The Diary of a Nobody/Chapter 8
Daisy Mutlar sole topic of conversation. Lupin's new berth. Fireworks at the Cummings'. The "Holloway Comedians." Sarah quarrels with the charwoman. Lupin's uncalled-for interference. Am introduced to Daisy Mutlar. We decide to give a party in her honour.
November 5, Sunday.—Carrie and I troubled about that mere boy Lupin getting engaged to be married without consulting us or anything After dinner he told us all about it. He said the lady's name was Daisy Mutlar, and she was the nicest, prettiest, and most accomplished girl he ever met. He loved her the moment he saw her, and if he had to wait fifty years he would wait, and he knew she would wait for him.
Lupin further said, with much warmth, that the world was a different world to him now,—it was a world worth living in. He lived with an object now, and that was to make Daisy Mutlar—Daisy Pooter, and he would guarantee she would not disgrace the family of the Pooters. Carrie here burst out crying, and threw her arms round his neck, and in doing so, upset the glass of port he held in his hand all over his new light trousers.
I said I had no doubt we should like Miss Mutlar when we saw her, but Carrie said she loved her already. I thought this rather premature, but held my tongue. Daisy Mutlar was the sole topic of conversation for the remainder of the day. I asked Lupin who her people were, and he replied: "Oh, you know Mutlar, Williams and Watts." I did not know, but refrained from asking any further questions at present, for fear of irritating Lupin.
November 6.—Lupin went with me to the office, and had a long conversation with Mr. Perkupp, our principal, the result of which was that he accepted a clerkship in the firm of Job Cleanands and Co., Stock and Share Brokers. Lupin told me, privately, it was an advertising firm, and he did not think much of it. I replied: "Beggars should not be choosers;" and I will do Lupin the justice to say, he looked rather ashamed of himself.
In the evening we went round to the Cummings', to have a few fireworks. It began to rain, and I thought it rather dull. One of my squibs would not go off, and Gowing said: "Hit it on your boot, boy; it will go off then." I gave it a few knocks on the end of my boot, and it went off with one loud explosion, and burnt my fingers rather badly. I gave the rest of the squibs to the little Cummings' boy to let off.
Another unfortunate thing happened, which brought a heap of abuse on my head. Cummings fastened a large wheel set-piece on a stake in the ground by way of a grand finale. He made a great fuss about it; said it cost seven shillings. There was a little difficulty in getting it alight. At last it went off; but after a couple of slow revolutions it stopped. I had my stick with me, so I gave it a tap to send it round, and, unfortunately, it fell off the stake on to the grass. Anybody would have thought I had set the house on fire from the way in which they stormed at me. I will never join in any more firework parties. It is a ridiculous waste of time and money.
November 7.—Lupin asked Carrie to call on Mrs. Mutlar, but Carrie said she thought Mrs. Mutlar ought to call on her first. I agreed with Carrie, and this led to an argument. However, the matter was settled by Carrie saying she could not find any visiting cards, and we must get some more printed, and when they were finished would be quite time enough to discuss the etiquette of calling.
November 8.—I ordered some of our cards at Black's, the stationer's. I ordered twenty-five of each, which will last us for a good long time. In the evening, Lupin brought in Harry Mutlar, Miss Mutlar's brother. He was rather a gawky youth, and Lupin said he was the most popular and best amateur in the club, referring to the "Holloway Comedians." Lupin whispered to us that if we could only "draw out" Harry a bit, he would make us roar with laughter.
At supper, young Mutlar did several amusing things. He took up a knife, and with the flat part of it played a tune on his cheek in a wonderful manner. He also gave an imitation of an old man with no teeth, smoking a big cigar. The way he kept dropping the cigar sent Carrie into fits.
In the course of conversation, Daisy's name cropped up, and young Mutlar said he would bring his sister round to us one evening—his parents being rather old-fashioned, and not going out much. Carrie said we would get up a little special party. As young Mutlar showed no inclination to go, and it was approaching eleven o'clock, as a hint I reminded Lupin that he had to be up early to-morrow. Instead of taking the hint, Mutlar began a series of comic imitations. He went on for an hour without cessation. Poor Carrie could scarcely keep her eyes open. At last she made an excuse, and said "Good-night."
Mutlar then left, and I heard him and Lupin whispering in the hall something about the "Holloway Comedians," and to my disgust, although it was past midnight, Lupin put on his hat and coat, and went out with his new companion.
November 9.—My endeavours to discover who tore the sheets out of my diary still fruitless. Lupin has Daisy Mutlar on the brain, so we see little of him, except that he invariably turns up at meal times. Cummings dropped in.
November 10.—Lupin seems to like his new berth that's a comfort. Daisy Mutlar the sole topic of conversation during tea. Carrie almost as full of it as Lupin. Lupin informs me, to my disgust, that he has been persuaded to take part in the forthcoming performance of the "Holloway Comedians." He says he is to play Bob Britches in the farce, Gone to my Uncle's; Frank Mutlar is going to play old Musty. I told Lupin pretty plainly I was not in the least degree interested in the matter, and totally disapproved of amateur theatricals. Gowing came in the evening.
November 11.—Returned home to find the house in a most disgraceful uproar. Carrie, who appeared very frightened, was standing outside her bedroom, while Sarah was excited and crying. Mrs. Birrell (the charwoman), who had evidently been drinking, was shouting at the top of her voice that she was "no thief, that she was a respectable woman, who had to work hard for her living, and she would smack anyone's face who put lies into her mouth." Lupin, whose back was towards me, did not hear me come in. He was standing between the two women, and, I regret to say, in his endeavour to act as peacemaker, he made use of rather strong language in the presence of his mother; and I was just in time to hear him say: "And all this fuss about the loss of a few pages from a rotten diary that wouldn't fetch three-halfpence a pound!" I said, quietly: "Pardon me, Lupin, that is a matter of opinion; and as I am master of this house, perhaps you will allow me to take the reins."
I ascertained that the cause of the row was, that Sarah had accused Mrs. Birrell of tearing the pages out of my diary to wrap up some kitchen fat and leavings which she had taken out of the house last week. Mrs. Birrell had slapped Sarah's face, and said she had taken nothing out of the place, as there was "never no leavings to take." I ordered Sarah back to her work, and requested Mrs. Birrell to go home. When I entered the parlour Lupin was kicking his legs in the air, and roaring with laughter.
November 12, Sunday.—Coming home from church Carrie and I met Lupin, Daisy Mutlar, and her brother. Daisy was introduced to us, and we walked home together, Carrie walking on with Miss Mutlar. We asked them in for a few minutes, and I had a good look at my future daughter-in-law. My heart quite sank. She is a big young woman, and I should think at least eight years older than Lupin. I did not even think her good-looking. Carrie asked her if she could come in on Wedensday next with her brother to meet a few friends. She replied that she would only be too pleased.
November 13.—Carrie sent out invitations to Gowing, the Cummings, to Mr. and Mrs.
James (of Sutton), and Mr. Stillbrook. I wrote a note to Mr. Franching, of Peckham. Carrie said we may as well make it a nice affair, and why not ask our principal, Mr. Perkupp? I said I feared we were not quite grand enough for him. Carrie said there was "no offence in asking him." I said: "Certainly not," and I wrote him a letter. Carrie confessed she was a little disappointed with Daisy Mutlar's appearance, but thought she seemed a nice girl.
November 14.—Everybody so far has accepted for our quite grand little party for to-morrow. Mr. Perkupp, in a nice letter which I shall keep, wrote that he was dining in Kensington, but if he could get away, he would come up to Holloway for an hour. Carrie was busy all day, making little cakes and open jam puffs and jellies. She said she felt quite nervous about her responsibilities to-morrow evening. We decided to have some light things on the table, such as sandwiches, cold chicken and ham, and some sweets, and on the sideboard a nice piece of cold beef and a Paysandu tongue for the more hungry ones to peg into if they liked.
Gowing called to know if he was to put on "swallow-tails" to-morrow. Carrie said he had better dress, especially as Mr. Franching was coming, and there was a possibility of Mr. Perkupp also putting in an appearance.
Gowing said: "Oh, I only wanted to know; for I have not worn my dress-coat for some time, and I must send it to have the creases pressed out."
After Gowing left, Lupin came in, and in his anxiety to please Daisy Mutlar, carped at and criticised the arrangements, and, in fact, disapproved of everything, including our having asked our old friend Cummings, who, he said, would look in evening-dress like a green-grocer engaged to wait, and who must not be surprised if Daisy took him for one.
I fairly lost my temper, and said: "Lupin, allow me to tell you Miss Daisy Mutlar is not the Queen of England. I gave you credit for more wisdom than to allow yourself to be inveigled into an engagement with a woman considerably older than yourself. I advise you to think of earning your living before entangling yourself with a wife whom you will have to support, and, in all probability, her brother also, who appeared to be nothing but a loafer."
Instead of receiving this advice in a sensible manner, Lupin jumped up and said: "If you insult the lady I am engaged to, you insult me. I will leave the house and never darken your doors again."
He went out of the house, slamming the hall-door. But it was all right. He came back to supper, and we played Bézique till nearly twelve o'clock.