Anger hardly seems an adequate word to describe the depth and breadth of my rage. Last night, that dreadful Plutonian man had the gall to threaten my dear Mary. He did not do so in so many words, it is true, but his actions and his glances announced his evil intentions more clearly than his words ever do. Even Gordon warned me that his master can be quite the trickster. And what am I to think now? How am I to proceed with matters so unresolved?!
Oh! This will not do. Let me begin from the beginning. Last night, you see, I had the misfortune of being interrupted by the beast and his cohorts just as I was preparing to leave for the Blue Mermaid. He had with him that awful Merricks woman and also Gordon, whom he had bound and gagged in a most shocking manner. Even more disturbing, Gordon’s skin shone waxy and his back sported a new brass key. My disapproval of Mr. Plutonian’s treatment of his underling prompted me to deny the party entry until they had the decency to remove the poor boy’s restraints. I offered them no curtsy and flatly denied them tea or refreshments, insisting that the interview remain short. My tone and my manner bordered on incivility as I insisted that we cut straight to the matter at hand.
Mr. Plutonian, for his part, sat like a sultan upon a throne. He never allows his servants to sit in his presence; they must either kneel or stand about him like a gaggle of harem women. Impatient with his nonsense, I declined to sit, myself. Instead, I marched over to him and handed him double his investment. In cash. I then demanded to be free of his awful ring, which I held out to him most adamantly. This displeased him mightily, although I dare say he was eager enough to see the money change hands. Upon accepting my proffered offering, the monster had Merricks (he cannot do anything on his own, you see) cite a passage from our contract. In selling the store without consulting him, it seems that I violated a minor stipulation therein. He began to demand recompense whilst insisting that this was a matter of principal rather than of money. I am afraid that I grew quite indignant in my responses, and a rather loud disagreement ensued.
It was at this point that my freshly recovered ward, Miss Ruby, came downstairs to investigate the cause of all of the yelling. Naturally, I enfolded her protectively within my arms and indicated that these “nice people” were just leaving. The Merricks woman flatly refused. Still worse, Mr. Plutonian — his eyes still flaming red from our argument — proceeded to question my little girl on the morality of breaking an agreement made to a friend. “Friend,” indeed!
Now, I cannot say for certain what effects her lingering illness has had on my dear girl, but her behavior was truly most unsettling. I must have words with her on that matter. She pointedly refused to be talked down to by Mr. Plutonian, stating that his hypothetical situation obviously regarded her mother and, as such, her loyalty was with me. Furthermore, she insisted that the people “didn’t look nice.” She even had the audacity to call Miss Merricks a harlot! At that, Mr. Plutonian shot from his chair and Merricks and I both took up defensive positions. Claws were extended. Sidearms were grasped. Even Mary, whose movements I could feel rather than see once I stepped in front of her, seemed poised and ready to strike. It was Gordon, thankfully, who broke the tension; he announced quite loudly that if we did not stand down that instant, he would not bake cookies for a month.
I admit, I chuckled at that. Mr. Plutonian did, too. The danger seemingly past, I prevailed upon Mary to return to bed and then asked Gordon for some tea. Mr. Plutonian was for discussing the matter of his “recompense” at a later date. Finally assured that his motives are not pecuniary, I cared not to labor under any apprehension of his designs for one moment longer. Instead, I insisted that he tell me what it was he wanted from me. To ensure that cooler heads prevailed, I also asked Gordon for some tea. It would be a long night, it seemed.
But appearances, you know, can be deceiving. No sooner had Captain Wytchwood arrived through the back hallway (to wonder at my absence from the Mermaid, I suppose) than I was somehow rendered completely unconscious. I awoke this morning on the floor, still wearing last night’s clothes, and wondering what on earth had become of everyone. As of yet, my questions remain unanswered.
The entire evening had a dreadful effect upon my nerves. I must find out what happened. That much, at least, is clear. I fear I have fallen victim to one of Mr. Plutonian’s vile spells. Until the mystery is solved, then, I remain —
–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–