Had come as if not noticing the autumn side of summer. The Nordic summer is short.
Most of the time, it ends up as if in the middle of people’s minds.
The days were often rainy and the evenings darkened. However, there were still many balls and bright late summer rain days. On such days, the apples in the trees began to turn red. And then one day came to Kalle Jokikylä in Jalava, saying that the trees in Laukaa’s garden were so full of apples that strong branches had to be placed to support the branches, when they would otherwise have been broken by the weight of the fruit. And especially warmly, he described how those Lauka apples were red and juicy, in a word, the best apples in the world. Yes, he, Jalava Kalle, had had time to eat an apple, if any. He had bought them from the Turku market, had tasted garden products both in Jokikylä and at the church, but in the end he had to admit that he had never eaten real apples before,
They were the species that just melted and disintegrated in the mouth. And the whole garden was red apples, even in the ground the bases of the trees were full of fruit, and the fallen apples were the most ripe of them all. He, Kalle, knew it because he used to walk along the path to the highway next to the fence in Laukaa Garden when visiting a merchant, and now one tree happens to be right next to the fence, even with a couple of large branches extending to the other side of the fence. Those of those branches had fallen apples down the path, and when they weren’t really anyone’s apples, then Kalle had tasted them – and oh the honeymoon and wild berries! They were apples!
In it, when talking about apples and, above all, listening to Jalava Kalle’s glorious performance, the boys seemed to turn towards Laukaa Manor unnoticed. Then, when Kalle finished his story, the white main building and garden of Laukaa Manor could already be seen behind a small forest, where, in the light of the setting sun, something with the branches of trees reddened in a wonderfully fascinating way. Kalle suggested:
– If you don’t believe what I’ve said, come and see. Soon we will be there.
The group of boys soon arrived behind the fence in Laukaa’s garden, and then it was noticed that when it came to the abundance of apples, Jalava Kalle had not exaggerated at all. The branches just groaned at the weight of the large, red fruits. But the tree whose branches were supposed to extend beyond the fence, they did not see. When Vaito asked about that tree, Kalle explained it to be “behind that other side.”
The boys stood behind the fence in the shade of the trees and began to converse in a very quiet voice. Kalle again spoke of the marvelous qualities of those apples, so that the water swelled to the tongues of the boys, and finally Kalle made such a dizzying suggestion that:
– Let’s go taste them a little.
The boys fell silent for a moment.
– Can that joke go to the garden of others,
Vaito , the locker, objected.
– Well, but when you don’t have a garden, say Jalalla Kalle.
The boys’ eyes burned towards the garden and Vaitok also began to falter in his opposition when Rantala’s Anssu, the son of a juggler, went to Kalle’s side and convinced the rock hard that taking old apples under Swedish old law is not supposed to be a sin when “eating on the spot”.
– Is there such a article in it? would ask Reino hesitantly.
– Is there such an article? Of course it is. He, Anssu, has seen that article with his own eyes.
– Well, if it is certainly valid, then we will go, replied Vaito, but then those apples must then be eaten “on the spot.”
– Of course on the spot, said Anssu. – Who here would start breaking the law now.
The boys slipped from the cracks in the fence into the garden, crawled closest under the trees, grabbed a couple of apples in their grapples, and began chewing those swallowing terribly large mouthfuls and daring to move out of place. There was no sound in the vicinity except for the gnawing under the trees. But then suddenly there was a rubbery howl in the yard of the manor. Lauka’s chain dog stuck his horrible head out of his booth, sniffed the air, and howled.
In the garden, that howl caused an escape horror. The boys drifted through the garden fence even faster than they had come and disappeared into the juniper bush. Only at the edge of the forest along the roads did they stop and sit down to breathe.
– Didn’t I say they are good apples, Kalle boasted.
“They were nothing special,” Vaito replied, looking coldly into the distance.
The boys felt the whole thing embarrassed.
– Did anyone see us? curious Reino scared.
– Seen or not, that trip was not worth it, Vaito said. When he went to school, he felt he was the biggest culprit and then he continued: – I doubt that old Swedish law either.
– Yes, they say it is as I claimed,
Anssu said . He was fiery red in his face.
– Then you haven’t seen that passage with your own eyes?
– My eyes? Hm! I certainly don’t remember that now. I wonder if it was once talked about with my father and the croft of Vuorenpää, or where I got it in my head now. But it just should be true.
Vaito and Reino looked at Ansu with angry eyes. That’s what he was. Great was the man’s mouth, but when the Truth came to the fore, then there was a little left worth. “Lots of bucks, but little villas.” That proverb was like created for Ansu. The boys came in an even darker mood.
But to Jalava Kalle, he now began to explain in a carefree voice that whatever the article of the evil, so Lauka’s cartridge would not have been much enriched by the few worm-eaten apple-stricken people that were in his garden now less than an hour ago.
At the same time, there was a rumble on the highway. A horse and a chariot were visible on the hill. The boys spun around like a flock of birds and fled into the woods. It was caused by a sense of guilt. There was a lot of powerlessness and malice in their conscience, not talk about it, but this time they had stolen, even just under the apple tree. They felt like the whole world knew it.
On the other side of the forest, they came together again, but they no longer had anything to talk to each other. As the evening dawned, they parted, crawling with each neck bowed to their home.
Lukkari’s Vaito ran home after coming straight to his father and asked him a question that was to confuse the thunderbolt.
– Dad! I wonder if there is such an article in the old Swedish law that apples can be stolen if you eat them on the spot.
Lukkari looked at his son, looked at his bookcase and again at his son and burst out laughing. He laughed and laughed, slapped his knees with his big fat palms and laughed.
Vaito became restless, then he got angry and said, looking sternly at his father:
– Well! Let’s say then that I and Klemolan Reino and the other boys have been in Apple’s garden in apple thieves, and now it would be good to know if it’s permissible or not?
Lukkari stopped laughing. He raised his large eyebrows menacingly. What did he hear and did he hear correctly? Had his son been in the apple-stealing garden of Laukaa Manor and did that villain dare come here to admit such things?
– Huh! he growled brutally.
The boy was silent.
– Have you stolen apples? sounded like a thunderstorm.
– I am, but I’ve eaten them on the spot.
– On the spot! On what demonized spot? Luke’s voice suddenly went higher than an octave.
Break! And two more breaks!
– Anssu from Rantala said that taking apples is not a sin if you eat them on the spot. That is what the old Swedish law is said to say.
– Come here, the locksmith growled hoarsely, nervously moving his fat fingers.
Vaito took a step towards his father. He knew what was to come, but he did not dodge danger. Lukkari grabbed his famous, long-handled barrel from the wall, placed his son on his knees on his knees, and began to bang between hockey blows:
Or – stolen – apples. Would it be good to know – what – Swedish law says – – – yes – yes – it says so – – – in this case.
– How many apples did you steal?
– Two! cried Vaito, but I ate them on the spot.
– Yeah, I saw – for the first and that – – for the second apple and this – this is sure to happen in the right place.
The locksmith then threw the boy away, saying:
– Like that! That is exactly what the old Swedish law says, but that is only the other side of the issue.
– What is the other half then? asked Vaito as tears leaked from his eyes and his jaws vibrated.
– Do you want to know the other side of it? asked the locksmith calmly.
– I want to! answered Vaito.
– You must replace the stolen goods with Lauka’s cartridge.
– How do I ear it?
– What ears! With your work! You can get the amount of compensation yourself.
Vaito went to his bed thoughtfully in the evening. He really felt calm and good now that everything was over and clear. He had seriously decided with his own work to compensate for the damage the boys had done to Lauka’s master. And nothing else would have helped, now that his father had heard.
Vaito thought about awake for half the night and came up with a way. The lingonberries will soon ripen. What’s simpler than picking up those few gallons, selling them to the merchant, leaving the money to Dad and asking him to settle the matter with Mr. Lauka.
The next day Vaito got up early in the morning, went to Klemola, and whistled. Soon he saw Reino running tweeting against him. They now went to the hill next to the boardwalk, delved far into the sunshine, and Vaito recounted everything he had experienced yesterday. In the meantime, other boys came to the scene. Vaito explained the matter to them as well and suggested a quick berry trip.
Jalavan Kalle resisted. He refused to drag berry baskets to the merchant for the sake of a couple of apple bastards. Before, he even took his back.
– What will help it when the matter has come to light, Vaito defended himself.
Kalle got up, spat and went to step away. He set out to pick up more fun boys who could steal apples, too. The boys of the river village were dull of him.
Anssu also resisted at first, but Reino and Kankareen Epa sided with Vaido. So it was decided to go for the berry.
* * * * *
Berry Day was a ball of autumn summer day. The sun was shining, the tops and trunks of the trees shone. The boys of the river village stepped berry baskets in hand deeper and deeper into the forest’s large arches towards Salo. It was unspeakably solemn and wonderful to walk deep into the woods. When he shouted a little louder there, the echo responded from two or even three directions. Sometimes a swarm of teats fluttered right in front of them and the squirrels fled, fearing the noise they had made, to a dizzying height at the tops of the honks, from which there seemed to be only a brief jump to the bottom of the cloud.
Trails crossed the forest. The deeper they came, the fewer and smaller the paths became. The mosses formed soft, large rots that could be thrown to rest and land much more comfortably than in a real bed. The Hongs lengthened. Their trunks rose like huge masts to height. At the bottom they were completely branchless, at the top they only branched out, forming a handsome top through which the rays of the day peeked into the moss.
Then they came to the heath, which was quite reddened by the lingonberries, and now only they began to pick the berries, working quickly. The bottom of the basket was covered at that moment and the weight of the lingonberry bowl increased as it grew. The forest echoed as they talked with their high boy voices, and the ravens roared as they stepped. All the sounds were heard in multiples in those large halls of the forest. The slope of the moor was already warmed by the midday sun, when the boys, after picking up their baskets, settled on the moss to rest to listen in peace to the marvelous sounds and rumbles of the desert. Once upon a time, a large, gray hare ran right past a flock of boys, disappearing into a gloomy spruce, where glittering everlasting baptism.
In the evening, the boys went on a return trip, but soon realized that it was not as easy as entering the woods. One path led to the right, another to the left and everyone still had their cruising side paths. On the other hand, the forest thinned, but farther away it thickened again. The boys stepped in a row and they were already starting to get tired. They sat down to rest at the foot of a high mountain, not knowing where to go from it. The sun was already shining diagonally on the tops and trunks of the trees. On the high ridges there was a sparkling ray of radiance. That’s when Vaito suggested climbing the mountain. From there you would see a wide range and you would definitely see some familiar place, which would lead them to Jokikylä.
The resort proved to be excellent. Even before they reached the top of the mountain, they caught the eye of the church tower and its goldsmith, and that sight filled their chest with indescribable joy. They knew they were safe and for a long time they stood diligently watching the cross of the church they had seen so many times from Jokikylä before. Now it spoke to them again its new, gentle language and promised them, like all the lost, a sure refuge.
When they then ascended higher, the whole church village was soon visible and their own River Village rose far away. There, again, like hundreds of times before, it shone in the evening sun. The ceilings gleamed and the windows flickered like the brightest gold. They were like full of light and gold. Nothing was like Jokikylä. It was above all comparison, the best of all places on earth.
Tired, the boys now headed for the church and soon came out of the woods into the opening of the church village. From there it was a short trip to the road, but the beautiful Taipale was still to Jokikylä. The berry baskets already felt heavy and the boys ceased, but their minds were pleased.
Without further adventure, they arrived at the Kukola fork, but there was a group of boys threatening them. The boys of the river village were now not at all willing to fight. They stopped and began to wonder how to get past that looming danger. They saw how in that other group of boys their arrival had already attracted attention and how it was signified and whispered. The Berry Sitters sat down along the road to rest, hoping their opponents would go out of their way, but the sons of the church village also sat down and both sides now kept a close eye on each other. Next to the fence, protruding necks and heads came out, and two angry-looking pairs of eyes hit each other.
Finally the boys of Jokikylä got tired of waiting and decided to leave, whatever happened. They themselves were not going to give rise to a dispute. They decided to walk in the middle of the road quite calmly, and not be aware of the sons of the church village. However, their minds were depressed and they feared the worst.
They approached that gloomy, silent group of boys. When they were right there, an unknown long-haired boy stood up and asked what the berries cost. At the same time, others stood up and a recent questioner put his hand in Anssu’s berry basket, pulling a handful full of cranberries from there so carelessly that red berries dripped to the ground from all sides. The boys of the river village were now forced to stop, and soon a foreign hand reached out for each basket of berries. Rantala’s Anssu snatched the basket out of the hands of his attacker and in that cluster suddenly the whole basket tore and the berries fell on the road.
Anssu let out a resounding cry of distress. Epa and Vaito now placed their baskets on the road and attacked their opponents in fiery red, but these apparently backed away from the cracking of Anssu’s basket in amazement. The boys of the river village immediately took the opportunity to grab their baskets and run towards the bridge. But after them came Anssu, screaming horrible threats about the terrible processes he was going to raise against the whole church village and Kukola. His father was a juror who had been litigating before.
– You can still sell the shoelaces, Anssu roared before you get these fines. Just tell Kukola’s host that he will be home tomorrow when our father comes with two witnesses to challenge him.
The boys of the river village finally arrived at their own beach, but their minds were ape and they had long lost faith in that motto of modernity, which dares to declare that the world will always get better over time.