Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 15

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 15
Jon, the Archdeacon’s son, who had just been apointed sheriff for that county, had come to his father’s home for Christmas. He had come up from the fjord the day before. He had been sitting silent and meditative at the table up till then, but at these words he came to life. “Yes, I know him a little”, he said, “but we didn’t see much of each other in those days. He didn’t go around much with other people when he was at school — but I do know this about him, that he isn’t up to much. I’ll tell you how I know. There were a lot of us together — all friends, you know — and we were larking about things. We were still children then; it didn’t take much to make us do these silly things. We went down to the bridge. The high seas had made a breach, a goodish way along. There was a northerly wind, and a bit of a sea was getting up. The chap who went first he was a hare-brained fellow, I remember; he took a run and jumped over the gap. He found that he could scarcely keep his feet the other side, there was such a gap. But he turned round and challenged us to follow him. There were four of us altogether, and two of us jumped over after him, but GuS- mundur, this doctor fellow, wouldn’t do it. We shouted to him. “I’m not coming over”, he yelled. “You’re funking it”, I replied. No answer. You’re funking it!” We jeered and laughed at him, but it was no good. “No, I daren’t”, he said. “It’s an absolute toss-up whether you can save me if I fall into the sea, and the piles are so weak that there is no knowing whether I will be able to hold myself up by them while you are getting a boat”. “Of course, I can see now, looking back on it, he was perfectly right. But we had had absolutely no thought of the danger, and I don’t think that anyone who called himself a man would have hesitated a moment. I’m sorry, but I can’t think that a man is what the Americans call a “regular guy” if he’s always thinking whether such and such might be dangerous, and never dares to take a risk, even if it is only done in fun”. ““ ’E must ‘a’ bin a bl.... er, a queer one”, said Brandur. “I reckon I’d ‘a’ jumped, par- son”. “There is no doubt”, replied the Archdea- con, “that GuSmundur was right not to jump. But all the same, I’m of the same mind as you, Jon; anyone with any guts would have jumped, even though he didn’t think it was safe. But may God help the weak and the poor in faith in this weather. And God help that unfortunate woman and her husband”. “Wouldn’t it be awful”, said Solveig, her eyes flashing with anger, “wouldn’t it be simply awful if Sveinbjorn is sitting down for a drink with that doctor somewhere out there in the wilds, and this woman dies simply because of his cowardice?” “We must not judge him too hard”, said her mother. “Sveinbjorn is a good man, as we all know, even though this is terrible weather, we must put our faith in Almighty God, who can calm the fiercest storm”. We fell silent — and listened. It was as though the whole village was paralysed. Continued on page 24. CHRISTMAS IN ICELAND I 13


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