Friday, 26 June 2009

F.E. Sillanpää: Silja - 8


Life had been a unity of three; when one was torn away, the other two moved apart and became lifeless. It could not go on as it had done, and even the manor house itself seemed desolate to a man who sensed the nearness of death. All that remained of the mistress was her portrait and her memory, with those solemn features that are invariably mutual to husband and wife, and are only perceived at moments of extreme distress. Little did it matter if he saw the morrow. In a deeper sense, no morrow was going to dawn for him in any case. His defeat was total, though almost no battle had been fought.

After this night had passed, the old master was grimmer than ever, and tight-lipped to the point of silence. While he moved about the place as earlier, he spoke so little that the men sometimes found it hard to guess what tasks they were meant to perform, for Kustaa was often as taciturn as his father. Curiously, although everyone knew what was amiss, not even those close to the events had anything to say about them. Kustaa’s visits to Hilma were common knowledge, but no one was able to summon up anger in their regard.

One day one of the cottage-dwellers broached the matter with the master when Kustaa and some other men were present. The old master said nothing at all, just gave a faint smile and looked at Kustaa. “What are your thoughts on the matter?” Kustaa flushed and smiled back, but as he did so an expression of helpless pain flickered across his face. “What can I say?...” He walked away, almost in tears.

translated from Finnish by David McDuff

Silja - 2
Silja - 3
Silja - 4
Silja - 5
Silja - 6
Silja - 7

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