George Eliot, Daniel Deronda: Vol. 5, Ch. 2

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Chapter XXXVI.

  "Rien ne pese tant qu'un secret
  Le porter loin est difficile aux dames:
  Et je sçais mesme sur ce fait
  Bon nombre d'hommes qui sont femmes."
                               —LA FONTAINE.

Meanwhile Deronda had been fastened and led off by Mr. Vandernoodt, who wished for a brisker walk, a cigar, and a little gossip. Since we cannot tell a man his own secrets, the restraint of being in his company often breeds a desire to pair off in conversation with some more ignorant person, and Mr. Vandernoodt presently said—

"What a washed-out piece of cambric Grandcourt is! But if he is a favorite of yours, I withdraw the remark."

"Not the least in the world," said Deronda.

"I thought not. One wonders how he came to have a great passion again; and he must have had—to marry in this way. Though Lush, his old chum, hints that he married this girl out of obstinacy. By George! it was a very accountable obstinacy. A man might make up his mind to marry her without the stimulus of contradiction. But he must have made himself a pretty large drain of money, eh?"

"I know nothing of his affairs."

"What! not of the other establishment he keeps up?"

"Diplow? Of course. He took that of Sir Hugo. But merely for the year."

"No, no; not Diplow: Gadsmere. Sir Hugo knows, I'll answer for it."

Deronda said nothing. He really began to feel some curiosity, but he foresaw that he should hear what Mr. Vandernoodt had to tell, without the condescension of asking.

"Lush would not altogether own to it, of course. He's a confident and go-between of Grandcourt's. But I have it on the best authority. The fact is, there's another lady with four children at Gadsmere. She has had the upper hand of him these ten years and more, and by what I can understand has it still—left her husband for him, and used to travel with him everywhere. Her husband's dead now; I found a fellow who was in the same regiment with him, and knew this Mrs. Glasher before she took wing. A fiery dark-eyed woman—a noted beauty at that time—he thought she was dead. They say she has Grandcourt under her thumb still, and it's a wonder he didn't marry her, for there's a very fine boy, and I understand Grandcourt can do absolutely as he pleases with the estates. Lush told me as much as that."

"What right had he to marry this girl?" said Deronda, with disgust.

Mr. Vandernoodt, adjusting the end of his cigar, shrugged his shoulders and put out his lips.

"She can know nothing of it," said Deronda, emphatically. But that positive statement was immediately followed by an inward query—"Could she have known anything of it?"

"It's rather a piquant picture," said Mr. Vandernoodt—"Grandcourt between two fiery women. For depend upon it this light-haired one has plenty of devil in her. I formed that opinion of her at Leubronn. It's a sort of Medea and Creüsa business. Fancy the two meeting! Grandcourt is a new kind of Jason: I wonder what sort of a part he'll make of it. It's a dog's part at best. I think I hear Ristori now, saying, 'Jasone! Jasone!' These fine women generally get hold of a stick."

"Grandcourt can bite, I fancy," said Deronda. "He is no stick."