Part 1 out of 3
Transcribed by David Price, email email@example.com
The Diary of a Nobody
INTRODUCTION BY MR. POOTER
Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences
of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see--because I
do not happen to be a 'Somebody'--why my diary should not be
interesting. My only regret is that I did not commence it when I
was a youth.
We settle down in our new home, and I resolve to keep a diary.
Tradesmen trouble us a bit, so does the scraper. The Curate calls
and pays me a great compliment.
My clear wife Carrie and I have just been a week in our new house,
"The Laurels," Brickfield Terrace, Holloway--a nice six-roomed
residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour.
We have a little front garden; and there is a flight of ten steps
up to the front door, which, by-the-by, we keep locked with the
chain up. Cummings, Gowing, and our other intimate friends always
come to the little side entrance, which saves the servant the
trouble of going up to the front door, thereby taking her from her
work. We have a nice little back garden which runs down to the
railway. We were rather afraid of the noise of the trains at
first, but the landlord said we should not notice them after a bit,
and took 2 pounds off the rent. He was certainly right; and beyond
the cracking of the garden wall at the bottom, we have suffered no
After my work in the City, I like to be at home. What's the good
of a home, if you are never in it? "Home, Sweet Home," that's my
motto. I am always in of an evening. Our old friend Gowing may
drop in without ceremony; so may Cummings, who lives opposite. My
dear wife Caroline and I are pleased to see them, if they like to
drop in on us. But Carrie and I can manage to pass our evenings
together without friends. There is always something to be done: a
tin-tack here, a Venetian blind to put straight, a fan to nail up,
or part of a carpet to nail down--all of which I can do with my
pipe in my mouth; while Carrie is not above putting a button on a
shirt, mending a pillow-case, or practising the "Sylvia Gavotte" on
our new cottage piano (on the three years' system), manufactured by
W. Bilkson (in small letters), from Collard and Collard (in very
large letters). It is also a great comfort to us to know that our
boy Willie is getting on so well in the Bank at Oldham. We should
like to see more of him. Now for my diary:-
April 3.--Tradesmen called for custom, and I promised Farmerson,
the ironmonger, to give him a turn if I wanted any nails or tools.
By-the-by, that reminds me there is no key to our bedroom door, and
the bells must be seen to. The parlour bell is broken, and the
front door rings up in the servant's bedroom, which is ridiculous.
Dear friend Gowing dropped in, but wouldn't stay, saying there was
an infernal smell of paint.
April 4. Tradesmen still calling; Carrie being out, I arranged to
deal with Horwin, who seemed a civil butcher with a nice clean
shop. Ordered a shoulder of mutton for to-morrow, to give him a
trial. Carrie arranged with Borset, the butterman, and ordered a
pound of fresh butter, and a pound and a half of salt ditto for
kitchen, and a shilling's worth of eggs. In the evening, Cummings
unexpectedly dropped in to show me a meerschaum pipe he had won in
a raffle in the City, and told me to handle it carefully, as it
would spoil the colouring if the hand was moist. He said he
wouldn't stay, as he didn't care much for the smell of the paint,
and fell over the scraper as he went out. Must get the scraper
removed, or else I shall get into a SCRAPE. I don't often make
April 5.--Two shoulders of mutton arrived, Carrie having arranged
with another butcher without consulting me. Gowing called, and
fell over scraper coming in. MUST get that scraper removed.
April 6.--Eggs for breakfast simply shocking; sent them back to
Borset with my compliments, and he needn't call any more for
orders. Couldn't find umbrella, and though it was pouring with
rain, had to go without it. Sarah said Mr. Gowing must have took
it by mistake last night, as there was a stick in the 'all that
didn't belong to nobody. In the evening, hearing someone talking
in a loud voice to the servant in the downstairs hall, I went out
to see who it was, and was surprised to find it was Borset, the
butterman, who was both drunk and offensive. Borset, on seeing me,
said he would be hanged if he would ever serve City clerks any
more--the game wasn't worth the candle. I restrained my feelings,
and quietly remarked that I thought it was POSSIBLE for a city
clerk to be a GENTLEMAN. He replied he was very glad to hear it,
and wanted to know whether I had ever come across one, for HE
hadn't. He left the house, slamming the door after him, which
nearly broke the fanlight; and I heard him fall over the scraper,
which made me feel glad I hadn't removed it. When he had gone, I
thought of a splendid answer I ought to have given him. However, I
will keep it for another occasion.
April 7.--Being Saturday, I looked forward to being home early, and
putting a few things straight; but two of our principals at the
office were absent through illness, and I did not get home till
seven. Found Borset waiting. He had been three times during the
day to apologise for his conduct last night. He said he was unable
to take his Bank Holiday last Monday, and took it last night
instead. He begged me to accept his apology, and a pound of fresh
butter. He seems, after all, a decent sort of fellow; so I gave
him an order for some fresh eggs, with a request that on this
occasion they SHOULD be fresh. I am afraid we shall have to get
some new stair-carpets after all; our old ones are not quite wide
enough to meet the paint on either side. Carrie suggests that we
might ourselves broaden the paint. I will see if we can match the
colour (dark chocolate) on Monday.
April 8, Sunday.--After Church, the Curate came back with us. I
sent Carrie in to open front door, which we do not use except on
special occasions. She could not get it open, and after all my
display, I had to take the Curate (whose name, by-the-by, I did not
catch,) round the side entrance. He caught his foot in the
scraper, and tore the bottom of his trousers. Most annoying, as
Carrie could not well offer to repair them on a Sunday. After
dinner, went to sleep. Took a walk round the garden, and
discovered a beautiful spot for sowing mustard-and-cress and
radishes. Went to Church again in the evening: walked back with
the Curate. Carrie noticed he had got on the same pair of
trousers, only repaired. He wants me to take round the plate,
which I think a great compliment.
Tradesmen and the scraper still troublesome. Gowing rather
tiresome with his complaints of the paint. I make one of the best
jokes of my life. Delights of Gardening. Mr. Stillbrook, Gowing,
Cummings, and I have a little misunderstanding. Sarah makes me
look a fool before Cummings
April 9.--Commenced the morning badly. The butcher, whom we
decided NOT to arrange with, called and blackguarded me in the most
uncalled-for manner. He began by abusing me, and saying he did not
want my custom. I simply said: "Then what are you making all this
fuss about it for?" And he shouted out at the top of his voice, so
that all the neighbours could hear: "Pah! go along. Ugh! I could
buy up 'things' like you by the dozen!"
I shut the door, and was giving Carrie to understand that this
disgraceful scene was entirely her fault, when there was a violent
kicking at the door, enough to break the panels. It was the
blackguard butcher again, who said he had cut his foot over the
scraper, and would immediately bring an action against me. Called
at Farmerson's, the ironmonger, on my way to town, and gave him the
job of moving the scraper and repairing the bells, thinking it
scarcely worth while to trouble the landlord with such a trifling
Arrived home tired and worried. Mr. Putley, a painter and
decorator, who had sent in a card, said he could not match the
colour on the stairs, as it contained Indian carmine. He said he
spent half-a-day calling at warehouses to see if he could get it.
He suggested he should entirely repaint the stairs. It would cost
very little more; if he tried to match it, he could only make a bad
job of it. It would be more satisfactory to him and to us to have
the work done properly. I consented, but felt I had been talked
over. Planted some mustard-and-cress and radishes, and went to bed
April 10.--Farmerson came round to attend to the scraper himself.
He seems a very civil fellow. He says he does not usually conduct
such small jobs personally, but for me he would do so. I thanked
him, and went to town. It is disgraceful how late some of the
young clerks are at arriving. I told three of them that if Mr.
Perkupp, the principal, heard of it, they might be discharged.
Pitt, a monkey of seventeen, who has only been with us six weeks,
told me "to keep my hair on!" I informed him I had had the honour
of being in the firm twenty years, to which he insolently replied
that I "looked it." I gave him an indignant look, and said: "I
demand from you some respect, sir." He replied: "All right, go on
demanding." I would not argue with him any further. You cannot
argue with people like that. In the evening Gowing called, and
repeated his complaint about the smell of paint. Gowing is
sometimes very tedious with his remarks, and not always cautious;
and Carrie once very properly reminded him that she was present.
April 11.--Mustard-and-cress and radishes not come up yet. To-day
was a day of annoyances. I missed the quarter-to-nine 'bus to the
City, through having words with the grocer's boy, who for the
second time had the impertinence to bring his basket to the hall-
door, and had left the marks of his dirty boots on the fresh-
cleaned door-steps. He said he had knocked at the side door with
his knuckles for a quarter of an hour. I knew Sarah, our servant,
could not hear this, as she was upstairs doing the bedrooms, so
asked the boy why he did not ring the bell? He replied that he did
pull the bell, but the handle came off in his hand.
I was half-an-hour late at the office, a thing that has never
happened to me before. There has recently been much irregularity
in the attendance of the clerks, and Mr. Perkupp, our principal,
unfortunately choose this very morning to pounce down upon us
early. Someone had given the tip to the others. The result was
that I was the only one late of the lot. Buckling, one of the
senior clerks, was a brick, and I was saved by his intervention.
As I passed by Pitt's desk, I heard him remark to his neighbour:
"How disgracefully late some of the head clerks arrive!" This was,
of course, meant for me. I treated the observation with silence,
simply giving him a look, which unfortunately had the effect of
making both of the clerks laugh. Thought afterwards it would have
been more dignified if I had pretended not to have heard him at
all. Cummings called in the evening, and we played dominoes.
April 12.--Mustard-and-cress and radishes not come up yet. Left
Farmerson repairing the scraper, but when I came home found three
men working. I asked the meaning of it, and Farmerson said that in
making a fresh hole he had penetrated the gas-pipe. He said it was
a most ridiculous place to put the gas-pipe, and the man who did it
evidently knew nothing about his business. I felt his excuse was
no consolation for the expense I shall be put to.
In the evening, after tea, Gowing dropped in, and we had a smoke
together in the breakfast-parlour. Carrie joined us later, but did
not stay long, saying the smoke was too much for her. It was also
rather too much for me, for Gowing had given me what he called a
green cigar, one that his friend Shoemach had just brought over
from America. The cigar didn't look green, but I fancy I must have
done so; for when I had smoked a little more than half I was
obliged to retire on the pretext of telling Sarah to bring in the
I took a walk round the garden three or four times, feeling the
need of fresh air. On returning Gowing noticed I was not smoking:
offered me another cigar, which I politely declined. Gowing began
his usual sniffing, so, anticipating him, I said: "You're not
going to complain of the smell of paint again?" He said: "No, not
this time; but I'll tell you what, I distinctly smell dry rot." I
don't often make jokes, but I replied: "You're talking a lot of
DRY ROT yourself." I could not help roaring at this, and Carrie
said her sides quite ached with laughter. I never was so immensely
tickled by anything I have ever said before. I actually woke up
twice during the night, and laughed till the bed shook.
April 13.--An extraordinary coincidence: Carrie had called in a
woman to make some chintz covers for our drawing-room chairs and
sofa to prevent the sun fading the green rep of the furniture. I
saw the woman, and recognised her as a woman who used to work years
ago for my old aunt at Clapham. It only shows how small the world
April 14.--Spent the whole of the afternoon in the garden, having
this morning picked up at a bookstall for fivepence a capital
little book, in good condition, on GARDENING. I procured and sowed
some half-hardy annuals in what I fancy will be a warm, sunny
border. I thought of a joke, and called out Carrie. Carrie came
out rather testy, I thought. I said: "I have just discovered we
have got a lodging-house." She replied: "How do you mean?" I
said: "Look at the BOARDERS." Carrie said: "Is that all you
wanted me for?" I said: "Any other time you would have laughed at
my little pleasantry." Carrie said: "Certainly--AT ANY OTHER
TIME, but not when I am busy in the house." The stairs looked very
nice. Gowing called, and said the stairs looked ALL RIGHT, but it
made the banisters look ALL WRONG, and suggested a coat of paint on
them also, which Carrie quite agreed with. I walked round to
Putley, and fortunately he was out, so I had a good excuse to let
the banisters slide. By-the-by, that is rather funny.
April 15, Sunday.--At three o'clock Cummings and Gowing called for
a good long walk over Hampstead and Finchley, and brought with them
a friend named Stillbrook. We walked and chatted together, except
Stillbrook, who was always a few yards behind us staring at the
ground and cutting at the grass with his stick.
As it was getting on for five, we four held a consultation, and
Gowing suggested that we should make for "The Cow and Hedge" and
get some tea. Stillbrook said: "A brandy-and-soda was good enough
for him." I reminded them that all public-houses were closed till
six o'clock. Stillbrook said, "That's all right--bona-fide
We arrived; and as I was trying to pass, the man in charge of the
gate said: "Where from?" I replied: "Holloway." He immediately
put up his arm, and declined to let me pass. I turned back for a
moment, when I saw Stillbrook, closely followed by Cummings and
Gowing, make for the entrance. I watched them, and thought I would
have a good laugh at their expense, I heard the porter say: "Where
from?" When, to my surprise, in fact disgust, Stillbrook replied:
"Blackheath," and the three were immediately admitted.
Gowing called to me across the gate, and said: "We shan't be a
minute." I waited for them the best part of an hour. When they
appeared they were all in most excellent spirits, and the only one
who made an effort to apologise was Mr. Stillbrook, who said to me:
"It was very rough on you to be kept waiting, but we had another
spin for S. and B.'s." I walked home in silence; I couldn't speak
to them. I felt very dull all the evening, but deemed it advisable
NOT to say anything to Carrie about the matter.
April 16.--After business, set to work in the garden. When it got
dark I wrote to Cummings and Gowing (who neither called, for a
wonder; perhaps they were ashamed of themselves) about yesterday's
adventure at "The Cow and Hedge." Afterwards made up my mind not
to write YET.
April 17.--Thought I would write a kind little note to Gowing and
Cummings about last Sunday, and warning them against Mr.
Stillbrook. Afterwards, thinking the matter over, tore up the
letters and determined not to WRITE at all, but to SPEAK quietly to
them. Dumfounded at receiving a sharp letter from Cummings, saying
that both he and Gowing had been waiting for an explanation of MY
(mind you, MY) extraordinary conduct coming home on Sunday. At
last I wrote: "I thought I was the aggrieved party; but as I
freely forgive you, you--feeling yourself aggrieved--should bestow
forgiveness on me." I have copied this verbatim in the diary,
because I think it is one of the most perfect and thoughtful
sentences I have ever written. I posted the letter, but in my own
heart I felt I was actually apologising for having been insulted.
April 18.--Am in for a cold. Spent the whole day at the office
sneezing. In the evening, the cold being intolerable, sent Sarah
out for a bottle of Kinahan. Fell asleep in the arm-chair, and
woke with the shivers. Was startled by a loud knock at the front
door. Carrie awfully flurried. Sarah still out, so went up,
opened the door, and found it was only Cummings. Remembered the
grocer's boy had again broken the side-bell. Cummings squeezed my
hand, and said: "I've just seen Gowing. All right. Say no more
about it." There is no doubt they are both under the impression I
While playing dominoes with Cummings in the parlour, he said: "By-
the-by, do you want any wine or spirits? My cousin Merton has just
set up in the trade, and has a splendid whisky, four years in
bottle, at thirty-eight shillings. It is worth your while laying
down a few dozen of it." I told him my cellars, which were very
small, were full up. To my horror, at that very moment, Sarah
entered the room, and putting a bottle of whisky, wrapped in a
dirty piece of newspaper, on the table in front of us, said:
"Please, sir, the grocer says he ain't got no more Kinahan, but
you'll find this very good at two-and-six, with twopence returned
on the bottle; and, please, did you want any more sherry? as he has
some at one-and-three, as dry as a nut!"
A conversation with Mr. Merton on Society. Mr. and Mrs. James, of
Sutton, come up. A miserable evening at the Tank Theatre.
Experiments with enamel paint. I make another good joke; but
Gowing and Cummings are unnecessarily offended. I paint the bath
red, with unexpected result.
April 19.--Cummings called, bringing with him his friend Merton,
who is in the wine trade. Gowing also called. Mr. Merton made
himself at home at once, and Carrie and I were both struck with him
immediately, and thoroughly approved of his sentiments.
He leaned back in his chair and said: "You must take me as I am;"
and I replied: "Yes--and you must take us as we are. We're homely
people, we are not swells."
He answered: "No, I can see that," and Gowing roared with
laughter; but Merton in a most gentlemanly manner said to Gowing:
"I don't think you quite understand me. I intended to convey that
our charming host and hostess were superior to the follies of
fashion, and preferred leading a simple and wholesome life to
gadding about to twopenny-halfpenny tea-drinking afternoons, and
living above their incomes."
I was immensely pleased with these sensible remarks of Merton's,
and concluded that subject by saying: "No, candidly, Mr. Merton,
we don't go into Society, because we do not care for it; and what
with the expense of cabs here and cabs there, and white gloves and
white ties, etc., it doesn't seem worth the money."
Merton said in reference to FRIENDS: "My motto is 'Few and True;'
and, by the way, I also apply that to wine, 'Little and Good.'"
Gowing said: "Yes, and sometimes 'cheap and tasty,' eh, old man?"
Merton, still continuing, said he should treat me as a friend, and
put me down for a dozen of his "Lockanbar" whisky, and as I was an
old friend of Gowing, I should have it for 36s., which was
considerably under what he paid for it.
He booked his own order, and further said that at any time I wanted
any passes for the theatre I was to let him know, as his name stood
good for any theatre in London.
April 20.--Carrie reminded me that as her old school friend, Annie
Fullers (now Mrs. James), and her husband had come up from Sutton
for a few days, it would look kind to take them to the theatre, and
would I drop a line to Mr. Merton asking him for passes for four,
either for the Italian Opera, Haymarket, Savoy, or Lyceum. I wrote
Merton to that effect.
April 21.--Got a reply from Merton, saying he was very busy, and
just at present couldn't manage passes for the Italian Opera,
Haymarket, Savoy, or Lyceum, but the best thing going on in London
was the Brown Bushes, at the Tank Theatre, Islington, and enclosed
seats for four; also bill for whisky.
April 23.--Mr. and Mrs. James (Miss Fullers that was) came to meat
tea, and we left directly after for the Tank Theatre. We got a
'bus that took us to King's Cross, and then changed into one that
took us to the "Angel." Mr. James each time insisted on paying for
all, saying that I had paid for the tickets and that was quite
We arrived at theatre, where, curiously enough, all our 'bus-load
except an old woman with a basket seemed to be going in. I walked
ahead and presented the tickets. The man looked at them, and
called out: "Mr. Willowly! do you know anything about these?"
holding up my tickets. The gentleman called to, came up and
examined my tickets, and said: "Who gave you these?" I said,
rather indignantly: "Mr. Merton, of course." He said: "Merton?
Who's he?" I answered, rather sharply: "You ought to know, his
name's good at any theatre in London." He replied: "Oh! is it?
Well, it ain't no good here. These tickets, which are not dated,
were issued under Mr. Swinstead's management, which has since
changed hands." While I was having some very unpleasant words with
the man, James, who had gone upstairs with the ladies, called out:
"Come on!" I went up after them, and a very civil attendant said:
"This way, please, box H." I said to James: "Why, how on earth
did you manage it?" and to my horror he replied: "Why, paid for it
This was humiliating enough, and I could scarcely follow the play,
but I was doomed to still further humiliation. I was leaning out
of the box, when my tie--a little black bow which fastened on to
the stud by means of a new patent--fell into the pit below. A
clumsy man not noticing it, had his foot on it for ever so long
before he discovered it. He then picked it up and eventually flung
it under the next seat in disgust. What with the box incident and
the tie, I felt quite miserable. Mr. James, of Sutton, was very
good. He said: "Don't worry--no one will notice it with your
beard. That is the only advantage of growing one that I can see."
There was no occasion for that remark, for Carrie is very proud of
To hide the absence of the tie I had to keep my chin down the rest
of the evening, which caused a pain at the back of my neck.
April 24.--Could scarcely sleep a wink through thinking of having
brought up Mr. and Mrs. James from the country to go to the theatre
last night, and his having paid for a private box because our order
was not honoured, and such a poor play too. I wrote a very
satirical letter to Merton, the wine merchant, who gave us the
pass, and said, "Considering we had to pay for our seats, we did
our best to appreciate the performance." I thought this line
rather cutting, and I asked Carrie how many p's there were in
appreciate, and she said, "One." After I sent off the letter I
looked at the dictionary and found there were two. Awfully vexed
Decided not to worry myself any more about the James's; for, as
Carrie wisely said, "We'll make it all right with them by asking
them up from Sutton one evening next week to play at Bezique."
April 25.--In consequence of Brickwell telling me his wife was
working wonders with the new Pinkford's enamel paint, I determined
to try it. I bought two tins of red on my way home. I hastened
through tea, went into the garden and painted some flower-pots. I
called out Carrie, who said: "You've always got some newfangled
craze;" but she was obliged to admit that the flower-pots looked
remarkably well. Went upstairs into the servant's bedroom and
painted her washstand, towel-horse, and chest of drawers. To my
mind it was an extraordinary improvement, but as an example of the
ignorance of the lower classes in the matter of taste, our servant,
Sarah, on seeing them, evinced no sign of pleasure, but merely said
"she thought they looked very well as they was before."
April 26.--Got some more red enamel paint (red, to my mind, being
the best colour), and painted the coal-scuttle, and the backs of
our Shakspeare, the binding of which had almost worn out.
April 27.--Painted the bath red, and was delighted with the result.
Sorry to say Carrie was not, in fact we had a few words about it.
She said I ought to have consulted her, and she had never heard of
such a thing as a bath being painted red. I replied: "It's merely
a matter of taste."
Fortunately, further argument on the subject was stopped by a voice
saying, "May I come in?" It was only Cummings, who said, "Your
maid opened the door, and asked me to excuse her showing me in, as
she was wringing out some socks." I was delighted to see him, and
suggested we should have a game of whist with a dummy, and by way
of merriment said: "You can be the dummy." Cummings (I thought
rather ill-naturedly) replied: "Funny as usual." He said he
couldn't stop, he only called to leave me the Bicycle News, as he
had done with it.
Another ring at the bell; it was Gowing, who said he "must
apologise for coming so often, and that one of these days we must
come round to HIM." I said: "A very extraordinary thing has
struck me." "Something funny, as usual," said Cummings. "Yes," I
replied; "I think even you will say so this time. It's concerning
you both; for doesn't it seem odd that Gowing's always coming and
Cummings' always going?" Carrie, who had evidently quite forgotten
about the bath, went into fits of laughter, and as for myself, I
fairly doubled up in my chair, till it cracked beneath me. I think
this was one of the best jokes I have ever made.
Then imagine my astonishment on perceiving both Cummings and Gowing
perfectly silent, and without a smile on their faces. After rather
an unpleasant pause, Cummings, who had opened a cigar-case, closed
it up again and said: "Yes--I think, after that, I SHALL be going,
and I am sorry I fail to see the fun of your jokes." Gowing said
he didn't mind a joke when it wasn't rude, but a pun on a name, to
his thinking, was certainly a little wanting in good taste.
Cummings followed it up by saying, if it had been said by anyone
else but myself, he shouldn't have entered the house again. This
rather unpleasantly terminated what might have been a cheerful
evening. However, it was as well they went, for the charwoman had
finished up the remains of the cold pork.
April 28.--At the office, the new and very young clerk Pitt, who
was very impudent to me a week or so ago, was late again. I told
him it would be my duty to inform Mr. Perkupp, the principal. To
my surprise, Pitt apologised most humbly and in a most gentlemanly
fashion. I was unfeignedly pleased to notice this improvement in
his manner towards me, and told him I would look over his
unpunctuality. Passing down the room an hour later. I received a
smart smack in the face from a rolled-up ball of hard foolscap. I
turned round sharply, but all the clerks were apparently riveted to
their work. I am not a rich man, but I would give half-a-sovereign
to know whether that was thrown by accident or design. Went home
early and bought some more enamel paint--black this time--and spent
the evening touching up the fender, picture-frames, and an old pair
of boots, making them look as good as new. Also painted Gowing's
walking-stick, which he left behind, and made it look like ebony.
April 29, Sunday.--Woke up with a fearful headache and strong
symptoms of a cold. Carrie, with a perversity which is just like
her, said it was "painter's colic," and was the result of my having
spent the last few days with my nose over a paint-pot. I told her
firmly that I knew a great deal better what was the matter with me
than she did. I had got a chill, and decided to have a bath as hot
as I could bear it. Bath ready--could scarcely bear it so hot. I
persevered, and got in; very hot, but very acceptable. I lay still
for some time.
On moving my hand above the surface of the water, I experienced the
greatest fright I ever received in the whole course of my life; for
imagine my horror on discovering my hand, as I thought, full of
blood. My first thought was that I had ruptured an artery, and was
bleeding to death, and should be discovered, later on, looking like
a second Marat, as I remember seeing him in Madame Tussaud's. My
second thought was to ring the bell, but remembered there was no
bell to ring. My third was, that there was nothing but the enamel
paint, which had dissolved with boiling water. I stepped out of
the bath, perfectly red all over, resembling the Red Indians I have
seen depicted at an East-End theatre. I determined not to say a
word to Carrie, but to tell Farmerson to come on Monday and paint
the bath white.
The ball at the Mansion House.
April 30.--Perfectly astounded at receiving an invitation for
Carrie and myself from the Lord and Lady Mayoress to the Mansion
House, to "meet the Representatives of Trades and Commerce." My
heart beat like that of a schoolboy's. Carrie and I read the
invitation over two or three times. I could scarcely eat my
breakfast. I said--and I felt it from the bottom of my heart,--
"Carrie darling, I was a proud man when I led you down the aisle of
the church on our wedding-day; that pride will be equalled, if not
surpassed, when I lead my dear, pretty wife up to the Lord and Lady
Mayoress at the Mansion House." I saw the tears in Carrie's eyes,
and she said: "Charlie dear, it is _I_ who have to be proud of
you. And I am very, very proud of you. You have called me pretty;
and as long as I am pretty in your eyes, I am happy. You, dear old
Charlie, are not handsome, but you are GOOD, which is far more
noble." I gave her a kiss, and she said: "I wonder if there will
be any dancing? I have not danced with you for years."
I cannot tell what induced me to do it, but I seized her round the
waist, and we were silly enough to be executing a wild kind of
polka when Sarah entered, grinning, and said: "There is a man,
mum, at the door who wants to know if you want any good coals."
Most annoyed at this. Spent the evening in answering, and tearing
up again, the reply to the Mansion House, having left word with
Sarah if Gowing or Cummings called we were not at home. Must
consult Mr. Perkupp how to answer the Lord Mayor's invitation.
May 1.--Carrie said: "I should like to send mother the invitation
to look at." I consented, as soon as I had answered it. I told
Mr. Perkupp, at the office, with a feeling of pride, that we had
received an invitation to the Mansion House; and he said, to my
astonishment, that he himself gave in my name to the Lord Mayor's
secretary. I felt this rather discounted the value of the
invitation, but I thanked him; and in reply to me, he described how
I was to answer it. I felt the reply was too simple; but of course
Mr. Perkupp knows best.
May 2.--Sent my dress-coat and trousers to the little tailor's
round the corner, to have the creases taken out. Told Gowing not
to call next Monday, as we were going to the Mansion House. Sent
similar note to Cummings.
May 3.--Carrie went to Mrs. James, at Sutton, to consult about her
dress for next Monday. While speaking incidentally to Spotch, one
of our head clerks, about the Mansion House, he said: "Oh, I'm
asked, but don't think I shall go." When a vulgar man like Spotch
is asked, I feel my invitation is considerably discounted. In the
evening, while I was out, the little tailor brought round my coat
and trousers, and because Sarah had not a shilling to pay for the
pressing, he took them away again.
May 4.--Carrie's mother returned the Lord Mayor's invitation, which
was sent to her to look at, with apologies for having upset a glass
of port over it. I was too angry to say anything.
May 5.--Bought a pair of lavender kid-gloves for next Monday, and
two white ties, in case one got spoiled in the tying.
May 6, Sunday.--A very dull sermon, during which, I regret to say,
I twice thought of the Mansion House reception to-morrow.
May 7.--A big red-letter day; viz., the Lord Mayor's reception.
The whole house upset. I had to get dressed at half-past six, as
Carrie wanted the room to herself. Mrs. James had come up from
Sutton to help Carrie; so I could not help thinking it unreasonable
that she should require the entire attention of Sarah, the servant,
as well. Sarah kept running out of the house to fetch "something
for missis," and several times I had, in my full evening-dress, to
answer the back-door.
The last time it was the greengrocer's boy, who, not seeing it was
me, for Sarah had not lighted the gas, pushed into my hands two
cabbages and half-a-dozen coal-blocks. I indignantly threw them on
the ground, and felt so annoyed that I so far forgot myself as to
box the boy's ears. He went away crying, and said he should
summons me, a thing I would not have happen for the world. In the
dark, I stepped on a piece of the cabbage, which brought me down on
the flags all of a heap. For a moment I was stunned, but when I
recovered I crawled upstairs into the drawing-room and on looking
into the chimney-glass discovered that my chin was bleeding, my
shirt smeared with the coal-blocks, and my left trouser torn at the
However, Mrs. James brought me down another shirt, which I changed
in the drawing-room. I put a piece of court-plaster on my chin,
and Sarah very neatly sewed up the tear at the knee. At nine
o'clock Carrie swept into the room, looking like a queen. Never
have I seen her look so lovely, or so distinguished. She was
wearing a satin dress of sky-blue--my favourite colour--and a piece
of lace, which Mrs. James lent her, round the shoulders, to give a
finish. I thought perhaps the dress was a little too long behind,
and decidedly too short in front, but Mrs. James said it was a la
mode. Mrs. James was most kind, and lent Carrie a fan of ivory
with red feathers, the value of which, she said, was priceless, as
the feathers belonged to the Kachu eagle--a bird now extinct. I
preferred the little white fan which Carrie bought for three-and-
six at Shoolbred's, but both ladies sat on me at once.
We arrived at the Mansion House too early, which was rather
fortunate, for I had an opportunity of speaking to his lordship,
who graciously condescended to talk with me some minutes; but I
must say I was disappointed to find he did not even know Mr.
Perkupp, our principal.
I felt as if we had been invited to the Mansion House by one who
did not know the Lord Mayor himself. Crowds arrived, and I shall
never forget the grand sight. My humble pen can never describe it.
I was a little annoyed with Carrie, who kept saying: "Isn't it a
pity we don't know anybody?"
Once she quite lost her head. I saw someone who looked like
Franching, from Peckham, and was moving towards him when she seized
me by the coat-tails, and said quite loudly: "Don't leave me,"
which caused an elderly gentleman, in a court-suit, and a chain
round him, and two ladies, to burst out laughing. There was an
immense crowd in the supper-room, and, my stars! it was a splendid
supper--any amount of champagne.
Carrie made a most hearty supper, for which I was pleased; for I
sometimes think she is not strong. There was scarcely a dish she
did not taste. I was so thirsty, I could not eat much. Receiving
a sharp slap on the shoulder, I turned, and, to my amazement, saw
Farmerson, our ironmonger. He said, in the most familiar way:
"This is better than Brickfield Terrace, eh?" I simply looked at
him, and said coolly: "I never expected to see you here." He
said, with a loud, coarse laugh: "I like that--if YOU, why not
ME?" I replied: "Certainly," I wish I could have thought of
something better to say. He said: "Can I get your good lady
anything?" Carrie said: "No, I thank you," for which I was
pleased. I said, by way of reproof to him: "You never sent to-day
to paint the bath, as I requested." Farmerson said: "Pardon me,
Mr. Pooter, no shop when we're in company, please."
Before I could think of a reply, one of the sheriffs, in full Court
costume, slapped Farmerson on the back and hailed him as an old
friend, and asked him to dine with him at his lodge. I was
astonished. For full five minutes they stood roaring with
laughter, and stood digging each other in the ribs. They kept
telling each other they didn't look a day older. They began
embracing each other and drinking champagne.
To think that a man who mends our scraper should know any member of
our aristocracy! I was just moving with Carrie, when Farmerson
seized me rather roughly by the collar, and addressing the sheriff,
said: "Let me introduce my neighbour, Pooter." He did not even
say "Mister." The sheriff handed me a glass of champagne. I felt,
after all, it was a great honour to drink a glass of wine with him,
and I told him so. We stood chatting for some time, and at last I
said: "You must excuse me now if I join Mrs. Pooter." When I
approached her, she said: "Don't let me take you away from
friends. I am quite happy standing here alone in a crowd, knowing
As it takes two to make a quarrel, and as it was neither the time
nor the place for it, I gave my arm to Carrie, and said: "I hope
my darling little wife will dance with me, if only for the sake of
saying we had danced at the Mansion House as guests of the Lord
Mayor." Finding the dancing after supper was less formal, and
knowing how much Carrie used to admire my dancing in the days gone
by, I put my arm round her waist and we commenced a waltz.
A most unfortunate accident occurred. I had got on a new pair of
boots. Foolishly, I had omitted to take Carrie's advice; namely,
to scratch the soles of them with the points of the scissors or to
put a little wet on them. I had scarcely started when, like
lightning, my left foot slipped away and I came down, the side of
my head striking the floor with such violence that for a second or
two I did not know what had happened. I needly hardly say that
Carrie fell with me with equal violence, breaking the comb in her
hair and grazing her elbow.
There was a roar of laughter, which was immediately checked when
people found that we had really hurt ourselves. A gentleman
assisted Carrie to a seat, and I expressed myself pretty strongly
on the danger of having a plain polished floor with no carpet or
drugget to prevent people slipping. The gentleman, who said his
name was Darwitts, insisted on escorting Carrie to have a glass of
wine, an invitation which I was pleased to allow Carrie to accept.
I followed, and met Farmerson, who immediately said, in his loud
voice "Oh, are you the one who went down?"
I answered with an indignant look.
With execrable taste, he said: "Look here, old man, we are too old
for this game. We must leave these capers to the youngsters. Come
and have another glass, that is more in our line."
Although I felt I was buying his silence by accepting, we followed
the others into the supper-room.
Neither Carrie nor I, after our unfortunate mishap, felt inclined
to stay longer. As we were departing, Farmerson said: "Are you
going? if so, you might give me a lift."
I thought it better to consent, but wish I had first consulted
After the Mansion House Ball. Carrie offended. Gowing also
offended. A pleasant party at the Cummings'. Mr. Franching, of
Peckham, visits us.
May 8.--I woke up with a most terrible head-ache. I could scarcely
see, and the back of my neck was as if I had given it a crick. I
thought first of sending for a doctor; but I did not think it
necessary. When up, I felt faint, and went to Brownish's, the
chemist, who gave me a draught. So bad at the office, had to get
leave to come home. Went to another chemist in the City, and I got
a draught. Brownish's dose seems to have made me worse; have eaten
nothing all day. To make matters worse, Carrie, every time I spoke
to her, answered me sharply--that is, when she answered at all.
In the evening I felt very much worse again and said to her: "I do
believe I've been poisoned by the lobster mayonnaise at the Mansion
House last night;" she simply replied, without taking her eyes from
her sewing: "Champagne never did agree with you." I felt
irritated, and said: "What nonsense you talk; I only had a glass
and a half, and you know as well as I do--" Before I could
complete the sentence she bounced out of the room. I sat over an
hour waiting for her to return; but as she did not, I determined I
would go to bed. I discovered Carrie had gone to bed without even
saying "good-night"; leaving me to bar the scullery door and feed
the cat. I shall certainly speak to her about this in the morning.
May 9.--Still a little shaky, with black specks. The Blackfriars
Bi-weekly News contains a long list of the guests at the Mansion
House Ball. Disappointed to find our names omitted, though
Farmerson's is in plainly enough with M.L.L. after it, whatever
that may mean. More than vexed, because we had ordered a dozen
copies to send to our friends. Wrote to the Blackfriars Bi-weekly
News, pointing out their omission.
Carrie had commenced her breakfast when I entered the parlour. I
helped myself to a cup of tea, and I said, perfectly calmly and
quietly: "Carrie, I wish a little explanation of your conduct last
She replied, "Indeed! and I desire something more than a little
explanation of your conduct the night before."
I said, coolly: "Really, I don't understand you."
Carrie said sneeringly: "Probably not; you were scarcely in a
condition to understand anything."
I was astounded at this insinuation and simply ejaculated:
She said: "Don't be theatrical, it has no effect on me. Reserve
that tone for your new friend, Mister Farmerson, the ironmonger."
I was about to speak, when Carrie, in a temper such as I have never
seen her in before, told me to hold my tongue. She said: "Now I'M
going to say something! After professing to snub Mr. Farmerson,
you permit him to snub YOU, in my presence, and then accept his
invitation to take a glass of champagne with you, and you don't
limit yourself to one glass. You then offer this vulgar man, who
made a bungle of repairing our scraper, a seat in our cab on the
way home. I say nothing about his tearing my dress in getting in
the cab, nor of treading on Mrs. James's expensive fan, which you
knocked out of my hand, and for which he never even apologised; but
you smoked all the way home without having the decency to ask my
permission. That is not all! At the end of the journey, although
he did not offer you a farthing towards his share of the cab, you
asked him in. Fortunately, he was sober enough to detect, from my
manner, that his company was not desirable."
Goodness knows I felt humiliated enough at this; but, to make
matters worse, Gowing entered the room, without knocking, with two
hats on his head and holding the garden-rake in his hand, with
Carrie's fur tippet (which he had taken off the downstairs hall-
peg) round his neck, and announced himself in a loud, coarse voice:
"His Royal Highness, the Lord Mayor!" He marched twice round the
room like a buffoon, and finding we took no notice, said: "Hulloh!
what's up? Lovers' quarrel, eh?"
There was a silence for a moment, so I said quietly: "My dear
Gowing, I'm not very well, and not quite in the humour for joking;
especially when you enter the room without knocking, an act which I
fail to see the fun of."
Gowing said: "I'm very sorry, but I called for my stick, which I
thought you would have sent round." I handed him his stick, which
I remembered I had painted black with the enamel paint, thinking to
improve it. He looked at it for a minute with a dazed expression
and said: "Who did this?"
I said: "Eh, did what?"
He said: "Did what? Why, destroyed my stick! It belonged to my
poor uncle, and I value it more than anything I have in the world!
I'll know who did it."
I said: "I'm very sorry. I dare say it will come off. I did it
for the best."
Gowing said: "Then all I can say is, it's a confounded liberty;
and I WOULD add, you're a bigger fool than you look, only THAT'S
May 12.--Got a single copy of the Blackfriars Bi-weekly News.
There was a short list of several names they had omitted; but the
stupid people had mentioned our names as "Mr. and Mrs. C. Porter."
Most annoying! Wrote again and I took particular care to write our
name in capital letters, POOTER, so that there should be no
possible mistake this time.
May 16.--Absolutely disgusted on opening the Blackfriars Bi-weekly
News of to-day, to find the following paragraph: "We have received
two letters from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pewter, requesting us to
announce the important fact that they were at the Mansion House
Ball." I tore up the paper and threw it in the waste-paper basket.
My time is far too valuable to bother about such trifles.
May 21.--The last week or ten days terribly dull, Carrie being away
at Mrs. James's, at Sutton. Cummings also away. Gowing, I
presume, is still offended with me for black enamelling his stick
without asking him.
May 22.--Purchased a new stick mounted with silver, which cost
seven-and-sixpence (shall tell Carrie five shillings), and sent it
round with nice note to Gowing.
May 23.--Received strange note from Gowing; he said: "Offended?
not a bit, my boy--I thought you were offended with me for losing
my temper. Besides, I found after all, it was not my poor old
uncle's stick you painted. It was only a shilling thing I bought
at a tobacconist's. However, I am much obliged to you for your
handsome present all same."
May 24.--Carrie back. Hoorah! She looks wonderfully well, except
that the sun has caught her nose.
May 25.--Carrie brought down some of my shirts and advised me to
take them to Trillip's round the corner. She said: "The fronts
and cuffs are much frayed." I said without a moment's hesitation:
"I'm 'FRAYED they are." Lor! how we roared. I thought we should
never stop laughing. As I happened to be sitting next the driver
going to town on the 'bus, I told him my joke about the "frayed"
shirts. I thought he would have rolled off his seat. They laughed
at the office a good bit too over it.
May 26.--Left the shirts to be repaired at Trillip's. I said to
him: "I'm 'FRAID they are FRAYED." He said, without a smile:
"They're bound to do that, sir." Some people seem to be quite
destitute of a sense of humour.
June 1.--The last week has been like old times, Carrie being back,
and Gowing and Cummings calling every evening nearly. Twice we sat
out in the garden quite late. This evening we were like a pack of
children, and played "consequences." It is a good game.
June 2.--"Consequences" again this evening. Not quite so
successful as last night; Gowing having several times overstepped
the limits of good taste.
June 4.--In the evening Carrie and I went round to Mr. and Mrs.
Cummings' to spend a quiet evening with them. Gowing was there,
also Mr. Stillbrook. It was quiet but pleasant. Mrs. Cummings
sang five or six songs, "No, Sir," and "The Garden of Sleep," being
best in my humble judgment; but what pleased me most was the duet
she sang with Carrie--classical duet, too. I think it is called,
"I would that my love!" It was beautiful. If Carrie had been in
better voice, I don't think professionals could have sung it
better. After supper we made them sing it again. I never liked
Mr. Stillbrook since the walk that Sunday to the "Cow and Hedge,"
but I must say he sings comic-songs well. His song: "We don't
Want the old men now," made us shriek with laughter, especially the
verse referring to Mr. Gladstone; but there was one verse I think
he might have omitted, and I said so, but Gowing thought it was the
best of the lot.
June 6.--Trillip brought round the shirts and, to my disgust, his
charge for repairing was more than I gave for them when new. I
told him so, and he impertinently replied: "Well, they are better
now than when they were new." I paid him, and said it was a
robbery. He said: "If you wanted your shirt-fronts made out of
pauper-linen, such as is used for packing and bookbinding, why
didn't you say so?"
June 7.--A dreadful annoyance. Met Mr. Franching, who lives at
Peckham, and who is a great swell in his way. I ventured to ask
him to come home to meat-tea, and take pot-luck. I did not think
he would accept such a humble invitation; but he did, saying, in a
most friendly way, he would rather "peck" with us than by himself.
I said: "We had better get into this blue 'bus." He replied: "No
blue-bussing for me. I have had enough of the blues lately. I
lost a cool 'thou' over the Copper Scare. Step in here."
We drove up home in style, in a hansom-cab, and I knocked three
times at the front door without getting an answer. I saw Carrie,
through the panels of ground-glass (with stars), rushing upstairs.
I told Mr. Franching to wait at the door while I went round to the
side. There I saw the grocer's boy actually picking off the paint
on the door, which had formed into blisters. No time to reprove
him; so went round and effected an entrance through the kitchen
window. I let in Mr. Franching, and showed him into the drawing-
room. I went upstairs to Carrie, who was changing her dress, and
told her I had persuaded Mr. Franching to come home. She replied:
"How can you do such a thing? You know it's Sarah's holiday, and
there's not a thing in the house, the cold mutton having turned
with the hot weather."
Eventually Carrie, like a good creature as she is, slipped down,
washed up the teacups, and laid the cloth, and I gave Franching our
views of Japan to look at while I ran round to the butcher's to get
July 30.--The miserable cold weather is either upsetting me or
Carrie, or both. We seem to break out into an argument about
absolutely nothing, and this unpleasant state of things usually
occurs at meal-times.
This morning, for some unaccountable reason, we were talking about
balloons, and we were as merry as possible; but the conversation
drifted into family matters, during which Carrie, without the
slightest reason, referred in the most uncomplimentary manner to my
poor father's pecuniary trouble. I retorted by saying that "Pa, at
all events, was a gentleman," whereupon Carrie burst out crying. I
positively could not eat any breakfast.
At the office I was sent for by Mr. Perkupp, who said he was very
sorry, but I should have to take my annual holidays from next
Saturday. Franching called at office and asked me to dine at his
club, "The Constitutional." Fearing disagreeables at home after
the "tiff" this morning, I sent a telegram to Carrie, telling her I
was going out to dine and she was not to sit up. Bought a little
silver bangle for Carrie.
July 31.--Carrie was very pleased with the bangle, which I left
with an affectionate note on her dressing-table last night before
going to bed. I told Carrie we should have to start for our
holiday next Saturday. She replied quite happily that she did not
mind, except that the weather was so bad, and she feared that Miss
Jibbons would not be able to get her a seaside dress in time. I
told Carrie that I thought the drab one with pink bows looked quite
good enough; and Carrie said she should not think of wearing it. I
was about to discuss the matter, when, remembering the argument
yesterday, resolved to hold my tongue.
I said to Carrie: "I don't think we can do better than 'Good old
Broadstairs.'" Carrie not only, to my astonishment, raised an
objection to Broadstairs, for the first time; but begged me not to
use the expression, "Good old," but to leave it to Mr. Stillbrook
and other GENTLEMEN of his type. Hearing my 'bus pass the window,
I was obliged to rush out of the house without kissing Carrie as
usual; and I shouted to her: "I leave it to you to decide." On
returning in the evening, Carrie said she thought as the time was
so short she had decided on Broadstairs, and had written to Mrs.
Beck, Harbour View Terrace, for apartments.
August 1.--Ordered a new pair of trousers at Edwards's, and told
them not to cut them so loose over the boot; the last pair being so
loose and also tight at the knee, looked like a sailor's, and I
heard Pitt, that objectionable youth at the office, call out
"Hornpipe" as I passed his desk. Carrie has ordered of Miss
Jibbons a pink Garibaldi and blue-serge skirt, which I always think
looks so pretty at the seaside. In the evening she trimmed herself
a little sailor-hat, while I read to her the Exchange and Mart. We
had a good laugh over my trying on the hat when she had finished
it; Carrie saying it looked so funny with my beard, and how the
people would have roared if I went on the stage like it.
August 2.--Mrs. Beck wrote to say we could have our usual rooms at
Broadstairs. That's off our mind. Bought a coloured shirt and a
pair of tan-coloured boots, which I see many of the swell clerks
wearing in the City, and hear are all the "go."
August 3.--A beautiful day. Looking forward to to-morrow. Carrie
bought a parasol about five feet long. I told her it was
ridiculous. She said: "Mrs. James, of Sutton, has one twice as
long so;" the matter dropped. I bought a capital hat for hot
weather at the seaside. I don't know what it is called, but it is
the shape of the helmet worn in India, only made of straw. Got
three new ties, two coloured handkerchiefs, and a pair of navy-blue
socks at Pope Brothers. Spent the evening packing. Carrie told me
not to forget to borrow Mr. Higgsworth's telescope, which he always
lends me, knowing I know how to take care of it. Sent Sarah out
for it. While everything was seeming so bright, the last post
brought us a letter from Mrs. Beck, saying: "I have just let all
my house to one party, and am sorry I must take back my words, and
am sorry you must find other apartments; but Mrs. Womming, next
door, will be pleased to accommodate you, but she cannot take you
before Monday, as her rooms are engaged Bank Holiday week."
The Unexpected Arrival Home of our Son, Willie Lupin Pooter.
August 4.--The first post brought a nice letter from our dear son
Willie, acknowledging a trifling present which Carrie sent him, the
day before yesterday being his twentieth birthday. To our utter
amazement he turned up himself in the afternoon, having journeyed
all the way from Oldham. He said he had got leave from the bank,
and as Monday was a holiday he thought he would give us a little
August 5, Sunday.--We have not seen Willie since last Christmas,
and are pleased to notice what a fine young man he has grown. One
would scarcely believe he was Carrie's son. He looks more like a
younger brother. I rather disapprove of his wearing a check suit
on a Sunday, and I think he ought to have gone to church this
morning; but he said he was tired after yesterday's journey, so I
refrained from any remark on the subject. We had a bottle of port
for dinner, and drank dear Willie's health.
He said: "Oh, by-the-by, did I tell you I've cut my first name,
'William,' and taken the second name 'Lupin'? In fact, I'm only
known at Oldham as 'Lupin Pooter.' If you were to 'Willie' me
there, they wouldn't know what you meant."
Of course, Lupin being a purely family name, Carrie was delighted,
and began by giving a long history of the Lupins. I ventured to
say that I thought William a nice simple name, and reminded him he
was christened after his Uncle William, who was much respected in
the City. Willie, in a manner which I did not much care for, said
sneeringly: "Oh, I know all about that--Good old Bill!" and helped
himself to a third glass of port.
Carrie objected strongly to my saying "Good old," but she made no
remark when Willie used the double adjective. I said nothing, but
looked at her, which meant more. I said: "My dear Willie, I hope
you are happy with your colleagues at the Bank." He replied:
"Lupin, if you please; and with respect to the Bank, there's not a
clerk who is a gentleman, and the 'boss' is a cad." I felt so
shocked, I could say nothing, and my instinct told me there was
August 6, Bank Holiday.--As there was no sign of Lupin moving at
nine o'clock, I knocked at his door, and said we usually
breakfasted at half-past eight, and asked how long would he be?
Lupin replied that he had had a lively time of it, first with the
train shaking the house all night, and then with the sun streaming
in through the window in his eyes, and giving him a cracking
headache. Carrie came up and asked if he would like some breakfast
sent up, and he said he could do with a cup of tea, and didn't want
anything to eat.
Lupin not having come down, I went up again at half-past one, and
said we dined at two; he said he "would be there." He never came
down till a quarter to three. I said: "We have not seen much of
you, and you will have to return by the 5.30 train; therefore you
will have to leave in an hour, unless you go by the midnight mail."
He said: "Look here, Guv'nor, it's no use beating about the bush.
I've tendered my resignation at the Bank."
For a moment I could not speak. When my speech came again, I said:
"How dare you, sir? How dare you take such a serious step without
consulting me? Don't answer me, sir!--you will sit down
immediately, and write a note at my dictation, withdrawing your
resignation and amply apologising for your thoughtlessness."
Imagine my dismay when he replied with a loud guffaw: "It's no
use. If you want the good old truth, I've got the chuck!"
August 7.--Mr. Perkupp has given me leave to postpone my holiday a
week, as we could not get the room. This will give us an
opportunity of trying to find an appointment for Willie before we
go. The ambition of my life would be to get him into Mr. Perkupp's
August 11.--Although it is a serious matter having our boy Lupin on
our hands, still it is satisfactory to know he was asked to resign
from the Bank simply because "he took no interest in his work, and
always arrived an hour (sometimes two hours) late." We can all
start off on Monday to Broadstairs with a light heart. This will
take my mind off the worry of the last few days, which have been
wasted over a useless correspondence with the manager of the Bank
August 13.--Hurrah! at Broadstairs. Very nice apartments near the
station. On the cliffs they would have been double the price. The
landlady had a nice five o'clock dinner and tea ready, which we all
enjoyed, though Lupin seemed fastidious because there happened to
be a fly in the butter. It was very wet in the evening, for which
I was thankful, as it was a good excuse for going to bed early.
Lupin said he would sit up and read a bit.
August 14.--I was a little annoyed to find Lupin, instead of
reading last night, had gone to a common sort of entertainment,
given at the Assembly Rooms. I expressed my opinion that such
performances were unworthy of respectable patronage; but he
replied: "Oh, it was only 'for one night only.' I had a fit of
the blues come on, and thought I would go to see Polly Presswell,
England's Particular Spark." I told him I was proud to say I had
never heard of her. Carrie said: "Do let the boy alone. He's
quite old enough to take care of himself, and won't forget he's a
gentleman. Remember, you were young once yourself." Rained all
day hard, but Lupin would go out.
August 15.--Cleared up a bit, so we all took the train to Margate,
and the first person we met on the jetty was Gowing. I said:
"Hulloh! I thought you had gone to Barmouth with your Birmingham
friends?" He said: "Yes, but young Peter Lawrence was so ill,
they postponed their visit, so I came down here. You know the
Cummings' are here too?" Carrie said: "Oh, that will be
delightful! We must have some evenings together and have games."
I introduced Lupin, saying: "You will be pleased to find we have
our dear boy at home!" Gowing said: "How's that? You don't mean
to say he's left the Bank?"
I changed the subject quickly, and thereby avoided any of those
awkward questions which Gowing always has a knack of asking.
August 16.--Lupin positively refused to walk down the Parade with
me because I was wearing my new straw helmet with my frock-coat. I
don't know what the boy is coming to.
August 17.--Lupin not falling in with our views, Carrie and I went
for a sail. It was a relief to be with her alone; for when Lupin
irritates me, she always sides with him. On our return, he said:
"Oh, you've been on the 'Shilling Emetic,' have you? You'll come
to six-pennorth on the 'Liver Jerker' next." I presume he meant a
tricycle, but I affected not to understand him.
August 18.--Gowing and Cummings walked over to arrange an evening
at Margate. It being wet, Gowing asked Cummings to accompany him
to the hotel and have a game of billiards, knowing I never play,
and in fact disapprove of the game. Cummings said he must hasten
back to Margate; whereupon Lupin, to my horror, said: "I'll give
you a game, Gowing--a hundred up. A walk round I the cloth will
give me an appetite for dinner." I said: "Perhaps Mister Gowing
does not care to play with boys." Gowing surprised me by saying:
"Oh yes, I do, if they play well," and they walked off together.
August 19, Sunday.--I was about to read Lupin a sermon on smoking
(which he indulges in violently) and billiards, but he put on his
hat and walked out. Carrie then read ME a long sermon on the
palpable inadvisability of treating Lupin as if he were a mere
child. I felt she was somewhat right, so in the evening I offered
him a cigar. He seemed pleased, but, after a few whiffs, said:
"This is a good old tup'ny--try one of mine," and he handed me a
cigar as long as it was strong, which is saying a good deal.
August 20.--I am glad our last day at the seaside was fine, though
clouded overhead. We went over to Cummings' (at Margate) in the
evening, and as it was cold, we stayed in and played games; Gowing,
as usual, overstepping the mark. He suggested we should play
"Cutlets," a game we never heard of. He sat on a chair, and asked
Carrie to sit on his lap, an invitation which dear Carrie rightly
After some species of wrangling, I sat on Gowing's knees and Carrie
sat on the edge of mine. Lupin sat on the edge of Carrie's lap,
then Cummings on Lupin's, and Mrs. Cummings on her husband's. We
looked very ridiculous, and laughed a good deal.
Gowing then said: "Are you a believer in the Great Mogul?" We had
to answer all together: "Yes--oh, yes!" (three times). Gowing
said: "So am I," and suddenly got up. The result of this stupid
joke was that we all fell on the ground, and poor Carrie banged her
head against the corner of the fender. Mrs. Cummings put some
vinegar on; but through this we missed the last train, and had to
drive back to Broadstairs, which cost me seven-and-sixpence.
Home again. Mrs. James' influence on Carrie. Can get nothing for
Lupin. Next-door neighbours are a little troublesome. Some one
tampers with my diary. Got a place for Lupin. Lupin startles us
with an announcement.
August 22.--Home sweet Home again! Carrie bought some pretty blue-
wool mats to stand vases on. Fripps, Janus and Co. write to say
they are sorry they have no vacancy among their staff of clerks for
August 23.--I bought a pair of stags' heads made of plaster-of-
Paris and coloured brown. They will look just the thing for our
little hall, and give it style; the heads are excellent imitations.
Poolers and Smith are sorry they have nothing to offer Lupin.
August 24.--Simply to please Lupin, and make things cheerful for
him, as he is a little down, Carrie invited Mrs. James to come up
from Sutton and spend two or three days with us. We have not said
a word to Lupin, but mean to keep it as a surprise.
August 25.--Mrs. James, of Sutton, arrived in the afternoon,
bringing with her an enormous bunch of wild flowers. The more I
see of Mrs James the nicer I think she is, and she is devoted to
Carrie. She went into Carrie's room to take off her bonnet, and
remained there nearly an hour talking about dress. Lupin said he
was not a bit surprised at Mrs. James' VISIT, but was surprised at
August 26, Sunday.--Nearly late for church, Mrs. James having
talked considerably about what to wear all the morning. Lupin does
not seem to get on very well with Mrs. James. I am afraid we shall
have some trouble with our next-door neighbours who came in last
Wednesday. Several of their friends, who drive up in dog-carts,
have already made themselves objectionable.
An evening or two ago I had put on a white waistcoat for coolness,
and while walking past with my thumbs in my waistcoat pockets (a
habit I have), one man, seated in the cart, and looking like an
American, commenced singing some vulgar nonsense about "I HAD
THIRTEEN DOLLARS IN MY WAISTCOAT POCKET." I fancied it was meant
for me, and my suspicions were confirmed; for while walking round
the garden in my tall hat this afternoon, a "throw-down" cracker
was deliberately aimed at my hat, and exploded on it like a
percussion cap. I turned sharply, and am positive I saw the man
who was in the cart retreating from one of the bedroom windows.
August 27.--Carrie and Mrs. James went off shopping, and had not
returned when I came back from the office. Judging from the
subsequent conversation, I am afraid Mrs. James is filling Carrie's
head with a lot of nonsense about dress. I walked over to Gowing's
and asked him to drop in to supper, and make things pleasant.
Carrie prepared a little extemporised supper, consisting of the
remainder of the cold joint, a small piece of salmon (which I was
to refuse, in case there was not enough to go round), and a blanc-
mange and custards. There was also a decanter of port and some jam
puffs on the sideboard. Mrs. James made us play rather a good game
of cards, called "Muggings." To my surprise, in fact disgust,
Lupin got up in the middle, and, in a most sarcastic tone, said:
"Pardon me, this sort of thing is too fast for me, I shall go and
enjoy a quiet game of marbles in the back-garden."
Things might have become rather disagreeable but for Gowing (who
seems to have taken to Lupin) suggesting they should invent games.
Lupin said: "Let's play 'monkeys.'" He then led Gowing all round
the room, and brought him in front of the looking-glass. I must
confess I laughed heartily at this. I was a little vexed at
everybody subsequently laughing at some joke which they did not
explain, and it was only on going to bed I discovered I must have
been walking about all the evening with an antimacassar on one
button of my coat-tails.
August 28.--Found a large brick in the middle bed of geraniums,
evidently come from next door. Pattles and Pattles can't find a
place for Lupin.
August 29.--Mrs. James is making a positive fool of Carrie. Carrie
appeared in a new dress like a smock-frock. She said "smocking"
was all the rage. I replied it put me in a rage. She also had on
a hat as big as a kitchen coal-scuttle, and the same shape. Mrs.
James went home, and both Lupin and I were somewhat pleased--the
first time we have agreed on a single subject since his return.
Merkins and Son write they have no vacancy for Lupin.
October 30.--I should very much like to know who has wilfully torn
the last five or six weeks out of my diary. It is perfectly
monstrous! Mine is a large scribbling diary, with plenty of space
for the record of my everyday events, and in keeping up that record
I take (with much pride) a great deal of pains.
I asked Carrie if she knew anything about it. She replied it was
my own fault for leaving the diary about with a charwoman cleaning
and the sweeps in the house. I said that was not an answer to my
question. This retort of mine, which I thought extremely smart,
would have been more effective had I not jogged my elbow against a
vase on a table temporarily placed in the passage, knocked it over,
and smashed it.
Carrie was dreadfully upset at this disaster, for it was one of a
pair of vases which cannot be matched, given to us on our wedding-
day by Mrs. Burtsett, an old friend of Carrie's cousins, the
Pommertons, late of Dalston. I called to Sarah, and asked her
about the diary. She said she had not been in the sitting-room at
all; after the sweep had left, Mrs. Birrell (the charwoman) had
cleaned the room and lighted the fire herself. Finding a burnt
piece of paper in the grate, I examined it, and found it was a
piece of my diary. So it was evident some one had torn my diary to
light the fire. I requested Mrs. Birrell to be sent to me to-
October 31.--Received a letter from our principal, Mr. Perkupp,
saying that he thinks he knows of a place at last for our dear boy
Lupin. This, in a measure, consoles me for the loss of a portion
of my diary; for I am bound to confess the last few weeks have been
devoted to the record of disappointing answers received from people
to whom I have applied for appointments for Lupin. Mrs. Birrell
called, and, in reply to me, said: "She never SEE no book, much
less take such a liberty as TOUCH it."
I said I was determined to find out who did it, whereupon she said
she would do her best to help me; but she remembered the sweep
lighting the fire with a bit of the Echo. I requested the sweep to
be sent to me to-morrow. I wish Carrie had not given Lupin a
latch-key; we never seem to see anything of him. I sat up till
past one for him, and then retired tired.
November 1.--My entry yesterday about "retired tired," which I did
not notice at the time, is rather funny. If I were not so worried
just now, I might have had a little joke about it. The sweep
called, but had the audacity to come up to the hall-door and lean
his dirty bag of soot on the door-step. He, however, was so
polite, I could not rebuke him. He said Sarah lighted the fire.
Unfortunately, Sarah heard this, for she was dusting the banisters,
and she ran down, and flew into a temper with the sweep, causing a
row on the front door-steps, which I would not have had happen for
anything. I ordered her about her business, and told the sweep I
was sorry to have troubled him; and so I was, for the door-steps
were covered with soot in consequence of his visit. I would
willingly give ten shillings to find out who tore my diary.
November 2.--I spent the evening quietly with Carrie, of whose
company I never tire. We had a most pleasant chat about the
letters on "Is Marriage a Failure?" It has been no failure in our
case. In talking over our own happy experiences, we never noticed
that it was past midnight. We were startled by hearing the door
slam violently. Lupin had come in. He made no attempt to turn
down the gas in the passage, or even to look into the room where we
were, but went straight up to bed, making a terrible noise. I
asked him to come down for a moment, and he begged to be excused,
as he was "dead beat," an observation that was scarcely consistent
with the fact that, for a quarter of an hour afterwards, he was
positively dancing in his room, and shouting out, "See me dance the
polka!" or some such nonsense.
November 3.--Good news at last. Mr. Perkupp has got an appointment
for Lupin, and he is to go and see about it on Monday. Oh, how my
mind is relieved! I went to Lupin's room to take the good news to
him, but he was in bed, very seedy, so I resolved to keep it over
till the evening.
He said he had last night been elected a member of an Amateur
Dramatic Club, called the "Holloway Comedians"; and, though it was
a pleasant evening, he had sat in a draught, and got neuralgia in
the head. He declined to have any breakfast, so I left him. In
the evening I had up a special bottle of port, and, Lupin being in
for a wonder, we filled our glasses, and I said: "Lupin my boy, I
have some good and unexpected news for you. Mr. Perkupp has
procured you an appointment!" Lupin said: "Good biz!" and we
drained our glasses.
Lupin then said: "Fill up the glasses again, for I have some good
and unexpected news for you."
I had some slight misgivings, and so evidently had Carrie, for she
said: "I hope we shall think it good news."
Lupin said: "Oh, it's all right! I'M ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED!"
Daisy Mutlar sole topic of conversation. Lupin's new berth.
Fireworks at the Cummings'. The "Holloway Comedians." Sarah
quarrels with the charwoman. Lupin's uncalled-for interference.
Am introduced to Daisy Mutlar. We decide to give a party in her
November 5, Sunday.--Carrie and I troubled about that mere boy
Lupin getting engaged to be married without consulting us or
anything. After dinner he told us all about it. He said the
lady's name was Daisy Mutlar, and she was the nicest, prettiest,
and most accomplished girl he ever met. He loved her the moment he
saw her, and if he had to wait fifty years he would wait, and he
knew she would wait for him.
Lupin further said, with much warmth, that the world was a
different world to him now,--it was a world worth living in. He
lived with an object now, and that was to make Daisy Mutlar--Daisy
Pooter, and he would guarantee she would not disgrace the family of
the Pooters. Carrie here burst out crying, and threw her arms
round his neck, and in doing so, upset the glass of port he held in
his hand all over his new light trousers.
I said I had no doubt we should like Miss Mutlar when we saw her,
but Carrie said she loved her already. I thought this rather
premature, but held my tongue. Daisy Mutlar was the sole topic of
conversation for the remainder of the day. I asked Lupin who her
people were, and he replied: "Oh, you know Mutlar, Williams and
Watts." I did not know, but refrained from asking any further
questions at present, for fear of irritating Lupin.
November 6.--Lupin went with me to the office, and had a long
conversation with Mr. Perkupp, our principal, the result of which
was that he accepted a clerkship in the firm of Job Cleanands and
Co., Stock and Share Brokers. Lupin told me, privately, it was an
advertising firm, and he did not think much of it. I replied:
"Beggars should not be choosers;" and I will do Lupin the justice
to say, he looked rather ashamed of himself.
In the evening we went round to the Cummings', to have a few
fireworks. It began to rain, and I thought it rather dull. One of
my squibs would not go off, and Gowing said: "Hit it on your boot,
boy; it will go off then." I gave it a few knocks on the end of my
boot, and it went off with one loud explosion, and burnt my fingers
rather badly. I gave the rest of the squibs to the little
Cummings' boy to let off.
Another unfortunate thing happened, which brought a heap of abuse
on my head. Cummings fastened a large wheel set-piece on a stake
in the ground by way of a grand finale. He made a great fuss about
it; said it cost seven shillings. There was a little difficulty in
getting it alight. At last it went off; but after a couple of slow
revolutions it stopped. I had my stick with me, so I gave it a tap
to send it round, and, unfortunately, it fell off the stake on to
the grass. Anybody would have thought I had set the house on fire
from the way in which they stormed at me. I will never join in any
more firework parties. It is a ridiculous waste of time and money.
November 7.--Lupin asked Carrie to call on Mrs. Mutlar, but Carrie
said she thought Mrs. Mutlar ought to call on her first. I agreed
with Carrie, and this led to an argument. However, the matter was
settled by Carrie saying she could not find any visiting cards, and
we must get some more printed, and when they were finished would be
quite time enough to discuss the etiquette of calling.
November 8.--I ordered some of our cards at Black's, the
stationers. I ordered twenty-five of each, which will last us for
a good long time. In the evening, Lupin brought in Harry Mutlar,
Miss Mutlar's brother. He was rather a gawky youth, and Lupin said
he was the most popular and best amateur in the club, referring to
the "Holloway Comedians." Lupin whispered to us that if we could
only "draw out" Harry a bit, he would make us roar with laughter.
At supper, young Mutlar did several amusing things. He took up a
knife, and with the flat part of it played a tune on his cheek in a
wonderful manner. He also gave an imitation of an old man with no
teeth, smoking a big cigar. The way he kept dropping the cigar
sent Carrie into fits.
In the course of conversation, Daisy's name cropped up, and young
Mutlar said he would bring his sister round to us one evening--his
parents being rather old-fashioned, and not going out much. Carrie
said we would get up a little special party. As young Mutlar
showed no inclination to go, and it was approaching eleven o'clock,
as a hint I reminded Lupin that he had to be up early to-morrow.
Instead of taking the hint, Mutlar began a series of comic
imitations. He went on for an hour without cessation. Poor Carrie
could scarcely keep her eyes open. At last she made an excuse, and
Mutlar then left, and I heard him and Lupin whispering in the hall
something about the "Holloway Comedians," and to my disgust,
although it was past midnight, Lupin put on his hat and coat, and
went out with his new companion.
November 9.--My endeavours to discover who tore the sheets out of
my diary still fruitless. Lupin has Daisy Mutlar on the brain, so
we see little of him, except that he invariably turns up at meal
times. Cummings dropped in.
November 10.--Lupin seems to like his new berth--that's a comfort.
Daisy Mutlar the sole topic of conversation during tea. Carrie
almost as full of it as Lupin. Lupin informs me, to my disgust,
that he has been persuaded to take part in the forthcoming
performance of the "Holloway Comedians." He says he is to play Bob
Britches in the farce, GONE TO MY UNCLE'S; Frank Mutlar is going to
play old Musty. I told Lupin pretty plainly I was not in the least
degree interested in the matter, and totally disapproved of amateur
theatricals. Gowing came in the evening.
November 11.--Returned home to find the house in a most disgraceful
uproar, Carrie, who appeared very frightened, was standing outside
her bedroom, while Sarah was excited and crying. Mrs. Birrell (the
charwoman), who had evidently been drinking, was shouting at the
top of her voice that she was "no thief, that she was a respectable
woman, who had to work hard for her living, and she would smack
anyone's face who put lies into her mouth." Lupin, whose back was
towards me, did not hear me come in. He was standing between the
two women, and, I regret to say, in his endeavour to act as
peacemaker, he made use of rather strong language in the presence
of his mother; and I was just in time to hear him say: "And all
this fuss about the loss of a few pages from a rotten diary that
wouldn't fetch three-halfpence a pound!" I said, quietly: "Pardon
me, Lupin, that is a matter of opinion; and as I am master of this
house, perhaps you will allow me to take the reins."
I ascertained that the cause of the row was, that Sarah had accused
Mrs. Birrell of tearing the pages out of my diary to wrap up some
kitchen fat and leavings which she had taken out of the house last
week. Mrs. Birrell had slapped Sarah's face, and said she had
taken nothing out of the place, as there was "never no leavings to
take." I ordered Sarah back to her work, and requested Mrs.
Birrell to go home. When I entered the parlour Lupin was kicking
his legs in the air, and roaring with laughter.
November 12, Sunday.--Coming home from church Carrie and I met
Lupin, Daisy Mutlar, and her brother. Daisy was introduced to us,
and we walked home together, Carrie walking on with Miss Mutlar.
We asked them in for a few minutes, and I had a good look at my
future daughter-in-law. My heart quite sank. She is a big young
woman, and I should think at least eight years older than Lupin. I
did not even think her good-looking. Carrie asked her if she could
come in on Wednesday next with her brother to meet a few friends.
She replied that she would only be too pleased.
November 13.--Carrie sent out invitations to Gowing, the Cummings,
to Mr. and Mrs. James (of Sutton), and Mr. Stillbrook. I wrote a
note to Mr. Franching, of Peckham. Carrie said we may as well make
it a nice affair, and why not ask our principal, Mr. Perkupp? I
said I feared we were not quite grand enough for him. Carrie said
there was "no offence in asking him." I said: "Certainly not,"
and I wrote him a letter. Carrie confessed she was a little
disappointed with Daisy Mutlar's appearance, but thought she seemed
a nice girl.
November 14.--Everybody so far has accepted for our quite grand
little party for to-morrow. Mr. Perkupp, in a nice letter which I
shall keep, wrote that he was dining in Kensington, but if he could
get away, he would come up to Holloway for an hour. Carrie was
busy all day, making little cakes and open jam puffs and jellies.
She said she felt quite nervous about her responsibilities to-
morrow evening. We decided to have some light things on the table,
such as sandwiches, cold chicken and ham, and some sweets, and on
the sideboard a nice piece of cold beef and a Paysandu tongue--for
the more hungry ones to peg into if they liked.
Gowing called to know if he was to put on "swallow-tails" to-
morrow. Carrie said he had better dress, especially as Mr.
Franching was coming, and there was a possibility of Mr. Perkupp
also putting in an appearance.
Gowing said: "Oh, I only wanted to know, for I have not worn my
dress-coat for some time, and I must send it to have the creases
After Gowing left, Lupin came in, and in his anxiety to please
Daisy Mutlar, carped at and criticised the arrangements, and, in
fact, disapproved of everything, including our having asked our old
friend Cummings, who, he said, would look in evening-dress like a
green-grocer engaged to wait, and who must not be surprised if
Daisy took him for one.
I fairly lost my temper, and said: "Lupin, allow me to tell you
Miss Daisy Mutlar is not the Queen of England. I gave you credit
for more wisdom than to allow yourself to be inveigled into an
engagement with a woman considerably older than yourself. I advise
you to think of earning your living before entangling yourself with
a wife whom you will have to support, and, in all probability, her
brother also, who appeared to be nothing but a loafer."
Instead of receiving this advice in a sensible manner, Lupin jumped
up and said: "If you insult the lady I am engaged to, you insult
me. I will leave the house and never darken your doors again."
He went out of the house, slamming the hall-door. But it was all
right. He came back to supper, and we played Bezique till nearly
Our first important Party. Old Friends and New Friends. Gowing is
a little annoying; but his friend, Mr. Stillbrook, turns out to be
quite amusing. Inopportune arrival of Mr. Perkupp, but he is most
kind and complimentary. Party a great success.
November 15.--A red-letter day. Our first important party since we
have been in this house. I got home early from the City. Lupin
insisted on having a hired waiter, and stood a half-dozen of
champagne. I think this an unnecessary expense, but Lupin said he
had had a piece of luck, having made three pounds out a private
deal in the City. I hope he won't gamble in his new situation.
The supper-room looked so nice, and Carrie truly said: "We need
not be ashamed of its being seen by Mr. Perkupp, should he honour
us by coming."
I dressed early in case people should arrive punctually at eight
o'clock, and was much vexed to find my new dress-trousers much too
Lupin, who is getting beyond his position, found fault with my
wearing ordinary boots instead of dress-boots.
I replied satirically: "My dear son, I have lived to be above that
sort of thing."
Lupin burst out laughing, and said: "A man generally was above his
This may be funny, or it may NOT; but I was gratified to find he
had not discovered the coral had come off one of my studs. Carrie
looked a picture, wearing the dress she wore at the Mansion House.
The arrangement of the drawing-room was excellent. Carrie had hung
muslin curtains over the folding-doors, and also over one of the
entrances, for we had removed the door from its hinges.
Mr. Peters, the waiter, arrived in good time, and I gave him strict
orders not to open another bottle of champagne until the previous
one was empty. Carrie arranged for some sherry and port wine to be
placed on the drawing-room sideboard, with some glasses. By-the-
by, our new enlarged and tinted photographs look very nice on the
walls, especially as Carrie has arranged some Liberty silk bows on
the four corners of them.
The first arrival was Gowing, who, with his usual taste, greeted me
with: "Hulloh, Pooter, why your trousers are too short!"
I simply said: "Very likely, and you will find my temper 'SHORT'
He said: "That won't make your trousers longer, Juggins. You
should get your missus to put a flounce on them."
I wonder I waste my time entering his insulting observations in my
The next arrivals were Mr. and Mrs. Cummings. The former said:
"As you didn't say anything about dress, I have come 'half dress.'"
He had on a black frock-coat and white tie. The James', Mr.
Merton, and Mr. Stillbrook arrived, but Lupin was restless and
unbearable till his Daisy Mutlar and Frank arrived.
Carrie and I were rather startled at Daisy's appearance. She had a
bright-crimson dress on, cut very low in the neck. I do not think
such a style modest. She ought to have taken a lesson from Carrie,
and covered her shoulders with a little lace. Mr. Nackles, Mr.
Sprice-Hogg and his four daughters came; so did Franching, and one
or two of Lupin's new friends, members of the "Holloway Comedians."
Some of these seemed rather theatrical in their manner, especially
one, who was posing all the evening, and leant on our little round
table and cracked it. Lupin called him "our Henry," and said he
was "our lead at the H.C.'s," and was quite as good in that
department as Harry Mutlar was as the low-comedy merchant. All
this is Greek to me.
We had some music, and Lupin, who never left Daisy's side for a
moment, raved over her singing of a song, called "Some Day." It
seemed a pretty song, but she made such grimaces, and sang, to my
mind, so out of tune, I would not have asked her to sing again; but
Lupin made her sing four songs right off, one after the other.
At ten o'clock we went down to supper, and from the way Gowing and
Cummings ate you would have thought they had not had a meal for a
month. I told Carrie to keep something back in case Mr. Perkupp
should come by mere chance. Gowing annoyed me very much by filling
a large tumbler of champagne, and drinking it straight off. He
repeated this action, and made me fear our half-dozen of champagne
would not last out. I tried to keep a bottle back, but Lupin got
hold of it, and took it to the side-table with Daisy and Frank
We went upstairs, and the young fellows began skylarking. Carrie
put a stop to that at once. Stillbrook amused us with a song,
"What have you done with your Cousin John?" I did not notice that
Lupin and Frank had disappeared. I asked Mr. Watson, one of the
Holloways, where they were, and he said: "It's a case of 'Oh, what
We were directed to form a circle--which we did. Watson then said:
"I have much pleasure in introducing the celebrated Blondin
Donkey." Frank and Lupin then bounded into the room. Lupin had
whitened his face like a clown, and Frank had tied round his waist
a large hearthrug. He was supposed to be the donkey, and he looked
it. They indulged in a very noisy pantomime, and we were all
shrieking with laughter.
I turned round suddenly, and then I saw Mr Perkupp standing half-
way in the door, he having arrived without our knowing it. I
beckoned to Carrie, and we went up to him at once. He would not
come right into the room. I apologised for the foolery, but Mr.
Perkupp said: "Oh, it seems amusing." I could see he was not a
Carrie and I took him downstairs, but the table was a wreck. There
was not a glass of champagne left--not even a sandwich. Mr.
Perkupp said he required nothing, but would like a glass of seltzer
or soda water. The last syphon was empty. Carrie said: "We have
plenty of port wine left." Mr. Perkupp said, with a smile: "No,
thank you. I really require nothing, but I am most pleased to see
you and your husband in your own home. Good-night, Mrs. Pooter--
you will excuse my very short stay, I know." I went with him to
his carriage, and he said: "Don't trouble to come to the office
till twelve to-morrow."
I felt despondent as I went back to the house, and I told Carrie I
thought the party was a failure. Carrie said it was a great
success, and I was only tired, and insisted on my having some port
myself. I drank two glasses, and felt much better, and we went
into the drawing-room, where they had commenced dancing. Carrie
and I had a little dance, which I said reminded me of old days.
She said I was a spooney old thing.
Reflections. I make another Good Joke. Am annoyed at the constant
serving-up of the "Blanc-Mange." Lupin expresses his opinion of
Weddings. Lupin falls out with Daisy Mutlar.
November 16.--Woke about twenty times during the night, with
terrible thirst. Finished off all the water in the bottle, as well
as half that in the jug. Kept dreaming also, that last night's
party was a failure, and that a lot of low people came without
invitation, and kept chaffing and throwing things at Mr. Perkupp,
till at last I was obliged to hide him in the box-room (which we
had just discovered), with a bath-towel over him. It seems absurd
now, but it was painfully real in the dream. I had the same dream
about a dozen times.
Carrie annoyed me by saying: "You know champagne never agrees with
you." I told her I had only a couple of glasses of it, having kept
myself entirely to port. I added that good champagne hurt nobody,
and Lupin told me he had only got it from a traveller as a favour,
as that particular brand had been entirely bought up by a West-End
I think I ate too heartily of the "side dishes," as the waiter
called them. I said to Carrie: "I wish I had put those 'side
dishes' ASIDE." I repeated this, but Carrie was busy, packing up
the teaspoons we had borrowed of Mrs. Cummings for the party. It
was just half-past eleven, and I was starting for the office, when
Lupin appeared, with a yellow complexion, and said: "Hulloh! Guv.,
what priced head have you this morning?" I told him he might just
as well speak to me in Dutch. He added: "When I woke this
morning, my head was as big as Baldwin's balloon." On the spur of
the moment I said the cleverest thing I think I have ever said;
viz.: "Perhaps that accounts for the paraSHOOTING pains." We
November 17.--Still feel tired and headachy! In the evening Gowing
called, and was full of praise about our party last Wednesday. He
said everything was done beautifully, and he enjoyed himself
enormously. Gowing can be a very nice fellow when he likes, but
you never know how long it will last. For instance, he stopped to
supper, and seeing some blanc-mange on the table, shouted out,
while the servant was in the room: "Hulloh! The remains of
November 18.--Woke up quite fresh after a good night's rest, and
feel quite myself again. I am satisfied a life of going-out and
Society is not a life for me; we therefore declined the invitation
which we received this morning to Miss Bird's wedding. We only met
her twice at Mrs. James', and it means a present. Lupin said: "I
am with you for once. To my mind a wedding's a very poor play.
There are only two parts in it--the bride and bridegroom. The best
man is only a walking gentleman. With the exception of a crying
father and a snivelling mother, the rest are SUPERS who have to
dress well and have to PAY for their insignificant parts in the
shape of costly presents." I did not care for the theatrical
slang, but thought it clever, though disrespectful.
I told Sarah not to bring up the blanc-mange again for breakfast.
It seems to have been placed on our table at every meal since
Wednesday. Cummings came round in the evening, and congratulated
us on the success of our party. He said it was the best party he
had been to for many a year; but he wished we had let him know it
was full dress, as he would have turned up in his swallow-tails.
We sat down to a quiet game of dominoes, and were interrupted by
the noisy entrance of Lupin and Frank Mutlar. Cummings and I asked
them to join us. Lupin said he did not care for dominoes, and
suggested a game of "Spoof." On my asking if it required counters,
Frank and Lupin in measured time said: "One, two, three; go! Have
you an estate in Greenland?" It was simply Greek to me, but it
appears it is one of the customs of the "Holloway Comedians" to do
this when a member displays ignorance.
In spite of my instructions, that blanc-mange was brought up again
for supper. To make matters worse, there had been an attempt to
disguise it, by placing it in a glass dish with jam round it.
Carrie asked Lupin if he would have some, and he replied: "No
second-hand goods for me, thank you." I told Carrie, when we were
alone, if that blanc-mange were placed on the table again I should
walk out of the house.
November 19, Sunday.--A delightfully quiet day. In the afternoon
Lupin was off to spend the rest of the day with the Mutlars. He
departed in the best of spirits, and Carrie said: "Well, one
advantage of Lupin's engagement with Daisy is that the boy seems
happy all day long. That quite reconciles me to what I must
confess seems an imprudent engagement."
Carrie and I talked the matter over during the evening, and agreed
that it did not always follow that an early engagement meant an
unhappy marriage. Dear Carrie reminded me that we married early,
and, with the exception of a few trivial misunderstandings, we had
never had a really serious word. I could not help thinking (as I
told her) that half the pleasures of life were derived from the
little struggles and small privations that one had to endure at the
beginning of one's married life. Such struggles were generally
occasioned by want of means, and often helped to make loving
couples stand together all the firmer.
Carrie said I had expressed myself wonderfully well, and that I was
quite a philosopher.
We are all vain at times, and I must confess I felt flattered by
Carrie's little compliment. I don't pretend to be able to express
myself in fine language, but I feel I have the power of expressing
my thoughts with simplicity and lucidness. About nine o'clock, to
our surprise. Lupin entered, with a wild, reckless look, and in a
hollow voice, which I must say seemed rather theatrical, said:
"Have you any brandy?" I said: "No; but here is some whisky."
Lupin drank off nearly a wineglassful without water, to my horror.
We all three sat reading in silence till ten, when Carrie and I
rose to go to bed. Carrie said to Lupin: "I hope Daisy is well?"
Lupin, with a forced careless air that he must have picked up from
the "Holloway Comedians," replied: "Oh, Daisy? You mean Miss
Mutlar. I don't know whether she is well or not, but please NEVER
TO MENTION HER NAME AGAIN IN MY PRESENCE."
We have a dose of Irving imitations. Make the acquaintance of a
Mr. Padge. Don't care for him. Mr. Burwin-Fosselton becomes a
November 20.--Have seen nothing of Lupin the whole day. Bought a
cheap address-book. I spent the evening copying in the names and
addresses of my friends and acquaintances. Left out the Mutlars of
November 21.--Lupin turned up for a few minutes in the evening. He
asked for a drop of brandy with a sort of careless look, which to
my mind was theatrical and quite ineffective. I said: "My boy, I
have none, and I don't think I should give it you if I had." Lupin
said: "I'll go where I can get some," and walked out of the house.
Carrie took the boy's part, and the rest of the evening was spent
in a disagreeable discussion, in which the words "Daisy" and
"Mutlar" must have occurred a thousand times.
November 22.--Gowing and Cummings dropped in during the evening.
Lupin also came in, bringing his friend, Mr. Burwin-Fosselton--one
of the "Holloway Comedians"--who was at our party the other night,
and who cracked our little round table. Happy to say Daisy Mutlar
was never referred to. The conversation was almost entirely
monopolised by the young fellow Fosselton, who not only looked
rather like Mr. Irving, but seemed to imagine that he WAS the
celebrated actor. I must say he gave some capital imitations of
him. As he showed no signs of moving at supper time, I said: "If
you like to stay, Mr. Fosselton, for our usual crust--pray do." He
replied: "Oh! thanks; but please call me Burwin-Fosselton. It is
a double name. There are lots of Fosseltons, but please call me
He began doing the Irving business all through supper. He sank so
low down in his chair that his chin was almost on a level with the
table, and twice he kicked Carrie under the table, upset his wine,
and flashed a knife uncomfortably near Gowing's face. After supper
he kept stretching out his legs on the fender, indulging in scraps
of quotations from plays which were Greek to me, and more than once
knocked over the fire-irons, making a hideous row--poor Carrie
already having a bad head-ache.
When he went, he said, to our surprise: "I will come to-morrow and
bring my Irving make-up." Gowing and Cummings said they would like
to see it and would come too. I could not help thinking they might
as well give a party at my house while they are about it. However,
as Carrie sensibly said: "Do anything, dear, to make Lupin forget
the Daisy Mutlar business."
November 23.--In the evening, Cummings came early. Gowing came a
little later and brought, without asking permission, a fat and, I
think, very vulgar-looking man named Padge, who appeared to be all
moustache. Gowing never attempted any apology to either of us, but
said Padge wanted to see the Irving business, to which Padge said:
"That's right," and that is about all he DID say during the entire
evening. Lupin came in and seemed in much better spirits. He had
prepared a bit of a surprise. Mr. Burwin-Fosselton had come in
with him, but had gone upstairs to get ready. In half-an-hour
Lupin retired from the parlour, and returning in a few minutes,
announced "Mr. Henry Irving."
I must say we were all astounded. I never saw such a resemblance.
It was astonishing. The only person who did not appear interested
was the man Padge, who had got the best arm-chair, and was puffing
away at a foul pipe into the fireplace. After some little time I
said; "Why do actors always wear their hair so long?" Carrie in a
moment said, "Mr. Hare doesn't wear long HAIR." How we laughed
except Mr. Fosselton, who said, in a rather patronising kind of
way, "The joke, Mrs. Pooter, is extremely appropriate, if not
altogether new." Thinking this rather a snub, I said: "Mr.
Fosselton, I fancy--" He interrupted me by saying: "Mr. BURWIN-
Fosselton, if you please," which made me quite forget what I was
going to say to him. During the supper Mr. Burwin-Fosselton again
monopolised the conversation with his Irving talk, and both Carrie
and I came to the conclusion one can have even too much imitation
of Irving. After supper, Mr. Burwin-Fosselton got a little too
boisterous over his Irving imitation, and suddenly seizing Gowing
by the collar of his coat, dug his thumb-nail, accidentally of
course, into Gowing's neck and took a piece of flesh out. Gowing
was rightly annoyed, but that man Padge, who having declined our
modest supper in order that he should not lose his comfortable
chair, burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter at the little
misadventure. I was so annoyed at the conduct of Padge, I said:
"I suppose you would have laughed if he had poked Mr. Gowing's eye
out?" to which Padge replied: "That's right," and laughed more
than ever. I think perhaps the greatest surprise was when we broke
up, for Mr. Burwin-Fosselton said: "Good-night, Mr. Pooter. I'm
glad you like the imitation, I'll bring THE OTHER MAKE-UP TO-MORROW