I know perfectly well that it is impossible, according to arithmetic and scholarly books, to live in a far valley off a handful of ewes and two low yield cows. But we live, I say. You children all lived; your sisters now have sturdy children in far-off districts. And what you are now carrying under your heart will also live and be welcome, little one, despite arithmetic and scholarly books.

The fact is that it is utterly pointless to make anyone a generous offer unless he is a rich man; rich men are the only people who can accept a generous offer. To be poor is simply the peculiar human condition of not being able to take advantage of a generous offer. The essence of being a poor peasant is the inability to avail oneself of the gifts that politicians offer to promise and to be left at the mercy of ideals that only make rich richer and the poor poorer.

Item, I’ve read that there’s not a single virgin to be found in your country,” said the statesman.

“Where might you have read this?” asked the Professor Antiquitatum.

“The good auctor Blefken says this.”

“I wonder if the good auctor might not have misread his sources,” said Arnaeus. “The best auctores tell us that Icelandic girls remain chaste virgins up until they’ve had their seventh child, Your Benevolence.

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