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The Literature Collection

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

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[chapter 34]

  [p. 106]  


Having handcuffed the men, the policeman left them alone, giving them much the same look as a cat gives a mouse after a crippling bite; shackled together, they could move about as they liked. Both of them were thirsty, and the officer took no notice now when they walked down to the shore of the lake and scooped up the tepid water, one with his left hand and the other with his right. The officer examined the body, not even hesitating to turn it over so that the glazed and staring eyes were visible. The left side of the chest was black with congealed blood. It was hard to tell whereabouts in the coat the wound was. Leaves and flowers of cow parsley had stuck to the clot.

"He did get the doctor," the one-armed foreman said, still with an absurdly harsh expression on his face.

"Well, we're the best doctors now. What we need is a horse and cart so that we can get the body to the mortuary. The prison guard will have to come and get the culprits." The men were walking back up the slope from the lake, "bearing their fetters" as Nokia was now singing. He had recently seen a play in which there had been a song to that effect.

"Nothing else to do but to go back to Kortsaani and call up the prison guard; there's no telephone nearer at hand.   [p. 107]   Perhaps we can also get a horse for the body from the farm over there."

"Oh, yes, you'll get one from there; Mikko's at home — I saw him peeping out of the window just now as we came past," Matti Puolamäki said, gesticulating earnestly with his free right hand.

One of the raftsmen was sent off to the farm to say that the policeman needed a horse to take the body to the village. The policeman himself looked once more at the man sprawling on the ground. His expression and whole attitude were more and more those of the expert. This was not the first corpse he had stood beside. He had even dragged the body of a newborn baby out of the manure pile behind a cowshed.

"You struck the right place, all right — first time, too," he said with a smile, glancing at Salonen and at the same time poking with the little finger of his left hand to find just where the wound was. "You followed Matti's advice exactly."

"I never gave Nokia no advice," Puolamäki shouted — again he remembered Iitta and Toivo and Laila and Tauno.

"Maybe not to Nokia, but it all depends on how you look at it," the officer replied.

The men, tired and upset, also noticed that the morning had come. On the raft Mettälä's horse neighed.

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