He himself felt well refreshed at the wedding. A sense of good fortune augmented by absence was still there, and now it flooded into his consciousness; and when the return journey began to move towards its final phase he was in the power of the sweetest emotions. Fortune made the journey ever easier, he felt that there were no obstacles before him. And fortune favoured him, too, for at one point along the road an old woman, quite of her own accord, came out of her cottage to the garden fence and, even more of her own accord, prepared to engage Kustaa in conversation. Without asking any questions, he ascertained one thing and another, for after all, on this gentle evening on his way back from a wedding, he was in no hurry. The master’s sister had come to Salmelus in order to manage the household, and at once said that if he was going to stay there he did not need two women in the house; and on the very first day the master had begun a quarrel with Hilma, whereupon he had kindly requested Hilma to seek a new post. So that Hilma was now back home in the wilderness. ‘Indeed, well, goodbye, then.’ ‘Goodbye, goodbye.’
Kustaa gave no thought at all to what he had heard until he lost the cottage from view. To be sure, he did not look back either, and so failed to notice a little girl from the cottage sneak up behind him and then run back home in a hurry again when she saw him take the turning to the forest road. Only there on the road — which led to Hilma’s cottage — did he sit down on the verge to rest and enjoy his mood, which in recent days had improved no end, and now seemed very radiant. Nothing did he see but the trees of the forest, and nothing was further from his mind than the management of any farm, whether in the present or the future. The languor that accompanied his journey to the wedding combined easily with radiant memories of a childhood which had not yet faded from his mind at all. After all, he had known Hilma since her girlhood — and he was really returning home from a longer journey than this wedding trip. The calm, warm weather gave the afternoon a mellow and unhurried tinge. A long time was still to pass until later, at night, he would go to Salmelus, and his own room. As it would to the mind of a child, the time that stretched before him seemed long and wonderful. A young man’s room is dear to him because it so willingly awaits him.
translated from Finnish by David McDuff
Silja - 2
Silja - 3
Silja - 4