This time, as a token of his master's love, the messenger brought a handful of earth and a handful of salt, an ancient Bactrian custom that was observed persisting as late as the seventeenth century, according to the accounts of Tavernier and Chardin. But Arsaphes, driven by the obduracy of the princess and feeling victory within his grasp, added to the traditional offering two partridge eggs, one painted blue and the other red. The princess easily saw their significance, mysterious as it may seem to us. The colored eggs meant that though women may not look exactly alike, in the end they taste alike.
Princess Heloise was worthy of the captain's admiration. She knew how to answer insolence. She sent back the lieutenant with two flasks which looked as though they contained water, but when Arsaphes tasted them, he found that while the first was indeed full of water, the second held the strongest and headiest rye brandy he had ever drunk. He then realized that while people may no doubt look alike, some are insipid and dull while others burn and intoxicate.
— The Glory of the Empire, by Jean D'Ormesson, pg. 25
Saturday, February 18, 2017
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