Being now personally addressed by Mrs Gamp, he turned round, and mingled in the conversation.
'You ain't been in the City, I suppose, sir, since we was all three there together,' said Mrs Gamp, 'at Mr Chuzzlewit's?'
'Yes, I have, Sairah. I was there last night.'
'Last night!' cried the barber.
'Yes, Poll, reether so. You can call it this morning, if you like to be particular. He dined with us.'
'Who does that young Limb mean by "hus?"' said Mrs Gamp, with most impatient emphasis.
'Me and my Governor, Sairah. He dined at our house. We wos very merry, Sairah. So much so, that I was obliged to see him home in a hackney coach at three o'clock in the morning.' It was on the tip of the boy's tongue to relate what had followed; but remembering how easily it might be carried to his master's ears, and the repeated cautions he had had from Mr Crimple 'not to chatter,' he checked himself; adding, only, 'She was sitting up, expecting him.'
'And all things considered,' said Mrs Gamp sharply, 'she might have know'd better than to go a-tirin herself out, by doin' anythink of the sort. Did they seem pretty pleasant together, sir?'
'Oh, yes,' answered Bailey, 'pleasant enough.'
'I'm glad on it,' said Mrs Gamp, with a second sniff of significance.
'They haven't been married so long,' observed Poll, rubbing his hands, 'that they need be anything but pleasant yet awhile.'
'No,' said Mrs Gamp, with a third significant signal.
'Especially,' pursued the barber, 'when the gentleman bears such a character as you gave him.'
'I speak; as I find, Mr Sweedlepipes,' said Mrs Gamp. 'Forbid it should be otherways! But we never knows wot's hidden in each other's hearts; and if we had glass winders there, we'd need keep the shetters up, some on us, I do assure you!'
'But you don't mean to say--' Poll Sweedlepipe began.
'No,' said Mrs Gamp, cutting him very short, 'I don't. Don't think I do. The torters of the Imposition shouldn't make me own I did. All I says is,' added the good woman, rising and folding her shawl about her, 'that the Bull's a-waitin, and the precious moments is a-flyin' fast.'
The little barber having in his eager curiosity a great desire to see Mrs Gamp's patient, proposed to Mr Bailey that they should accompany her to the Bull, and witness the departure of the coach. That young gentleman assenting, they all went out together.
Arriving at the tavern, Mrs Gamp (who was full-dressed for the journey, in her latest suit of mourning) left her friends to entertain themselves in the yard, while she ascended to the sick room, where her fellow-labourer Mrs Prig was dressing the invalid.
He was so wasted, that it seemed as if his bones would rattle when they moved him. His cheeks were sunken, and his eyes unnaturally large. He lay back in the easy-chair like one more dead than living; and rolled his languid eyes towards the door when Mrs Gamp appeared, as painfully as if their weight alone were burdensome to move.
'And how are we by this time?' Mrs Gamp observed. 'We looks charming.'
'We looks a deal charminger than we are, then,' returned Mrs Prig, a little chafed in her temper. 'We got out of bed back'ards, I think, for we're as cross as two sticks. I never see sich a man. He wouldn't have been washed, if he'd had his own way.'
'She put the soap in my mouth,' said the unfortunate patient feebly.
'Couldn't you keep it shut then?' retorted Mrs Prig. 'Who do you think's to wash one feater, and miss another, and wear one's eyes out with all manner of fine work of that description, for half-a- crown a day! If you wants to be tittivated, you must pay accordin'.'
'Oh dear me!' cried the patient, 'oh dear, dear!'
'There!' said Mrs Prig, 'that's the way he's been a-conductin of himself, Sarah, ever since I got him out of bed, if you'll believe it.'
'Instead of being grateful,' Mrs Gamp observed, 'for all our little ways. Oh, fie for shame, sir, fie for shame!'
Here Mrs Prig seized the patient by the chin, and began to rasp his unhappy head with a hair-brush.