George & Weedon Grossmith
I concluded, rather neatly, by saying: "On an occasion like this — whether relatives, friends, or acquaintances, — we are all inspired with good feelings towards each other. We are of one mind, and think only of love and friendship. Those who have quarrelled with absent friends should kiss and make it up. Those who happily have not fallen out, can kiss all the same."
I saw the tears in the eyes of both Carrie and her mother, and must say I felt very flattered by the compliment. That dear old Reverend John Panzy Smith, who married us, made a most cheerful and amusing speech, and said he should act on my suggestion respecting the kissing. He then walked round the table and kissed all the ladies, including Carrie. Of course one did not object to this; but I was more than staggered when a young fellow named Moss, who was a stranger to me, and who had scarcely spoken a word through dinner, jumped up suddenly with a sprig of misletoe, and exclaimed: "Hulloh! I don't see why I shouldn't be on in this scene." Before one could realise what he was about to do, he kissed Carrie and the rest of the ladies.
Fortunately the matter was treated as a joke, and we all laughed; but it was a dangerous experiment, and I felt very uneasy for a moment as to the result. I subsequently referred to the matter to Carrie, but she said: "Oh, he's not much more than a boy." I said that he had a very large moustache for a boy. Carrie replied: "I didn't say he was not a nice boy."
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.
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 tonight."
I asked him to pass the envelope, that I might compare the writing. He did so, and I examined it by the side of the envelope containing the Christmas card. I detected a similarity in the writing, in spite of the attempted disguise. I passed them on to Carrie, who began to laugh. I asked her what she was laughing at, and she said the card was never directed to me at all. It was "L. Pooter," not "C. Pooter." Lupin asked to look at the direction and the card, and exclaimed, with a laugh: "Oh yes, Guv., it's meant for me."
I said: "Are you in the habit of receiving insulting Christmas cards?" He replied: "Oh yes, and of sending them, too."
In the evening Gowing called, and said he enjoyed himself very much last night. I took the opportunity to confide in him, as an old friend, about the vicious punch last night. He burst out laughing, and said: "Oh, it was your head, was it? I know I accidentally hit something, but I thought it was a brick wall." I told him I felt hurt, in both senses of the expression.
December 30, Sunday
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 he said.
or the Index to
The Diary of a Nobody
Main GRoL menu