The Diary Of A Nobody

CHAPTER IX

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 short.

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
boots.”

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’ also.”

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 diary.

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 Mutlar.

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 a surprise!'”

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 bit amused.

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.