Justice Undone


The novel Grámosinn glóir translated to English by Bernard Scudder.

From Justice Undone:

The woman hurried after the man along the sheep track. A few sheep stopped grazing and looked towards them. The man rushed on so quickly that the pregnant woman had difficulty following him along the twisting muddy track among the tussocks. Sometimes she slipped in the puddles. Her shoes and socks were wet, and the water slopped out from them. She didn’t understand where he was going, just hurried after him. Perhaps she had never known who he was, this brooding man. She could see his slouching frame, his powerful, slightly rounded shoulders; his dumpy, broad buttocks, as he slogged along on his stubby legs; his hair curling up and settling over his thin collar, a roll of flesh where the broad nape of his neck joined his shoulders; she wasn’t accustomed to him telling her what he was up to.

Now they could no longer see the horses they had left behind on the edge of the lake, on the promontory which ended in a low spit.

She started to hear the babbling of the stream which was curiously insinuating and soothing in all this running. As if it proclaimed a solution of sorts. She was out of breath, and her unborn child was beginning to weigh her down. The heathland gave way to a grassy bank. She slipped on it, and almost fell; and caught hold of the man so as to keep her balance. But he didn’t turn around. She hadn’t seen his face since they had set off on horseback.

At the top of the bank the path continued into a hollow where the stream grew wider before plunging into a pool, encountered a boulder that diverted it as it fell. There was a patch of grass there, with water willow on the banks, crane’s bill. She never saw his face; perhaps scarcely even when he grabbed her and thrust her into the pool, held her down.

And the choked scream in her eyes staring up through the gentle lapping of the water around his huge coarse hands. it oozed on until it faded out somewhere in the lake; long before it reached the horses which went on grazing on the promontory.

And the wild geese strutted around the end of the spit.

Way out on the lake there were three swans swimming, two together and one a little farther off.

When he regained possession of his faculties at last, Jón Jónsson the murderer felt that it was from this moment that he first remembered how the bulge of her belly stood up out of the water. Later he had a feeling that he had had difficulty releasing his grip on his lover when she was dead.