Excerpt 4

Eugen’s elevated social position in Williston is portrayed in a photograph of him and a group of white town elders taken in 1896, which Elsa found in a wooden cabinet in a municipal building. Eleven sombre men stare at the camera: the dominee, the prosecutor, the magistrate, a handful of businessmen and the town’s doctor. Eugen sits on the far left of the portrait, leaning forward with a forceful expression on his face, as if he is bracing himself for a struggle – perhaps to secure his place in this world. Eugen seems to me the most earnest of these men, his penetrating eyes and tough physique the outward signs of a hardy frontiersman who, unlike the other men in the photo, is ready to get on with things. To me, he also comes across as someone fleeing a troubled past.

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