Friday, 24 July 2009

F.E. Sillanpää: Silja - 11

[22]

Hilma was to him, after all, the very essence of what a wife, good or bad, is to a man, but even so the old, unmarried woman's words made on him the impression they were meant to make… For Hilma could do nothing about the fact that she was unable to draw any closer to her fiancé in this present situation than she was; that she had to content herself with keeping quiet and pretending to reflect. And in this she was obedient. While it was true that she was now Kustaa’s fiancée, in other respects she was simply Hilma, a young and childish village girl who had worked as a maid at Salmelus Manor — and who in her own way had been able to do more than anyone else. She had been able to look into her man’s eyes that summer evening long ago and to sit there calmly as he put the reins behind her on the porch railing. With this action she had come to Kustaa’s side, and remained there. She had reinforced her action even further by the way she had received Kustaa, when after the wedding journey he had arrived in her room. All that happened during that long evening and that was a rising and a strengthening, sufficient to prolong forever what had already begun.

So that to kill what was conceived that night was more than any poison could accomplish.

Hilma did not come to Salmelus for as long as the old master still lay unburied. Not until the third day after the funeral, when the last guests had already left, did she arrive, a little shy but both entirely sure of herself and not at all afraid of old Martta. A young maiden, who was also already secretly his wife — that was how Kustaa now saw her, here in his old family manor, which again at that moment began to live in the radiance of a powerful, mutual love. Kustaa had not told Hilma to come, she had done so of her own accord, guided by her own sure instinct. This in itself was more precious than the most precious of assurances.

translated from Finnish by David McDuff

Silja
Silja - 2
Silja - 3
Silja - 4
Silja - 5
Silja - 6
Silja - 7
Silja - 8
Silja - 9
Silja - 10

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