December 31.—The last day of the Old Year. I received
an extraordinary letter from Mr. Mutlar, senior. He writes: “Dear
Sir,—For a long time past I have had considerable difficulty deciding
the important question, ‘Who is the master of my own house?
Myself, or your son Lupin?’ Believe me, I have no
prejudice one way or the other; but I have been most reluctantly compelled
to give judgment to the effect that I am the master of it. Under
the circumstances, it has become my duty to forbid your son to enter
my house again. I am sorry, because it deprives me of the society
of one of the most modest, unassuming, and gentlemanly persons I have
ever had the honour of being acquainted with.”
I did not desire the last day to wind up disagreeably, so I said
nothing to either Carrie or Lupin about the letter.
A most terrible fog came on, and Lupin would go out in it, but promised
to be back to drink out the Old Year—a custom we have always observed.
At a quarter to twelve Lupin had not returned, and the fog was fearful.
As time was drawing close, I got out the spirits. Carrie and I
deciding on whisky, I opened a fresh bottle; but Carrie said it smelt
like brandy. As I knew it to be whisky, I said there was nothing
to discuss. Carrie, evidently vexed that Lupin had not come in,
did discuss it all the same, and wanted me to have a small wager with
her to decide by the smell. I said I could decide it by the taste
in a moment. A silly and unnecessary argument followed, the result
of which was we suddenly saw it was a quarter-past twelve, and, for
the first time in our married life, we missed welcoming in the New Year.
Lupin got home at a quarter-past two, having got lost in the fog—so