‘John’s mortial strong, Mr Carbury.’
’If two men have equal pluck, strength isn’t much needed. One is a brave man, and the other—a coward. Which do you think is which?’
’He’s your own cousin, and I don’t know why you should say everything again him.’
’You know I’m telling you the truth. You know it as well as I do myself;—and you’re throwing yourself away, and throwing the man who loves you over,—for such a fellow as that! Go back to him, Ruby, and beg his pardon.’
‘I never will;—never.’
’I’ve spoken to Mrs Pipkin, and while you’re here she will see that you don’t keep such hours any longer. You tell me that you’re not disgraced, and yet you are out at midnight with a young blackguard like that! I’ve said what I’ve got to say, and I’m going away. But I’ll let your grandfather know.’
‘Grandfather don’t want me no more.’
’And I’ll come again. If you want money to go home, I will let you have it. Take my advice at least in this;—do not see Sir Felix Carbury any more.’ Then he took his leave. If he had failed to impress her with admiration for John Crumb, he had certainly been efficacious in lessening that which she had entertained for Sir Felix.
The very greatness of Mr Melmotte’s popularity, the extent of the admiration which was accorded by the public at large to his commercial enterprise and financial sagacity, created a peculiar bitterness in the opposition that was organized against him at Westminster. As the high mountains are intersected by deep valleys, as puritanism in one age begets infidelity in the next, as in many countries the thickness of the winter’s ice will be in proportion to the number of the summer musquitoes, so was the keenness of the hostility displayed on this occasion in proportion to the warmth of the support which was manifested. As the great man was praised, so also was he abused. As he was a demi-god to some, so was he a fiend to others. And indeed there was hardly any other way in which it was possible to carry on the contest against him. From the moment in which Mr Melmotte had declared his purpose of standing for Westminster in the Conservative interest, an attempt was made to drive him down the throats of the electors by clamorous assertions of his unprecedented commercial greatness. It seemed that there was but one virtue in the world, commercial enterprise,—and that Melmotte was its prophet. It seemed, too, that the orators and writers of the day intended all Westminster to believe that Melmotte treated his great affairs in a spirit very different from that which animates the bosoms of merchants in general. He had risen above feeling of personal profit. His wealth was so immense that there was no longer place for anxiety on that score. He already possessed,—so it was said,—enough to found a dozen families, and he had but one daughter!