November 11.—Returned home to find the house in a most disgraceful
uproar, Carrie, who appeared very frightened, was standing outside her
bedroom, while Sarah was excited and crying. Mrs. Birrell (the
charwoman), who had evidently been drinking, was shouting at the top
of her voice that she was “no thief, that she was a respectable
woman, who had to work hard for her living, and she would smack anyone’s
face who put lies into her mouth.” Lupin, whose back was
towards me, did not hear me come in. He was standing between the
two women, and, I regret to say, in his endeavour to act as peacemaker,
he made use of rather strong language in the presence of his mother;
and I was just in time to hear him say: “And all this fuss about
the loss of a few pages from a rotten diary that wouldn’t fetch
three-halfpence a pound!” I said, quietly: “Pardon
me, Lupin, that is a matter of opinion; and as I am master of this house,
perhaps you will allow me to take the reins.”
I ascertained that the cause of the row was, that Sarah had accused
Mrs. Birrell of tearing the pages out of my diary to wrap up some kitchen
fat and leavings which she had taken out of the house last week.
Mrs. Birrell had slapped Sarah’s face, and said she had taken
nothing out of the place, as there was “never no leavings to take.”
I ordered Sarah back to her work, and requested Mrs. Birrell to go home.
When I entered the parlour Lupin was kicking his legs in the air, and
roaring with laughter.