The Diary of a Nobody/Chapter 16
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 drawingroom 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 Cleanand Absconded!" I handed it to Carrie and she replied: "Oh! perhaps it 'so for Lupin's good. I never did think it a suitable situation for him." I thought the whole affair vary 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!"