The Diary of a Nobody
← Previous 10 results | Next 10 results for Cummings
Charles Pooter

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.

Charles Pooter

November 15.—A red-letter day.  Our first important party since we have been in this house.  I got home early from the City.  Lupin insisted on having a hired waiter, and stood a half-dozen of champagne.  I think this an unnecessary expense, but Lupin said he had had a piece of luck, having made three pounds out a private deal in the City.  I hope he won’t gamble in his new situation.  The supper-room looked so nice, and Carrie truly said: “We need not be ashamed of its being seen by Mr. Perkupp, should he honour us by coming.”

I dressed early in case people should arrive punctually at eight o’clock, and was much vexed to find my new dress-trousers much too short.

Lupin, who is getting beyond his position, found fault with my wearing ordinary boots instead of dress-boots.

I replied satirically: “My dear son, I have lived to be above that sort of thing.”

Lupin burst out laughing, and said: “A man generally was above his boots.”

This may be funny, or it may not; but I was gratified to find he had not discovered the coral had come off one of my studs.  Carrie looked a picture, wearing the dress she wore at the Mansion House.  The arrangement of the drawing-room was excellent.  Carrie had hung muslin curtains over the folding-doors, and also over one of the entrances, for we had removed the door from its hinges.

Mr. Peters, the waiter, arrived in good time, and I gave him strict orders not to open another bottle of champagne until the previous one was empty.  Carrie arranged for some sherry and port wine to be placed on the drawing-room sideboard, with some glasses.  By-the-by, our new enlarged and tinted photographs look very nice on the walls, especially as Carrie has arranged some Liberty silk bows on the four corners of them.

The first arrival was Gowing, who, with his usual taste, greeted me with: “Hulloh, Pooter, why your trousers are too short!”

I simply said: “Very likely, and you will find my temper ‘short’ also.”

He said: “That won’t make your trousers longer, Juggins.  You should get your missus to put a flounce on them.”

I wonder I waste my time entering his insulting observations in my diary.

The next arrivals were Mr. and Mrs. Cummings.  The former said: “As you didn’t say anything about dress, I have come ‘half dress.’”  He had on a black frock-coat and white tie.  The James’, Mr. Merton, and Mr. Stillbrook arrived, but Lupin was restless and unbearable till his Daisy Mutlar and Frank arrived.

Carrie and I were rather startled at Daisy’s appearance.  She had a bright-crimson dress on, cut very low in the neck.  I do not think such a style modest.  She ought to have taken a lesson from Carrie, and covered her shoulders with a little lace.  Mr. Nackles, Mr. Sprice-Hogg and his four daughters came; so did Franching, and one or two of Lupin’s new friends, members of the “Holloway Comedians.”  Some of these seemed rather theatrical in their manner, especially one, who was posing all the evening, and leant on our little round table and cracked it.  Lupin called him “our Henry,” and said he was “our lead at the H.C.’s,” and was quite as good in that department as Harry Mutlar was as the low-comedy merchant.  All this is Greek to me.

We had some music, and Lupin, who never left Daisy’s side for a moment, raved over her singing of a song, called “Some Day.”  It seemed a pretty song, but she made such grimaces, and sang, to my mind, so out of tune, I would not have asked her to sing again; but Lupin made her sing four songs right off, one after the other.

At ten o’clock we went down to supper, and from the way Gowing and Cummings ate you would have thought they had not had a meal for a month.  I told Carrie to keep something back in case Mr. Perkupp should come by mere chance.  Gowing annoyed me very much by filling a large tumbler of champagne, and drinking it straight off.  He repeated this action, and made me fear our half-dozen of champagne would not last out.  I tried to keep a bottle back, but Lupin got hold of it, and took it to the side-table with Daisy and Frank Mutlar.

We went upstairs, and the young fellows began skylarking.  Carrie put a stop to that at once.  Stillbrook amused us with a song, “What have you done with your Cousin John?”  I did not notice that Lupin and Frank had disappeared.  I asked Mr. Watson, one of the Holloways, where they were, and he said: “It’s a case of ‘Oh, what a surprise!’”

We were directed to form a circle—which we did.  Watson then said: “I have much pleasure in introducing the celebrated Blondin Donkey.”  Frank and Lupin then bounded into the room.  Lupin had whitened his face like a clown, and Frank had tied round his waist a large hearthrug.  He was supposed to be the donkey, and he looked it.  They indulged in a very noisy pantomime, and we were all shrieking with laughter.

I turned round suddenly, and then I saw Mr Perkupp standing half-way in the door, he having arrived without our knowing it.  I beckoned to Carrie, and we went up to him at once.  He would not come right into the room.  I apologised for the foolery, but Mr. Perkupp said: “Oh, it seems amusing.”  I could see he was not a bit amused.

Carrie and I took him downstairs, but the table was a wreck.  There was not a glass of champagne left—not even a sandwich.  Mr. Perkupp said he required nothing, but would like a glass of seltzer or soda water.  The last syphon was empty.  Carrie said: “We have plenty of port wine left.”  Mr. Perkupp said, with a smile: “No, thank you.  I really require nothing, but I am most pleased to see you and your husband in your own home.  Good-night, Mrs. Pooter—you will excuse my very short stay, I know.”  I went with him to his carriage, and he said: “Don’t trouble to come to the office till twelve to-morrow.”

I felt despondent as I went back to the house, and I told Carrie I thought the party was a failure.  Carrie said it was a great success, and I was only tired, and insisted on my having some port myself.  I drank two glasses, and felt much better, and we went into the drawing-room, where they had commenced dancing.  Carrie and I had a little dance, which I said reminded me of old days.  She said I was a spooney old thing.

Charles Pooter

November 16.—Woke about twenty times during the night, with terrible thirst.  Finished off all the water in the bottle, as well as half that in the jug.  Kept dreaming also, that last night’s party was a failure, and that a lot of low people came without invitation, and kept chaffing and throwing things at Mr. Perkupp, till at last I was obliged to hide him in the box-room (which we had just discovered), with a bath-towel over him.  It seems absurd now, but it was painfully real in the dream.  I had the same dream about a dozen times.

Carrie annoyed me by saying: “You know champagne never agrees with you.”  I told her I had only a couple of glasses of it, having kept myself entirely to port.  I added that good champagne hurt nobody, and Lupin told me he had only got it from a traveller as a favour, as that particular brand had been entirely bought up by a West-End club.

I think I ate too heartily of the “side dishes,” as the waiter called them.  I said to Carrie: “I wish I had put those ‘side dishes’ aside.”  I repeated this, but Carrie was busy, packing up the teaspoons we had borrowed of Mrs. Cummings for the party.  It was just half-past eleven, and I was starting for the office, when Lupin appeared, with a yellow complexion, and said: “Hulloh! Guv., what priced head have you this morning?”  I told him he might just as well speak to me in Dutch.  He added: “When I woke this morning, my head was as big as Baldwin’s balloon.”  On the spur of the moment I said the cleverest thing I think I have ever said; viz.: “Perhaps that accounts for the parashooting pains.”  We roared.

Charles Pooter

November 18.—Woke up quite fresh after a good night’s rest, and feel quite myself again.  I am satisfied a life of going-out and Society is not a life for me; we therefore declined the invitation which we received this morning to Miss Bird’s wedding.  We only met her twice at Mrs. James’, and it means a present.  Lupin said: “I am with you for once.  To my mind a wedding’s a very poor play.  There are only two parts in it—the bride and bridegroom.  The best man is only a walking gentleman.  With the exception of a crying father and a snivelling mother, the rest are supers who have to dress well and have to pay for their insignificant parts in the shape of costly presents.”  I did not care for the theatrical slang, but thought it clever, though disrespectful.

I told Sarah not to bring up the blanc-mange again for breakfast.  It seems to have been placed on our table at every meal since Wednesday.  Cummings came round in the evening, and congratulated us on the success of our party.  He said it was the best party he had been to for many a year; but he wished we had let him know it was full dress, as he would have turned up in his swallow-tails.  We sat down to a quiet game of dominoes, and were interrupted by the noisy entrance of Lupin and Frank Mutlar.  Cummings and I asked them to join us.  Lupin said he did not care for dominoes, and suggested a game of “Spoof.”  On my asking if it required counters, Frank and Lupin in measured time said: “One, two, three; go!  Have you an estate in Greenland?”  It was simply Greek to me, but it appears it is one of the customs of the “Holloway Comedians” to do this when a member displays ignorance.

In spite of my instructions, that blanc-mange was brought up again for supper.  To make matters worse, there had been an attempt to disguise it, by placing it in a glass dish with jam round it.  Carrie asked Lupin if he would have some, and he replied: “No second-hand goods for me, thank you.”  I told Carrie, when we were alone, if that blanc-mange were placed on the table again I should walk out of the house.

Charles Pooter

November 22.—Gowing and Cummings dropped in during the evening.  Lupin also came in, bringing his friend, Mr. Burwin-Fosselton—one of the “Holloway Comedians”—who was at our party the other night, and who cracked our little round table.  Happy to say Daisy Mutlar was never referred to.  The conversation was almost entirely monopolised by the young fellow Fosselton, who not only looked rather like Mr. Irving, but seemed to imagine that he was the celebrated actor.  I must say he gave some capital imitations of him.  As he showed no signs of moving at supper time, I said: “If you like to stay, Mr. Fosselton, for our usual crust—pray do.”  He replied: “Oh! thanks; but please call me Burwin-Fosselton.  It is a double name.  There are lots of Fosseltons, but please call me Burwin-Fosselton.”

He began doing the Irving business all through supper.  He sank so low down in his chair that his chin was almost on a level with the table, and twice he kicked Carrie under the table, upset his wine, and flashed a knife uncomfortably near Gowing’s face.  After supper he kept stretching out his legs on the fender, indulging in scraps of quotations from plays which were Greek to me, and more than once knocked over the fire-irons, making a hideous row—poor Carrie already having a bad head-ache.

When he went, he said, to our surprise: “I will come to-morrow and bring my Irving make-up.”  Gowing and Cummings said they would like to see it and would come too.  I could not help thinking they might as well give a party at my house while they are about it.  However, as Carrie sensibly said: “Do anything, dear, to make Lupin forget the Daisy Mutlar business.”

Charles Pooter

November 23.—In the evening, Cummings came early.  Gowing came a little later and brought, without asking permission, a fat and, I think, very vulgar-looking man named Padge, who appeared to be all moustache.  Gowing never attempted any apology to either of us, but said Padge wanted to see the Irving business, to which Padge said: “That’s right,” and that is about all he did say during the entire evening.  Lupin came in and seemed in much better spirits.  He had prepared a bit of a surprise.  Mr. Burwin-Fosselton had come in with him, but had gone upstairs to get ready.  In half-an-hour Lupin retired from the parlour, and returning in a few minutes, announced “Mr. Henry Irving.”

I must say we were all astounded.  I never saw such a resemblance.  It was astonishing.  The only person who did not appear interested was the man Padge, who had got the best arm-chair, and was puffing away at a foul pipe into the fireplace.  After some little time I said; “Why do actors always wear their hair so long?”  Carrie in a moment said, “Mr. Hare doesn’t wear long hair.”  How we laughed except Mr. Fosselton, who said, in a rather patronising kind of way, “The joke, Mrs. Pooter, is extremely appropriate, if not altogether new.”  Thinking this rather a snub, I said: “Mr. Fosselton, I fancy—”  He interrupted me by saying: “Mr. Burwin-Fosselton, if you please,” which made me quite forget what I was going to say to him.  During the supper Mr. Burwin-Fosselton again monopolised the conversation with his Irving talk, and both Carrie and I came to the conclusion one can have even too much imitation of Irving.  After supper, Mr. Burwin-Fosselton got a little too boisterous over his Irving imitation, and suddenly seizing Gowing by the collar of his coat, dug his thumb-nail, accidentally of course, into Gowing’s neck and took a piece of flesh out.  Gowing was rightly annoyed, but that man Padge, who having declined our modest supper in order that he should not lose his comfortable chair, burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter at the little misadventure.  I was so annoyed at the conduct of Padge, I said: “I suppose you would have laughed if he had poked Mr. Gowing’s eye out?” to which Padge replied: “That’s right,” and laughed more than ever.  I think perhaps the greatest surprise was when we broke up, for Mr. Burwin-Fosselton said: “Good-night, Mr. Pooter.  I’m glad you like the imitation, I’ll bring the other make-up to-morrow night.”

Charles Pooter

November 24.—I went to town without a pocket-handkerchief.  This is the second time I have done this during the last week.  I must be losing my memory.  Had it not been for this Daisy Mutlar business, I would have written to Mr. Burwin-Fosselton and told him I should be out this evening, but I fancy he is the sort of young man who would come all the same.

Dear old Cummings came in the evening; but Gowing sent round a little note saying he hoped I would excuse his not turning up, which rather amused me.  He added that his neck was still painful.  Of course, Burwin-Fosselton came, but Lupin never turned up, and imagine my utter disgust when that man Padge actually came again, and not even accompanied by Gowing.  I was exasperated, and said: “Mr. Padge, this is a surprise.”  Dear Carrie, fearing unpleasantness, said: “Oh! I suppose Mr. Padge has only come to see the other Irving make-up.”  Mr. Padge said: “That’s right,” and took the best chair again, from which he never moved the whole evening.

My only consolation is, he takes no supper, so he is not an expensive guest, but I shall speak to Gowing about the matter.  The Irving imitations and conversations occupied the whole evening, till I was sick of it.  Once we had a rather heated discussion, which was commenced by Cummings saying that it appeared to him that Mr. Burwin-Fosselton was not only like Mr. Irving, but was in his judgment every way as good or even better.  I ventured to remark that after all it was but an imitation of an original.

Cummings said surely some imitations were better than the originals.  I made what I considered a very clever remark: “Without an original there can be no imitation.”  Mr. Burwin-Fosselton said quite impertinently: “Don’t discuss me in my presence, if you please; and, Mr. Pooter, I should advise you to talk about what you understand;” to which that cad Padge replied: “That’s right.”  Dear Carrie saved the whole thing by suddenly saying: “I’ll be Ellen Terry.”  Dear Carrie’s imitation wasn’t a bit liked, but she was so spontaneous and so funny that the disagreeable discussion passed off.  When they left, I very pointedly said to Mr. Burwin-Fosselton and Mr. Padge that we should be engaged to-morrow evening.

Charles Pooter

December 17.—As I open my scribbling diary I find the words “Oxford Michaelmas Term ends.”  Why this should induce me to indulge in retrospective I don’t know, but it does.  The last few weeks of my diary are of minimum interest.  The breaking off of the engagement between Lupin and Daisy Mutlar has made him a different being, and Carrie a rather depressing companion.  She was a little dull last Saturday, and I thought to cheer her up by reading some extracts from my diary; but she walked out of the room in the middle of the reading, without a word.  On her return, I said: “Did my diary bore you, darling?”

She replied, to my surprise: “I really wasn’t listening, dear.  I was obliged to leave to give instructions to the laundress.  In consequence of some stuff she puts in the water, two more of Lupin’s coloured shirts have run and he says he won’t wear them.”

I said: “Everything is Lupin.  It’s all Lupin, Lupin, Lupin.  There was not a single button on my shirt yesterday, but I made no complaint.”

Carrie simply replied: “You should do as all other men do, and wear studs.  In fact, I never saw anyone but you wear buttons on the shirt-fronts.”

I said: “I certainly wore none yesterday, for there were none on.”

Another thought that strikes me is that Gowing seldom calls in the evening, and Cummings never does.  I fear they don’t get on well with Lupin.

Charles Pooter

December 24.—I am a poor man, but I would gladly give ten shillings to find out who sent me the insulting Christmas card I received this morning.  I never insult people; why should they insult me?  The worst part of the transaction is, that I find myself suspecting all my friends.  The handwriting on the envelope is evidently disguised, being written sloping the wrong way.  I cannot think either Gowing or Cummings would do such a mean thing.  Lupin denied all knowledge of it, and I believe him; although I disapprove of his laughing and sympathising with the offender.  Mr. Franching would be above such an act; and I don’t think any of the Mutlars would descend to such a course.  I wonder if Pitt, that impudent clerk at the office, did it?  Or Mrs. Birrell, the charwoman, or Burwin-Fosselton?  The writing is too good for the former.

Charles Pooter

December 27.—I told Lupin I was expecting Gowing and Cummings to drop in to-morrow evening for a quiet game.  I was in hope the boy would volunteer to stay in, and help to amuse them.  Instead of which, he said: “Oh, you had better put them off, as I have asked Daisy and Frank Mutlar to come.”  I said I could not think of doing such a thing.  Lupin said: “Then I will send a wire, and put off Daisy.”  I suggested that a post-card or letter would reach her quite soon enough, and would not be so extravagant.

Carrie, who had listened to the above conversation with apparent annoyance, directed a well-aimed shaft at Lupin.  She said: “Lupin, why do you object to Daisy meeting your father’s friends?  Is it because they are not good enough for her, or (which is equally possible) she is not good enough for them?”  Lupin was dumbfounded, and could make no reply.  When he left the room, I gave Carrie a kiss of approval.

Charles Pooter

December 28Lupin, on coming down to breakfast, said to his mother: “I have not put off Daisy and Frank, and should like them to join Gowing and Cummings this evening.”  I felt very pleased with the boy for this.  Carrie said, in reply: “I am glad you let me know in time, as I can turn over the cold leg of mutton, dress it with a little parsley, and no one will know it has been cut.”  She further said she would make a few custards, and stew some pippins, so that they would be cold by the evening.

Finding Lupin in good spirits, I asked him quietly if he really had any personal objection to either Gowing or Cummings.  He replied: “Not in the least.  I think Cummings looks rather an ass, but that is partly due to his patronising ‘the three-and-six-one-price hat company,’ and wearing a reach-me-down frock-coat.  As for that perpetual brown velveteen jacket of Gowing’s—why, he resembles an itinerant photographer.”

I said it was not the coat that made the gentleman; whereupon Lupin, with a laugh, replied: “No, and it wasn’t much of a gentleman who made their coats.”

We were rather jolly at supper, and Daisy made herself very agreeable, especially in the earlier part of the evening, when she sang.  At supper, however, she said: “Can you make tee-to-tums with bread?” and she commenced rolling up pieces of bread, and twisting them round on the table.  I felt this to be bad manners, but of course said nothing.  Presently Daisy and Lupin, to my disgust, began throwing bread-pills at each other.  Frank followed suit, and so did Cummings and Gowing, to my astonishment.  They then commenced throwing hard pieces of crust, one piece catching me on the forehead, and making me blink.  I said: “Steady, please; steady!”  Frank jumped up and said: “Tum, tum; then the band played.”

I did not know what this meant, but they all roared, and continued the bread-battle.  Gowing suddenly seized all the parsley off the cold mutton, and threw it full in my face.  I looked daggers at Gowing, who replied: “I say, it’s no good trying to look indignant, with your hair full of parsley.”  I rose from the table, and insisted that a stop should be put to this foolery at once.  Frank Mutlar shouted: “Time, gentlemen, please! time!” and turned out the gas, leaving us in absolute darkness.

I was feeling my way out of the room, when I suddenly received a hard intentional punch at the back of my head.  I said loudly: “Who did that?”  There was no answer; so I repeated the question, with the same result.  I struck a match, and lighted the gas.  They were all talking and laughing, so I kept my own counsel; but, after they had gone, I said to Carrie; “The person who sent me that insulting post-card at Christmas was here to-night.”

Charles Pooter

January 21.—I am very much concerned at Lupin having started a pony-trap.  I said: “Lupin, are you justified in this outrageous extravagance?”  Lupin replied: “Well, one must get to the City somehow.  I’ve only hired it, and can give it up any time I like.”  I repeated my question: “Are you justified in this extravagance?”  He replied: “Look here, Guv., excuse me saying so, but you’re a bit out of date.  It does not pay nowadays, fiddling about over small things.  I don’t mean anything personal, Guv’nor.  My boss says if I take his tip, and stick to big things, I can make big money!”  I said I thought the very idea of speculation most horrifying.  Lupin said “It is not speculation, it’s a dead cert.”  I advised him, at all events, not to continue the pony and cart; but he replied: “I made £200 in one day; now suppose I only make £200 in a month, or put it at £100 a month, which is ridiculously low—why, that is £1,250 a year.  What’s a few pounds a week for a trap?”

I did not pursue the subject further, beyond saying that I should feel glad when the autumn came, and Lupin would be of age and responsible for his own debts.  He answered: “My dear Guv., I promise you faithfully that I will never speculate with what I have not got.  I shall only go on Job Cleanands’ tips, and as he is in the ‘know’ it is pretty safe sailing.”  I felt somewhat relieved.  Gowing called in the evening and, to my surprise, informed me that, as he had made £10 by one of Lupin’s tips, he intended asking us and the Cummings round next Saturday.  Carrie and I said we should be delighted.

Charles Pooter

January 25.—We had just finished our tea, when who should come in but Cummings, who has not been here for over three weeks.  I noticed that he looked anything but well, so I said: “Well, Cummings, how are you?  You look a little blue.”  He replied: “Yes! and I feel blue too.”  I said: “Why, what’s the matter?”  He said: “Oh, nothing, except that I have been on my back for a couple of weeks, that’s all.  At one time my doctor nearly gave me up, yet not a soul has come near me.  No one has even taken the trouble to inquire whether I was alive or dead.”

I said: “This is the first I have heard of it.  I have passed your house several nights, and presumed you had company, as the rooms were so brilliantly lighted.”

Cummings replied: “No!  The only company I have had was my wife, the doctor, and the landlady—the last-named having turned out a perfect trump.  I wonder you did not see it in the paper.  I know it was mentioned in the Bicycle News.”

I thought to cheer him up, and said: “Well, you are all right now?”

He replied: “That’s not the question.  The question is whether an illness does not enable you to discover who are your true friends.”

I said such an observation was unworthy of him.  To make matters worse, in came Gowing, who gave Cummings a violent slap on the back, and said: “Hulloh!  Have you seen a ghost?  You look scared to death, like Irving in Macbeth.”  I said: “Gently, Gowing, the poor fellow has been very ill.”  Gowing roared with laughter and said: “Yes, and you look it, too.”  Cummings quietly said: “Yes, and I feel it too—not that I suppose you care.”

An awkward silence followed.  Gowing said: “Never mind, Cummings, you and the missis come round to my place to-morrow, and it will cheer you up a bit; for we’ll open a bottle of wine.”

Charles Pooter

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 spoiled.

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!”

Charles Pooter

February 8.—It does seem hard I cannot get good sausages for breakfast.  They are either full of bread or spice, or are as red as beef.  Still anxious about the £20 I invested last week by Lupin’s advice.  However, Cummings has done the same.

Charles Pooter

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.

Charles Pooter

February 18.—Carrie has several times recently called attention to the thinness of my hair at the top of my head, and recommended me to get it seen to.  I was this morning trying to look at it by the aid of a small hand-glass, when somehow my elbow caught against the edge of the chest of drawers and knocked the glass out of my hand and smashed it.  Carrie was in an awful way about it, as she is rather absurdly superstitious.  To make matters worse, my large photograph in the drawing-room fell during the night, and the glass cracked.

Carrie said: “Mark my words, Charles, some misfortune is about to happen.”

I said: “Nonsense, dear.”

In the evening Lupin arrived home early, and seemed a little agitated.  I said: “What’s up, my boy?”  He hesitated a good deal, and then said: “You know those Parachikka Chlorates I advised you to invest £20 in?  I replied: “Yes, they are all right, I trust?”  He replied: “Well, no!  To the surprise of everybody, they have utterly collapsed.”

My breath was so completely taken away, I could say nothing.  Carrie looked at me, and said: “What did I tell you?”  Lupin, after a while, said: “However, you are specially fortunate.  I received an early tip, and sold out yours immediately, and was fortunate to get £2 for them.  So you get something after all.”

I gave a sigh of relief.  I said: “I was not so sanguine as to suppose, as you predicted, that I should get six or eight times the amount of my investment; still a profit of £2 is a good percentage for such a short time.”  Lupin said, quite irritably: “You don’t understand.  I sold your £20 shares for £2; you therefore lose £18 on the transaction, whereby Cummings and Gowing will lose the whole of theirs.”

Charles Pooter

February 19.—Lupin, before going to town, said: “I am very sorry about those Parachikka Chlorates; it would not have happened if the boss, Job Cleanands, had been in town.  Between ourselves, you must not be surprised if something goes wrong at our office.  Job Cleanands has not been seen the last few days, and it strikes me several people do want to see him very particularly.”

In the evening Lupin was just on the point of going out to avoid a collision with Gowing and Cummings, when the former entered the room, without knocking, but with his usual trick of saying, “May I come in?”

He entered, and to the surprise of Lupin and myself, seemed to be in the very best of spirits.  Neither Lupin nor I broached the subject to him, but he did so of his own accord.  He said: “I say, those Parachikka Chlorates have gone an awful smash!  You’re a nice one, Master Lupin.  How much do you lose?”  Lupin, to my utter astonishment, said: “Oh!  I had nothing in them.  There was some informality in my application—I forgot to enclose the cheque or something, and I didn’t get any.  The Guv. loses £18.”  I said: “I quite understood you were in it, or nothing would have induced me to speculate.”  Lupin replied: “Well, it can’t be helped; you must go double on the next tip.”  Before I could reply, Gowing said: “Well, I lose nothing, fortunately.  From what I heard, I did not quite believe in them, so I persuaded Cummings to take my £15 worth, as he had more faith in them than I had.”

Lupin burst out laughing, and, in the most unseemly manner, said: “Alas, poor Cummings.  He’ll lose £35.”  At that moment there was a ring at the bell.  Lupin said: “I don’t want to meet Cummings.”  If he had gone out of the door he would have met him in the passage, so as quickly as possible Lupin opened the parlour window and got out.  Gowing jumped up suddenly, exclaiming: “I don’t want to see him either!” and, before I could say a word, he followed Lupin out of the window.

For my own part, I was horrified to think my own son and one of my most intimate friends should depart from the house like a couple of interrupted burglars.  Poor Cummings was very upset, and of course was naturally very angry both with Lupin and Gowing.  I pressed him to have a little whisky, and he replied that he had given up whisky; but would like a little “Unsweetened,” as he was advised it was the most healthy spirit.  I had none in the house, but sent Sarah round to Lockwood’s for some.

Charles Pooter

March 21.—To-day I shall conclude my diary, for it is one of the happiest days of my life.  My great dream of the last few weeks—in fact, of many years—has been realised.  This morning came a letter from Mr. Perkupp, asking me to take Lupin down to the office with me.  I went to Lupin’s room; poor fellow, he seemed very pale, and said he had a bad headache.  He had come back yesterday from Gravesend, where he spent part of the day in a small boat on the water, having been mad enough to neglect to take his overcoat with him.  I showed him Mr. Perkupp’s letter, and he got up as quickly as possible.  I begged of him not to put on his fast-coloured clothes and ties, but to dress in something black or quiet-looking.

Carrie was all of a tremble when she read the letter, and all she could keep on saying was: “Oh, I do hope it will be all right.”  For myself, I could scarcely eat any breakfast.  Lupin came down dressed quietly, and looking a perfect gentleman, except that his face was rather yellow.  Carrie, by way of encouragement said: “You do look nice, Lupin.”  Lupin replied: “Yes, it’s a good make-up, isn’t it?  A regular-downright-respectable-funereal-first-class-City-firm-junior-clerk.”  He laughed rather ironically.

In the hall I heard a great noise, and also Lupin shouting to Sarah to fetch down his old hat.  I went into the passage, and found Lupin in a fury, kicking and smashing a new tall hat.  I said: “Lupin, my boy, what are you doing?  How wicked of you!  Some poor fellow would be glad to have it.”  Lupin replied: “I would not insult any poor fellow by giving it to him.”

When he had gone outside, I picked up the battered hat, and saw inside “Posh’s Patent.”  Poor Lupin!  I can forgive him.  It seemed hours before we reached the office.  Mr. Perkupp sent for Lupin, who was with him nearly an hour.  He returned, as I thought, crestfallen in appearance.  I said: “Well, Lupin, how about Mr. Perkupp?”  Lupin commenced his song: “What’s the matter with Perkupp?  He’s all right!”  I felt instinctively my boy was engaged.  I went to Mr. Perkupp, but I could not speak.  He said: “Well, Mr. Pooter, what is it?”  I must have looked a fool, for all I could say was: “Mr. Perkupp, you are a good man.”  He looked at me for a moment, and said: “No, Mr. Pooter, you are the good man; and we’ll see if we cannot get your son to follow such an excellent example.”  I said: “Mr. Perkupp, may I go home?  I cannot work any more to-day.”

My good master shook my hand warmly as he nodded his head.  It was as much as I could do to prevent myself from crying in the ’bus; in fact, I should have done so, had my thoughts not been interrupted by Lupin, who was having a quarrel with a fat man in the ’bus, whom he accused of taking up too much room.

In the evening Carrie sent round for dear old friend Cummings and his wife, and also to Gowing.  We all sat round the fire, and in a bottle of “Jackson Frères,” which Sarah fetched from the grocer’s, drank Lupin’s health.  I lay awake for hours, thinking of the future.  My boy in the same office as myself—we can go down together by the ’bus, come home together, and who knows but in the course of time he may take great interest in our little home.  That he may help me to put a nail in here or a nail in there, or help his dear mother to hang a picture.  In the summer he may help us in our little garden with the flowers, and assist us to paint the stands and pots.  (By-the-by, I must get in some more enamel paint.)  All this I thought over and over again, and a thousand happy thoughts beside.  I heard the clock strike four, and soon after fell asleep, only to dream of three happy people—Lupin, dear Carrie, and myself.

Charles Pooter

April 20.—Cummings called, hobbling in with a stick, saying he had been on his back for a week.  It appears he was trying to shut his bedroom door, which is situated just at the top of the staircase, and unknown to him a piece of cork the dog had been playing with had got between the door, and prevented it shutting; and in pulling the door hard, to give it an extra slam, the handle came off in his hands, and he fell backwards downstairs.

On hearing this, Lupin suddenly jumped up from the couch and rushed out of the room sideways.  Cummings looked very indignant, and remarked it was very poor fun a man nearly breaking his back; and though I had my suspicions that Lupin was laughing, I assured Cummings that he had only run out to open the door to a friend he expected.  Cummings said this was the second time he had been laid up, and we had never sent to inquire.  I said I knew nothing about it.  Cummings said: “It was mentioned in the Bicycle News.”


The Diary of a Nobody is the fictitious diary of Charles Pooter, written by George Grossmith and originally serialised in Punch magazine in 1888 and 1889.
The text of this version is taken from the Gutenberg etext, and the weblog format was engineered by Kevan Davis (initially a straight weblog in 2004, then rewritten as an auto RSS generator in April 2007).