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

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[chapter 35]

  [p. 108]  

35

The line of cars in front of the pretty summer restaurant gradually thinned out. As elsewhere, the lights and shadows were now quite different from what they had been an hour or two ago, when the Teliranta party had arrived. Now the eye was drawn in a strange way to things that had passed unnoticed earlier in the evening. The front drive was like a shady glen into which the sunlight did not immediately fall, though perhaps it was already shining beyond the ridge onto the wide stretch of lake on the other side. But the hard, sandy surface of the path was curiously white, like the symbol of a night vigil. The chickens had awakened in their hollows under the elder trees. The gate was open and the road out of it led to the town. Someone picked a flower and fastened it in his buttonhole. General commotion, but the sounds were subdued and the tempo rather slow.

"I'd better drive," Selma said to Hannu and a couple of his companions.

"Got your driver's license?"

Selma glanced into her handbag. "You'd better all get in the back."

"Oh, no, can't I come in front as lookout? 'O Donna Clara — I saw thee on the lea. . . .' Well, off we go. Hey! We didn't say goodbye to the others!"

  [p. 109]  

They all waved as the cars started off.

"Let's all go to Teliranta for an early cup of coffee," Selma suggested as they approached the intersection.

"Not a bad idea. At this hour we won't get anything at the hotel except lake water out of the tap."

And Helka and Arvid in the car behind noticed that those in front did not turn off where they should have done. Arms were waved and hands were pointed. The time was going on two. From here to Teliranta was a drive of three quarters of an hour.

"But won't our arrival disturb the night's peace?"

"It's all right; we needn't make a sound."

Selma seemed to be driving fast. Arvid was more cautious. "Let them race ahead; we'll get there soon enough."

The road led northwest. On the right-hand side was the promise of a calm, fine summer morning in all its immensity. Once the last town-like cluster of houses and gardens was left behind, the actual pine-clad heath began. At one point it was broken by a quiet church village with an avenue of birches leading up to a group of dignified old buildings. Garden, drive, and farmyard slept in the brightness of the morning; it was almost unseemly to eye them like this.

Then more heathland, a stretch of some ten miles; at one point, on the county and parish boundary, were one or two low-roofed dwellings. On the steep sandy slopes, at the foot of the pine trees, bloomed purple wild thyme; a solitary grouse flapped up heavily in front of the car. The car ahead was already out of sight. When Helka leaned her head lightly on Arvid's shoulder, he slowed down with the idea of stopping altogether.

"No, no — don't stop," she whispered in a sweetly sleepy voice and crept still closer.

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