Part 3 out of 3
I gently remonstrated with him, and Mrs. James said: "Please don't
scold him; I do not believe in being too severe with young
children. You spoil their character."
Little Percy set up a deafening yell here, and when Carrie tried to
pacify him, he slapped her face.
I was so annoyed, I said: "That is not my idea of bringing up
children, Mrs. James."
Mrs. James said. "People have different ideas of bringing up
children--even your son Lupin is not the standard of perfection."
A Mr. Mezzini (an Italian, I fancy) here took Percy in his lap.
The child wriggled and kicked and broke away from Mr. Mezzini,
saying: "I don't like you--you've got a dirty face."
A very nice gentleman, Mr. Birks Spooner, took the child by the
wrist and said: "Come here, dear, and listen to this."
He detached his chronometer from the chain and made his watch
To our horror, the child snatched it from his hand and bounced it
down upon the ground like one would a ball.
Mr. Birks Spooner was most amiable, and said he could easily get a
new glass put in, and did not suppose the works were damaged.
To show you how people's opinions differ, Carrie said the child was
bad-tempered, but it made up for that defect by its looks, for it
was--in her mind--an unquestionably beautiful child.
I may be wrong, but I do not think I have seen a much uglier child
myself. That is MY opinion.
May 30.--I don't know why it is, but I never anticipate with any
pleasure the visits to our house of Mrs. James, of Sutton. She is
coming again to stay for a few days. I said to Carrie this
morning, as I was leaving: "I wish, dear Carrie, I could like Mrs.
James better than I do."
Carrie said: "So do I, dear; but as for years I have had to put up
with Mr. Gowing, who is vulgar, and Mr. Cummings, who is kind but
most uninteresting, I am sure, dear, you won't mind the occasional
visits of Mrs. James, who has more intellect in her little finger
than both your friends have in their entire bodies."
I was so entirely taken back by this onslaught on my two dear old
friends, I could say nothing, and as I heard the 'bus coming, I
left with a hurried kiss--a little too hurried, perhaps, for my
upper lip came in contact with Carrie's teeth and slightly cut it.
It was quite painful for an hour afterwards. When I came home in
the evening I found Carrie buried in a book on Spiritualism, called
THERE IS NO BIRTH, by Florence Singleyet. I need scarcely say the
book was sent her to read by Mrs. James, of Sutton. As she had not
a word to say outside her book, I spent the rest of the evening
altering the stair-carpets, which are beginning to show signs of
wear at the edges.
Mrs. James arrived and, as usual, in the evening took the entire
management of everything. Finding that she and Carrie were making
some preparations for table-turning, I thought it time really to
put my foot down. I have always had the greatest contempt for such
nonsense, and put an end to it years ago when Carrie, at our old
house, used to have seances every night with poor Mrs. Fussters
(who is now dead). If I could see any use in it, I would not care.
As I stopped it in the days gone by, I determined to do so now.
I said: "I am very sorry Mrs. James, but I totally disapprove of
it, apart from the fact that I receive my old friends on this
Mrs. James said: "Do you mean to say you haven't read THERE IS NO
BIRTH?" I said: "No, and I have no intention of doing so." Mrs.
James seemed surprised and said: "All the world is going mad over
the book." I responded rather cleverly: "Let it. There will be
one sane man in it, at all events."
Mrs. James said she thought it was very unkind, and if people were
all as prejudiced as I was, there would never have been the
electric telegraph or the telephone.
I said that was quite a different thing.
Mrs. James said sharply: "In what way, pray--in what way?"
I said: "In many ways."
Mrs. James said: "Well, mention ONE way."
I replied quietly: "Pardon me, Mrs. James; I decline to discuss
the matter. I am not interested in it."
Sarah at this moment opened the door and showed in Cummings, for
which I was thankful, for I felt it would put a stop to this
foolish table-turning. But I was entirely mistaken; for, on the
subject being opened again, Cummings said he was most interested in
Spiritualism, although he was bound to confess he did not believe
much in it; still, he was willing to be convinced.
I firmly declined to take any part in it, with the result that my
presence was ignored. I left the three sitting in the parlour at a
small round table which they had taken out of the drawing-room. I
walked into the hall with the ultimate intention of taking a little
stroll. As I opened the door, who should come in but Gowing!
On hearing what was going on, he proposed that we should join the
circle and he would go into a trance. He added that he KNEW a few
things about old Cummings, and would INVENT a few about Mrs. James.
Knowing how dangerous Gowing is, I declined to let him take part in
any such foolish performance. Sarah asked me if she could go out
for half an hour, and I gave her permission, thinking it would be
more comfortable to sit with Gowing in the kitchen than in the cold
drawing-room. We talked a good deal about Lupin and Mr. and Mrs.
Murray Posh, with whom he is as usual spending the evening. Gowing
said: "I say, it wouldn't be a bad thing for Lupin if old Posh
kicked the bucket."
My heart gave a leap of horror, and I rebuked Gowing very sternly
for joking on such a subject. I lay awake half the night thinking
of it--the other hall was spent in nightmares on the same subject.
May 31.--I wrote a stern letter to the laundress. I was rather
pleased with the letter, for I thought it very satirical. I said:
"You have returned the handkerchiefs without the colour. Perhaps
you will return either the colour or the value of the
handkerchiefs." I shall be rather curious to know what she will
have to say.
More table-turning in the evening. Carrie said last night was in a
measure successful, and they ought to sit again. Cummings came in,
and seemed interested. I had the gas lighted in the drawing-room,
got the steps, and repaired the cornice, which has been a bit of an
eyesore to me. In a fit of unthinkingness--if I may use such an
expression,--I gave the floor over the parlour, where the seance
was taking place, two loud raps with the hammer. I felt sorry
afterwards, for it was the sort of ridiculous, foolhardy thing that
Gowing or Lupin would have done.
However, they never even referred to it, but Carrie declared that a
message came through the table to her of a wonderful description,
concerning someone whom she and I knew years ago, and who was quite
unknown to the others.
When we went to bed, Carrie asked me as a favour to sit to-morrow
night, to oblige her. She said it seemed rather unkind and
unsociable on my part. I promised I would sit once.
June 1.--I sat reluctantly at the table in the evening, and I am
bound to admit some curious things happened. I contend they were
coincidences, but they were curious. For instance, the table kept
tilting towards me, which Carrie construed as a desire that I
should ask the spirit a question. I obeyed the rules, and I asked
the spirit (who said her name was Lina) if she could tell me the
name of an old aunt of whom I was thinking, and whom we used to
call Aunt Maggie. The table spelled out C A T. We could make
nothing out of it, till I suddenly remembered that her second name
was Catherine, which it was evidently trying to spell. I don't
think even Carrie knew this. But if she did, she would never
cheat. I must admit it was curious. Several other things
happened, and I consented to sit at another seance on Monday.
June 3.--The laundress called, and said she was very sorry about
the handkerchiefs, and returned ninepence. I said, as the colour
was completely washed out and the handkerchiefs quite spoiled,
ninepence was not enough. Carrie replied that the two
handkerchiefs originally only cost sixpence, for she remembered
bring them at a sale at the Holloway Bon Marche. In that case, I
insisted that threepence buying should be returned to the
laundress. Lupin has gone to stay with the Poshs for a few days.
I must say I feel very uncomfortable about it. Carrie said I was
ridiculous to worry about it. Mr. Posh was very fond of Lupin,
who, after all, was only a mere boy.
In the evening we had another seance, which, in some respects, was
very remarkable, although the first part of it was a little
doubtful. Gowing called, as well as Cummings, and begged to be
allowed to join the circle. I wanted to object, but Mrs. James,
who appears a good Medium (that is, if there is anything in it at
all), thought there might be a little more spirit power if Gowing
joined; so the five of us sat down.
The moment I turned out the gas, and almost before I could get my
hands on the table, it rocked violently and tilted, and began
moving quickly across the room. Gowing shouted out: "Way oh!
steady, lad, steady!" I told Gowing if he could not behave himself
I should light the gas, and put an end to the seance.
To tell the truth, I thought Gowing was playing tricks, and I
hinted as much; but Mrs. James said she had often seen the table go
right off the ground. The spirit Lina came again, and said, "WARN"
three or four times, and declined to explain. Mrs. James said
"Lina" was stubborn sometimes. She often behaved like that, and
the best thing to do was to send her away.
She then hit the table sharply, and said: "Go away, Lina; you are
disagreeable. Go away!" I should think we sat nearly three-
quarters of an hour with nothing happening. My hands felt quite
cold, and I suggested we should stop the seance. Carrie and Mrs.
James, as well as Cummings, would not agree to it. In about ten
minutes' time there was some tilting towards me. I gave the
alphabet, and it spelled out S P O O F. As I have heard both
Gowing and Lupin use the word, and as I could hear Gowing silently
laughing, I directly accused him of pushing the table. He denied
it; but, I regret to say, I did not believe him.
Gowing said: "Perhaps it means 'Spook,' a ghost."
I said: "YOU know it doesn't mean anything of the sort."
Gowing said: "Oh! very well--I'm sorry I 'spook,'" and he rose
from the table.
No one took any notice of the stupid joke, and Mrs. James suggested
he should sit out for a while. Gowing consented and sat in the
The table began to move again, and we might have had a wonderful
seance but for Gowing's stupid interruptions. In answer to the
alphabet from Carrie the table spelt "NIPUL," then the "WARN" three
times. We could not think what it meant till Cummings pointed out
that "NIPUL" was Lupin spelled backwards. This was quite exciting.
Carrie was particularly excited, and said she hoped nothing
horrible was going to happen.
Mrs. James asked if "Lina" was the spirit. The table replied
firmly, "No," and the spirit would not give his or her name. We
then had the message, "NIPUL will be very rich."
Carrie said she felt quite relieved, but the word "WARN" was again
spelt out. The table then began to oscillate violently, and in
reply to Mrs. James, who spoke very softly to the table, the spirit
began to spell its name. It first spelled "DRINK."
Gowing here said: "Ah! that's more in my line."
I asked him to be quiet as the name might not be completed.
The table then spelt "WATER."
Gowing here interrupted again, and said: "Ah! that's NOT in my
line. OUTSIDE if you like, but not inside."
Carrie appealed to him to be quiet.
The table then spelt "CAPTAIN," and Mrs. James startled us by
crying out, "Captain Drinkwater, a very old friend of my father's,
who has been dead some years."
This was more interesting, and I could not help thinking that after
all there must be something in Spiritualism.
Mrs. James asked the spirit to interpret the meaning of the word
"Warn" as applied to "NIPUL." The alphabet was given again, and we
got the word "BOSH."
Gowing here muttered: "So it is."
Mrs. James said she did not think the spirit meant that, as Captain
Drinkwater was a perfect gentleman, and would never have used the
word in answer to a lady's question. Accordingly the alphabet was
This time the table spelled distinctly "POSH." We all thought of
Mrs. Murray Posh and Lupin. Carrie was getting a little
distressed, and as it was getting late we broke up the circle.
We arranged to have one more to-morrow, as it will be Mrs. James'
last night in town. We also determined NOT to have Gowing present.
Cummings, before leaving, said it was certainly interesting, but he
wished the spirits would say something about him.
June 4.--Quite looking forward to the seance this evening. Was
thinking of it all the day at the office.
Just as we sat down at the table we were annoyed by Gowing entering
He said: "I am not going to stop, but I have brought with me a
sealed envelope, which I know I can trust with Mrs. Pooter. In
that sealed envelope is a strip of paper on which I have asked a
simple question. If the spirits can answer that question, I will
believe in Spiritualism."
I ventured the expression that it might be impossible.
Mrs. James said: "Oh no! it is of common occurrence for the
spirits to answer questions under such conditions--and even for
them to write on locked slates. It is quite worth trying. If
'Lina' is in a good temper, she is certain to do it."
Gowing said: "All right; then I shall be a firm believer. I shall
perhaps drop in about half-past nine or ten, and hear the result."
He then left and we sat a long time. Cummings wanted to know
something about some undertaking in which he was concerned, but he
could get no answer of any description whatever--at which he said
he was very disappointed and was afraid there was not much in
table-turning after all. I thought this rather selfish of him.
The seance was very similar to the one last night, almost the same
in fact. So we turned to the letter. "Lina" took a long time
answering the question, but eventually spelt out "ROSES, LILIES,
AND COWS." There was great rocking of the table at this time, and
Mrs. James said: "If that is Captain Drinkwater, let us ask him
the answer as well?"
It was the spirit of the Captain, and, most singular, he gave the
same identical answer: "ROSES, LILIES, AND COWS."
I cannot describe the agitation with which Carrie broke the seal,
or the disappointment we felt on reading the question, to which the
answer was so inappropriate. The question was, "WHAT'S OLD
This quite decided me.
As I had put my foot down on Spiritualism years ago, so I would
I am pretty easy-going as a rule, but I can be extremely firm when
driven to it.
I said slowly, as I turned up the gas: "This is the last of this
nonsense that shall ever take place under my roof. I regret I
permitted myself to be a party to such tomfoolery. If there is
anything in it--which I doubt--it is nothing of any good, and I
WON'T HAVE IT AGAIN. That is enough."
Mrs. James said: "I think, Mr. Pooter, you are rather over-
I said: "Hush, madam. I am master of this house--please
Mrs. James made an observation which I sincerely hope I was
mistaken in. I was in such a rage I could not quite catch what she
said. But if I thought she said what it sounded like, she should
never enter the house again.
Lupin leaves us. We dine at his new apartments, and hear some
extraordinary information respecting the wealth of Mr. Murray Posh.
Meet Miss Lilian Posh. Am sent for by Mr. Hardfur Huttle.
July 1.--I find, on looking over my diary, nothing of any
consequence has taken place during the last month. To-day we lose
Lupin, who has taken furnished apartments at Bayswater, near his
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Murray Posh, at two guineas a week. I think
this is most extravagant of him, as it is half his salary. Lupin
says one never loses by a good address, and, to use his own
expression, Brickfield Terrace is a bit "off." Whether he means it
is "far off" I do not know. I have long since given up trying to
understand his curious expressions. I said the neighbourhood had
always been good enough for his parents. His reply was: "It is no
question of being good or bad. There is no money in it, and I am
not going to rot away my life in the suburbs."
We are sorry to lose him, but perhaps he will get on better by
himself, and there may be some truth in his remark that an old and
a young horse can't pull together in the same cart.
Gowing called, and said that the house seemed quite peaceful, and
like old times. He liked Master Lupin very well, but he
occasionally suffered from what he could not help--youth.
July 2.--Cummings called, looked very pale, and said he had been
very ill again, and of course not a single friend had been near
him. Carrie said she had never heard of it, whereupon he threw
down a copy of the Bicycle News on the table, with the following
paragraph: "We regret to hear that that favourite old roadster,
Mr. Cummings ('Long' Cummings), has met with what might have been a
serious accident in Rye Lane. A mischievous boy threw a stick
between the spokes of one of the back wheels, and the machine
overturned, bringing our brother tricyclist heavily to the ground.
Fortunately he was more frightened than hurt, but we missed his
merry face at the dinner at Chingford, where they turned up in good
numbers. 'Long' Cummings' health was proposed by our popular Vice,
Mr. Westropp, the prince of bicyclists, who in his happiest vein
said it was a case of 'CUMMING(s) thro' the RYE, but fortunately
there was more WHEEL than WOE,' a joke which created roars of
We all said we were very sorry, and pressed Cummings to stay to
supper. Cummings said it was like old times being without Lupin,
and he was much better away.
July 3, Sunday.--In the afternoon, as I was looking out of the
parlour window, which was open, a grand trap, driven by a lady,
with a gentleman seated by the side of her, stopped at our door.
Not wishing to be seen, I withdrew my head very quickly, knocking
the back of it violently against the sharp edge of the window-sash.
I was nearly stunned. There was a loud double-knock at the front
door; Carrie rushed out of the parlour, upstairs to her room, and I
followed, as Carrie thought it was Mr. Perkupp. I thought it was
Mr. Franching.--I whispered to Sarah over the banisters: "Show
them into the drawing-room." Sarah said, as the shutters were not
opened, the room would smell musty. There was another loud rat-
tat. I whispered: "Then show them into the parlour, and say Mr.
Pooter will be down directly." I changed my coat, but could not
see to do my hair, as Carrie was occupying the glass.
Sarah came up, and said it was Mrs. Murray Posh and Mr. Lupin.
This was quite a relief. I went down with Carrie, and Lupin met me
with the remark: "I say, what did you run away from the window
for? Did we frighten you?"
I foolishly said: "What window?"
Lupin said: "Oh, you know. Shut it. You looked as if you were
playing at Punch and Judy."
On Carrie asking if she could offer them anything, Lupin said:
"Oh, I think Daisy will take on a cup of tea. I can do with a B.
I said: "I am afraid we have no soda."
Lupin said: "Don't bother about that. You just trip out and hold
the horse; I don't think Sarah understands it."
They stayed a very short time, and as they were leaving, Lupin
said: "I want you both to come and dine with me next Wednesday,
and see my new place. Mr. and Mrs. Murray Posh, Miss Posh
(Murray's sister) are coming. Eight o'clock sharp. No one else."
I said we did not pretend to be fashionable people, and would like
the dinner earlier, as it made it so late before we got home.
Lupin said: "Rats! You must get used to it. If it comes to that,
Daisy and I can drive you home."
We promised to go; but I must say in my simple mind the familiar
way in which Mrs. Posh and Lupin addressed each other is
reprehensible. Anybody would think they had been children
together. I certainly should object to a six months' acquaintance
calling MY wife "Carrie," and driving out with her.
July 4.--Lupin's rooms looked very nice; but the dinner was, I
thought, a little too grand, especially as he commenced with
champagne straight off. I also think Lupin might have told us that
he and Mr. and Mrs. Murray Posh and Miss Posh were going to put on
full evening dress. Knowing that the dinner was only for us six,
we never dreamed it would be a full dress affair. I had no
appetite. It was quite twenty minutes past eight before we sat
down to dinner. At six I could have eaten a hearty meal. I had a
bit of bread-and-butter at that hour, feeling famished, and I
expect that partly spoiled my appetite.
We were introduced to Miss Posh, whom Lupin called "Little Girl,"
as if he had known her all his life. She was very tall, rather
plain, and I thought she was a little painted round the eyes. I
hope I am wrong; but she had such fair hair, and yet her eyebrows
were black. She looked about thirty. I did not like the way she
kept giggling and giving Lupin smacks and pinching him. Then her
laugh was a sort of a scream that went right through my ears, all
the more irritating because there was nothing to laugh at. In
fact, Carrie and I were not at all prepossessed with her. They all
smoked cigarettes after dinner, including Miss Posh, who startled
Carrie by saying: "Don't you smoke, dear?" I answered for Carrie,
and said: "Mrs. Charles Pooter has not arrived at it yet,"
whereupon Miss Posh gave one of her piercing laughs again.
Mrs. Posh sang a dozen songs at least, and I can only repeat what I
have said before--she does NOT sing in tune; but Lupin sat by the
side of the piano, gazing into her eyes the whole time. If I had
been Mr. Posh, I think I should have had something to say about it.
Mr. Posh made himself very agreeable to us, and eventually sent us
home in his carriage, which I thought most kind. He is evidently
very rich, for Mrs. Posh had on some beautiful jewellery. She told
Carrie her necklace, which her husband gave her as a birthday
present, alone cost 300 pounds.
Mr. Posh said he had a great belief in Lupin, and thought he would
make rapid way in the world.
I could not help thinking of the 600 pounds Mr. Posh lost over the
Parachikka Chlorates through Lupin's advice.
During the evening I had an opportunity to speak to Lupin, and
expressed a hope that Mr. Posh was not living beyond his means.
Lupin sneered, and said Mr. Posh was worth thousands. "Posh's one-
price hat" was a household word in Birmingham, Manchester,
Liverpool, and all the big towns throughout England. Lupin further
informed me that Mr. Posh was opening branch establishments at New
York, Sydney, and Melbourne, and was negotiating for Kimberley and
I said I was pleased to hear it.
Lupin said: "Why, he has settled over 10,000 pounds on Daisy, and
the same amount on 'Lillie Girl.' If at any time I wanted a little
capital, he would put up a couple of 'thou' at a day's notice, and
could buy up Perkupp's firm over his head at any moment with ready
On the way home in the carriage, for the first time in my life, I
was inclined to indulge in the radical thought that money was NOT
On arriving home at a quarter-past eleven, we found a hansom cab,
which had been waiting for me for two hours with a letter. Sarah
said she did not know what to do, as we had not left the address
where we had gone. I trembled as I opened the letter, fearing it
was some bad news about Mr. Perkupp. The note was: "Dear Mr.
Pooter,--Come down to the Victoria Hotel without delay. Important.
Yours truly, Hardfur Huttle."
I asked the cabman if it was too late. The cabman replied that it
was NOT; for his instructions were, if I happened to be out, he was
to wait till I came home. I felt very tired, and really wanted to
go to bed. I reached the hotel at a quarter before midnight. I
apologised for being so late, but Mr. Huttle said: "Not at all;
come and have a few oysters." I feel my heart beating as I write
these words. To be brief, Mr. Huttle said he had a rich American
friend who wanted to do something large in our line of business,
and that Mr. Franching had mentioned my name to him. We talked
over the matter. If, by any happy chance, the result be
successful, I can more than compensate my dear master for the loss
of Mr. Crowbillon's custom. Mr. Huttle had previously said: "The
glorious 'Fourth' is a lucky day for America, and, as it has not
yet struck twelve, we will celebrate it with a glass of the best
wine to be had in the place, and drink good luck to our bit of
I fervently hope it will bring good luck to us all.
It was two o'clock when I got home. Although I was so tired, I
could not sleep except for short intervals--then only to dream.
I kept dreaming of Mr. Perkupp and Mr. Huttle. The latter was in a
lovely palace with a crown on. Mr. Perkupp was waiting in the
room. Mr. Huttle kept taking off this crown and handing it to me,
and calling me "President."
He appeared to take no notice of Mr. Perkupp, and I kept asking Mr.
Huttle to give the crown to my worthy master. Mr. Huttle kept
saying: "No, this is the White House of Washington, and you must
keep your crown, Mr. President."
We all laughed long and very loudly, till I got parched, and then I
woke up. I fell asleep, only to dream the same thing over and over
CHAPTER THE LAST
One of the happiest days of my life.
July 10.--The excitement and anxiety through which I have gone the
last few days have been almost enough to turn my hair grey. It is
all but settled. To-morrow the die will be cast. I have written a
long letter to Lupin--feeling it my duty to do so,--regarding his
attention to Mrs. Posh, for they drove up to our house again last
July 11.--I find my eyes filling with tears as I pen the note of my
interview this morning with Mr. Perkupp. Addressing me, he said:
"My faithful servant, I will not dwell on the important service you
have done our firm. You can never be sufficiently thanked. Let us
change the subject. Do you like your house, and are you happy
where you are?"
I replied: "Yes, sir; I love my house and I love the
neighbourhood, and could not bear to leave it."
Mr. Perkupp, to my surprise, said: "Mr. Pooter, I will purchase
the freehold of that house, and present it to the most honest and
most worthy man it has ever been my lot to meet."
He shook my hand, and said he hoped my wife and I would be spared
many years to enjoy it. My heart was too full to thank him; and,
seeing my embarrassment, the good fellow said: "You need say
nothing, Mr. Pooter," and left the office.
I sent telegrams to Carrie, Gowing, and Cummings (a thing I have
never done before), and asked the two latter to come round to
On arriving home I found Carrie crying with joy, and I sent Sarah
round to the grocer's to get two bottles of "Jackson Freres."
My two dear friends came in the evening, and the last post brought
a letter from Lupin in reply to mine. I read it aloud to them all.
It ran: "My dear old Guv.,--Keep your hair on. You are on the
wrong tack again. I am engaged to be married to 'Lillie Girl.' I
did not mention it last Thursday, as it was not definitely settled.
We shall be married in August, and amongst our guests we hope to
see your old friends Gowing and Cummings. With much love to all,
from THE SAME OLD LUPIN."