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The astronomer and Drosselmeier cast horoscopes for all the Society faculty, with particular emphasis on the position of Mercury, god of thieves. It took a week of hard work in the high tower of Acornshausen, but in the end they had winnowed the suspects to four: Professors Nussbaum, Durchdrehn, Brocken, and Buffalop himself.

“See here,” they each huffed in various states of eye-pop and apoplexy, “I am clearly above suspicion–”

“Of course, of course,” said Drosselmeier, “we seek only evidence to defend your good name.”

“For which purposes,” said the astronomer, “you won’t mind detailing your whereabouts of Thursday last?”