Wednesday, 5 August 2009

F.E. Sillanpää: Silja - 12

[22-23]

Martta was sitting silently in the kitchen when Kustaa entered, and made no answer when he asked for something to offer his guest. Kustaa began to see to the task himself, but when Anna, the shed-girl, came in, he asked her to finish dealing with it. Then Martta began to sob angrily about some minor inconvenience. Anna stood stock-still, and stared at Kustaa angrily, too. Kustaa said to her with a smile, but in great earnest: "Will you do it, Anna, please?" Without replying, the girl began peevishly to set about the task.

Kustaa insisted that Hilma should spend the night at the manor. He himself made up a bed in the guest room for her. Hilma smiled her quiet smile, feeling a little shy at the sight of the familiar, elegant surroundings, and also abashed by Kustaa, who presided as the guardian spirit over the whole house, and was therefore in some sense a stranger to her.

Far away in the past was the summer’s day when Hilma had left this place, a sweet memory with a charm and excitement of its own. Now it was a late autumn evening, as she said a slightly awkward “good night” to Kustaa in the doorway of the old, elegant drawing room. She realized perfectly well that Kustaa would not accompany her. Although she did not get much sleep at all, she found it pleasant and tranquil to lie in the dark silence – a silence which seemed to sum up with great objectivity the events that had taken place in this manor, Those events were quite unknown to her, but sweet to behold in nocturnal pictures like this. Towards midnight she even thought for a moment that Kustaa might come in after all, but felt no disappointment when she remained alone until morning.

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
Silja - 11

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