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The rule for solving a maze is this: put your shoulder to a wall and walk. This works less well for a maze with doors in it, but Aldous knows better than to try mapmaking. The rooms here don’t play fair.

The library, for instance, is stalking her. She keeps smelling it behind her, dust and wood acid and the cruel alchemy of glue. She doesn’t trust it, but it must be trying to tell her something.

She enters, finally, and pulls a book down expecting blank pages. Instead it’s full of handwritten names: Cording, Cordovan, Corey, Corinna, Corinne, Corwin, Cosette.


The first thing you need to make a shoe is a last.

That’s not quite true: first you need to outline the sole, like a child with crayon. That guides you down the shop’s row of foot-shaped lasts. Cordovan’s shop is the top landing in a stairway with a broken roof lock. His rock maple lasts are pristine.

You don’t go to Cordovan for penny loafers; you go for the shoes in which they’ll never catch you. You go for the blessings he sews into them, the names of the Knights of St. Crispin, lip to tongue to feather edge.