Sunday, May 30th, 1869

Dear Diary,

I have just returned from church. I am not a regular churchgoer, you know. Recent developments, however, have rendered me more conscious of the spiritual necessity of reflection, repentance, and prayer. With Mary still in poor health, my hands forever tainted, and my association with Mr. Plutonian becoming increasingly unpleasant, I did not think that a renewal of faith could go amiss.

I returned home feeling somewhat refreshed, but without any increase in insight. Mary’s condition remains the same. She spends most of her time sleeping, poor girl, and I begin to worry about the long term effects of this illness upon her health and her education. Nevertheless, I feel strangely grateful for her present indisposition, as it has spared her much. I would not have wished her ill, but neither would I have wished her witness to a murder or too much in the presence of a demon. Fortunately for her, Mr. Plutonian seems barely to recognize her existence. Perhaps this prolonged illness of hers is the Lord’s way of keeping her safe from greater harm.

It is said that the Lord will not test one beyond one’s capacity to bear said trials. I know I should have more faith, but I am out of practice, it seems. I do not know how I am supposed to bear the death of that man. My intellect assures me that I did what was required to spare my life and my honor. My friends say the same. My heart, though… nay, the very core of my being, perhaps even my soul, seems irreparably shaken. I doubt myself every moment of every day. My dreams are filled with images of the man’s face. I mourn him as I mourned my parents. I think I must mourn my loss of innocence, as well, as how can one who has bloodied her hands ever be called innocent again? Did I act rightly, or should I have allowed the man’s attack in order to prevent an even greater wrong?

I fear that church has offered this poor sinner no solace today.

My tincture of opium seems the only medicine with any effect. Laudanum is awful stuff. Very bitter to the taste, you know. Mixed with champagne or even tea, however, it becomes bearable. I take only a small draught, merely enough to feel something other than this miserably oppressive guilt. It is not much, although Mr. Plutonian claims to worry for my health.

The message in church today was that we should learn to live one day at a time, one moment at a time, and leave it to the Lord to take care of the rest. Today, I shall attempt it. Perhaps the Lord will know better how to defend against demons and poverty than I seem able to do.

Your heartsick,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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