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add up to much—unless you count the guilt I sometimes feel for having squandered my time.” He paused and looked at Dorothy, then continued, “In a fit of ambition, I once tried to write a murder mystery myself, but soon discovered that—well, let’s just say that I posed no immediate threat to the literary elite. I stopped after only a few pages when I realized that the slangy vernacular I tried to use sounded forced and that I didn’t have my own style—only an ungainly pastiche of other writers’ styles. And true artistry, as you know, transcends mere imitation; true artistry is that rare confluence of originality, style, and technique. Anyway, I keep my mystery collection stored behind the lovely leather-bound tomes on the top shelf of my bookcase—all, that is, except my prized possession, the only extant copy of Munchkin Murder Omnibus, which I keep locked in my safe. Did you know that practically every seminal figure is represented in the voluminous writings of that anthology?” Dorothy wasn’t sure if he expected her to answer, but before she could, he continued, “You know, people believe I’m a man of great erudition, a consummate scholar—and I probably could’ve been, if only I’d been more selective in my reading…if only I’d winnowed out the trash. After all, for years my library, the largest repository of information and knowledge in all of Oz, has been the virtual hub of my existence.

“Oh, and let’s not forget about all the time I spend eating…or shall I say gormandizing. Now, there’s one endeavor in which I’m no novice!” He winked at her, then continued, “If I want to, I can gorge myself with nothing but epicurean delicacies—one of the perks of this cushy sinecure. I tried that for a while but quickly became jaded. The truth is, my tastes are much more provincial than they are patrician. What I really long for—if I had my druthers—is a nice stuffed cabbage like my mother used to make—with a little dollop of piquant horseradish. She served it at Thanksgiving, and, with its aroma permeating the entire house, it was a perennial source of joy.” He sniffed as if trying to detect the aroma. “Can you smell it? Just telling you about this miracle of culinary art lets me experience it vicariously.” He winked again, then continued, “I know you’re thinking that roast turkey with stuffing is the quintessential holiday fare, and of course you’re right—but to each his own.” Dorothy realized that she was thinking that, but didn’t say anything. “And for dessert,” he continued, “we always had lots of chocolate—my one vice. Even now I eat way too much of it. I try to give it up sporadically, but I’m too much of a recidivist. I think it must contain some subliminal pleasure-producing ingredient! Anyway, then five months later came the decadent utopia of that vernal delight, Easter morning. As an only child, the entire trove—dozens of little chocolate eggs in shiny, gold foil—was all mine

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