Thursday, 9 February 2017

Dr. Marlow's Home for the Sanity-Challenged: Part Two - A Problem Shared is a Problem Multiplied

20th September 1889

I have now been here for one week. There have been several obstacles that I have needed to cross, but thus far, everyone remains safe and in relatively good health. 

Since I am supposedly the most competent of the inmates, Dr. Marlow has arranged a schedule of day release for me, so that I may work and earn some income. However, as you may expect, my employment is no longer with him... following my supposedly disgraceful behaviour at the physicians' conference. Instead, I now work as a lowly clerk in a local trading company. My days are long and unfulfilled - running basic errands and writing letters of correspondence - and my fellow employees are forbidden to talk to me, out of fear I will also send them insane. Bearing this misery earns me a pittance... but at least it is still something, for the Home is in dire need of more funding, which Marlow refuses to provide.

Indeed, the situation is so bad, there are not even enough beds for us all, which forces us into a strange sharing arrangement. One of the lodging cells contains a double bed, which could potentially be shared by two inmates, but thus far, no-one feels that they trust anyone else enough to lie together, even in a strictly non-romantic fashion. 

Further, the Duchess - as Ms. DeMille likes to be called - generally claims this privileged place of rest for herself, seeing it as her "regal right and expectation"... much to her fellow inmates' chagrin, and at times, I must confess, my own.

Out of sheer good fortune, I have yet to go one night without finding a bed to sleep in. However, this blessing is not shared by everyone. 

Ms. Treadmere, in particular, seems to often draw the short straw in this department. Tormented by the knowledge of her fiancé's cruel betrayal, she suffers terribly from nightmares, and frequently rises in the night to walk the corridors, sobbing and wailing. However, the moment she vacates the bed, another inmate claims it for themselves, out of sheer tiredness and desperation. As a result of this, Ms. Treadmere is frequently sighted catching up on sleep in the daytime - often bedding down in the strangest of places.

The inmates still struggle to perform even the most basic tasks of self-care: perhaps because they have given up all hope of ever recovering from their various maladies and returning to the outside world. Were it not for my encouragement, I daresay they would not bathe, rest, or eat at all. Everything must be carefully scheduled since, our resources are so few, turns must be taken when it comes to making toilette.  

In regards to cooking, I have taken this duty on as a personal responsibility, since I fear my seven fellow residents may do damage to themselves, others or the Home should they attempt this skilled task. My food would hardly rival the elegant dishes of the master chefs of Paris - in my old life, I always had a housekeeper to do such things for me - but it is edible and nourishing, and mealtimes provide a good opportunity to check on everyone.


Socialisation is slowly improving. I have been encouraging the inmates to have conversations, and as the days pass, they are gradually getting to know one another better. In the evenings, when I return from work, I often gather them together for a discussion or amusement of some sort - most commonly, a game of cards. Intriguingly, Miss Rococco shows particular skill in this area. 

To liven up the proceedings, we generally play hands to win buttons or other small, inconsequential tokens. I once added a shilling I still had in my possession to the pot, but this swiftly backfired: when Mr. McManus later won the hand, Mr. Claymore's anger got the better of him, causing him to lunge over the table in an attempt to strike him. It took four of us to hold him back. 

Thankfully, Mr. Claymore is slowly beginning to deal with his rages in a more constructive way. Boxing, I have found, provides the perfect outlet for his outbursts.

The hour grows late. I must retire to a lodging cell soon, or I fear I will lose the opportunity to sleep in a bed tonight. Another long day of hard work awaits me tomorrow... both outside of these walls, and within them.

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