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After the dinner party, Theresa presented him with a small, round coaster.

“Thank you…?” Martin said, hesitantly.

“Turn it over,” she said. On the back, scratched very neatly into the soft cork with the end of her steak knife, read the words:


Martin grinned. “Oh, it’s a medal.”

“Your biggest yet,” she agreed. “The cap of the salt grinder would have worked nicely, but I couldn’t prise it off. These stupid nails.”

She surveyed them critically. Then adjusted her ring - the one that had been Wendy’s once - and smiled. “Anyway, congratulations. You officially don’t sound English anymore, and have moved on to confusing Liechtensteinians about your accent.”

Martin hummed. “It’s a pity I didn’t know what he was asking me, and had to switch to English. That rather cancelled it out, didn’t it.”

She giggled. “No, silly. A medal, once earned, is a medal.”

He turned the coaster back over. “I don’t think you’re supposed to take these.”

Theresa rolled her eyes. “I’ve been sitting through dinners like that since I was six. You have to make your own fun. My sister Hélène used to build pyramids out of cake forks, and nobody ever noticed she’d been taking them until she finished. Particularly impressive when you remember she couldn’t hear if they clattered.”

“Hélène is a lady of many talents,” Martin agreed. “Well, if you’re not going to put this back—”

“I’m not.”

“Then I suppose I should put it with the rest of them.”

He got down his box from the shelf, and placed GOT ASKED IF I WAS GERMAN carefully on top of the milk-bottle top that read BEAT THE KING IN AN EGG AND SPOON RACE, and next to the circle of foil for TOLD UNCLE HEINRICH MY NAME IS NOT MARCEL.