Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 39
"Vor den Wissenden sich stellen
Sicher ist's in alien Fällen!
Wenn du lange dich gequälet
Weiss er gleich wo dir es fehlet;
Auch auf Beifall darfst du hoffen,
Denn er weiss wo du's getroffen,"
--GOETHE: West-östlicker Divan.
Momentous things happened to Deronda the very evening of that visit to the
small house at Chelsea, when there was the discussion about Mirah's public
name. But for the family group there, what appeared to be the chief sequence
connected with it occurred two days afterward. About four o'clock wheels paused
before the door, and there came one of those knocks with an accompanying ring
which serve to magnify the sense of social existence in a region where the most
enlivening signals are usually those of the muffin-man. All the girls were at home,
and the two rooms were thrown together to make space for Kate's drawing, as
well as a great length of embroidery which had taken the place of the satin
cushions--a sort of pièce de résistance in the courses of needlework, taken up by
any clever fingers that happened to be at liberty. It stretched across the front
room picturesquely enough, Mrs. Meyrick bending over it on one corner, Mab in
the middle, and Amy at the other end. Mirah, whose performances in point of
sewing were on the make-shift level of the tailor-bird's, her education in that
branch having been much neglected, was acting as reader to the party, seated
on a camp-stool; in which position she also served Kate as model for a title-page
vignette, symbolizing a fair public absorbed in the successive volumes of the
family tea-table. She was giving forth with charming distinctness the delightful
Essay of Elia, "The Praise of Chimney-Sweeps," and all we're smiling over the
"innocent blackness," when the imposing knock and ring called their thoughts to
loftier spheres, and they looked up in wonderment.
"Dear me!" said Mrs. Meyrick; "can it be Lady Mallinger? Is there a grand
carriage, Amy?"
"No--only a hansom cab. It must be a gentleman."
"The Prime Minister, I should think," said Kate dryly. "Hans says the greatest
man in London may get into a hansom cab."
"Oh, oh, oh!" cried Mab. "Suppose it should be Lord Russell!"
The five bright faces were all looking amused when the old maid-servant bringing
in a card distractedly left the parlor-door open, and there was seen bowing