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

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[chapter 20]

  [p. 63]  

20

A second car swept up in front of the house at Teliranta on Sunday evening. Even before it stopped, a man's slender arm with a wristwatch waved from the driver's seat. Arvid recognized him. It was Hannu, a friend of his.

"I promised, I did promise. And now off we go to that town, whatever its name is; there's an engagement party on today."

Hannu jumped out of the car at last and went up respectfully to Grandmother, who at this time happened to be the only one of the farm folk out of doors.

"Now don't go dragging him off on some escapade; he's having a good time here," Grandmother said, making an effort to rise as she greeted the newcomer.

Helka too had come out. She knew Hannu — from the same parties, in fact, where she had met Arvid during the winter season in the capital.

"There's to be no talk of going anywhere until the guest has at least sat down inside. And you're just going to have your supper. Now why did Martta have to go off to Syrjämäki to doctor that cow — and strange she's not back yet. I do hope nothing has happened." Granny had ideas of her own. That other raftsman had been tipsy — though they had not gone that way. "Never you mind about going anywhere," Granny said again.

  [p. 64]  

"Oh, do let's go," Helka said. "That is, if I may come too?"

"There's no question of may," said Hannu. "The only problem is that we can't divide you in half — there are two cars."

"Don't worry, I'll come in yours. I've been with Arvid all day." Helka was enchanting when she smiled.

Hey! my cap I hang on your peg
— diddle diddle dee — I hang on your peg,
my boots I put under your bed, diddle dee,
my boots I put under your bed.
Then one arm I put round your waist
— diddle diddle dee — I put round your waist,
the other one under your head, diddle dee,
the other one under your head.

The young raftsman on the other side of the lake was singing as he made his way down to the water. He was in high spirits and he sang well. The group standing out in front at Teliranta listened with enjoyment. But they did not stay to hear it for long. The visitor who had dropped in asked the host to give his kind regards to the mistress of the house; he had been looking forward so much to meeting her and regretted that the crofter's cow had chosen to fall ill at such an unsuitable moment and deprived him of the pleasure.

They got into the cars and drove off.

The grandmother rose and went slowly into her own quarters, on the left of the porch. There stood Helka's bed, neatly made up with its snow-white sheets and counterpane. The girl slept daintily; got into bed, slept, and woke up. It seemed almost indecent to go so long without changing her   [p. 65]   sheets, but they looked as if they had just been put on. — Oh, there's the moon, how strange it looks. And Martta, the mistress of the house, is not back yet.

Martta, yes . . . . The grandmother for some reason began to think of her daughter-in-law. In the early days they had not quite seen eye to eye — as is often the way with mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Martta would not really believe that she, the old mistress of Teliranta, knew its ins and outs better than a newcomer. But when Martta had really got to know its ways, the two of them had become good friends.

And now Helka. For an aging woman it was sweet to watch an offspring of her own flesh and blood grow into the nice girl that Helka was. Never mind her fortune — she had come of age, she was healthy, beautiful, and strong. As she got undressed, Granny could not help remembering her own girlhood, when often she had not known which way to turn. It was sweet indeed to think of Helka. May He bless her comings and goings, He who can bless.

Now and then the old lady glanced at the lake, letting her eyes move to and fro across the stretch of water where Martta's boat should by rights be visible. She wondered whether she ought to go and get her son to send someone over to Syrjämäki in the other boat. But — he was Martta's husband after all; it wasn't for her to tell him what to do. And on a Sunday evening like this, was there anyone at home to send? Lucky that the master himself was. Granny stretched herself out in bed at last, but it was a long time before she fell asleep.

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