The Diary of a Nobody Part 5

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By-the-by, I will never choose another cloth pattern at night. I ordered a new suit of dittos for the garden at Edwards’, and chose the pattern by gaslight, and they seemed to be a quiet pepper-and- salt mixture with white stripes down. They came home this morning, and, to my horror, I found it was quite a flash-looking suit. There was a lot of green with bright yellow-coloured stripes.

I tried on the coat, and was annoyed to find Carrie giggling. She said: “What mixture did you say you asked for?”

I said: “A quiet pepper and salt.”

Carrie said: “Well, it looks more like mustard, if you want to know the truth.”

CHAPTER XIX.

Meet Teddy Finsworth, an old schoolfellow. We have a pleasant and quiet dinner at his uncle’s, marred only by a few awkward mistakes on my part respecting Mr. Finsworth’s pictures. A discussion on dreams.

April 27.–Kept a little later than usual at the office, and as I was hurrying along a man stopped me, saying: “Hulloh! That’s a face I know.” I replied politely: “Very likely; lots of people know me, although I may not know them.” He replied: “But you know me–Teddy Finsworth.” So it was. He was at the same school with me. I had not seen him for years and years. No wonder I did not know him! At school he was at least a head taller than I was; now I am at least a head taller than he is, and he has a thick beard, almost grey. He insisted on my having a gla.s.s of wine (a thing I never do), and told me he lived at Middlesboro’, where he was Deputy Town Clerk, a position which was as high as the Town Clerk of London–in fact, higher. He added that he was staying for a few days in London, with his uncle, Mr. Edgar Paul Finsworth (of Finsworth and Pultwell). He said he was sure his uncle would be only too pleased to see me, and he had a nice house, Watney Lodge, only a few minutes’ walk from Muswell Hill Station. I gave him our address, and we parted.

In the evening, to my surprise, he called with a very nice letter from Mr. Finsworth, saying if we (including Carrie) would dine with them to-morrow (Sunday), at two o’clock, he would be delighted. Carrie did not like to go; but Teddy Finsworth pressed us so much we consented. Carrie sent Sarah round to the butcher’s and countermanded our half-leg of mutton, which we had ordered for to- morrow.

April 28, Sunday.–We found Watney Lodge farther off than we antic.i.p.ated, and only arrived as the clock struck two, both feeling hot and uncomfortable. To make matters worse, a large collie dog pounced forward to receive us. He barked loudly and jumped up at Carrie, covering her light skirt, which she was wearing for the first time, with mud. Teddy Finsworth came out and drove the dog off and apologised. We were shown into the drawing-room, which was beautifully decorated. It was full of knick-knacks, and some plates hung up on the wall. There were several little wooden milk- stools with paintings on them; also a white wooden banjo, painted by one of Mr. Paul Finsworth’s nieces–a cousin of Teddy’s.

Mr. Paul Finsworth seemed quite a distinguished-looking elderly gentleman, and was most gallant to Carrie. There were a great many water-colours hanging on the walls, mostly different views of India, which were very bright. Mr. Finsworth said they were painted by “Simpz,” and added that he was no judge of pictures himself but had been informed on good authority that they were worth some hundreds of pounds, although he had only paid a few shillings apiece for them, frames included, at a sale in the neighbourhood.

There was also a large picture in a very handsome frame, done in coloured crayons. It looked like a religious subject. I was very much struck with the lace collar, it looked so real, but I unfortunately made the remark that there was something about the expression of the face that was not quite pleasing. It looked pinched. Mr. Finsworth sorrowfully replied: “Yes, the face was done after death–my wife’s sister.”

I felt terribly awkward and bowed apologetically, and in a whisper said I hoped I had not hurt his feelings. We both stood looking at the picture for a few minutes in silence, when Mr. Finsworth took out a handkerchief and said: “She was sitting in our garden last summer,” and blew his nose violently. He seemed quite affected, so I turned to look at something else and stood in front of a portrait of a jolly-looking middle-aged gentleman, with a red face and straw hat. I said to Mr. Finsworth: “Who is this jovial-looking gentleman? Life doesn’t seem to trouble him much.” Mr. Finsworth said: “No, it doesn’t. HE IS DEAD TOO–my brother.”

I was absolutely horrified at my own awkwardness. Fortunately at this moment Carrie entered with Mrs. Finsworth, who had taken her upstairs to take off her bonnet and brush her skirt. Teddy said: “Short is late,” but at that moment the gentleman referred to arrived, and I was introduced to him by Teddy, who said: “Do you know Mr. Short?” I replied, smiling, that I had not that pleasure, but I hoped it would not be long before I knew Mr. SHORT. He evidently did not see my little joke, although I repeated it twice with a little laugh. I suddenly remembered it was Sunday, and Mr. Short was perhaps VERY PARTICULAR. In this I was mistaken, for he was not at all particular in several of his remarks after dinner. In fact I was so ashamed of one of his observations that I took the opportunity to say to Mrs. Finsworth that I feared she found Mr. Short occasionally a little embarra.s.sing. To my surprise she said: “Oh! he is privileged you know.” I did not know as a matter of fact, and so I bowed apologetically. I fail to see why Mr. Short should be privileged.

Another thing that annoyed me at dinner was that the collie dog, which jumped up at Carrie, was allowed to remain under the dining- room table. It kept growling and snapping at my boots every time I moved my foot. Feeling nervous rather, I spoke to Mrs. Finsworth about the animal, and she remarked: “It is only his play.” She jumped up and let in a frightfully ugly-looking spaniel called Bibbs, which had been scratching at the door. This dog also seemed to take a fancy to my boots, and I discovered afterwards that it had licked off every bit of blacking from them. I was positively ashamed of being seen in them. Mrs. Finsworth, who, I must say, is not much of a Job’s comforter, said: “Oh! we are used to Bibbs doing that to our visitors.”

Mr. Finsworth had up some fine port, although I question whether it is a good thing to take on the top of beer. It made me feel a little sleepy, while it had the effect of inducing Mr. Short to become “privileged” to rather an alarming extent. It being cold even for April, there was a fire in the drawing-room; we sat round in easy-chairs, and Teddy and I waxed rather eloquent over the old school days, which had the effect of sending all the others to sleep. I was delighted, as far as Mr. Short was concerned, that it did have that effect on him.

We stayed till four, and the walk home was remarkable only for the fact that several fools giggled at the unpolished state of my boots. Polished them myself when I got home. Went to church in the evening, and could scarcely keep awake. I will not take port on the top of beer again.

April 29.–I am getting quite accustomed to being snubbed by Lupin, and I do not mind being sat upon by Carrie, because I think she has a certain amount of right to do so; but I do think it hard to be at once snubbed by wife, son, and both my guests.

Gowing and c.u.mmings had dropped in during the evening, and I suddenly remembered an extraordinary dream I had a few nights ago, and I thought I would tell them about it. I dreamt I saw some huge blocks of ice in a shop with a bright glare behind them. I walked into the shop and the heat was overpowering. I found that the blocks of ice were on fire. The whole thing was so real and yet so supernatural I woke up in a cold perspiration. Lupin in a most contemptuous manner, said: “What utter rot.”

Before I could reply, Gowing said there was nothing so completely uninteresting as other people’s dreams.

I appealed to c.u.mmings, but he said he was bound to agree with the others and my dream was especially nonsensical. I said: “It seemed so real to me.” Gowing replied: “Yes, to YOU perhaps, but not to US.” Whereupon they all roared.

Carrie, who had hitherto been quiet, said: “He tells me his stupid dreams every morning nearly.” I replied: “Very well, dear, I promise you I will never tell you or anybody else another dream of mine the longest day I live.” Lupin said: “Hear! hear!” and helped himself to another gla.s.s of beer. The subject was fortunately changed, and c.u.mmings read a most interesting article on the superiority of the bicycle to the horse.

CHAPTER XX.

Dinner at Franching’s to meet Mr. Hardfur Huttle.

May 10.–Received a letter from Mr. Franching, of Peckham, asking us to dine with him to-night, at seven o’clock, to meet Mr. Hardfur Huttle, a very clever writer for the American papers. Franching apologised for the short notice; but said he had at the last moment been disappointed of two of his guests and regarded us as old friends who would not mind filling up the gap. Carrie rather demurred at the invitation; but I explained to her that Franching was very well off and influential, and we could not afford to offend him. “And we are sure to get a good dinner and a good gla.s.s of champagne.” “Which never agrees with you!” Carrie replied, sharply. I regarded Carrie’s observation as unsaid. Mr. Franching asked us to wire a reply. As he had said nothing about dress in the letter, I wired back: “With pleasure. Is it full dress?” and by leaving out our name, just got the message within the sixpence.

Got back early to give time to dress, which we received a telegram instructing us to do. I wanted Carrie to meet me at Franching’s house; but she would not do so, so I had to go home to fetch her. What a long journey it is from Holloway to Peckham! Why do people live such a long way off? Having to change ‘buses, I allowed plenty of time–in fact, too much; for we arrived at twenty minutes to seven, and Franching, so the servant said, had only just gone up to dress. However, he was down as the clock struck seven; he must have dressed very quickly.

I must say it was quite a distinguished party, and although we did not know anybody personally, they all seemed to be quite swells. Franching had got a professional waiter, and evidently spared no expense. There were flowers on the table round some fairy-lamps and the effect, I must say, was exquisite. The wine was good and there was plenty of champagne, concerning which Franching said he himself, never wished to taste better. We were ten in number, and a menu card to each. One lady said she always preserved the menu and got the guests to write their names on the back.

We all of us followed her example, except Mr. Huttle, who was of course the important guest.

The dinner-party consisted of Mr. Franching, Mr. Hardfur Huttle, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Hillb.u.t.ter, Mrs. Field, Mr. and Mrs. Purd.i.c.k, Mr. Pratt, Mr. R. Kent, and, last but not least, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pooter. Franching said he was sorry he had no lady for me to take in to dinner. I replied that I preferred it, which I afterwards thought was a very uncomplimentary observation to make.

I sat next to Mrs. Field at dinner. She seemed a well-informed lady, but was very deaf. It did not much matter, for Mr. Hardfur Huttle did all the talking. He is a marvellously intellectual man and says things which from other people would seem quite alarming. How I wish I could remember even a quarter of his brilliant conversation. I made a few little reminding notes on the menu card.

One observation struck me as being absolutely powerful–though not to my way of thinking of course. Mrs. Purd.i.c.k happened to say “You are certainly unorthodox, Mr. Huttle.” Mr. Huttle, with a peculiar expression (I can see it now) said in a slow rich voice: “Mrs. Purd.i.c.k, ‘orthodox’ is a grandiloquent word implying sticking-in- the-mud. If Columbus and Stephenson had been orthodox, there would neither have been the discovery of America nor the steam-engine.” There was quite a silence. It appeared to me that such teaching was absolutely dangerous, and yet I felt–in fact we must all have felt–there was no answer to the argument. A little later on, Mrs. Purd.i.c.k, who is Franching’s sister and also acted as hostess, rose from the table, and Mr. Huttle said: “Why, ladies, do you deprive us of your company so soon? Why not wait while we have our cigars?”

The effect was electrical. The ladies (including Carrie) were in no way inclined to be deprived of Mr. Huttle’s fascinating society, and immediately resumed their seats, amid much laughter and a little chaff. Mr. Huttle said: “Well, that’s a real good sign; you shall not be insulted by being called orthodox any longer.” Mrs. Purd.i.c.k, who seemed to be a bright and rather sharp woman, said: “Mr. Huttle, we will meet you half-way–that is, till you get half-way through your cigar. That, at all events, will be the happy medium.”

I shall never forget the effect the words, “happy medium,” had upon him. He was brilliant and most daring in his interpretation of the words. He positively alarmed me. He said something like the following: “Happy medium, indeed. Do you know ‘happy medium’ are two words which mean ‘miserable mediocrity’? I say, go first cla.s.s or third; marry a d.u.c.h.ess or her kitchenmaid. The happy medium means respectability, and respectability means insipidness. Does it not, Mr. Pooter?”

I was so taken aback by being personally appealed to, that I could only bow apologetically, and say I feared I was not competent to offer an opinion. Carrie was about to say something; but she was interrupted, for which I was rather pleased, for she is not clever at argument, and one has to be extra clever to discuss a subject with a man like Mr. Huttle.

He continued, with an amazing eloquence that made his unwelcome opinions positively convincing: “The happy medium is nothing more or less than a vulgar half-measure. A man who loves champagne and, finding a pint too little, fears to face a whole bottle and has recourse to an imperial pint, will never build a Brooklyn Bridge or an Eiffel Tower. No, he is half-hearted, he is a half-measure– respectable–in fact, a happy medium, and will spend the rest of his days in a suburban villa with a stucco-column portico, resembling a four-post bedstead.”

We all laughed.

“That sort of thing,” continued Mr. Huttle, “belongs to a soft man, with a soft beard with a soft head, with a made tie that hooks on.”

This seemed rather personal and twice I caught myself looking in the gla.s.s of the cheffoniere; for I had on a tie that hooked on– and why not? If these remarks were not personal they were rather careless, and so were some of his subsequent observations, which must have made both Mr. Franching and his guests rather uncomfortable. I don’t think Mr. Huttle meant to be personal, for he added; “We don’t know that cla.s.s here in this country: but we do in America, and I’ve no use for them.”

Franching several times suggested that the wine should be pa.s.sed round the table, which Mr. Huttle did not heed; but continued as if he were giving a lecture: “What we want in America is your homes. We live on wheels. Your simple, quiet life and home, Mr. Franching, are charming. No display, no pretension! You make no difference in your dinner, I dare say, when you sit down by yourself and when you invite us. You have your own personal attendant–no hired waiter to breathe on the back of your head.”

I saw Franching palpably wince at this.

Mr. Huttle continued: “Just a small dinner with a few good things, such as you have this evening. You don’t insult your guests by sending to the grocer for champagne at six shillings a bottle.”

I could not help thinking of “Jackson Freres” at three-and-six!

“In fact,” said Mr. Huttle, “a man is little less than a murderer who does. That is the province of the milksop, who wastes his evening at home playing dominoes with his wife. I’ve heard of these people. We don’t want them at this table. Our party is well selected. We’ve no use for deaf old women, who cannot follow intellectual conversation.”

All our eyes were turned to Mrs. Field, who fortunately, being deaf, did not hear his remarks; but continued smiling approval.

“We have no representative at Mr. Franching’s table,” said Mr. Huttle, “of the unenlightened frivolous matron, who goes to a second cla.s.s dance at Bayswater and fancies she is in Society. Society does not know her; it has no use for her.”

Mr. Huttle paused for a moment and the opportunity was afforded for the ladies to rise. I asked Mr. Franching quietly to excuse me, as I did not wish to miss the last train, which we very nearly did, by-the-by, through Carrie having mislaid the little cloth cricket- cap which she wears when we go out.

It was very late when Carrie and I got home; but on entering the sitting-room I said: “Carrie, what do you think of Mr. Hardfur Huttle?” She simply answered: “How like Lupin!” The same idea occurred to me in the train. The comparison kept me awake half the night. Mr. Huttle was, of course, an older and more influential man; but he WAS like Lupin, and it made me think how dangerous Lupin would be if he were older and more influential. I feel proud to think Lupin DOES resemble Mr. Huttle in some ways. Lupin, like Mr. Huttle, has original and sometimes wonderful ideas; but it is those ideas that are so dangerous. They make men extremely rich or extremely poor. They make or break men. I always feel people are happier who live a simple unsophisticated life. I believe I am happy because I am not ambitious. Somehow I feel that Lupin, since he has been with Mr. Perkupp, has become content to settle down and follow the footsteps of his father. This is a comfort.

CHAPTER XXI.

Lupin is discharged. We are in great trouble. Lupin gets engaged elsewhere at a handsome salary.

May 13.–A terrible misfortune has happened: Lupin is discharged from Mr. Perkupp’s office; and I scarcely know how I am writing my diary. I was away from office last Sat., the first time I have been absent through illness for twenty years. I believe I was poisoned by some lobster. Mr. Perkupp was also absent, as Fate would have it; and our most valued customer, Mr. Crowbillon, went to the office in a rage, and withdrew his custom. My boy Lupin not only had the a.s.surance to receive him, but recommended him the firm of Gylterson, Sons and Co. Limited. In my own humble judgment, and though I have to say it against my own son, this seems an act of treachery.

This morning I receive a letter from Perkupp, informing me that Lupin’s services are no longer required, and an interview with me is desired at eleven o’clock. I went down to the office with an aching heart, dreading an interview with Mr. Perkupp, with whom I have never had a word. I saw nothing of Lupin in the morning. He had not got up when it was time for me to leave, and Carrie said I should do no good by disturbing him. My mind wandered so at the office that I could not do my work properly.

As I expected, I was sent for by Mr. Perkupp, and the following conversation ensued as nearly as I can remember it.

Mr. Perkupp said: “Good-morning, Mr. Pooter! This is a very serious business. I am not referring so much to the dismissal of your son, for I knew we should have to part sooner or later. I am the head of this old, influential, and much-respected firm; and when I consider the time has come to revolutionise the business, I will do it myself.”

I could see my good master was somewhat affected, and I said: “I hope, sir, you do not imagine that I have in any way countenanced my son’s unwarrantable interference?” Mr. Perkupp rose from his seat and took my hand, and said: “Mr. Pooter, I would as soon suspect myself as suspect you.” I was so agitated that in the confusion, to show my grat.i.tude I very nearly called him a “grand old man.”

Fortunately I checked myself in time, and said he was a “grand old master.” I was so unaccountable for my actions that I sat down, leaving him standing. Of course, I at once rose, but Mr. Perkupp bade me sit down, which I was very pleased to do. Mr. Perkupp, resuming, said: “You will understand, Mr. Pooter, that the high- standing nature of our firm will not admit of our bending to anybody. If Mr. Crowbillon chooses to put his work into other hands–I may add, less experienced hands–it is not for us to bend and beg back his custom.” “You SHALL not do it, sir,” I said with indignation. “Exactly,” replied Mr. Perkupp; “I shall NOT do it. But I was thinking this, Mr. Pooter. Mr. Crowbillon is our most valued client, and I will even confess–for I know this will not go beyond ourselves–that we cannot afford very well to lose him, especially in these times, which are not of the brightest. Now, I fancy you can be of service.”

I replied: “Mr. Perkupp, I will work day and night to serve you!”

Mr. Perkupp said: “I know you will. Now, what I should like you to do is this. You yourself might write to Mr. Crowbillon–you must not, of course, lead him to suppose I know anything about your doing so–and explain to him that your son was only taken on as a clerk–quite an inexperienced one in fact–out of the respect the firm had for you, Mr. Pooter. This is, of course, a fact. I don’t suggest that you should speak in too strong terms of your own son’s conduct; but I may add, that had he been a son of mine, I should have condemned his interference with no measured terms. That I leave to you. I think the result will be that Mr. Crowbillon will see the force of the foolish step he has taken, and our firm will neither suffer in dignity nor in pocket.”

I could not help thinking what a n.o.ble gentleman Mr. Perkupp is. His manners and his way of speaking seem to almost thrill one with respect.

I said: “Would you like to see the letter before I send it?”

Mr. Perkupp said: “Oh no! I had better not. I am supposed to know nothing about it, and I have every confidence in you. You must write the letter carefully. We are not very busy; you had better take the morning to-morrow, or the whole day if you like. I shall be here myself all day to-morrow, in fact all the week, in case Mr. Crowbillon should call.”

I went home a little more cheerful, but I left word with Sarah that I could not see either Gowing or c.u.mmings, nor in fact anybody, if they called in the evening. Lupin came into the parlour for a moment with a new hat on, and asked my opinion of it. I said I was not in the mood to judge of hats, and I did not think he was in a position to buy a new one. Lupin replied carelessly: “I didn’t buy it; it was a present.”

I have such terrible suspicions of Lupin now that I scarcely like to ask him questions, as I dread the answers so. He, however, saved me the trouble.

He said: “I met a friend, an old friend, that I did not quite think a friend at the time; but it’s all right. As he wisely said, ‘all is fair in love and war,’ and there was no reason why we should not be friends still. He’s a jolly, good, all-round sort of fellow, and a very different stamp from that inflated fool of a Perkupp.”

I said: “Hush, Lupin! Do not pray add insult to injury.”

Lupin said: “What do you mean by injury? I repeat, I have done no injury. Crowbillon is simply tired of a stagnant stick-in-the-mud firm, and made the change on his own account. I simply recommended the new firm as a matter of biz–good old biz!”

I said quietly: “I don’t understand your slang, and at my time of life have no desire to learn it; so, Lupin, my boy, let us change the subject. I will, if it please you, TRY and be interested in your new hat adventure.”

Lupin said: “Oh! there’s nothing much about it, except I have not once seen him since his marriage, and he said he was very pleased to see me, and hoped we should be friends. I stood a drink to cement the friendship, and he stood me a new hat–one of his own.”

I said rather wearily: “But you have not told me your old friend’s name?”

Lupin said, with affected carelessness: “Oh didn’t I? Well, I will. It was MURRAY POSH.”

May 14.–Lupin came down late, and seeing me at home all the morning, asked the reason of it. Carrie and I both agreed it was better to say nothing to him about the letter I was writing, so I evaded the question.

Lupin went out, saying he was going to lunch with Murray Posh in the City. I said I hoped Mr. Posh would provide him with a berth. Lupin went out laughing, saying: “I don’t mind WEARING Posh’s one- priced hats, but I am not going to SELL them.” Poor boy, I fear he is perfectly hopeless.

It took me nearly the whole day to write to Mr. Crowbillon. Once or twice I asked Carrie for suggestions; and although it seems ungrateful, her suggestions were none of them to the point, while one or two were absolutely idiotic. Of course I did not tell her so. I got the letter off, and took it down to the office for Mr. Perkupp to see, but he again repeated that he could trust me.

Gowing called in the evening, and I was obliged to tell him about Lupin and Mr. Perkupp; and, to my surprise, he was quite inclined to side with Lupin. Carrie joined in, and said she thought I was taking much too melancholy a view of it. Gowing produced a pint sample-bottle of Madeira, which had been given him, which he said would get rid of the blues. I dare say it would have done so if there had been more of it; but as Gowing helped himself to three gla.s.ses, it did not leave much for Carrie and me to get rid of the blues with.

May 15.–A day of great anxiety, for I expected every moment a letter from Mr. Crowbillon. Two letters came in the evening–one for me, with “Crowbillon Hall” printed in large gold-and-red letters on the back of the envelope; the other for Lupin, which I felt inclined to open and read, as it had “Gylterson, Sons, and Co. Limited,” which was the recommended firm. I trembled as I opened Mr. Crowbillon’s letter. I wrote him sixteen pages, closely written; he wrote me less than sixteen lines.

His letter was: “Sir,–I totally disagree with you. Your son, in the course of five minutes’ conversation, displayed more intelligence than your firm has done during the last five years.– Yours faithfully, Gilbert E. Gillam O. Crowbillon.”

What am I to do? Here is a letter that I dare not show to Mr. Perkupp, and would not show to Lupin for anything. The crisis had yet to come; for Lupin arrived, and, opening his letter, showed a cheque for 25 pounds as a commission for the recommendation of Mr. Crowbillon, whose custom to Mr. Perkupp is evidently lost for ever. c.u.mmings and Gowing both called, and both took Lupin’s part. c.u.mmings went so far as to say that Lupin would make a name yet. I suppose I was melancholy, for I could only ask: “Yes, but what sort of a name?”

May 16.–I told Mr. Perkupp the contents of the letter in a modified form, but Mr. Perkupp said: “Pray don’t discuss the matter; it is at an end. Your son will bring his punishment upon himself.” I went home in the evening, thinking of the hopeless future of Lupin. I found him in most extravagant spirits and in evening dress. He threw a letter on the table for me to read.

To my amazement, I read that Gylterson and Sons had absolutely engaged Lupin at a salary of 200 pounds a year, with other advantages. I read the letter through three times and thought it must have been for me. But there it was–Lupin Pooter–plain enough. I was silent. Lupin said: “What price Perkupp now? You take my tip, Guv.–‘off’ with Perkupp and freeze on to Gylterson, the firm of the future! Perkupp’s firm? The stagnant dummies have been standing still for years, and now are moving back. I want to go on. In fact I must go OFF, as I am dining with the Murray Poshs to-night.”

In the exuberance of his spirits he hit his hat with his stick, gave a loud war “Whoo-oop,” jumped over a chair, and took the liberty of rumpling my hair all over my forehead, and bounced out of the room, giving me no chance of reminding him of his age and the respect which was due to his parent. Gowing and c.u.mmings came in the evening, and positively cheered me up with congratulations respecting Lupin.

Gowing said: “I always said he would get on, and, take my word, he has more in his head than we three put together.”

Carrie said: “He is a second Hardfur Huttle.”

CHAPTER XXII.

Master Percy Edgar Smith James. Mrs. James (of Sutton) visits us again and introduces “Spiritual Seances.”

May 26, Sunday.–We went to Sutton after dinner to have meat-tea with Mr. and Mrs. James. I had no appet.i.te, having dined well at two, and the entire evening was spoiled by little Percy–their only son–who seems to me to be an utterly spoiled child.

Two or three times he came up to me and deliberately kicked my shins. He hurt me once so much that the tears came into my eyes. I gently remonstrated with him, and Mrs. James said: “Please don’t scold him; I do not believe in being too severe with young children. You spoil their character.”

Little Percy set up a deafening yell here, and when Carrie tried to pacify him, he slapped her face.

I was so annoyed, I said: “That is not my idea of bringing up children, Mrs. James.”

Mrs. James said. “People have different ideas of bringing up children–even your son Lupin is not the standard of perfection.”

A Mr. Mezzini (an Italian, I fancy) here took Percy in his lap. The child wriggled and kicked and broke away from Mr. Mezzini, saying: “I don’t like you–you’ve got a dirty face.”

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