Daniel Deronda

By George Eliot; Graham Handley | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XLIII.

"My spirit is too weak; mortality Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep, And each imagined pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die Like a sick eagle looking at the sky."

-- KEATS.*

AFTER a few minutes the unwonted stillness had penetrated Mordecai's consciousness, and he looked up at Deronda, not in the least with bewilderment and surprise, but with a gaze full of reposing satisfaction. Deronda rose and placed his chair nearer, where there could be no imagined need for raising the voice. Mordecai felt the action as a patient feels the gentleness that eases his pillow. He began to speak in a low tone, as if he were only thinking articulately, not trying to reach an audience.

"In the doctrine of the Cabbala,* souls are born again and again in new bodies till they are perfected and purified, and a soul liberated from a worn-out body 'May join the fellow-soul that needs it, that they may be perfected together, and their earthly work accomplished. Then they will depart from the mortal region, and leave place for new souls to be born out of the store in the eternal bosom. It is the lingering imperfection of the souls already born into the mortal region that hinders the birth of new souls and the preparation of the Messianic time:--thus the mind has given shape to what is hidden, as the shadow of what is known, and has spoken truth, though it were only in parable. When my long-wandering soul is liberated from this weary body, it will join yours, and its work will be perfected."

Mordecai's pause seemed an appeal which Deronda's feeling would not let him leave unanswered. He tried to make it truthful; but for Mordecai's ear it was inevitably filled with unspoken meanings. He only said--

"Everything I can in conscience do to make your life effective I will do."

"I know it," said Mordecai, in the tone of quiet certainty which dispenses with further assurance. "I heard it. You see it all--you are by my side on the mount of vision, and behold the paths of fulfilment which others deny."

He was silent a moment or two, and then went on meditatively--

"You will take up my life where it was broken. I feel myself back in that day when my life was broken. The bright morning sun was on the

-461-

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