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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.