The Diary of a Nobody/Chapter 7
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
I hung up a stag's head made of plaster-of-Paris.
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 remaired 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. Patties and Patties 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 coalscuttle, 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!"
Lupin said: "I'm engaged to be married."