He was quite the man-about-town of the conversation, while the easy-shaver was the child.
'Why, I am going to fetch my lodger home,' said Paul.
'A woman!' cried Mr Bailey, 'for a twenty-pun' note!'
The little barber hastened to explain that she was neither a young woman, nor a handsome woman, but a nurse, who had been acting as a kind of house-keeper to a gentleman for some weeks past, and left her place that night, in consequence of being superseded by another and a more legitimate house-keeper--to wit, the gentleman's bride.
'He's newly married, and he brings his young wife home to-night,' said the barber. 'So I'm going to fetch my lodger away--Mr Chuzzlewit's, close behind the Post Office--and carry her box for her.'
'Jonas Chuzzlewit's?' said Bailey.
'Ah!' returned Paul: 'that's the name sure enough. Do you know him?'
'Oh, no!' cried Mr Bailey; 'not at all. And I don't know her! Not neither! Why, they first kept company through me, a'most.'
'Ah?' said Paul.
'Ah!' said Mr Bailey, with a wink; 'and she ain't bad looking mind you. But her sister was the best. SHE was the merry one. I often used to have a bit of fun with her, in the hold times!'
Mr Bailey spoke as if he already had a leg and three-quarters in the grave, and this had happened twenty or thirty years ago. Paul Sweedlepipe, the meek, was so perfectly confounded by his precocious self-possession, and his patronizing manner, as well as by his boots, cockade, and livery, that a mist swam before his eyes, and he saw--not the Bailey of acknowledged juvenility from Todgers's Commercial Boarding House, who had made his acquaintance within a twelvemonth, by purchasing, at sundry times, small birds at twopence each--but a highly-condensed embodiment of all the sporting grooms in London; an abstract of all the stable-knowledge of the time; a something at a high-pressure that must have had existence many years, and was fraught with terrible experiences. And truly, though in the cloudy atmosphere of Todgers's, Mr Bailey's genius had ever shone out brightly in this particular respect, it now eclipsed both time and space, cheated beholders of their senses, and worked on their belief in defiance of all natural laws. He walked along the tangible and real stones of Holborn Hill, an undersized boy; and yet he winked the winks, and thought the thoughts, and did the deeds, and said the sayings of an ancient man. There was an old principle within him, and a young surface without. He became an inexplicable creature; a breeched and booted Sphinx. There was no course open to the barber, but to go distracted himself, or to take Bailey for granted; and he wisely chose the latter.
Mr Bailey was good enough to continue to bear him company, and to entertain him, as they went, with easy conversation on various sporting topics; especially on the comparative merits, as a general principle, of horses with white stockings, and horses without. In regard to the style of tail to be preferred, Mr Bailey had opinions of his own, which he explained, but begged they might by no means influence his friend's, as here he knew he had the misfortune to differ from some excellent authorities. He treated Mr Sweedlepipe to a dram, compounded agreeably to his own directions, which he informed him had been invented by a member of the Jockey Club; and, as they were by this time near the barber's destination, he observed that, as he had an hour to spare, and knew the parties, he would, if quite agreeable, be introduced to Mrs Gamp.
Paul knocked at Jonas Chuzzlewit's; and, on the door being opened by that lady, made the two distinguished persons known to one another. It was a happy feature in Mrs Gamp's twofold profession, that it gave her an interest in everything that was young as well as in everything that was old. She received Mr Bailey with much kindness.
'It's very good, I'm sure, of you to come,' she said to her landlord, 'as well as bring so nice a friend. But I'm afraid that I must trouble you so far as to step in, for the young couple has not yet made appearance.'
'They're late, ain't they?' inquired her landlord, when she had conducted them downstairs into the kitchen.