Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith

Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith

Author:Alexander McCall Smith [Smith, Alexander McCall]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
ISBN: 978-0-307-94866-3
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: 2012-12-17T16:00:00+00:00

Reading Party

A lesser man – one who, unlike von Igelfeld, had not written a twelve-hundred-page treatise on Portuguese irregular verbs – might have been cast down by such a rebuff as he received at the hands of Frau Benz. A lesser man, not having the history of the von Igelfeld family behind him – a history of insouciance in the face of adversity – might have become dispirited and might have thought that perhaps this social failure was his own doing. Not von Igelfeld: it was true that he felt a momentary disappointment at the frustration of his plans to marry Frau Benz and become the owner of the Schloss Dunkelberg, but this disappointment was moderated by the conviction that what the entire experience demonstrated was the unpredictability and inconstancy of women. And if that was the way that Frau Benz behaved, then he decided that he had had a narrow escape from marriage to such a difficult woman. It would have been all very well having the library at the Schloss Dunkelberg at his disposal, but what pleasure would it have been had he had to worry about what his wife would think and do next? There would be no peace in that, he thought; how much better to remain a bachelor and live in what was, after all, a perfectly comfortable flat with a view that, even if it was not of fertile acres of land which pertained to it, none the less encompassed a perfectly respectable public park. Frau Benz! Who had heard of the Benzes, whoever they were? Where were they in the sixteenth century? And as for the owl in their escutcheon – what a ridiculous device when compared with the hedgehog, whose role as an embodiment of wisdom was well known to anybody with even the slightest knowledge of iconography. And as for the apotheosis of Herr Benz – what an assumption to make that such a person, a mere manufacturer of whatever it was that he made, would be welcomed by luminaries of the voltage of Goethe and Wagner! It was quite preposterous, really, and he felt that he had shown considerable forbearance in not pointing this out to his hostess.

It was unfortunate, though, that Prinzel forgot all about von Igelfeld’s request not to make much of the Benz episode and asked a question that could only lead to embarrassment.

‘How did your visit go?’ he asked over coffee the following day. ‘Plenty to talk about? Good look round – the Schloss that is?’

Herr Huber, who had just sat down, looked up sharply. ‘Oh yes! Yesterday, wasn’t it? And it was such a nice day for it. I said to myself: look at the sun, and just think that Professor von Igelfeld will be walking around the gardens at the Schloss, and will have them all to himself because the Schloss is closed on Sundays, to ordinary members of the public, that is. I thought that, you know, and then I thought that perhaps …’

Prinzel glanced at the Librarian.


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