Valikko Sulje

The rider

A drawn picture, where a riding man is escaping.

Up, up to the top of Hengestivuori! The man spurs on his horse, strikes it for more speed. He hears the sounds of approaching horses behind him. Fear and panic coat his skin in a cold sweat; it is drizzling, the wind catches his arms, tries to throw him off the horse. Must get away, up, up. The horse’s mouth is foaming, its flanks tremble, the muscles under the dark hair are short of oxygen. The man holds the reins as if they could give him more strength or make his horse fly along.

The group of villagers is getting closer. The man curses his unnecessary detour, the curiosity that made him stray from his route and leave the others. He had been tempted by the smokes, sounds, smells, perhaps he had been fooled by his urges and the tranquil arms of the forest. Only when the first stone hit the horse’s flank with a hollow thud had he remembered the warnings and the hate, which hidden in these parts turned people into beasts.

Up, up to the top! The narrow track now rises steeply, skirts the edge of a stunted stand of spruce and small hummocks hugging the rock. The rain beats down harder. The man is no longer sitting in the saddle, but standing on horseback with his legs almost straight. An arrow flies by his shoulder with an evil buzzing sound. Another hits him in the calf and causes him to sway. A few more metres. Must get away, must escape!

At the top of the hill he turns his horse as if to go back, but then vanishes into the damp void below. The rider’s scream of freedom from torture cuts through the air.

Text: Pekka Vartiainen
Picture: Anni Jokitalo
Translation: Annira Silver
Location on map

The story and the pictures are a part of Tarinajoki book (River of Stories), made in Rural Explorer project. As part of a culture tourism project, stories arising from the body of folk narratives and history also have a function in relation to the productisation of tourism. The stories are linked to real locations.