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Drosselmeier and the astronomer swept their gazes across the faces of the faculty. They’d used up their reservoirs of bluster now, and silence had slowly pushed them into shame.

On the table between them were four nuts: one large, one small, one silver, one stone. Each had been purportedly found hidden, by one professor, in another’s chambers.

“Shall we now produce a sledgehammer,” asked the astronomer, “to verify that none of these are truly the unbreakable Krakatuk?”

One by one, the professors shook their heads.

“You can’t all have stolen the thing,” frowned the astronomer.

“Oh yes,” said Drosselmeier, “they can.”