'Now mind the direction,' said Budden: 'the coach goes from the Flower-pot, in Bishopsgate-street, every half hour. When the coach stops at the Swan, you'll see, immediately opposite you, a white house.'
'Which is your house--I understand,' said Minns, wishing to cut short the visit, and the story, at the same time.
'No, no, that's not mine; that's Grogus's, the great ironmonger's. I was going to say--you turn down by the side of the white house till you can't go another step further--mind that!--and then you turn to your right, by some stables--well; close to you, you'll see a wall with "Beware of the Dog" written on it in large letters-- (Minns shuddered)--go along by the side of that wall for about a quarter of a mile--and anybody will show you which is my place.'
'Very well--thank ye--good-bye.'
'Certainly: good morning.'
'I say, Minns, you've got a card.'
'Yes, I have; thank ye.' And Mr. Octavius Budden departed, leaving his cousin looking forward to his visit on the following Sunday, with the feelings of a penniless poet to the weekly visit of his Scotch landlady.
Sunday arrived; the sky was bright and clear; crowds of people were hurrying along the streets, intent on their different schemes of pleasure for the day; everything and everybody looked cheerful and happy except Mr. Augustus Minns.
The day was fine, but the heat was considerable; when Mr. Minns had fagged up the shady side of Fleet-street, Cheapside, and Threadneedle-street, he had become pretty warm, tolerably dusty, and it was getting late into the bargain. By the most extraordinary good fortune, however, a coach was waiting at the Flower-pot, into which Mr. Augustus Minns got, on the solemn assurance of the cad that the vehicle would start in three minutes- -that being the very utmost extremity of time it was allowed to wait by Act of Parliament. A quarter of an hour elapsed, and there were no signs of moving. Minns looked at his watch for the sixth time.
'Coachman, are you going or not?' bawled Mr. Minns, with his head and half his body out of the coach window.
'Di-rectly, sir,' said the coachman, with his hands in his pockets, looking as much unlike a man in a hurry as possible.
'Bill, take them cloths off.' Five minutes more elapsed: at the end of which time the coachman mounted the box, from whence he looked down the street, and up the street, and hailed all the pedestrians for another five minutes.
'Coachman! if you don't go this moment, I shall get out,' said Mr. Minns, rendered desperate by the lateness of the hour, and the impossibility of being in Poplar-walk at the appointed time.
'Going this minute, sir,' was the reply;--and, accordingly, the machine trundled on for a couple of hundred yards, and then stopped again. Minns doubled himself up in a corner of the coach, and abandoned himself to his fate, as a child, a mother, a bandbox and a parasol, became his fellow-passengers.
The child was an affectionate and an amiable infant; the little dear mistook Minns for his other parent, and screamed to embrace him.
'Be quiet, dear,' said the mamma, restraining the impetuosity of the darling, whose little fat legs were kicking, and stamping, and twining themselves into the most complicated forms, in an ecstasy of impatience. 'Be quiet, dear, that's not your papa.'
'Thank Heaven I am not!' thought Minns, as the first gleam of pleasure he had experienced that morning shone like a meteor through his wretchedness.
Playfulness was agreeably mingled with affection in the disposition of the boy. When satisfied that Mr. Minns was not his parent, he endeavoured to attract his notice by scraping his drab trousers with his dirty shoes, poking his chest with his mamma's parasol, and other nameless endearments peculiar to infancy, with which he beguiled the tediousness of the ride, apparently very much to his own satisfaction.
When the unfortunate gentleman arrived at the Swan, he found to his great dismay, that it was a quarter past five.