His bony hands and haggard face impressed Poll wonderfully; and he informed Mr Bailey in confidence, that he wouldn't have missed seeing him for a pound. Mr Bailey, who was of a different constitution, remarked that he would have stayed away for five shillings.
It was a troublesome matter to adjust Mrs Gamp's luggage to her satisfaction; for every package belonging to that lady had the inconvenient property of requiring to be put in a boot by itself, and to have no other luggage near it, on pain of actions at law for heavy damages against the proprietors of the coach. The umbrella with the circular patch was particularly hard to be got rid of, and several times thrust out its battered brass nozzle from improper crevices and chinks, to the great terror of the other passengers. Indeed, in her intense anxiety to find a haven of refuge for this chattel, Mrs Gamp so often moved it, in the course of five minutes, that it seemed not one umbrella but fifty. At length it was lost, or said to be; and for the next five minutes she was face to face with the coachman, go wherever he might, protesting that it should be 'made good,' though she took the question to the House of Commons.
At last, her bundle, and her pattens, and her basket, and everything else, being disposed of, she took a friendly leave of Poll and Mr Bailey, dropped a curtsey to John Westlock, and parted as from a cherished member of the sisterhood with Betsey Prig.
'Wishin you lots of sickness, my darlin creetur,' Mrs Gamp observed, 'and good places. It won't be long, I hope, afore we works together, off and on, again, Betsey; and may our next meetin' be at a large family's, where they all takes it reg'lar, one from another, turn and turn about, and has it business-like.'
'I don't care how soon it is,' said Mrs Prig; 'nor how many weeks it lasts.'
Mrs Gamp with a reply in a congenial spirit was backing to the coach, when she came in contact with a lady and gentleman who were passing along the footway.
'Take care, take care here!' cried the gentleman. 'Halloo! My dear! Why, it's Mrs Gamp!'
'What, Mr Mould!' exclaimed the nurse. 'And Mrs Mould! who would have thought as we should ever have a meetin' here, I'm sure!'
'Going out of town, Mrs Gamp?' cried Mould. 'That's unusual, isn't it?'
'It IS unusual, sir,' said Mrs Gamp. 'But only for a day or two at most. The gent,' she whispered, 'as I spoke about.'
'What, in the coach!' cried Mould. 'The one you thought of recommending? Very odd. My dear, this will interest you. The gentleman that Mrs Gamp thought likely to suit us is in the coach, my love.'
Mrs Mould was greatly interested.
'Here, my dear. You can stand upon the door-step,' said Mould, 'and take a look at him. Ha! There he is. Where's my glass? Oh! all right. I've got it. Do you see him, my dear?'
'Quite plain,' said Mrs Mould.
'Upon my life, you know, this is a very singular circumstance,' said Mould, quite delighted. 'This is the sort of thing, my dear, I wouldn't have missed on any account. It tickles one. It's interesting. It's almost a little play, you know. Ah! There he is! To be sure. Looks poorly, Mrs M., don't he?'
Mrs Mould assented.
'He's coming our way, perhaps, after all,' said Mould. 'Who knows! I feel as if I ought to show him some little attention, really. He don't seem a stranger to me. I'm very much inclined to move my hat, my dear.'
'He's looking hard this way,' said Mrs Mould.
'Then I will!' cried Mould. 'How d'ye do, sir! I wish you good day. Ha! He bows too. Very gentlemanly. Mrs Gamp has the cards in her pocket, I have no doubt. This is very singular, my dear--and very pleasant. I am not superstitious, but it really seems as if one was destined to pay him those little melancholy civilities which belong to our peculiar line of business. There can be no kind of objection to your kissing your hand to him, my dear.'
Mrs Mould did so.
'Ha!' said Mould. 'He's evidently gratified. Poor fellow! I am quite glad you did it, my love.