Chapter 43: A Friend in Need
The election day came at last; there was no lack of work for Jerry and me.
First came a stout puffy gentleman with a carpet bag; he wanted to go
to the Bishopsgate station; then we were called by a party
who wished to be taken to the Regent's Park; and next we were wanted
in a side street where a timid, anxious old lady was waiting to be taken
to the bank; there we had to stop to take her back again,
and just as we had set her down a red-faced gentleman,
with a handful of papers, came running up out of breath,
and before Jerry could get down he had opened the door, popped himself in,
and called out, "Bow Street Police Station, quick!" so off we went with him,
and when after another turn or two we came back, there was no other cab
on the stand. Jerry put on my nose-bag, for as he said,
"We must eat when we can on such days as these; so munch away, Jack,
and make the best of your time, old boy."
I found I had a good feed of crushed oats wetted up with a little bran;
this would be a treat any day, but very refreshing then.
Jerry was so thoughtful and kind -- what horse would not do his best
for such a master? Then he took out one of Polly's meat pies,
and standing near me, he began to eat it. The streets were very full,
and the cabs, with the candidates' colors on them, were dashing about
through the crowd as if life and limb were of no consequence;
we saw two people knocked down that day, and one was a woman.
The horses were having a bad time of it, poor things!
but the voters inside thought nothing of that; many of them were half-drunk,
hurrahing out of the cab windows if their own party came by.
It was the first election I had seen, and I don't want to be in another,
though I have heard things are better now.
Jerry and I had not eaten many mouthfuls before a poor young woman,
carrying a heavy child, came along the street. She was looking
this way and that way, and seemed quite bewildered. Presently she made
her way up to Jerry and asked if he could tell her the way
to St. Thomas' Hospital, and how far it was to get there.
She had come from the country that morning, she said, in a market cart;
she did not know about the election, and was quite a stranger in London.
She had got an order for the hospital for her little boy.
The child was crying with a feeble, pining cry.