“The Masters apply peculiar customs duties: to fish below a certain size, to green ribbons but not red, to speckled eggs but not plain. Perhaps their strangest tax is a heavy duty on stories of love: but it only applies to stories leaving the Neath…”
The fish probably relates to “the tiny blind fish” that the Rubbery Men eat. That way, even the Rubbery Men have to pay taxes to the Masters.
We know that the Bazaar somehow lives off love stories, so taxing those leaving the Neath is not a surprise either.
But what about green ribbons and speckled eggs?
The eggs and ribbons are probably just examples of how the Masters’ laws don’t always make any sense. To a human mind, at least.
If you look at the artwork, Gifts of Adoration have red ribbons (tax free) and Gifts of Scorn have green (taxed). So that would make sense, given that the masters seem to have a strange fondness for love.
Oh wow, that is a good find! You have keen eyes. Perhaps we should add this to the Fridge Brilliance section on the TV Tropes page?
Edit: But wait, why would the Masters tax an item of hate but not one of love? If the Bazaar subsists on love stories, isn’t that kind of backwards?
edited by Little The on 3/1/2012
Well, if the theory that the Masters somehow “feed” on love is right, then they would get something out of every sent gift: love from Gifts of Adoration, echoes from Gifts of Scorn.
Taxing Gifts of Scorn but not Gifts of Adoration would encourage more sending of the latter. …Which doesn’t explain the flavor text after you send a Gift of Adoration, now that I think of it.