The waiter approached the table, bearing a single gilded toothpick upon a silk napkin. Vandercarn picked it up and delicately prodded at his teeth.

“May…may I have a toothpick as well?” said Stubbs.

“Ha! Dear Stubbs, this toothpick is an electrum-gilded miracle, one of a kind, and it’s in my mouth besides. Do you really want it that badly?”

Stubbs sucked audibly on his teeth. “I’d settle for a wooden one.”

“Oh, there are no wooden toothpicks here,” Vandercarn laughed. “A thing you only use once! How wasteful. No, you may use your fork once our business is done and not a moment before, are we clear?”

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