Do you ever have days when you feel as though every bit of etiquette or decorum you ever learned deserts you right when you need it the most? Of course you don’t; you’re a book. Bits of leather filled with paper don’t have to emote properly at all, let alone under duress. Shreds of paper stuffed leather don’t have so-called sisters popping out at them from nowhere at all.
Really, Diary, I am quite put out!
It all started when I chanced upon an old acquaintance of mine, a certain honorable gentleman – an aptly named Venerable Broome – who made his name as a respected justice of the high court. We actually met when I first arrived back in Caledon after finishing school, but his profession kept him out of the public eye. His recent retirement now affords him more time for leisure. Upon achieving a higher level of familiarity it would seem that my last name finally struck a chord within his memory. Or, more likely, he is simply less preoccupied with the cares of the court. Whatever the cause, Justice Broome recalled his former partner’s deft handling of some legal business for my father some twenty odd years ago. The legal business in question? Providing for my father’s other family, of course.
Naturally, I am beyond surprised.
When the gentleman summoned me to his home for a tete a tete this afternoon, I quite naturally assumed the purpose of the visit to be social in nature. Perhaps a tea or a light luncheon. I admit to having neglected his other letters. I must pay closer attention to my post, it seems. At any rate, the afternoon began pleasantly enough. We enjoyed a ride on these exciting little flying bicycle contraptions. Our journey took us north, to Winterfell, at which point we took in the sights via ferry.
We stopped so that the justice could make an introduction to a lady friend of his – a Miss Randy Puddlegum, who is two years my senior and the bastard daughter of a dance hall girl! From the moment I saw her, I knew Broome’s claims of the woman’s identity to be true. Nevermind the letters, or her name, or my father’s unnecessary care of the girl; she has my his hair. My hair. There is a certain something about her bearing and also her mien. She moves with Papa’s grace. Her laugh is his laugh. It is all so vexing.
Broome seemed quite taken with her.
Not that I cared. Because I don’t care. Not at all. But why should she be so much taller than I am? Her almond-shaped eyes are so charming. Her nose is so small. Truly, her features are striking. Not only is there another Puddlegum woman in the family, but she is the more attractive of the two! Still, she is no lady. Even in mourning, she wears an appalling amount of rouge.
We toured by ferry for awhile, and then I had the misfortune to tumble into the water. The justice took his leave. Miss Puddlegum – the other Miss Puddlegum – kindly took me to her home to change into dry clothing. I changed into an appalling dancing girl outfit. Really, it was ghastly. Orange polka dots adorned a barely decent bustier atop a very indecent bustle skirt. I can’t imagine where she might wear some of the costumes that she showed me.
We spoke of many things, she and I. The majority of our conversation revolved around Papa. Oh, how she loved him. Such an honorable man, she said. He always paid his debts, she said. He came to visit every so often, and wasn’t it odd that he and her mother were so fond of one another even though they were unmarried? Nevermind that what he didn’t gamble away at his club he settled on his mistress and his bastard. It was a pittance, surely. I should just marry a rich man so as not to need a dowry. La, la di da. Why are you so angry, Palabra?
I really don’t know how either party expected me to react. My father lied to us about his business in Winterfell. Instead, he went to attend to his other family. He broke his vows of fidelity to my mother. He gave his name to some other daughter, knowledge of whom he kept from us until the day he died. My inheritance, he squandered not solely on bad debts, but also on tall, pretty Randy and her mother, thereby leaving me alone to be preyed upon by a demon – not to mention having to work for my living. They greet me with news of a betrayal of epic proportions, and then they dare to question my reaction? Unbelievable!
We parted as well as can be expected. I don’t dislike her. For all of my whinging about my father’s dishonesty, I cannot bring myself to blame the daughter for the sins of her parents. I do hope to see her again. Next time, perhaps, I will better remember my manners. At the very least, I hope to avoid spilling head over heels into canals or lamenting our father’s profligacy.
In case you don’t believe me, Diary, I enclose the documents sent to me by Justice Broome. I fear I may need to dog ear this page in order to return again and again. When I put the tale to paper, it seems almost too strange. My own eyes need proof.
–Miss Palabra Puddlegum–