University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Literature Collection

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

Previous Previous section

Next section Next


[chapter 46]

  [p. 150]  


Saturday evening seemed to Mettälä-Santra to be as long ago as anything could be when the farmer turned up again on Sunday evening — and this time alone. Santra was then in the back room; hearing footsteps, she went out into the passage and drew herself up instinctively. She looked the farmer straight in the eyes, shook hands, and after a moment's hesitation led him into the bedroom.

So it had begun — and now, when Monday morning dawned and the sun was already up, the farmer lay fast asleep in his shirt sleeves and stockinged feet on the bed in the Mettälä back room. In the kitchen-living room Santra lay in the same place as she had lain twenty-four hours earlier, and now too she was awake. Fortunately, the children were all asleep at last. In the evening, when the farmer had chased Santra playfully out of the room into the passage and there grabbed hold of her, the youngest child had set up a frightful howl. It had never seen anything of the kind at home or elsewhere, except when there was a fight.

Santra lay quite still, staring in front of her as though waiting for something. She stared at the events of the past night — and she waited. Or perhaps she was wondering at the position in which she suddenly found herself. An abrupt, overpowering circumstance, beside which the state of affairs here at Mettälä, the man working on a timber-raft somewhere   [p. 151]   far away, even the former master lying there in the bedroom, all were so immaterial and unimportant. Deep within her Santra felt at once lassitude and a surge of strength; it was as if a burden which the years had piled up were now being lifted off her shoulders. Strange, frightening and exhilarating, this feeling, and Santra could not believe that her life could ever revert to what it had been even on Saturday. She could not believe that he, her husband, would ever come back into her life. For years now he had been nothing but . . . well, he had just been there, coarse and apathetic. — No, no, there he was, so let him stay. There's no room here; I'm here and. . . .

Santra knew she had been imagining something which, when she faced it squarely, increased this strange excitement still further. Things could not go on like this unless he — Santra no longer thought of him as "the master" — unless he stayed here. But in that connection it was quite impossible to think of the dawn brightening into day. Haymaking was to start there at the farm; the master would be needed and missed — oh, yes, he had spoken of her eldest girl going along as a gleaner — being fed by that woman, oh. . . . No, no — I'm going to take what I can get and hold on to it. . . .

Santra leapt up, went to the cupboard — Jukka's cupboard — and took out the deed of sale for the croft. It was drawn up on a whole sheet of paper. She had to open it up to see the receipts. There they were: "Of the above-mentioned purchase price—one hundred marks . . . one hundred and fifty marks . . ." and last of all — there it was, the signature and handwriting were quite plain: "Of the above-mentioned purchase price, received with thanks, five hundred marks. . . ."

Santra folded the deed up again on the same creases as before, but instead of putting it back into the same cupboard   [p. 152]   — Jukka's cupboard — she stuck it down inside her blouse. Then she went out of the living room into the passage, from there to the porch, and stood looking out over a scene that was utterly unfamiliar. The deed of sale was almost too big to be kept in her bosom, much larger than the money had been the previous evening — but there it was nonetheless. And the sun shone down on a slightly damp morning. Both the cows and the calf were still asleep, however; it was the small hours as yet. But Monday morning it was, and no one would be coming along the road there, at least not for the moment.

The farmer noticed that Santra had something in her bosom — and he soon guessed what it was. He had awakened a trifle groggy when Santra touched him, but this observation made him wide awake on the instant. The morning was still young; it was not too late.

"Am I to write off another five hundred?" he said, his mouth to her ear.

"Was there any need to place the price so high last time?" her mouth murmured into his ear.

"It's time I was going."

"Don't go yet. I can't stay here."

"Yes, you can. I'll be back."

"But come this evening. Otherwise I can't stay here. What am I to do all day? There's nothing I can do."

The morning had brightened enough for the man to see the big-framed woman's tired face. He got up, lifted his legs over her to the floor, first the right, then the left.

"There's still some ale there behind the cupboard," Santra said.

The farmer groped for the mug, gulped down a deep draught greedily, took a breath, and drank again.

Then he took his leave.

Previous Previous section

Next section Next

Go up to Top of Page