As the visitor
makes ready to leave, Viren brings out an icy little glass of clear fluid. Its
bouquet is that of the jar hospitals keep thermometers in. "Pontikka,"
he says slyly, and explains that this is Finnish moonshine, made of rye and
potatoes, illegal and widespread. ( Viren being a policeman, the following
demonstration will be termed instruction, not entertainment.)
The visitor sips.
Even as the chill drink touches his tongue he feels trickles of flame beginning
on the tender parts of his lips, chapped by the run. In his throat it bursts
into a flare. He gasps. Viren rocks back in his chair, giggling with delight.
Such appreciation must be rewarded, he says, and rushes to get a little bottle
for the visitor to take with him. Lasse and P�ivi walk out to the car to say
goodby. The road away from Myrskyl� is an inch deep in new snow, as yet
unmarked by the passage of any vehicles. Viren warns the driver to be careful.
Still he laughs, his arm around his strong wife, smiling through the snowflakes
at the discomfiture he has caused.