The Diary Of A Nobody

CHAPTER XVI

We lose money over Lupin’s advice as to investment, so does Cummings.
Murray Posh engaged to Daisy Mutlar.

FEBRUARY 18. Carrie has several times recently called attention to the
thinness of my hair at the top of my head, and recommended me to get it
seen to. I was this morning trying to look at it by the aid of a small
hand-glass, when somehow my elbow caught against the edge of the chest of
drawers and knocked the glass out of my hand and smashed it. Carrie was
in an awful way about it, as she is rather absurdly superstitious. To
make matters worse, my large photograph in the drawing-room fell during
the night, and the glass cracked.

Carrie said: “Mark my words, Charles, some misfortune is about to
happen.”

I said: “Nonsense, dear.”

In the evening Lupin arrived home early, and seemed a little agitated. I
said: “What’s up, my boy?” He hesitated a good deal, and then said: “You
know those Parachikka Chlorates I advised you to invest £20 in?” I
replied: “Yes, they are all right, I trust?” He replied: “Well, no! To
the surprise of everybody, they have utterly collapsed.”

My breath was so completely taken away, I could say nothing. Carrie
looked at me, and said: “What did I tell you?” Lupin, after a while,
said: “However, you are specially fortunate. I received an early tip,
and sold out yours immediately, and was fortunate to get £2 for them. So
you get something after all.”

I gave a sigh of relief. I said: “I was not so sanguine as to suppose,
as you predicted, that I should get six or eight times the amount of my
investment; still a profit of £2 is a good percentage for such a short
time.” Lupin said, quite irritably: “You don’t understand. I sold your
£20 shares for £2; you therefore lose £18 on the transaction, whereby
Cummings and Gowing will lose the whole of theirs.”

FEBRUARY 19. Lupin, before going to town, said: “I am very sorry about
those Parachikka Chlorates; it would not have happened if the boss, Job
Cleanands, had been in town. Between ourselves, you must not be
surprised if something goes wrong at our office. Job Cleanands has not
been seen the last few days, and it strikes me several people do want
to see him very particularly.”

In the evening Lupin was just on the point of going out to avoid a
collision with Gowing and Cummings, when the former entered the room,
without knocking, but with his usual trick of saying, “May I come in?”

He entered, and to the surprise of Lupin and myself, seemed to be in the
very best of spirits. Neither Lupin nor I broached the subject to him,
but he did so of his own accord. He said: “I say, those Parachikka
Chlorates have gone an awful smash! You’re a nice one, Master Lupin.
How much do you lose?” Lupin, to my utter astonishment, said: “Oh! I
had nothing in them. There was some informality in my application—I
forgot to enclose the cheque or something, and I didn’t get any. The
Guv. loses £18.” I said: “I quite understood you were in it, or nothing
would have induced me to speculate.” Lupin replied: “Well, it can’t be
helped; you must go double on the next tip.” Before I could reply,
Gowing said: “Well, I lose nothing, fortunately. From what I heard, I
did not quite believe in them, so I persuaded Cummings to take my £15
worth, as he had more faith in them than I had.”

Lupin burst out laughing, and, in the most unseemly manner, said: “Alas,
poor Cummings. He’ll lose £35.” At that moment there was a ring at the
bell. Lupin said: “I don’t want to meet Cummings.” If he had gone out
of the door he would have met him in the passage, so as quickly as
possible Lupin opened the parlour window and got out. Gowing jumped up
suddenly, exclaiming: “I don’t want to see him either!” and, before I
could say a word, he followed Lupin out of the window.

For my own part, I was horrified to think my own son and one of my most
intimate friends should depart from the house like a couple of
interrupted burglars. Poor Cummings was very upset, and of course was
naturally very angry both with Lupin and Gowing. I pressed him to have a
little whisky, and he replied that he had given up whisky; but would like
a little “Unsweetened,” as he was advised it was the most healthy spirit.
I had none in the house, but sent Sarah round to Lockwood’s for some.

FEBRUARY 20. The first thing that caught my eye on opening the Standard
was—”Great Failure of Stock and Share Dealers! Mr. Job Cleanands
absconded!” I handed it to Carrie, and she replied: “Oh! perhaps it’s
for Lupin’s good. I never did think it a suitable situation for him.” I
thought the whole affair very shocking.

Lupin came down to breakfast, and seeing he looked painfully distressed,
I said: “We know the news, my dear boy, and feel very sorry for you.”
Lupin said: “How did you know? who told you?” I handed him the
Standard. He threw the paper down, and said: “Oh I don’t care a button
for that! I expected that, but I did not expect this.” He then read a
letter from Frank Mutlar, announcing, in a cool manner, that Daisy Mutlar
is to be married next month to Murray Posh. I exclaimed, “Murray Posh!
Is not that the very man Frank had the impudence to bring here last
Tuesday week?” Lupin said: “Yes; the ‘Posh’s-three-shilling-hats’
chap.”

We all then ate our breakfast in dead silence.

In fact, I could eat nothing. I was not only too worried, but I cannot
and will not eat cushion of bacon. If I cannot get streaky bacon, I will
do without anything.

When Lupin rose to go I noticed a malicious smile creep over his face. I
asked him what it meant. He replied: “Oh! only a little
consolation—still it is a consolation. I have just remembered that, by
my advice, Mr. Murray Posh has invested £600 in Parachikka Chlorates!”