Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 11
The beginning of an acquaintance whether with persons or things is to get a
definite outline for our ignorance.
Mr. Grandcourt's wish to be introduced had no suddenness for Gwendolen; but
when Lord Brackenshaw moved aside a little for the prefigured stranger to come
forward and she felt herself face to face with the real man, there was a little
shock which flushed her cheeks and vexatiously deepened with her
consciousness of it. The shock came from the reversal of her expectations:
Grandcourt could hardly have been more unlike all her imaginary portraits of him.
He was slightly taller than herself, and their eyes seemed to be on a level; there
was not the faintest smile on his face as he looked at her, not a trace of self-
consciousness or anxiety in his bearing: when he raised his hat he showed an
extensive baldness surrounded with a mere fringe of reddish-blonde hair, but he
also showed a perfect hand; the line of feature from brow to chin undisguised by
beard was decidedly handsome, with only moderate departures from the
perpendicular, and the slight whisker too was perpendicular. It was not possible
for a human aspect to be freer from grimace or solicitious wrigglings: also it was
perhaps not possible for a breathing man wide awake to look less animated. The
correct Englishman, drawing himself up from his bow into rigidity, assenting
severely, and seemed to be in a state of internal drill, suggests a suppressed
vivacity, and may be suspected of letting go with some violence when he is
released from parade; but Grandcourt's bearing had no rigidity, it inclined rather
to the flaccid. His complexion had a faded fairness resembling that of an actress
when bare of the artificial white and red; his long narrow gray eyes expressed
nothing but indifference. Attempts at description are stupid: who can all at once
describe a human being? even when he is presented to us we only begin that
knowledge of his appearance which must be completed by innumerable
impressions under differing circumstances. We recognize the alphabet; we are
not sure of the language. I am only mentioning the point that Gwendolen saw by
the light of a prepared contrast in the first minutes of her meeting with
Grandcourt: they were summed up in the words, "He is not ridiculous." But
forthwith Lord Brackenshaw was gone, and what is called conversation had
begun, the first and constant element in it being that Grandcourt looked at
Gwendolen persistently with a slightly exploring gaze, but without change of
expression, while she only occasionally looked at him with a flash of observation
a little softened by coquetry. Also, after her answers there was a longer or
shorter pause before he spoke again.
"I used to think archery was a great bore," Grandcourt began. He spoke with a
fine accent, but with a certain broken drawl, as of a distinguished personage with
a distinguished cold on his chest.