'It's a long story, but basically I'm a musical duet penfriend with another foundling in San Mateo.'
He continued to stare at me.
'A red setter is so stupid even the other dogs notice, and cats aren't really friendly, they're just cosying up to the dominant life-form as a hedge against extinction. You're a foundling? From where?'
A smile crossed his grubby unshaven features.
'You're that that Jennifer Strange? The one at Kazam with the Quarkbeast?' Jennifer Strange? The one at Kazam with the Quarkbeast?'
I nodded and pointed at the Quarkbeast, who was sitting in the car. He had once idly chewed his way through a locomotive's drive wheel, and hadn't been allowed on railway property since.
'In the first photograph ever taken,' said William, staring at me thoughtfully, 'someone blinked, and they had to begin again from scratch. It set the industry back two decades, and the problem has still not been properly rectified. You were left in that Beetle when a foundling, yet you would give it to me?'
'Then I will tell you the answer to your question for free. You will find Brian Spalding, wors.h.i.+pful Dragonslayer, appointed by the Mighty Shandar himself and holder of the sacred sword Exhorbitus-'
'Probably at the Duck and Ferret in Wimpole Street.'
I thanked him profusely and shook his hand so hard I could hear his teeth rattle.
'There's one other thing!'
He beckoned me to lean closer. I did so and he whispered: 'The largest deposit of natural marzipan ever discovered is a two-metre-thick seam lying beneath c.u.mbria. The so-called " "Carlisle Drift" is worth a potential 1.8 trillion moolah, and may provide light and heat for two million homes when it comes on stream in 2002 is worth a potential 1.8 trillion moolah, and may provide light and heat for two million homes when it comes on stream in 2002. Not a lot of people know that. Good luck, Miss Strange, and may you always walk in the shadow of the Lobster.'
Brian Spalding Last Dragonslayer
I thanked William of Anorak and hurried off towards the Duck and Ferret. It was shut so I sat down on a bench, next to a very old man who had skin like a pickled walnut and eyes sunk deep in his head. He wore a neat blue suit and homburg hat, and carried a cane with a silver top. He looked at me with great interest.
'Good afternoon, young lady,' said the old man in a chirpy voice, tipping his head back to allow the warmth of the sun to fall upon his face.
'Good afternoon, sir,' I replied, always meeting politeness with politeness as Mother Zen.o.bia had taught me.
'Is that your Quarkbeast?' he asked, his eyes following the creature as it sniffed suspiciously at a statue of St Grunk the Probably Fict.i.tious.
'He's totally harmless,' I replied. 'All that stuff about Quarkbeasts eating ba
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