"You really mustn't complain so. Living here as you do, passing each day free from need, is the best of situations. Kushami is a simple and modest family man, forgoing indulgence and unconcerned with appearance." Breaking from character, Meitei cheerfully propounds his thoughts on the matter. "You don't know the half of it ..." "Up to something on the sly then, is he? It's a treacherous world we live in." Meitei's quick to backpedal and equivocate. "It's not any secret indulgence. It's this hoarding of books that he'll never read. I wouldn't mind if he showed some discretion and bought just a few, but he goes to Maruzen, forgets himself, and brings back armloads. At the end of the month he feigns ignorance. Just last year, the bills piled up at year's end, and I struggled to get us by." "That's all? Let him bring back his books. When the collector calls, just say you'll pay him soon and send him on his way." "Even so, I can't just keep dragging things out," the wife replies with a glum look. "Then level with him and reign in the expenses." "How? Do you think he ever listens? The other day, he complained that if I wanted to be the wife of a scholar I should learn to appreciate the value of books. 'I'll tell you a story from ancient Rome,' he said, and advised me to take it to heart." "Sounds interesting. What story did he tell?" Meitei is fully enthused. Much more than from sympathy for the wife, he's spurred by his own curiosity. "In ancient Rome, it seems, there was some king named Tarukin ..." "Tarukin? That sounds a bit odd." "Foreign names are hard. I can never keep them straight. In any case, he was said to be the seventh in his line." "I see. But Tarukin the 7th is odd. Okay, so what of this Tarukin?" "I won't have you mocking me. If you know something I don't then share it. You're horrible." The wife lashes back at Meitei.