The harder Blodget tried to ignore the joviality above, the louder it seemed to become. The harder he tried to concentrate on his meager rations of dried mouse tails, the more the scent of roast grouse and wild boar distracted him.

Finally he could sustain it no longer. Climbing onto the back of his settee, peering through a knothole in his ceiling, he scanned the festive scene. There was Spanakopitus, laughing and waving a savory drumstick at Spanakopitae; there was Fleenoci, chattering and passing Beanalsarion a steaming rack of ribs; there were Bang!opolis and ZomMaster, haggling over a fine haunch of venison . . .

. . . and there was Dazzle, sneaking morsels of crispy fried pheasant skin under the table to Schnauphaunce, Snapdragon, and the two Polarises.

"Who's to notice," Blodget mumbled, "if a certain fellow were to creep in cautiously and snag a small handout for himself?" As he snaked up through his secret tunnel he muttered, "Who's to notice or to care, then?" And as he squeezed under the great door to the dining hall, flat as only a badger can make himself, and crept toward the table where Dazzle was still passing out treats, he murmured, "No one will be the wiser."

We tell ourselves what we most want to hear.

33: Transgression