And if Bjartur heard them complaining about the damp he would reply that it was pretty miserable wretches that minded at all whether they were wet or dry. He could not understand why such people had been born. “It’s nothing but damned eccentricity to want to be dry,” he would say. “I’ve been wet more than half my life and never been a whit the worse for it.”
They have one piece of luck: the First World War! It drives up prices for Icelandic lamb.
“Oh let them squabble, damn them,” said Bjartur. “I only hope they keep it up as long as they can. . . . I only hope they go on blasting one another’s brains out as long as other folk can get some good out of it. There ought to be plenty of people abroad. And no one misses them
He made no further attempt to talk his son over; it is a mark of weakness to try to talk anyone over. An independent man thinks only of himself and lets others do as they please. He himself had never allowed anyone to talk him over.
Now the Bailiff’s nature was such that had he been accused of theft or even of murder he would have preserved an unruffled exterior and have seemed, indeed, to be quite gratified. But with one crime he would not have his name connected: if anyone insinuated that he was making money the ice was broken and his tongue was loosened, such a slander was more than he could stand.
But the first days are always the worst, and there is much comfort in the thought that time effaces everything, crime and sorrow no less than love.Poor old Bartjur. He loses everything anyway, not in the end because of the worms, or the storms, or even the ghosts, but because of the debts. The tagline of the novel might as well be: You can’t fight city hall.