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Tuffy builds the mudlarks out of river muck and straw skeletons, with button eyes and tin foil beaks. They hop around, flinging little silt-drops from their wingtips.

“Do you ever wonder about the consequences of creating life?” says Emmanuel, watching.

“They’re animated, not alive,” says Tuffy. “No reproduction. No DNA.”

“They make choices.” Two mudlarks team up to corral a fleeing beetle.

“No, they respond to stimuli.”

“You’re splitting feathers.”

Tuffy shrugs.

“If you’re making a big point about free will and sapience, I don’t like it,” says Emmanuel.

“I’m making mudlarks,” says Tuffy, and sets the ugly thing to flight.