Daniel Deronda

By George Eliot; Graham Handley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX.

"It will hardly be denied that even in this frail and corrupted world, we sometimes et persons who, in their very mien and aspect, as well as in the whole habit of life, manifest such a signature and stamp of virtue, as to make our judgment of them a matter of intuition rather than the result of continued examination."--ALEXANDER KNOX: quoted in Southey Life of Wesley.*

MIRAH said that she had slept well that night; and when she cone down in Mab's black dress, her dark hair curling in fresh fibrils as it gradually dried from its plenteous bath, she looked like one who was beginning to take comfort after the long sorrow and watching which had paled her cheek and made deep blue semicircles under her eyes. It was Mab who carried her breakfast and ushered her down-- with some pride in the effect produced by a pair of tiny felt slippers which she had rushed out to buy because there were no shoes in the house small enough for Mirah, whose borrowed dress ceased about her ankles and displayed the cheap clothing that moulding itself on her feet seemed an adornment as choice as the sheaths of buds. The farthing buckles were bijoux.

"Oh, if you please, mamma!" cried Mab, clasping her hands and stooping towards Mirah's feet, as she entered the parlour. "Look at the slippers, how beautifully they fit! I declare she is like the Queen Budoor*--'two delicate feet, the work of the protecting and allrecompensing Creator, support her; and I wonder how they can sustain what is above them.'"

Mirah looked down at her own feet in a child-like way and then smiled at Mrs Meyrick, who was saying inwardly, "One could hardly imagine this creature having an evil thought. But wise people would tell me to be cautious." She returned Mirah's smile and said, "I fear the feet have had to sustain their burthen a little too often lately. But to-day she will rest and be my companion."

"And she will tell you so many things and I shad not hear them," grumbled Mab, who felt herself in the first volume of a delightful romance and obliged to miss some chapters because she had to go to pupils.

Kate was already gone to make sketches along the river, and Amy was away on business errands. It was what the mother wished, to be alone with this stranger, whose story must be a sorrowful one, yet was needful to be told.

The small front parlour was as good as a temple that morning. The

-178-

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