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

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[chapter 12]

  [p. 42]  


Sunday morning, unhurried; both guest and farm folk could stay in bed. Arvid looked out of the window; the weather was fine — strong, steady, fine weather which seemed in some way undeserved. This was the same morning which they, the last to go to bed, had seen when they wondered at the light and the shadows in the yard. Now all was the same as yesterday, save that the maid had on a snow-white apron and there lay a clear reflection of Sunday in her smile as she said good morning to old Manu, who had come to see the master.

On this Sunday morning Helka slept longer than anyone else. The master, Arvid, and one or two other men had already been for a swim, had their coffee and — to top off the delightfully lazy Sunday-morning feeling — gone to see what stage the rye was at. Most of the heads were already transparent — the flowers had blown away on a warm breeze one fine morning — but the husks of some were still dark when seen against the light; there the pollen was still awaiting its mission — if it was ever set free now to perform it . . . . From early morning, however, all that mattered was this dazzling, seething sunshine, which seemed to be pushing the very air aside so that all living things — grass, butterflies, people — had to breathe it. On the farm were people who   [p. 43]   had come together from many different quarters, but the morning sunshine united them all irresistibly.

At last Helka, too, awoke — when she was awakened. She awoke to song — yes, a serenade on a farm at ten o'clock of a Sunday morning! Sound penetrated her ears now in the same way as light her eyes on other mornings, and soon the singers had their reward. In a gap between the curtains they saw a head dear to them all — to each in his own way: soft brown locks, rather large eyes with light-brown irises, the chin, and a dimple in one corner of the mouth.

The singers did not see each other's facial expression, but Helka saw everyone. — Why, there's Uncle too, sunburnt and earnestly singing his part — how kind he looks! You can see that he's reliving his own youth. The young apprentices were both trying to look dignified and matter-of-fact, but at one point their efforts caused the master and Arvid to exchange a meaningful little side glance. Helka watched — for a brief moment the look in her eyes deepened to a warm glow.

The singers saw a head nod between the curtains; then a hand and an arm glided forward and pretended to put candles on the window sill. When the song was over, each of the four singers in turn received a look as the lips of the girl inside were pressed playfully against the pane. This was also noticed by the mistress, who had come on the scene. With a glance at the singers she said:

"Oho, Helka's in good spirits today."

She told them that breakfast was ready — they could come when they liked.

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