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“We are yet no closer to Krakatuk,” the astronomer reminded Drosselmeier, as they crossed the border into the Date Kingdom.

“This may be so,” said Drosselmeier.

“The rats and mice hate us even more.”


“We have little more between us than a plug of hangman’s tobacco and an owl-shaped wreck of gears,” the astronomer observed.

“And yet we grin like wooden dolls.”

The astronomer chuckled. “Can you explain this disjunct to me, Herr Drosselmeier?”

“Sometimes it is enough to have fixed a clock and slipped the noose,” smiled Drosselmeier. “And to have the scent of dates beckoning you onward.”