I. N. (Ignatii Nikolaevich) Potapenko.

A Russian priest online

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Dementii drove the britchka 1 in the
direction of the park.

Father Simeon returned home. But
after an hour or so, he repeated his visit
to Father Rodion, as the vehicle had

This was on Tuesday, a day when
there were no services. At six o'clock
in the evening a horseman rode up to
Father Cyril's gate, evidently a mes-
senger ; he bowed to Father Cyril, who
was sitting at the entrance to his house,
and gave him a small, sealed envelope,
on which was written — "To the Rev.
Father Cyril Obnovlienski." Cyril
opened the envelope, and pulled out a
visiting card, on which was engraved,
" Nadieshda Alecsieevna Kroupieev,"
and under which was written in ink, in a
small but firm handwriting — " earnestly
begs the Rev. Father Cyril to visit
her on very important business. If
necessary, a carriage shall be sent
for him at once."

" Yes, I have no horses," said Cyril,

" Do you wish the carriage to be sent
at once, bdtoushka ? " asked the horse-

1 A half-covered vehicle.


" Certainly, if it is an important

" Very well."

The rider returned. Cyril could not
make out what this "very important
affair" could be. It could not be a
request to perform some religious func-
tion '; in that case she would have said
so, and he would have to take the
diatchdk and the vestments.

"What do you think it can mean,

" I know what it is. Father Rodion
has been complaining about you, and
she wants to give you a lecture."

Cyril smiled. " What ! a lecture ? Is
she a diocesan superintendent ? I tell
you what, Mura — I don't think I shall
go. . . ."

" I think you ought to go. Besides
that, you have promised, they will send
the carriage. . . . She might think that
you were afraid of her. And besides,
it's only a request. . . . It may be some-
thing important, after all. And you
know . . . Cyril ... I have long wished
to tell you ..."

"Well, what?"

"You will make her acquaintance,,
and make me known to her ; anyhow,
then, there will be some one to whom I
can say a few words. . . . You see I am
quite alone here."

The carriage very soon arrived. Cyril
smartened himself up, put on his cas-
sock and went out. The manor-house
was about two miles from the church,
and stood apart from the village. Near

1 The priests in Russia visit every house two
or three times a year, and sprinkle holy water in
each of the rooms.


it were buildings and outhouses for
labourers, cattle, for grain, and a smith's
forge, &c. The house itself could be
just distinguished through the trees,
with its roof blackened by time. The
garden was enormous, but in bad order
and overgrown with grass.

The carriage passed the gates, drove
through the park, and stopped at the
front door of the manor-house. A neatly-
attired woman, whom Cyril had never
seen in church, stood on the doorstep,
and bowed to him and said — " If you
please, batoushka, the lady is expecting
you.'' Cyril gave her his blessing,
standing on the steps leading to the
door. She then led him into the house.
Passing through several spacious rooms,
he reached the dining-room and stopped
at the doorway. A small round table
covered with a table-cloth, with cups
and saucers, stood in the middle of the
room. On it stood a steaming samovar.
A boy about six years old with dark
eyes was seated at the table, and near
him Nadieshda Alecsie'evna Kroupieev,
whom Cyril had seen in church on the
first Sunday of his ministry. She at
once put down the cream-jug, got up
quickly and went to meet him.

" I am very glad that you have con-
sented to come," said she, with a
pleasant, sonorous voice. Her dark
complexion had an attractive appear-
ance, and her eyes helped this impres-
sion. She was tall and well-built, held
herself very upright, and she seemed to
Cyril to be of a somewhat impetuous
nature. Her general appearance pro-
duced a pleasant impression on him.
Sheseemedtobe about thirty yearsofagc.


" You told me that you wished to see
me on important business."

" Yes. . . . Sit down, please. . . . May
I give you some tea ? . , . This is my
little son."

Cyril bowed and sat down. The little
boy put down his cup and gazed with
astonishment at the visitor in the flow-
ing cassock and long hair, for Cyril's
hair had by this time attained a
respectable length.

"This is the clergyman, my dear."
' This is the first time he has seen a
clergyman so near," explained the lady,
and continued — "Yes, this is an impor-
tant affair. Father Rodion, your assis-
tant, was here a few hours ago."

"And complained about me," said
Cyril, smiling.

"And complained about you. He
said you had demoralized the parish-
ioners, and that since your arrival the
clergy had fallen into a state of desti-

"And you have summoned me here
to give me a befitting lecture."

"God forbid . . . quite the contrary V
answered Madame Kroupieev, empha-
sizing each word.

Cyril looked at her attentively.

" Does that mean that you approve of
my conduct ? "

" Not altogether. . . . But about that
afterwards. I promised Father Rodion
to talk to you about this. He was very,
very much upset about it. Of course,
you know, he won't stop at this, but will
go to the bishop. You must bear that
in mind."

" I ? "

"Yes, certainly."


" I have done nothing illegal, and
have nothing to fear."

"Oh ! that's your idea, is it? Tell
me, is it true that you have passed
through the academy and are very
learned ?"

" I finished the course at the aca-
demy it's true, but that I am very
learned is certainly not true."

Madame Kroupieev placed a glass of
tea before him, and pointed to the
cream and bread, and said — " If you
please, help yourself."

"Thank you, I generally drink tea
with my wife."

" Oh, you must make me known to
her ! May I call on her ? "

Cyril bowed, and added — " I am sure
she will be very pleased — she is quite
alone here."

"Very well ; I shall call to-morrow.
. . . Well now, what is to be done
about the clergy ? Do you think that
their grievance is a serious one ? "

" No, I don't. But of course they
earn very little now. Maybe that with
such families as they have, it is not
enough to live on. But I cannot allow
such commercial transactions to go on."

" I tell you what. The evil might be
remedied. . . . If, for instance, they had
regular salaries appointed to them."

" Where is the money to come from?"

"Well, I might pay it out of my

" You pay ? "

" Why do you look at me with such
Em air of astonishment ? "

" But why should you pay for a thing
m which you take no interest ? You
astonish me ! "


" Ah ! the first time you come into
my house you offend me." She said
this with an air of pretended severity, as
though she was speaking to a person
she knew very well. Cyril became con-
fused. He had not a very high opinion
of his powers of conversing with ladies,
and always imagined that a construction
might be put on his simplest words
which he had not intended to give

" Pardon me ; perhaps I did not
express myself clearly."

"No, no — I was only joking," hastily
answered the hostess, remarking his
confusion, " I only wished to ask you
why you will not recognize my earnest
desire to help a good work? — if it's only
because I've nothing better to do."
She laughed slightly.

Cyril said, seriously — " No, it's not
that ; I only thought that this was an
affair which did not interest you."

They agreed to make an exact esti-
mate of the expense at a future inter-
view, and decided for the present, in
principle, that Madame Kroupieev
should appoint a fixed salary to the
deacon and diatchok, on the under-
standing that they took no money from
other sources. Nadie*shda Alecsieevna.
also promised to call on Cyril's wife the
following day.

Cyril returned home in high spirits
He had come to this place with the
intention to work for the good of his
neighbours, and it had been a source
of great grief to him that the result
of this labour, so far, had been to create
discontent in the minds of his colleagues.
Now the cause of their discontent would



be removed. " I have always believed
that there are pienty of good people in
the world," thought he, and when he
got home, he sang Madame Kroupieev's
praises to Mura. Mura was very pleased
to hear that she would make the ac-
quaintance of a civilized person the
next day.


livedfive years uninterrupted-
ly at Lugovoe. Formerly the
huge, uncared-for garden, in
the midst of which, stood the
time-worn walls of the manor-
house, had been considered
a model garden. In it were thick
alleys grown over with lilac ; many
shady nooks, carefully-kept grass lawns,
picturesque summer-houses covered
with ivy and wild vine. The garden
was famous for its Spanish cherries,
which were known in the government
town under the name of " Kroupieevski
cherries " and eagerly bought up. There
were also plenty of apples and pears,
and they used to grow grapes and rasp-
berries. But all this had been before
the emancipation of the serfs, when
Madame Kroupiee'v's father was alive
and in possession of the place — a man
who knew how to get the greatest
possible yield out of the land and out
of the people. The garden had been
his great hobby, and the head gardener
was a German. As much care was given
to the garden as to " a living man."
The garden was divided into several
portions, each attended to by a gardener


who answered for the well-being of every
tree, for tidiness, order, and fruitfulness
of the soil in his portion, with his skin.
The old squire died five years after the
emancipation. One sorrow after another
had driven him to the grave. The
property passed into the hands of his
son Andrei, who, in accordance with the
new order of things, took part in the
ztmskoe sobrdnie* and was also juge
de paix of his district. During his
life the property went from bad to
worse. He was an invalid of a nervous
disposition, an ardent lover of nature,
of grass-grown fields, of the shady
garden ; but he loved all this as an artist
— a man who could gaze for whole hours
at the landscape, but was utterly in-
capable of taking any trouble about
them. The huge property continued to
yield a fair income, but not half of what
could have been made out of it. Andrei
did not trouble about this, and was quite
satisfied so long as he got enough for
his requirements. Half his income he
wasted in an utterly useless manner both
for himself and for others ; the other
half went to his sister, Nadieshda Alec-
sieevna, who lived in Moscow with an
impoverished aunt on her father's side,
and supported her and a numerous

Nadieshda Alecsie"e'vna was twenty-
two years old when her brother died.
Andrei died at the age of thirty-six un-
married, so that Nadieshda Alecsieevna

1 A local council, somewhat on the principle
of the French conseil gtntral, or our county
council, established at the time of the emanci-
pation (1861). The institution of juge de paix
was also introduced at this time.


became sole proprietress of the property
This change was not altogether pleasant
for her. Up to this time, she had re-
ceived ready money from her brother ;
and she now had to think about the
management of the property. There
was no one there whom she could trust.
The young girl knew nothing about
business affairs. She did not feel in
any way attracted to Liigovoe. She had
lived in the large, noisy town since she
was eight years of age, as the old people
after the emancipation had always lived
in Moscow. Here she had received her
education, at first under the strict super-
vision of her father, and later on with
perfect freedom, because her aunt, who
depended for her income on her niece,
did not dare to interfere and indulged
all her caprices. Her development took
place in a capricious manner, and de-
pended entirely on her nervous and
peculiar nature. During her parents'
life she used to prepare her lessons
carefully, conducted herself quietly and
modestly, rose from class to class, and
was considered one of the best pupils.
After their death however, she got tired
of working, for a whole year never
opened a book, and in the following
year was still in the same class. At the
age of fourteen she seemed to wake up
suddenly, and to her aunt's surprise she
became quite lively and even wild. Her
faculties appeared to sharpen : an almost
unnatural love of knowledge came over
her. She energetically occupied her-
self with learning, and eagerly read all
books that came into her hands. She
made her aunt subscribe to a circu-
lating library, and devoured book after


book. In her aunt's family, notwith-
standing the number of children of all
ages, she felt perfectly lonely. This
arose from the fact that she was looked
on as the source of income for the whole
family, and distinguished from the rest
in every sort of way: she was given more
expensive clothes, a better room, a softer
bed, and, moreover, all the family con-
stantly tried to express their love and
affection for her. The impressionable
child remarked all this, and by degrees
came to look upon her existence as some-
thing special, cr at any rate to consider
herself more important than her cousins.
In course of time this feeling developed
into almost open contempt for her
relatives. The greater part of her
spare time she spent alone in her room
with her books, for which she had
developed an immoderate passion. Her
aunt's circle of friends did not interest
her at all, and she hardly took any
notice of them, but she had no oppor-
tunity of forming friendships of her own.
At seventeen years of age, when she left
school, she was quite alone in the world,
and her shy nature prevented her from
having intercourse with other people.
She had a curious sort of knowledge ol
the world, which comprised almost every-
thing except what was useful in practical
life, and a feeling of contempt for those
who surrounded her and were nearest to
her. After she had left school she found
life very dull. Up to that time she had
spent the greater portion of her days at
school, and now she found time hang
heavily on her hands. She made two
or three chance acquaintances, and
attended courses of lectures, which just


then were being organized for the first
time. But she got no further with her
acquaintances. The opinion of people
winch she had formed in her aunt's
family, she continued, involuntarily, to
hold ; she looked on every one with dis-
trust and did not get on with anybody.
The lectures, too, disappointed her.
Accustomed as she was to reading
books which can be finished at a sit-
ting, she got impatient with the solid
regularity and slowness with which
they taught science, and the limitation
of each lecture to exactly an hour.
System and regularity bored her ex-
cessively. She could not bear the
stereotyped phrase with which the
lecturer began : " In the last lecture
we stopped at so-and-so." Why stop ?
She hated these stoppages. Beginning
with the elements of a subject in the
first lecture, she would have liked to
drain it right off to the very end. At
length she got hold of books treating of
the subjects lectured about, and got
tired of the "course."

At the time that she received news of
her brother's death she was in a state
of profound discontent with herself and
with her surroundings. Her nerves
were in a deranged state. She had no
one in whom she could confide her
thoughts, or with whom she could
become intimate. She longed for some
change in her manner of living. The
news of her brother's death made such
a change imperative, as she was forced
now to think about the management of
the property.

At this time her aunt's eldest son
resigned his commission as lieutenant,


involuntarily, and suddenly being seized
with a desire to devote himself to
agricultural pursuits, started off to the
south, to Liigovoe. Her aunt's other
children had, by this time, become
scattered: some had married and
others were at school, so that the house
became duller than ever. Little as she
had cared about her relations, she had
become accustomed to the noise of the
children. At this time the idea came
into her head that she was perfectly
ignorant of the wide world, and that,
maybe, this world would be more to
her taste than the one which had sur-
rounded her up to this time. Unaccus-
tomed to asking any one's advice, she
considered every caprice that came into
her head as a thing decided upon. She
resolved at once to go abroad ; and a
fortnight afterwards she was in Germany
in the company of her aunt, whom she
had almost commanded to come. Her
aunt could hardly disobey her, because
this would mean leaving not only her
niece to the mercy of fate, but her
income as well.

For about a couple of years Nadie"shda
Alecsieevna dragged the old lady about
from place to place, staying a fortnight
in Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, then going
straight to Madrid, and thence return-
ing to Athens. All this was new and
interesting for the young girl, but she
nowhere received a sufficiently deep
impression to feel attracted specially to
any particular place: She still felt a
sense of deep discontent with her lonely
position in the world. Her aunt was
worn out by this rushing from one corner
of Europe to another, but feared to


remonstrate with her niece, lest she
should say to her, " Very well, go back
to Moscow, and I will travel alone."
She was therefore very glad when they
stopped for a whole six months in Rome.
Nadie"shdaAlecsieevna,in a passingfitof
enthusiasm, visited all the museums and
neighbouring localities of the Eternal
City, and studied them with the assis-
tance of guide-books. The interest of
studying antiquities completely absorbed
her. But this passion lasted only six
months, and she again fell into a state
of apathy and discontent. So the old
aunt had to pack up her traps again.
They then went to Paris. Here the
wanderings of Nadie'shda Alecsieevna
ended. Her history in Paris may be
told in a few words. Up to the age of
twenty-two, she had never thought about
love ; the idea that she might belong to
some man had never crossed her mind.
She had a very cold-blooded disposition.
Chance admirers in Moscow and abroad
had always been snubbed by her. But
this feeling, just like all her other
caprices, was aroused suddenly, and
when aroused, took complete posses-
sion of her nervous and almost wild
nature. This was caused by her
acquaintance with a certain M. Tenard,
who was two years younger than herself,
and whose exterior appearance was such
as to arouse tender feelings in the mind
of a young lady of twenty-four, who had
never been in love before. He was tall,
elegant, with an open and very hand-
some face, the swarthy pallor of which,
seemed to tell of the mental struggles
which he had experienced ; and, more-
over, the cheery and frank nature of the


young engineer helped on his cause.
The old aunt could not understand how
it happened, but after three weeks or so
Nadieshda Alecsie'evna Kroupieev be-
came Madame Tenard, and took up her
residence in a small house in one of the
outlying streets of Paris. M. Tenard,
too, did not understand the affair
properly. The handsome Russian gir!
had taken his fancy, and he had,
perfectly sincerely, begun to pay his
court to her. He soon found out her
passion for him, and proposed to her as
she was very rich. His parents fully
approved of the alliance. They belonged
to a middle-class bourgeois family, living
on an income of four or five thousand
francs a year. Therefore they received
the rich Russian heiress into their family
with great joy. As soon as they had
settled down to live together — that is,
Nadieshda Alecsieiivna, her husband,
and her aunt — they were invaded by
various members of the Tenard family.
The old aunt was in despair, and
remonstrated with her niece, who
was inflexible. Nadidshda Alecsie'evna
seemed not to notice anything. She was
entirely engrossed with her new passion,
passed all her time with her husband,
and never let him out of her sight. They
visited all the sights of Paris together,
and for her, everything seemed to be
concentrated in love for this man. At
the theatre, driving, or walking, she saw
the whole of the world of Paris reflected
in his eyes. She tolerated her new
relations, and took very little notice of
them. This lasted about a year. She
gave birth to a son, and from that time
her disposition was entirely altered.


This event seemed to have put an end
to the cycle of her love. She became
sober, cold, and gloomy, and suddenly
showed an inexpressible contempt for
the Tdnard family, who invaded her
house. What business had they there?
What was she to them — these foreigners
with whom she had nothing in common
except her fortune, which they shared
so freely with her, to her aunt's inex-
pressible disgust ? Her husband seemed
more estranged from her even than the
others. Now that her eyes were opened,
she only saw in him an ordinary calcu-
lating bourgeois of very limited capaci-
ties, and she ceased to have the slightest
sympathy for him. The result of this
discovery was very unfortunate. She
asked the Tdnards to leave her in peace,
took the child, and started off to Russia
without saying a word to any one. She
went with her aunt straight to Lugovoe,
where she found her cousin, who was
managing theproperty, dying oi delirium
tremens, and sent him off together with
his aunt to Moscow, promising to help
them, and she settled down in the old
house, amidst the neglected garden. She
devoted her whole attention to the child's
education, made no one's acquaintance,
rnd did not receive visitors. Six months
after her return from Paris, Tenard
appeared at Lugovoe. She received him
politely, allowed him to live in a separate
wing of the house for a week, then
supplied him with money, and begged
him not to come any more. She then
opened business negotiations with a
lawyer in Moscow, and at the time of
her acquaintance with Cyril, was expect-
ing to obtain a divorce from day to day.


A week after Cyril had made the
acquaintance of the lady of the manor,
Father Rodion received a message from
her, asking him to come and see her.
He started off for the manor-house in
full hopes that Madame Kroupietiv
had managed to alter Cyril's views.
The deacon and diatchdk impatiently
awaited his return, buoyed up by similar
hopes. An hour afterwards he returned
home in a very agitated frame of mind.

Dementii did not even dare to ask
what had happened, but helped the
driver to unharness the horse. The
deacon, Father Simeon, made the
sign of the cross on his narrow
chest and gazed quietly at Dementii
and the driver. One of Father Rodion's
daughters brought out a chair and
placed it in the yard near the door.
A few minutes later, Father Rodion
appeared, dressed in his indoor costume,
which consisted of a jacket and checked
trousers. He sat down and looked at
the deacon and Dementii, who came up
to him.

11 Rejoice, O servants of the church
militant ! You will have great riches ! "
said Father Rodion, without looking
at them, and in such a tone that
they guessed there was no particular
cause for rejoicing.

"Yes. . . . It's about time!' 5 said
the diatchok, in a tone of bitter

"What? Do you doubt it? Look
here : the lady of the manor is going to
£ive each of us a regular salary out of
her private means. I and the chief are
to receive fifty roubles a month each,
Father Simeon thirty, and you, De-


mentii will have twenty-five. Are you
contented? . . . Eh ? "

The deacon and diatchok evidently
did not quite take it in, and stood for
some time in silent perplexity. What
could they say, considering that at the
very slackest time of the year they had
received twice the respective sums
allotted to them, and that during the
winter, when there were weddings and
Te Deums, the diatchok, Dementii, had
even earned as much as seventy roubles
in a month. This was nothing less than
a mockery and an insult to them, and
it could not be a serious proposal. To
agree to take no money from the

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Online LibraryI. N. (Ignatii Nikolaevich) PotapenkoA Russian priest → online text (page 8 of 13)