The two brothers, who no longer meet or speak to each other, are neighbors in a northern Swedish village. They used to share a wife, each thinking he had sole tenure. Each thought that he was the father of the woman's only son. The boy died in an accident while the two men bickered as to which of them should rescue him. All the petty rancors come to light when a woman arrives in the village to give a lecture and lodges with one of the brothers. She becomes the mutual messenger, the joint repository for their recriminations. A tour de force by one of the true European masters of black humor.