Engaged, cried Jerry; but one of the men, pushing past the woman, sprang into the cab, followed by the other. Jerry looked as stern as a policeman. This cab is already engaged, gentlemen, by that lady.
Lady! said one of them; oh! she can wait; our business is very important, besides we were in first, it is our right, and we shall stay in.
A droll smile came over Jerrys face as he shut the door upon them. All right, gentlemen, pray stay in as long as it suits you; I can wait while you rest yourselves. And turning his back upon them he walked up to the young woman, who was standing near me. Theyll soon be gone, he said, laughing; dont trouble yourself, my dear.
And they soon were gone, for when they understood Jerrys dodge they got out, calling him all sorts of bad names and blustering about his number and getting a summons. After this little stoppage we were soon on our way to the hospital, going as much as possible through by-streets. Jerry rung the great bell and helped the young woman out.
Thank you a thousand times, she said; I could never have got here alone.
Youre kindly welcome, and I hope the dear child will soon be better.
He watched her go in at the door, and gently he said to himself, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these. Then he patted my neck, which was always his way when anything pleased him.
The rain was now coming down fast, and just as we were leaving the hospital the door opened again, and the porter called out, Cab! We stopped, and a lady came down the steps. Jerry seemed to know her at once; she put back her veil and said, Barker! Jeremiah Barker, is it you? I am very glad to find you here; you are just the friend I want, for it is very difficult to get a cab in this part of London to-day.
I shall be proud to serve you, maam; I am right glad I happened to be here. Where may I take you to, maam?
To the Paddington Station, and then if we are in good time, as I think we shall be, you shall tell me all about Mary and the children.
We got to the station in good time, and being under shelter the lady stood a good while talking to Jerry. I found she had been Pollys mistress, and after many inquiries about her she said:
How do you find the cab work suit you in winter? I know Mary was rather anxious about you last year.
Yes, maam, she was; I had a bad cough that followed me up quite into the warm weather, and when I am kept out late she does worry herself a good deal. You see, maam, it is all hours and all weathers, and that does try a mans constitution; but I am getting on pretty well, and I should feel quite lost if I had not horses to look after. I was brought up to it, and I am afraid I should not do so well at anything else.
Well, Barker, she said, it would be a great pity that you should seriously risk your health in this work, not only for your own but for Marys and the childrens sake; there are many places where good drivers or good grooms are wanted, and if ever you think you ought to give up this cab work let me know.
Then sending some kind messages to Mary she put something into his hand, saying, There is five shillings each for the two children; Mary will know how to spend it.
Jerry thanked her and seemed much pleased, and turning out of the station we at last reached home, and I, at least, was tired.
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