Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Romantic Horror, London, circa 1800

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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Rooter » Fri Oct 21, 2016 12:52 pm

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Lila somewhat more sedately moves to wait with the other not-yet partnered ladies hoping for a turn with one of the gentlemen guests.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Mr. Handy » Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:55 am

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Henry follows Elizabeth out to the dance floor. "I'm sure you'll do fine, my dear," he says, enraptured. "Shall we try a waltz?"
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:08 am

Whilst the musicians are engaged in preparations (and not a little gossip), several unattended ladies and gentlemen walk casually about the room, exchanging glances, whispers, and, on the part of the ladies, carefully calculated movements of fans. One gentleman in particular attracts attention because of his unusual appearance. His black hair is worn long, neither hidden by a wig nor tied back with a ribbon. His dark complexion is free for all to see, without a trace of powder. His clothing is black and unadorned, almost like that of a servant, but it is of very fine make. His expression is brooding, his posture slightly bent, his hands held behind his back. He paces rapidly, as if he is searching for something. Despite his eccentric dress, he is undeniably a handsome and attractive figure.

The reactions of those around him are varied. Some avoid him, while others, primarily ladies, address him with smiles. He is polite to all, but seems distracted. For a moment his attention is drawn to Miss Carrow; a not uncommon happening, to be sure, but in this case one cannot help but be reminded of a moth circling a flame. When he sees that she is accompanied by Doctor North, he turns away. As chance would have it, he faces Miss Davenport.

"I do not know you," he says. "I am George Witherly."

This most irregular introduction confirms the impression made by his clothing and manner that Mister Witherly is not one to bow to the dictates of society. As further evidence, his next words are even more bold and unconventional.

"You are a fine-looking woman. I want to dance with you."

Before any response can be made, Mister Witherly strides over to the musicians, speaks to them briefly, and offers them a few coins. Upon his return the players begin the opening bars of a waltz -- perhaps requested by Mister Witherly in response to Doctor North's invitation -- which causes much excited conversation among the guests. He holds his hand out to Miss Davenport.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Rooter » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:10 am

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At first taken aback by the directness of the gentleman's approach, Lila hesitates. Yet his handsome appearance and intriguing demeanor--not to mention the warmth rising to her cheeks at his compliment--are undeniable. Aware of the onlookers' gazes upon them, she smiles and takes his hand as the music swells.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:55 pm

A number of the more conservatively dressed and older guests are taken aback by the selection of this modern form of dance. Others, more fashionable and younger, are eager to join in, with many a laugh at their own daring. Some seem quite skilled at this radical pastime, while others are less than adept.

Spoiler:
Miss Carrow DEX = 7; she does not receive a bonus for herself as a True Innocent, only inspiring others.

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
4


Miss Carrow, although new to the waltz and, truth be told, not exceptionally gifted at the terpsichorean art, dances lightly and gracefully, charming all who see her.

Spoiler:
Doctor North DEX = 10 +1 = 11

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
18


Doctor North can only struggle to keep up with the sylph-like movements of his partner, and provides a figure of fun for some of the more frivolous guests present.

Spoiler:
Miss Davenport DEX = 18 + 1 = 19

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
6


Due to her former position, Miss Davenport has great experience with social dancing, and carries off the waltz with perfection.

Spoiler:
Mister Witherly = 9 + 1 = 10

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
5


Her new acquaintance Mister Witherly proves to be equally adept. Many of the other guests gather around them, curious about this strangely haunted-looking but attractive couple. It seems likely that their example will make the waltz a popular choice for the courageous.

During moments when the partners are particularly close, Mister Witherly takes the opportunity to whisper to Miss Davenport. Indicating Miss Carrow with a tilt of his head, he says "Some have descended from the Empyrean realms, it seems. But you and I have walked through Hell!"

Before a response can be made to this extraordinary statement, a strange incident interrupts the festivities.

Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
1


A very respectable lady of middle years -- oh, dear, is it the hapless Mrs Perkins again? -- slips and falls, knocking over several waltzing couples. A group of very fashionable ladies titter in amusement at her evident consternation. They soon begin an unheard conversation of sorts, making use of their fans to communicate with one another. It is obvious that they are discussing Mrs Perkins in ways that they would not dare to speak aloud. This may be the moment of her fall from grace.

How will you react?
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Mr. Handy » Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:23 am

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"I could ask her to dance," Henry suggests, "but that is unlikely to help her reputation if I cannot dance better than I already have. Perhaps Mr. Rachman coukd. He currently lacks a partner."
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby maelstrom » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:35 am

Duncan, caring less for the approval of polite society than most, has nothing to loose by trying to aid Mrs Perkins. Walking over Duncan catches her attention, smile and bows towards her.
"Mrs Perkins,if it's not to bold to presume. Would you do me the honour of the next dance?"
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:24 pm

Mrs Perkins is too flustered to do more than nod her acceptance. The musicians, perhaps in an attempt to create an aura of calm after this unwelcome excitement, begin to play a stately minuet. (Miss Carrow, with her newfound musical knowledge, will recognize it as one of many composed by the gifted Herr Mozart.) Many eyes are upon Mrs Perkins and her exotic partner.

Spoiler:
Mrs Perkins DEX = 9 + 1 =10
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
17


It would appear that grace of movement is not one of Mrs Perkins virtues.

Spoiler:
Mister Rachman DEX = 13 + 1 = 14
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
20


Being a stranger to this form of amusement, Mister Rachman does not display excessive skill either, much to the amusement of the bevy of stylish ladies.

Seeing this, Mister Witherly bows his head quickly to Miss Davenport. Hands locked behind his back, bent forward at a noticeable angle, he marches towards the gossipers.

"Although you bear the plumage of peacocks, you have the hearts of vultures."

The only audible responses are gasps. There is much excited fluttering of fans.

It is time for the second course of the dinner. Mister Witherly offers his arm to Miss Davenport.

"If you would dare to run the risk of scandal?"
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Rooter » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:50 pm

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Lila is quietly amused and impressed by Mister Witherly's bold flaunting of propriety--and her curiosity piqued by his earlier remarks. "Indeed, sir," she replies, taking his arm.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Priest » Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:45 pm

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Elizabeth smiling at the obvious distress caused to the 'ladies' by Mr Witherley turns to Dr North whispering at she does, "Dear Henry, at the risk of appearing forward and somewhat wanton, may I ask if you will escort me in this dance?"
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:00 pm

The second course is served. It consists primarily of roast meats of various kinds, including wild game. There are also thick stews, breads, and an assortment of vegetables, the bounty of summer making this possible. Red wine replaces white, and there are also spirits available, as well as mineral water for those who are unable to handle much strong drink. It will be noted that, among his other eccentricities, Mister Witherly dines only on vegetables and water.

The conversation turns naturally to their illustrious hosts. "No fools, they," he admits. "More than I can say for most dabblers in alchemy. Not chasing gold, anyway. Worth talking to."

After the leisurely dining is completed, a servant announces that there is to be a Grand Entertainment, the nature of which is kept secret. When the guests gather in a large room which has been designed as a private theater, it is revealed that each present will be required to provide some form of amusement for the assembly. Although no one is eager to be first, eventually a volunteer steps up. One by one the others sing, dance, recite monologues comic or dramatic, and so on. Mister Witherly delivers an impassioned, if at times difficult to follow, speech on the political philosophy of the late Monsieur Rousseau, much of which is shockingly radical in outlook.

At last the four adventurers are called upon to make a contribution.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:07 am

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Henry had been only too delighted to dance with Elizabeth again.

When the time comes for him to entertain, he decides to use some of the chemicals he carries to provide a scientific demonstration. He uses tongs to hold a small quantity of each substance over a candle's flame to show how they burn in different colors, which can be used to help identify them. He culminates the experiment by first blowing out the candle and then taking out a small vial of phosphorous, which he carefully uncorks while making sure everyone stays back for safety reasons to show that it produces a green glow when it's exposed to the air. Fortunately, it is not hot enough at night for it to actually combust. The demonstration concluded, he replaces the cork securely.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Rooter » Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:17 am

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Lila performs a solo dance routine for the guests, catching Mister Witherly's eye as she sways, steps and glides in time to the music.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby maelstrom » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:02 am

Duncan faces the crowd and bows low.
”Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to furnish you with a tale from my distant home, the magical island of Java. The tale of Lord Barong and the demon Queen Rangda.”



Mahendradatta was a Javanese princess, sister of Dharmawangsa of the East Javanese Isyana Dynasty. She was the queen consort of Balinese king Udayana and Mother to Airlangga. Mahendradatta was known for her devotion to the worship of Durga in Bali.

Mahendradatta sought out the mysteries and followed a path away from the light, eventually found out she was condemned by Airlangga's father because she practiced black magic.

She was cast out in disgrace and became known as Rangda. Hurt and humiliated, she sought revenge upon her ex-husband's court and the whole of his kingdom. She summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle, the leyaks and the demons that caused plague and death throghout the kingdom.

Airlangga stood to face his own mother, to save the kingdom. A fight occurred, but she and her black magic aided troops were so powerful that Airlangga had to ask for the help from the spirit king, Barong in order to defeat her.

Barong came with Airlangga's soldiers, and the fight ensued. Rangda cast a spell that made Airlangga's soldiers all want to kill themselves, pointing their keris at their own stomachs and chests. In response, Barong cast a spell which caused the soldiers body's to be resistant to the sharp keris. A mighty battle raged and Rangda seeing that her darkness could not overpower the light of Barong, fled the field, so as to spill her bile and venom from the shadows but never again in battle.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Priest » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:36 pm

Image

Elizabeth furrows her brow at Mr Rachman's tale, Alas, she thinks, hardly a tale fit for a dinner table. Yet she resolves to lighten the mood a little with a rendition of the Libereto so recently recieved from Herr Mozart, hoping that the piece's somewhat dark tone will not darken the mood of the party any further.

addressing the assemblage she, in her sweetest voice, begins;
Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,
Tod und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her!
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro
Todesschmerzen,
So bist du meine Tochter nimmermehr.
Verstossen sei auf ewig,
Verlassen sei auf ewig,
Zertrümmert sei'n auf ewig
Alle Bande der Natur
Wenn nicht durch dich!
Sarastro wird erblassen!
Hört, Rachegötter,
Hört der Mutter Schwur!
We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:13 am

After Mister and Mrs Perkins finish a scene from Mister Goldsmith's popular comedy "She Stoops to Conquer," the assembled guests discuss the skill, or lack thereof, with which each offering was performed.

Spoiler:
Doctor North INT = 12 +1 +1 = 14

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
12


Doctor North's lucid explanation for the striking colors produced by the chemicals wins the admiration of the more intellectual members of the audience, negating any loss of social status which may have been incurred through earlier mishaps. (Somewhere in the crowd might be overheard a whisper of "Black magic!" from one of more superstitious temperament.)

Spoiler:
Miss Davenport DEX = 18 + 1 = 19

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
6


It is not at all surprising that Miss Davenport is able to perform a solo dance with great skill. Among the many voices crying "Brava!" is that of Mister Witherly, who seems quite taken with the performance.

Spoiler:
Mister Rachman CHA = 8 + 1 = 9

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
13


Unfortunately, it seems as if Mister Rachman's exotic tale proves bewildering to most of the guests, who are unfamiliar with the culture of his homeland. ("Pagan witchcraft," murmurs someone in the crowd.)

Spoiler:
Miss Carrow CON = 9 + 3 = 12

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
11


Miss Carrow is able to perform the very difficult aria without error, leading to a sustained burst of applause.

The guests proceed to the third and final course, which consists of fresh fruits, sweetmeats, jams, jellies, and creams, served with sweet wines. Surrounding the various desserts are elaborate sculptures carved from cakes and confections, in the shape of gardens and forests full of tiny animals. In the center of each table a candy dolphin leaps from a pool of water.

After the sweets, coffee is served in several smaller rooms, where one is encouraged to engage in conversation. As the adventurers mingle with the other guests, a number of topics come up for discussion.

For those interested in politics, there is the newly approved Dolben's Act, which restricts the number of slaves which may be carried in each ship, in an attempt to reduce the mortality of the passage. Some abolitionists approve of the Act as a first step, while others see it only as a way to make the slave trade seem legitimate. There is the recent riot in Grenoble, France, which some (including Mister Witherly) interpret as a prelude to open revolt against Louis XVI. Some are pleased to see the traditional enemy of England suffer these disturbances, while others worry that the spirit of rebellion may spread.

For those of more literary inclination, there is a new novel, Mary: A Fiction. Although published anonymously, rumor has it that it was written by a woman, perhaps one who shares her heroine's name. The work depicts a woman who is highly intelligent, opinionated, and unconventional. Some see it as bold, others as shocking.

There are, of course, many other topics under discussion. To be accepted in society, one must prove oneself to have opinions which are original, without being scandalous; witty, without being frivolous; and intelligent, without being incomprehensible.

Which conversation will you join, or initiate, and what will you say?
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Rooter » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:43 pm

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Having visited France some months earlier--albeit under the duress of a preternatural foe--Lila is inclined to agree with Mister Witherly's outlook and engages him and the other guests with some reminiscences of the common scenes she witnessed there: the widespread food shortages, the unrest among the general populace. "It is the people who now cannot afford to buy bread that I have pity for. We must not forget that it is the poor who always suffer the most in these circumstances. And why should it be only the nuns in their abbeys who perform acts of charity? I fear a weak nobility may deserve revolution for failing in their common duty."
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Priest » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:40 pm

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Her cheeks still radiating from the reception of her rendition of the Mozart, Elizabeth quickly joins a discussion that ranges from music to litterature.

"Of course I find myself in some sympathy with the view expressed several years ago by the Reverend James Peacock as to Francis Bacon being the actual author of the works ascribed to Mr Shakespeare. Although possibly a heretical thought I feel that the name William Shakespeare is nothing more than a pseudonym for Francis Bacon in the event of upsetting the Tudor monarchy"
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Mr. Handy » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:02 am

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Henry joins the literary discussion. "I find the character of Mary to be realistic," he says, a wistful look forming in his eyes. "She reminds me in many ways of my late wife, Julia. Ah, she was as brilliant as she was beautiful. She was more intelligent even than I, a very fast learner, and with a keen interest in the sciences. I taught her everything I knew, which did not take long, and then she surpassed me. Had she lived, she could have been a great scientist, and there would have been no limit to what the two of us could have accomplished together. She had the idea to harness the power of James Watt's steam engine to move carriages and ships. Do not underestimate women, for they can be far more clever than men often give them credit for. Had she been born a man, she could have accomplished anything. With an Oxford education like my own, she could have made even greater strides. Of course, had I proposed that they admit female students at Oxford, they would have called me mad." In fact he had done just that, and they had called him mad, but revealing that fact might not be the best course of action.
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Re: Chapter the Sixth: A Peaceful Interlude

Postby Victoria Silverwolf » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:01 pm

It would seem that Mister Rachman would prefer to listen rather than speak; often a wise decision for one who is inevitably seen as something of an outsider.

Spoiler:
Miss Davenport INT = 11 + 1 = 12

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
13


Despite her experiences in France, the men discussing politics dismiss Miss Davenport's views, primarily because of her sex.

"To paraphrase the great Doctor Johnson," one portly gentleman of advanced age remarks, "A woman speaking of world affairs is like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all."

There is much amusement, primarily among those of the male sex. Mister Witherly is quick to offer his sympathy for the way she has been treated.

Spoiler:
Miss Carrow INT = 8

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
5


By way of contrast, Miss Carrow's opinion as to the authorship of the works generally ascribed to the Bard of Avon excite much interest and lively debate. Some defend the honor of Shakespeare, others dismiss him as an "upstart crow" and claim that his writings were actually created by others. (One eccentric fellow states firmly that the true author was none other than Queen Elizabeth; a notion which finds no support from others.)

In any case, Miss Carrow wins admiration for offering a compelling topic for discussion.

Spoiler:
Doctor North INT = 12 + 1 = 13

Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
2


Doctor North has also impressed the other guests with a well-reasoned and convincing argument for the intellectual rights of women. Although a few of the men remain skeptical, they admit that he has presented a strong case. The ladies, many of whom fancy themselves, sometimes with reason, as sophisticates are delighted by his praise for their faculties.

Overall, the four adventurers have navigated the treacherous shoals of society adequately. It is true that there have been a few mishaps, but that is only to be expected. Remarkably, Miss Carrow has managed to avoid any faux pas. For this reason, she is invited to serve as a representative for the group.

Once the majority of the guests have departed for the evening, Miss Carrow and her companions are invited to a private audience with His Grace. It seems he is eager to display the contents of his Cabinet of Curiosities, previously mentioned during the game of billiards. This is a large and expertly wrought piece of furniture, in which a wide variety of unusual items are displayed behind glass.

Some items represent the Animal Kingdom.

Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d10:
6


Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 6d20:
14, 8, 8, 7, 15, 9


Specifically, there is the nest of a paper wasp; a dried starfish and a dried seahorse; the mummified body of a curious animal, seemingly part mammal and part reptile, from the newly colonized and mysterious land of Australia; the gigantic and gaudy feathers of a bird native to the southern part of the Americas; and, frightful to behold, a hideously deformed fetus, preserved in a jar.

There is also an item from the realm of Flora.

Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d10:
1


Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d20:
6


This takes the form of a large, deep red, irregular ball of resin derived from a tropical tree. (Mister Rachman will be able to recognize this as jerang, a product obtained from the rattan palm, said to have beneficial medical properties.) The substance is popularly known as Dragon's Blood.

Some curiosities are of a mineral nature.

Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d10:
9


Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 9d20:
19, 9, 6, 11, 16, 4, 7, 5, 10


To wit: An oddly shaped black pearl; the fossil of a peculiar worm-like creature of ancient times; a large diamond; a nugget of gold; a tiny stone said to have fallen from the sky; an unusual, bright blue lump of clay; arrowheads chipped from flint, found in the American colonies; a piece of bone-white coral from the coast of Australia; and a lumpy, roughly spherical rock which has been split open to reveal a beautiful crystalline interior of many colors.

Lastly, there are various oddities which fall outside these categories.

Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 1d10:
3


Spoiler:
Victoria Silverwolf rolled 3d20:
12, 10, 15


Specifically, there is a small mirror of remarkable clarity; an iron maiden, serving as a grim reminder of medieval horrors; and a peculiar book, bound in an unfamiliar type of leather, and filled with writing in no known language.

The guests are free to examine these items and to make inquiries as to what might be known of them.

His Grace nods to Miss Davenport. "I failed to win the ebony blossom from you, due to your Oriental friend's skill at billiards." Turning to Miss Carrow, he continues "I have reason to believe that you possess another unusual item. Unless I am misinformed, you have about your person a vial containing an elixir said to possess unusual properties. I wonder if you would be willing to exchange it for something in my collection. Feel free to discuss this with your companions while they examine my collection."
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