The Diary of a Nobody Part 3

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“Revenons a nos moutons.

“Our lives run in different grooves. I live for MY ART–THE STAGE. Your life is devoted to commercial pursuits–‘A life among Ledgers.’ My books are of different metal. Your life in the City is honourable, I admit. BUT HOW DIFFERENT! Cannot even you see the ocean between us? A channel that prevents the meeting of our brains in harmonious accord. Ah! But chacun a son gout.

“I have registered a vow to mount the steps of fame. I may crawl, I may slip, I may even falter (we are all weak), but REACH THE TOP RUNG OF THE LADDER I WILL!!! When there, my voice shall be heard, for I will shout to the mult.i.tudes below: ‘Vici!’ For the present I am only an amateur, and my work is unknown, forsooth, save to a party of friends, with here and there an enemy.

“But, Mr. Pooter, let me ask you, ‘What is the difference between the amateur and the professional?’

“None!!!

“Stay! Yes, there is a difference. One is PAID for doing what the other does as skilfully for NOTHING!

“But I will be PAID, too! For I, contrary to the wishes of my family and friends, have at last elected to adopt the stage as MY profession. And when the FARCE craze is over–and, MARK YOU, THAT WILL BE SOON–I will make my power known; for I feel–pardon my apparent conceit–that there is no living man who can play the hump-backed Richard as I FEEL and KNOW I can.

“And YOU will be the first to come round and bend your head in submission. There are many matters you may understand, but knowledge of the fine art of acting is to you an UNKNOWN QUANt.i.tY.

“Pray let this discussion cease with this letter. Vale!

Yours truly, “Burwin-Fosselton.”

I was disgusted. When Lupin came in, I handed him this impertinent letter, and said: “My boy, in that letter you can see the true character of your friend.”

Lupin, to my surprise, said: “Oh yes. He showed me the letter before he sent it. I think he is right, and you ought to apologise.”

CHAPTER XII.

A serious discussion concerning the use and value of my diary. Lupin’s opinion of ‘Xmas. Lupin’s unfortunate engagement is on again.

December 17.–As I open my scribbling diary I find the words “Oxford Michaelmas Term ends.” Why this should induce me to indulge in retrospective I don’t know, but it does. The last few weeks of my diary are of minimum interest. The breaking off of the engagement between Lupin and Daisy Mutlar has made him a different being, and Carrie a rather depressing companion. She was a little dull last Sat.u.r.day, and I thought to cheer her up by reading some extracts from my diary; but she walked out of the room in the middle of the reading, without a word. On her return, I said: “Did my diary bore you, darling?”

She replied, to my surprise: “I really wasn’t listening, dear. I was obliged to leave to give instructions to the laundress. In consequence of some stuff she puts in the water, two more of Lupin’s coloured shirts have run and he says he won’t wear them.”

I said: “Everything is Lupin. It’s all Lupin, Lupin, Lupin. There was not a single b.u.t.ton on my shirt yesterday, but I made no complaint.”

Carrie simply replied: “You should do as all other men do, and wear studs. In fact, I never saw anyone but you wear b.u.t.tons on the shirt-fronts.”

I said: “I certainly wore none yesterday, for there were none on.”

Another thought that strikes me is that Gowing seldom calls in the evening, and c.u.mmings never does. I fear they don’t get on well with Lupin.

December 18.–Yesterday I was in a retrospective vein–to-day it is PROSPECTIVE. I see nothing but clouds, clouds, clouds. Lupin is perfectly intolerable over the Daisy Mutlar business. He won’t say what is the cause of the breach. He is evidently condemning her conduct, and yet, if we venture to agree with him, says he won’t hear a word against her. So what is one to do? Another thing which is disappointing to me is, that Carrie and Lupin take no interest whatever in my diary.

I broached the subject at the breakfast-table to-day. I said: “I was in hopes that, if anything ever happened to me, the diary would be an endless source of pleasure to you both; to say nothing of the chance of the remuneration which may accrue from its being published.”

Both Carrie and Lupin burst out laughing. Carrie was sorry for this, I could see, for she said: “I did not mean to be rude, dear Charlie; but truly I do not think your diary would sufficiently interest the public to be taken up by a publisher.”

I replied: “I am sure it would prove quite as interesting as some of the ridiculous reminiscences that have been published lately. Besides, it’s the diary that makes the man. Where would Evelyn and Pepys have been if it had not been for their diaries?”

Carrie said I was quite a philosopher; but Lupin, in a jeering tone, said: “If it had been written on larger paper, Guv., we might get a fair price from a b.u.t.terman for it.”

As I am in the prospective vein, I vow the end of this year will see the end of my diary.

December 19.–The annual invitation came to spend Christmas with Carrie’s mother–the usual family festive gathering to which we always look forward. Lupin declined to go. I was astounded, and expressed my surprise and disgust. Lupin then obliged us with the following Radical speech: “I hate a family gathering at Christmas. What does it mean? Why someone says: ‘Ah! we miss poor Uncle James, who was here last year,’ and we all begin to snivel. Someone else says: ‘It’s two years since poor Aunt Liz used to sit in that corner.’ Then we all begin to snivel again. Then another gloomy relation says ‘Ah! I wonder whose turn it will be next?’ Then we all snivel again, and proceed to eat and drink too much; and they don’t discover until I get up that we have been seated thirteen at dinner.”

December 20.–Went to Smirksons’, the drapers, in the Strand, who this year have turned out everything in the shop and devoted the whole place to the sale of Christmas cards. Shop crowded with people, who seemed to take up the cards rather roughly, and, after a hurried glance at them, throw them down again. I remarked to one of the young persons serving, that carelessness appeared to be a disease with some purchasers. The observation was scarcely out of my mouth, when my thick coat-sleeve caught against a large pile of expensive cards in boxes one on top of the other, and threw them down. The manager came forward, looking very much annoyed, and picking up several cards from the ground, said to one of the a.s.sistants, with a palpable side-glance at me: “Put these amongst the sixpenny goods; they can’t be sold for a shilling now.” The result was, I felt it my duty to buy some of these damaged cards.

I had to buy more and pay more than intended. Unfortunately I did not examine them all, and when I got home I discovered a vulgar card with a picture of a fat nurse with two babies, one black and the other white, and the words: “We wish Pa a Merry Christmas.” I tore up the card and threw it away. Carrie said the great disadvantage of going out in Society and increasing the number of our friends was, that we should have to send out nearly two dozen cards this year.

December 21.–To save the postman a miserable Christmas, we follow the example of all unselfish people, and send out our cards early. Most of the cards had finger-marks, which I did not notice at night. I shall buy all future cards in the daytime. Lupin (who, ever since he has had the appointment with a stock and share broker, does not seem over-scrupulous in his dealings) told me never to rub out the pencilled price on the backs of the cards. I asked him why. Lupin said: “Suppose your card is marked 9d. Well, all you have to do is to pencil a 3–and a long down-stroke after it–in FRONT of the ninepence, and people will think you have given five times the price for it.”

In the evening Lupin was very low-spirited, and I reminded him that behind the clouds the sun was shining. He said: “Ugh! it never shines on me.” I said: “Stop, Lupin, my boy; you are worried about Daisy Mutlar. Don’t think of her any more. You ought to congratulate yourself on having got off a very bad bargain. Her notions are far too grand for our simple tastes.” He jumped up and said: “I won’t allow one word to be uttered against her. She’s worth the whole bunch of your friends put together, that inflated, sloping-head of a Perkupp included.” I left the room with silent dignity, but caught my foot in the mat.

December 23.–I exchanged no words with Lupin in the morning; but as he seemed to be in exuberant spirits in the evening, I ventured to ask him where he intended to spend his Christmas. He replied: “Oh, most likely at the Mutlars’.”

In wonderment, I said: “What! after your engagement has been broken off?”

Lupin said: “Who said it is off?”

I said: “You have given us both to understand–“

He interrupted me by saying: “Well, never mind what I said. IT IS ON AGAIN–THERE!”

CHAPTER XIII.

I receive an insulting Christmas card. We spend a pleasant Christmas at Carrie’s mother’s. A Mr. Moss is rather too free. A boisterous evening, during which I am struck in the dark. I receive an extraordinary letter from Mr. Mutlar, senior, respecting Lupin. We miss drinking out the Old Year.

December 24.–I am a poor man, but I would gladly give ten shillings to find out who sent me the insulting Christmas card I received this morning. I never insult people; why should they insult me? The worst part of the transaction is, that I find myself suspecting all my friends. The handwriting on the envelope is evidently disguised, being written sloping the wrong way. I cannot think either Gowing or c.u.mmings would do such a mean thing. Lupin denied all knowledge of it, and I believe him; although I disapprove of his laughing and sympathising with the offender. Mr. Franching would be above such an act; and I don’t think any of the Mutlars would descend to such a course. I wonder if Pitt, that impudent clerk at the office, did it? Or Mrs. Birrell, the charwoman, or Burwin-Fosselton? The writing is too good for the former.

Christmas Day.–We caught the 10.20 train at Paddington, and spent a pleasant day at Carrie’s mother’s. The country was quite nice and pleasant, although the roads were sloppy. We dined in the middle of the day, just ten of us, and talked over old times. If everybody had a nice, UNinterfering mother-in-law, such as I have, what a deal of happiness there would be in the world. Being all in good spirits, I proposed her health, and I made, I think, a very good speech.

I concluded, rather neatly, by saying: “On an occasion like this– whether relatives, friends, or acquaintances,–we are all inspired with good feelings towards each other. We are of one mind, and think only of love and friendship. Those who have quarrelled with absent friends should kiss and make it up. Those who happily have not fallen out, can kiss all the same.”

I saw the tears in the eyes of both Carrie and her mother, and must say I felt very flattered by the compliment. That dear old Reverend John Panzy Smith, who married us, made a most cheerful and amusing speech, and said he should act on my suggestion respecting the kissing. He then walked round the table and kissed all the ladies, including Carrie. Of course one did not object to this; but I was more than staggered when a young fellow named Moss, who was a stranger to me, and who had scarcely spoken a word through dinner, jumped up suddenly with a sprig of misletoe, and exclaimed: “Hulloh! I don’t see why I shouldn’t be on in this scene.” Before one could realise what he was about to do, he kissed Carrie and the rest of the ladies.

Fortunately the matter was treated as a joke, and we all laughed; but it was a dangerous experiment, and I felt very uneasy for a moment as to the result. I subsequently referred to the matter to Carrie, but she said: “Oh, he’s not much more than a boy.” I said that he had a very large moustache for a boy. Carrie replied: “I didn’t say he was not a nice boy.”

December 26.–I did not sleep very well last night; I never do in a strange bed. I feel a little indigestion, which one must expect at this time of the year. Carrie and I returned to Town in the evening. Lupin came in late. He said he enjoyed his Christmas, and added: “I feel as fit as a Lowther Arcade fiddle, and only require a little more ‘oof’ to feel as fit as a 500 pounds Stradivarius.” I have long since given up trying to understand Lupin’s slang, or asking him to explain it.

December 27.–I told Lupin I was expecting Gowing and c.u.mmings to drop in to-morrow evening for a quiet game. I was in hope the boy would volunteer to stay in, and help to amuse them. Instead of which, he said: “Oh, you had better put them off, as I have asked Daisy and Frank Mutlar to come.” I said I could not think of doing such a thing. Lupin said: “Then I will send a wire, and put off Daisy.” I suggested that a post-card or letter would reach her quite soon enough, and would not be so extravagant.

Carrie, who had listened to the above conversation with apparent annoyance, directed a well-aimed shaft at Lupin. She said: “Lupin, why do you object to Daisy meeting your father’s friends? Is it because they are not good enough for her, or (which is equally possible) SHE is not good enough for them?” Lupin was dumbfounded, and could make no reply. When he left the room, I gave Carrie a kiss of approval.

December 28–Lupin, on coming down to breakfast, said to his mother: “I have not put off Daisy and Frank, and should like them to join Gowing and c.u.mmings this evening.” I felt very pleased with the boy for this. Carrie said, in reply: “I am glad you let me know in time, as I can turn over the cold leg of mutton, dress it with a little parsley, and no one will know it has been cut.” She further said she would make a few custards, and stew some pippins, so that they would be cold by the evening.

Finding Lupin in good spirits, I asked him quietly if he really had any personal objection to either Gowing or c.u.mmings. He replied: “Not in the least. I think c.u.mmings looks rather an a.s.s, but that is partly due to his patronising ‘the three-and-six-one-price hat company,’ and wearing a reach-me-down frock-coat. As for that perpetual brown velveteen jacket of Gowing’s–why, he resembles an itinerant photographer.”

I said it was not the coat that made the gentleman; whereupon Lupin, with a laugh, replied: “No, and it wasn’t much of a gentleman who made their coats.”

We were rather jolly at supper, and Daisy made herself very agreeable, especially in the earlier part of the evening, when she sang. At supper, however, she said: “Can you make tee-to-tums with bread?” and she commenced rolling up pieces of bread, and twisting them round on the table. I felt this to be bad manners, but of course said nothing. Presently Daisy and Lupin, to my disgust, began throwing bread-pills at each other. Frank followed suit, and so did c.u.mmings and Gowing, to my astonishment. They then commenced throwing hard pieces of crust, one piece catching me on the forehead, and making me blink. I said: “Steady, please; steady!” Frank jumped up and said: “Tum, tum; then the band played.”

I did not know what this meant, but they all roared, and continued the bread-battle. Gowing suddenly seized all the parsley off the cold mutton, and threw it full in my face. I looked daggers at Gowing, who replied: “I say, it’s no good trying to look indignant, with your hair full of parsley.” I rose from the table, and insisted that a stop should be put to this foolery at once. Frank Mutlar shouted: “Time, gentlemen, please! time!” and turned out the gas, leaving us in absolute darkness.

I was feeling my way out of the room, when I suddenly received a hard intentional punch at the back of my head. I said loudly: “Who did that?” There was no answer; so I repeated the question, with the same result. I struck a match, and lighted the gas. They were all talking and laughing, so I kept my own counsel; but, after they had gone, I said to Carrie; “The person who sent me that insulting post-card at Christmas was here to-night.”

December 29.–I had a most vivid dream last night. I woke up, and on falling asleep, dreamed the same dream over again precisely. I dreamt I heard Frank Mutlar telling his sister that he had not only sent me the insulting Christmas card, but admitted that he was the one who punched my head last night in the dark. As fate would have it, Lupin, at breakfast, was reading extracts from a letter he had just received from Frank.

I asked him to pa.s.s the envelope, that I might compare the writing. He did so, and I examined it by the side of the envelope containing the Christmas card. I detected a similarity in the writing, in spite of the attempted disguise. I pa.s.sed them on to Carrie, who began to laugh. I asked her what she was laughing at, and she said the card was never directed to me at all. It was “L. Pooter,” not “C. Pooter.” Lupin asked to look at the direction and the card, and exclaimed, with a laugh: “Oh yes, Guv., it’s meant for me.”

I said: “Are you in the habit of receiving insulting Christmas cards?” He replied: “Oh yes, and of SENDING them, too.”

In the evening Gowing called, and said he enjoyed himself very much last night. I took the opportunity to confide in him, as an old friend, about the vicious punch last night. He burst out laughing, and said: “Oh, it was YOUR HEAD, was it? I know I accidentally hit something, but I thought it was a brick wall.” I told him I felt hurt, in both senses of the expression.

December 30, Sunday.–Lupin spent the whole day with the Mutlars. He seemed rather cheerful in the evening, so I said: “I’m glad to see you so happy, Lupin.” He answered: “Well, Daisy is a splendid girl, but I was obliged to take her old fool of a father down a peg. What with his meanness over his cigars, his stinginess over his drinks, his farthing economy in turning down the gas if you only quit the room for a second, writing to one on half-sheets of note-paper, sticking the remnant of the last cake of soap on to the new cake, putting two bricks on each side of the fireplace, and his general ‘outside-halfpenny-‘bus-ness,’ I was compelled to let him have a bit of my mind.” I said: “Lupin, you are not much more than a boy; I hope you won’t repent it.”

December 31.–The last day of the Old Year. I received an extraordinary letter from Mr. Mutlar, senior. He writes: “Dear Sir,–For a long time past I have had considerable difficulty deciding the important question, ‘Who is the master of my own house? Myself, or YOUR SON Lupin?’ Believe me, I have no prejudice one way or the other; but I have been most reluctantly compelled to give judgment to the effect that I am the master of it. Under the circ.u.mstances, it has become my duty to forbid your son to enter my house again. I am sorry, because it deprives me of the society of one of the most modest, una.s.suming, and gentlemanly persons I have ever had the honour of being acquainted with.”

I did not desire the last day to wind up disagreeably, so I said nothing to either Carrie or Lupin about the letter.

A most terrible fog came on, and Lupin would go out in it, but promised to be back to drink out the Old Year–a custom we have always observed. At a quarter to twelve Lupin had not returned, and the fog was fearful. As time was drawing close, I got out the spirits. Carrie and I deciding on whisky, I opened a fresh bottle; but Carrie said it smelt like brandy. As I knew it to be whisky, I said there was nothing to discuss. Carrie, evidently vexed that Lupin had not come in, did discuss it all the same, and wanted me to have a small wager with her to decide by the smell. I said I could decide it by the taste in a moment. A silly and unnecessary argument followed, the result of which was we suddenly saw it was a quarter-past twelve, and, for the first time in our married life, we missed welcoming in the New Year. Lupin got home at a quarter- past two, having got lost in the fog–so he said.

CHAPTER XIV.

Begin the year with an unexpected promotion at the office. I make two good jokes. I get an enormous rise in my salary. Lupin speculates successfully and starts a pony-trap. Have to speak to Sarah. Extraordinary conduct of Gowing’s.

January 1.–I had intended concluding my diary last week; but a most important event has happened, so I shall continue for a little while longer on the fly-leaves attached to the end of my last year’s diary. It had just struck half-past one, and I was on the point of leaving the office to have my dinner, when I received a message that Mr. Perkupp desired to see me at once. I must confess that my heart commenced to beat and I had most serious misgivings.

Mr. Perkupp was in his room writing, and he said: “Take a seat, Mr. Pooter, I shall not be moment.”

I replied: “No, thank you, sir; I’ll stand.”

I watched the clock on the mantelpiece, and I was waiting quite twenty minutes; but it seemed hours. Mr. Perkupp at last got up himself.

I said: “I hope there is nothing wrong, sir?”

He replied: “Oh dear, no! quite the reverse, I hope.” What a weight off my mind! My breath seemed to come back again in an instant.

Mr. Perkupp said: “Mr. Buckling is going to retire, and there will be some slight changes in the office. You have been with us nearly twenty-one years, and, in consequence of your conduct during that period, we intend making a special promotion in your favour. We have not quite decided how you will be placed; but in any case there will be a considerable increase in your salary, which, it is quite unnecessary for me to say, you fully deserve. I have an appointment at two; but you shall hear more to-morrow.”

He then left the room quickly, and I was not even allowed time or thought to express a single word of grateful thanks to him. I need not say how dear Carrie received this joyful news. With perfect simplicity she said: “At last we shall be able to have a chimney- gla.s.s for the back drawing-room, which we always wanted.” I added: “Yes, and at last you shall have that little costume which you saw at Peter Robinson’s so cheap.”

January 2.–I was in a great state of suspense all day at the office. I did not like to worry Mr. Perkupp; but as he did not send for me, and mentioned yesterday that he would see me again to- day, I thought it better, perhaps, to go to him. I knocked at his door, and on entering, Mr. Perkupp said: “Oh! it’s you, Mr. Pooter; do you want to see me?” I said: “No, sir, I thought you wanted to see me!” “Oh!” he replied, “I remember. Well, I am very busy to-day; I will see you to-morrow.”

January 3.–Still in a state of anxiety and excitement, which was not alleviated by ascertaining that Mr. Perkupp sent word he should not be at the office to-day. In the evening, Lupin, who was busily engaged with a paper, said suddenly to me: “Do you know anything about CHALK PITS, Guv.?” I said: “No, my boy, not that I’m aware of.” Lupin said: “Well, I give you the tip; CHALK PITS are as safe as Consols, and pay six per cent. at par.” I said a rather neat thing, viz.: “They may be six per cent. at PAR, but your PA has no money to invest.” Carrie and I both roared with laughter. Lupin did not take the slightest notice of the joke, although I purposely repeated it for him; but continued: “I give you the tip, that’s all–CHALK PITS!” I said another funny thing: “Mind you don’t fall into them!” Lupin put on a supercilious smile, and said: “Bravo! Joe Miller.”

January 4.–Mr. Perkupp sent for me and told me that my position would be that of one of the senior clerks. I was more than overjoyed. Mr. Perkupp added, he would let me know to-morrow what the salary would be. This means another day’s anxiety; I don’t mind, for it is anxiety of the right sort. That reminded me that I had forgotten to speak to Lupin about the letter I received from Mr. Mutlar, senr. I broached the subject to Lupin in the evening, having first consulted Carrie. Lupin was riveted to the Financial News, as if he had been a born capitalist, and I said: “Pardon me a moment, Lupin, how is it you have not been to the Mutlars’ any day this week?”

Lupin answered: “I told you! I cannot stand old Mutlar.”

I said: “Mr. Mutlar writes to me to say pretty plainly that he cannot stand you!”

Lupin said: “Well, I like his cheek in writing to YOU. I’ll find out if his father is still alive, and I will write HIM a note complaining of HIS son, and I’ll state pretty clearly that his son is a blithering idiot!”

I said: “Lupin, please moderate your expressions in the presence of your mother.”

Lupin said: “I’m very sorry, but there is no other expression one can apply to him. However, I’m determined not to enter his place again.”

I said: “You know, Lupin, he has forbidden you the house.”

Lupin replied: “Well, we won’t split straws–it’s all the same. Daisy is a trump, and will wait for me ten years, if necessary.”

January 5.–I can scarcely write the news. Mr. Perkupp told me my salary would be raised 100 pounds! I stood gaping for a moment unable to realise it. I annually get 10 pounds rise, and I thought it might be 15 pounds or even 20 pounds; but 100 pounds surpa.s.ses all belief. Carrie and I both rejoiced over our good fortune. Lupin came home in the evening in the utmost good spirits. I sent Sarah quietly round to the grocer’s for a bottle of champagne, the same as we had before, “Jackson Freres.” It was opened at supper, and I said to Lupin: “This is to celebrate some good news I have received to-day.” Lupin replied: “Hooray, Guv.! And I have some good news, also; a double event, eh?” I said: “My boy, as a result of twenty-one years’ industry and strict attention to the interests of my superiors in office, I have been rewarded with promotion and a rise in salary of 100 pounds.”

Lupin gave three cheers, and we rapped the table furiously, which brought in Sarah to see what the matter was. Lupin ordered us to “fill up” again, and addressing us upstanding, said: “Having been in the firm of Job Cleanands, stock and share-brokers, a few weeks, and not having paid particular attention to the interests of my superiors in office, my Guv’nor, as a reward to me, allotted me 5 pounds worth of shares in a really good thing. The result is, to- day I have made 200 pounds.” I said: “Lupin, you are joking.” “No, Guv., it’s the good old truth; Job Cleanands PUT ME ON TO CHLORATES.”

January 21.–I am very much concerned at Lupin having started a pony-trap. I said: “Lupin, are you justified in this outrageous extravagance?” Lupin replied: “Well, one must get to the City somehow. I’ve only hired it, and can give it up any time I like.” I repeated my question: “Are you justified in this extravagance?” He replied: “Look here, Guv., excuse me saying so, but you’re a bit out of date. It does not pay nowadays, fiddling about over small things. I don’t mean anything personal, Guv’nor. My boss says if I take his tip, and stick to big things, I can make big money!” I said I thought the very idea of speculation most horrifying. Lupin said “It is not speculation, it’s a dead cert.” I advised him, at all events, not to continue the pony and cart; but he replied: “I made 200 pounds in one day; now suppose I only make 200 pounds in a month, or put it at 100 pounds a month, which is ridiculously low–why, that is 1,250 pounds a year. What’s a few pounds a week for a trap?”

I did not pursue the subject further, beyond saying that I should feel glad when the autumn came, and Lupin would be of age and responsible for his own debts. He answered: “My dear Guv., I promise you faithfully that I will never speculate with what I have not got. I shall only go on Job Cleanands’ tips, and as he is in the ‘know’ it is pretty safe sailing.” I felt somewhat relieved. Gowing called in the evening and, to my surprise, informed me that, as he had made 10 pounds by one of Lupin’s tips, he intended asking us and the c.u.mmings round next Sat.u.r.day. Carrie and I said we should be delighted.

January 22.–I don’t generally lose my temper with servants; but I had to speak to Sarah rather sharply about a careless habit she has recently contracted of shaking the table-cloth, after removing the breakfast things, in a manner which causes all the crumbs to fall on the carpet, eventually to be trodden in. Sarah answered very rudely: “Oh, you are always complaining.” I replied: “Indeed, I am not. I spoke to you last week about walking all over the drawing-room carpet with a piece of yellow soap on the heel of your boot.” She said: “And you’re always grumbling about your breakfast.” I said: “No, I am not; but I feel perfectly justified in complaining that I never can get a hard-boiled egg. The moment I crack the sh.e.l.l it spurts all over the plate, and I have spoken to you at least fifty times about it.” She began to cry and make a scene; but fortunately my ‘bus came by, so I had a good excuse for leaving her. Gowing left a message in the evening, that we were not to forget next Sat.u.r.day. Carrie amusingly said: As he has never asked any friends before, we are not likely to forget it.

January 23.–I asked Lupin to try and change the hard brushes, he recently made me a present of, for some softer ones, as my hair- dresser tells me I ought not to brush my hair too much just now.

January 24.–The new chimney-gla.s.s came home for the back drawing- room. Carrie arranged some fans very prettily on the top and on each side. It is an immense improvement to the room.

January 25.–We had just finished our tea, when who should come in but c.u.mmings, who has not been here for over three weeks. I noticed that he looked anything but well, so I said: “Well, c.u.mmings, how are you? You look a little blue.” He replied: “Yes! and I feel blue too.” I said: “Why, what’s the matter?” He said: “Oh, nothing, except that I have been on my back for a couple of weeks, that’s all. At one time my doctor nearly gave me up, yet not a soul has come near me. No one has even taken the trouble to inquire whether I was alive or dead.”

I said: “This is the first I have heard of it. I have pa.s.sed your house several nights, and presumed you had company, as the rooms were so brilliantly lighted.”

c.u.mmings replied: “No! The only company I have had was my wife, the doctor, and the landlady–the last-named having turned out a perfect trump. I wonder you did not see it in the paper. I know it was mentioned in the Bicycle News.”

I thought to cheer him up, and said: “Well, you are all right now?”

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