'Well, sir, considern' the Wings of Love, they are,' said Mrs Gamp.
Mr Bailey inquired whether the Wings of Love had ever won a plate, or could be backed to do anything remarkable; and being informed that it was not a horse, but merely a poetical or figurative expression, evinced considerable disgust. Mrs Gamp was so very much astonished by his affable manners and great ease, that she was about to propound to her landlord in a whisper the staggering inquiry, whether he was a man or a boy, when Mr Sweedlepipe, anticipating her design, made a timely diversion.
'He knows Mrs Chuzzlewit,' said Paul aloud.
'There's nothin' he don't know; that's my opinion,' observed Mrs Gamp. 'All the wickedness of the world is Print to him.'
Mr Bailey received this as a compliment, and said, adjusting his cravat, 'reether so.'
'As you knows Mrs Chuzzlewit, you knows, p'raps, what her chris'en name is?' Mrs Gamp observed.
'Charity,' said Bailey.
'That it ain't!' cried Mrs Gamp.
'Cherry, then,' said Bailey. 'Cherry's short for it. It's all the same.'
'It don't begin with a C at all,' retorted Mrs Gamp, shaking her head. 'It begins with a M.'
'Whew!' cried Mr Bailey, slapping a little cloud of pipe-clay out of his left leg, 'then he's been and married the merry one!'
As these words were mysterious, Mrs Gamp called upon him to explain, which Mr Bailey proceeded to do; that lady listening greedily to everything he said. He was yet in the fullness of his narrative when the sound of wheels, and a double knock at the street door, announced the arrival of the newly married couple. Begging him to reserve what more he had to say for her hearing on the way home, Mrs Gamp took up the candle, and hurried away to receive and welcome the young mistress of the house.
'Wishing you appiness and joy with all my art,' said Mrs Gamp, dropping a curtsey as they entered the hall; 'and you, too, sir. Your lady looks a little tired with the journey, Mr Chuzzlewit, a pretty dear!'
'She has bothered enough about it,' grumbled Mr Jonas. 'Now, show a light, will you?'
'This way, ma'am, if you please,' said Mrs Gamp, going upstairs before them. 'Things has been made as comfortable as they could be, but there's many things you'll have to alter your own self when you gets time to look about you! Ah! sweet thing! But you don't,' added Mrs Gamp, internally, 'you don't look much like a merry one, I must say!'
It was true; she did not. The death that had gone before the bridal seemed to have left its shade upon the house. The air was heavy and oppressive; the rooms were dark; a deep gloom filled up every chink and corner. Upon the hearthstone, like a creature of ill omen, sat the aged clerk, with his eyes fixed on some withered branches in the stove. He rose and looked at her.
'So there you are, Mr Chuff,' said Jonas carelessly, as he dusted his boots; 'still in the land of the living, eh?'
'Still in the land of the living, sir,' retorted Mrs Gamp. 'And Mr Chuffey may thank you for it, as many and many a time I've told him.'
Mr Jonas was not in the best of humours, for he merely said, as he looked round, 'We don't want you any more, you know, Mrs Gamp.'
'I'm a-going immediate, sir,' returned the nurse; 'unless there's nothink I can do for you, ma'am. Ain't there,' said Mrs Gamp, with a look of great sweetness, and rummaging all the time in her pocket; 'ain't there nothink I can do for you, my little bird?'
'No,' said Merry, almost crying. 'You had better go away, please!'
With a leer of mingled sweetness and slyness; with one eye on the future, one on the bride, and an arch expression in her face, partly spiritual, partly spirituous, and wholly professional and peculiar to her art; Mrs Gamp rummaged in her pocket again, and took from it a printed card, whereon was an inscription copied from her signboard.
'Would you be so good, my darling dovey of a dear young married lady,' Mrs Gamp observed, in a low voice, 'as put that somewheres where you can keep it in your mind? I'm well beknown to many ladies, and it's my card.