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 scarcely 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 post-office, 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 Cummings could not help laughing.