Victoriana, Alternate years

Journal of Masha Lutz, undated entry, #1

It was a good day today. We got Eliza back; and I wore a beautiful blue dress; and I asked Mr. Langley to dance.

Eliza, it seems, had caught the eye of some French guy. He took her off in his Mole Machine, and we had to go get her back. That wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. The Mole Machine hid in a little fort underground, in this sort of garden with mushrooms and big bugs and lizards. We blew it up (both the Mole Machine and the Fort) and went back to our ship and cleaned up.

Our ship is beautiful, as suits its Shard. It flies via propellers and a balloon sort of affair. I have my own room there. It is full of the Beautiful People, and not one of them has a clue in the world. Not even Eliza.

I run into them every once in a while – the Beautiful Shards, I mean. I don’t know how it is, exactly, that an occasional Shard escapes the general maelstrom of the world. I suspect that there is a lot of luck involved, or some impossible confluence of circumstances; like when a tornado goes through the middle of a town, and destroys everything in its path, except for some little bit of something that will somehow, miraculously, escape unscathed, to be found later in perfect condition, alone and pristine among the wreckage.

This Shard is like that. I haven’t had much chance to observe a pristine Shard before, certainly not for an extended period of time. There’s a whole society here! I don’t understand most of it, but it’s fascinating to watch.

So, today we had a Formal Dinner, which seems to be basically the same as a regular dinner, except that everyone wore fancy clothes. Sarah (that’s my maid) gave me this beautiful blue dress to wear. It was the color of the sea and made from some fantastic fabric – silk, I think, with lacy swags. The sort of thing which is the first to vanish from the world when a Shard collapses. I suppose I must have looked ridiculous, but it was a treat to wear such a beautiful thing and I’ll never forget it.

I asked Mr. Langley to dance. I saw dancing once, when I was very, very young, before the war, and it was done in beautiful dresses like that blue one, and I thought I might like to try it.

He didn’t want to, though, which I suppose shouldn’t be surprising, surrounded by the Beautiful People as he is. None of them seem to like Mr. Langley very much, which I gather has to do with his past.

I like Mr. Langley, himself, but I also like the idea of him. I have no details, nor have I wanted any, but the bottom line is that he had been in a bad situation previously, and now is in a better one. He made it out. I had no idea that such a thing was even possible.

Well, I mean, not for me. I know I am in it for good. But, just sort of generally. I like the idea that someone was able to get out of whatever intolerable situation they were in. I like it… I don’t know, just because it is such a neat concept. Mr. Langley must be an amazing person, to be able to have pulled it off. I suppose he represents the idea of Hope.

I rarely encounter anything that reminds me of Hope, and perhaps that is the best thing about the entire day.
ML

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