She held the spindle as she sat, Erinna* with the thick-coiled mat Of raven hair and deepest agate eyes, Gazing with a sad surprise At surging visions of her destiny-- To spin the byssus drearily In insect-labour, while the throng
Of gods and men wrought deeds that poets wrought in song.
WHEN Deronda presented himself at the door of his mother's apartment in the Italia, he felt some revival of his boyhood with its premature agitations. The two servants in the antechamber looked at him markedly, a little surprised that the doctor their lady had come to consult was this striking young gentleman whose appearance gave even the severe lines of an evening dress the credit of adornment. But Deronda could notice nothing, until, the second door being opened, he found himself in the presence of a figure which at the other end of the large room stood awaiting his approach.
She was covered, except as to her face and part of her arms, with black lace hanging loosely from the summit of her whitening hair to the long train stretching from her tall figure. Her arms, naked from the elbow, except for some rich bracelets, were folded before her, and the fine poise of her head made it look handsomer than it really was. But Deronda felt no interval of observation before he was close in front of her, holding the hand she had put out and then raising it to his lips. She still kept her hand in his and looked at him examiningly; while his chief consciousness was that her eyes were piercing and her face so mobile that the next moment she-might look like a different person. For even while she was examining him there was a play of the brow and nostril which made a tacit language. Deronda dared no movement, not able to conceive what sort of manifestation her feeling demanded; but he felt himself changing colour like a girl, and yet wondering at his own lack of emotion: he lived through so many ideal meetings with his mother, and they had seemed more real than this! He could not even conjecture in what language she would speak to him. He imagined it would not be English. Suddenly, she let fall his hand, and placed both hers on his shoulders, while her face gave out a flash of admiration in which every worn line disappeared and seemed to leave a restored youth.
"You are a beautiful creature!" she said, in a low melodious voice, with syllables which had what might be called a foreign but agreeable