
liabilities. There is nothing I can call my own. It is better you should know this at
once, though it rends my heart to have to tell it you. Of course we cannot help
thinking what a pity it was that you went away just when you did. But I shall never
reproach you, my dear child; I would save you from all trouble if I could. On your
way home you will have time to prepare yourself for the change you will find. We
shall perhaps leave Offendene at once, for we hope that Mr. Haynes, who
wanted it before, may be ready to take it off my hands. Of course we cannot go
to the rectory--there is not a corner there to spare. We must get some hut or
other to shelter us, and we must live on your uncle Gascoigne's charity, until I
see what else can be done. I shall not be able to pay the debts to the tradesmen
besides the servants' wages. Summon up your fortitude, my dear child; we must
resign ourselves to God's will. But it is hard to resign one's self to Mr. Lassman's
wicked recklessness, which they say was the cause of the failure. Your poor
sisters can only cry with me and give me no help. If you were once here, there
might be a break in the cloud--I always feel it impossible that you can have been
meant for poverty. If the Langens wish to remain abroad, perhaps you can put
yourself under some one else's care for the journey. But come as soon as you
can to your afflicted and loving mamma,
The first effect of this letter on Gwendolen was half-stupefying. The implicit
confidence that her destiny must be one of luxurious ease, where any trouble
that occurred would be well clad and provided for, had been stronger in her own
mind than in her mamma's, being fed there by her youthful blood and that sense