Tuesday, August 10th, 1869

Oh, Diary!

Life can be so surprising. This evening, Mr. MacBeth invited me to his island to take a look at the improvements that he’s made. I sailed there to find the tranquil island paradise much altered. The house and the tree still stand, of course. The decor, though… oh, Diary! It is so peaceful and romantic. The man has divine taste. And I do not mean the taste of his lips, although I am quite fond of that, as well.

When I arrived, we lounged for awhile upon, well, a lounge chair by the seaside. To nestle in the arms of a suitor while our hair wafted on the breeze felt truly inspiring… all of my cares seemed to melt away. After a long delay, I forced myself to explore the changes made to the house. I helped him to choose many of the pieces of furniture, but he arranged them all in a very warm and inviting manner and I had never seen them all together. I think my favorite room is the study. It is sort of secluded and contains the most beautiful bookshelves. You know how I love bookshelves. The study also boasts a portrait of Mr. MacBeth posing with his mother. Isn’t that sweet? I confess to a twinge of jealousy when I first saw the picture, but when he explained the mystery woman’s identity, I think it made me even more fond of him than I was already.

Upstairs, he has a charming seating area, a fireplace, and his frighteningly large bed. It’s lovely and well crafted; it is just very, very large. It is sort of like the proverbial elephant in the room. There is also an empty space near the door…. this is the second elephant. I have cast my vote for a hot tub, or at least a bathtub. He smiled mischievously and hinted that he knows what to put there, but he pointedly refused to tell me. I suppose I shall have to be surprised.

The entire room is charming, indeed, but… well, it is a gentleman’s bedchamber. Nothing untoward happened, of course, but the giant bed stands as an anxiety inducing reminder that something untoward could happen. As exciting as that thought should be (and is!), I find my sentiments tempered with jealousy. I wonder who has been wrapped in those sheets alongside Mr. MacBeth in the past — and how recently. The thought makes my blood boil! And yet who am I to protest if he takes his comfort elsewhere? We have no understanding. Indeed, I find myself accidentally (and not irrevocably, I hope) betrothed to another. Charity burlesque dancer though I may be, I am still a well-bred young woman whose virtue remains intact. Michael Mr. MacBeth is a man, though, and not subject to the same restrictions. I must accept and acknowledge this. I find such tranquility difficult to muster in the face of so hulking an object. Jealousy is a base emotion, Diary, and yet I feel it keenly. Oh, dear!

With the ginormous bed to our backs, we spent most of the evening on the terrace. We watched the sun rise, so I suppose it is an understatement to say we spent “most of the evening” there. We passed the entire night there! We talked of many things, of course. Music, our respective employments, and the comings and goings of neighbors all provided fascinating fodder for conversation. On the subject of Mr. Plutonian’s “proposal” of sorts, we became quite serious. As you might imagine, that topic was rather painful for us both. The demon weaved his way into, out of, and between the more pleasant threads of our conversation. Although our comments were masked in satire and sarcasm, I sincerely think Mr. MacBeth wishes to kill Mr. Plutonian rather than let him have me.

I could not convince the man to be serious for two minutes together. He would often set his jaw and, with it, reset the conversation. We spoke, laughingly, of running away to the wilds of Africa. Of dancing wildly around a bonfire. Of my running for the office of Guvnah in Caledon. Or of any number of other absurdly pleasant fantasies. The possibility of my reposing, wearing only a grass skirt, whilst holding our children was broached. Mr. MacBeth promised to crush up a dozen aloe plants in order to heal the resulting sunburn. Of course, I am not certain whether or not aloe grows in areas in which women typically wear only grass skirts. I must ask Miss Nayar to confirm our wild speculations.

One such fantasy actually took root and bore fruit; on Friday, barring complication, we have set an appointment for a traditional pork roast with a spit and an apple in the beast’s mouth and all of the trimmings. Our plan is to enjoy an afternoon of sailing followed by an evening of seaside reverie until dinner is served. We plan to swim, to sun ourselves on theĀ  beach, to search for seashells, and to just generally enjoy the secluded little island for all of its maritime delights. The evening shall be capped by the roast pig. How droll this all sounds, does it not!? I do hope the weather holds. I would hate for rain to ruin so pleasant a plan.

Mr. MacBeth and I enjoy the sunrise whilst reposing on his terrace.

In the midst of all of this merriment, Mr. MacBeth asked, quite quietly, whether I intend to marry Mr. Plutonian. I told him that I have no wish to marry the demon and that I shall endeavor to avoid such an eventuality, but that I am frightened of the alternative. I worry for Mary. What would happen to her if I should go to prison? Indeed, I worry for my own sake, as well. I would be a fool otherwise. By contrast, a marriage of convenience seems inviting. I never imagined Mr. Plutonian to be capable of such mercy. According to Gordon, the beast shall expect little more than my attendance at a few social events per week and a rigorous “keeping up of appearances.” I have never been so naive as to imagine that I might marry for love. If I could convince Mr. Plutonian that we should retain separate households, then I daresay a marriage may prove beneficial to both parties. I was raised to be a wife. To this sort of business, at least, I am well suited. I shall know how to act and what to do. Granted, I never dreamed that I might actually loathe my marriage partner, let alone that he might be a demon. It is probably wishful thinking to believe that the whole affair might be conducted with civility and a modicum of imposition. But am I mercenary enough to marry a rich demon in order to save my own skin? I confess that I am.

Obviously, Mr. MacBeth is displeased with this answer. He does not fault me, at least not directly, for becoming ensnared by the demon’s traps. I was drugged, after all. But I think he would marry me were I clear of the world. Even through his own jealous haze, he refuses to entertain the notion that I might be sent away. I still hope that some other resolution can be found. If it cannot, however, I see no reason why my marriage of inconvenience should prevent me from future clandestine meetings upon a secluded private island. With discretion, the whole thing can be handled to the comfort and benefit of all… or so I hope.

I will write the beast a letter. In the meantime, I shall not worry. I will look forward with delight to Friday’s sailing adventure, instead. Mr. Plutonian is implacable, but not unreasonable. I must believe that all will be well. If I can impose certain restrictions upon our potential union — for example, no infringing upon my free will a la Gordon or poisoning me again — then I do not see why we cannot coexist tolerably enough. These may be the desperate delusions of a mind unreconciled to its fate, but they are my delusions and I shall cling to them.

Your Unhappily Betrothed,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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