Shortly after William Legrand had his upper left bicuspid removed and another, dead man's transplanted in his empty socket, he had an unusually vivid and memorable dream.
In it, he was a black slave who was high up in the branches of a great tulip tree. His master had ordered him to climb it and in this dream Legrand continued to crawl fearfully along a great branch, not daring to look down. At the end of the branch, he came to a human skull spiked onto the branch. Legrand noted the perfect dentature of it as he took a heavy, scarabaeus, golden beetle and dropped it though an eye socket.
The beetle fell to the ground and Legrand suddenly found himself digging the soil where it had landed. He found a wooden chest banded with iron that pirates were reputed to bury. Instead of treasure, it was full of teeth; incisors, eyeteeth, bicuspids and molars. Legrand ran his hand through them and the not unpleasant music they made striking one another suggested something to him but he awoke and did not remember what it was.
The dream remained clear and vibrant but the thought would not come.
This dream is based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Gold-Bug. It is from the POV of the black servant Jupiter rather than the "Narrator" who recounts a tale told to him by his friend William Legrand. Note this story also supplies the name for Turtledove's protagonist character.