Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 40
"Within the soul a faculty abides,
That with interpositions, which would hide
And darken, so can deal, that they become
Contingencies of pomp; and serve to exalt
Her native brightness, as the ample moon.
In the deep stillness of a summer even.
Rising behind a thick and lofty grove.
Into a substance glorious as her own,
Yea, with her own incorporated, by power
Capacious and serene."
--WORDSWORTH: Excursion, B. IV.
Deronda came out of the narrow house at Chelsea in a frame of mind that made
him long for some good bodily exercise to carry off what he was himself inclined
to call the fumes of his temper. He was going toward the city, and the sight of the
Chelsea Stairs with the waiting boats at once determined him to avoid the
irritating inaction of being driven in a cab, by calling a wherry and taking an oar.
His errand was to go to Ram's book-shop, where he had yesterday arrived too
late for Mordecai's midday watch, and had been told that he invariably came
there again between five and six. Some further acquaintance with this,
remarkable inmate of the Cohens was particularly desired by Deronda as a
preliminary to redeeming his ring: he wished that their conversation should not
again end speedily with that drop of Mordecai's interest which was like the
removal of a drawbridge, and threatened to shut out any easy communication in
future. As he got warmed with the use of the oar, fixing his mind on the errand
before him and the ends he wanted to achieve on Mirah's account, he
experienced, as was wont with him, a quick change of mental light, shifting his
point of view to that of the person whom he had been thinking of hitherto chiefly
as serviceable to his own purposes, and was inclined to taunt himself with being
not much better than an enlisting sergeant, who never troubles himself with the
drama that brings him the needful recruits.
"I suppose if I got from this man the information I am most anxious about,"
thought Deronda, "I should be contented enough if he felt no disposition to tell
me more of himself, or why he seemed to have some expectation from me which
was disappointed. The sort of curiosity he stirs would die out; and yet it might be
that he had neared and parted as one can imagine two ships doing, each
freighted with an exile who would have recognized the other if the two could have
looked out face to face. Not that there is any likelihood of a peculiar tie between
me and this poor fellow, whose voyage, I fancy, must soon be over. But I wonder
whether there is much of that momentous mutual missing between people who