Sunday, January 31, 1869

Dear Diary,

Today, I write to you from the comfort of the cooling rooms in New Babbage’s Turkish Baths. I fear I am not as far advanced in my plot to open shop as I’d like to be at this point in time. The blame rests entirely upon my own shoulders. My new homeland and its allied nations offer so many pleasant distractions that I cannot seem to motivate myself to sit down and hammer out a book, let alone organize an opening event!

The most recent adventure to hamper my progress took place just this morning. While searching for the famed (and yet not highly visible) walking tour of New Babbage, I discovered an advertisement for some sort of mystery. The poster directed me to the Canal district, but no farther. My own eagerness for exploration led me to tour several interesting shops until, finally, I stumbled upon a run-down theater. Despite its cobweb covered corners and ramshackle staircases, the theater boasted the absolute latest in steam powered technology: a moving picture screen! During the course of my tour, I noticed yet another anomaly; the theater seemed far larger on the outside than it did on the inside. From this, I deduced that the builder must have concealed a compartment of some sort, and so I walked the exterior perimeter of the building in search of I knew not what.

Behind the building, I spied a massive doorway shrouded in shadow. Into this room I cautiously stepped. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I found myself in what appeared to be a Chinese opium den! shocked and not a little frightened, I almost turned and ran. After all, I would not for the world have my new friends find me in such a place. A metal staircase half concealed by a row of cots then caught my eye, though, and curiosity conquered fear. Up the stairs I went. The chamber above housed two possible means of egress: a climbing rope and some stacked boxes. The rope led to the rooftop, but no farther. Climbing the boxes, however, proved more profitable. I found a small doorway and, from there, what appeared to be a crowded sort of hostel. Bunk beds lined one wall, books another, and a long table occupied the space between. Across the room, I came to a small sort of hatch. Beyond this, I found a narrow and wobbly plank connecting the theater to a building across the road. Clearly, someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to hide whatever waited across the street. Although I felt a terrible trembling of my nerves at the prospect of crossing a mere plank, my desire to find the clue pressed me onward.

Across the street, I came to a hatch similar to that which I had just opened. I crawled into a well appointed office. In this room, I found both my clue and several letters from one Alexander Eliot. Due to discrepancies in their respective hands (Mr. Eliot’s being learned and elegant and the clue writer’s hand seeming hurried and clumsy), I concluded that the writers were two separate individuals. Nevertheless, both writers warned of dire consequences up to and including the end of the world as we know it!

Now, I sit down in the relaxing Turkish baths to puzzle over these letters and try to make some sense of them. With stakes as high as the end of the world to distract me, is it any wonder that I cannot focus on shop keeping? I think I must set aside my selfish goals for the present and focus my energies on preventing the world from ending. Indeed, it is the only truly moral thing for me to do.

And so, dear Diary, that is the current state of affairs. I have been remiss in my duties, but now an even greater duty is mine. I must follow these clues. I must prevent the end of the world. Surely, in light of these circumstances, the failure to start a trifling little shop cannot seem so very great, can it?

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