Saturday, July 28th, 1869

Dear Diary,

Last night, I experienced the extreme displeasure of playing nursemaid to a man more than twice my size. No, this will not do. Let me begin from the beginning.

You know, dear diary, how fond I am of the water. Perhaps the astonishing frequency with which a bathe — that nearly daily — is my greatest vice. My mother always warned my that my skin would wrinkle prematurely. My dear father added, only half teasingly, that my hair might tangle until I brushed it all out. Be there a pool, a tub, or even a giant champagne glass nearby, and I find myself drawn to it as a fairy princess to her spindle, apple, or other nefariously enchanted plot device.

So it was last night. After the household had all gone to bed, I took advantage of my ridiculously expensive and newfangled plumbing and drew a bath. There, I luxuriated in steam and bubbles until my fingertips resembled pale prunes. I heard a few rasping breaths from the next room, but I thought nothing of it. Perhaps it was the wind. Or my imagination. Or the new plumbing, which frequently moans and groans as though containing a trapped creature ready to burst through the pipes. In my eagerness to please myself, I entirely neglected my guest, and so it was not until I had dressed and gone to bed (and until the pipes had settled down somewhat) that I heard the most plaintiff and insensible cries coming from the room next door.

Of course, I hurried to attend Mr. Robonaught, whom I found positively drenched in sweat. The poor man is, as I mentioned, a victim of the toxic effects of opium and requires a nightly draught. This night, the drug dragged him under and stripped away his reason so that he babbled incoherently about leaches and other horrors. Although unconscious, he writhed such that his position on the bed was never quite fixed. He coughed and choked on his own spittle. At one point, he even grasped my wrist with such ferocity that he caused injury to my person. Indeed, my wrist is tender and swollen even as I write, so please do forgive the unevenness of my hand.

For my own part, I proved woefully ineffectual at either waking him from his nightmare or tending to his comfort. I attempted to turn him to his side when he choked, but I could not move him. I tried a cool compress, that common remedy for every ill, but it helped him not. The most I managed was to hold a glass of water to his parched lips as he slowly came to his senses.

I assisted and comforted him as best I was able once he came to, but I must admit that the episode frightened me exceedingly. My eyes are quite red and puffy this morning. I took the tug out for a bit of sea air, but not even that could calm my nerves. As much as I am displeased to acquiesce to any of Mr. Plutonian’s demands for my personal life, I must admit his concerns for my health seem quite valid in the harsh light of day. I would not wish to become victim to such violent, such startling fits, myself. Gordon or no Gordon, I shall endeavor to steer clear of the awful stuff henceforth.

Your Exhausted,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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