Friday, February 11th, 1870

Dear Diary,

I apologize for having neglected you lately. To be honest, I feel quite overwhelmed. Everyone in my life wants to know – nay, demands to know – everything about what happened while I was away. How can I possibly narrate the events of so much time in a simple conversation? I can say “I was kidnapped,” but that doesn’t really explain the enormity of what Fineshit did to me, now does it? They all want a list. They all want to hug and kiss my troubles away. Well, my emotions are not so simple as all that! Would it kill them to show some compassion for the woman I have become without constantly bemoaning the loss of the girl I once was?

I am talking here of Danyell and my uncle. My uncle and I quarreled yesterday. I came home very late (or early, rather) from Miss Callisto’s rez day party at the Blue Mermaid. I suppose that is what started the damned row.  Honestly, I had forgotten his return. Not that my actions should change simply because he’s decided to come home from his latest mission. It has been weeks! His missing niece returned from the damned future, but the man could not be troubled to send more than a telegram. And now he presumes to reinsert his judgment upon my life as though he never left? He actually had the gall to mention how much it pains him to think of what I must have suffered while he was unable to rescue me. His pain? His?! I could have hit him for that remark.

He played the piano for hours and left the house late that night. I don’t know where he went. Nor do I care, except to note that if he dares return tomorrow in yesterday’s clothes like I did, I shall not spare him the rough side of my tongue for his hypocrisy.

Later, Matilda (Gordon wishes to be called Matilda, now) served dinner for myself and for our… shall we call the sergeant a guest? Hostage seems like too strong a word. After all, he is not bound or threatened with weaponry of any sort. At any rate, the poor man has been in ill health. For him to come down to dinner signified, I hope, a return to a strong and fit constitution. Personally, I think his health might improve more quickly if he did not drink quite so much alcohol. Dinner with him was a trial. He barely ever utters a decent word, so crass is the content of his speech. I believe his goal is to annoy me so that I will send him home faster. Perhaps he is correct; Matilda and I shared many a furtive whisper over the state of the preparations for sending him back. Life will be much simpler without a belligerent sergeant storming around and drinking all of my good liquor.

Honestly, the only place where I feel even the slightest bit at ease is the club. The fire has drained my already dwindling coffers nearly bare. So dire is the situation that Matilda has actually offered to obtain secondary employment with a nearby grocer. Although I have not admitted it to any of my friends or family as of yet, I did the only thing I could think to do: I obtained employment.

The Pearl Club is a gentleman’s club catering only to men of wealth and repute. The grounds are really quite lovely. Two En Garde strips, a ballroom, and game tables ensure members the opportunity to while away the hours in comfort and style. Not the least of the attractions that we offer is the pleasant company of a bevy of beautiful ladies of good breeding. We dance and flirt with the gentlemen, who often provide us with monetary gifts as a measure of their appreciation. Just two days ago, I met one of the house’s patrons. He gave me a $1000L note simply as a welcome gift. Really, I only curtsied and offered a polite greeting. Not a bad trade, that.

Of course, with so many beautiful ladies and wealthy gentlemen about, the temptation is great. We offer our gentlemen the use of several private rooms, all of them well appointed. And should they wish to invite one of the ladies to such a room and to reward with large sums of money in exchange for her time, we turn a blind eye. Discretion, you see, is yet another of the amenities that we provide. I find the work easy and pleasurable, not to mention far more profitable than teaching.

There you have it, Diary. There is the truth. I keep my household afloat in a manner that its occupants would find unseemly and degrading if they knew. Meanwhile, the only one who offers any sort of financial assistance is a servant! I feel at home only amongst strangers, as those strangers have no prior expectations of who I am or how I should behave. My only comfort is the hope that Danyell will soon find Mary. Until that happy day, I remain:

Your Distraught,

–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–

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