From France, and earlier annals of the gentle folk of Pont Clery, this shifts to a small Finnish village and its more primitive peasant people. One of them is a hard-working farmer, Eric Vainen, who had experienced considerable tragedy in the past: his first son drowned mysteriously; his wife and child were lost in childbirth. A solitary, he is involved with others again when he salvages and marries a young girl who had been raped by a gypsy and is pregnant with his child. Eric is forced to kill her seducer. He is left to face not only the specter of the dead man but the more substantial threat of a gypsy troupe who come to claim the child... The Pont Clery books were less pretentious, less sententious as well; this deals with ""lives... lived close to the essentials of life, to birth, to death"" in some-what ennobling, earnest terms; the action is slow-moving and arbitrary and the characters not much more than the poses they assume.