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Excerpt from The Final Death

I braced myself, and stretched out my hand. I felt a tingle when my fingers brushed the envelope. Then I jostled the ivory disk onto the table, and took a good look.

The yellowed disk probably came from a whale bone or an elephant tusk. Back in the 1800s, such things were legal. Sailors have been making elaborate carvings to while away the time almost since the first ships left sight of land. Some of the pieces are in museums. Modern scrimshaw artists work from materials that don