I. N. (Ignatii Nikolaevich) Potapenko.

A Russian priest online

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up to him and respectfully took off his

"I ask your pardon, Mtoushka," said
he, in a confused voice. " I said that
ignorantly, stupidly . . . and I swear
to you I do not really think it."

And he asked Cyril for his bene-



" Come and see me, Sidor; bring your
comrades, and we will have a talk. Few
among you can read, you have no
schools, and you spend much money on
vodka . . . and you are people in good
circumstances ! "

Sidor listened to this invitation in
respectful silence. Marko himself did
not drive Cyril back, but sent one of
his labourers.

" They are regular children," said
Cyril, turning to Dementii, who was
sitting by his side. " Like children
they believe everything, both good and
bad. Therefore we ought not to lose a
single opportunity of telling them what
is right, ought we, Dementii Ermilitch?"

" Certainly not," answered Dementii,
flattered on the one hand that the chief
confided this to him, and on the other
regretting that he could not stop in
Marko's hut. " They are probably
praising the new clergyman now, and
into the bargain drinking bottle after
bottle of -vodka? thought he, with
vexed feelings.


ND now we shall begin to
make money again !
Father Rodion's week
begins to-day," said the
diatchok Dementii to the
deacon, after evening ser-
vice on Saturday.

"Yes, Dementii Ermi-
kitch, we must really put on the screw !
And we have had such an eventful week,
if it had only been Father Rodion's week,
we should have had nearly forty roubles
in the box. A wedding, three funerals,
consecrating a barn, and extreme unc-
tion for the old woman Miroshnitchich
— all important affairs ! . . . And we've
got in all, fourteen and a half roubles !
. . I am ashamed to say it • , . I
really am ! "

In a word, the junior portion of the
staff of the parish church were very
dissatisfied with the new clergyman's
first week. No one as yet knew Father
Rodion's opinion on this matter. He
received the deacon's report about the
contents of the box for the week in
silence, and did not even answer
Dementii's question, "What do you
think of that, Father Rodion ? " Evi-
dently, as a man of sense, he had not yet
come to any conclusion about the turn
affairs had taken.


On the other hand, in the village,
varied and animated reports were cir-
culated. Anton having brought the
wedding to a happy ending for one
rouble, told all his friends the true story.
" We sinned in judging him so quickly,
and it was your fault, Anton ; and after
all he is a good sort," said the moujiks.

On Sunday when the farmers came
in to church they told one of the Lugo-
voe natives what had happened at
Marko's, and this gave rise to fresh
conversations about the new priest.

But it must be said that the village
formed no definite conclusion about his
character, they confined themselves
chiefly to relating facts about him.

" Says he to Miroshnitchich, ' Old
woman, you'll get well, and you'll get up
and work and pay me then ; but if you
die, why then we will settle it in the other
world ! ' " said one of them.

" Oh, he's that sort ! ... In the
other world . . . H'm ! . . ." remarked
the listeners.

" When they buried Proshka, Avdiehk's
boy, she gave Cyril twenty copecks, and
when he saw that all the property in
Avdiehk's hut amounted to a pot and
a broken poker, he said, ' Thank you
very much, but I must give you back
some change out of this,' and gave her
fifty copecks, and said, ' Go and buy
some cod-liver oil for your eldest son,
and make him drink it, as he has
scrofula badly.' "

" He is a queer fellow ! A wise man
would not do that."

"That depends. . . . Whence come
the man's ideas?"

" And he told the farmers not to drink


more than two glasses of vodka — more,
he said, is bad for you."

" Two glasses is very little for a man
— a paltry affair."

" Absurdly little. How, for instance,
can a christening go off properly with
only two glasses? Or, again, a wed-
ding ? . . . No, it's nonsense ! " . . .

It was autumn ; the days became
gloomy, rain set in. Cyril at the time
was busy in the parish. Mdria Gavri-
lovna had only just got up, and was
beginning to dress. Feokla came into
the room and said —

"A carriage has come, from the
town." Mdria Gavrilovna's heart beat
quickly ; she ran to the door.
" Mamotchka ! "

And three seconds later she was
hugged in the embrace of Anna Niko-
laevna Fortificantof.

"What has made you come so far,
and alone?"

u In the first place it is not far — some
fifty versts ; in the second place I have
not come alone, but with the coachman."
It appeared that the mother longed
to see her daughter, and so had started
off to visit Mura, who was inexpressibly
delighted at her arrival, and laughed,
and jumped, and every now and then
embraced her again, and finally cried.
" It's from joy, mamotchka ! " she ex-

Anna Nikolaevna was contented
with the quarters. Feokla rather
shocked her by immediately entering
into conversation with her and
telling her that she was " a poor
widow," and had served all the clergy
here; when Mura left the room she


came nearer to Anna NikoMevna and
said to her, in a mysterious voice,
c Keep a watch on the young people,
matouskka, they don't know how to
live ; any other batoushka would have
had a couple of cows, and ten sheep,
and fowls by this time — and he has got
nothing. It's a shame to have to say
it : we buy flour ! I have never known
such a thing before. I have been in
the service of three incumbents, and
they used to sell flour. No, you must
teach them the right way."

Notwithstanding that this information
was very humiliating for Anna Niko-
ldevna, she made a note of Fedkla's
communication. After living two months
in a parish, usually considered a good
one, they had actually got nothing !

" But tell me, how do you live ? "
asked Anna Nikolaevna.

" Oh, all right. I am quite satis-
fied ! " answered Mura.

" But explain a little. How do you
pass your time ? "

" I read chiefly. Cyril is generally
either in church or in the parish, some-
times in the school, and sometimes in
the country."

" And you sit here alone ? *

" Yes — why ? "

" And you have no acquaintances ?
Isn't there a lady living in the place? I
thought he had called on her."

" Who ? Cyril ? not on any account.
He said, ' I shall go if I am wanted ;
but how am I to know what sort of
creature she is ? ' I have made the ac-
quaintance of the other priest's family —
six daughters, absolutely uninteresting


" The result is that you are dying of
ennui! "

" Cyril keeps saying to me, ' Get to
know the peasants ; you will find them
interesting.' "

Anna Nikolaevna smiled and
thought, u Yes, he really has got a screw
loose in his head."

Cyril arrived, and expressed his plea-
sure at seeing his mother-in-law. " You
see how pleasant it is here in the
country. And you will stay with us ? "
said he.

" No, excuse me ; that I cannot pro-
mise ! " answered Anna Nikolaevna,
with a haughty air. The place of living,
according to her idea, formed an index
to people's social position. The capital
in her eyes, meant an exalted position
and a good income — the country, abase-
ment and poverty. Therefore Cyril's
invitation, in a sort of way, was insulting
to her.

In the course of the day Anna
Nikol&evna convinced herself, from
personal observation, that they bought
everything, and that Feokla was right.
For every little thing required in the
kitchen — meat, onions, potatoes —
Feokla had to go to the little shop ; and
cream for tea cost nearly as much as in

'* Look here, my dear, buying every-
thing in this way must be very expen-
sive ! Have you such a large income
as all that ? "

" Cyril gives me everything he re-
ceives to the last copeck."

" Well, what does he get a month ? "

" Twenty or twenty-five roubles." x
1 About £3.


"Is that all his income? A fine
living indeed ! And this after the
academy and the examination ! And
to live costs you ? "

"About fifty roubles."

" Where do you get them from? "

Mdria Gavrilovna got confused and
reddened. "It's all right, mother. Qur
income will soon increase ... we shall
soon make it up again."

Anna Nikoldevna looked at her
some time in doubt, and then said, in a
sharp tone — " Oh ! I understand ; you
are living on your capital."

" Oh, that's nothing ! We shall soon
put that right. Only, mother, please
don't say anything about it to Cyril ; he
really doesn't know anything about it."

Anna Nikoldevna answered nothing,
but knitted her brows and determined
to give her son-in-law a lecture.

The following day, when Cyril went
out into the parish, Anna Nikoldevna
received several visitors. The first of
these was Father Rodion's wife. She was
a woman of considerable height, broad-
shouldered, and fat. Notwithstanding
her fifty odd years, she appeared in a
light rose silk mantle with blue ribbons
in her hair which did not show the
slightest sign of turning grey. It must
be said, however, that there was nothing
affected about her ; the mdtoushka
merely wished to express her respect
for the cathedral dignitary's wife, by
this gala costume.

" Excuse me, but I have got to find
fault with your son-in-law,'"' began she,
almost straight off. " He is introducing
new customs ; he never asks the parish-
ioners, ' How much will you pay? ' The


result is, they give a few copecks.
Would you believe it ? — formerly my
husband never received less than 60
roubles a month, and sometimes So, 100,
and even 120 — and now 20, 25. How
is one to live? I have got half a dozen
daughters ! . . . This is of course only
inexperience. He is a young man — but
why doesn't he come and consult Father
Rodion and take his advice ? Although
your son-in-law is the chief, my husband
is a man of experience."

Afterwards the deacon's wife and
diatchok's wife called. They were so
shy in the presence of the dignitary's
wife that they could not make up their
minds to sit down ; they, however, ex-
plained that with the miserable incomes
they had received since the new priest's
arrival, it was impossible to live.

" I understand it perfectly," said Anna
Nikolaevna, getting agitated by these
various communications ; "but you may
be assured that all will be put right. I
shall speak to him : for my daughter's
sake I shall speak."

The women who were, of course, act-
ing in the interests of their meek hus-
bands, went out with hope in their hearts.

" I want to have a talk with you, my
dear son-in-law," said Anna Niko-
laevna, sternly, to Cyril. It was getting
dark. Mura was sitting near the stair-
case at the tea-table reading a novel.
Anna Nikolaevna took advantage of
her absence to get this disagreeable
conversation over.

" I am at your service, my dear Anna
Nikolaevna," said Cyril, good-naturedly.
He had a sort of idea of what was
goin^r to follow.


" I cannot understand the way you
are acting ; I don't understand it.
You have only been here two months and
all are already dissatisfied with you ! "

" Not all, Anna Nikolaevna — not all."

" All. Father Rodion is very dis-
pleased. The deacon and diatchok both
complain that they can't live. What do
you mean by ' not all ' ? "

' ; But the parishioners ? I don't think
they have complained to you."

" Do you think I am going to talk with
your parishioners ? It's all the same to
me whether they are satisfied or not !
You have demoralized them ! They pay
what they like now, and the clergy's in-
come is diminished to one-third of its
former sum. I can't make it out ! It's
simple madness ! "

" But we get on very well. Thank
God, we have enough to eat and drink,
and we do not dress in wild beasts'

Anna Nikolievna looked at him
fixedly for a moment, as though to
try and make out whether he really was
a simpleton or whether he was acting a

" Look here, Cyril," said she, lower-
ing her voice, "is it possible that you
can live without knowing what goes on
under your very nose ? Your income is
twenty-five roubles a month, and you
are living at the rate of fifty. Do you
understand ?"

Cyril looked at her, reddened, shrunk
back, and squeezed the skirt of his
cassock, which up to that time he
had been fidgeting with between his

" This is Mura's fault. ... I did not


know," said he ; and, getting up, added —
"Thank you very much for the infor-
mation, Anna Nikolaevna : we will
change this."

" I should hope so, indeed ! . . . And
I need hardly tell you, Cyril, how painful
all this is to me. It is absolutely neces-
sary to make provision for a rainy day.
I only advise you."

Cyril looked at the window and was
silent. Anna Nikolaevna, satisfied that
she had made a strong impression, went
out on to the staircase to tea.

"What a long time you've been,"
said Mura.

" My shoes are so tight, it takes a
long time to get them on."

Cyril remained long alone in the
room. When at length he came out it
was quite dark, and Anna Nikolaevna
could not distinguish the expression of
his face. The following morning she
returned to the town, taking with her the
" capital," so as to put it in the bank,
where she considered it would be safer.
However, she left four hundred roubles
in case they were required. Before
starting she did not say another word to
Cyril, supposing that she had already
said enough. But she called Mura on
one side and whispered to her —

" I wish you good luck, Mura, and
hope that all will go well. But if any-
thing goes wrong, come to me at once.
Everything that we have belongs to
you ! "

" I want nothing. Whatever happens,
I shall stick to Cyril," thought Mura ;
and when her mother had gone, she went
up to Cyril, took his hand, and quietly
said —



" You know, Cyril, . . . I . . ." She

did not get any further, and turned
red. Cyril tenderly kissed her hand
and said —

" My poor, dear Mura."


kURA, I should like to know
what it costs us to live,"
said Cyril, one day.

Mura guessed that this
was "mamma's doing," but
as he had resorted to diplo-
matic methods she re-
solved to meet him in a
similar way.

" Very well, " said she, taking a pencil
and paper and beginning to make cal-
culations aloud. Taking advantage of
Cyril's ignorance, she put down each
item at half its real price, and the result
of this calculation showed that they were
living at the rate of about twenty-five
roubles a month, that is, about the sum
they were receiving. There even re-
mained a surplus of a rouble or so.

" Aha ! I suppose Anna Nikolaevna
said that by way of frightening me,"
thought Cyril, and he told Mura about
his conversation with her mother.

"Well, you see the figures," said
Maria Gavrilovna, with a perfectly calm

The result of this conversation was,
that Feokla continued to manage
domestic affairs, and things went on
in the priest's house just as before.

Cyril had already been four months
at Lugovoe. His relations with his col-


leagues had reached the point when*
Father Rodion, who ail the timehad been
hoping that " the young man will come
to his senses," said to Father Simeon
and to Dementii —

" No, this is not inexperience, but he
is not right in the head ! That's what it

"That's it, Father Rodion," said they ;
11 and besides that, he is quarrelsome."

" We must put a stop to this ! " ob-
served Father Rodion.

" Certainly we must," answered the

It was. in fact, necessary to do some-
thing. The parishioners had not only
taken advantage of the new order of
things, but they had abused it. Those
who were by no means poor, had given
a mere trifle for the most important
services. Some of them had even given
ten copecks for a funeral. At first this
had been compensated for, as far as the
deacon and diatchok were concerned,
because during Father Rodion's weeks
they had extorted twice the usual price.
But the parishioners had soon found this
out, and managed to defer their de-
mands, with the exception of those
matters which could not be put off,
till Cyril's week. Out of twenty
weddings during the whole autumn,
only six or seven had fallen to Father
Rodion's share, and Cyril had per-
formed the rest. The custom of paying
" as much as you can " was very agree-
able to the Lugovoe parishioners.

When Father Rodion had come to
the above-mentioned decision about
Cyril, he put on his best cassock and
calotte and started off to the chiefs


house. The first person who saw him was
Feokla. His smart appearance, and the
very fact of his coming, so astonished
her that she ran into the room and
informed Cyril.

" Father Rodion is coming to see you ;
he has got on his new cassock."

" Well, I am very glad to see

Father Rodion, walking heavily and
waving the broad sleeves of his cassock,
approached the doorway. Cyril came
out to meet him, and conducted him
into the room. He shook hands with
Mura who was sitting there. Father
Rodion sat down and said —

" I haven't been to see you for a long
time, Father Cyril."

"No, you've onlybeenonce altogether,
Father Rodion."

" And you haven't called on me more
than once ; when people live in the same
place and often see each other ..."

It seemed at first as if Father Rodion
had simply come to pay a visit. But
after he had made two or three remarks,
he suddenly coughed very loud and
said —

" I have come to see you on business
Father Cyril."

"Well, what is it, Father Rodion ?"

" It's . . . it's an important affair."

Having said this, he took his beard
in his left hand, and turned it upwards.
Mura understood that her presence
was not required, got up and went into
the next room.

" Father Cyril, this cannot go on — it
really cannot ! * said Father Rodion, with-
out further prelude. " Judge for yourself :
I have got six grown-up daughters, and


no one seems to want to marry them. . . .
I have got to provide for them, to feed
them, to dress them. . . . And besides
that, I ought to put by a marriage
portion for them. . . . Six ! Just think
of it !— six! . . ."

" Well, Father Rodion ? "

" Look at Dementii, again. He's got
a heap of children all requiring educa-
tion. But I say nothing about that. I
merely ask you how he is to keep
them alive."

" Father Rodion . . ."

" No, allow me to have my say,
Father Cyril. You know I am not of a
talkative disposition, and it is hard for
me, but now I have begun, allow me to
finish. I have waited four months in
the hope that you would yourself under-
stand; and now it's time for me to
speak. Don't be angry with me for
this, Father Cyril, but I tell you that
this state of things cannot go on ! It
really cannot, Father Cyril !"

" What are you talking about, Father
Rodion ? It seems you complain about
something . . ."

"I do. . . . About whom? . . .
About you, Father Cyril ! You have
made up your mind that we shall all be
paupers. . . . Up to the time of your
arrival we not only made enough to live
on, but even managed to put a little by
for a rainy day. But now ! It's awful !
Not even enough to keep alive. In four
months, Father Cyril, excuse me . . .
you have demoralized the parishioners
and ruined the parish."

" What ? "

"Yes, ruined it ! Liigovoe was formerly
considered the best country parish in


the whole district . . . and now : . .
now it is a beggarly living."

Father Rodion had entered the house
with a firm determination to be perfectly
calm and composed during the interview,
buthe could notrestrain his feelings when
the subject of the parish was being dis-
cussed. For fifteen years all the clergy
in the district had looked with envy on
the living of Lugovoe, and suddenly
some youngster, only just ordained,
comes,filledwith new notions and brings
it to such a condition, that it is worth
nothing. Father Rodion raised his
voice —

" No, Father Cyril, you must give
this up ! Of course, I know you are
young and inexperienced, but as others
suffer from your inexperience, I am
bound to give you advice."

" Do you blame me for not fixing a
tariff for the various demands made
upon us, and for allowing each to pay
what he can ? " asked Cyril, when Father
Rodion had at length finished.

" I do — I do ! " hastily answered Father
Rodion ; " therein lies the whole root of
the evil."

" I cannot act otherwise, Father
Rodion — I cannot. It's contrary to my
nature and to my principles ... I

" Excuse me, Father Cyril. This is not
right. You are without children, and
we three others have each a family. So
far we have lived, thank God, without
harming any one. Suddenly you come
and say, ' No, this is wrong ; you have
no right to live, you must be cleared
out.' We, Father Cyril, are old residents
here, and you are, excuse my saying it,


you are a new-comer. We live like
others, and you wish to make us live
according to your ideas. I ask you, is
this fair ? "

Cyril did not answer for a minute or
two. The thought occurred to him what
an immense gulf there was between his
and Father Rodion's ideas. Certainly,
he had never even attempted to explain
his principles to Father Rodion. Let
them think this a mere caprice, inexperi-
ence, or anything else they like. He
knew, that to explain the whole system
of his views of priesthood and of the
calling of a pastor, would be impossible.
This would simply mean to declare open
warfare with them.

" It may be unjust, Father Rodion,
but otherwise I cannot act," said he,
thoughtfully, and with pauses.

" What ! you allow the injustice of the
thing, and refuse to act otherwise ? "

"Yes — yes — yes! . . . I shall continue
to act as before, Father Rodion, because
I cannot do otherwise."

"But you are not alone. Our fate
depends upon you."

Cyril got up, somewhat disturbed,
and paced about the room.

" Look here, most honoured Father
Rodion, I had foreseen that all this would
happen, and therefore I asked the bishop
to appoint me to a living in the very
depths of the country, somewhere where
I should have been alone ; but he
appointed me to this place. It is not
my fault, it is not my doing. But so it
is, and so it must be. ... I tell you
straight, Father Rodion, and wish you
to understand that I have not come here
for the sake of income. I could have


had a better income in the town than
all your incomes at Lugovoe put to-
gether if I had wished it. Just consider,
Father Rodion. A man who has finished
the course at the academy, who can
have any place he likes in the town,
comes to the country. Do you suppose
that such a man has not thought well
about what he is doing ? And do you
imagine that after this, you will influence
me with your arguments ? "

" In fact there is no chance for us.
Is that so?"

" No, not altogether. Go to the
bishop and ask him to transfer me to
another place, to some small parish.
You may hint to him that I should not
be sorry for this.''

Father Rodion got up, took his hat
and stick, and gloomily said — " Good-

Going out, he thought to himself,
" One can only suppose from this that
the young man is mad.' 5 On arriving
home he found the diatchok and deacon
Simeon. They were sitting in the
vestibule. So great was their mental
agitation that they had not succeeded
in getting up a conversation, and were
both sitting silently gazing at the wall.
When Father Rodion came in they
got up, and at once guessed that the
negotiations had ended unfavourably.
If this had not been the case, Father
Rodion would have said, " Oh, you are
here, are you ? I am very glad to see
you ; " but now he walked past them
looking as if his mouth was full of
water. Three minutes later he re-
appeared, having taken off his calotte,
and said, " Dementii, my friend, go and


harness the bay mare to my trap . . .
my man is out. I am going to the lady
of the manor."

"Aha! ; ' thought the diatchok and
deacon to themselves at the same
moment, "affairs have not been satis-
factorily arranged." Dementii went
out and harnessed the mare, and Father
Simeon helped him. Five minutes after,
Father Rodion started off in his best
get-up, with the pain bcni in his hand.

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