Daniel Deronda

By George Eliot; Graham Handley | Go to book overview

BOOK VII.
THE MOTHER AND THE SON.

CHAPTER L.

"If some mortal, born too soon, Were laid away in some great trance--the ages Coming and going all the while--till dawned His true time's advent; and could then record The words they spoke who kept watch by his bed,-- Then I might tell more of the breath so light Upon my eyelids, and the fingers warm Among my hair. Youth is confused; yet never So dull was I but, when that spirit passed, I turned to him, scarce consciously, as turns A water-snake when fairies cross his sleep."

BROWNING: Paracelsus*

THIS was the letter which Sir Hugo put into Deronda's hands:--

TO MY SON, DANIEL DERONDA.

My good friend and yours, Sir Hugo Mallinger, will have told you that I wish to see you. My health is shaken, and I desire there should be no time lost before I deliver to you what I have long withheld. Let nothing hinder you from being at the Albergo dell' Italia in Genoa by the fourteenth of this month. Wait for me there. I am uncertain when I shall be able to make the journey from Spezia, where I shall be staying. That will depend on several things. Wait for me--the Princess Halm- Eberstein. Bring with you the diamond ring that Sir Hugo gave you. I shall like to see it again.--Your unknown mother,

LEONORA HALM-EBERSTEIN.

This letter with its colourless wording gave Deronda no clue to what was in reserve for him; but he could not do otherwise than accept Sir Hugo's reticence, which seemed to imply some pledge not to anticipate the mother's disclosures; and the discovery that his lifelong conjectures had been mistaken checked further surmise. Deronda could not hinder his imagination from taking a quick flight over what seemed

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