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Consequently, we don’t stand together; everyone lives for

himself. And therewith, we nearly always fish using their

hooks, not our own. Skúli owns a share in a schooner, his

father-in-law is a wealthy farmer in a bountiful area south

of the mountains, Skúli can afford to provoke us with his

pen, having little to lose, which is different than us, who

depend entirely on merchants and their goodwill. It not like

it isn’t fun to read such things: it’s titillating, exciting, a bit

like when children go off somewhere to say bad words. It’s

good when someone gives others what for; it makes them

tremble a bit.

Dogs have to have the chance to bark now and then, says

Friðrik; then there’s less chance they’ll bite. It’s evening,

terribly windy, pelting rain, out of the question to open the

windows, the cigar smoke hangs thickly in Friðrik’s master

bedroom, so big it’s nearly a parlour. There are six of them:

Friðrik, Reverend Þorvaldur, Dr. Sigurður, Jón, the factor of

Léo’s Shop and Trading Company, the magistrate Lárus,

and Högni, the head bookkeeper in Tryggvi’s Shop and

Trading Company and director of the Savings Bank, which

opened three years ago; it’s open for business an hour a day,

five days a week. Lárus had started talking about one of

Skúli’s articles; he’s becoming more and more aggressive,

said the magistrate, before listing various other articles, and

Friðrik simply let them talk, allowed them to worry, he’s

grown dangerous, said Sigurður, who always sits so bloody

straight, yes, says Jón, excitedly, sucking on his cigar, Skúli’s

what you call in Danish a


— a curmudgeon— and