Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 1 They Arrive at the Monastery

  • IT was a warm, bright day the end of August. The interview with the elder ha_een fixed for half-past eleven, immediately after late mass. Our visitors di_ot take part in the service, but arrived just as it was over. First a_legant open carriage, drawn by two valuable horses, drove up with Miusov an_ distant relative of his, a young man of twenty, called Pyotr Fomitc_alganov. This young man was preparing to enter the university. Miusov wit_hom he was staying for the time, was trying to persuade him to go abroad t_he university of Zurich or Jena. The young man was still undecided. He wa_houghtful and absent-minded. He was nice-looking, strongly built, and rathe_all. There was a strange fixity in his gaze at times. Like all very absent- minded people he would sometimes stare at a person without seeing him. He wa_ilent and rather awkward, but sometimes, when he was alone with anyone, h_ecame talkative and effusive, and would laugh at anything or nothing. But hi_nimation vanished as quickly as it appeared. He was always well and eve_laborately dressed; he had already some independent fortune and expectation_f much more. He was a friend of Alyosha's.
  • In an ancient, jolting, but roomy, hired carriage, with a pair of old pinkish- grey horses, a long way behind Miusov's carriage, came Fyodor Pavlovitch, wit_is son Ivan. Dmitri was late, though he had been informed of the time th_vening before. The visitors left their carriage at the hotel, outside th_recincts, and went to the gates of the monastery on foot. Except Fyodo_avlovitch, more of the party had ever seen the monastery, and Miusov ha_robably not even been to church for thirty years. He looked about him wit_uriosity, together with assumed ease. But, except the church and the domesti_uildings, though these too were ordinary enough, he found nothing of interes_n the interior of the monastery. The last of the worshippers were coming ou_f the church bareheaded and crossing themselves. Among the humbler peopl_ere a few of higher rank- two or three ladies and a very old general. The_ere all staying at the hotel. Our visitors were at once surrounded b_eggars, but none of them gave them anything, except young Kalganov, who too_ ten-copeck piece out of his purse, and, nervous and embarrassed- God know_hy!- hurriedly gave it to an old woman, saying: "Divide it equally." None o_is companions made any remark upon it, so that he had no reason to b_mbarrassed; but, perceiving this, he was even more overcome.
  • It was strange that their arrival did not seem expected, and that they wer_ot received with special honour, though one of them had recently made _onation of a thousand roubles, while another was a very wealthy and highl_ultured landowner, upon whom all in the monastery were in a sense dependent, as a decision of the lawsuit might at any moment put their fishing rights i_is hands. Yet no official personage met them.
  • Miusov looked absent-mindedly at the tombstones round the church, and was o_he point of saying that the dead buried here must have paid a pretty penn_or the right of lying in this "holy place," but refrained. His liberal iron_as rapidly changing almost into anger.
  • "Who the devil is there to ask in this imbecile place? We must find out, fo_ime is passing," he observed suddenly, as though speaking to himself.
  • All at once there came up a bald-headed, elderly man with ingratiating littl_yes, wearing a full, summer overcoat. Lifting his hat, he introduced himsel_ith a honeyed lisp as Maximov, a landowner of Tula. He at once entered int_ur visitors' difficulty.
  • "Father Zossima lives in the hermitage, apart, four hundred paces from th_onastery, the other side of the copse."
  • "I know it's the other side of the copse," observed Fyodor Pavlovitch, "but w_on't remember the way. It is a long time since we've been here."
  • "This way, by this gate, and straight across the copse… the copse. Come wit_e, won't you? I'll show you. I have to go… . I am going myself. This way, this way."
  • They came out of the gate and turned towards the copse. Maximov, a man o_ixty, ran rather than walked, turning sideways to stare at them all, with a_ncredible degree of nervous curiosity. His eyes looked starting out of hi_ead.
  • "You see, we have come to the elder upon business of our own," observed Miuso_everely. "That personage has granted us an audience, so to speak, and so, though we thank you for showing us the way, we cannot ask you to accompan_s."
  • "I've been there. I've been already; un chevalier parfait," and Maximo_napped his fingers in the air.
  • "Who is a chevalier?" asked Miusov.
  • "The elder, the splendid elder, the elder! The honour and glory of th_onastery, Zossima. Such an elder!"
  • But his incoherent talk was cut short by a very pale, wan-looking monk o_edium height wearing a monk's cap, who overtook them. Fyodor Pavlovitch an_iusov stopped.
  • The monk, with an extremely courteous, profound bow, announced:
  • "The Father Superior invites all of you gentlemen to dine with him after you_isit to the hermitage. At one o'clock, not later. And you also," he added, addressing Maximov.
  • "That I certainly will, without fail," cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, hugel_elighted at the invitation. "And, believe me, we've all given our word t_ehave properly here… . And you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, will you go, too?"
  • "Yes, of course. What have I come for but to study all the customs here? Th_nly obstacle to me is your company… ."
  • "Yes, Dmitri Fyodorovitch is non-existent as yet."
  • "It would be a capital thing if he didn't turn up. Do you suppose I like al_his business, and in your company, too? So we will come to dinner. Thank th_ather Superior," he said to the monk.
  • "No, it is my duty now to conduct you to the elder," answered the monk.
  • "If so I'll go straight to the Father Superior- to the Father Superior,"
  • babbled Maximov.
  • "The Father Superior is engaged just now. But as you please- " the mon_esitated.
  • "Impertinent old man!" Miusov observed aloud, while Maximov ran back to th_onastery.
  • "He's like von Sohn," Fyodor Pavlovitch said suddenly.
  • "Is that all you can think of?… In what way is he like von Sohn? Have you eve_een von Sohn?"
  • "I've seen his portrait. It's not the features, but something indefinable.
  • He's a second von Sohn. I can always tell from the physiognomy."
  • "Ah, I dare say you are a connoisseur in that. But, look here, Fyodo_avlovitch, you said just now that we had given our word to behave properly.
  • Remember it. I advise you to control yourself. But, if you begin to play th_ool I don't intend to be associated with you here… You see what a man he is"- he turned to the monk- "I'm afraid to go among decent people with him." A fin_mile, not without a certain slyness, came on to the pale, bloodless lips o_he monk, but he made no reply, and was evidently silent from a sense of hi_wn dignity. Miusov frowned more than ever.
  • "Oh, devil take them all! An outer show elaborated through centuries, an_othing but charlatanism and nonsense underneath," flashed through Miusov'_ind.
  • "Here's the hermitage. We've arrived," cried Fyodor Pavlovitch. "The gates ar_hut."
  • And he repeatedly made the sign of the cross to the saints painted above an_n the sides of the gates.
  • "When you go to Rome you must do as the Romans do. Here in this hermitag_here are twenty-five saints being saved. They look at one another, and ea_abbages. And not one woman goes in at this gate. That's what is remarkable.
  • And that really is so. But I did hear that the elder receives ladies," h_emarked suddenly to the monk.
  • "Women of the people are here too now, lying in the portico there waiting. Bu_or ladies of higher rank two rooms have been built adjoining the portico, bu_utside the precincts you can see the windows- and the elder goes out to the_y an inner passage when he is well enough. They are always outside th_recincts. There is a Harkov lady, Madame Hohlakov, waiting there now with he_ick daughter. Probably he has promised to come out to her, though of late h_as been so weak that he has hardly shown himself even to the people."
  • "So then there are loopholes, after all, to creep out of the hermitage to th_adies. Don't suppose, holy father, that I mean any harm. But do you know tha_t Athos not only the visits of women are not allowed, but no creature of th_emale sex- no hens, nor turkey hens, nor cows."
  • "Fyodor Pavlovitch, I warn you I shall go back and leave you here. They'l_urn you out when I'm gone."
  • "But I'm not interfering with you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. Look," he crie_uddenly, stepping within the precincts, "what a vale of roses they live in!"
  • Though there were no roses now, there were numbers of rare and beautifu_utumn flowers growing wherever there was space for them, and evidently tende_y a skilful hand; there were flower-beds round the church, and between th_ombs; and the one-storied wooden house where the elder lived was als_urrounded with flowers.
  • "And was it like this in the time of the last elder, Varsonofy? He didn't car_or such elegance. They say he used to jump up and thrash even ladies with _tick," observed Fyodor Pavlovitch, as he went up the steps.
  • "The elder Varsonofy did sometimes seem rather strange, but a great dea_hat's told is foolishness. He never thrashed anyone," answered the monk.
  • "Now, gentlemen, if you will wait a minute I will announce you."
  • "Fyodor Pavlovitch, for the last time, your compact, do you hear? Behav_roperly or I will pay you out!" Miusov had time to mutter again.
  • "I can't think why you are so agitated," Fyodor Pavlovitch observe_arcastically. "Are you uneasy about your sins? They say he can tell by one'_yes what one has come about. And what a lot you think of their opinion! you, a Parisian, and so advanced. I'm surprised at you."
  • But Miusov had no time to reply to this sarcasm. They were asked to come in.
  • He walked in, somewhat irritated.
  • "Now, I know myself, I am annoyed, I shall lose my temper and begin t_uarrel- and lower myself and my ideas," he reflected.