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

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[chapter 7]

  [p. 23]  

7

The two young people whom the rower saw on the field road behind Teliranta had left the house in the late afternoon to go for a walk. The young woman was staying at Teliranta as a relative and she had known this friend the previous winter in the far-off city; he had driven this way in the course of his summer's journeying, knowing that she was here. This visit had really been half agreed upon in the spring — in passing, as it were. Such casual promises were easily forgotten during a long summer. And Helka had forgotten this one, or pretended to, but not Arvid. Helka's forgetfulness had no doubt been merely an unconscious attempt to hide the thought more deeply, for she did not even try to turn away her eyes to conceal their bright sparkle of joy — no, she let them shine undimmed as, really surprised at the moment, she saw the familiar car turn off the road into the drive. For Helka the summer had been pleasant and beautiful; here at Teliranta she had lived the simple life of a human being, working for the joy of it, doing work which did not tax the spirit, even if it sometimes tired the body, feeling only the invisible increase of bodily and spiritual strength. Neither at this moment nor later did she ponder over it, but when she saw, behind the windshield, that well-known head with its powerful bearing and the expression of the mouth and eyes, her instincts seemed to accept a merited   [p. 24]   reward; as though this were the fulfillment of everything new which the sun — and the colors, scents and feelings it created — had poured into her whole glorious existence through the skin and senses.

Saturday evening had been full of a restrained, quiet joy, which only eyes and the changing colors of the face had betrayed. But it was seen by all who wanted to see it, especially by Helka's cousin here, the young Selma, who for that reason began to feel almost ill at ease. It was also noticed by Selma's parents, the able master and mistress of Teliranta, who — as anyone could see with half an eye — had not yet loosed their firm, middle-aged hold on life one little bit, even if they did have a daughter of nearly twenty who was almost quieter than they were themselves. They certainly noticed, although they pretended not to . . . . Helka was so close to them.

There was no real end to Saturday evening — it was still warm and night had not yet come in these parts; on the steps, on the garden swing, on the rungs of the huge ladder, one could see as plainly as in the daytime. Even Grandmother was sitting out on the steps of her little house in the common evening fellowship. She said to Helka when the latter urged her to go to bed:

"Go to bed indeed — and then you'll come clattering in just as I've got to sleep."

While she was at Teliranta Helka slept in Grandmother's house and for the most part had her meals there too, even if, in the summertime like this, it was decided on the spur of the moment where meals would be served — sometimes everyone ate with Grandmother, sometimes they all ate in the big house.

At last, however, the master of the house, taking his wife by the arm, asserted his authority and told them all it was time to go to bed. The others looked at them in silent admiration   [p. 25]   . . . . But Grandmother would not be ordered about; she remained sitting on the steps — and all the young people stayed too. When at last she went in, she was not at all peremptory; she merely told her granddaughter gently that it was bedtime; the admonition, kind but blunt, was spoken in the dear, familiar local dialect, and in this old woman's mouth it sounded like a whole family history.

But the young people remained outside for as long as they — with the grandmother in mind — thought fit.

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