January 26.—An extraordinary thing happened. Carrie and
I went round to Gowing’s, as arranged, at half-past seven.
We knocked and rang several times without getting an answer. At
last the latch was drawn and the door opened a little way, the chain
still being up. A man in shirt-sleeves put his head through and
said: “Who is it? What do you want?” I said: “Mr.
Gowing, he is expecting us.” The man said (as well as I
could hear, owing to the yapping of a little dog): “I don’t
think he is. Mr. Gowing is not at home.” I said: “He
will be in directly.”
With that observation he slammed the door, leaving Carrie and me
standing on the steps with a cutting wind blowing round the corner.
Carrie advised me to knock again. I did so, and then discovered
for the first time that the knocker had been newly painted, and the
paint had come off on my gloves—which were, in consequence, completely
I knocked at the door with my stick two or three times.
The man opened the door, taking the chain off this time, and began
abusing me. He said: “What do you mean by scratching the
paint with your stick like that, spoiling the varnish? You ought
to be ashamed of yourself.”
I said: “Pardon me, Mr. Gowing invited—”
He interrupted and said: “I don’t care for Mr. Gowing,
or any of his friends. This is my door, not Mr. Gowing’s.
There are people here besides Mr. Gowing.”
The impertinence of this man was nothing. I scarcely noticed
it, it was so trivial in comparison with the scandalous conduct of Gowing.
At this moment Cummings and his wife arrived. Cummings was
very lame and leaning on a stick; but got up the steps and asked what
the matter was.
The man said: “Mr. Gowing said nothing about expecting anyone.
All he said was he had just received an invitation to Croydon, and he
should not be back till Monday evening. He took his bag with him.”
With that he slammed the door again. I was too indignant with
Gowing’s conduct to say anything. Cummings looked white
with rage, and as he descended the steps struck his stick violently
on the ground and said: “Scoundrel!”