Saturday, March 13, 1869

Dear Diary,

My build is going well. So far, the most comfortable room is the Poe Reading Room. I even have a little beating heart contraption in there to set the mood.

I relax in the Poe Reading Room.

The rest of the build is taking a bit longer, but I am impressed with myself. For a first build, it’s not bad. For example, the exterior includes some very interestingly shaped columns that I crafted myself. The steampunk window textures are also my own designs.

The exterior features original columns and steampunk windows.

The main sales floor is not as far along as I would like just yet, but I do have some interesting shelving. Many of the pieces are equipped with custom gearworks. I plan to add chains, propellers, and pipes to complete the steampunk effect.

The sales floor is yet to be completed.

The sales counter also looks nice, although I think I may end up changing the color of the stairs and adding a few more steampunk elements.

The sales counter is the first thing customers see when they enter the shop.

I can’t decide whether I want a Jules Verne theme or an H.G. Wells theme for the lecture hall, but it is definitely steampunk.

The lecture hall has good bones, but lacks a coherent theme.

Unfortunately, the Austen Conference Room remains bare at the moment, as do the grounds and the secret rooms in the tunnels below.  Still, I think I am making decent headway. Every day brings me a tiny bit closer to opening.

In other news, dear Diary, it appears as though I am not the only Caledonian who has recently taken up residence in a new location. Mr. Thadius Caligari of Prop Spinners’ Pub fame has relocated his establishment to a new steamship above Caldeon Rothesay. I will miss the beautiful Sky City location, but the pub remains as active as ever. His first dance attracted quite the crowd.

New Toulouse is hopping, as well. Although Miss Riel was ill and unable to attend the party, a gathering was recently held at the home of Miss Nikita Weymann. I previously had the pleasure of a personal tour of the premises, and I must comment on the amount of love and attention to detail that Miss Weymann put into that build. Hers is a traditional Cajun Cottage inspired by actual period floor plans and surrounded by a gorgeous garden. Good company and even better homemade brew was enjoyed by all, and I even made a few new acquaintances. Besides, between the constant threat of zombie attacks and pets like Petunia the American Alligator, New Toulouse is always an adventure.

Speaking of adventure, the circus has come to New Babbage! They held a parade yesterday afternoon, and I had the privilege of observing. Included amongst the performers is a lion tamer, a giant lady, a man with no face, and even a mermaid! The mermaid was most extraordinary, I assure you. She spoke a foreign language, some sort of native mermaid tongue I suppose, and seemed to have been trapped in a very tiny (and leaky) tank. I sincerely hope she is not a captive. If she is, I have half a mind to spring her loose from those horrid carnie folk!

Finally, I attended a birthday party for my friend Mr. Wytchwood. The event was held in a most curious location with the most curious music. I simply cannot describe St. Ivan’s Infirmary in a manner that does it justice. The dance floor spins, and yet lacks cogs, gears, or any other sort of obvious mechanisms for movement. Electric lights of all colors and intensities abounded. Even most of the music — and indeed, some of the vocals! — seemed synthetic in some way, almost as if they came from a foreign sort of instrument. The attire proved as brazen as any burlesque hall, as well; the women wore pants or scandalously short skirts, while the men wore very casual denim work pants and cotton work shirts. It took me a moment to get into the spirit of things, but I had a great deal of fun once I adjusted to my strange new surroundings.

Of course, that was not the only adjustment to be made that night. My dear friend Mr. Wytchwood has gone and gotten himself married — “partnered,” they call it in his adopted home of Dee — to two vampires! Yes, vampires, and two of them! I have met the woman, Meriana Dragonash she calls herself, on two separate occassions. Despite her leanings of the sanguine variety, she seems to be a pleasant sort of creature. She’s very kind and outgoing. Still, I shall have to watch my neck whenever I am around her! I have yet to meet the man, but I am assured that he is of the same dietary persuasion.

Vampires, oh dear! Diary, I simply cannot help but worry for my friend’s safety. I want to support him in his marriage, but how can I? Only last week he introduced me to the woman as his friend, and now she is his wife! I fear he may be in thrall. At present, my friend remains unchanged. He is as human as ever. I have noted a strange golden pigmentation in his eyes, though, and I could have sworn that they used to be blue… oh dear!

It is possible that things are not as dire as they seem. I would be dishonest if I failed to own a smidgen of jealousy that may color my perception of Mr. Wytchwood’s newfound happiness. You know, diary, that I am alone in the world. You know how tenderly I loved my parents and how deeply I grieved their passing. You know, also, how relatively destitute they left me, thus necessitating my move into trade. With no dowry to speak of and a ruined fortune and name, it seems unlikely that I shall ever marry. I knew the love of a family for but the bloom of youth, and now I shall be a lone spinster until I join my parents in the great hereafter. Is it very selfish of me to feel a sting of sorrow for my own loss upon witnessing my friend’s familial felicity? I wish not to begrudge him his happiness, but it pains me more than I will ever admit to him to see him enjoy a family when it is something that I will probably never again experience.

And furthermore, although I hesitate even to admit this to you, my most trusted confidante, until recently I thought I had reason to believe that I was the woman whom he esteemed most in all the world. Oh my, how I blush! And how maidenly — forever maidenly! — tears prick at my eyes, as well. They will blot the page, vile little waterworks! Damnable betrayers, these tears; they injure my pride as well as my appearance so that I am not fit to be seen. A lady, such as I fancy myself, a chaste lady of virtue and breeding, is little dignified by such futile and amoral desires as these! I must contain these despicable emotions. I must!

So you see, Diary, why I have thrown myself headlong into my work and come so far on my build this week. You see, also, why I have attended so many social gatherings and spent time on the steam hunt. I have avoided Dee so that I might avoid my friend, as I have no wish to cause him any discomfort with my selfish reflections.

I suppose I should get back to my shop, now. Until next time, I remain —

Your Heartbroken Confidante,

Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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