Daniel Deronda

By George Eliot; Graham Handley | Go to book overview
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BOOK V.
MORDECAI.

*


CHAPTER XXXV.

Were uneasiness of conscience measured by extent of crime, human history had been different, and one should look to see the contrivers of greedy wars and the mighty marauders of the money-market in one troop of self-lacerating penitents with the meaner robber and cut-purse and the murderer that doth his butchery in small with his own hand. No doubt wickedness hath its rewards to distribute; but whoso wins in this devil's game must needs be baser, more cruel, more brutal than the order of this planet will allow for the multitude born of woman, the most of these carrying a form of conscience--a fear which is the shadow of justice, a pity which is the shadow of love--that hindereth from the prize of serene wickedness, itself difficult of maintenance in our composite flesh.

ON the 29th of December Deronda knew that the Grandcourts had arrived at the Abbey, but he had no glimpse of them before he went to dress for dinner. There had been a splendid fall of snow, allowing the party of children the rare pleasures of snow-balling and snow- building, and in the Christmas holidays the Mallinger girls were content with no amusement unless it were joined in and managed by "cousin," as they had always called Deronda. After that outdoor exertion he had been playing billiards, and thus the hours had passed without his dwelling at all on the prospect of meeting Gwendolen at dinner. Nevertheless that prospect was interesting to him, and when, a little tired and heated with working at amusement, he went to his room before the half-hour bell had rung, he began to think of it with some speculation on the sort of influence her marriage with Grandcourt would have on her, and on the probability that there would be some discernible shades of change in her manner since he saw her at Diplow, just as there had been since his first vision of her at Leubronn.

"I fancy there are some natures one could, see growing or degenerating every day, if one watched them, was his thought. "I suppose some of us go on faster than others; and I am sure she is a creature who keeps strong traces of anything that has once impressed her. That little affair of the necklace, and the idea that somebody

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