8. CHAPTER VIII
"Best of friends, exert your intellect, and help me," he proceeded.
"Tell me--why does a time come when these matrimonial proceedings
of mine begin to look like something done in a dream?
Why does it suddenly occur to me that my true happiness is in
helping my dear Ladies, in going my modest round of useful work,
in saying my few earnest words when called on by my Chairman?
What do I want with a position? I have got a position?
What do I want with an income? I can pay for my bread and cheese,
and my nice little lodging, and my two coats a year.
What do I want with Miss Verinder? She has told me with her
own lips (this, dear lady, is between ourselves) that she
loves another man, and that her only idea in marrying me is
to try and put that other man out of her head. What a horrid
union is this! Oh, dear me, what a horrid union is this!
Such are my reflections, Miss Clack, on my way to Brighton.
I approach Rachel with the feeling of a criminal who is going to
receive his sentence. When I find that she has changed her mind too--
when I hear her propose to break the engagement--I experience
(there is no sort of doubt about it) a most overpowering
sense of relief. A month ago I was pressing her rapturously
to my bosom. An hour ago, the happiness of knowing that I shall
never press her again, intoxicates me like strong liquor.
The thing seems impossible--the thing can't be.
And yet there are the facts, as I had the honour of stating
them when we first sat down together in these two chairs.
I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position,
and a handsome income; and I have submitted to it without a struggle.
Can you account for it, dear friend? It's quite beyond
His magnificent head sank on his breast, and he gave up his own mental
problem in despair.