"It seems to me," said he, "that the Penguin ladies have made a great fuss since, through St. Mael's agency, they became viviparous. But there is nothing to be particularly proud of in that, for it is a state they share in common with cows and pigs, and even with orange and lemon trees, for the seeds of these plants germinate in the pericarp."
"The self-importance which the Penguin ladies give themselves does not go so far back as that," answered M. Boutourle. "It dates from the day when the holy apostle gave them clothes. But this self-importance was long kept in restraint, and displayed itself fully only with increased luxury of dress and in a small section of society. For go only two leagues from Alca into the country at harvest time, and you will see whether women are over-precise or self-important."
On that day M. Hippolyte Ceres paid his first call. He was a Deputy of Alca, and one of the youngest members of the House. His father was said to have kept a dram shop, but he himself was a lawyer of robust physique, a good though prolix speaker, with a self-important air and a reputation for ability.
"M. Ceres," said the mistress of the house, "your constituency is one of the finest in Alca."
"And there are fresh improvements made in it every day, Madame."
"Unfortunately, it is impossible to take a stroll through it any longer," said M. Boutourle.
"On account of the motors, of course."
"Do not give them a bad name," answered the Deputy. "They are our great national industry."
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