My dear wife Carrie and I have just been a week in our new house,
“The Laurels,” Brickfield Terrace, Holloway—a nice
six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour.
We have a little front garden; and there is a flight of ten steps up
to the front door, which, by-the-by, we keep locked with the chain up.
Cummings, Gowing, and our other intimate friends always come to the
little side entrance, which saves the servant the trouble of going up
to the front door, thereby taking her from her work. We have a
nice little back garden which runs down to the railway. We were
rather afraid of the noise of the trains at first, but the landlord
said we should not notice them after a bit, and took £2 off the
rent. He was certainly right; and beyond the cracking of the garden
wall at the bottom, we have suffered no inconvenience.
After my work in the City, I like to be at home. What’s
the good of a home, if you are never in it? “Home, Sweet
Home,” that’s my motto. I am always in of an evening.
Our old friend Gowing may drop in without ceremony; so may Cummings,
who lives opposite. My dear wife Caroline and I are pleased to
see them, if they like to drop in on us. But Carrie and I can
manage to pass our evenings together without friends. There is
always something to be done: a tin-tack here, a Venetian blind to put
straight, a fan to nail up, or part of a carpet to nail down—all
of which I can do with my pipe in my mouth; while Carrie is not above
putting a button on a shirt, mending a pillow-case, or practising the
“Sylvia Gavotte” on our new cottage piano (on the three
years’ system), manufactured by W. Bilkson (in small letters),
from Collard and Collard (in very large letters). It is also a
great comfort to us to know that our boy Willie is getting on so well
in the Bank at Oldham. We should like to see more of him.
Now for my diary:-
April 3.—Tradesmen called for custom, and I promised Farmerson,
the ironmonger, to give him a turn if I wanted any nails or tools.
By-the-by, that reminds me there is no key to our bedroom door, and
the bells must be seen to. The parlour bell is broken, and the
front door rings up in the servant’s bedroom, which is ridiculous.
Dear friend Gowing dropped in, but wouldn’t stay, saying there
was an infernal smell of paint.
April 7.—Being Saturday, I looked forward to being home early,
and putting a few things straight; but two of our principals at the
office were absent through illness, and I did not get home till seven.
Found Borset waiting. He had been three times during the day to
apologise for his conduct last night. He said he was unable to
take his Bank Holiday last Monday, and took it last night instead.
He begged me to accept his apology, and a pound of fresh butter.
He seems, after all, a decent sort of fellow; so I gave him an order
for some fresh eggs, with a request that on this occasion they should
be fresh. I am afraid we shall have to get some new stair-carpets
after all; our old ones are not quite wide enough to meet the paint
on either side. Carrie suggests that we might ourselves broaden
the paint. I will see if we can match the colour (dark chocolate)
August 3.—A beautiful day. Looking forward to to-morrow.
Carrie bought a parasol about five feet long. I told her it was
ridiculous. She said: “Mrs. James, of Sutton, has one twice
as long so;” the matter dropped. I bought a capital hat
for hot weather at the seaside. I don’t know what it is
called, but it is the shape of the helmet worn in India, only made of
straw. Got three new ties, two coloured handkerchiefs, and a pair
of navy-blue socks at Pope Brothers. Spent the evening packing.
Carrie told me not to forget to borrow Mr. Higgsworth’s telescope,
which he always lends me, knowing I know how to take care of it.
Sent Sarah out for it. While everything was seeming so bright,
the last post brought us a letter from Mrs. Beck, saying: “I have
just let all my house to one party, and am sorry I must take back my
words, and am sorry you must find other apartments; but Mrs. Womming,
next door, will be pleased to accommodate you, but she cannot take you
before Monday, as her rooms are engaged Bank Holiday week.”
August 4.—The first post brought a nice letter from our dear
son Willie, acknowledging a trifling present which Carrie sent him,
the day before yesterday being his twentieth birthday. To our
utter amazement he turned up himself in the afternoon, having journeyed
all the way from Oldham. He said he had got leave from the bank,
and as Monday was a holiday he thought he would give us a little surprise.
August 5, Sunday.—We have not seen Willie since last Christmas,
and are pleased to notice what a fine young man he has grown.
One would scarcely believe he was Carrie’s son. He looks
more like a younger brother. I rather disapprove of his wearing
a check suit on a Sunday, and I think he ought to have gone to church
this morning; but he said he was tired after yesterday’s journey,
so I refrained from any remark on the subject. We had a bottle
of port for dinner, and drank dear Willie’s health.
He said: “Oh, by-the-by, did I tell you I’ve cut my first
name, ‘William,’ and taken the second name ‘Lupin’?
In fact, I’m only known at Oldham as ‘Lupin Pooter.’
If you were to ‘Willie’ me there, they wouldn’t know
what you meant.”
Of course, Lupin being a purely family name, Carrie was delighted,
and began by giving a long history of the Lupins. I ventured to
say that I thought William a nice simple name, and reminded him he was
christened after his Uncle William, who was much respected in the City.
Willie, in a manner which I did not much care for, said sneeringly:
“Oh, I know all about that—Good old Bill!” and helped
himself to a third glass of port.
Carrie objected strongly to my saying “Good old,” but
she made no remark when Willie used the double adjective. I said
nothing, but looked at her, which meant more. I said: “My
dear Willie, I hope you are happy with your colleagues at the Bank.”
He replied: “Lupin, if you please; and with respect to the Bank,
there’s not a clerk who is a gentleman, and the ‘boss’
is a cad.” I felt so shocked, I could say nothing, and my
instinct told me there was something wrong.
August 6, Bank Holiday.—As there was no sign of Lupin moving
at nine o’clock, I knocked at his door, and said we usually breakfasted
at half-past eight, and asked how long would he be? Lupin replied
that he had had a lively time of it, first with the train shaking the
house all night, and then with the sun streaming in through the window
in his eyes, and giving him a cracking headache. Carrie came up
and asked if he would like some breakfast sent up, and he said he could
do with a cup of tea, and didn’t want anything to eat.
Lupin not having come down, I went up again at half-past one, and
said we dined at two; he said he “would be there.”
He never came down till a quarter to three. I said: “We
have not seen much of you, and you will have to return by the 5.30 train;
therefore you will have to leave in an hour, unless you go by the midnight
mail.” He said: “Look here, Guv’nor, it’s
no use beating about the bush. I’ve tendered my resignation
at the Bank.”
For a moment I could not speak. When my speech came again,
I said: “How dare you, sir? How dare you take such a serious
step without consulting me? Don’t answer me, sir!—you
will sit down immediately, and write a note at my dictation, withdrawing
your resignation and amply apologising for your thoughtlessness.”
Imagine my dismay when he replied with a loud guffaw: “It’s
no use. If you want the good old truth, I’ve got the chuck!”
August 11.—Although it is a serious matter having our boy Lupin
on our hands, still it is satisfactory to know he was asked to resign
from the Bank simply because “he took no interest in his work,
and always arrived an hour (sometimes two hours) late.”
We can all start off on Monday to Broadstairs with a light heart.
This will take my mind off the worry of the last few days, which have
been wasted over a useless correspondence with the manager of the Bank
August 15.—Cleared up a bit, so we all took the train to Margate,
and the first person we met on the jetty was Gowing. I said: “Hulloh!
I thought you had gone to Barmouth with your Birmingham friends?”
He said: “Yes, but young Peter Lawrence was so ill, they postponed
their visit, so I came down here. You know the Cummings’
are here too?” Carrie said: “Oh, that will be delightful!
We must have some evenings together and have games.”
I introduced Lupin, saying: “You will be pleased to find we
have our dear boy at home!” Gowing said: “How’s
that? You don’t mean to say he’s left the Bank?”
I changed the subject quickly, and thereby avoided any of those awkward
questions which Gowing always has a knack of asking.