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But as the dwarf worked steadily over the staked-
down hide, scraping, rubbing, and dressing it, Chess
gradually went silent... or nearly so. He sat by the fire
and watched in lively curiosity, now and then muttering
to himself. "Not that," he said. "Wrong color." Then,
"No, I don't think so. It is far too big." And, "Well, possi-
bly for formal occasions, but hardly for every day."
Finally the dwarf turned to glare at him. "What are
you muttering about?"
"I'm trying to decide what you plan to do with that
pelt," the smaller person explained. "So far I have pretty
well eliminated any ideas of a tent or a rug, and I can't see
a dwarf flying a black fur flag... unless, of course, he
plans to take up taxidermy, which is an unusual occupa-
tion for dwarves as far as I have seen. If you were a
gnome, now -"
"I need a coat," the dwarf said gruffly, returning to his
"- You might have some notion of lacing poles into it
to make a flying machine, or punching holes in it to sift
gravel for a -"
"Shut up," the dwarf said.
"- sliding stairway. What?"
"I wish you would be quiet. I'm trying to work here."
"I can see that. Why don't you make yourself a coat?
You could certainly use one, I'd say. Maybe some boots,