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Senf

Senf didn’t understand the late hour or the heavy cloak, but it was made for her size, of soft, rich fabric. So she followed them to the cave and the bonfire, and listened to their cunning stories. Then she stood up and took pride in the cleverness of how she’d stolen the nut herself.

To the museum with a new nut: gilded, with characters down one side. They replaced it in the case and locked it. They nodded, chanted, giggled, and parted.

The Order of Thieving Squirrels was born in warmth and daring, of conspirators, at the dawn of the year.

Nussbaum

In the end, they found the latest ersatz Kratatuk the way one finds truffles and earthquakes: with a pig. The Society’s cook looked on with fond sourness as, snuffling and clattering, it dragged Nussbaum down the stairs to the corner bed of a servant girl named Senf.

“I wasn’t going to keep it,” she said, when they plunged into her cubicle. She clutched the shards of a varnished walnut. “But I barely tapped it and it wasn’t unbreakable, it wasn’t!”

“So many things fall open, if you hit them hard enough,” panted Nussbaum, who might have had a friend after all.

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