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The diary

I had been there for three weeks, when searching in the bookshelves I found a book very different from the others. It was handwritten; thanks to the progress of my Icelandic, I understood at once that it was a diary, written by one Thorstein Thorwaldson, who had been warden of the lighthouse since it had been built in 1927. Evening after evening I read the the daily entries in the diary of my predecessor for the years 1927--1932, and I found them unbearably monotonous, to the point that I started thinking about my capacity to survive to such a life. Therefore I skipped to the last pages of the diary, and discovered that they dated from 1935. However n the bookshelves I could not find any more diaries, either from Thorstein or from his successors. When the comment of the Maritime Office clerk, to the effect that this position had been vacant for a long time, crossed my mind, I was caught by a suspicion: could it be, that from 1935 there had been nobody else?

Thus, during one of my trips to Vík I visited Jonas, who received me with kindness, and I asked him:

--How long have you been substitute warden of the lighthouse?

--For more than twenty years, that is since my uncle, the previous warden, died.

--Then your uncle used to live at the lighthouse?

--No, he went there every day like myself.

--Why did you never go and live at the lighthouse? In winter, the road is difficult.

--Why ... I have a lovely house in town, I did not want to live in such an isolated place.

For an Icelandic this was really a strange explanation; none of the Icelandic sagas, of which I was by now a customary reader, mentioned an Icelander suffering from loneliness. Was I to think that the race was now getting soft, or rather that they were not telling the whole truth?

The following night the reading of Thorstein's diary become more interesting: the lonesome warden of the lighthouse had set his eyes on a sweet girl named Kolfinna. Day after day he told the steps of a complex courtship ritual, which seemed never to come to the point. Quite surprising, if you have seen what happens in the dance halls of Reykjavík today. After looking over the pages describing in infinite deatils two years of courtship, eventually I got to a note of the year 1935 in which Thorstein rejoicingly announced that Kolfinna had accepted to visit him at the lighthouse. Given the meticulousness of Thorstein's notes, I was all set for reading-matter that would, at last, be worth of a solitary night on top of a cliff. But the next page of the diary was very different from what I was waiting for.

next up previous
Next: The ghost of Up: No Title Previous: The lighthouse

Andrea Milani
Fri May 5 08:45:48 MET DST 1995