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Minty, she thought.

She’d dreamt all night long: topsy-turvy dreams no doubt inspired by her days in Furthermore. She’d been running upside down, her feet stomping along the ceilings of homes she didn’t recognize, chasing a man she thought to be Father. The problem was, every time she got close enough, Oliver would pop out of a window and rip her arm off, and she’d lose track of Father all over again. She’d had to remind herself three times already not to be angry with Oliver for being such a nuisance in her dreams, and just as she was reminding herself for the fourth time, she stepped out of the toilets to find him waiting for her.

“Good morning,” she said with a smile.

“Good morning,” said Oliver, but he looked awful. Half asleep and a little sickly. “Excuse me, Alice,” he said, and nodded toward the toilets. “May I? I’m afraid I’m not feeling very well.”

“Oh, Oliver,” she said. “Is there anything I can do?”

He made a weak effort to shake his head. “I think I’ll just rest here a while, and hope the feeling passes.” He rubbed at his face. “I vow I shall never eat a pie again,” he said, and tried to laugh.

Alice gave him a sympathetic look and nodded. While she’d taken only a few tastes, Oliver had tasted nearly half of everything Paramint brought them last night. She’d asked Oliver several times to take care—which is likely the only reason he hadn’t devoured all ten cakes, seven pies, fifteen muffins, and four puddings—and now she was glad to have guilted him so. She hadn’t known Oliver had such a fondness for these decadent things, though he certainly seemed sorry for it this morning. She patted him on the shoulder and let him pass.

While Oliver locked himself in the toilets, Alice tidied up the rest of the house. She hoped it would be their last day here, so she wanted to do good by Paramint and make sure they left his home just as nice as it was when they arrived. She rolled up the dreaming-bags Paramint brought them (they were little sacks with pillows sewn all along the insides, very soft and cozy), and rearranged all his papers, careful to fold away the list they’d made for Father. She tucked the list into the pocket of her new silk gown (which, for a gown, had proven very comfortable) and then sat down on the pumpkin-orange couch, and waited for Paramint and Oliver.

Except she soon tired of waiting and decided to step outside.

It was a beautiful day, just as she’d expected. The sun had only barely begun to rise, and the land of Left was already in bloom. Its occupants scurried about, hanging freshly laundered clothes and buying freshly baked bread and stopping to chat with neighbors about one fascinating topic or another. The sight of it all made her miss home more than ever.

“Good day to you, your honorableness!” It was an eager and smiling Paramint, who seemed surprised to find her up so early.

“Good day to you, too, Paramint,” she said, smiling just as wide.

“Did you dream well?” he asked. “Did you enjoy the tasting?”

“Yes to both,” she said happily. Then, more quietly, “Though I’m afraid Oliver may have tasted a bit too much.”

Paramint’s eyes went wide for just a moment before he laughed a hearty laugh. “This is excellent news, your honorableness! I’m thrilled to hear he enjoyed himself.”

Alice didn’t have the heart to tell him that Oliver’s enjoyment was short-lived. “He certainly did,” she said. “Thank you again.”

“You’re quite welcome!” Paramint was bouncing up and down on his toes, bursting with excitement. “Well, I can’t keep it in any longer, your honorableness!”

“Keep wh—”

“We have GREAT news, your honorableness. GREAT NEWS!”


“Yes, indeed, today will be the MOST excellent day, your honorableness. Last night we had the MOST exciting evening, and today we’ve had the MOST exciting morning. Such INCREDIBLE news!”

“How . . . lovely,” Alice said politely. She couldn’t articulate why, exactly, but Paramint’s eagerness was making her uncomfortable. “I do hope good things are in store for the land of Left.”

“They are! The best things! The very BEST things!”

“Well, that’s very nice. I better get back t—”

“You,” Paramint said, wagging a finger at her. “You have done a very bad thing, your honorableness. A very, very bad thing! But your bad thing has been the best news for the land of Left! The best news!”

Alice swallowed hard, forcing herself to speak even with the surge of panic seizing her body. “I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about,” she managed to say.

Paramint laughed and laughed. “You’ve broken the law! You’ve stolen time! Hours and hours you’ve stolen! We were notified just last night that we had a criminal in our midst.” He beamed. “The land of Left! Can you believe it? Our visitor—a criminal! Oh, you’ve made us famous, your honorableness. We’ve not been contacted by the Elders for fifty-six years,” he said, “and now, here we are, with a visitor who brings attention to our land! What a day, what a day!”

“Is that what you’re happy about?” Alice nearly collapsed with relief. “Well,” she said meekly, “I’m certainly glad to be of service.”

Paramint lowered his voice and leaned in. “Now, we’re going to do our best to keep the Elders from arresting you, but we can’t hold them off for long. We’ll have to be quick about things! So come with me, come with me—lots to do!”

Alice refused to move. “What do you mean? Where are we going?”

“To prepare the feast, of course!” cried Paramint. “We wouldn’t normally plan the feast until the end of your stay,” he said in a low voice, “but now that we know you’ve broken the law, there’s no reason to wait. Besides, your getting arrested will only complicate matters,” he said, waving a hand. “But if we take care of things before the authorities arrive, everyone will be so pleased! The queens haven’t had a full meal in far too long, and you and your friend are sure to satisfy a large appetite. The twincesses will be thrilled!”