“To the handsome and the privileged,” she declared, as though addressing the night itself, “who can scarcely imagine being otherwise, it appears that their elders choose old age, for reasons as mysterious as their choosing to be ill or ugly. Servants faithful or impudent, louse-ridden beggars, wine-bellied fools, even munificent but crotchety patriarchs – to the handsome and the privileged it appears that all those around them have chosen, or have been assigned by Allah, the role of minor characters in the story of which they, the handsome and the privileged, are heroes.”