Permittin' the sweet faces as I see afore me.'
'Oh!' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'Is that your business? Was this good person paid for the trouble we gave her?'
'I paid her, sir,' returned Mark Tapley; 'liberal.'
'The young man's words is true,' said Mrs Gamp, 'and thank you kindly.'
'Then here we will close our acquaintance, Mrs Gamp,' retorted Mr Chuzzlewit. 'And Mr Sweedlepipe--is that your name?'
'That is my name, sir,' replied Poll, accepting with a profusion of gratitude, some chinking pieces which the old man slipped into his hand.
'Mr Sweedlepipe, take as much care of your lady-lodger as you can, and give her a word or two of good advice now and then. Such,' said old Martin, looking gravely at the astonished Mrs Gamp, 'as hinting at the expediency of a little less liquor, and a little more humanity, and a little less regard for herself, and a little more regard for her patients, and perhaps a trifle of additional honesty. Or when Mrs Gamp gets into trouble, Mr Sweedlepipe, it had better not be at a time when I am near enough to the Old Bailey to volunteer myself as a witness to her character. Endeavour to impress that upon her at your leisure, if you please.'
Mrs Gamp clasped her hands, turned up her eyes until they were quite invisible, threw back her bonnet for the admission of fresh air to her heated brow; and in the act of saying faintly--'Less liquor!-- Sairey Gamp--Bottle on the chimney-piece, and let me put my lips to it, when I am so dispoged!'--fell into one of the walking swoons; in which pitiable state she was conducted forth by Mr Sweedlepipe, who, between his two patients, the swooning Mrs Gamp and the revolving Bailey, had enough to do, poor fellow.
The old man looked about him, with a smile, until his eyes rested on Tom Pinch's sister; when he smiled the more.
'We will all dine here together,' he said; 'and as you and Mary have enough to talk of, Martin, you shall keep house for us until the afternoon, with Mr and Mrs Tapley. I must see your lodgings in the meanwhile, Tom.'
Tom was quite delighted. So was Ruth. She would go with them.
'Thank you, my love,' said Mr Chuzzlewit. 'But I am afraid I must take Tom a little out of the way, on business. Suppose you go on first, my dear?'
Pretty little Ruth was equally delighted to do that.
'But not alone,' said Martin, 'not alone. Mr Westlock, I dare say, will escort you.'
Why, of course he would: what else had Mr Westlock in his mind? How dull these old men are!
'You are sure you have no engagement?' he persisted.
Engagement! As if he could have any engagement!
So they went off arm-in-arm. When Tom and Mr Chuzzlewit went off arm-in-arm a few minutes after them, the latter was still smiling; and really, for a gentleman of his habits, in rather a knowing manner.
WHAT JOHN WESTLOCK SAID TO TOM PINCH'S SISTER; WHAT TOM PINCH'S SISTER SAID TO JOHN WESTLOCK; WHAT TOM PINCH SAID TO BOTH OF THEM; AND HOW THEY ALL PASSED THE REMAINDER OF THE DAY
Brilliantly the Temple Fountain sparkled in the sun, and laughingly its liquid music played, and merrily the idle drops of water danced and danced, and peeping out in sport among the trees, plunged lightly down to hide themselves, as little Ruth and her companion came toward it.
And why they came toward the Fountain at all is a mystery; for they had no business there. It was not in their way. It was quite out of their way. They had no more to do with the Fountain, bless you, than they had with--with Love, or any out-of-the-way thing of that sort.
It was all very well for Tom and his sister to make appointments by the Fountain, but that was quite another affair. Because, of course, when she had to wait a minute or two, it would have been very awkward for her to have had to wait in any but a tolerably quiet spot; but that was as quiet a spot, everything considered, as they could choose. But when she had John Westlock to take care of her, and was going home with her arm in his (home being in a different direction altogether), their coming anywhere near that Fountain was quite extraordinary.