I. N. (Ignatii Nikolaevich) Potapenko.

A Russian priest online

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cellar, and there was no sign of
any bottles — not even empty ones.
"They have got nothing, and have


"my daughter is a beggar." But this time
she herself resorted to Feokla for infor-
mation about their mode of living. It
was impossible, too, to argue with Mura,
on account of her position. Feokla's
report gave her the final blow : " Good
Lord ! good Lord ! " said she, with
the sincerest compassion, "you've no
idea of the state of things with us now —
no words can describe it ! We have to
buy everything : we buy milk by the
glass, butter, cream, everything comes
from the shop ! . . . We have no
means to buy cows with ! The lady of
the manor offered to give a couple of
cows — this I know from her head man
— but they would not take them. ' I
can't accept presents,' said he. If he
goes anywhere, he has to take post
horses. . . . Would you believe it, the
poor matoushka grudges every egg she
eats ? . . . No income ! In the other
clergyman's time the walls of the barns
were nearly broken down by the grain
in them. There was nowhere to stow
it all, to say nothing of fowls, and pigs,
and calves. But now they get no money.
. . . That's what we've come to ! . . .
The deacon and the diatchdk are simply
dying of hunger. I am only telling
you the truth."

" Oh dear ! oh dear ! " thought Anna
Nikoldevna, in despair; "this is what
my daughter has come to !" She
thought of talking to Cyril, but decided
it would be useless. " I shall simply go
to the bishop, and get Father Gdvriil
to go with me. Perhaps he may be able
to bring him to his senses. No, I shall
take Mura home with me. . . . What


does it mean ? If he wanted to be a
saint, why did he not go to the monas-
tery ? Why did he marry ? My poor
Mura ! "

Anna Nikolaevna scarcely spoke to
Cyril, and tried to take no notice of
him, and looked at Mura with an air of
grief and pity. Mura gave birth to a
son, and her mother stayed for nine days
with them. As soon as Mura had
recovered, her mother went away. She
would not even stay for the christening,
but made Mura promise to call the
child Gavriil, after his grandfather. She
went away, firmly resolved to take deci-
sive action.

Mura and her son both got on very
well. MadameKroupie"evand Dementii,
the diatchdk, were the godparents, and
at the christening Dementii, who had
to stand next to the lady of the manor,
became very much confused ; but after
the ceremony was over, he determined
to profit by the occasion, and asked
Madame Kroupieev, as she was leaving
the church, for an acre of kitchen-
garden. NadieshdaAlecsieevna at once
agreed to grant this, and Dementii was
greatly pleased.

Soon after this an event, long ex-
pected in Lugovoe, occurred. One
day, on a Saturday, before evening
service, the sexton saw a cart approach-
ing the church ; it was one of those
old-fashioned vehicles on high wheels
covered with tarpaulin, something
in the style of so-called "fours" in
which the Jews drive, sometimes as
many as twenty of them in one cart.
This kibitka was drawn by a pair of
horses, and jolted terribly, as it was


built without springs. The tarpaulin was
turned up on one side, and from behind
it, was seen a woman's face with an
agreeable expression, with a hat, from
under which peeped out hair of a light
flaxen colour.

" Where is Father Rodion Manu-
scriptof 's house ? " asked the young

"Father Rodion's house?" asked
the sexton in his turn. "Why do you
want to know? His house is empty, and
he has been gone these six months."

The woman's head disappeared, and
in its place was seen a man's head
covered with a soft felt hat. His face
was swarthy and sunburnt. The sexton
remarked that his beard and moustache
and hair were of recent growth.

" Good day, my friend ! " said he,
in a pleasant voice. " You are the
sexton, I suppose ?"

" I am. I'm the sexton."

" And I am the clergyman in Father
Rodion's place. Show me where his
house is. We are going *o live there
— I have bought it from him."

The sexton hastily '00k off" his hat,
and said, " Very wel 1 . " He conducted
them to the house and noticed on the
high-road, three carts with furniture
and various farming implements. After
this he set out for Father Cyril's house,
to .nform him of the new arrival.

"Oh, he's arrived has he? — that's a
good job," said Cyril ; and thought to
himself, "It will not be so bad this
time. My system has taken root now."

" They are as young as you, bi-
toushka," added the sexton.

Cyril replied nothing, but thought


that this was all for the best, as a young
man would understand him better than
an old man.

The next day, at the time for the
Sunday service, the astonished parish-
ioners made way for the new priest as
he walked up the church to the altar.
He was short but of strong build ; on
his face was written health and self-
satisfaction. His dark lilac-coloured
cassock suited him very well. He
walked with a slow, pious gait.

Ascending the steps in front of the
screen, he made a deep bow and kissed
the eikon on the eikonostasis. 1 He
looked as if he was going to turn round
to the congregation and preach a short
sermon, or at least say, " I am the priest,
Makarii Silodmski, appointed in the
place of Father Rodion." Buthe did not
do this, and disappeared behind the
eikonostasis by a side-door. He there
bowed three times to the ground, and
then bowed to Cyril, who was standing
at the altar in his vestments, and stood
some way off. During the whole of the
mass he stood in the same place, and
evinced genuine piety, whispered the
prayers, and at suitable moments made
profound bows, while at others, he only
bowed his head ; and his face the whole
time had a look of concentration in
prayer. After the mass he came up to
Cyril at the altar and respectfully re-
ceived his blessing.

" Allow me to make myself known to
you — I am Makarii Siloamski,"said he.

Cyril introduced himself and invited

1 The screen which divides off the place
where the altar stands, from the rest of the



the new-comer to his house after

" Yes, yes, of course we must have
a conversation about business," said

After mass he drank tea at Cyril's
house. He appeared to be a cheery
and talkative man, spoke about the
seminary, about the teachers, the rector,
and the inspector. He had only finished
the course last summer, and had been
the psalm-reader there for a whole year.
Cyril remembered him as a small boy
in the first class at the time that he left
the seminary.

" I went to pay my respects to the
bishop before I started, and he said
many pleasant things about you. He
said that you were very learned and
that all ought to take example from
you," said Silodmski, among other

" I am very much obliged to the
bishop," replied Cyril.

" Well, I hope that we shall live in
peace and concord," said the young
priest, getting up to go.

" I hope so too." Cyril purposely re-
frained from all explanations — things
would explain themselves.

That evening the Obnovlienskis paid
a visit to the lady of the manor. This
was Mura's first visit to her since the
birth of her child. They were sitting
in the dining-room drinking tea. The
windows looking on to the garden were
open. The lilac-trees were in flower
and the room was filled with their
aroma. Cyril related how he had made
the new priest's acquaintance, and said
he was glad the bishop had sent a


young man, and that this was his tirst
appointment. " He has never been
corroded by routine, and love of gain.
A young mind is easier won over to the
right side, and you will see he will be
an excellent colleague for me."

Nadieshda Alecsieevna listened with
a sceptical look. Her eyes, fixed on
Cyril, seemed to say, " What a naive
and innocent child you are ! Don't you
trouble to look for a companion, because
you won't find another like your-
self! "

The servant at this moment informed
Madame Kroupieev that the new
clergyman had come ; she decided to
receive him in the next room, and went

The door was half-open, so that the
conversation was audible in the room
where the Obnovlienskis were sitting.

Siloamski entered sedately, and began
to look for the holy image. Finding a
small eikon in the corner near the ceil-
ing, he crossed himself three times and
bowed in front of it. He then bowed
to his hostess.

" Allow me to make myself known to
you : the newly-appointed priest, Makarii

Nadidshda Alecsieevna bowed, and
asked him to sit down. " Have you
been here long ? " said she, by way of
opening a conversation.

" I only arrived yesterday, but I
attended mass nevertheless this morn-
ing and made the acquaintance of my
colleague, Father Cyril. I have lost no
time in calling on you. Allow me, most
highly respected Nadie"shda Alecsieevna
to count on your good favour. '


" I am at your service."

" I am not going to trouble you with
any requests now, but in the future I
may want something : for example, if I
get another cow, where am I to keep
it? Or again, if I have not enough hay,
where am I to get it, if not from the
generous proprietress?"

" I am at your service," repeated
Nadieshda Alecsieevna, and got up with
a colder look on her face than when
they met.

" I will not trouble you any further
now," said Father Makarii, also getting
up and bowing his head, and putting
his right hand on his breast.

Nadieshda Alecsieevna inclined her
head and said — " This way, if you please.
This door leads into the garden. . . .
You have got your own horses, I sup-
pose ? "

" Yes, I have a pair ... I got them
for my wife . . . they are very fair
horses. . . . My respects to you ! "

Nadieshda Alecsieevna returned to
the dining-room and began to talk about
the gardener, who had been drunk for
three days and had not appeared in the
garden. She generally avoided speak-
ing badly of people, considering this to
be the business of gossips.

"Why don't you tell us anything
about your visitor?" asked Mura.

" He produced an unfavourable im-
pression on me," said Nadieshda
Alecsieevna, and returned to the subject
of the gardener. Cyril sorrowfully bent
down his head, and thought, " He has
hardly shown himself betore he begins
to give notice, 'I am a person who will
ask for all I want, bear that in mind ! '


He wants nothing at present, but he
does not wish it to be thought that he is
an independent sort of person. Whaf
a strange thing it is ! Where does this
come from? They don't teach such
things in the seminary, and he had had
very little other experience besides the
seminary. It must be in the blood, and
descend from one generation to another.
It is very, very melancholy."

The evening passed slowly. Na-
dieshda Alecsieevna was under the
influence of the bad impression created
by her visitor. She tried in vain to
entertain her guests. Cyril listened
inattentively and answered without
interest. He kept thinking about the
peculiar inherited weaknesses of his

They returned home early, shortly
after nine o'clock. Mura hurried to the
child. As soon as they arrived they
were astonished to find two visitors
waiting for them at the front door.
These were the deacon, Simeon, and
the diatchok, Dementii. They were
sitting on stools specially placed there
for them by Feokla. At Cyril's arrival
they both respectfully got up, holding
their hats in their hands.

"Why are you sitting here, gentle-
men ? Why did you not wait in the
room ? Did you not ask them to come
in, Feokla ? "

" Yes, bdtoushka, I asked them to
come into the room, but they declined,"
answered Feokla.

" Oh, it's nothing ! . . . It's so plea-
sant in the open air now," mildly ob-
served the deacon.

Cyril invited them into the sitting-


room. Maria Gavrilovna hurried into
the bedroom to look after her son.

" Well, gentlemen, what is it ? " said
Cyril, as soon as his subordinates were

The deacon coughed, and said, some-
what hesitatingly — " We have come to
you, Father Cyril, about our business. I
and Dementii Ermilitch have long de-
termined to call your attention . . ."

The diatchok at this moment, evi-
dently thinking that Father Simeon was
making a mess of it, coughed loudly
and interrupted —

" We are perishing, Father Cyril — we
are simply perishing ! "

Cyril glanced up at him. "What do
you mean ? " said he.

" We are dying of hunger."

" Of hunger?"

" Yes, Father Cyril. We hesitated a
long while, and were afraid of disturbing
you. . . . But at last there is nothing
for it. . . . We have large families, and
nothing to give them to eat. We may
say that we ourselves are weak from
hunger. . . . The lady of the manor's
salary is perfectly inadequate ; we have
very little land ; we are not allowed to
take money from the people."

" Quite true, quite true," added the

" We don't ask for any superfluities,
Father Cyril, but simply for bread to
eat — for existence. Our children are
crying ; they want food."

Cyril walked about the room with his
head bent down and his hands behind
his back. It seemed to him now quite
clear that the deacon and diatchdk
could not possibly live on their salaries.


His own salary was only just adequate
to support life ; and, besides, they had
heaps of children, while he had only one,
who as yet had cost him nothing. The
position was complicated. He was the
cause of their poverty and was power-
less to help them. If he had anything
left, he would gladly have offered it to
them, but he had nothing He could
not possibly depart now from his newly-
introduced principles. This had been
his first victory, and he valued it highly.

' ' Father Cyril ! " cautiously interrupted
the deacon. Cyril stopped and looked
at him. "We have come to you to
make a request."

" Well, well ? " hastily said Cyril. He
heartily wished that this petition would
be something which would satisfy their
wants, and which he could grant.

" We have very little land, Father
Cyril, but you have a good deal, and
very good church land. You are doing
nothing with it, so why not give it to
us in return for a fourth part of its

" How much land have I got ? " eagerly
asked Cyril.

" Fifty dessyatines altogether, six of
which is grass land."

" Well, that's first-rate ! first-rate ! "
joyfully exclaimed Cyril. "You work it.
I don't want anything for it. I don't
understand these affairs, and besides,
I've got enough. . . . Yes, yes, vou take

Cyril's subordinates looked at each
other in astonishment. " What does
this mean ? " Dementii began, but
thought it better not to continue.

Cyril thought for a minute, and then


said — "Well, tell me, will this satisfy
you ? ''

"We are very grateful — sincerely
grateful," said they, bov.'ing low.

" Well, now go, God be with you, and
work the land, only don't be angry with

The deacon and diatchok again
bowed and hastily went out.

" He is really a good fellow ! ; ' said the
deacon, almost in Dementii's ear, when
they had reached the church.

"We must begin work to-morrow at
dawn. But what's thegood of it? — he will
probably change his mind. . . . Either
the lady of the manor or Father
Makdrii will persuade him to alter his

" It seems that Makarii is not one of
his sort ; he is a crafty fellow. . . . One
can see that already. He appeared in
church to show off his piety, and then
flew straight off to the manor-house.
He has already begun to beg for some

" Well, anyhow we shall be all right
now/' said Dementii, with a joyful face,
patting the deacon on the back, who
bent like a twig under his heavy hand.
" It's at the rate of twenty-five dessyatines
apiece, and if we add our own fifteen,
that makes forty dessyatines each !
What? We are regular squires now,
father deacon ! He is a good fellow !
It's a pity he's got something wrong
in his head."

When Cyril entered the bedroom
Mura asked him —

" Why did you do that, Cyril ? ; '

" They are in a state of destitution,
Mura," answered he.



" But you might have got six hundred
roubles for the land."

"Oh! have you made this calcula-
tion ?" asked Cyril, in a tone of genuine

" Feokla told me," mournfully
answered Mura, and did not say any
more about it. Feokla also, who had
overheard the conversation, rattled the
kitchen poker to express her dissatisfac-


AMSKI was one of those
pupils at the seminary who,
from childhood, devote their
whole energies to the attain-
ment of one fixed object —
that is, to obtain a living.
The living presents itself to
their minds exclusively in the form of
income, sacks of corn, measures of rye,
willing offerings from the richer parish-
ioners of fowls and chickens — both living
and roasted, of fresh piquant aromatic
" knish," of grain, with all possible kinds
of exemptions and privileges, which it is
every one's duty to confer on the pastor,
and, generally speaking, a full measure
of material comfort, with everything cut
and dried for them. The services of
the church — the mass, morning and
evening service, and various ceremonies
— form a sort of accessory to all this. But
it never enters their head to think about
the people that they are thrown amongst,
or about their influence in the parish.
When they have attained their wished-
for aim, they become merely fulfillers of
ceremonies. The parishioners demand
their services, they go ; and the parish-
ioners fulfil their partof the contract and
supply income. Their flocks look on
them in the light of performers of the


church services, and expect no spiritual
instruction from them, except such as
is conveyed through the services and
ceremonies of the church.

Such seminary students as these
confine their love of knowledge to
elementary text-books. Their reading
does not get beyond selections from
classical authors in school manuals. In
the department of theological study they,
as a rule, get no further. Thus it is, that
no external influence prevents them from
carrying out their object in life, which is
to prepare themselves for a living, for
the sake of their own material welfare.
When, therefore, they find themselves
in the company of intelligent people
they sometimes venture on such short
and authoritative remarks as that"G6gol
was a very clever writer," or that
Tourgenief wrote " Biejin loug," and that
Poushkin wrote "Telidgajizni." When
they settle down in their parishes, they
subscribe to the Neva * and the Diocesan
News, which form their only bonds oi
communication with the intelligent
world ; and looking at them without
prejudice, one is painfully impressed
with their lack of intelligence, and one
wonders what can they teach the unen-
lightened masses ? With what light
can they enlighten them ? As years go
on, they forget even the little that they
learned from the school-books, and
instead of raising their flocks to their
own level, they gradually become like
them, and imbibe all their prejudices
and errors.

Father Makdrii, during his time at the

1 One of the Russian illustrated papers.


seminary, had taken part in the episcopal
choir. He had a high tenor voice, and
at onetime,his worldly acquaintanceshad
even advised him to take up the musical
profession and become an opera singer.
But he looked at things from a practical
point of view, and did not pine for fame,
and considered that a bird in the hand —
that is the parish — was worth two in the
bush. In recognition of his services in
the choir, the bishop appointed him to
Lugovoe, as Lugovoe' had the reputation
of being an excellent parish. So he
bought Father Rodion's house through
an agent, and started off for Lugovoe
with his head full of dreams of the wealth
of the parish. After he had conducted
his first funeral, he was very much dis-
turbed at receiving nothing. It seemed
to him awkward at the very outset of
his career, to demand money straight
from the moujik. So he turned round
to Dementii —

" What about payment ? How do you
generally arrange it — before or after ? "

" They give nothing," said Dementii,
looking at the deacon with a very sly air,
as much as to say, " See what an ugly
face he will make in a minute ! "

But Silodmski made no face, and
simply stared, almost angrily, at

" I did not ask as a joke," said he ; " I
want to know what the custom is here."

Dementii again looked expressively
at the deacon, and seemed to say,
"Watch him well, father deacon,
watch him well."

"The custom here is not to take a
single copeck for services performed.
Everything is done gratis. We only


take the pain beni after the requiem
mass, &c."

" It seems you are trying to make a
fool of me ! " said Siloamski, with his
former angry tone, which, at the same
time, betrayed a shade of anxiety.

" How could I do such a thing ? I
would not dare to joke with you ; the
father deacon will confirm all I say."

"It is perfectly true," rejoined the
latter. " Up to Father Cyril's time
there were incomes, and very good ones
too, but Father Cyril abolished them."

" What do you mean, abolished them?
One has got to live somehow ! I . . .
simply don't understand it."

" Wait a bit, my friend, you'll under-
stand soon enough," thought Dementii,
and added —

" Certainly you must live, and you
must live on your salary ! The lady of
the manor has appointed a salary to
each one of us : the priests receive fifty
roubles a month each, and we get con-
siderably less! "

Siloamski mechanically lifted a
coloured handkerchief to his brow to
wipe off the perspiration. He felt just as
if he had suddenly tumbled into a trap.

"Oh ! that's the arrangement, is it?
A parish without income! Ha, ha!
We will see, we will see ! ... It is
necessary to find out by what right the
chief arranges matters thus ! We will
see ! "

He sajd this in undisguised anger,
and, forgetting about the propriety of
preserving a pious air, pulled off his
vestments with such energy, that it
might have been imagined he wanted
to tear them to pieces.


Dementii and the deacon were
mightily pleased. They did not like
Siloimski, and they took pleasure in
referring to the former incomes, to
add to the anguish of his heart. They
themselves were perfectly happy now.
On Cyril's land, which they had
divided between them, the first green
blades of the hoped-for crops were
appearing, and they considered them-
selves regular squires.

Siloamski went home first, but then
rushed out of the room, and flew off to
Cyril. Entering the chiefs house, he
even forgot to say " How do you do ? "
and at once began about business in
his high tenor voice.

"Excuse me, Father Cyril ! What is
the meaning of this ? By what right
have you altered the customs here?
By what right have you introduced such

"What's it all about ? What are you
talking about?" asked Cyril, getting
up from the dinner-table and wiping
his mouth with his napkin. Maria
Gavrilovna looked at him in alarm.

" I simply ask you by what right you
do such things ? Where is such a law ?
Show me this law ! " continued Silodm-
ski, perfectly maddened by his dis-
illusionment with regard to the " best
parish for income." " Although you are
chief, you have no such rights ! Excuse
me, you have no such rights ! "

" Please explain yourself, Father
Makdrii, I understand nothing."

" Why you have abolished the legal
incomes, and have introduced some
sort of salaries . . . some fifty roubles
a month, I believe. . . . I am very much


obliged to you, but all the same I have
a right to my legal income.''

" Yes," said Cyril, firmly, " that is our
custom, and you must make the best of

"Not if I know it ! What ! — acquiesce
in these customs which you have intro-
duced ? Never ! I refuse your salary,
and shall demand my rights. What
right have you? You exceed your
rights ! I shall complain, and you . .
you will be sent to the monastery. . . .
Don't imagine that because you are a
' magistrant,' you can do just as you
like ! The bishop is my friend, I was in

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Online LibraryI. N. (Ignatii Nikolaevich) PotapenkoA Russian priest → online text (page 10 of 13)