As an extremely private person, Herr Muller keeps in his confidence only those who know him well and Purissimma Harkleroad is an esteemed member of this exclusive club. A long-standing family friend, Frau Harkleroad has known The Master of Complications since both were children. This refined lady runs a small but well established doll hospital, housed in an elegantly imposing building on the same street as The Master’s premises.
It is in this very building that Siamese twins Yvette and Solange are believed to have convalesced once reunited after their separate escapes from the asylum that was their home in their early years. Anna, another of Herr Muller’s cohort, is also reputed to have made several visits here whilst attempting to battle the demons that led to her opium addiction; a compulsion which plagues her existence and often causes her to behave reprehensively.
The services Purissimma offers extend much further than those of a typical doll repair service. In her vast and elaborately furnished premises her patients are treated lavishly with an array of balms, elixirs, ointments, potions, remedies, salves, tinctures and tonics. It is claimed by many that Frau Harkleroad can cure all ills.
Her quest to prove this claim is a noble, yet not entirely selfless one, since she is believed to be the very person who spread the rumour of her infallibility, as a challenge to herself after her heartbreaking failure to save the most important of the marionettes in her care.
“Orsola” was little Purissimma’s most treasured childhood companion. A priceless heirloom passed down through generations of the Harkleroad family, she came into the little girl’s possession when Purissimma was just three years old. Immediately the youngster began to experiment with Orsola; removing limbs, injecting potions and applying leeches.
It is thought that these early medical trials are what provided Purissimma with her skill and expertise this field.
This intense experimentation, however, soon began to take its toll on Orsola. After the opening of Purissimma’s first professional consulting room, a gift from her father on her seventh birthday, Orsola fell tragically and incurably ill. No sooner had Purissimma cut the turquoise ribbon that hung across the doorway of her surgery, than Orsola fell into a deep and silent coma.
After six frantic days and eleven sleepless nights spent locked in the surgery trying to find a cure, all avenues were finally exhausted. Purissimma realised there was nothing more she could do for her tiny, motionless friend. She pledged to enjoy what little time they had together and let fate decide their fortunes.
That night she lay down in her tiny bed with Orsola’s cold, hard hands lying on top of hers. At first Purissimma was unable to sleep, however early the following morning, in the dim sunlight of a winter dawn, fatigue overcame her and she dozed for a few short minutes.
When Purissimma awoke Orsola had slipped away, almost as though she had waited for the comforting glow of the sun’s rays to help her Mistress to drift off first, thus sparing her the pain of witnessing the stricken doll’s final breath.
Orsola’s death had a devastating effect on Purissimma. She found she was unable to enter the infirmary for several weeks and would retreat into a solemn silence whenever she was presented with a new figurine requiring treatment. This continued for more than a month, until Little Franckie brought her a patient in desperate need of her help. The doll, named Fabiana, was in a terrible condition. She had been working on a reconnaissance mission for the young Master when she was captured behind enemy lines. She was cruelly tortured and had suffered horrific burns to her face and arms.
Fabiana’s plight sparked something in Purissimma and the girl found herself compelled to assist. She entered her surgery once again and set to work on a programme of recovery and rehabilitation for Fabiana.
The brave little doll survived and was able to continue in the employ of young Master Muller. Though badly scarred by the attack, she turned this to her advantage and is able to terrify the most hardened of criminals with a swift, solitary glance.
Purissimma Harkleroad continues to develop her specialist treatments and works closely to support both Franck and many of his workforce. Her refined appearance is such that she is able to enter the most elite establishments unnoticed, an attribute which serves her well. Her live crocodile skin purse holds the tools of her trade for treatment carried out in the field, as she can never predict when her services may be needed and she is a woman who loathes being unprepared.