[chapter 24][p. 72]
When Emmi, the dairymaid at Ollila, had caught the mare, Jalmari could at last continue; but since there was still not a single one of the menfolk at home, he, slow-natured as he was, had many vexations yet before he could get away. Nor did the vexations by any means end there. All the way along he remained in the peculiar, childlike frame of mind. There was something utterly helpless about his agitation. At the back of his mind he was even happy in a way, as long as he was sitting alone in the cart on the forest road in the summer night. He was doing his best, slapping the horse's hindquarters with the reins for all he was worth. If anything did go wrong, then it would not be his fault — and he didn't have to stand by and watch the misfortune. But he did his best. Even in the village, where after Sunday evening a few couples were standing about in doorways, he still kept urging his horse on, so that his errand was plain to all.
But the midwife was not at home; she had just been summoned to some outlying farm on the other side of the parish. Jalmari's mare was in a lather, but he must do everything possible. Nothing else for him to do but to set out after her. What was to happen at home must surely have happened by now — but the man for his part could only go on looking for what he had been sent to look for . . . . Why, over there [p. 73] someone had already started haymaking. The stakes stood secure in the summer night. In their own way they too seemed to add to Jalmari's anxiety, as though he — steady-going, hard-working farm laborer that he was — in his haste and distress should have found time to pay them proper attention too, the first hay-stakes of the summer. He was no longer quite sure of the farms hereabouts.
When at last he clattered into the yard of the farm to which the midwife had been summoned, he found that things were in about the same state there as he supposed they were with Hilja.
"No, not yet . . . it may come at any moment now and I can't possibly leave," the midwife said. "But if things are in a really bad way, you'd better try to get hold of the doctor."
"I don't suppose they're any worse there than here, but help's always needed with a thing like that. Yes, indeed . . . there's no help to be had in these parts," Jalmari added for some reason, though he felt ashamed of his words as soon as he said them.
"Yes, yes," the midwife said, vanishing in her immoderately neat and clean clothes into an inner room, from which the unknown woman's shrieks of pain issued, upsetting Jalmari still further. What else could he do? He certainly was not going off to the next parish in search of a midwife. The horse too was starting to tire.
Copyright © 1934 by Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava, Helsinki, Finland. Used by permission. English translation copyright © 1966 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. Use of this material falling outside the purview of "fair use" requires the permission of the University of Wisconsin Press.
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