Wednesday, June 09, 2004

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. “Eitt 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.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, you've been to an Icelandic tombóla! I used to do that as a kid.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

Such delightful children! The open and inquisitive behaivor of the children I met made a strong and favorable impression on me.

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