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Sillanpää, Frans Eemil, 1888-1964 / People in the summer night; an epic suite (1966)

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[chapter 3]

  [p. 10]  

3

For Manu this was already broad day. Sitting there at his charcoal pit he had heard many signs of life from both sides of the lake, to say nothing of the wonders that his bright old eyes observed in nature: the cows lowed for their milkers, the crows fled cawing from yards and porches when a door was flung open, a bumblebee groped about on a clover bloom — where might the buzzing creature's nest be? he wondered. It would have been fun to suck out the old girl's honey. As he once had, when he was a little boy and led the cattle to pasture.

Well, well, well — there's the young lady going down to bathe again. How old Manu enjoyed being here alone, being able to let his smoky, tar-stained face keep whatever expression it had assumed. He walked almost aimlessly around his pit, stopping up an imaginary hole from which a flame had seemed to flare up. Then he sat down in his usual spot and from there the bathhouse and pier could be seen as though on a stage. — Human beings at their best are beautiful, all right. Look how she walks, look how she stretches herself, look how she crouches as she lowers herself into the water. The thought flitted through old Manu's head that he should creep nearer, into the grove of alders close by the shore, furtively . . . but no — hmph — you old fool. A hole was plugged angrily . . . . Now she's floating on her back — to   [p. 11]   think she can stay up like that, well, I'll be . . . . And she's always so nice and pleasant and all . . . that time when the snapshot was taken she put her pretty arm around Manu's neck, wasn't at all afraid of getting dirty.

There came the daughter too, the one with the auburn hair; she hesitated a while on the steps of the pier, but in she plunged. There they floated like water-lily leaves and flowers, now the whole body gleamed in the sun, now only the head bobbed up so that you would think they were sinking. Old Manu had much to look at.

Then they came out, supple as water nymphs, their wet bathing suits glistening like sealskins. They made movements with their arms and legs — looking from up here by the charcoal pit, you'd never think they had a stitch on, so beautiful did their figures look against the morning-gleaming water. Then they disappeared into the bathhouse, took their bathrobes, and came away, now side by side but not looking at each other. They walked like foals along the pier — and the last old Manu saw of them was a glimpse of a brightly colored bathrobe between the leaves of an alder.

Manu seemed to become lost in thought, which meant that he was beginning to feel tired.

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