Mr. Caudle has lent an Acquaintance the Family Umbrella
by Douglas Jerrold
"That's the third umbrella gone since Christmas. What
were you to do? Why let him go home in the rain, to be sure.
I'm very certain there was nothing about him that could spoil.
Take cold, indeed! He doesn't look like one of the sort to take
cold. Besides, he'd have better taken cold than take our only
umbrella. Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you
hear the rain? And as I'm alive, if it isn't St. Swithin's day!
Do you hear it, against the windows? Nonsense; you don't
impose upon me. You can't be asleep with such a shower as
that! Do you hear it, I say? Oh, you do hear it! Well,
that's a pretty flood, I think, to last for six weeks; and no
stirring all the time out of the house. Pooh! don't think me a
fool, Mr. Caudle. Don't insult me. He return the umbrella!
Anybody would think you were born yesterday. As if anybody
ever did return an umbrella! There—do you hear it?
Worse and worse? Cats and dogs, and for six weeks—always
six weeks. And no umbrella!
"I should like to know how the children are to go to school
to-morrow? They shan't go through such weather, I'm
determined. No: they shall stop at home and never learn
anything—the blessed creatures!—sooner than go and get wet.
And when they grow up, I wonder who they'll have to thank
for knowing nothing—who, indeed, but their father? People
who can't feel for their own children ought never to be fathers.
"But I know why you lent the umbrella. Oh, yes; I know
very well. I was going out to tea at dear mother's to-morrow—you
knew that; and you did it on purpose. Don't tell me;
you hate me to go there, and take every mean advantage to
hinder me. But don't you think it, Mr. Caudle. No, sir; if it
comes down in buckets-full, I'll go all the more. No: and I
won't have a cab, where do you think the money's to come
from? You've got nice high notions at that club of yours. A
cab, indeed! Cost me sixteen-pence at least—sixteen pence!
two and sixpence, for there's back again. Cabs, indeed! I
should like to know who's to pay for 'em; I can't pay for 'em;
and I'm sure you can't, if you go on as you do; throwing away
your property, and beggaring your children—buying umbrellas!
"Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you hear it?
But I don't care—I'll go to mother's to-morrow, I will; and
what's more, I'll walk every step of the way—and you know
that will give me my death. Don't call me a foolish woman,
it's you that's the foolish man. You know I can't wear clogs;
and with no umbrella, the wet's sure to give me a cold—it
always does. But what do you care for that? Nothing at all.
I may be laid up for what you care, as I dare say I shall—and
a pretty doctor's bill there'll be. I hope there will! It will
teach you to lend your umbrellas again. I shouldn't wonder if
I caught my death; yes; and that's what you lent the umbrella
for. Of course!
"Nice clothes I shall get too, trapesing through weather like
this. My gown and bonnet will be spoilt quite. Needn't I
wear 'em, then? Indeed, Mr. Caudle, I shall wear 'em. No,
sir, I'm not going out a dowdy to please you or anybody else.
Gracious knows! it isn't often that I step over the threshold;
indeed, I might as well be a slave at once,—better, I should say.
But when I do go out, Mr. Caudle, I choose to go like a
lady. Oh! that rain—if it isn't enough to break in the
"Ugh! I do look forward with dread for to-morrow! How
I am to go to mother's I'm sure I can't tell. But if I die, I'll
do it. No, sir; I won't borrow an umbrella. No; and you
shan't buy one. Now, Mr. Caudle, only listen to this; if you
bring home another umbrella, I'll throw it in the street. I'll
have my own umbrella, or none at all.
"Ha! and it was only last week I had a new nozzle put to
that umbrella. I'm sure, if I'd have known as much as I do
now, it might have gone without one for me. Paying for new
nozzles, for other people to laugh at you. Oh, it's all very well
for you—you can go to sleep. You've no thought of your poor
patient wife, and your own dear children. You think of nothing
but lending umbrellas.
"Men, indeed!—call themselves lords of the creation!—pretty
lords, when they can't even take care of an umbrella.
"I know that walk to-morrow will be the death of me. But
that's what you want—then you may go to your club, and do
as you like—and then, nicely my poor dear children will be
used—but then, sir, then you'll be happy. Oh, don't tell me!
I know you will. Else you'd never have lent the umbrella!
"You have to go on Thursday about that summons; and, of
course, you can't go. No, indeed, you don't go without the
umbrella. You may lose the debt for what I care—it won't be
so much as spoiling your clothes—better lose it: people deserve
to lose debts who lend umbrellas!
"And I should like to know how I'm to go to mother's without
the umbrella? Oh, don't tell me that I said I would go—that's
nothing to do with it; nothing at all. She'll think I'm
neglecting her, and the little money we were to have, we shan't
have at all—because we've no umbrella.
"The children, too! Dear things! They'll be sopping wet:
for they shan't stop at home—they shan't lose their learning;
it's all their father will leave 'em, I'm sure. But they shall go
to school. Don't tell me I said they shouldn't: you are so
aggravating, Caudle; you'd spoil the temper of an angel. They
shall go to school; mark that. And if they get their deaths of
cold, it's not my fault—I didn't lend the umbrella!"
"At length," writes Caudle, "I fell asleep; and dreamt that
the sky was turned into green calico, with whalebone ribs;
that, in fact, the whole world turned round under a tremendous