The Diary of a Nobody
George & Weedon Grossmith
I had intended concluding my diary last week; but a
most important event has happened, so I shall continue for a little
while longer on the fly-leaves attached to the end of my last
year's diary. It had just struck half-past one, and I was on the
point of leaving the office to have my dinner, when I received a
message that Mr. Perkupp desired to see me at once. I must confess
that my heart commenced to beat and I had most serious misgivings.
Mr. Perkupp was in his room writing, and he said: "Take a seat,
Mr. Pooter, I shall not be moment."
I replied: "No, thank you, sir; I'll stand."
I watched the clock on the mantelpiece, and I was waiting quite
twenty minutes; but it seemed hours. Mr. Perkupp at last got up
I said: "I hope there is nothing wrong, sir?"
He replied: "Oh dear, no! quite the reverse, I hope." What a
weight off my mind! My breath seemed to come back again in an
Mr. Perkupp said: "Mr. Buckling is going to retire, and there will
be some slight changes in the office. You have been with us nearly
twenty-one years, and, in consequence of your conduct during that
period, we intend making a special promotion in your favour. We
have not quite decided how you will be placed; but in any case
there will be a considerable increase in your salary, which, it is
quite unnecessary for me to say, you fully deserve. I have an
appointment at two; but you shall hear more tomorrow."
He then left the room quickly, and I was not even allowed time or
thought to express a single word of grateful thanks to him. I need
not say how dear Carrie received this joyful news. With perfect
simplicity she said: "At last we shall be able to have a chimney-glass
for the back drawing-room, which we always wanted." I added:
"Yes, and at last you shall have that little costume which you saw
at Peter Robinson's so cheap."
I was in a great state of suspense all day at the
office. I did not like to worry Mr. Perkupp; but as he did not
send for me, and mentioned yesterday that he would see me again today,
I thought it better, perhaps, to go to him. I knocked at his
door, and on entering, Mr. Perkupp said: "Oh! it's you, Mr.
Pooter; do you want to see me?" I said: "No, sir, I thought you
wanted to see me!" "Oh!" he replied, "I remember. Well, I am very
busy today; I will see you tomorrow."
Still in a state of anxiety and excitement, which was
not alleviated by ascertaining that Mr. Perkupp sent word he should
not be at the office today. In the evening, Lupin, who was busily
engaged with a paper, said suddenly to me: "Do you know anything
about Chalk Pits, Guv.?" I said: "No, my boy, not that I'm aware
of." Lupin said: "Well, I give you the tip; Chalk Pits are as
safe as Consols, and pay six per cent. at par." I said a rather
neat thing, viz.: "They may be six per cent. at par, but your Pa
has no money to invest." Carrie and I both roared with laughter.
Lupin did not take the slightest notice of the joke, although I
purposely repeated it for him; but continued: "I give you the tip,
that's all — Chalk Pits!" I said another funny thing: "Mind you
don't fall into them!" Lupin put on a supercilious smile, and
said: "Bravo! Joe Miller."
Mr. Perkupp sent for me and told me that my position
would be that of one of the senior clerks. I was more than
overjoyed. Mr. Perkupp added, he would let me know tomorrow what
the salary would be. This means another day's anxiety; I don't
mind, for it is anxiety of the right sort. That reminded me that I
had forgotten to speak to Lupin about the letter I received from
Mr. Mutlar, senr. I broached the subject to Lupin in the evening,
having first consulted Carrie. Lupin was riveted to the Financial
News, as if he had been a born capitalist, and I said: "Pardon me
a moment, Lupin, how is it you have not been to the Mutlars' any
day this week?"
Lupin answered: "I told you! I cannot stand old Mutlar."
I said: "Mr. Mutlar writes to me to say pretty plainly that he
cannot stand you!"
Lupin said: "Well, I like his cheek in writing to you. I'll find
out if his father is still alive, and I will write him a note
complaining of his son, and I'll state pretty clearly that his son
is a blithering idiot!"
I said: "Lupin, please moderate your expressions in the presence
of your mother."
Lupin said: "I'm very sorry, but there is no other expression one
can apply to him. However, I'm determined not to enter his place
I said: "You know, Lupin, he has forbidden you the house."
Lupin replied: "Well, we won't split straws — it's all the same.
Daisy is a trump, and will wait for me ten years, if necessary."
I can scarcely write the news. Mr. Perkupp told me my
salary would be raised 100 pounds! I stood gaping for a moment
unable to realise it. I annually get 10 pounds rise, and I thought
it might be 15 pounds or even 20 pounds; but 100 pounds surpasses
all belief. Carrie and I both rejoiced over our good fortune.
Lupin came home in the evening in the utmost good spirits. I sent
Sarah quietly round to the grocer's for a bottle of champagne, the
same as we had before, "Jackson Freres." It was opened at supper,
and I said to Lupin: "This is to celebrate some good news I have
received today." Lupin replied: "Hooray, Guv.! And I have some
good news, also; a double event, eh?" I said: "My boy, as a
result of twenty-one years' industry and strict attention to the
interests of my superiors in office, I have been rewarded with
promotion and a rise in salary of 100 pounds."
Lupin gave three cheers, and we rapped the table furiously, which
brought in Sarah to see what the matter was. Lupin ordered us to
"fill up" again, and addressing us upstanding, said: "Having been
in the firm of Job Cleanands, stock and share-brokers, a few weeks,
and not having paid particular attention to the interests of my
superiors in office, my Guv'nor, as a reward to me, allotted me 5
pounds worth of shares in a really good thing. The result is, today
I have made 200 pounds." I said: "Lupin, you are joking."
"No, Guv., it's the good old truth; Job Cleanands put me on to
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 pounds in one day; now suppose I only
make 200 pounds in a month, or put it at 100 pounds a month, which
is ridiculously low — why, that is 1,250 pounds 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 pounds by one of Lupin's tips, he intended asking
us and the Cummings round next Saturday. Carrie and I said we
should be delighted.
I don't generally lose my temper with servants; but I
had to speak to Sarah rather sharply about a careless habit she has
recently contracted of shaking the table-cloth, after removing the
breakfast things, in a manner which causes all the crumbs to fall
on the carpet, eventually to be trodden in. Sarah answered very
rudely: "Oh, you are always complaining." I replied: "Indeed, I
am not. I spoke to you last week about walking all over the
drawing-room carpet with a piece of yellow soap on the heel of your
boot." She said: "And you're always grumbling about your
breakfast." I said: "No, I am not; but I feel perfectly justified
in complaining that I never can get a hard-boiled egg. The moment
I crack the shell it spurts all over the plate, and I have spoken
to you at least fifty times about it." She began to cry and make a
scene; but fortunately my 'bus came by, so I had a good excuse for
leaving her. Gowing left a message in the evening, that we were
not to forget next Saturday. Carrie amusingly said: As he has
never asked any friends before, we are not likely to forget it.
I asked Lupin to try and change the hard brushes, he
recently made me a present of, for some softer ones, as my hair-dresser
tells me I ought not to brush my hair too much just now.
The new chimney-glass came home for the back drawing-room.
Carrie arranged some fans very prettily on the top and on
each side. It is an immense improvement to the room.
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
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 tomorrow, and it will
cheer you up a bit; for we'll open a bottle of wine."
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,
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
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
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!"
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