When the cottage came into view, he felt almost overwhelmed by life's superabundance. It was a summer weekday, and much had happened of late. It was, moreover, unusual for the only son of Salmelus Manor to be out there walking in his Sunday best. The road and the milestones seemed surprised at their approaching guest, but the face of the mistress revealed a certain joy of expectation: her eyes were as radiant as those of the old woman by the roadside. As luck would have it, Hilma was not at home.
‘I heard that Hilma has left us, and so I have come to see her.’
‘A house may not have two mistresses, that’s for sure.’ Humming quietly, Hilma’s mother made coffee and buns for the guest.
‘Hilma is not at home, then?’
‘No. Perhaps your journey has been in vain.’
‘She’s out in the back,’ the youngest sister said quickly. As he went down the steps to the cottage Kustaa felt as though he were calling on an envious neighbor. With smiling eyes and quiet strides he crossed the courtyard to the back room.
It was a small room, and through its old windows one could see nothing but the hop garden and beyond it the field and the lake. Of the rest of the village and its life there was no sign. In the green semi-darkness of that low-ceilinged retreat he found his Hilma. This was the same girl who had sat on the porch of Salmelus Manor that earlier day — and yet she was not the same. Here she was in her own world, her bosom throbbed unoppressed by fear, and the easy demands of modesty seemed sweet. Their love, which had hitherto known neither word nor deed, that night knew both… Kustaa of Salmelus — later to be Silja’s father — walked with smiling eyes all the ways of his life.
translated from Finnish by David McDuff
Silja - 2
Silja - 3
Silja - 4
Silja - 5