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She was so amazed—so very enchanted—she reached out and touched it.

Jabbed it, really.

She pressed a firm finger against a page and Oliver jolted in his seat, dropping the book in horror. Tim shook his head, sighed, and sneezed twice more into his handkerchief. But worst of all—worst of all—the book actually yelled at her.

Oliver snatched the book off the floor—shooting Alice an admonishing look as he moved it out of her reach—and though he tried to turn the affronted page, the affronted page was refusing to turn.

“Oh, be good,” Tim finally said, waving his handkerchief at the pocket. “No need to throw a fit,” he said. “She was only curious.”

“I didn’t realize a pocket could be angry,” Alice said.

“These pockets belong to actual people,” Oliver explained. “Some of them are attached to the clothes they’re still wearing. I believe the woman you just poked was sleeping,” Oliver said, fighting back a smile. But his search for Father’s pocket was taking a lot longer than Alice had expected, and it was making her anxious.

“Is Father’s pocket attached to him, too?” she asked, hoping no one could hear the desperation in her voice.

Oliver shook his head.

Her heart sank.

“Pockets,” Tim explained, “are usually catalogued only after they’ve been lost. Abandoned. Sometimes a person will want to index the contents of an important pocket they’re still wearing, but most others prefer privacy. A pocketbook is often the best place to search for things we’ve misplaced.” Tim clapped a hand on Oliver’s shoulder and smiled at Alice. “Very clever of your friend to go looking for it, don’t you think?”

Alice didn’t know what to say.

Oliver, seeing the blank look on her face, did his best to explain. “We have pocketbooks in Ferenwood, too,” he said. “And when I arrived in Furthermore my first order of business was to try and find one, because I hoped your father’s lost belongings had been catalogued.”

Clever indeed, Alice thought. But she daren’t say it aloud. She didn’t want to admit this, but she was beginning to resent Oliver’s depth of knowledge and experience in Furthermore. She, too, wanted to be smart. She wanted to save the day. It was her father, after all. Where were all her good ideas?

Why wasn’t she the hero of this story?

“As all pockets are cross-referenced with the date, time, and location of discovery,” Oliver was saying, “I knew that even if I couldn’t access the contents of your father’s pocket, I would at least know where he’d lost it. Where he’d been. A little luck and a lot of persuasion helped a great deal in my quest. Ultimately, my discovery led me to Tim, who became a great friend. He’s taught me so much about Furthermore.”

Again, Tim looked on like a proud parent.

Alice felt herself go numb, feeling more useless by the moment. “Oh,” was all she said.

Oliver turned another page in the book and then, finally, “Ah. Here we are.” He tapped (gently, very gently) the open page and the book groaned, but quietly this time. “This is it,” Oliver said. “This is the one.”

And there it was.

Father’s pocket.

Alice recognized it instantly. It was the only pocket on his faded denim jacket; she remembered this because he was wearing it the last time she’d seen him, nearly three years ago.

“Oliver,” she whispered, her two eyes on the book, and two hands clasped in her lap. “Please tell me what’s going on. What happened to Father after he was arrested? Did he manage to get free? Is he hiding somewhere?”

Tim looked to Oliver.

Oliver looked away.

Alice bit her lip; emotion had drenched her heart and she was running out of ways to wring it dry. “What is it? What’s the problem?”

“My dear girl,” Tim said gravely. “Your father is in prison.”

Alice heard her breath hitch.

“And his sentence is very long,” said Oliver.

“Oh yes,” said Tim. “It was made up of many words.”

Alice turned to Oliver, her eyes filling fast. “So when you said you knew where Father was, this was what you meant? You knew he’d been imprisoned?”

Oliver nodded. “The last time I was here,” he said, “I tried to get him out the proper way. I thought if I followed the rules I’d be able to get him released.” He shook his head. “But now I know that the only way to get him out is to break him free.”

Alice sniffed away her tears and tried to be brave. “So we have to do something illegal?”

Oliver nodded again.

“Well,” said Alice, pulling herself together. “Go on then.” She looked from Oliver to Tim. “What is it? What do we have to do?”

Neither of them had a quick answer.

Tim finally leaned forward, studied the two children before him, and said, “Oliver, have you never told Alice what you need her for? Does she not know why she’s here?”

“Of course I know why I’m here,” said Alice, interjecting. “I’m here to help find my father.”

Tim raised an eyebrow. “I’m certain you are,” he said. “But did you not ask why Oliver needed your help? Your help, specifically?”

“Well, yes, I did, but—” Alice stopped short to glance at Oliver, whose face had turned a fine shade of tomato. “Well,” she said hastily, “Oliver said that it was Father who asked for me. It was Father who told Oliver to find me. I’m not sure why Father asked for me, exactly,” she admitted, wringing her hands. “But it doesn’t matter, does it? Father wants me here. Father asked for my help.”