The entire city had gathered to watch the skating races

Which were held on a Sunday afternoon in March in Pohjalahti. The skating rink had a space reserved for the public full of crowds and the nearby beach mountain also had crowds in black. Everyone knew that the best speed and figure skaters in town would take part in the competitions. Among the spectators were, in particular, the city’s colleges represented down to the last spirit.

During the past week, hardly anything had been talked about at Lyceum and the girls ’school other than how Ester Forssner had won first prize in last Sunday’s races. After all, there would have been nothing miraculous in it, but at the same time it was strange that Ella Andersson, who had already won the first prizes in figure skating competitions in a couple of years, had received the second prize this time.

Ella Andersson was two classes higher than Ester Forssner. She was already an almost full “lady,” an idol of the upper classes of the lyceum and a queen of convention dancers. And as the daughter of a wealthy bookseller, she was noticed in the least elsewhere. The city’s older maids began, fearing a dangerous rival, to create increasingly suspicious glances at her. Ella Andersson skated great, but she danced even better. And at school, he was one of the best students in his class. His actions had to be watched through the fingers of the leader himself. It had never been seen at school that the principal had led Ella Andersson under the tap and stroked her straight, as if defying her curly hair, even though many of the more insignificant girls were allowed to pass such a water test.

Girl schoolchildren in particular were extremely surprised when Ester Forssner had unexpectedly registered for figure skating competitions last Sunday, even though she must have known that Ella Andersson and a couple of other upper-class girls would take part in them as well. For many, it was extraordinarily selfish, almost brazen. – It had been seen that Ester had been practicing on the skating rink all winter if there were some twists and turns, but no one believed that his skating would become anything more uniform and a little more resilient, at least that he would be able to compete with Ella Andersson. – But a miracle had happened. Ester Forssner had cooled the ice with her skates, like a swallow slicing air with its wings. And there was flexibility and self-conscious sweetness in his skating. The sympathy of the audience had been on her side from the beginning, – largely because she was still almost a little girl who had no envy yet, and no enemies. The opinion of the award judges, on the other hand, was greatly influenced by the opinion of Miss Lund, a gymnastics teacher at the girls’ school. Miss Lund, on the other hand, could not stand Ella Andersson until she had seen Master Erling bring this beautiful student home home from the ice rink.

Pale, but with his head still erect, Ella Andersson had left the ice rink last Sunday. And the next day his best friend, Hilja Honkasalo, had said at school: yesterday there were only small competitions, but wait for the kid, girls, until next Sunday…

Today it would be seen now.

The horn band started playing the waltz and the participants in the figure skating competition skated on the track.

Ella Andersson was the first to hover. Immediately following her hocks was Ester Forssner, a couple of co-school students and the well-known figure skater Einar Hammar from the lyceum. – Ella Andersson hardly bothered to take a look at her competitors, but swore on the ice making big arcs, like a big bird flying smaller in a flock. But even this time, it was as if witchcraft that, even with his best will, he could not arouse the interest and compassionate admiration with which he had previously been pampered in competitions in the past. At the very beginning, everyone who did not know Ester Forssner asked: who is that slim, young girl? Tails do not press…

… Ester Forssner… Ester Forssner…

“That Miss Andersson could already be her mother,” an evil factory boy lied in the crowd.

Heikki Halldin stood holding the fence rope and watched the race with excitement. Or rather, his eyes followed only Ester Forssner. Of Heikki, Esther was more beautiful today than ever before. Really ungodly beautiful she was! The haze of pale hair framed his colorful faces from his effort. The braid swung and a blue, leather-hemmed skirt fluttered. And the noise of the audience, which repeatedly echoed Ester Forssner’s name, filled her with a joy mixed with pride. Esther’s victory was like her victory too… Both the Lyceums and the girls’ students knew that Esther was his “flamma”. This winter, they had been together almost every night, on the ice rink, Isollakatu, Forssner or in the Huuri confectionery. But even though they met each other almost every day, so nonetheless, they often wrote to each other. Heikki had also received three poems from Ester Forssner in recent weeks. He, too, would have gladly responded in a poetic way, but he could not get a poem together, and was still forced to write outright answers.

What they wrote to each other, they hardly ever talked about. It would have been so mundane to speak… for they had liked each other for as long as they could remember. But it wasn’t until Christmas that they had loved… and four weeks ago they had kissed for the first time…

Heikki felt his cheeks heat up and he woke up to his thoughts as if afraid that those around him would get to his secret. – – –

At the end of the break, Heikki watched with a slightly evil eye as Einar Hammar led Esther to warm up the coffee stall and how she politely helped Turkey on Ester’s shoulders. When Mrs. Forssner appeared to be rushing to Esther, Heikki also thought to go greet them first, but she didn’t bother because of Einar Hammar, for she was always so great and arrogant.

At the same time, a couple of ladies standing next to Heikki started chatting and when they mentioned Ester Forssner’s name, Heikki’s desire to get moving disappeared.

– She is undoubtedly talented, but yes, I guess she is also the
most pampered girl in town, continued another, referring to Esther. –
He can already be writing pretty good poems. Her aunt, Mrs.
Suojärvi, once uttered a few in the ladies’ association.
– Yes, the whole family is heard with the talent of a terribly funny girl. Everything Ester does is supposedly excellent, her poems, dances and drawing frenzy… Especially poems like that should be in the table box for the time being, they don’t have to start being uttered by adults, at public parties.

– Well, that’s what I thought, but Master Kannus is a pretty reliable authority, of course, and he said it’s amazing how such a young girl writes just like a young woman. And such a temperament…

– Pah, don’t bother! On the side of the world, Master Kannus has been every schoolgirl or some other puppy lurking in poems, just like any new Sappho, even if their whole lyricism is no more remarkable than a cat in spring…

– Hst! Hanna you do not get… yet someone acquaintance would hear.

– Listen! I am annoyed by the whole Forssner crowd.

– Mrs. Forssner herself has always been like a bad poem…

– That’s where they’re coming from.

– And Ella Andersson always and everywhere first!

– I guess he’s at least even good prose about you, isn’t he?

– At least that’s why I hope he comes, – and it’s much better than bad poetry.

– But now look at how sweet Ester Forssner is!

Both annoyed and amused, Heikki had listened to the conversation of unknown women. He realized it was ugly to follow the Strangers conversation, but what he could do to his ears. Would have been more careful.

Ester Forssner hovered and danced again as if skates had tried to lift him into the air. Sometimes he fluttered right in front of Heikki and that’s when Heikki always blushed, even though Esther never raised her gaze to the audience. The next moment, he already circled on the other side of the ice rink swinging in the wind like a feather.

Ella Andersson tried her best, and there was no lack of admirers either. Her movements were heavier than Ester Forssner’s, but they were also more secure. And towards the end of the race, he seemed to sag in its whole essence, so that opinions about the first prize began to wobble here and there. Many thought the best solution would have been: two second prizes, and no first prize at all.

The decision of the award judges was soon complete, although there was again a little word-breaking between Miss Lund and Master Erling. – In the first prize distribution, Ella Andersson and Ester Forssner received the same number of votes, so we had to cast a lottery. The lottery decided the victory for Ella Andersson. But while he somehow won, Ester Forssner was honored… The third prize went to Einar Hammar and the fourth to another boy from the co-educational school, but these prizes did not move anyone.

Skating started.

Heikki was very happy with the result. He hurried to the coffee shop to congratulate Esther, who was currently leaving with her mother. Ester looked happy, but still noticed Heikki that he wasn’t in his best mood. I guess dug him in the lottery solution… once the victory was so close. But in reality, Esther was annoyed that she had happened to hear how Ella Andersson had explained to a large group of boys and girls that Ester had constantly turned her way, so that at every moment she had been careful…

Mrs. Forssner was worried about Esther, as that evening bank governor Auer had dancers. They had to rush home for Esther to rest a little, even though she assured her that she could dance no matter how.

Dancers in Auerilla…

Heikki became distracted. The boys had said yesterday at the lyceum that Auer would soon have dancers to whom no one from a “Finnish” home would be invited, but he thought the whole thing was an ordinary boys’ boy, and he couldn’t have imagined that he would be uninvited too, because he didn’t have a father. who would have been in an influential position here or here…

This was all new and strange…

Why hadn’t Esther said anything? He had not even mentioned that he had been invited. Heikki had run in his thoughts to see how the first rockets flew into the air, and when they went off towards the ground, he went to Esther again and, by the way, whispered that he had not been called to Auer. Esther was currently speaking Swedish with her mother and Einar Hammar and she just waved her head and looked at Heikki as a troublemaker, mumbling:

– What can I do for it…

– Why didn’t you say anything yesterday? Heikki asked a little cautiously, looking tightly at Esther.

“Yeah, when you’re in the hut,” Esther said, pointing to a teacher passing by.

Heikki was injured and turned away. At the same time, the rockets flew into the air again and he stayed to watch them, feeling his mind become more and more bitter…

– Where did you put my skate? asked Ester Forssner’s voice, after a moment, behind him. When Heikki turned to say he didn’t have them, Ester was already elsewhere and Einar Hammar waved his skates in his hand.

Heikki had planned to go home with Esther and her mother, but she found out that she was now the “Fifth Bike in the Chariot,” and without approaching Esther any more, she tied the skates back to her feet and skated in a dark blue crowd, which was imported by rocket-colored rockets.

Returning from the ice rink, Heikki met Luutonen, a trade counselor, at his home stairs, who had just closed their doors. The mother had apparently followed the merchant to the door, as her shadow flashed through the blind in the hallway glass door.

Heikki had been a nightmare for their house as long as he remembered. In his early childhood, he had noticed how depressed and depressed his mother was after Luutonen, a trade counselor. If the commercial counselor had not turned down the stairs at the same time, Heikki would have turned back from the lower door. Now, however, it was too late. A strange lewdness on his knees as he climbed the stairs against the merchant, politely greeting. The trade counselor stopped, leaning for a moment on his silver-handled stick. His thick-skinned face was supposed to be kindly tuned as he greeted Heikki with his left hand as he greeted, probably because he didn’t bother to change the stick from the right.

– Jaha… young man comes skating. And so cheeks in red!
Have you taken part in the competition?
Heikki replied that he had only been watching, but Luutonen, the commercial counselor, did not usually ask for answers in order to listen, but continued:

… Jaha… How old are you again now? You will be as tall as your father… now you are definitely the length of your mother. Jaha… sixteenth and sixth grade… so yes, your mother just said… Then it would be appropriate as early as the fall to start in the practical field. Practical field is the best today…

Heikki had looked at his smooth shaved face, where the leather was uniformly reddish and strangely thick throughout, and he remembered Schiller’s verse, “There is no heart in those faces,” and, looking down, he said for sure:

– At least I want to continue as a student.

In response, the Trade Adviser sounded the pride of the poor. He lowered his voice to teach his father, while the smiles he liked disappeared from his face.

– Yeah, yeah, of course it would be fun and nice too, but such a big boy should start thinking a little bit about how he could help his mother too…

At the same time, a door opened behind them and Heikki’s mother looked questioningly into the hallway.

The trade councilor took a step down. Heikki raised his hat and began to climb the stairs.

– I am still talking here with your young gentleman, continued the trade counselor to his mother,… when he is so grown up and red-cheeked… I called for a practical field, but I don’t think there is a desire… I will come to my father. So… on his part Heikki comes to the priestly family, yeah yeah, I guess reading is in the blood… Well, goodbye.

Mrs. Halldin replied wearily to something that I guess Heikki has not yet thought about her future here and there, said goodbye, and closed the door.

Heikki immediately saw from his mother’s face that Luutonen’s visit was no happy coincidence for them this time either.

But when this happened at least a couple of times a year, he also couldn’t think that Luutonen’s visit today would have had a more fatal significance than usual. He tried happily carelessly to tell how the skating races had ended and went to the kitchen to dry his skates.

The distressing feeling that had just left him for a moment revolved around him again. The mother looked infinitely tired and pale… coward.

Luoto had a mortgage on their house and by the way, they had been in his full power since his father died. Now he must have squeezed his grip even harder. I guess that was what he meant in his speech by helping his mother and in the practical field. Ah! Why didn’t he have a man to free them from the clutches of that vampire! With depression, Heikki felt his own powerlessness. He had not yet earned more than a couple hundred marks at his age, teaching a sick family a couple last summer. That’s all. And now! Even if he left everything and tried to get into whatever practical field, it would still take a long time before he was able to earn anything to say. Cursed Luutonen!

… Or did his instincts betray him? Perhaps even so far everything could have been arranged. Mom used to say, “whoever wins time wins everyone…” Perhaps the mother was otherwise just more tired and embarrassed about eternal things…

A little more encouraged, Heikki took the skates to the hall. Mom sat in the hall by the lamp and stared at the newspaper. Heikki also went to the table and took the day’s magazine in his hand, but it was empty of him… He couldn’t keep his thoughts together at best.

There was something heavy, painful in the room that is always in the air when something difficult is left unsaid…

– I guess you’d like tea; I thought you went to Forssner, said Mrs. Halld after a moment, nervously turning the magazine. – Heikki thanked.

He didn’t want anything. It was not until a moment later that he threw his leaves on the table and carelessly felt the crochet:

– Auer has a prom today and Ester went there.

Mrs. Halldin quickly looked up from the magazine and her face brightened.

– Haven’t you been invited? he asked in amazement, his face coming to life.

Heikki smiled slyly.

– Hey! Not me, nor an oasis from others in Finnish homes.

Mom looked more and more amazed.

– That’s what it’s said. And there is no one from our school other than
Artur Holmberg, the boys said on the ice rink. And last time
there were … three, at least… four boys from our class,
Heikki said , laughing.
Mrs. Halldin got up to walk.

– What kind of grain is still ripe from this, when children and children’s dancers are also mixed with politics… And what kind of Finns are we! –

– After all, her mother is a Finn from Finland, intti Heikki, half playing, – there is “Suometar” on the table and there is a bust of Yrjö-Koskinen…

– Please do not! interrupted Mrs. Halld impatiently, continuing her walk.

– It is better that people like that show their right color and pettiness, he continued after a while.

Both fell silent. Their own thing was yet to be said.

In his thoughts, Mrs. Halldin looked at the beaded edge of the lamp, and Heikki’s gaze wandered to the twilight wall, stopping at his father’s enlarged photograph. Its dark eyes looked directly at those sitting in it lit by a lamp. Those eyes, however, Heikki remembered much more strangely, as did the curly beard that made his cheek itch, so that he had to laugh, laugh endlessly… : “heaven settled in heaven” and how he looked at the sky, how the clouds would be broken…

“I guess we now have to finally give up this house… and much more,” said Mrs. Halld after a long period of silence.

Heikki woke up. It was as if her mother had said the same thing before.

– So Luutonen demands that?

– In a way. And when a house produces only a loss during these times, it is pointless to try to turn to anyone else.

– But times can change again in a couple of years,
Heikki pointed out .
– It is uncertain and at that time we would only become more and more unhappy, Mrs. Halld explained hopelessly.

– So the bankruptcy…? Heikki barely asked audibly.

– At least I don’t know any other advice at the moment, replied the mother in the same voice.

A couple of big tears appeared in Heikki’s eyelashes. They burned the heart of Mrs. Halldin’s mother, and she tried to comfort:

– Maybe I’ll get some work and maybe some good person will agree to help you with your chapters. After all, it is quite different to present to people than to ask them to support an affair that is not worthwhile… I can no longer do that, and I cannot bear it.

Heikki dried his tears quickly. So this was what they had been thinking with horror for years. The house had long been like a quietly sinking ship to them. So now I think there will soon be a time when they should leave it.

But both of them felt easier as soon as the moment had looked hard at the reality.

However, it was quite impossible to read homework about Heikki that night, as his thoughts did not stay together for a moment.

This day had been a real day of accident for him, even though Ester Forssner had received the award palk Now she would have almost wished Ester hadn’t even received it. Why was it all about the mother and her? He tried to think of all his public and secret evils, but in no way did he find any sin that deserved such a great punishment, no matter how he recalled it. If all people, from God or life, as Master Holm said, received similar punishments for their evil deeds, then no one would have a house or goods… Soon he could no longer really believe in anything… Mom spoke of the constant cross of temptation that God helped bear. Why did people have to be tried and bullied to the last? After all, my mother often cries at night,

The house would be sold… And yet Heikki couldn’t really imagine his home anywhere other than this house. From this it was so good to go skiing to the sand pits, to that behind their plank fence. And from his window he always saw when the boys of their school began to appear there. And in the summer… Here was just like on land.

I guess Dad’s rifle would be sold too… Next summer he was supposed to be allowed to use it. Dad’s desk… All… They probably wouldn’t have compared the stuff in this house at their sources even after Wiikman’s widow had been when she moved. But then he remembered Ester Forssner and the fact that her mother was also said to have gone bankrupt. And yet they again had stuff in the rooms full. Perhaps the bankruptcy, after all, was not as terrible as it seemed in advance.

… Ester Forssner was currently at the dance party… She was allowed to eat as much fruit and ice cream as she could milk and dance, dance… She would have been so happy to dance too, now that she had a brand new tuxedo that she had only had at the dance party a couple of times. – Why didn’t my mother belong to such a party, which everyone barked at as a Bobrikoff and a seller of their land. And yet he hated Mother Bobrikoff as much as the others. He was bitter in his thoughts to his mother and all the people…

Einar Hammar, of course, brings Esther home. Then they probably agreed to go to the ice rink tomorrow…

Fit and skate! From now on, he doesn’t care about Esther either, but skates with Aino Kajava. She was almost as pretty a girl as Esther and even more advanced.

If he had frowned, he would still have gone out and gone behind Auer’s window to look oli There must have been other boys watching. But she did not dare, and did not bother to ask her mother for such anymore.

He went to early rest, annoyed and depressed.

At night he dreams.

They have an auction. Everything is sold so that there is not even an old chair left, but the guests have to stand in their rooms. Mrs. Forssner stands by the wall and someone says she is like a bad poem. People are crying. Then it is noisy that Ester Forssner and Pekka Auer open the prom, and at the same time Ester and Pekka dance in the hall. Pekka has a real men’s tuxedo and patent leather shoes. Esther is like a princess. They dance, talking and laughing, and don’t notice anyone until they finally go to sit on a rocking board under a siren bush growing at the back of the hall, laughing and kissing…