The Diary Of A Nobody

CHAPTER VII

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 Lupin.

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 her.

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-morrow.

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!”