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There’s power in this text, says Helga after the boy has read

the five pages, these words that he found in the language

and used for bridge-building so that others, as well as he

himself, could seek out remote worlds, seek out life,

feelings, seek out what exists in the distance but of which

we weren’t aware. Translations, Gísli had said, it’s hardly

possible to describe their importance. They enrich and

broaden us, help us to understand the world better,

understand ourselves. A nation that translates little,

focusing only on its own thoughts, is constricted, and if it

boasts a large population it becomes dangerous to others,

as well, because most things are alien to it but its own

thoughts and customs. Translations broaden people, and

therewith the world. They help you understand distant

nations. People hate less, or fear less, what they

understand. Understanding can save people from

themselves. Generals have a harder time getting you to kill

if you have understanding. Hatred and prejudice, I declare

to you, are fear and ignorance; you may write that down.

He did so, wrote it all down, then went up to his room and

corrected the translation, and has now read it over; he read

it as the storm pounded the house, the rain lashed the

Village, the horses, the sheep, the earth, and turned the

June light to dusk. He concludes his reading, there’s power

in this text, says Helga; yes, says Geirþrúður, yes, there’s

power, and she looks at the boy. Even Kolbeinn seems to

hem something that can possibly be interpreted as a

compliment, that curmudgeon who still hasn’t let the boy