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The ghost of Dyrhólaey

Thorstein's notes for the day after Kolfinna's visit expressed complete despair. The very handwriting looked changed, as if the character of the warden had been overturned by something terrifying; even by reading many times, I could not make out what had happened. Thorstein's despair was not the result of Kolfinna's refusal, this was clear; on the contrary, Icelandic self-restraint notwithstanding, you could understand that the two had had a very good time that night. From there on in the diary of the warden of the lighhouse there was not a single consistent argument, but only a hotch-potch of incoherent sentences.

The psychic state of Thorstein was getting worse and worse; the only thing I could understand was that he was giving himself to remorse and superstition. At night he believed to be awaken by inhuman yells coming from the cliff falling vertically to the beach: a ghost was coming up from the sea seeking his vengeance. At that, I interrupted my reading to have a walk. On the cliff I was met by a frozen wind and by the raucous cries of the seagulls and puffins, which sometimes sounded almost human; but Thorstein had already lived there for eight years, he must have been accustomed to that.

Therefore I went back to my reading, trying to understand what had happened to my predecessor. The only meaningful note was on the last written page of the diary: ``Today Kolfinna came to see me. I told her we should not see each other any more, so as to expiate our guilt. She raged, saying I was trying to lay the blame on her. Later she calmed down, and she was almost kind with me, so that she even made tea for me''. Then there was nothing more.

This ending left me so restless, that I decided to find out what the real end of the story had been. During my next vist to the bar in Vík I tried to direct the discussion towards that subject.

--Last night, near sunset, I was on the edge of the cliff, and I had the feeling I heard a yell...

--Aahh, you heard the ghost of Dyrhólaey still asking for his revenge-- an old man rose to the bait, looking up from his journal.

--A ghost? -- I said, with simulated surprise.

--Yes, it is the poor Sigurdur, the fisherman who died crashing on the reef right in front of Dyrhólaey.

--Wasn't he a good sailor? --I tryed to guess.

--Of course, he was among the best in Vík, but that was a moonless night and the lighhouse was out.

--Out? --I said --and where was Thorstein, the warden?

--He was right at the lighthouse, but he had other things to do. Sigurdur came back a few weeks later, to take his revenge; may be he is not satisfied yet, since the gal escaped him.

At last I had learned the legend of the lighthouse at Dyrhólaey, and also the reason why that position had been vacant for so many years, waiting for an unaware former tourist. Once the discussion had begun, the local people told me the story with all the details. That evening Thorstein, betrayed by love, had neglected his duty as warden, and the lighthouse had been left out. In the night a small fishing boat had crashed on a reef right in front of the Dyrhólaey headland; the fisherman's body was never found. Thorstein never admitted his responsibility, and he went on being keeper of the lighthouse; however from that day he was hold in contempt by the people of Vík. After the fateful night Thorstein almost never came to town, he refused to meet Kolfinna, and lived more and more lonesome at the lighthouse, until the ghost of Sigurdur came up from the sea and threw him down the cliff.

next up previous
Next: The end of Up: No Title Previous: The diary

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