The Diary of a Nobody/Chapter 15
Gowing explains his conduct. Lupin takes us for a drive, which we don't enjoy. Lupin introduces us to Mr. Murray Posh.
February 8.—It does seem hard I cannot get good sausages for breakfast. They are either full of bread or spice, or are as red as beef. Still anxious about the £20 I invested last week by Lupin's advice. However, Cummings has done the same.
February 9.—Exactly a fortnight has passed, and I have neither seen nor heard from Gowing respecting his extraordinary conduct in asking us round to his house, and then being out. In the evening Carrie was engaged marking a half-dozen new collars I had purchased. I'll back Carrie's marking against anybody's. While I was drying them at the fire, and Carrie was rebuking me for scorching them, Cummings came in.
He seemed quite well again, and chaffed us about marking the collars. I asked him if he had heard from Gowing, and he replied that he had not. I said I should not have believed that Gowing could have acted in such an ungentlemanly manner. Cummings said: "You are mild in your description of him; I think he has acted like a cad."
The words were scarcety out of his mouth when the door opened, and Gowing, putting in his head, said: "May I come in?" I said: "Certainly." Carrie said very pointedly: "Well, you are a stranger." Gowing said: "Yes, I've been on and off to Croydon during the last fortnight." I could see Cummings was boiling over, and eventually he tackled Gowing very strongly respecting his conduct last Saturday week. Gowing appeared surprised, and said: "Why, I posted a letter to you in the morning announcing that the party was 'off, very much off.'" I said: "I never got it." Gowing, turning to Carrie, said: "I suppose letters sometimes miscarry, don't they, Mrs. Carrie? " Cummings sharply said: "This is not a time for joking. I had no notice of the party being put off." Gowing replied: "I told Pooter in my note to tell you, as I was in a hurry. However, I'll inquire at the postoffice, and we must meet again at my place." I added that I hoped he would be present at the next meeting. Carrie roared at this, and even Cuminings could not help laughing.
February 10, Sunday.—Contrary to my wishes, Carrie allowed Lupin to persuade her to take her for a drive in the afternoon in his trap. I quite disapprove of driving on a Sunday, but I did not like to trust Carrie alone with Lupin, so I offered to go too. Lupin said: "Now, that is nice of you, Guv., but you won't mind sitting on the back-seat of the cart?"
Lupin proceeded to put on a bright-blue coat that seemed miles too large for him. Carrie said it wanted taking in considerably at the back. Lupin said: "Haven't you seen a box-coat before? You can't drive in anything else."
He may wear what he likes in the future, for I shall never drive with him again. His conduct was shocking. When we passed Highgate Archway, he tried to pass everything and everybody. He shouted to respectable people who were walking quietly in the road to get out of the way; he flicked at the horse of an old man who was riding, causing it to rear; and, as I had to ride backwards, I was compelled to face a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart, whom Lupin had chaffed, and who turned and followed us for nearly a mile, bellowing, indulging in coarse jokes and laughter, to say nothing of occasionally pelting us with orange-peel.
Lupin's excuse—that the Prince of Wales would have to put up with the same sort of thing if he drove to the Derby—was of little consolation to either Carrie or myself. Frank Mutlar called in the evening, and Lupin went out with him.
February 11.—Feeling a little concerned about Lupin, I mustered up courage to speak to Mr. Perkupp about him. Mr. Perkupp has always been most kind to me, so I told him everything, including yesterday's adventure. Mr. Perkupp kindly replied: "There is no necessity for you to be anxious, Mr. Pooter. It would be impossible for a son of such good parents to turn out erroneously. Remember he is young, and will soon get older. I wish we could find room for him in this firm." The advice of this good man takes loads off my mind. In the evening Lupin came in.
After our little supper, he said: "My dear parents, I have some news, which I fear will affect you considerably." I felt a qualm come over me, and said nothing. Lupin then said: "It may distress you—in fact, I'm sure it will—but this afternoon I have given up my pony and trap for ever." It may seem absurd but I was so pleased, I immediately opened a bottle of port. Gowing dropped in just in time, bringing with him a large sheet, with a print of a tailless donkey, which he fastened against the wall. He then produced several separate tails, and we spent the remainder of the evening trying blindfolded to pin a tail on in the proper place. My sides positively ached with laughter when I went to bed.
February 12.—In the evening I spoke to Lupin about his engagement with Daisy Mutlar. I asked if he had heard from her. He replied: "No; she promised that old windbag of a father of hers that she would not communicate with me. I see Frank Mutlar, of course; in fact, he said he might call again this evening." Frank called, but said he could not stop, as he had a friend waiting outside for him, named Murray Posh, adding he was quite a swell. Carrie asked Frank to bring him in.
He was brought in, Gowing entering at the same time. Mr. Murray Posh was a tall, fat young man, and was evidently of a very nervous disposition, as he subsequently confessed he would never go in a hansom cab, nor would he enter a four-wheeler until the driver had first got on the box with his reins in his hands.
On being introduced, Gowing, with his usual want of tact, said: "Any relation to 'Posh's three-shilling hats'?" Mr. Posh replied:
Mr. Murray Posh.
"Yes; but please understand I don't try on hats myself. I take no active part in the business." I replied: "I wish I had a business like it." Mr. Posh seemed pleased, and gave a long but most interesting history of the extraordinary difficulties in the manufacture of cheap hats.
Murray Posh evidently knew Daisy Mutlar very intimately from the way he was talking of her; and Frank said to Lupin once, laughingly: "If you don't look out, Posh will cut you out!" When they had all gone, I referred to this flippant conversation; and Lupin said, sarcastically: "A man who is jealous has no respect for himself. A man who would be jealous of an elephant like Murray Posh could only have a contempt for himself. I know Daisy. She would wait ten years for me, as I said before; in fact, if necessary, she would wait twenty years for me."