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 13.—Hurrah! at Broadstairs. Very nice apartments
near the station. On the cliffs they would have been double the
price. The landlady had a nice five o’clock dinner and tea
ready, which we all enjoyed, though Lupin seemed fastidious because
there happened to be a fly in the butter. It was very wet in the
evening, for which I was thankful, as it was a good excuse for going
to bed early. Lupin said he would sit up and read a bit.
August 14.—I was a little annoyed to find Lupin, instead of
reading last night, had gone to a common sort of entertainment, given
at the Assembly Rooms. I expressed my opinion that such performances
were unworthy of respectable patronage; but he replied: “Oh, it
was only ‘for one night only.’ I had a fit of the
blues come on, and thought I would go to see Polly Presswell, England’s
Particular Spark.” I told him I was proud to say I had never
heard of her. Carrie said: “Do let the boy alone.
He’s quite old enough to take care of himself, and won’t
forget he’s a gentleman. Remember, you were young once yourself.”
Rained all day hard, but Lupin would go out.
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.
August 16.—Lupin positively refused to walk down the Parade
with me because I was wearing my new straw helmet with my frock-coat.
I don’t know what the boy is coming to.
August 17.—Lupin not falling in with our views, Carrie and
I went for a sail. It was a relief to be with her alone; for when
Lupin irritates me, she always sides with him. On our return,
he said: “Oh, you’ve been on the ‘Shilling Emetic,’
have you? You’ll come to six-pennorth on the ‘Liver
Jerker’ next.” I presume he meant a tricycle, but
I affected not to understand him.
August 18.—Gowing and Cummings walked over to arrange an evening
at Margate. It being wet, Gowing asked Cummings to accompany him
to the hotel and have a game of billiards, knowing I never play, and
in fact disapprove of the game. Cummings said he must hasten back
to Margate; whereupon Lupin, to my horror, said: “I’ll give
you a game, Gowing—a hundred up. A walk round I the cloth
will give me an appetite for dinner.” I said: “Perhaps
Mister Gowing does not care to play with boys.” Gowing surprised
me by saying: “Oh yes, I do, if they play well,” and they
walked off together.
August 19, Sunday.—I was about to read Lupin a sermon on smoking
(which he indulges in violently) and billiards, but he put on his hat
and walked out. Carrie then read me a long sermon on the
palpable inadvisability of treating Lupin as if he were a mere child.
I felt she was somewhat right, so in the evening I offered him a cigar.
He seemed pleased, but, after a few whiffs, said: “This is a good
old tup’ny—try one of mine,” and he handed me a cigar
as long as it was strong, which is saying a good deal.
August 20.—I am glad our last day at the seaside was fine,
though clouded overhead. We went over to Cummings’ (at Margate)
in the evening, and as it was cold, we stayed in and played games; Gowing,
as usual, overstepping the mark. He suggested we should play “Cutlets,”
a game we never heard of. He sat on a chair, and asked Carrie
to sit on his lap, an invitation which dear Carrie rightly declined.
After some species of wrangling, I sat on Gowing’s knees and
Carrie sat on the edge of mine. Lupin sat on the edge of Carrie’s
lap, then Cummings on Lupin’s, and Mrs. Cummings on her husband’s.
We looked very ridiculous, and laughed a good deal.
Gowing then said: “Are you a believer in the Great Mogul?”
We had to answer all together: “Yes—oh, yes!” (three
times). Gowing said: “So am I,” and suddenly got up.
The result of this stupid joke was that we all fell on the ground, and
poor Carrie banged her head against the corner of the fender.
Mrs. Cummings put some vinegar on; but through this we missed the last
train, and had to drive back to Broadstairs, which cost me seven-and-sixpence.
August 22.—Home sweet Home again! Carrie bought some
pretty blue-wool mats to stand vases on. Fripps, Janus and Co.
write to say they are sorry they have no vacancy among their staff of
clerks for Lupin.
August 23.—I bought a pair of stags’ heads made of plaster-of-Paris
and coloured brown. They will look just the thing for our little
hall, and give it style; the heads are excellent imitations. Poolers
and Smith are sorry they have nothing to offer Lupin.
August 24.—Simply to please Lupin, and make things cheerful
for him, as he is a little down, Carrie invited Mrs. James to come up
from Sutton and spend two or three days with us. We have not said
a word to Lupin, but mean to keep it as a surprise.
August 25.—Mrs. James, of Sutton, arrived in the afternoon,
bringing with her an enormous bunch of wild flowers. The more
I see of Mrs James the nicer I think she is, and she is devoted to Carrie.
She went into Carrie’s room to take off her bonnet, and remained
there nearly an hour talking about dress. Lupin said he was not
a bit surprised at Mrs. James’ visit, but was surprised
August 26, Sunday.—Nearly late for church, Mrs. James having
talked considerably about what to wear all the morning. Lupin
does not seem to get on very well with Mrs. James. I am afraid
we shall have some trouble with our next-door neighbours who came in
last Wednesday. Several of their friends, who drive up in dog-carts,
have already made themselves objectionable.
An evening or two ago I had put on a white waistcoat for coolness,
and while walking past with my thumbs in my waistcoat pockets (a habit
I have), one man, seated in the cart, and looking like an American,
commenced singing some vulgar nonsense about “I had thirteen
dollars in my waistcoat pocket.” I fancied it was meant
for me, and my suspicions were confirmed; for while walking round the
garden in my tall hat this afternoon, a “throw-down” cracker
was deliberately aimed at my hat, and exploded on it like a percussion
cap. I turned sharply, and am positive I saw the man who was in
the cart retreating from one of the bedroom windows.
August 27.—Carrie and Mrs. James went off shopping, and had
not returned when I came back from the office. Judging from the
subsequent conversation, I am afraid Mrs. James is filling Carrie’s
head with a lot of nonsense about dress. I walked over to Gowing’s
and asked him to drop in to supper, and make things pleasant.
Carrie prepared a little extemporised supper, consisting of the remainder
of the cold joint, a small piece of salmon (which I was to refuse, in
case there was not enough to go round), and a blanc-mange and custards.
There was also a decanter of port and some jam puffs on the sideboard.
Mrs. James made us play rather a good game of cards, called “Muggings.”
To my surprise, in fact disgust, Lupin got up in the middle, and, in
a most sarcastic tone, said: “Pardon me, this sort of thing is
too fast for me, I shall go and enjoy a quiet game of marbles in the
Things might have become rather disagreeable but for Gowing (who
seems to have taken to Lupin) suggesting they should invent games.
Lupin said: “Let’s play ‘monkeys.’”
He then led Gowing all round the room, and brought him in front of the
looking-glass. I must confess I laughed heartily at this.
I was a little vexed at everybody subsequently laughing at some joke
which they did not explain, and it was only on going to bed I discovered
I must have been walking about all the evening with an antimacassar
on one button of my coat-tails.
August 28.—Found a large brick in the middle bed of geraniums,
evidently come from next door. Pattles and Pattles can’t
find a place for Lupin.
August 29.—Mrs. James is making a positive fool of Carrie.
Carrie appeared in a new dress like a smock-frock. She said “smocking”
was all the rage. I replied it put me in a rage. She also
had on a hat as big as a kitchen coal-scuttle, and the same shape.
Mrs. James went home, and both Lupin and I were somewhat pleased—the
first time we have agreed on a single subject since his return.
Merkins and Son write they have no vacancy for Lupin.
October 31.—Received a letter from our principal, Mr. Perkupp,
saying that he thinks he knows of a place at last for our dear boy Lupin.
This, in a measure, consoles me for the loss of a portion of my diary;
for I am bound to confess the last few weeks have been devoted to the
record of disappointing answers received from people to whom I have
applied for appointments for Lupin. Mrs. Birrell called, and,
in reply to me, said: “She never see no book, much less
take such a liberty as touch it.”
I said I was determined to find out who did it, whereupon she said
she would do her best to help me; but she remembered the sweep lighting
the fire with a bit of the Echo. I requested the sweep
to be sent to me to-morrow. I wish Carrie had not given Lupin
a latch-key; we never seem to see anything of him. I sat up till
past one for him, and then retired tired.