The Merchant Prince
While on a recent sabbatical in Iceland, I was headed back to my guesthouse when I was approached by a group of small children on a corner. My language skills in Icelandic are wanting, but I could sense they had some message of great import to convey. As I apologized for my lack of communication, the bravest of the tykes, perhaps a little older (five instead of four) ever so gently grasped my hand and said “Hér, hér.” He led me to a motley array of broken toys, knick-knacks and other humble cast-offs. With a broad sweep of his little hand he proudly showed me his ‘goods’. “Nei, nei” I croaked as he held up a small picture frame.
The downcast look on his face was enough to melt Hofsjôkull and I knew I was a goner. “How much?” I asked, as I picked up an empty Pez dispenser. “Hundrað”, he beamed. I gave him the coin and he clutched it tight. The other children crowded around, trying for a glimpse of the prize. “Góðan dag” I said as I walked away, “and good luck”.
If you are ever in Reykjavík, walking along Flókagata and a flaxen-haired child takes your hand, go with him. His shop is humble, his wares are few, but his sales pitch is irresistible.