"Dawn to noon, say a six hour ride. What holds that close?"
I wrote this about it in the rec.arts.sf.composition Usenet group in 2005:
"Free land, the Vales. No king, no subjects. Not even for sentences."
Possibly Harald is influenced by the Valish institution of wordgild.
Having long ago decided that most conversation imposes a negative
externality on the listener, they charge a per-word fee to listen to
what you have to say, a custom that encourages brevity. Harald's
contemporary, the famous farmer Bored Njal, was known for his
willingness to listen patiently to his neighbors' problems, and ended
up owning most of the district.