BREAKFAST IN BERKELEY SQUARE.
Too Long; Didn't ReadLord Nidderdale was greatly disgusted with his own part of the performance when he left the House of Commons, and was, we may say, disgusted with his own position generally, when he considered all its circumstances. That had been at the commencement of the evening, and Melmotte had not then been tipsy; but he had behaved with unsurpassable arrogance and vulgarity, and had made the young lord drink the cup of his own disgrace to the very dregs. Everybody now knew it as a positive fact that the charges made against the man were to become matter of investigation before the chief magistrate for the City, everybody knew that he had committed forgery upon forgery, everybody knew that he could not pay for the property which he had pretended to buy, and that he was actually a ruined man;—and yet he had seized Nidderdale by the hand, and called the young lord "his dear boy" before the whole House.
And then he had made himself conspicuous as this man's advocate. If he had not himself spoken openly of his coming marriage with the girl, he had allowed other men to speak to him about it. He had quarrelled with one man for saying that Melmotte was a rogue, and had confidentially told his most intimate friends that in spite of a little vulgarity of manner, Melmotte at bottom was a very good fellow. How was he now to back out of his intimacy with the Melmottes generally? He was engaged to marry the girl, and there was nothing of which he could accuse her. He acknowledged to himself that she deserved well at his hands. Though at this moment he hated the father most bitterly, as those odious words, and the tone in which they had been pronounced, rang in his ears, nevertheless he had some kindly feeling for the girl. Of course he could not marry her now. That was manifestly out of the question. She herself, as well as all others, had known that she was to be married for her money, and now that bubble had been burst. But he felt that he owed it to her, as to a comrade who had on the whole been loyal to him, to have some personal explanation with herself. He arranged in his own mind the sort of speech that he would make to her. "Of course you know it can't be. It was all arranged because you were to have a lot of money, and now it turns out that you haven't got any. And I haven't got any, and we should have nothing to live upon. It's out of the question. But, upon my word, I'm very sorry, for I like you very much, and I really think we should have got on uncommon well together." That was the kind of speech that he suggested to himself, but he did not know how to find for himself the opportunity of making it. He thought that he must put it all into a letter. But then that would be tantamount to a written confession that he had made her an offer of marriage, and he feared that Melmotte,—or Madame Melmotte on his behalf, if the great man himself were absent, in prison,—might make an ungenerous use of such an admission.