I am deeply worried about Oolon. For the first time last night he looked so very, very old; I mean, I know that he is, but he really looked it and that bothers me. And there was that terrible sadness in his eyes; it nearly broke my heart to see it. And as for Mr Mesmer, I still don't know what to make of him; by turns both funny and charming and then some dark harbinger of doom.
Sorry, I'm supposed to ask how you are first, aren't I? This letter writing is such a complicated business. And I suppose I should explain about what happened, too. Its been such a strange day, all in all.
I was in Mayfair, chatting to Miss Paris about her lovely watercolour studies with Mr Smashcan and a lady whose name I clean forget (told you it was a long, hard day; I'm usually very good with names), when Mr Mesmer arrived. Its beginning to feel like he's shadowing our footsteps, a sensation that was only confirmed later. As we were chatting, Terry appeared, dressed very nattily in a suit she had acquired from Mr Whittlesea's Emporium in Victoria. We made small talk, as you do, and all was going swimmingly.
Oolon has been keeping a bit of a low profile lately because of all the trouble with the Old Girl, so I was very pleased to hear from him. Everything seemed to be working fine and he proposed another jaunt. Miss Paris declined the invitation, but Mr Smashcan and Mr Mesmer both agreed to come along. We also wired the Governor to see if he would like to come, but the poor man is so busy with business matters that he couldn't at such short notice. Still, hopefully in the future he may join us (wouldn't that be something!).
The Cabinet was standing ready for us, and after a few minor packing issues, we entered and set off. No cowbells this time, which is always a comfort. Oolon asked if anyone had any particular requests as to where they would like to go, but everyone seemed quite content to leave it to fate. My only request was that it be somewhere nice and sunny, after the darkness of our last jaunt.
Even then, there was a sense of something in the atmosphere, something prickling behind my eyes, like a tickle you can't put your finger on. Oolon began to tut again and said that he was receiving a distress signal from something called a Frogstar that was somewhere it shouldn't be. I have no idea what a Frogstar is, other than possibly some sort of boat, but Mr Mesmer tried to alleviate the air of uncertainty by performing transmogrifications upon himself.
Yes, well, you can imagine how comforting that sort of a notice is, especially after our visit to Toxia. And the fact that we could hear strange voices singing discomforting songs from somewhere above us really wasn't helping matters either. And the heat - it hit you like a physical blow; dense, suffocating, parched and seething.
We had apparently stumbled into a place called The Wasteland. They were a pretty mixed bunch living there, I can tell you. There was a mechanical man called Mr Elytis, a half mechanical bunny lady called Miss Oki, another lady called Miss Serapis (who wanted to tell Oolon's fortune, which is rather worrying with hindsight), a strapping young gentleman called Mr Campbell and a bizarre creature called Mr Jimador, who turned out to be about 170 years dead and a ghoul with a penchant for little ditties.
Thanks to Mr Drinkwater's valiant efforts, many of my companions had books with them, which they freely distributed to the crowds with the effect of making the atmosphere even more riotous. Mr Elytis sadly pointed out that although books were desirous objects, few could actually read them (which is why Oolon's copy of Alice in Wonderland seemed to go down so well: pictures!). Mr Spoonhammer got so overexcited that he jumped into what appeared to be the equivalent of that devilish steam trolley and promptly attempted to run several people over (a mechanised horse and carriage, it would seem, akin to Mr Vandeverre's bicyclette).
Eventually we came to a shack, wherein sat a grizzled old man called Mr Dean. He didn't respond to our enquiries and indeed seemed to have lost all will and reason. Oolon made up for it though by getting all over excited by the article that Mr Mesmer was playing with. Allegedly it is some sort of gramophone, but nothing like the lovely one you built for me. Still music of a sort did issue from it after Mr Mesmer pushed a few buttons, which seemed to suit the Brownie so I have no doubt as to its debased nature.
Time was running short again, so Oolon hussled us away and back to our landing site, but not before commenting on the lack of retail opportunity in the area. Now you can begin to understand quite why I am so concerned about him; first he expresses a desire to go shoe shopping and then he complains when there is nowhere to do so!
This was only the first manifestation; the second was brightly coloured and painful on the eyes and the Brownie refused point blank to capture the moment. I'll swear he was shaking with fear. Oolon began to question Mr Mesmer closely and I began to get that sinking feeling of dread that makes you feel all hot and cold at the same time, thoroughly and painfully aware of every hair on your scalp and somehow greasy.