Thursday, July 22, 1869

Dear Diary,

I have news to report. I am not certain as of yet whether this news bodes well or ill. Mr. Ringo Robonaught, an old friend of my father’s, has reappeared in my life. I used to call him “Uncle,” in fact, so close was his relationship with my dear parents and so often was he a guest in our residence. You can imagine my joy, then, when he called upon me at home a few days ago after spending nearly two years abroad.

It seems that he could not come sooner because pressing business kept him in foreign lands, but his purpose was to condole with me on the loss of my parents. Furthermore, he revealed himself burdened by a promise that he made to my late father; to wit, that he would take me under his wing, as it were, and be a sort of surrogate parent for me. Needless to say, I found myself sincerely astonished. I had thought the worst of my parents. I had thought they left me alone and friendless. Oh, how I wish Mr. Robonaught had not been detained for so long after their passing!

When I confessed to this surrogate uncle of mine regarding my difficult arrangement with Mr. Plutonian, he insisted that he be permitted to come to my aid. I accepted most readily, and now he is installed in the guest quarters of my home. I am grateful to have a brave and strapping man, even if he is getting on in years, at home to protect me. With Mr. MacBeth and Mr. Robonaught both in residence, I doubt that another shocking incident like that of the intrusive madman shall be permitted to take place.

Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent to me that all is not as it should be with my long lost friend. The man bears himself with the refinement of a gentleman, but his physique is more akin to a stevedore or some other common laborer. He wears his hair long and wild and his muscles nearly burst through the seams of any fashionably cut suit. What’s more, he is in thrall to the cursed Chinese Dragon, and he takes his pleasure nightly in order to sleep. Every man has his faults, it is true. God knows I have plenty of my own. Still, I cannot help but feel as though he hides something less than palatable behind his gentlemanly veneer.

Most worrisome is the attention that he pays to my improved figure, complexion, and manners. We have not seen each other for many years, and so he found me greatly matured. I think he must have imagined me always as a child until he arrived and found me so much altered. While I appreciate his compliments, I resent the warmth and vigor with which they are offered. Whatever his business has been as of late, it has taught him a lack of restraint. I find it quite overwhelming. Once, he even dared to attempt to kiss me! I started, clearly vexed, and an awkward silence followed whereupon the embarrassed gentleman asked me to leave. I fear that his less than paternal feelings for me may render it necessary for me to put him out.

For example, just yesterday he boldly confessed that I have his heart. His heart! After only a few days’ renewed acquaintance! He exhorted me not to break it. I told him that I am not in the habit of breaking precious gifts, but I could not go so far as to exchange my vow for his. I have been quite earnest in seeking his aid with regard to Mr. Plutonian. I believe I have confessed all of our dealings and their results, including that odious ring and the necessity under which it places me of sometimes veiling my thoughts with laudanum or strong drink. I even told him about the madman! How can a man of years and experience think a young lady like myself, so frightened by recent events and mistakes, capable of governing us both and of checking his too freely admitted ungentlemanly desires? Truly, Diary, I know not what to do. I crave this man’s protection. I crave the paternal care that he sometimes shows me. But I am really quite frightened by his ardor.

I suppose that keeping him on is a mistake. With the memory of that madman so fresh in my mind, however, I am loathe to live alone. Mr. Plutonian getting into the habit of making house calls, as well. I daresay I could do worse than to cultivate the affections of a loyal and lovestruck ally.

Yours,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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