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He replied: “That’s not the question. The question is whether an illness does not enable you to discover who are your TRUE friends.”
I said such an observation was unworthy of him. To make matters worse, in came Gowing, who gave c.u.mmings a violent slap on the back, and said: “Hulloh! Have you seen a ghost? You look scared to death, like Irving in Macbeth.” I said: “Gently, Gowing, the poor fellow has been very ill.” Gowing roared with laughter and said: “Yes, and you look it, too.” c.u.mmings quietly said: “Yes, and I feel it too–not that I suppose you care.”
An awkward silence followed. Gowing said: “Never mind, c.u.mmings, you and the missis come round to my place to-morrow, and it will cheer you up a bit; for we’ll open a bottle of wine.”
January 26.–An extraordinary thing happened. Carrie and I went round to Gowing’s, as arranged, at half-past seven. We knocked and rang several times without getting an answer. At last the latch was drawn and the door opened a little way, the chain still being up. A man in shirt-sleeves put his head through and said: “Who is it? What do you want?” I said: “Mr. Gowing, he is expecting us.” The man said (as well as I could hear, owing to the yapping of a little dog): “I don’t think he is. Mr. Gowing is not at home.” I said: “He will be in directly.”
With that observation he slammed the door, leaving Carrie and me standing on the steps with a cutting wind blowing round the corner.
Carrie advised me to knock again. I did so, and then discovered for the first time that the knocker had been newly painted, and the paint had come off on my gloves–which were, in consequence, completely spoiled.
I knocked at the door with my stick two or three times.
The man opened the door, taking the chain off this time, and began abusing me. He said: “What do you mean by scratching the paint with your stick like that, spoiling the varnish? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
I said: “Pardon me, Mr. Gowing invited–“
He interrupted and said: “I don’t care for Mr. Gowing, or any of his friends. This is MY door, not Mr. Gowing’s. There are people here besides Mr. Gowing.”
The impertinence of this man was nothing. I scarcely noticed it, it was so trivial in comparison with the scandalous conduct of Gowing.
At this moment c.u.mmings and his wife arrived. c.u.mmings was very lame and leaning on a stick; but got up the steps and asked what the matter was.
The man said: “Mr. Gowing said nothing about expecting anyone. All he said was he had just received an invitation to Croydon, and he should not be back till Monday evening. He took his bag with him.”
With that he slammed the door again. I was too indignant with Gowing’s conduct to say anything. c.u.mmings looked white with rage, and as he descended the steps struck his stick violently on the ground and said: “Scoundrel!”
Gowing explains his conduct. Lupin takes us for a drive, which we don’t enjoy. Lupin introduces us to Mr. Murray Posh.
February 8.–It does seem hard I cannot get good sausages for breakfast. They are either full of bread or spice, or are as red as beef. Still anxious about the 20 pounds I invested last week by Lupin’s advice. However, c.u.mmings has done the same.
February 9.–Exactly a fortnight has pa.s.sed, and I have neither seen nor heard from Gowing respecting his extraordinary conduct in asking us round to his house, and then being out. In the evening Carrie was engaged marking a half-dozen new collars I had purchased. I’ll back Carrie’s marking against anybody’s. While I was drying them at the fire, and Carrie was rebuking me for scorching them, c.u.mmings came in.
He seemed quite well again, and chaffed us about marking the collars. I asked him if he had heard from Gowing, and he replied that he had not. I said I should not have believed that Gowing could have acted in such an ungentlemanly manner. c.u.mmings said: “You are mild in your description of him; I think he has acted like a cad.”
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when the door opened, and Gowing, putting in his head, said: “May I come in?” I said: “Certainly.” Carrie said very pointedly: “Well, you ARE a stranger.” Gowing said: “Yes, I’ve been on and off to Croydon during the last fortnight.” I could see c.u.mmings was boiling over, and eventually he tackled Gowing very strongly respecting his conduct last Sat.u.r.day week. Gowing appeared surprised, and said: “Why, I posted a letter to you in the morning announcing that the party was ‘off, very much off.'” I said: “I never got it.” Gowing, turning to Carrie, said: “I suppose letters sometimes MISCARRY, don’t they, MRS. Carrie?” c.u.mmings sharply said: “This is not a time for joking. I had no notice of the party being put off.” Gowing replied: “I told Pooter in my note to tell you, as I was in a hurry. However, I’ll inquire at the post-office, and we must meet again at my place.” I added that I hoped he would be present at the next meeting. Carrie roared at this, and even c.u.mmings could not help laughing.
February 10, Sunday.–Contrary to my wishes, Carrie allowed Lupin to persuade her to take her for a drive in the afternoon in his trap. I quite disapprove of driving on a Sunday, but I did not like to trust Carrie alone with Lupin, so I offered to go too. Lupin said: “Now, that is nice of you, Guv., but you won’t mind sitting on the back-seat of the cart?”
Lupin proceeded to put on a bright-blue coat that seemed miles too large for him. Carrie said it wanted taking in considerably at the back. Lupin said: “Haven’t you seen a box-coat before? You can’t drive in anything else.”
He may wear what he likes in the future, for I shall never drive with him again. His conduct was shocking. When we pa.s.sed Highgate Archway, he tried to pa.s.s everything and everybody. He shouted to respectable people who were walking quietly in the road to get out of the way; he flicked at the horse of an old man who was riding, causing it to rear; and, as I had to ride backwards, I was compelled to face a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart, whom Lupin had chaffed, and who turned and followed us for nearly a mile, bellowing, indulging in coa.r.s.e jokes and laughter, to say nothing of occasionally pelting us with orange-peel.
Lupin’s excuse–that the Prince of Wales would have to put up with the same sort of thing if he drove to the Derby–was of little consolation to either Carrie or myself. Frank Mutlar called in the evening, and Lupin went out with him.
February 11.–Feeling a little concerned about Lupin, I mustered up courage to speak to Mr. Perkupp about him. Mr. Perkupp has always been most kind to me, so I told him everything, including yesterday’s adventure. Mr. Perkupp kindly replied: “There is no necessity for you to be anxious, Mr. Pooter. It would be impossible for a son of such good parents to turn out erroneously. Remember he is young, and will soon get older. I wish we could find room for him in this firm.” The advice of this good man takes loads off my mind. In the evening Lupin came in.
After our little supper, he said: “My dear parents, I have some news, which I fear will affect you considerably.” I felt a qualm come over me, and said nothing. Lupin then said: “It may distress you–in fact, I’m sure it will–but this afternoon I have given up my pony and trap for ever.” It may seem absurd, but I was so pleased, I immediately opened a bottle of port. Gowing dropped in just in time, bringing with him a large sheet, with a print of a tailless donkey, which he fastened against the wall. He then produced several separate tails, and we spent the remainder of the evening trying blindfolded to pin a tail on in the proper place. My sides positively ached with laughter when I went to bed.
February 12.–In the evening I spoke to Lupin about his engagement with Daisy Mutlar. I asked if he had heard from her. He replied: “No; she promised that old windbag of a father of hers that she would not communicate with me. I see Frank Mutlar, of course; in fact, he said he might call again this evening.” Frank called, but said he could not stop, as he had a friend waiting outside for him, named Murray Posh, adding he was quite a swell. Carrie asked Frank to bring him in.
He was brought in, Gowing entering at the same time. Mr. Murray Posh was a tall, fat young man, and was evidently of a very nervous disposition, as he subsequently confessed he would never go in a hansom cab, nor would he enter a four-wheeler until the driver had first got on the box with his reins in his hands.
On being introduced, Gowing, with his usual want of tact, said: “Any relation to ‘Posh’s three-shilling hats’?” Mr. Posh replied: “Yes; but please understand I don’t try on hats myself. I take no ACTIVE part in the business.” I replied: “I wish I had a business like it.” Mr. Posh seemed pleased, and gave a long but most interesting history of the extraordinary difficulties in the manufacture of cheap hats.
Murray Posh evidently knew Daisy Mutlar very intimately from the way he was talking of her; and Frank said to Lupin once, laughingly: “If you don’t look out, Posh will cut you out!” When they had all gone, I referred to this flippant conversation; and Lupin said, sarcastically: “A man who is jealous has no respect for himself. A man who would be jealous of an elephant like Murray Posh could only have a contempt for himself. I know Daisy. She WOULD wait ten years for me, as I said before; in fact, if necessary, SHE WOULD WAIT TWENTY YEARS FOR ME.”
We lose money over Lupin’s advice as to investment, so does c.u.mmings. Murray Posh engaged to Daisy Mutlar.
February 18.–Carrie has several times recently called attention to the thinness of my hair at the top of my head, and recommended me to get it seen to. I was this morning trying to look at it by the aid of a small hand-gla.s.s, when somehow my elbow caught against the edge of the chest of drawers and knocked the gla.s.s out of my hand and smashed it. Carrie was in an awful way about it, as she is rather absurdly superst.i.tious. To make matters worse, my large photograph in the drawing-room fell during the night, and the gla.s.s cracked.
Carrie said: “Mark my words, Charles, some misfortune is about to happen.”
I said: “Nonsense, dear.”
In the evening Lupin arrived home early, and seemed a little agitated. I said: “What’s up, my boy?” He hesitated a good deal, and then said: “You know those Parachikka Chlorates I advised you to invest 20 pounds in? I replied: “Yes, they are all right, I trust?” He replied: “Well, no! To the surprise of everybody, they have utterly collapsed.”
My breath was so completely taken away, I could say nothing. Carrie looked at me, and said: “What did I tell you?” Lupin, after a while, said: “However, you are specially fortunate. I received an early tip, and sold out yours immediately, and was fortunate to get 2 pounds for them. So you get something after all.”
I gave a sigh of relief. I said: “I was not so sanguine as to suppose, as you predicted, that I should get six or eight times the amount of my investment; still a profit of 2 pounds is a good percentage for such a short time.” Lupin said, quite irritably: “You don’t understand. I sold your 20 pounds shares for 2 pounds; you therefore lose 18 pounds on the transaction, whereby c.u.mmings and Gowing will lose the whole of theirs.”
February 19.–Lupin, before going to town, said: “I am very sorry about those Parachikka Chlorates; it would not have happened if the boss, Job Cleanands, had been in town. Between ourselves, you must not be surprised if something goes wrong at our office. Job Cleanands has not been seen the last few days, and it strikes me several people DO want to see him very particularly.”
In the evening Lupin was just on the point of going out to avoid a collision with Gowing and c.u.mmings, when the former entered the room, without knocking, but with his usual trick of saying, “May I come in?”
He entered, and to the surprise of Lupin and myself, seemed to be in the very best of spirits. Neither Lupin nor I broached the subject to him, but he did so of his own accord. He said: “I say, those Parachikka Chlorates have gone an awful smash! You’re a nice one, Master Lupin. How much do you lose?” Lupin, to my utter astonishment, said: “Oh! I had nothing in them. There was some informality in my application–I forgot to enclose the cheque or something, and I didn’t get any. The Guv. loses 18 pounds.” I said: “I quite understood you were in it, or nothing would have induced me to speculate.” Lupin replied: “Well, it can’t be helped; you must go double on the next tip.” Before I could reply, Gowing said: “Well, I lose nothing, fortunately. From what I heard, I did not quite believe in them, so I persuaded c.u.mmings to take my 15 pounds worth, as he had more faith in them than I had.”
Lupin burst out laughing, and, in the most unseemly manner, said: “Alas, poor c.u.mmings. He’ll lose 35 pounds.” At that moment there was a ring at the bell. Lupin said: “I don’t want to meet c.u.mmings.” If he had gone out of the door he would have met him in the pa.s.sage, so as quickly as possible Lupin opened the parlour window and got out. Gowing jumped up suddenly, exclaiming: “I don’t want to see him either!” and, before I could say a word, he followed Lupin out of the window.
For my own part, I was horrified to think my own son and one of my most intimate friends should depart from the house like a couple of interrupted burglars. Poor c.u.mmings was very upset, and of course was naturally very angry both with Lupin and Gowing. I pressed him to have a little whisky, and he replied that he had given up whisky; but would like a little “Unsweetened,” as he was advised it was the most healthy spirit. I had none in the house, but sent Sarah round to Lockwood’s for some.
February 20.–The first thing that caught my eye on opening the Standard was–“Great Failure of Stock and Share Dealers! Mr. Job Cleanands absconded!” I handed it to Carrie, and she replied: “Oh! perhaps it’s for Lupin’s good. I never did think it a suitable situation for him.” I thought the whole affair very shocking.
Lupin came down to breakfast, and seeing he looked painfully distressed, I said: “We know the news, my dear boy, and feel very sorry for you.” Lupin said: “How did you know? who told you?” I handed him the Standard. He threw the paper down, and said: “Oh I don’t care a b.u.t.ton for that! I expected that, but I did not expect this.” He then read a letter from Frank Mutlar, announcing, in a cool manner, that Daisy Mutlar is to be married next month to Murray Posh. I exclaimed, “Murray Posh! Is not that the very man Frank had the impudence to bring here last Tuesday week?” Lupin said: “Yes; the ‘POSH’S-THREE-SHILLING-HATS’ chap.”
We all then ate our breakfast in dead silence.
In fact, I could eat nothing. I was not only too worried, but I cannot and will not eat cushion of bacon. If I cannot get streaky bacon, I will do without anything.
When Lupin rose to go I noticed a malicious smile creep over his face. I asked him what it meant. He replied: “Oh! only a little consolation–still it is a consolation. I have just remembered that, by MY advice, Mr. Murray Posh has invested 600 pounds in Parachikka Chlorates!”
Marriage of Daisy Mutlar and Murray Posh. The dream of my life realised. Mr. Perkupp takes Lupin into the office.
March 20.–To-day being the day on which Daisy Mutlar and Mr. Murray Posh are to be married, Lupin has gone with a friend to spend the day at Gravesend. Lupin has been much cut-up over the affair, although he declares that he is glad it is off. I wish he would not go to so many music-halls, but one dare not say anything to him about it. At the present moment he irritates me by singing all over the house some nonsense about “What’s the matter with Gladstone? He’s all right! What’s the matter with Lupin? He’s all right!” I don’t think either of them is. In the evening Gowing called, and the chief topic of conversation was Daisy’s marriage to Murray Posh. I said: “I was glad the matter was at an end, as Daisy would only have made a fool of Lupin.” Gowing, with his usual good taste, said: “Oh, Master Lupin can make a fool of himself without any a.s.sistance.” Carrie very properly resented this, and Gowing had sufficient sense to say he was sorry.
March 21.–To-day I shall conclude my diary, for it is one of the happiest days of my life. My great dream of the last few weeks–in fact, of many years–has been realised. This morning came a letter from Mr. Perkupp, asking me to take Lupin down to the office with me. I went to Lupin’s room; poor fellow, he seemed very pale, and said he had a bad headache. He had come back yesterday from Gravesend, where he spent part of the day in a small boat on the water, having been mad enough to neglect to take his overcoat with him. I showed him Mr. Perkupp’s letter, and he got up as quickly as possible. I begged of him not to put on his fast-coloured clothes and ties, but to dress in something black or quiet-looking.
Carrie was all of a tremble when she read the letter, and all she could keep on saying was: “Oh, I DO hope it will be all right.” For myself, I could scarcely eat any breakfast. Lupin came down dressed quietly, and looking a perfect gentleman, except that his face was rather yellow. Carrie, by way of encouragement said: “You do look nice, Lupin.” Lupin replied: “Yes, it’s a good make- up, isn’t it? A regular-downright-respectable-funereal-first- cla.s.s-City-firm-junior-clerk.” He laughed rather ironically.
In the hall I heard a great noise, and also Lupin shouting to Sarah to fetch down his old hat. I went into the pa.s.sage, and found Lupin in a fury, kicking and smashing a new tall hat. I said: “Lupin, my boy, what are you doing? How wicked of you! Some poor fellow would be glad to have it.” Lupin replied: “I would not insult any poor fellow by giving it to him.”
When he had gone outside, I picked up the battered hat, and saw inside “Posh’s Patent.” Poor Lupin! I can forgive him. It seemed hours before we reached the office. Mr. Perkupp sent for Lupin, who was with him nearly an hour. He returned, as I thought, crestfallen in appearance. I said: “Well, Lupin, how about Mr. Perkupp?” Lupin commenced his song: “What’s the matter with Perkupp? He’s all right!” I felt instinctively my boy was engaged. I went to Mr. Perkupp, but I could not speak. He said: “Well, Mr. Pooter, what is it?” I must have looked a fool, for all I could say was: “Mr. Perkupp, you are a good man.” He looked at me for a moment, and said: “No, Mr. Pooter, YOU are the good man; and we’ll see if we cannot get your son to follow such an excellent example.” I said: “Mr. Perkupp, may I go home? I cannot work any more to-day.”
My good master shook my hand warmly as he nodded his head. It was as much as I could do to prevent myself from crying in the ‘bus; in fact, I should have done so, had my thoughts not been interrupted by Lupin, who was having a quarrel with a fat man in the ‘bus, whom he accused of taking up too much room.
In the evening Carrie sent round for dear old friend c.u.mmings and his wife, and also to Gowing. We all sat round the fire, and in a bottle of “Jackson Freres,” which Sarah fetched from the grocer’s, drank Lupin’s health. I lay awake for hours, thinking of the future. My boy in the same office as myself–we can go down together by the ‘bus, come home together, and who knows but in the course of time he may take great interest in our little home. That he may help me to put a nail in here or a nail in there, or help his dear mother to hang a picture. In the summer he may help us in our little garden with the flowers, and a.s.sist us to paint the stands and pots. (By-the-by, I must get in some more enamel paint.) All this I thought over and over again, and a thousand happy thoughts beside. I heard the clock strike four, and soon after fell asleep, only to dream of three happy people–Lupin, dear Carrie, and myself.
Trouble with a stylographic pen. We go to a Volunteer Ball, where I am let in for an expensive supper. Grossly insulted by a cabman. An odd invitation to Southend.
April 8.–No events of any importance, except that Gowing strongly recommended a new patent stylographic pen, which cost me nine-and- sixpence, and which was simply nine-and-sixpence thrown in the mud. It has caused me constant annoyance and irritability of temper. The ink oozes out of the top, making a mess on my hands, and once at the office when I was knocking the palm of my hand on the desk to jerk the ink down, Mr. Perkupp, who had just entered, called out: “Stop that knocking! I suppose that is you, Mr. Pitt?” That young monkey, Pitt, took a malicious glee in responding quite loudly: “No, sir; I beg pardon, it is Mr. Pooter with his pen; it has been going on all the morning.” To make matters worse, I saw Lupin laughing behind his desk. I thought it wiser to say nothing. I took the pen back to the shop and asked them if they would take it back, as it did not act. I did not expect the full price returned, but was willing to take half. The man said he could not do that–buying and selling were two different things. Lupin’s conduct during the period he has been in Mr. Perkupp’s office has been most exemplary. My only fear is, it is too good to last.
April 9.–Gowing called, bringing with him an invitation for Carrie and myself to a ball given by the East Acton Rifle Brigade, which he thought would be a swell affair, as the member for East Acton (Sir William Grime) had promised his patronage. We accepted of his kindness, and he stayed to supper, an occasion I thought suitable for trying a bottle of the sparkling Algera that Mr. James (of Sutton) had sent as a present. Gowing sipped the wine, observing that he had never tasted it before, and further remarked that his policy was to stick to more recognised brands. I told him it was a present from a dear friend, and one mustn’t look a gift-horse in the mouth. Gowing facetiously replied: “And he didn’t like putting it in the mouth either.”
I thought the remarks were rude without being funny, but on tasting it myself, came to the conclusion there was some justification for them. The sparkling Algera is very like cider, only more sour. I suggested that perhaps the thunder had turned it a bit acid. He merely replied: “Oh! I don’t think so.” We had a very pleasant game of cards, though I lost four shillings and Carrie lost one, and Gowing said he had lost about sixpence: how he could have lost, considering that Carrie and I were the only other players, remains a mystery.
April 14, Sunday.–Owing, I presume, to the unsettled weather, I awoke with a feeling that my skin was drawn over my face as tight as a drum. Walking round the garden with Mr. and Mrs. Treane, members of our congregation who had walked back with us, I was much annoyed to find a large newspaper full of bones on the gravel-path, evidently thrown over by those young Griffin boys next door; who, whenever we have friends, climb up the empty steps inside their conservatory, tap at the windows, making faces, whistling, and imitating birds.
April 15.–Burnt my tongue most awfully with the Worcester sauce, through that stupid girl Sarah shaking the bottle violently before putting it on the table.
April 16.–The night of the East Acton Volunteer Ball. On my advice, Carrie put on the same dress that she looked so beautiful in at the Mansion House, for it had occurred to me, being a military ball, that Mr. Perkupp, who, I believe, is an officer in the Honorary Artillery Company, would in all probability be present. Lupin, in his usual incomprehensible language, remarked that he had heard it was a “bounders’ ball.” I didn’t ask him what he meant though I didn’t understand. Where he gets these expressions from I don’t know; he certainly doesn’t learn them at home.
The invitation was for half-past eight, so I concluded if we arrived an hour later we should be in good time, without being “unfashionable,” as Mrs. James says. It was very difficult to find–the cabman having to get down several times to inquire at different public-houses where the Drill Hall was. I wonder at people living in such out-of-the-way places. No one seemed to know it. However, after going up and down a good many badly-lighted streets we arrived at our destination. I had no idea it was so far from Holloway. I gave the cabman five shillings, who only grumbled, saying it was dirt cheap at half-a-sovereign, and was impertinent enough to advise me the next time I went to a ball to take a ‘bus.
Captain Welcut received us, saying we were rather late, but that it was better late than never. He seemed a very good-looking gentleman though, as Carrie remarked, “rather short for an officer.” He begged to be excused for leaving us, as he was engaged for a dance, and hoped we should make ourselves at home. Carrie took my arm and we walked round the rooms two or three times and watched the people dancing. I couldn’t find a single person I knew, but attributed it to most of them being in uniform. As we were entering the supper-room I received a slap on the shoulder, followed by a welcome shake of the hand. I said: “Mr. Padge, I believe;” he replied, “That’s right.”
I gave Carrie a chair, and seated by her was a lady who made herself at home with Carrie at once.
There was a very liberal repast on the tables, plenty of champagne, claret, etc., and, in fact, everything seemed to be done regardless of expense. Mr. Padge is a man that, I admit, I have no particular liking for, but I felt so glad to come across someone I knew, that I asked him to sit at our table, and I must say that for a short fat man he looked well in uniform, although I think his tunic was rather baggy in the back. It was the only supper-room that I have been in that was not over-crowded; in fact we were the only people there, everybody being so busy dancing.
I a.s.sisted Carrie and her newly-formed acquaintance, who said her name was Lupkin, to some champagne; also myself, and handed the bottle to Mr. Padge to do likewise, saying: “You must look after yourself.” He replied: “That’s right,” and poured out half a tumbler and drank Carrie’s health, coupled, as he said, “with her worthy lord and master.” We all had some splendid pigeon pie, and ices to follow.
The waiters were very attentive, and asked if we would like some more wine. I a.s.sisted Carrie and her friend and Mr. Padge, also some people who had just come from the dancing-room, who were very civil. It occurred to me at the time that perhaps some of the gentlemen knew me in the City, as they were so polite. I made myself useful, and a.s.sisted several ladies to ices, remembering an old saying that “There is nothing lost by civility.”
The band struck up for the dance, and they all went into the ball- room. The ladies (Carrie and Mrs. Lupkin) were anxious to see the dancing, and as I had not quite finished my supper, Mr. Padge offered his arms to them and escorted them to the ball-room, telling me to follow. I said to Mr. Padge: “It is quite a West End affair,” to which remark Mr. Padge replied: “That’s right.”
When I had quite finished my supper, and was leaving, the waiter who had been attending on us arrested my attention by tapping me on the shoulder. I thought it unusual for a waiter at a private ball to expect a tip, but nevertheless gave a shilling, as he had been very attentive. He smilingly replied: “I beg your pardon, sir, this is no good,” alluding to the shilling. “Your party’s had four suppers at 5s. a head, five ices at 1s., three bottles of champagne at 11s. 6d., a gla.s.s of claret, and a sixpenny cigar for the stout gentleman–in all 3 pounds 0s. 6d.!”
I don’t think I was ever so surprised in my life, and had only sufficient breath to inform him that I had received a private invitation, to which he answered that he was perfectly well aware of that; but that the invitation didn’t include eatables and drinkables. A gentleman who was standing at the bar corroborated the waiter’s statement, and a.s.sured me it was quite correct.
The waiter said he was extremely sorry if I had been under any misapprehension; but it was not his fault. Of course there was nothing to be done but to pay. So, after turning out my pockets, I just managed to sc.r.a.pe up sufficient, all but nine shillings; but the manager, on my giving my card to him, said: “That’s all right.”
I don’t think I ever felt more humiliated in my life, and I determined to keep this misfortune from Carrie, for it would entirely destroy the pleasant evening she was enjoying. I felt there was no more enjoyment for me that evening, and it being late, I sought Carrie and Mrs. Lupkin. Carrie said she was quite ready to go, and Mrs. Lupkin, as we were wishing her “Good-night,” asked Carrie and myself if we ever paid a visit to Southend? On my replying that I hadn’t been there for many years, she very kindly said: “Well, why don’t you come down and stay at our place?” As her invitation was so pressing, and observing that Carrie wished to go, we promised we would visit her the next Sat.u.r.day week, and stay till Monday. Mrs. Lupkin said she would write to us to-morrow, giving us the address and particulars of trains, etc.
When we got outside the Drill Hall it was raining so hard that the roads resembled ca.n.a.ls, and I need hardly say we had great difficulty in getting a cabman to take us to Holloway. After waiting a bit, a man said he would drive us, anyhow, as far as “The Angel,” at Islington, and we could easily get another cab from there. It was a tedious journey; the rain was beating against the windows and trickling down the inside of the cab.
When we arrived at “The Angel” the horse seemed tired out. Carrie got out and ran into a doorway, and when I came to pay, to my absolute horror I remembered I had no money, nor had Carrie. I explained to the cabman how we were situated. Never in my life have I ever been so insulted; the cabman, who was a rough bully and to my thinking not sober, called me every name he could lay his tongue to, and positively seized me by the beard, which he pulled till the tears came into my eyes. I took the number of a policeman (who witnessed the a.s.sault) for not taking the man in charge. The policeman said he couldn’t interfere, that he had seen no a.s.sault, and that people should not ride in cabs without money.
We had to walk home in the pouring rain, nearly two miles, and when I got in I put down the conversation I had with the cabman, word for word, as I intend writing to the Telegraph for the purpose of proposing that cabs should be driven only by men under Government control, to prevent civilians being subjected to the disgraceful insult and outrage that I had had to endure.
April 17.–No water in our cistern again. Sent for Putley, who said he would soon remedy that, the cistern being zinc.
April 18.–Water all right again in the cistern. Mrs. James, of Sutton, called in the afternoon. She and Carrie draped the mantelpiece in the drawing-room, and put little toy spiders, frogs and beetles all over it, as Mrs. James says it’s quite the fashion. It was Mrs. James’ suggestion, and of course Carrie always does what Mrs. James suggests. For my part, I preferred the mantelpiece as it was; but there, I’m a plain man, and don’t pretend to be in the fashion.
April 19.–Our next-door neighbour, Mr. Griffin, called, and in a rather offensive tone accused me, or “someone,” of boring a hole in his cistern and letting out his water to supply our cistern, which adjoined his. He said he should have his repaired, and send us in the bill.
April 20.–c.u.mmings called, hobbling in with a stick, saying he had been on his back for a week. It appears he was trying to shut his bedroom door, which is situated just at the top of the staircase, and unknown to him a piece of cork the dog had been playing with had got between the door, and prevented it shutting; and in pulling the door hard, to give it an extra slam, the handle came off in his hands, and he fell backwards downstairs.
On hearing this, Lupin suddenly jumped up from the couch and rushed out of the room sideways. c.u.mmings looked very indignant, and remarked it was very poor fun a man nearly breaking his back; and though I had my suspicions that Lupin was laughing, I a.s.sured c.u.mmings that he had only run out to open the door to a friend he expected. c.u.mmings said this was the second time he had been laid up, and we had never sent to inquire. I said I knew nothing about it. c.u.mmings said: “It was mentioned in the Bicycle News.”
April 22.–I have of late frequently noticed Carrie rubbing her nails a good deal with an instrument, and on asking her what she was doing, she replied: “Oh, I’m going in for manicuring. It’s all the fashion now.” I said: “I suppose Mrs. James introduced that into your head.” Carrie laughingly replied: “Yes; but everyone does it now.”
I wish Mrs. James wouldn’t come to the house. Whenever she does she always introduces some new-fandangled rubbish into Carrie’s head. One of these days I feel sure I shall tell her she’s not welcome. I am sure it was Mrs. James who put Carrie up to writing on dark slate-coloured paper with white ink. Nonsense!
April 23.–Received a letter from Mrs. Lupkin, of Southend, telling us the train to come by on Sat.u.r.day, and hoping we will keep our promise to stay with her. The letter concluded: “You must come and stay at our house; we shall charge you half what you will have to pay at the Royal, and the view is every bit as good.” Looking at the address at the top of the note-paper, I found it was “Lupkin’s Family and Commercial Hotel.”
I wrote a note, saying we were compelled to “decline her kind invitation.” Carrie thought this very satirical, and to the point.