The paralytic from Kiev

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Dear reader,

Here you will find a translation of a novel of the book "Resurrection and Life" written by the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoi, a psychography by the Brazilian medium Yvonne A. Pereira. This book was published in Brazil in 1964, and has not so far been translated into English.
Please bear in mind that I do speak English as a second language, and although I have done my best in this translation, you will certainly find errors througout this story, but hopefully will not compromise its overall understanding.
Quoting Tolstoi himself in the book introduction in Portuguese, this book was written specially for the forgotten and sufferers of this world, hopefully it will help ease their pain and sufferings.

Hope you enjoy it.

Submitted: June 25, 2016

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Submitted: June 25, 2016



“The Paralytic from Kiev”
A tale from the book “Resurrection and Life”
Dictated by the Spirit Leo Tolstoy
Psychography by Yvonne A. Pereira
Copyright 1964 by
Federação Espírita Brasileira
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthews 11:28-30)
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“To you, my brother or sister who suffers and weeps on a bed of pain, or on a wheelchair. To you who, blind, cannot contemplate with the eyes of the body, the comforting light of the sun nor the countenance of a beloved one. To you who, in the melancholic gloom of hospitals or shanties, proceed in the march of your own redemption – I offer these pages extracted from my sympathy to your pain. " L.T.
Those who passed by K….. Avenue in certain winter afternoons of the year 1865, in the "Holy City" of Kiev,(1) used to wonder of the rushed comings and goings of servants and noblemen in their costly labitas(2) , in a certain manorial house surrounded by gardens, whose groves of lindens were covered with thick layers of snow throughout most of that season of the year.
The noblemen wearing the costly labitas were doctors and friends, to whom the servants, distressed or frightened, requested their constant presence, to calm down the sick lord with some newly discovered soporific or miraculous soothing, as well as with games and encouraging lectures which could withhold his exasperations, who, it had already been around ten years, suffered with the terrible disease of articular rheumatism, or gout (diathesis characterized by visceral and joint disorders, with deposits of urates, etc.., according to medical dictionaries explanations.) (3)
With the joints of the feet, knees and hips excessively sore and red, so red that they seemed already purplish, feeling excruciating pain in the muscles and tendons, which led him to shouts of despair and impressive nervous convulsions. The sick one, unresigned, disoriented the few people in his family who shared his misfortune, remaining faithful by his side, as well as the servants, who on such occasions, could not figure out if they should look after their own affairs or search in the city how many doctors and pharmacists there existed, to help their miserable dear barine.(4)
1 City of European Russia ( capital of Ukraine), alongside the Dnieper river, one of the so called “Holy Cities”, in the Imperial Russia, with the Saint Sophia Church, monastery, etc.
2 Type of men’s winter coat.
3 This definition was asked by the author, to be taken out from any medical dictionary, and not dictated through psychography, to which we obeyed. – (Quote of the medium.)
4 Barine – Lord. Barinia – Lady.
The sick one was a former hussars(5) officer of the Imperial Guard of Nicholas I and afterwards of Alexander II (6), Captain Earl Dimitri Stepanovitch Dolgorukov, hero of Crimea (7), who I met during the battle itself in the exuberance of his twenty springs courted with dreams, ambition and inordinate social pride.
Dolgorukov was a tall, dark, well-proportioned and clearly distinct man, with bushy and brown eyebrows, a trait that gave him a tone of somewhat repulsive severity, when in fact he was jovial and kind – with grey, sharp eyes like those of cats, and he looked handsome in his aristocratic garb of hussar of the Guard.
Although he realized he was frequently courted and even loved by the ladies who evolved around the imperial salons and soirées of princesses and countesses, tireless to honor their friends with brilliant parties and to overshadow their enemies and rivals with other parties even more brilliant, Dolgorukov hadn´t decided himself to marriage, and perhaps because of such indecision, preventing him from marrying in opportune time, was the cause of much of his painful sufferings now, with his situation of bachelor hopelessly ill.
The unforeseen personal catastrophe had begun on the battlefield itself where he decided to throw himself by mere military vanity in search of glory. The gracious Emperor Nicholas I particularly esteemed him and preferred to keep him by his side, where he would be out of the dangers of the front line and among the Hussars chosen as his bodyguards. All of them picked from the cream of the Russian nobility as well as from the haughtiest and well educated knights of his army.
In that period from 1854 to 1855, notwithstanding the moderation of the Crimean southern weather, the winter had been the most troublesome;
5 A member of a highly ornate unit of light cavalry.
6 Nicholas I – Emperor of Russia from 1825 to 1855. He declared the Crimea War against France, England, Turkey and Piermont (1854 to 1855). Alexander II – Son and successor of Nicholas I. Emperor from 1855 to 1881. Signed the peace treaty with the allied powers, in the Crimea war. He died, hit by a bomb thrown by nihilists, in the coach he was travelling in St. Petersburg.
7 Peninsula of southern Russia, in the Black Sea, connected to the mainland by the Isthmus of Perekop, between the Black Sea and Sea of Azov.
hailstorms, impertinent rains, cold and uninterrupted winds, the inclement snow spreading frighteningly; contributed to the many casualties among the forces of the Tsar, along with the contraction of various diseases and open wounds suffered by the soldiers during enemy assaults. Diseases arising from the intense cold and humidity, such as pneumonia, pulmonary congestion, intestinal infections, rheumatism, paralysis, and other common disorders in the trenches, devastated, then, many Russian soldiers as well. Earl Dimitri was one of the first ones to fall seriously ill. During the conquest of Sebastopol by the allied troops, (8) he found himself already so painfully bad that his friends feared for his life. Transported almost moribund to Kiev, where his family lived and where he had his rural domains and urban residence, he slowly managed to recover himself, but never again returned to St. Petersburg for his services in the Imperial Guard, never again was able to mount or fence, never again was able to swim in the friendly waters of the Dnieper river (9), nor had been seen in the ballrooms dancing to the sounds of the mazurka or the polka, so popular then, in the most brilliant European saloons.
In vain he took medical advice, got tisanes and compounds, submitted himself to massages of thermal baths, tepid and cold, followed by frictions with balsamic oils considered as infallible. Not finding in Russia resources for his own cure, headed to Germany where high-standing physicians took care of him. The recommendable waters of Baden were sought, but in vain. And Paris, where the glories of the Earth seemed to agglomerate themselves, kept him for three years in treatment with the most renowned doctors of the whole world.
Not even enjoying some encouraging improvement to go on, Dimitri, whose own mother nicknamed him “Mitia(10), returned to Russia convinced that he would not withstand so much sufferings, and would for sure, die shortly, since it would be really impossible that God allowed that
8 Sebastopol – capital and port of Crimea, taken in 1855 by the French and English troops.
9 One of the most important rivers of Russia, with its beginning in the plateaus of Valdai, running through Smolensk, Mohilev, Kiev, Yekaterinoslav, Kerson. Main streams: Desna and Pripet.
10 Diminutive for Dimitri.
he, a Russian nobleman, son of a family bestowed with the unquestionable powers of fortune and of birth, descendant of princes and heroic generals; he, Guard Captain of The Emperor, was to be reduced to the miserable situation of those mujiks(11), who sooner or later would surely become useless for life, dragging themselves under the weight of incurable diseases, whose own ignorance would not be strange. And it was like telling himself:
“With me, such a thing won’t happen, for I´m a man of superior condition, to whom Providence should honour, and because of that He won´t allow such a humiliating situation, like the one of an incurable paralytic…”
But, ten years had gone by since he had got sick and he still was not only alive, but even continued to be rather handsome and red-faced. In spite of his look of discouragement which had replaced the joviality of yore and the unresignation which made him blaspheme, complaining to Providence for having reduced him to a valetudinarian at the age of thirty years old.
In the year of 1868, nevertheless, Dolgorukov’s health condition worsened, and after one of those sharpest crises, which distressed his circle of relations in Kiev, and frightened relatives and servants, he found himself incapacitated to walk, even if supported on crutches or assisted by his bedroom servant, Nikolai, or even to turn aside on his own bed. He found himself irremediably paralytic, half dead in the lower part of his body, limited to moving himself in a wheelchair and being served by someone else in the slightest actions he wished to take.
And, as if a misfortune never comes alone, in the winter of 1870, already paralytic, Dimitri suffered the displeasure of losing the Countess, his mother. He felt so desolated in the face of such a disgrace, that he thought he was going to go insane with distress! That ancient palace, on K…. avenue, shaded by groves of lindens, and so impressive in the solitude which surrounded itself, that the people who passed by in front of it commented it seemed to be the mausoleum of all the Dolgorukov, it looked like it, as a matter of fact, in such a way sinister, unbearable, with
11 Mujik – countryman. Until 1860, the Russian “mujiks” were considered as slaves.
the absence of his mother, that, indignant against his own luck, he ordered to shut it down once and for all and, getting himself into a calash(12) with his servants, headed for the countryside, determined to live, even in the winter, in the vast rural domains that he owned, to watch the growth of his wheat, rye, lucerne and hay.
A man needs a woman; in fact he desperately needs one, in his life. And Dimitri only comprehended it already near the age of forty, after the loss of his mother. Be her the mother, the sister, the wife, the lover or simply a servant, there are times in the life of a man in which a woman is so necessary to his well-being that he loses his way and bitter sadness penetrates his heart, discouraging him, if he does not have her helping him in his thousand daily needs. When we are only twenty or thirty years old and still live next to our mother and sisters, supported by their multiple carefulness, we do not give the woman her due value. When we have a home and a wife as a shore to our weaknesses, lenitive to our worries and loyal company of our rest, we do not know how to recognize the treasure that her presence represents in our existence either, where daily struggles multiply around us. Self-satisfied in our traditional egoism, which makes us fierce, we believe that´s the way things should be, that we deserve all of that because we have the right to it all, and that them, the women, only fulfil a duty, no matter her role at home, bearing our impertinences and ingratitude, and adoring us humbly, like a loyal dog that licks our hands and feet in mute veneration, despite the bad treatment received.
Search, however, in the heart of a man, who, for any circumstance, lives by himself, unaccompanied by this compassion and passive vigilance that his mother, his wife or his lover gives him. Query the feelings of an ill man, who does not have by his side the soft and white hand that arranges his quilt in the winter; that serves and sweetens his tea, as if she did it for a child, or caresses his hair with care, trying to make him sleep. And then, you will comprehend that he will feel himself the most miserable one,
12 a light two or four-wheeled carriage pulled by one or two horses, seating two to four passengers, and often having a folding top.
although he never confesses it, because man is always proud and never confesses that he needs the support of a woman to feel happy.
With the passing away of his mother from the world of the living ones, Earl Dimitri felt himself irremediably disgraced. While there was still hope of healing himself from the ancient articular infections, and his mother was alive, he still accepted people to come over for a visit, inviting them to dinners and allowing soirées and teas in his residence, as usual in the ancient Russian nobility. But, once deceased his mother and declared the paralysis, with all its bitter perspectives, cancelled visits and soirées, took refuge in the isolation of his own rooms and ended up running away to the countryside. His immense pride did not let him show himself up as a disabled person, in a wheelchair, to his fellow soldiers nor to the ladies with whom he had fun with some time ago, mocking at their gentle hearts for him. That the mujiks saw him paralytic he did not care. For a mujick was not properly a man, in the lath expression of the word, but like a slave, a being far too inferior for him to worry to be seen by one in his misfortune.
And he headed for the countryside.
Well, his rural mansion of Kiev, away from the city around ten verstas(13), and called Blue Park, was a pleasant place, where would live happily, in healthy identification with nature, any heart of good will. The large dwelling consisted of many living rooms, luxurious private rooms and marble terraces with balustrades engarlanded with climbing flowers during spring, summer and parts of autumn. It was the very symbol of that aristocratic splendour, somewhat extravagant that Russia was a standard, when, from the enslaved work of his mujiks, he acquired the social and financial glory that he prided himself of.
The house, thus resplendent, was located in the middle of a park, wide, all symmetrically planted with groves of linden, poplars, pine trees and gooseberries, which surrounded it from all sides, like ribbons that started from the limits of the walls only to stop around three sajenes(14) of the
13 Russian distance measurement, equivalent to 1067 metres.
14 Sajene – Russian length measurement, measuring two meters and thirteen centimetres.
house, of which four sides were also decorated with a lake in oval shape, with its bottom and walls enamelled in blue, which gave the waters a fairylike blue colour, excitant, and surrounded the environment of enchantment, glittering the sun light. All of that, and plus the profusion of flowers in the spring, the perfumes of lilac trees and the rejuvenated pine trees, the polychromasia of roses, the variety of thousands of different plants and shrubs, capriciously treated, the row of birds under the splendour of the sun, the tender warbling of the nightingales in the moonlight, made the mansion of Blue Park a residence of fairy tales, proper of one of those tales of the exciting Persian and Byzantine poetry, to which Dimitri never gave any true value. His rural domains were extensive and prosperous, and the fields of hay and lucerne, of rye and barley, of wheat and oats provided him that fortune, which maintained the balance of the brilliant social life he had had since childhood.
By coming to this residential paradise, he felt himself more isolated and disgraced than ever before. The domestic servants received him with respect and attentiveness. The rural servants – the mujiks – hurried to visit him personally, showing their solidarity and respect and wishes of good health, being received by him in the internal yard, in his wheelchair, in a small terrace on the ground floor.
With the exception of the old housemaid Liza Mikailovna, mother of his room servant Nikolai, the cook Katia and the laundress Agar, the other servants were all men, and never, till then, did Mitia missed his mother so much, whose beloved figure seemed, every once in a while, to drift herself furtively next to him, when he found himself in meditation, at twilight, on the flowery terraces, lonely in his wheelchair, or reading under the light of the candelabrum, in his library, which richness did not stop him from considering himself more wretched than any of those rural servants, whose sore feet had not always known the comfort of new laptis.(15)
However, in the mansion of Blue Park also lived another person. Neither a servant nor descendent of the family, for she was a protégé of the
15 Shoes woven with a special straw, worn by the rural workers, or mujiks.
deceased Countess, but to whom until then the hussars officer had not paid the slightest attention to, as he had not paid attention to the capricious groves of the yard, the nightingales’ singing or the perfume of the creepers that kept him company at the lonely hours, spent on the marble terraces.
Nevertheless, this personage, discreet and highly dignified in her secondary position, served Dimitri at any moment, and so well and affectionately she did it as had done his mother until her death. Nobody, as this pupil of the deceased barinia, so discreet and delicate to serve him the tea, opening softly the little faucet of the samovar(16) and laying it down over the cup, with her white and steady hands, without spilling it on the saucer. Nobody, like herself, put with precision the sugar tablet into the cup, and pass on in time, without being necessary to ask, the cream doughnut made especially for him, like his mother did. And nobody, like this one now, to print such special tenderness in her tone with which she said:
“They are gooseberry pastries, barine, taste them…. Or do you prefer the cream biscuits, with raisin? Now, here we have this nut and apple pie…. Do you think I´d forgotten you were crazy for nut and apple pies, even before going to the university?”
He answered anything, sometimes in a bad mood, without even looking up at her and not even feeling the subtle perfume of roses of her hair or the silky whiteness of her hands, so well-proportioned and so thin and her aristocratic fingers, exactly like had been the ones of his mother. This personage was the daughter of a former manager of the domains of the Dolgorukov. A loyal servant who during many years rendered so well the accounts and transactions with the assets of his lords that the barinia, Mary Stepanovna Dolgorukov, mother of Dimitri, used to say to her relatives and friends who visited her:
“He´s the most honest countryman in Russia! I cannot show him my gratitude for the watchfulness with which he runs our properties,
16 Type of Russian teapot.
when my son absolutely doesn´t understand anything about crops and I understand nothing about businesses.”
Proved, however, her gratitude by protecting his only daughter, who for a long time used to frequent the mansion under the appreciation of the dignified lady. This one educated her, then, or ordered others to educate her, and it was done in such a way, that once her preparation was completed, the girl looked more like a lady of high society than a young country girl.
The manager, however, had died. And when such thing happened, being the girl already an adult and responsible, the Countess trusted her the internal administration of the mansion, being the girl as efficient in her duties as had been her father with the immense deciatines (17) trusted to his vigilance for so many years.
Therefore, that was the personage who now looked after Dimitri, since he decided to inhabit the old country mansion. She was the one who served him his meals, the one who prepared his tea and pastries in the morning and in the afternoon, the one who took his favourite books from the immense shelves of the library and changed the positions of the candelabrums; the one who dressed him in his wool bechmet(18) and buttoned it up to his neck, if the wind blew too strong, despite there being a private servant; the one who pushed his wheelchair around the vast rooms of the house, the one who escorted him to the garden, together with Nikolai, so he could recover himself under the morning sun light; and in the evening, all by herself with him in the living room; she was the one who played minuets by Mozart and sonatas by Beethoven, in order to amuse him. But not even so, Dimitri Dolgorukov deigned himself to take notice of her. Perhaps he thought to himself, seeing himself the target of so much dedication:
“A country woman, daughter of a mujik somewhat more graduated! A governess, after all! She doesn´t fulfil otherwise her duties,
17Russian unit of agrarian measurement, being more than a hectare.
18 Type of blouse, or tunic, usually embroidered, that goes below the waist and is fastened with a belt, used by the Tartarians.
serving me! Since isn´t she a servant? What the hell should I take notice of her for...?”
She was called Melanie Petroveevna, Melanetchka(19) and by 1875 she was already thirty years old, whereas Mitia was forty. She did not wish to get married. She had sworn to her benefactress, Countess Dolgorukov, that she did not feel any inclination to matrimony and that, when her father passed away, she had sworn an oath of chastity, in the intention of the salvation of her soul. The Countess censured her for the levity of such a vow, but hugged her with tenderness and kissed her face. Many prospects of her hand presented themselves but Melanetchka rejected them all. They, the country servants, called her presumptuous, for she lived in the mansion with the privileges of the barinia, without mixing herself with them. And the cook of the mansion, the housekeeper and the butler himself affirmed that Melanie Petroveevna had not sworn anything when her father died, and that, if she did not wish to marry, it was because she nourished passion of love for Dimitri himself since her youth, rejecting offers of matrimony received because if it would not be possible to unite herself to the one who she loved, due to the social differences that separated them, she would not marry anyone else, since she could not love anyone but Dimitri and she considered that matrimony should only be based upon solid feelings of affection.
They said. But nobody could warrant that such gossips were the expression of truth, because what was certain was that Melanie Petroveevna had never trusted her secrets to anybody, nor had given ground, to whomever, to suspect anything about it.
The winter had arrived, which in Russia is so long, stressing the melancholy of the existence in the mansion of Blue Park. The heavy rain, flooding the park and gardens and overflowing the creeks, streams of Dnieper River, the hailstorms, stripping the leaves of the groves, the rigid
19 Little Melanie.
winds, blowing like voices of winged giants who howled in savage rage, bending or turning down the pots of roses and arbours of boxwood; and, finally, the snow, lifting hillocks on the seedbeds and on the marble stairs, augmenting itself on the cornice, accumulating on the parapets of the windows, which had already been reinforced for the winter season, depressing the nerves of Earl Dimitri, tormenting his soul, always dissatisfied.
Melanie Petroveevna got close to him since the morning accommodated next to the fireplace. His illnesses got worse during the winter and in that afternoon, he found himself in very bad mood. Right there he had lunch, in oppressive silence, in his living room, served by the skilful hands of Melanetchka, who comprehended the opportune moment to become even more skilled or more discreet, on such difficult days like that one. Right there he read and afterwards had written no one knows what, the eyebrows closed and aggressive, and right there he had the afternoon coffee and probably would have dinner as well. It was just after two o´clock in the afternoon and in the mansion everything was silent and fear, for the barine was not very well…
Full of shyness, but convinced that it would be urgent and indispensable what she did, Melanie approached the armchair on which the sick one preferred to sit in after lunch, and spoke softly:
—Forgive me, barine…
—Hurry up….say quickly what you have to tell me and leave me alone. I hate that people apologize when what they really mean is to disturb me.
—It´s that….. the intendant wishes to speak to you…´s the matter of the shipment of hay and rye to Sweden.
The matter seemed to interest him, because he turned himself around towards the lass and, without looking at her, went on:
—Why didn´t he come straight away?... When did I need ambassadors so that I could understand myself with my intendant?
This one came in, polite and serviceable, reproducing reverence with humbleness and turning over and over again the hat between his hands, not figuring out the best way to hold it, after leaving the boots spotted with mud and snow at the service stairs, to wear the new laptis, which he brought well packed under the pelisse, in order not to stain the carpet where he stepped as far as facing with his lord. He felt sorry for having to disturb the barine. But the matter was really urgent and serious. It could not have been postponed.
Since he had moved to the mansion, Dimitri demanded to meddle in all agrarian transactions, although far from logically understanding anything about the matter. Attending to unreasonable suggestions, instead of selling his products to exporting firms, already experienced in the delicate business of international trade, he deliberated to export them without middlemen, in a little recommendable enterprise, establishing thus, by himself, a separate firm. He had shipped, then, to Sweden, large shipments of hay and rye after the due epistolary agreements. But now the bundles of hay and rye already shipped had not reached the good markets it was expected, and the Swedish buyers decided to oppose objections after the deal was done and the products stored, denying to pay the contract prices, under the penalty of interrupting future transactions, alleging the shipment to be of inferior quality compared to other Russian exporters, which was not true. And because of that he, the intendant, found himself in the difficult necessity to disturb the barine, asking for his orders, since he preferred to be informed about the negotiations generally speaking.
And crowned the shy speech, in which he explained the situation, by adding, to stress it was not his responsibility the setback which caused a big loss to the mansion:
—Forgive me, Your Excellency. . . But, I did warn that it wouldn´t be convenient for us, the Swedish markets. . . From Kiev to Sweden is a long distance and there´s no advantage for us nor for the importers from there. Well now! The hay and rye got to the destination for a price that the Swedish, in fact, won´t be able to pay. . . We´d be better off if we had negotiated with Poland. It´s much closer.
Indignant for seeing himself caught in flagrant incompetence in agricultural and commercial matters, Dolgorukov insulted acridly the loyal servant, Melanie’s uncle and brother of that other one, father of herself, so much esteemed by the deceased Countess; insulted all rural servants of his deciatines and of all rural properties of whole Russia; insulted the Swedish importers, the German, Polish and Finnish importers; insulted Melanie, who had allowed the unpleasant servant entrance into his room, who bothered his lord in a winter afternoon, with the thermometer at twenty degrees below zero; insulted the Emperor, who he accused of being unpatriotic, due to the current prices of the hay, rye, lucerne, wheat, oat, and ended up by throwing in the intendant’s face, the papers which he had presented on the hay, the rye, the Swedish buyers and the cost of transport, throwing afterwards, at the front wall, the book he was reading since morning, giving a punch so vigorous to the small table, already set next to him for his afternoon tea, that the samovar toppled over, but was quickly sustained by Melanie, who had not feared burning herself, whereas the biscuits, the pastries and the fresh cream milk for the bread, spilled quickly on the carpet.
Now, along with the intendant had entered the room as well his youngest son, a ten year old boy, sneaking around slyly in between the velvet curtains and the armchairs, burying himself amongst the cushions of a couch, not being seen by the owner of the house. He was a cousin of Melanetchka´s and her godson as well, who had never entered the luxurious rooms of the mansion, but on that day, without anybody knowing for what reason, capriciously and stubbornly insisted on doing so, lively, neither anybody knew why the daring, to satisfy his own curiosity, to say later on to his rural village mates:
—I stepped on the carpets of the mansion of our barine. . .sat down on the couch surrounded by velvet cushions . . . I had tea from his silver samovar. . .
But, by watching the understanding of his father with the angry sick one, whose legs were kept enveloped on wool blankets, the little visitor became frightened, painfully disappointed with the rude attitude of that
one who he got used to consider like a demigod, for proprietor of such vast domains, and for knowing him hero and martyr of the Crimea war.
Once cleared the misunderstandings, after more than an hour of discussions, it had been established, between the barine and the servant, that it would be worthier to cede to the lowering of prices of the hay and rye, imposed by the Swedish buyers, than ship the products back to Kiev, or find an agent seller right there, in Sweden, a seller who could well not find other buyers, for the winter had started and the purchasers of such products would already be supplied with good stocks; when, everything was well clarified, the intendant said goodbye to his lord, willing to leave, the little lad gave the hand to his cousin, who had brought him in, no longer willing to give the Earl his vows of good health, like it was due, exclaimed in a voice tone he thought confidential, but, actually, was loud enough so that Dolgorukov could hear:
—Hmm...Just because of the fact that he is sick, the barine did not need to be so rude with my poor dad ... My brother is also paralytic and in much worse conditions ...Nevertheless, no one has ever heard him complaining or pronouncing an impatient word against anyone…
—Hush! . . . Would you be quiet please? . . . Reprehended Melanie, in a low voice, dragging him to the exit door, scared.
But, surprised, Dimitri, who only now realized the presence of the small visitor, turned his head with interest and finding this one with Melanie, who was already leaving, questioned in an unfriendly tone:
—Who is this boy and what is he doing in here? . . .
Shaking, the young woman came close and since it was impossible to hide the cousin, she introduced him:
—He´s my relative, my godson . . . Peters Fedorovitch, son of the intendant Fedor(20), who just left. He wished to visit you Lord Earl, who he hadn´t met, and present you with his vows of good health.
20 Pronounced Kvidor. In the Russian alphabet there is no sound for the letter F.
Quite naturally, with no apparent fear, the boy let himself be taken by his protector, while his father was already far and Melanie herself, feared new scenes of bad mood from the Earl. But, loyal to the resentment that had taken over him, he did not greet Dimitri - instead he limited himself to staring at him with his very bright eyes, full of curiosity. To the surprise of the young governess, however, Dimitri, instead of revealing irritation, questioned only, betraying a tone somewhat indecisive in his voice:
—You have got a brother, you said?
—Yes, sir! I´ve got several brothers and sisters, little papa.(21)
—Well. . . But. . .Didn´t you say, as I believe, that you´ve got a sick brother. . .like me. . .paralytic?. . .
—That´s right, barine! My oldest brother is paralytic.
—And what´s the name of your oldest brother?
—It´s Yvan Fedorovitch.
—What about the paralysis?. . . Is it like mine?. . .
—No, little papa. . . Much worse. . .
—How is it, then?
—He cannot move his arms, his head, nor his body. Only his eyes and his mouth. We´ve got to do everything for him, as if he was a new-born. He lives stretched out on a bed, he doesn´t even sit down like you barine. He doesn´t have balance in his dorsal column, like others.
Dolgorukov stared at the little interlocutor, as if it took him time to assimilate what he heard, and after he stuttered, with a deep and shaky voice:
—But thy father never told me about it. I ignored . . .
—For what, little papa? Maybe it would make you sadder. . . And, even if you knew it, it wouldn´t remedy the illness. . .
21 Greeting of endearment, very common in intimacy, not only in Russia, but in some other countries in Northern Europe, equivalent to “my dear” of the Brazilians.
—Melanie Petroveevna didn´t tell me either he complained, surprising the governess with the compassioned tonality with which he directed her the censure.
—There wasn´t the occasion, Lord Earl.
—Is it. . . by birth? enquired still, in a softer tone, making Melanie stare him with tenderness.
—No, sir rushed to answer young Peters, who was talkative and intelligent and was enjoying the conversation, already without embarrassment, thinking about how much he would have to tell his mates the next day. No, sir, it wasn´t by birth, really. It was a cold he caught in the field, in the beginning of the rainy season. Since he was ten years old he faced the cold weather, to work and help dad.
—And does . . . does he live well? Didn´t you say that. . .
—Happy, properly, he isn´t. But he is resigned and patient. What can be done? If he´s not patient, the suffering will increase a lot, thus tells us our mom. He suffers for not being able to help dad. We are seven brothers and sisters and he is the oldest one.
—How old is your brother?. . .
—Twenty years old barine, he´ll be on Easter.
Mitia said nothing else, limiting himself to wave his hand to the boy, who left with a polite greeting, but didn´t kiss his hand, a disrespect that seemed to shock the landlord.
During the rest of that afternoon he no longer spoke nor read. Ate in silence, not even seemed to notice Melanie’s presence, who served him; nor did he take notice of his private servant who remained behind his wheelchair, awaiting his orders. In the evening, while the wind blew in between the groves of linden and the snow fell like inclement sudariums over the naked branches of the trees, he seemed not to even listen to Melanetchka who, on the piano, played his favourite compositions in the evening. Limited himself to staring the flames of the fireplace, thoughtful and isolated within himself. When Nikolai took him to bed, let himself be undressed in silence; and when Melanie came in with the soothing drops
for his sleep and tucked in, afterwards, the quilts up to his neck, fastening the corners underneath his body, like any loving wife would do, or like any dedicated mother, and repeated, as she did every night: “Good night, little papa, I wish you a good rest. . .”, he did not answer, not even the greeting.
But, on the following morning, right after tea, he turned to his room servant and told him in a natural tone, not closing his eyebrows:
—We´re going out, Nikolai Mikailovitch. Get the calash ready. I need to pay a visit.
Melanie, who was present, nearly spilled the tea cup by hearing him, and although not wishing to do so, warned surprised:
—But. . . Sir! A visit with this weather? The snow is still falling, the wind continues blowing, and the cold is biting. How could you go out like that? You could aggravate your health.
—But I will go, anyway.
And the servant, equally confused:
—Sir, only the troika(22) could take us. The calash is too heavy, the wheels do not slide . . . they could cede the layers of snow that covers the road level and fall into a ditch . . . In fact, the roads are not suitable for the calash. Only the troika or the sledge.
—Then we´ll go by troika, that´s it!
He got himself into the troika, which three horses pulled underneath the arch where bells rang, all three men were covered with small felt cloaks to protect them from the snow, and he ordered to drive to the intendant´s house, in the company of Nikolai and the coachman, who tended to the horses. Melanie dressed him up in a pelisse with fist and collar of zibeline fur, a fur bonnet, wool socks and boots, gloves of the same fabric, regale of furs covered his legs in addition to a thick goat fur rug, in such a way that, seen from a distance of two or three sajenes, Dimitri seemed more
22 A type of big sleigh, pulled by three horses harnessed underneath an arch adorned with ball-bells, very common in ancient Russia. It slides under a long base, proper for the snow.
like a package of astrakhan(23) than a traveller of meat and bones, and he made his way to the intendant´s isba(24) in order to visit his ill son.
In front of Peters’ brother, to whose presence he was taken in the arms of his room servant and the intendant himself, who showed himself deeply surprised, since he would never expect an honour of such a visit, Dimitri noticed that the sick one´s countenance was melancholic, but serene, his eyes were big and intelligent, and his voice meek and soft like the one of a child. Dimitri addressed him:
—I visit thee, Yvan Fedorovitch. Thy brother Peters told me about thee and I was interested myself. Only yesterday I was informed of thy existence, otherwise I`d already have come. We´re fellow sufferers, after all. Hurt by the same disgrace . . . despite our diverse situations . . . Albeit . . . Thy brother assured me that you are patient and resigned . . . But the fact is, after all, you´ve never had the life I already had . . . It would´ve been, thus, easier, thy resignation. Therefore, I wanted to see it with my own eyes . . .
The young man smiled, stretched, motionless, on his bed, next to a crepitant fire which put red reflection on his face, making him appear blushed, and replied:
—Thank you, barine, for the kindness of your heart, for visiting me. But I by no means judge myself disgraced. Other ones do exist so much more destitute than me, that thinking about them, I consider myself very happy.
—I don´t understand! . . . At twenty years old, entirely subdued by the paralysis, as I see thee, where do you find possibilities to consider thee happy?
—In the fair reasoning, sir! For don´t I have here my parents, my brothers and sisters, who are so generous to me? What more can I ask for, if I live in a comfortable isba, served in time by ten helpful hands, well fed, well sheltered in the winter, not even knowing the price of everything I
23 Astrakhan is a kind of fur which originally came from the city of Astrakhan, Russia. It is the fur from newborn or fetal Persian lambs.
24 Small wood house very common in Russia, in the countryside.
own? I only lack the health to walk and work. But it could be worse . . . and this world is really a place of pain and afflictions . . . as asserts our holy Pope(25) The son of God himself here endured martyrdoms. You barine consider yourself unhappy . . . But that´s because you haven´t met Tito Jerkov . . . That one, yes, is a sufferer . . .
Somewhat stunned, as if inwardly he said: “Does he think, by chance, that I am some buffoon, that I don´t know these things? . . . He´s resigned because he´s also ignorant, not even has a goal, and ignorance keeps man in inferiority”; but discouraged to refute in a loud voice those concepts, which hurt his personal pride, he preferred to ask, boldly:
—And who is Tito Jerkov? Where does he live? What is he like?
—He´s much worse than me, barine. He´s been sick for almost twenty years . . . He fought the Crimea war, like you sir, and came back from there like that. He lives some three verstas from here, right in the entrance of the other village. The isba was good some time ago, but now it’s in very poor condition, there´s a well in the front, and there´s no gate any longer, as people say, for I myself have never seen, I´ve been sick for ten years . . . Should you wish to see him, Peters will show you the way, he always goes over there.
Not even deigning himself to listen to the protests from the servant and the intendant, who urged him to return to the mansion, for it was still snowing, the sky got darker and darker, foretelling windy storms, Dimitri ordered to ride the troika to the second village of his lands, wishing to meet Tito. Peters volunteered himself to show a shortcut to go to the poor isba, and being kept warm in a cloak which his mother wrapped him in, he darted himself next to the coachman, satisfied for feeling like a man, paying his services to the landlord of those lands himself. When leaving, Dimitri, the richest man of that region, took out from his pocket his wallet and opening it in a hurry, took out two twenty rouble(26) notes, put them down next to the sick young man and babbled, somewhat disconcerted:
—It´s a gift . . . Buy something that pleases thee.
25 Orthodox priest, who occupies an inferior position in the religious hierarchy
26 A standard currency of Russia.
Yvan thanked him, smiling, for the gift which he was not used to. And the Earl, as leaving once again in the arms of his servant, heard that he called his youngest little sister, eight years old, and told her very flattery, with that soft and sweet voice like the one of a child:
—Take it, Sonetchka, these forty roubles that the barine was kind enough to offer me. When the storm ceases, go buy the doll you want. With whatever is left, bring a very nice handkerchief for matushka(27) and a perfumed soap for uncle Zacar . . . and also a whistle for Peters to call the hens. Don´t you think it is very washed-out the handkerchief mama wears on her head?
The girl smiled compassionately, and asked in a caring voice:
—What about for thee, little papa, what should I bring?
—Nothing . . . for I wish nothing . . .
—G´day, little papa, how do you feel today? Shouted the little Peters with his fresh and falsetto voice, addressing the one called Tito Jerkov.
It was already midday. The snow continued to fall from the sky, instead of clearing by now, one could say it more dramatic, with winds that commenced to whistle on the branches of the trees already nearly naked of leafage, bothering the travellers as the snow piled up with each flake turning into heaps of small monticules. They had arrived at the residence of the new sick one.
It was a miserable isba, which maybe at some other time might have been picturesque and comfortable, but now had become repulsive with its broken windowpanes. The walls were stained with slime, the stairs disjointed, and the front gate entirely loosened from the hinges, fallen on one side, hampering the passage. Three geese of rachitic aspect gave the alarm signal, with the typical quack of the species, which would recall the bark of a watch dog. The garbage, accumulated here and there, now
27 Matushka literally means "mama," i.e., the intimate form of "mother."
stoned, disappearing under the snow. And, next to the house, some willow trees, already half defoliated, twisting themselves at the mercy of the winds, whitening with the snow that piled up on their numerous branches.
At first Dimitri Dolgorukov was speechless, such the repulsive impression that the misery of the sick man, the loneliness of the house of which door anyone would open from the outside, by only moving the door handle and the degree of the illness of its inhabitant caused to his sensibility of a wealthy person, who already had enjoyed all the pleasures that the richness of life can offer, and until that date had not known the meaning of the words: poverty - necessity - misery!
He found himself in front of a paralytic who lived by himself, stretched on a cot, blind, to whom some close by neighbours, inclusive of Dimitri´s manager, in the persons of young Peters and one or another of his brothers, came, alternatively two or three times a day, to bring him food, the necessary clothes to warm him up, to care for some hygiene anywhere and activate the flames of the fireplace, so he would not die of cold. An unfortunate beggar, somewhat of an idiot, but not completely useless, kept him company at night, or when the weather did not let him walk about the villages, benefiting himself from the crumbs and the warming fire that his fellow of misfortune received from the kind friends.
—Have you always lived in this state? Was thy illness by birth? enquired the hussar Captain with an impediment in his voice, after being taken there in the arms of his servant and the coachman, who sat him down on an old pinewood chest placed in the corner.
—Oh, no, barine! I was a healthy man, worker in the lands of the deceased barine Stepan Dolgorukov, thy father. But I fought the Crimea War, like so many around here, included in the contingents requested by our Emperor to the landlords . . . and there I got sick. With time and lack of resources, the infection reached my sight and I became blind. But, God Our Lord is kind and I don´t live thus so bad. There isn´t a lack of good hearts to help me out . . . and this way I don´t die neither from starvation nor of cold. To tell you the truth, and not to be ungrateful, nothing lacks me, I´ve got everything. That´s how it is . . . The neighbours bring me food,
clothes, warm the fire, and I´ve been living well. They are angels that Our Lord has sent from Heaven to our Earth, to succour the poor ones. They are all little papas and little mamas of my heart. Some of them I carried in my arms, now dead, when they were little ones and I still was healthy. But there are sick ones worse than me, you barine can believe. I´m satisfied and well resigned with my luck. God Our Lord is fair and kind. Amen . . . Amen . . .
Almost indignant with so much passivity in face of disgrace, to which he attributed yet to the ignorance of the patient, the hussar former officer of the Guard cried out, irritated:
—But how could you possibly feel satisfied, miserable man, living in these conditions and, besides, completely blind? . . .
—Oh, little papa! The truth is that I prefer to be like that, blind, than to continue watching the miseries and the cruelties that so many times I witnessed before getting blind. And, besides, you barine say that because you haven´t seen the conditions in which lives Elias Peterof, despite having a mother to look after him. Imagine little papa, that he has always been kind of sick, he had some attacks . . . he got all twisted and it took him a long time to recompose himself. But even so, he worked. An explosion in the workshop left him in a state to feel sorry for. I am fifty two years old, but Elias is forty two. For nearly twenty years he has lived in those conditions . . . for the explosion happened just after Crimea.
The roads, however, were impassable. The storm threated to recrudesce and there was the danger of someone falling into the frozen steppes and ravines, searching for the house of Elias Peterof. Dimitri still hadn´t had lunch. He agreed then to return to the mansion, after having been informed of the residence of the new sick one, who he ardently wished to visit as well.
—It is some four verstas from here, sir . . . pondered Peters Fedorovitch, helpful. Only with good weather you´ll be able to go there without any danger. I know where Elias’ isba is. There is a short slope to go up . . . and with the snow, the road is slippery and one can fall and roll down to the bottom of the ditch.
Dolgorukov left unpleasantly impressed. But, as he had done in the presence of Yvan, he took out from his wallet four twenty rouble notes and ordered Peters to put them under the beggar´s pillow.
—It is a gift, Tito Jerkov . . . Buy whatever pleases thee . . . he exclaimed, with an emoted voice.
—Thank you, little papa. You´ve got a good heart and it reminds me of thy mother, who was our good angel, when here she lived. But, in fact, nothing else I need but the mercy of our kind God for my sins, which are big. I shall give Mikaile Mikailovna twenty roubles to buy a new pelisse, for she complains she hasn´t got any, she wears her husband´s, when he doesn´t wear it, and she can only cover herself with the leftover of a cloak. I shall also give some to Zacarith, to buy the boots he needs . . . Zacarith is the one who keeps me company in here . . . He helps me so much . . . and the winter has arrived very threatening . . . His boots are worn out and let the snow in, thus he has told me . . .As a matter of fact, What do I need? Since I´ve got everything . . .
On the following day, the storm had calmed down and the snow had become minute and very scattered. Mitia was feverous without, however, complaining of any indisposition. It was a matter of nervous excitement, arising from the strong impressions left by the sick ones he had visited on the previous day. He wanted to go very early, to visit the third sick one, that Elias Peterof, who lived some four to five verstas from his distance, as affirmed by Peters Fedorovitch. But Melanie asked him not to leave before lunch, and even more in the cold morning:
—No, lord Earl, we shall wait at least until the snow ceases. Yesterday´s effort was big. And the repetition today of the same might not be advisable for your health.
—But I´m feeling so well today . . . I slept the whole night, I felt absolutely nothing . . . he replied, as if giving satisfactions, unconsciously submissive to the enchanting nurse, to whom he continued not paying attention.
—You shall have lunch earlier, sir, and shall leave afterwards.
—You know, Melanie? . . . he replied, with such an e pression of intimacy and sweetness that surprised the young woman, not used to such attitudes it impressed me so much the misery in which that beggar Tito lives, that I meditated a little bit in God, during my return trip, yesterday . . . and, at night, I prayed with fervour, begging piety to him, as yore my mother taught me to do so for the unhappy ones. And what impressed me the most was that he confessed himself happy! How can a man who is blind, completely paralytic, miserable, be happy? That´s what I can´t understand . . .
—God stretched upon him his virtues, Earl Dimitri! . . . And his sufferings were softened with the gift of Faith and Hope, which attracted Resignation and Patience, while someone else´s Charity helped his necessities, for the love of God. When we suffer supported by the good will of Resignation, our pains become less difficult.
—But he affirmed that he´s got everything, when nothing, nothing he has, and that he doesn´t need anything. The eighty roubles I gave him will be shared to help the penury of his friends. I felt ashamed of myself, for having given him too little, I, the landowner of these immense lands.
Nevertheless, he´s a beggar, a miserable man to whom the charity of those with hearts of good will impedes him from dying of starvation, of cold and of filthiness . . .
—It must be, then, that Tito Jerkov really is opulent of imperishable possessions, seeing that he has the love for his fellow creatures, besides that faith which transports mountains, of which the gospel mentions, and also the gifts of renunciation, of disinterest and humbleness. I´ve noticed, actually, barine, that the people who have a clear conscience are always happy. All of this is an indication of Tito Jerkov´s clear conscience.
He did not answer, limiting himself to meditating while smoked his pipe, absent-minded. After lunch, he left, followed by his servant Nikolai, as always. The coachman had advised the sledge pulled by two horses, due to the inclination of the ground which they would have to go up, and Dimitri, indifferently agreed.
The residence of Elias Peterof was an isba made of red wood, in the middle of an ample courtyard, where thousands of old and useless utensils accumulated in disorder, mixing with dogs, hens, two white and shaggy goats, each one of them with their two suckling already grown-ups, of age for slaughter, of which teats, rich of life and swollen up with milk, indicated that their mission amongst their owners was a meritorious one: helping them to live in the struggles of reparations, supplying them the milk they possessed in abundance, precious food which they would not need to buy. There was also a reddish, tall and haughty billy goat, which would be the natural boss of that small zoological family. By crossing, the sledge, the front gate that a boy opened by order of the landlady; the goats, the reddish billy goat and the grown up suckling stared, surprised, the hordes of intruders that altered the routine of the dwelling, and, uttering all of them, at the same time, a rather significant shout, lifted their heads, shaking the four earrings which they carried in pairs, above the jawbones, and continued staring at the invaders with interest, as if introducing themselves:
—Welcome, sirs! See that we are part of this family! We´ve got personality, well defined duties to fulfil: we supply food for this family, the milk with which they prepare cottage cheese and nutritious pap, which are even often sold to others, to collect some kopeks(28). In fact, we are the bosses of this isba, which belongs to poor individuals. Our own young are sold to others so they can have roubles for tea, beans, flour, bacon . . . or sacrificed so the family can enjoy tasting our meat toasted in olive oil. We also supply them our fur for the winter. In short, we are the support of this house. You may come in . . .
The isba, as one could see, was not well off, nor even mediocre. Yet, it was far from showing the contusive misery shack of poor Jerkov. A woman, who could be well around sixty years old, but maybe whose vices, or the disgusts of a hard working life, made her seem of older age; welcomed them friendly. Realizing she was dealing with upper-class people, very admired for seeing one of the visitors being carried in the arms of the
28 Coins in Russia.
other two, as if he was a child. She was drunk and smelled vodka, which caused nausea to Dimitri.
The house consisted of an ample living room divided in the middle by an arcade. In the front part there were two very rustic beds, but laden with good wool quilts, homemade; a nude table, greased by the use, some rough benches, and on the wall, a niche with an imprinted icon. The back served as kitchen and dining room, with a fireplace, pans, boards, roosted hens, a wood chair, some other benches and a bedframe serving as bed.
—I was informed that there was here a man seriously ill, little mama said the Earl, who did not know how to deal with people of that level and I wished to visit him.
The woman, who did not know Dimitri and was far from supposing that she spoke to the landlord of those lands himself, thanked, somewhat confused. Yet, foreseeing in him a man of substance, thanks to the aspect of his sledge, the horses and the quality of the warm clothes he was wearing, she continued, in a whimpering tone:
—People rarely visit us, barine, and because of that I appreciate your demonstration of generosity. We´re very poor, and in fact we don´t have an appropriate house to receive visits. But the sick one is over there, he´s my son, who at some time ago was called Elias Peterof . . . but who after an explosion, during the fabrication of ethanol, left him in that state, it´s been eighteen years. . . He´s a wretched one, who came to the world for my martyrdom! Because of him I´ve had a life of tribulations and misery: firstly to raise him, secondly to make him a man, and later on . . . when the truth is that I could have been hired in a house of a wealthy lady, sheltered from starvation and the cold . . .
Dimitri investigated the place pointed out by her and in the back part of the house, he saw in a corner, next to the fire, sitting in a wood chair without any lining, of feathers or cotton, and only covered with some rags of wool, shaking with cold, the figure of a forty year old man, presumable, who seemed not to listen or pay attention to what was going on around him. His vague eyes, with excessively salient orbits, danced restless, turning over and over again the irises in a tireless seesaw work, in the
small space in which they agitated themselves, as if mingled with quicksilver his ocular liquid.
—G’day, Elias Peterof . . . How do you feel today? . . . said the Earl, recalling the greeting from Peters to Tito Jerkov and realizing, ashamed, that he imitated him.
But the sick one remained in the same inattention to what was going on. Did not turn to the side from where came that friendly voice that greeted him, nothing answered, did not even move a finger of those hands, blackened by suspicious spots, of which could be said, forever twitched, dead, stretched over his own legs.
—G’day, Elias Peterof . . . he repeated, disconcerted.
And the landlady intervened, irritated, already sitting down on the storage chest doubling as a chair, clicking one or another heel, now and then, on the wall of the raddled furniture, in a nervous and distracted unrest, and rubbing her foot one onto another, taken by the same nervousness:
—He won´t answer little papa. . . He´s deaf like a door, mute like a fish, blind like a stone, and above all that, paralytic, always motionless, such as a mountain, that never moves from its place. He had never been that well, never spoke nor heard right. But, nevertheless, he was useful for something. He got in this state after the explosion. He had some attacks and got all twisted, like a demoniac. It looks like it was the epilepsy . . . But, many people also used to say that a demon entered his skin to do that. My disgrace is this son, barine, believe me! I, mother “of that”! And I have to treat this devil as if he was a child: get him up, wash him, wear and take off his clothes, give him food in the mouth . . . for this devil eats . . . He eats! Yes, sir! And he eats very well! Nothing is enough to him, he´s hungry to no end! Don´t you barine realize how plump he is? That´s because so much he eats! If I take a little bit longer with his soup, he roars like the forest wolves, grunts like a pig, since he cannot speak; and grunts so loud that he scares off my poor hens, that jump frightened from the little roosts I arrange for them, right in here, because of the snow, and run away . . . And is heavy this Satan, like a bag of lead! I can’t stand it any longer!  I´ve got sore arms, attacked of rheumatism, due to his weight, since I have to get him up and lay him down, lay him down and get him up,
several times. I usually beat him up, but it looks like he´s also lost his mind, for he doesn´t understand, I don´t even know if he feels the beatings I give him! And he starts to laugh and cry, cry and laugh, like a market clown! Oh, how I hate him! . . . And I have to stay here, not being able to get a job in a rich house, as I wish. In short, I wish I could die, or kill him instead, since he is useless . . . to get rid of him, for I can´t bear it any longer, can´t bear it any longer! Eighteen years, barine! It´s been eighteen years I put up with that . . . and she started to cry.
The servant Nikolai and the coachman, shocked, hid their laughter, not to lack the due respect to their lord, who listened to everything very attentive. But, Dimitri, horrified by thus hearing a mother talk about her own son, so unfortunate, and very surprised with one more aspect of life, that he absolutely did not know, tried to stop the torrent of blasphemies that confused him:
—But, ma´am! stuttered, loyal to the refined treatment he had got used to and at that moment escaped naturally from his mouth. Isn´t your son, this poor man? How can your heart revolt itself so much in view of this unhappy one, who only inspires compassion? Be patient with him . . . I . . .
—Patience? . . . Compassion? . . . Tush, then, am I not patient and compassionate with him? I am so much patient and compassionate with him that I´ve stayed here looking after him for eighteen years, little papa! I plant whatever I can in any piece of land around here, I sew, wash clothes, carry water, take care of other people´s pigs and I´ve been living. His former mates, who are still alive, visit him around St. Nicholas, on Christmas and on Easter. They bring him some gifts which are always useful. There are still good people on Earth. Some have already died. But he´s the one who doesn´t want to die. Since he got this way, can you barine believe that he never had the attacks again? I reckon I will end up doing what did the wife of the druggist Kozlovsky, to get rid of him . . . Have you met, by chance, or have heard of the druggist Kozlovsky?
—No, I haven´t . . . Was he sick as well?
—He was and he is sick, for about twenty years! He lives stuck in the body without deciding to die or to get well. And he lives by himself with a dwarf, for nobody else can stand him other than this dwarf. The mujiks even say that, the dwarf, is a presentation of the devil himself . . . for he´s got some ideas . . . He´s put into his head, for example, that Kozlovsky is the return of our little papa Ivan IV, “the Terrible” (29), to this world, in another body . . . And he´s been saying such nonsense to anyone willing to listen to it. Kozlovsky was rich, but what he earned with the drugstore he lost it with the disease, and now he is very poor. I knew him very well, at other times . . .
—What´s his illness? . . . Paralysis as well? . . . enquired the Earl, who surprised himself getting interested in the fellow creatures.
—He´s paralytic too, but only of the legs, like you barine. . .Well . . . But the rest it´s not even good to say . . . I shiver myself . . . His wife, poor thing, I knew her well. She ran away so as not to be forced to treat him. But the authorities of the circumscription found her and made her go back to look after him, because it was her obligation, like it is mine with this pestilent, over there. So, do you know what the poor one did? (She was called Mary . . . Macha . . .) Well then, she killed herself! Killed herself to get rid of that excommunicated! I reckon I´ll do the same!
—No! No, poor woman, it won´t be necessary such violence! replied the paralytic, at the height of his astonishment for what he heard. I´ll order a worker from my lands to look after this unhappy man, in your place. I shall give him a piece of this land, for I am the owner of all of this. I´ll rebuild this house, I´ll do whatever is necessary . . . and the mujik will stay here partaking in profit of everything, on the condition that he watches over this poor Elias . . . and as for yourself, you shall be able to get a job, as you wish, in some rich house.
29 Ivan IV, “the Terrible” the first sovereign of Russia who took the title of Tsar. He was the one who conquered Siberia. Famous for his cruelties. He killed with his own hands several wives, and even his own son. Governed Russia from 1533 to 1584.
Koslovsky lived at the other end of the village. He had been, in fact, a well off pharmacist. He had got sick irremediably nevertheless, and misery gathered him in its nets, crowning a series of misfortunes that had hit him. For political reasons, since he had been a fierce republican, he was jailed and deported, with forced labour, to Sakalina Island, in Siberia, and over there started his terrible illness, which had progressed in a few years, frighteningly. Like that had told Dimitri, Elias’ mother, who followed him up to the gate, radiant with the two hundred roubles that he had given her, begging her to treat with more benevolence her son, until he himself, Dolgorukov, remedied the situation.
Kozlovsky´s house was the same one in which he had lived yore, but found itself now in an advanced state of ruins, such as the owner himself. When the sledge stopped at the front gate (the house was located in an isolated plain in the middle of a small arboreous lot), shouted from afar some neighbours to the three travellers:
—Go back, don´t come in! If you bring some alms, leave them at the gate, the servant will take them later on. In there lives a leper!
—A leper? . . . Did they say leper?
—Yes, they said leper, Earl Dimitri. They said leper. Therefore, we should not go in . . . hurried Nikolai to intervene, advising the master.
—But, I´ve never seen a leper . . . What´s it like?
—I don´t even know, little papa. I haven´t met any, God be praised and took his cap off.
Dolgorukov stared at the front gate, at the foot-path which guided, sinuous, in between maltreated shrubs, at the building in ruins, and thought to himself:
—And let´s suppose that Koslovsky was Earl Dimitri Stepanovith Dolgorukov and Earl Dimitri Stepanovith Dolgorukov was Kozlovsky? Wouldn´t I like, being Kozlovsky, that Earl Dimitri visited me to cheer up my spirit with encouraging words and the testimony of his solidarity, and the help of some crumbs of his immense fortune? Well, I don´t believe that I, Dimitri, might get leprosy by only visiting a leper. I´ll do the
following, by visiting this sick man, that´s all: I will not shake his hand. I will not sit down. My servants will lift me up, each one on one side, and keep me standing. Actually, I don´t intend to take long. It will be a short visit. Just a testimony of solidarity to him, who suffers.
A deformed being, wee, badly proportioned, appeared at the end of the lot, coming forward along the foot-path, wet and slippery, which led to the gate. It was a dwarf. However, he wasn´t leprous and seemed to irradiate health and happiness, since he smiled openly to the visitors, with a pleasant aspect.
—G´day, little papas, what do you wish? You might leave your alms. I will take them in. And that the Lord of all things shall bless you, retributing with His peace the generosity of your hearts.
— Yes, we shall leave alms, my friend! (Dimitri admired himself of the simpleness which had taken over him, it had been two days We shall leave alms, but we wish also to personally visit the sick one.
The dwarf was taken by surprise and stared at Dimitri with curiosity:
—For that matter it won´t be possible, sir! Forgive me! Not even Mr. Kozlovsky would consent.
—I am the owner of this village. Tell him I have immense necessity to see him and talk to him.
The dwarf made a respectful reverence, but was intransigent:
—Sorry, barine. But he cannot receive anybody. It would be horrible for the visitor himself. Tell me what you need . . . and it will be like telling him. I´m the hands, the sight, the thought and the soul of the poor sick one.
—No, I won´t tell you! For it is him who I wish to speak to.
—Do you ignore, for sure, that we´re dealing with a leper, a crippled, a truly monster?
—For that very reason . . . I´ve never seen lepers nor monsters . . .
—Are you by chance some Saint, sir? Or maybe you wish . . .
—But . . . go announce me, go . . . I´m Earl Dolgorukov, a hussar officer.
Astonished and no longer retorting, the dwarf opened the gate wide, with admiration for seeing the visitor being carried in the arms of the two men who escorted him.
At first, Dimitri could not even utter a monosyllable, as he faced the fourth sick one he visited. Heavy silence, disconcerting, followed itself the murmuring of the three men and the dwarf, who opened the doors wide open, so as to allow the passage of the carriers of the Earl, and the presentation before the sick man, done by the deformed being who served as servant for that one.
—Visits for ye, little papa. I didn´t want to allow them entrance, but they insisted. Maybe there is the intervention of our spiritual friends in this happening. And I let them come in . . .
—Yes, Karl. We were warned, yesterday, by our Guardian Angel, that we would receive meaningful visit within a few hours. I judged it was a matter of a spiritual visit. What human would dare to enter in this tugurium(30)? But there you go! God be blessed! Who is it?
The dwarf straightened himself up, and, like a grave servant of that strange world, which revealed itself wrapped in mysteries to the understanding of Dolgorukov, introduced the visitors:
—The Earl Dimitri Stepanovitch Dolgorukov, lord of these domains, and his pages . . .
The sick one seemed surprised, for he lifted lively his hairless head, and the globules of his blinded eyes, which a whitish and spongy membrane covered, agitated themselves inside the orbits, of which the edges of the eyelids were already corroded by the leprosy.
Impressed to astonishment, Dimitri, supported by the servants, who sustained him like human crutches, was not able to unglue his eyes of that
30 A poor hut, cottage or shack.
invalid who he visited, whereas the servant and the coachman whispered discreetly, on the ears of the master:
—We shall retreat, Excellence . . . God certainly does not wish that you expose yourself to more this risk.
Well, sitting in a primitive wheelchair, already routed and mended, covered with rags of wool and astrakhan which were left, at the door, by pious hearts; next to a heater which had, yore, its artistic value, but that now, was seen in advanced ruin, Dimitri found not properly a man, but human tatters in decomposition through the leprosy, a monster of paralytic legs, blind, leprous in advanced stage, and whose hands, already fingerless, for the terrible illness had corroded the phalanges, were incapable of performing any tasks for the services of the owner. The face, could be said a diabolical mask, for its ugliness, since from it had already disappeared parts of the nose, the lips and the ears, besides the eyebrows, and whose purplish and bruised skin, as if burns had altered it, distilled loathsome matter, exhaling unpleasant musk, such as a pestiferous sweat.
With a great effort, maybe impelled by pious impulse from the invisible world, Dolgorukov pronounced in a low voice the chorus learnt from Peters, feeling something indecipherable to penetrate his sensibilities, sharpened by such unexpected happenings:
—I visit thee, Kozlovsky. How do you feel today? If I could serve thee in anything, let me know . . . and you shall be attended.
The sick one let out a glimpse of a monstrous curling of the face: it was a smile. Dimitri comprehended it. And the leprous answered with tears in his voice, in a hoarse tone, due to the absence of the nostrils:
—God be praised, for the comfort proportioned to the poor sick one, Excellency! I thank you from the deepest of my soul the pious visit you pay me, which recalls the sublime pilgrimages of the ancient disciples of the Christ of God, who searched even the Valley of Leprous, in Jerusalem, to console there the wretched ones with gifts for the body and the auspicious Good News for the redemption of the spirit.
Attentive, Mitia thought to himself: He speaks as if he was a preacher. Delicate matter. Will he be a philosopher? . . . We shall bring up this disgraced man to see how far will go his misery. Must be insane as well. How could he possibly live like that, without going crazy?
—Do you know, then, the Gospels, or the history of Christianism of the first century? he continued in a loud voice. Since you speak like a Pope . . .
—Yes, I do, Excellency! The Gospel has been the big buttress on which I find support to face the misadventures; the supreme consolation for the misery, the opprobrium of sickness and the loneliness of affections. To such a degree the Gospel has protected me against the adversities that hit me, such as you see me here, thus monstrous and sufferer, I enjoy moments of so intense spiritual happiness that not even the Emperor of our “Holy Russia”, not even the virtuous popes of our dear “Holy City” of Kiev could enjoy in their moments of genuflexion or of colloquy with their own conscience.
—He must also be attacked of his mental faculties. His suffering is big . . . repeated Dimitri to himself.
—While I had eyes... went on the leprous, alien to the visitor´s considerations... and the gift of sight hadn´t abandoned me, I read and reread the Gospels, seeking to assimilate their essence. About them I meditated till late hours at night . . . and was able to find the way to furnish my soul with very precious knowledge, to support me when my eyes switched themselves off, subdued by the disease. I read more; advanced in deep studies, of psychic transcendence. I read Swedenborg and the classic English psychists, who study and investigate the survival of our soul after the physical decease. I read the French and Belgium psychist philosophers, who dedicate themselves to the supranatural exchange between the ones called living and the souls of the ones called dead. I meditated, through the reading of foreign newspapers, about the sensational phenomenon of Hydesville, in the United States of America, when the young Fox sisters became interpreters of winged Spirits who wanted to prove to men the survival of the human soul, phenomenon which would mark a new period in the moral and cultural evolution of
Humanity. I read Allan Kardec, this genius and eminent Frenchman, recently deceased, who knew how to reunite, coadjuvated by the Spirits, in five precious volumes, the Doctrine of Immortality, that lacked the human conscience….. Doctrine which explains to satiety the eternal theme which preoccupies our intelligence: “Who are we? Where did we come from? Where do we go to? What is life? What is death? Why do we exist? Why do we die? Why some suffer, whereas others enjoy? And now, that I no longer can see, I have for my help the kind eyes of this abnegated young man, who reads for me the attempts from our wise compatriot Alexander Aksakof, anxious for disseminating the same experiences in the Russian society, in spite of so much he sees himself repelled, and anxious for seeing them accepted by the academicians of our institutes of scientific culture. . .
Interested, Earl Dimitri, who had never heard such conversation, and who fatigued himself in the uncomfortable position he was in, tiring the servants, asked to sit down, forgetting he was visiting a leper. Karl, the dwarf, hurried, helpful, with an armchair, assisting the servants to accommodate the master, declaring delicately:
—Don´t be afraid, Excellency! Our sick one only occupies his own chair and the bed on which he reposes.
—I´ve got my legs paralytic, e actly like yours, Kozlovsky . . . replied Dimitri I cannot walk. I feel myself immensely disgraced for that. However, tell me: where have you found such books, who sends them to you?
—Karl writes to the authors or to the editors. Confesses my bitter situation and requests the books. I learnt about these publications thanks to French, English and German newspapers, which Karl usually obtains. I get, therefore, even from individuals, English and French, magazines and newspapers on psychic matters, books, periodicals, confraternizing letters, which are so many other theses to be studied, and so on. I also write chronicles for the same newspapers, or rather, I dictate them to Karl to write. And thus I´ve learned, Excellency, that, if I am the monster who you see here, it´s because I have lived other corporal existences in this world! I lived other lives in the past, during which ones I made mistakes,
committed crimes, against society and the laws of God! And now, thus prisoner, hindered in the attitudes for having abused the freedom belonging to each one, I expiate the past, to expunge of the conscience the dishonourable macula of the transgressions of yore. I´ve comprehended that this young Karl, foundling, new-born, at the door of my former drugstore, and raised by me with devotion, educated with the tenderness of my heart, who didn´t know the paternal feelings, he was accomplice of my past madness, in another life on this planet . . . expiating and repairing, for his turn, now, by my side, the debts acquired then. And I am equally comprehending that Your Excellency, Lord Earl, who I cannot descry the countenance (forgive me for the daring of the revelation), also was entitled to, at the present or in other past lives on Earth, the penalty which at the moment detains you prisoner of a paralysis that mocked of all possibilities existing in Science to disappear!
Notwithstanding, as you see me here, I repeat, I feel myself happy! The Doctrine of Immortality snatches the believer to high ideals, teaching him or her to face the happenings of life, be them the most delicate ones, with a diverse prism which other men adopt. Yes, I am happy, for I am resigned to my condition and certain that I have an immortal soul created to the image and resemblance of God, that progress and lift itself on the way to Eternity, for the glory of an unforeseeable happiness; and that this very soul, at the decease of this body, that I feel to putrefy while I inhabit it, shall be beautiful and brightened by the educating experience, chanting hosannas to God for this blessed expiation, which is redeeming myself through anguishes inconceivable to somebody else!
Excellency! Have you ever heard of “reincarnation”? For it is sublime law of Creation, which operates the re-education of the guilty souls! Today, upon the aculeum of pain, after distinguished initiation on the pages of those brilliant codes, already mentioned, and of the meditations and reasoning, to which the same initiation induces, awoke in my psychic innermost a powerful faculty: the intimate feeling! And this feeling affirms proves me! that I lived resplendent of power upon the throne of Russia, in a past reincarnation! I was Ivan, the Terrible, that gutless Emperor of our poor and heroic nation, who sowed disgrace and blood, desperation and death, from the height of that throne which he
dishallowed with his cruelties, which, ceaseless, he practiced against his subjects!
Terrified, Dimitri´s servants crossed themselves, shaking, whereas this one, very pale, the voice altered by emotion, replied, shocked, and Karl wrote on a small and low table, not seeming to listen to his foster-father´s speech.
—But . . . Our ancient Emperor, Ivan, the Terrible, shall be detained until today in the depth of hell . . . if it´s true that we´ve got an immortal soul . . . as tell us the “servants of God”, that is, our holy monks from Kiev.
The speaker smiled, like the first time:
—And our holy monks from Kiev affirm the most convincing truth that ever came out of their mouths! By chance isn´t it hell to live a soul, who knew the glories of power, the caprices of love, the triumph of passions, the pleasures of fortune, the fascination of the crowds prostrated on his feet, the vile joys of the cruel sovereignty, isn´t it hell to feel this soul, afterwards, in the reeling of the centuries, restrained on a wheelchair, prisoner of itself, vowed to the most contusive abandonment by the very ones he loved, surrounded by endless miseries, feeling, minute by minute, the leprosy corrode his flesh, devour his eyes to make them blind, destroy his hands, which yore were murderer, to deepen his very anguishes; loose his teeth, to detail the martyrdom and the ugliness; deform his face, to make him monstrous like his own character, with which yore he perpetrated crimes, reducing him to this heap of deteriorated wreckage, repellent even to himself? Have you ever imagined, Excellency, the infernal torture of that one who does not have the hands for his own services? Well, I no longer have them! You know, Excellency, how can I eat the food if, for any reason, Karl, my good angel, is not present to put it in my mouth, also already debased, for tasteless? Well, I do, like does the animal, like do the dogs of your kennel and the hogs of your pigsty: Karl leaves it, the food, on this table, next to me. If I happen to feel uncontrollable appetite, I grope at random, with the sticks of these hands; I lay down the vilified face over the plate and take, with my own mouth, bites of the food.
Dimitri covered his eyes with his fine and well treated hands, which contracted themselves, revealing unusual emotion, and hardly could hold back the tears that threatened to spout out, so that the leper did not realize he was crying. The servants, with their eyes wide open in astonishment, retreated from the room, placing themselves back onto the porch entrance. Karl continued writing, indifferent to what was going on. And Kozlovsky went on:
—Won´t it be, by chance, to feel yourself restrained on the insides of hell the heart, who, like mine, loved a woman madly, making her my wife, who I would give away the blood of my own veins and life for, but that, by getting sick, saw her run away from me, appalled of my illness and of my presence, and who, obliged to come back by the judiciary authorities, to treat the woeful husband, who is me, having in mind that like him, would also be contaminated with the same decease, preferred to kill herself to get rid of him, than to live and have to stand him? By chance, I, who was Ivan, the Terrible, won´t I still be today in hell, when, irremediably blind, unable to descry even the foods that nourish me, to see if there won´t be any deteriorations, not even the comforting piety of the sunlight in spring, I can, nevertheless, see, during consecutive hours and days ( oh! the only thing, Excellency, that is given to my eyes to see! ), the conflagrated soul of the beloved woman, gone mad in the agony resulting from her suicide, to rove, amongst pungent shouts and blasphemes, around this very house where she lived and was happy by my side, supplicating me forgiveness, begging for my help for her misfortunes, possibly bigger than mine, for she doesn´t find neither asylum, nor refuge, nor consolation, nor relief anywhere, as a suicide she was, whereas I possess the courage of faith that I entrust in the love of the Creator and in the destiny of my soul?
—And what do you do then, wretched man?! Oh! What do you do, when such torture, that the hells forgot to invent, makes you lose your mind? cried out Dimitri, drowned in tears.
—What do I do? . . . What do I do? . . . I resort to God, barine! I pray! Beg clemency from Heaven to her, a hundred times unhappier than myself, for I, Excellency, I possess the treasure of an unshakeable certainty
in the mercy of The Almighty, certainty that consoles and reinvigorates me to take, till the end, the humiliation of my shame of guilty soul who repents himself . . . whereas she, she doesn´t even believe in herself, in the existence of her own soul in tribulations, for she supposes herself alive, struggling in unfathomable nightmares aggravated by my presence!
Yes, Ivan, the Terrible! Sufferer, wretched by his own past crimes, of which expiatory repercussions persecute him for three long centuries! Reduced to the most tragic and sordid social level existing upon Earth! But regretful! Certain of his reencarnatory past! Absolutely certain and confident in the justice of the present! Hopeful in the rehabilitation, through pain and work, for a condign situation in the future! And resigned to the complexes of the current situation, by comprehending that, being an immortal soul, destined to as uninterrupted as glorious ascension to the Better, in search of Perfection, it will be necessary that he suffers, weeps, submits and humiliates himself, to learn that the law promulgated for the directrix of the souls children of God is Love to God and to the fellow creatures, path of light that, one day, shall reach him and lift him up to the dignity of the union with Him, The Almighty! . . .
Upon leaving, already at the gate, where a group of curious ones parked, admired that somebody, and especially a barine, visited that house, considered sinister, Dimitri felt that the dwarf introduced, subtly, a folded paper in the pocket of his pelisse. For his turn, disturbed with what just happened and without being able to hold back the tears, that insisted in clouding his eyes, the former hussar officer, already accommodated on the sledge, took out from the wallet two thousand roubles, gave them to the interlocutor and exclaimed, discreetly:
—Don´t let anything lack to Kozlovsky, and to you, anything you need. I will provide new clothes and wraps for both of you. I will order to repair this house. Look for me in the mansion of Blue Park, should you need anything. Look for me with no fear . . . I will be back . . .
Afterwards, when he was already on his way, he examined the paper. It was the list of books, newspapers and magazines on psychic matters, printed overseas, that he, Karl, knew, and names and addresses of
personalities of Science, who considered the spiritual experiences, experiences that made it possible the exchange with the invisible world. Dolgorukov folded it once again, putting it carefully in his wallet.
In that afternoon, when he arrived home, Dimitri cried copiously, and also the following evening, in a weeping crises that impressed the sweet Melanie so much. In vain she urged that he had dinner and, with the white and delicate hands, showed him the chicken adorned with apples, the caviar of the Volga, which he liked so much, the little cream pastries and the nut pie with honey. Dimitri denied himself to attend her (but now, delicately), and or stared the vacuous, touched, by recalling any impressive remembrance, or, contemplated the flames in the fireplace, thoughtful, or yet continued weeping with no constraints, hiding his face in the white handkerchief which Melanie, already for three times, had changed for another one.
He thought about the grave happenings since the eve disturbed him. He thought about Peters, who, with an unpretending phrase of censure, had unveiled a new world to him: “My oldest brother is also paralytic, even in worse conditions than the barine. . . and, nevertheless, is resigned and patient, I´ve never heard him complaining or pronouncing an impatient word against anyone…” Thought about Yvan, Peters´ brother, stretched on a poor berth, not even being able to move his hands, at twenty years old, attentive and meek, affectionate and happy in his misfortune. He recalled Tito Jerkov, the paralytic and blind beggar, to whom only the charity of a few good hearts served him in his misery, but cheerful and certain of the paternal support from Heaven, which came down to him through the helpful hands of those who went there to wash his body and change the tatters he used to wear; who took him food, swept the floor and lit the fire up, so that he didn´t die of cold when the temperature went down twenty degrees below zero . . . This one as well confessed himself happy and considered nothing else he needed . . .
Recalled, later on, the unfortunate Elias Peterof, completely paralytic, blind, deaf and mute, poor passive creature, purposeless and defenceless, who could not even utter a complaint, if an insect bit him or if hunger or cold tortured him. Elias, served by that odious mother, who insulted him for his very misfortune, without feeling any compassion . . .
And finally Kozlovsky, the leper philosopher, in whom he thought even more intensively than the others; Kozlovsky, the super-human misery brightened by the glaring light of the Celestial Revelation, which made him the martyr patient of himself! And also Karl, Kozlovsky´s good angel, angelical soul hidden in a deformed body, such as precious essence in a sordid bottle, incomparable Cyrenian, even greater than the one of Jerusalem, of that inedited Calvary that he, Dimitri Dolgorukov, not even in nightmares would conceive!
And also remembered Ivan, the Terrible! The wives that he had strangled with his own hands, the subjects whipped, by his order, until they fell down evanesced with the blood which flowed out of the multiple open wounds in their bodies caused by the scourges of the torturers . . . and the assassinations he had committed in a hundred different ways, and the pomp that surrounded him, gloomy and cruel in his immense palace of Moscow, from where he irradiated tyranny to the whole “Holy Russia”!
Oh, Kozlovsky! Kozlovsky! . . . expiatory terrestrial new form, as he himself had affirmed it, of Ivan IV, called the “Terrible” by his subjects and posterity, whose tenebrous deeds so many times the teacher of Russian History had questioned him, during the everyday lessons, in his childhood. Ivan . . . Kozlovsky . . . would it really be? . . . Yet wouldn´t it be this sudden, original and formidable revelation, the reasonable explanation of so much and so big miseries observed upon the Earth? The originality of the revelation, the stupefaction of the logic, the vertigo of the reasoning and the depth of the analysis secretly whispered to his conscience that yes! It was true! Everything was true!
And he, Dimitri Stepanovitch, Earl Dolgorukov, also sick, but rich and powerful, served by a beautiful and patient angel, such as that damsel who was solicitous ne t to him, trying to cheer him up, he was the only one unresigned with his own situation, living to blaspheme against the
Providence! He, Dimitri, surrounded by luxury and riches, encircled of servants and submissive foreheads while those who he had visited were surrounded by discomfort and misery he was the only one unresigned, who had forgotten God and did not acknowledge around him the consoling blessings that Heaven sent him daily, as a happy reward to his miseries of an irremediable sick person! He even thought about Kozlovsky´s wife, whose soul in murky follies suffered tied to the company of a monstrous husband, without being able to get away from that house, where by his side she lived and from whom she had wished to free herself through the deceiving escapades of suicide!
And for all of that he cried! Cried of compassion for those ones he had visited. Cried of repentance for never having cogitated the possibility of existing unfortunate ones in worse conditions than himself. Cried of remorse for the blasphemies that he had uttered since he had recognized himself ill, and cried for the unkindliness with which he had considered until then all those ones who had served him and for everything he owned and participated in his existence.
And he only got to sleep by early morning, still next to the fireplace, leaning against the friendly bosom of Melanie, who lulled him tenderly as would have done his own mother . . . whilst on the branches of the pine trees and of the poplars the first snows of the winter augmented themselves, whitening the park . . .
In the following morning, without even having rested enough, he awoke in his wheelchair, very surprised for seeing himself leaning back on Melanie´s bosom, who since the evening had sat next to him, trying to comfort him by seeing him crying so many times. He smiled at her upon waking up, staring at her with gentleness, but said nothing. Nikolai had arrived for the morning treatment, and inquired respectfully:
—Do you wish to rest in your bed now, Excellency?
—Yes, I wish to rest in my bed now . . . But I´ll have lunch first, right here.
As usual, Melanie served him, discreet and attentive. In that morning, he realized, for the first time, the brightness of her hair and the mild perfume of roses from which it exhaled. Took notice of the whiteness of her hands, when she served him the tea, which recalled to him the hands of his mother, and the very detail and pure charm of her maiden fingers. And, staring at her, aslant, not to be seen as indiscreet, observed the forehead of Madonna that she had and the sweetness of her angelical look with which, from time to time, she glanced at him. An unperceivable sigh exhaled itself from his chest and a ray of secret happiness, such as sunlight in between the shadows of a fog, enlightened his heart.
After lunch, he said to Nikolai, who insisted that he rested in his bed:
—Send for Fedor Fedorovitch, our intendant.
This one showed up one hour later, apologizing for the delay, since he was not at home when had got the message, and fearing that the meeting was about the sad case of hay, rye and the lucerne exported to Sweden. He got himself ready, therefore, for another critical episode in his history as intendant of the mansion of Blue Park. Nevertheless, Mitia did not even seem to remember the incident about the hay, rye, lucerne and Sweden, since he did not mention them during the long conversation with his mujik. He ordered him to sit down, in front of him, offering him a cup of very hot tea, from his silver samovar, and said:
—Yesterday I visited Elias Peterof and the leprous Kozlovsky.
—I´ve heard, Excellency. Within ten verstas around here that´s all that people are talking about . . . and also about the visits to Tito Jerkov and my son Yvan, the day before yesterday.
—I´ve decided to help all of them as much as possible, since they are sick . . . and I´ve called you for an understanding.
—I´m listening, barine.
—Make arrangements, Fedor Fedorovitch, for the house of the leprous Kozlovsky to be repaired . . . or better, no! That house gives the poor man very painful recollections. I want you to build a new house to him, in our lands, but near here, to facilitate the visits I shall pay him, a house with gardens and the necessary comfort. But, everything within the
utmost urgency. While his house is not built, it will be necessary to repair the fireplace and to fix the holes in the roof to stop the raindrops in the house he lives . . . and also that he and his male nurse do not suffer any hardships. Get everything done this very day, Fedor Fedorovitch.
—I´ll deal with everything this very day, Excellency!
—Arrange two servants of our lands to live in the isba of Elias Peterof, and order to repair it. Those servants will cultivate the land I shall give them. That they take care of Elias as his nurse, as if in a hospital, and they shall be rewarded. And that a physician from Kiev assists them, for the necessary treatment.
—I´ll take care of everything, Excellency.
—The isba of Tito Jerkov shall be repaired likewise. One of our servants, who has a small family shall live with him, in order to assist him, and also shall receive rewards. He´s got one or two deciatines there, of his former property. I shall give him some more, two or three. And this land shall be cultivated by the family that´s going to live there, and the production shall be given to the cultivator . . . because Tito, from now on, shall be maintained at the expenses of this mansion. And that the doctor who visits Elias, visit him as well.
—You shall be obeyed, barine.
—Whereas your son, Yvan (the heart of the intendant beat hastily and his investigator eyes riveted on Dimitri´s face, who spoke emoted and with the eyes looking down, staring at the boards of the wooden floor), shall go to Germany or France, in order to submit himself to an efficient treatment. He´s still young and might be able to recover himself, who knows? Get this done as well, Fedor. I shall finance everything. Should you wish, you may escort him . . . as long as you assign a substitute intendant in your absence.
The intendant stood up, somewhat stunned. He was pale and shaky. He did not comprehend what was going on with his master. He tried to thank him with effusion and vehemence, but he was not able to. He tried to kiss his hand, but Dimitri shunned himself from the act. And as the servant could not find the words with which to express the astonishment he felt
invaded inside, the Earl made him sit down again and, calling Nikolai, continued:
—The winter has only started. There´s plenty of time to do many things before the snow falls down definitely. And before the snow accumulates on the roads, pack our bags and the big calash, for a long trip. We´re going to St. Petersburg.
And, turning himself to Melanie, who kept herself on a corner of the room, busy with her embroidery, added, to surprise her:
—You shall go with me, little mama. I can no longer travel without thy company . . .
Around this time, in several countries in Europe and, mainly in England and in the United States of America, a vigorous movement of investigations about the souls of the dead ones, the possibility of materializing them in visible and palpable personalities, examining them, inquiring into their nature and exchanging with them varied conversation, had spread out in almost all social environments. Distinguished wise men, scientists, philosophers, poets and writers dedicated their best efforts of their hearts and the power of their brains to the investigations about the transcendental science that such triumphs permitted, getting out in the field in order to examine the matter. It was true that many, otherwise the majority, devoted themselves to the investigations unwillingly, affirming beforehand that it was a matter of an utopia unworthy of the Academies, “utopia” that they only studied in the intention of destroying theories, that they judged false, and to unmask trickery, they were not up to the big combat, for they lacked sincerity and exemption of spirit proper to the case, and examined the transcendent phenomenon with the unconcern with which they watched “a horse race or the masquerade of the Opera.” But many were indeed studious, sincere researchers, habituated to the severe principles of examination and analysis, destitute of the terrible scientific prejudice, which often repels the truth when they don´t find it in the limits of their institutes. Personalities like William Crookes, the wise man called the “King of Physics”, in the illustrated England; like the emeritus professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania,
inventor and scientist Robert Hare; like the eminent Dr. Robert Dale Owen, who was ambassador to the court of Naples during a long time and a social reformer; and also the celebrated judge Edmonds, president of the American Senate, the three of them from the United States of America; like Eugene Nus, illustrious writer, and Camille Flammarion, not least illustrious astronomer, from France; geniuses of literature like Victor Hugo, and Victorien Sardou, renowned dramaturge, also from France, and so many other thinkers, well known all over the world for their great moral and intellectual value, so many we could not name them all, besides Allan Kardec and his followers, had already presented to the world the result of their investigations, after persevering research and exhaustive work affirming that not only the soul was immortal, fact that man himself feels in his inner self, alone with his reasoning, his meditation and his conscience, without the necessity of the cooperation of Science and Religion to convince himself, that the soul was not only immortal as it could even become visible and palpable, up to the astonishment of letting itself to be photographed by the ordinary objective, without any especial process, like anyone; speak, write and talk to man, give people consoling and prudent advice, guiding them in fulfilment of their duties and offer them beautiful literaly pages in prose and in verse, by simple processes, within the reach of anyone who disposed oneself to face the phenomenon with seriousness and circumspection. In England, yet, plenty of reports about it existed in books, archives and private editions like the investigation societies and clubs. In France, Allan Kardec, recently deceased (1869), had left the celebrated collection works which would immortalize him as a brilliant codifier of the spiritual teachings and revelations, which he himself denominated “Spiritism”, works which so much knowledge, so much consolations and hope shall yet spread around the four corners of the world, revealing a code entirely copied from the most advanced principles of moral, and so founded in the positive facts of Science that no academician nor any philosopher shall be able to refute it in view of its reasoning power, of logic or Science itself.
In Russia it had already arrived, well before the year of 1875, the resounding echo of this grandiose Spiritual Revelation, through the venerable personality of a wise man Alexander Aksakof, whose liberal
heart and kind soul strove to overcome the superstitious prejudice of the orthodox religion of his countrymen, like the roughness of intellectuals and scientists, in order to popularize the great truth that presented itself, to the world, as indicting the preparation of a new era of knowledge for humankind.(31) And, in Germany, another eminent wise man, the great physicist Friedrich Zöllner, coming to the support of the efforts of Aksakof, had dragged to the singular movement other honourable names of Science, as well as thinkers, holders of noble heart qualities, forming all of them, a vigorous current of the truly initiated modern psychism, withstanding, resolute, the attacks and controversies of wise atheists and materialists, whose pride would not let them win over their very personal opinions , they had adopted in the vanity of considering themselves, they as well as the fellow creatures, mere animals, whose destiny, initiated in the cradle, would confuse itself in the mud of the tomb.
To France, however, despite the volubility which characterizes it, it seems to be the cradle, even today, of all grand ideas that the Earth has deserved from the Supreme Creation. To France, had been entrusted the mission of offering to men a light even more intense than those facts, already for themselves extraordinary, presented by the Psychic Science outside it, that is, in England, in the United States of America, and in other places. To the transcendental experiences which over there was taking place, in France, under the criterion of Allan Kardec, gathered celestial souls, inhabitants of the Infinite, and these ones, instead of only revealing their own forms and identities, disclosing the immortality, began to reveal also a Doctrine full of sublimity, which would instruct men about all aspects of Life, answering, for this very reason, afflictive millenary quests, instructing them, on the other hand, about the mystery of Death, to the uncertainty which surrounds the destinies of the human soul. Moreover, the same entities, called “disincarnated”, which showed up everywhere, outside France, were unanimous in revealing the same excellent principles of moral and wisdom gathered by Allan Kardec, in his Nation, directly with
(31) Alexander Aksakof Wise researcher of the Spiritual Science, secret adviser of the Czar of Russia, State Adviser, Lecturer of the Academy of Leipzig, author of several books and articles on spiritual facts, founder and editor of the magazine “Psichische Studien” of Leipzig. Translator of the works by Allan Kardec to the Russian language, having started his spiritual activities in 1855 , when all over Europe people occupy themselves with the phenomenon of the rotating tables. Quote of the Medium, extracted from biography.)
his mediums, which lent strength of logic incontestable to the expositions by that worthy investigator catalogued for the new Doctrine.
For its turn, this Doctrine would adopt the Christian morals of the first periods, and would make it reappear from the secular prejudice which had asphyxiated it and would re-explain it as the most elevated that Humankind could assimilate to, for its social balance.
In Russia, Alexander Aksakof, after consecutive visits to his colleagues from France and from England, and the intimacy developed with distinguished spiritist thinkers, accepting, right from the start, the Doctrine exposed by Allan Kardec, also for its moral and philosophical aspect, bothered himself to equally investigate the spiritual phenomenon under the rigorous criterion of Science, very judiciously recognizing that the admirable Revelation that emerged, the very Doctrine codified in France, would not substitute , imposing itself on the world through time, if demonstrated it was not and rigorously demonstrated by Science.
He had been investigating, then, tirelessly, for twenty years before the happenings which we narrated, serving himself of mediums who later on would become famous in all the intellectual world, at the same time that he announced his ideas and experiences through magazines and newspapers with distribution all over Europe, and later on, of everything rendering account in volumes rich of concepts and scientific certificates about the magnificent subject.
Hearing about Alexander Aksakof from the leprous Kozlovsky, Dimitri Stepanovitch Dolgorukov wished to meet him and three days after the visit to that strange adept of the Doctrine codified by Allan Kardec, when the snow already had started its annual course, got himself in a big and vigorous calash , proper for long trips, and exposed himself to risks in an adventure of facing possible storms, taking with him Melanie, the servant Nikolai, the butler Simone and little Peters, Melanie’s cousin, to whom he had taken a liking to. He headed for St. Petersburg. Karl had given him the
address of the brilliant spiritist thinker and Dimitri did not vacillate, and left in his search.
But, if the snowstorms were not fearful enough, the cold continued with the rains, making them, sometimes, to stop in some city or at some change station to warm themselves up, for the Earl could not expose himself too much to the bad weather, without any new harm to his illness. Melanie warned him several times of the inconvenience of that trip, since in Russia the winter is long and, once it has started, you could fear anything. But Dolgorukov was capricious and impatient, and was in a hurry to depart and did not want to wait until spring. Actually, he did not complain of anything and even seemed to feel himself fresh during the trip.
—Yes, we should´ve waited for the spring, Excellency, in order to undertake such a long trip! I fear for your health . . . continued the warnings of the careful Melanie.
—Don´t call me Excellency, haven´t I already asked you? Call me Dimitri only, please, or Mitia, like my mother did, or even little papa. Don´t I call you, now, little mama?
—Yes, little papa, I will. But Dimitri, only, or Mitia, simply, appears to me boldness which I won´t dare replied the young woman, smiling, delighted with the new dispositions of the sick one towards her.
He turned himself, and, by seeing the beautiful smile that before he knew grave, smiled also with bonhomie, and the eyebrows broke open, allowing to the countenance a jovial aspect.
The transformation of Dimitri within these few days was so singular that, while the calash rolled under the shouts of the postilion, who did not stop from stimulating the horses on the road which was covering itself with snow, Melanie got herself contemplating distractedly, the frozen landscape which succeeded one another, through the little glass windows, and thought to herself:
—I can´t understand it. What could have happened to him during the pilgrimage to the houses of the sick ones? One could say a resurrection that operates itself inside of him. I perceive him serener and
affable. He even insisted that Peters came with us. And he cried so much, after returning from the leper’s house, that I felt sorry for him. I still haven´t got the chance to question Peters or Nikolai. But, I shall interrogate them, maybe in the next stop to change of horses. I shall interrogate them, yes . . .
—I already know, little mama, you´re regretful for having come to escort me. Perhaps you´re fatigued and are not in the mood to talk. I was selfish, I know. But how could I stay for such a long time without your care? Once I´ve already got used to it? he exclaimed, suddenly, turning himself and taking the hand of Melanie, sitting next to him, and waking up Peters, who, shrunken on the back seat, well covered with two wool blankets, was falling asleep quietly, jolting along with the vehicle.
—I´m not fatigued, really! she answered, satisfied with his fondling. I´m thinking . . .
—But thinking about what, my angel, my pretty? he whispered, so that Peters did not hear.
She looked at him surprised, however even more satisfied:
—About this very long trip, in the middle of winter . . . What are we going to do in St. Petersburg?
—The winter has only started, my sweetheart. We´re going to visit a wise man who lives there he answered; and smiled once again, giving to his countenance a luminous aspect, showing a row of white and strong teeth and separating once again the eyebrows.
—A wise man? . . . What wise man? . . . inquired her.
—You don´t know him . . .His name is Alexander Aksakof . . . He´s Russian as well... he answered and turned the look aside, allowing himself an important air, as if he continued talking to himself: “This story between wise man and aristocrats is subject to cultured man, like me, who spend their lives reading and studying. The women understand nothing about that, for they spend their lives dressing or making themselves up or, then, worrying about the governance of their isbas.
But, certainly, he was wrong about Melanie Petroveevna, for she, recomposing very naturally a strand of her shining hair, which escaped out
of the kerchief she had tied to her head, answered with simplicity, surprising him:
—Ah! Mr. Aksakof?! . . . I know him, yes . . . He´s the wise psychist founder-proprietor of the periodical Psichische Studiem, which is published in Leipzig, because in Russia there is no possibility for such an enterprise, due to the religious, scientific and social prejudices. At the moment, he makes important experiences with a medium called Slade. He makes visible and palpable the souls of the dead ones.
—Tush, do you know him and are aware of all of that? He questioned somewhat disappointed.
—Personally, I don´t know him. But, I know this periodical, of which I have a subscription . . . and also the psychical works translated by that wise man for our language. I read the advertisement in the Psichische Studiem and in the Revue Spirite, of Paris, founded by Mr. Allan Kardec, the leader of this movement. I used to live so sad. This reading distracted me, comforted me. Gave me hope.
Dimitri was full of excessive pride, not even the illness nor the shock derived from those days of supreme emotions, when he had visited the sick ones, had yet combatted this evil from his character. He then stopped speaking, somewhat stupefied, comprehending that the interlocutor was more knowledgeable of the transcendent and of such dignifying subjects, which preoccupied the intellectual environment of Europe, when the fact was that he himself would not have another remedy otherwise to recognize he ignored them completely.
Yet, and despite the winter, the trip continued without incidents in pleasant and comforting hours between the two and Peters, and long stop overs at different hostelries, waiting that placated the snowfalls which befell and that the roads were cleared from the heaps of snow which made it difficult for passage. At these stop-overs, as it would be difficult for Dolgorukov to move around and the weather did not allow visits to the villages and country estates nearby, always pleasant to see for those who travel, the two sat down, next to the fireplace, well accommodated in armchairs, and covered themselves with the blankets they had brought. They asked the innkeeper to provide them with a small table, and, as they
had brought in the luggage a silver samovar, Melanie right there made tea for them, Peters and the two servants, and, afterwards, read to one another, or played cards or chess, to entertain themselves. But, all of a sudden, they would quit everything, even the tea, and start laughing. They laughed at everything and for no reason. They laughed at the trip they were taking, laughed at the snow that fell down, preventing them from going on, laughed at the wrinkled bonnet the innkeeper´s wife was wearing, at the swelling and very open nostrils of the same innkeeper, at the broom with which he swept the entrance; at the snoring of Peters, who slept while they laughed, or at Nikolai´s rare strand of hair, carefully disposed to disguise the baldness. They also laughed for no reason, looking at each other. They were enchanted with themselves. And, for that, they laughed. They knew they were in love and requited one another, and that a big love arose suddenly between them, transfiguring their souls and their destinies. And, because they knew of that, they were happy, and laughed. Neither of them was young. He had already counted his forty autumns. She had her thirty two springs. But they felt he, as if he was eighteen; she, fifteen years old. And that made them laugh. They found themselves amused, of the feeling, very sweet, very romantic, that at last it had taken them by assault, even if their youth was already gone. And the smiling eyes of the hussar officer of the Guard, with the eyebrows completely unclouded, seemed to say, staring at Melanie:
“My angel, my sweetheart, my little mama, I love you so! I figured it out now, and I´m enchanted with my life! It´s as if I´ve been loving you for so many years! Where was I, that I hadn´t taken notice of thee, before? You lived by my side, served me as the most affectionate of all wives, and I didn´t pay the slightest attention! How I regret myself! Would you forgive me? I could have been happy with you a long time ago! . . . but I let it pass me, this enchantment that now I am feeling. It was necessary that a leper a leper! told me about the woman he loved, who killed herself, not to be forced to serve him, for me to come to myself and feel yes, feel! that I was treated by an angel like you, patient and docile under my impertinences! But, now . . . Here I am! I´m yours! Neither Excellency nor barine, but slave! I´m your mujik! I love you, I love you, little mama, and I want to marry you . . .”
She comprehended and laughed, and stared him, and in her eyes and in her laughter he realized the answer:
“We still have plenty of time for us to be happy, little papa! It´s never too late to feel the happiness that true love concedes . . . because love, in the autumn of life, is sweeter, more patient and chaster. I´ve loved thee since my youth . . . you knew it, my sweetheart! I shall serve thee with the heart in my hands, because I want you above anything in this world! Who cares if you´re paralytic? Perhaps does love observe such conveniences? I love thee for thy soul, for thy illness, because I also sympathize myself of thy misfortune. Didn´t the apostle Paul say that love was compassionate? Well, this is true. If I don´t love thee, who shall love thee this way? And you need love, my dear, to find the ways which leads to God. And I accept to marry thee . . .”
And thus they spent the day, and the evening. And when, already withdrawn to the rooms they occupied she and Peters in a room, Dimitri and Nikolai in another one by remembering that they loved each other and laughed so much with no reason, they started to laugh alone, at themselves.
At last, they arrived in St. Petersburg and once they lodged themselves in a house that he owned since the times of the services to the Emperor, Dimitri asked Melanie to first visit Mr. Alexander Aksakof, since she was much more informed about his whereabouts than he, and to request a meeting on his behalf.
Upon being received, very respectfully by the great spiritualist scientist, Alexander Aksakof, Melanie solicited an interview for Dimitri, with a set hour, explaining the reasons of such exigency the invalidity of the solicitant, who very painfully moved himself around. Mr. Aksakof, instead of conceding to the meeting, followed the visitor on her return to the residence, visiting the sick one immediately. Moved with the fact that he was paralytic, he was truly interested in meeting him and instructing him on the New Revelation; he, who had faced the winter on a trip from Kiev to St. Petersburg, in order to not waste time, waiting for the spring. Very satisfied and singularly comforted with the expositions of the wise man
regarding psychism, Mitia did not miss any of his words, absorbing the varied thesis put to the exam of the New Revelation with the avidity of the eager one who, at last, had found the fountainhead of possessions which were scarce around his own steps.
With Mr. Aksakof, and other emeritus psychists, from Russia and abroad, who were, then, visiting the eminent master, were invited to the residence of the disabled one, and then, a group of selected society of thinkers, philosophers-spiritualists, psychists and wise men formed in there, debating exciting thesis and principles around Science, Philosophy and even Religion, thesis and principles which lighted in the mind and in the heart of the former Captain of the hussar new routes for a radical personal reformation. They explained to him the fundamentals and purposes of the new Doctrine as appeared in France in 1857 (32) with the name of “Spiritism”, since this was not the work of one or more men, but a product of a Revelation done by a Pleiades of high Spirits, inhabitants of the Invisible. They explained to him in detail “the law of successive lives, or reincarnation”, to which Kozlovsky, the initiator of Dimitri himself into this transcendent new world, had already referred to.
They explained to him, in the light of Science, of Philosophy and of Moral, the magnitude of the mediumistic phenomenon and its intricate laws, its problems, difficulties and possibilities, its importance in the human life and in the spiritual life, its consequences about each individual and society, its derivations and relations to the divine plane of Creation, the necessity of its acceptance and truly comprehension by the masses, in order that the expurgation of so many insoluble problems alleviated Humanity, to avoid its major falls and sequential sufferings through “reincarnations.” And, after a certain time, Aksakof observed this detail as singular as important:
—It´s a matter of a Science, it´s undeniable, and it couldn´t be different. Without the base of the New Revelation taking firm hold on the rigorous control of Science, it would be no more than a mere theory which would prove nothing and that, therefore, wouldn´t subsist. But, proved by
32 The year in which “The Spirits´ book”, by Allan Kardec was published, the first volume of the brilliant series that marked the advent of Spiritism.
Science the facts it presents, the ramifications of the New Revelation, for this very reason, shall embrace all sectors of the same Science, and, hence, the universal life, becoming thus, like it really is, not only one more Science, but the Universal Science. The depth of such Revelation, Earl Dolgorukov, is unforeseeable and inconceivable to the current mentality. We shall, however, face this Revelation under our greatest criterion, under our greatest seriousness as well as with the greatest prudence, not forgetting that they are supernormal Arcanum, or divine, that we dare to investigate. What should interest us is only the Truth, whatever it is and wherever it is, even if it destroys the pride of opinions already deeply rooted and demonstrates us the ignorance in which we moved ourselves before. Hence, those who decide themselves to such research, wishing to penetrate the sublime meanderings of Creation, shall bring forth an excellent dose of moral and honour, qualities that shall balance them for the criterion to be developed for the enlightenment of Humanity. By comprehending the problem under such as fair as important aspects, Allan Kardec, instructed by spiritual figures of superior order, who revealed the new Science, established a new school, which prepares the follower who wishes to consider these transcendental problems. Thus emerged a Doctrine new in its conclusions, but incalculably ancient in its principles, for existing in the very laws of Nature. A Doctrine that, re-educating the adepts through the knowledge that lacked them, offer them also the morals of ancient Christianism as a regenerating shield, which shall bestow aptitudes for that criterion we talked about, since the truth is that man shall not be able to live without God and without moral, although he supposes capable of . . . and the moral established by Christianism and adopted by Allan Kardec, for the Doctrine that he codified, it is the highest existing upon the Earth. If, then, the Spiritist Revelation, of which I have the honour of being an interpreter at this moment, attracts Your Excellency, I shall advise you that, along with the indispensable scientific studies, which will oblige to a truly unfolding of consultations, exams and research, do not neglect the observation of the Christian moral, because, in such case, you shall have completed the personal reformation to which such acquisitions will pull the follower. And believe me, if thus I address Your Excellency, is to translate the very recommendation of the superior
entities who have revealed themselves to the researchers all over the world, since none of these entities has ever lacked to recommend so far, by granting their communications, the integrity of the character which overflows from the Christian teachings.
To finish, Mr. Aksakof invited the paralytic for his next experience of materialization of Spirits, with a medium he wished to observe, an experiment which would only take place two days later.
Satisfied and moved in view of the simplicity of the worthy spiritist researcher, whose polite manners, kindness of heart and fraternal disinterest attracted everyone, Dolgorukov thanked the generous deference by kissing his shoulder for good bye, promising not to miss the scheduled time, given the honour of being admitted in a meeting of such singular importance.
On the assigned date, at nine o´clock in the evening, the session started, where a medium, still with little experience in his psychic career, would be observed in his transcendental possibilities by the vigilant astuteness of the illustrious experimenter. Producing a penumbra, always necessary for the good formation of the disconcerting, beautiful and impressive phenomenon of materializations of souls, inhabitants of the Hereafter, the medium enters into a trance, starting to breathe painfully, showing singular fatigue, as in a state of pre-agonizing anguish. Very attentive, behaving himself absolutely respectful, the paralytic, who could foresee nothing of what was going to happen, limited himself to observation, certain that he found himself before one of the occult forces of Nature, and therefore in front of a manifestation of the majesty of the Almighty. He noted that Mr. Aksakof made himself demanding, maybe excessively meticulous, surrounding the medium with tight vigilance, after making him change his clothes, to put on a sudarium furnished by the experimenters; that the feet and hands of the medium himself remained bounded, and that his own body, tied to the chair on which he was sitting down, was seen by the people around him jailed in a proportional cage, through the opening of a drapery of dark colour, which isolated him from
the attendance, but in such a way to allow all the people present equally to observe any movement that by chance he made. As to the attendance, they tried to maintain conversation opposed to the circumstances of the moment, for thus the director of the proceedings demanded, avoiding that they concentrate on the fact, so that the phenomenon originated from the minds of the people present did not invalidate or alter the experiments they should try. Notwithstanding, the attitudes were grave, the conversation discreet and in a moderate tone of voice, seeing that the meeting was only watched by very polite people.
Melanie did not take part in the meeting. She had stayed home, keeping little Peters company. Nikolai and Simone, the butler, who had transported Dimitri, waited in the lobby, only having gone up to accommodate their master in the armchair indicated by an assistant of Mr. Aksakof.
In a given moment, an expressive figure took shape in the room where the medium was, and seen by the spectators bound to his chair. In the room where Dimitri and the other assistants stayed, a small kerosene lamp allowed enough clarity so that the details existing there could be recognized. At first undecided and vague, amorphous, resembling only an agglomeration of phosphorescent subtle matters, which condensed themselves like the nebulas in the work of a creation of galaxies, the figure got itself delineating rapidly to, right after, let itself be seen like the personality of a lady of high society, such garb she showed herself, the attitude at one time gracious and very distinct with which she particularized her own silhouette. In the mind of Dolgorukov, then, vertiginous meditations started to succeed themselves. He thought about the descriptions of those appearances revealed in the Gospels, of which, when a boy, he was obliged to read and learn for the religion exams: angel Gabriel appearing to Zacharias in his prayers before the Altar, in the temple of Jerusalem, at the time of the offertories, to announce the birth of John, precursor of Christ. The same angel letting himself to be seen by Mary, in Nazareth, at the fall of twilight, participating her that she would be mother of the awaited Messiah. In the Garden of Olive, still the same messenger, who one would realize was always charged with delicate tasks for the purposes from Heaven, comforting the Nazarene and
encouraging him for the dramatic peripetias of passion and death. And later on, the Nazarene showing himself, after the consummation of the Calvary, to the disciples reunited, when the doors and windows of the house they were hiding, were all closed, and had not been opened to allow him the passage, exactly as it happened in there, at that moment, when the locks of the doors and the bolts of the windows had been sealed and the keys remained in the pockets of the meticulous experimenters, without, in any way, allowing the entrance to intruders.
Yet, the figure, or the Spirit of a lady, thus materialized, she raised slightly the tale of her dress, in a gentle and very feminine gesture, lifting it above the ground to better change her steps; she arranged, with the other hand, the long silk écharpe(33) that fell down from her shoulders, and, turning around to the medium, prostrated by an intense trance, stopped right in the middle of the door formed by the opening of the curtain, staring at the assistance with interest and majesty.
Surprised, as if assaulted by an astonishment which would take part as much of the deep emotion, of the inexplicable happiness, as the terror, Dimitri recognized, in the gestures of the lady of the Hereafter, by picking up the tale of the dress and by arranging the écharpe on the shoulders, the very gestures of his mother, when she got ready to go down the stairs of the house, and this astonishment and this stupefaction had reached its most intense level when, moments later, more complete the materialization, recognized as well the features of that much loved dead one, whose absence had sharpened his existence with greater anguish, for itself already so desolate because of the illness.
Yes! It was his mother, revived by a ravishing miracle of Science! It was her very grey hair, artistically combed upwards! It was her favourite bracelet and the gold and ruby brooch, of which she never separated herself . . .
Drowned in tears, the paralytic did not know what to say and, prisoner of an emotion which reached terror, he could only stutter, moving to compassion the assistants and delighting the wise Mr. Aksakof, to whom such materialization thus identified was worthy of a glorious trophy:
33 French for scarf.
—But . . . It´s my mother! Oh, Mr. Aksakof, it´s my mother!
Phosphorescent and printing details in her materialized configuration, to better identify herself to her son, the entity gave a few steps, gliding by the room. She detained herself a few seconds in front of Dimitri, passing her hands on his face bathed in tears. Turned, right after, to the penumbrous room, where the medium was, and cast him a warning through the same instrument, who continued in a trance; warning everything worthy of a Revelation which tends towards operating revolutions in the human character and terrestrial society:
—Why do you cry, dear Mitia, my son? . . . when I contemplate around you motives of joy, with the propitious occasion which is conceded to you for the aggrandizement of thy character and the elevation of thy soul to the love of God? I come to you through a very natural step in the life of the Spirit, to tell you that, from this moment on, it shall be preferable that you get used to seeing the illness that you execrate, the protecting friend which allows you the occasion to re-educate the soul still inferior and so needy of adorning itself of virtues, for justly it is descendent of the Light. If, instead of disabled in a wheelchair, you continued to absorb yourself in the joys of the world or decline in the channels of wrongdoing, handing yourself over to all kinds of vices and passions, what would it be of thy immortal soul? Amongst the joys and mundane pleasures, thou, man of brilliant society, when would you seek to think about the misfortunes of the fellow creatures, in the difficult situation of thousands of sick ones in conditions infinitely more anguishing than yours? And, therefore, when would you dedicate yourself to observe the irremissible laws of the love to God and to our fellow creatures, before and after death? If amongst laughter, flowers and personal satisfactions you closed the carnal eyes to awake in the immortal life of the Spirit, without ever having sought to get yourself close to the Eternal Truths in anyway; if your individuality deprived of the recommendable qualities for the well-being in the Hereafter, what would be here your position, when you leave the terrestrial life? It´s not even good to think about . . .the grave reality of the situation would bring you down, to shame and humiliate you in view of the conscience, as well as before thy brothers of the Invisible. You would cry over the lost time, over the consequences of
good you didn´t do in the benefit of yourself. And you would convince yourself that, in the arms of the mundane joys, never shall men attend the necessity to seek God in himself, enlightening himself in the fulfilment of his own duties. And, thus, surprised in the life of the Spirit, the tormenting conscience, the repentant and sorrowful heart, it would only be left to you to return to Earth in a new body, in order to better conduct yourself, so that you elevated yourself to the height of the honour of immortal soul, originated from the Creator . . . therefore, I must tell you, still, that all children of God emigrate to the Earth consecutively, in reincarnations of valuable apprenticeship, and in the same way immigrate to the Hereafter, native homeland of all souls.
Be sure, my son, that I served myself of the little Peters to cast in your heart, the first warning about the impiety in which you were living, absorbed in the revolt of your own selfishness, which made you suppose yourself the greatest unfortunate one, when very softened is the probation of the illness you´ve suffered! I guided thee, myself, to the peregrination to the houses of the other sick ones you visited, wishing that you knew that while, surrounded by pageantry and attention, you lived blaspheming against God within your lands, ignored by your pride and by your indifference, there were those who lived in the isolation of misery, but they also lived with their heart humbly turned to God, considering themselves fortunate by recognizing the mercy of the Almighty in the very alms that the pious hearts left them.
Meditate about how much has happened around you in the last few days, Dimitri . . . and see that the Almighty manifests himself merciful to yourself in everything that surrounds you . . . even in this possibility that you have had to see and hear me. And bow yourself, submissive, to this paralysis which allows you ascension to God, through the expiation of delinquencies of past lives. And learn to be resigned and patient, for, even when retained in a wheelchair, as well as on a bed of pain, man shall be able to fulfil works which testify good-will in being useful to the fellow creatures, adorning his own soul with virtues he could not obtain some other way.
Meanwhile, Dimitri continued bathed in tears, recognizing, only now, the error in which he had lived since he became sick, and, sincerely regretful, talked to himself, with no courage to express himself in a loud voice, answering the one who transposed the borders of the Hereafter to warn and advise him, as a prudent mother she had been:
—Forgive me, dear mother, and for God I ask you to help me in the reformation that imposes itself in my character! Yes! Only now, meditating about the sick ones I visited, it fell down from my eyes, the blindfold that blinded me. Forgive me and support me.
By comprehending him, the charming apparition got close to him, put her hand slightly over his head, and concluded:
—Thy conscience shall dictate what you should do. You find yourself on the redeeming path of Truth. Rehabilitate yourself, then, for the criterion of your worship, through study, meditation and of research, since no other shall be the duty of the immortal soul, whose destiny is the plenitude of the communion with the Absolute Truth . . .
Dimitri Stepanovitch returned to Kiev when the spring started. He spent the rest of the winter in St. Petersburg. He saw again old friends, visited and was visited by former colleagues, whose satisfaction by seeing him again comforted him. In addition, he engulfed himself in the study of several books on psychism, existing at that time all over the world, including those already translated into the Russian language by Mr. Aksakof himself, that is, the ones by Allan Kardec, then already deceased, works of which unquestionable value he could recognize and of which he adopted as a guide for the new directri that he knew it arose in his life, flowed from a transcendent revelation, which would be the safest shore to conduct a man throughout his life.
During the period of time that he lived in St. Petersburg, being intimate with his benefactor friend and watching the successive meetings, to which he was invited, he felt a gained confidence taking firm hold in his convictions for the first time, a confidence that lifted his soul from the
debris of indifference for the advent of the divine ideal, which he had lacked. In his house succeeded visits as well, of adepts of the New Revelation, which stimulated him for the progress of the idea, with the reasoning done in common, along with lovely fraternal conviviality, which so affectionately they knew how to establish, thanks to a high comprehension about the moving force of the human existence. And, then, one would say that selected courses of psychism in that home were established, when one or another of the visitors, cultured and studious thinkers, discoursed about the observations and experiences broached around a subject as much attractive and rewarding as more delicate and impersonal becomes the investigator.
Upon one occasion, in a certain experience undertaken by an assistant of Aksakof, the spirit of Dimitri´s mother presented herself once again, seeming encharged from the Hereafter, of the moral renovation of her son, as on Earth she had been encharged of bringing him up and his social education. She presented herself naturally, as if continuing to talk to him, as yore, and said:
—Don´t you ever think about your illness and neither take drugs. That´s enough! In twenty years of infirmity, treated by the greatest high-standing physicians on Earth, don´t you comprehend yet that thy illness is of psychic origin? Deal with it, beforehand, to renew yourself to God, that´s it! In order to cure thy feelings, made miserable by the inferior passions - if you don´t want in another future existence, to be born again in even worse conditions. Cleanse your mind, imposing upon yourself re-educating disciplines, with the study about yourself and the laws of Life, which you don´t know. And revive the heart in the clarities of the Gospel, which shall break open new horizons to be conquered. Instead of thinking about thy illness, think about the possibility of curing the illness of thy fellow creatures. Think about the problem of the education of the children in general, in the weakness of old age, about the depressing situation of your mujiks and servants. Think about all that . . . And you shall see, my son, that, while this way thy soul is strengthened, the paralysis that imprisons your steps, shall no longer seem the disgrace which exasperated you.
On the third day after the last colloquy with the materialized astral form of his mother, he left St. Petersburg. It was not without tears of gratitude that the paralytic said goodbye to the tender friends who he left there and kissed the shoulder (34) of Aksakof. He took with him a baggage of precious books on the themes which now carried him away, of magazines and newspapers published overseas, of which he had already become a subscriber, satisfied for also corresponding with adepts of several countries of Europe and America, of whom he considered as if he had known them for a long time.
The return trip went by, incidentally, even more enchanting than the first time. The fields already blossoming again of greenness; the last snows coming off the mountains to flood the plains, forming limpid creeks that glittered in the sun, like liquid diamonds; the trees budded with tender leaves and promises of multicolour flowers and delicious perfumes; the varied shades of the leaves, which went from the dark green tone of the pine trees to the sweet greenness of the more fragile shrubs, which stretched by the edges of the roads; the birds, which returned, to fill up the gleaming spaces with life and happiness, and the country estates, which moved themselves around a thousand indispensable bustles; the pigeons, which dared themselves on the small streets of the villages, in search of crumbs; and all of that, under the sweetness of a light blue sky illuminated by the sun, represented to Dimitri a resurrection that he had never contemplated and that now plunged his soul into waves of consoling vibrations. From the window of the calash, which rolled without interruption, as if taking part of that splendorous lushness that spring spread everywhere, he looked recomforted; the ravines and the plains, which variegated themselves of new herbs, and the toils of the country men around and near the manorial mansions, feeling that in his inner self, also sprouted a new spring, which would be the resurrection of his soul to a new life the life of the Spirit which he had never glimpsed from the bottom of the indifference in which he had rested until then. And he told himself, listening distractedly to the rumble of the calash which balanced
34 Gesture of great respect and consideration, used in several countries of Europe around the 19th century, especially in the Northern countries and in Russia.
itself to the jolts and cracking of the postilion´s whip, stimulating the animals which, vigorously, rode along the road, proud of the service they rendered:
—How much time wasted in the indifference of egoism, my God! One could say I had lived so far suffocated in a sarcophagus, incapacitated to see and comprehend the enchantments of which life is replete. How much happiness I could have enjoyed in forty years of existence, if another one had been my comprehension about Life and the laws of Destiny! And how much happiness I could have spread around me, instead of the anguishes caused by the exigencies of my genius spoiled by the unresignation in view of the sickness that hit me! Oh, Kozlovsky, Kozlovsky, my dear friend and brother! I comprehend now the reason why you felt yourself reinvigorated in the extension of thy ignominy!
At the first station of changing horses, in which hostelry they would spend the night, in order to rest, at tea time, before the twilight fell completely, Dimitri wished to sit by the window of the small room with the intention of contemplating from there the sunset, the flocking of the birds and the pigeons searching for nests. Adjacent to the armchair in which he was sitting down, he addressed Melanie, who invariably kept herself by his side, and requested politely:
—Bring to me, little mama, the New Testament of the Lord. In my return to my birthplace, when new moral perspectives delineate themselves in my destiny, and a resurrection emerges from the depths of my being, I want to open this book, at random, and see what its pages shall advise me to put in practice in the first place. I shall open it for the second time and for the third. And, whatever it tells me, I will put in practice.
—But . . . Dimitri . . . little papa . . . Each page contains two columns of verses . . . How would you choose the advice, or the sentence?
—Very simple . . . Thus we did to choose the points in religion class during my childhood: I shall open the page and let my finger fall, quickly, over any chapter of it.
—It´s a superstition.
—In the Gospel there are no superstitions. Any chapter contains wisdom, useful teachings.
Melanie left and he stayed by himself, while he waited for her with the requested book, looking at the first stars which insinuated themselves in the late afternoon, and heard the voice of Peters, who played hide and seek with some other boys from the neighbourhood.
But the loyal friend quickly came back and he, emoted, with eyes closed, as if praying, begging invisible interventions for that which he figured of summa importance for his destiny, he opened the book at random and, like he had projected, let his finger fall suddenly upon the page.
Curious, they both bent over, and once the finger was taken off three verses of the chapter 11 of Saint Mathews answered:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke(35) upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Dimitri smiled and whispered to Melanie, who was moved:
—Magnificent this answer. It´s a revelation. The Lord invites the sufferers: come to Jesus is to follow his Doctrine . . . Learn from him is to renew oneself to the superior life of the Spirit, to Good, to Love, to the Truth . . . I suffer, my Lord! And I shall attend thy invitation! From today on, all my efforts I shall employ to go on with you. And shall strive to learn with the gentleness of thy heart and the humbleness of thy Spirit . . .
And he opened at random the precious book for the second time and, under his finger, here is what he found in the chapter 8 of Saint John:
“ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And Mitia, looking distractedly the smiling countenance of Melanie, who bent over him, as if he looked beforehand at his inner self, murmured, convinced:
35 Or Doctrine
—Yes . . .It must be . . . That´s what I think: the one who follows Jesus, for harmonizing himself with the true sense of Good, shall place in vibrations unknown faculties of the soul, and the fairylike light of Truth shall unfold to him aspects till then ignored of the Creation. He shall dedicate to the conquering of progress . . . and for that he shall study, work, meditate about the divine plane and shall receive, truly, the light of the Eternal Science. I shall dedicate myself to the study, to work, to meditation . . . to follow you, at last, whenever is possible, my Jesus, since, as a matter of fact, I´m tired of living in darkness and now I long for the immortal light of Knowledge and Love, that thy Doctrine concedes.
For the third time, the book was opened and he came upon the chapter 15 of Saint Mathews:
"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’
“The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
This time, however, Earl Dimitri Stepanovitch Dolgorukov commented nothing, not even to himself. Melanie observed that he had closed the book slowly, as if shocked by undefinable emotion. That he got the handkerchief to dry out the sweat which perspired from his forehead. That he had held it on the chin, as to contain the weeping which blunted from his soul, and that thus he stayed, silent and musing, staring at the horizon through the open window, while the infinite space covered itself
with its eternal mantle of fulgurant stars. And that thus he remained till bed time, when Nikolai and the butler took him to sleep.
By arriving at the Blue Park, the first gesture of the former officer of the hussars Guard was to enquire of his intendant if the isba of Kozlovsky had been built, according to what he had ordered prior to leaving to St. Petersburg, and if his pantry was duly supplied every week and if it had been given to him and his male nurse Karl the necessary utensils and warm clothing.
The intendant answered affirmatively to everything, providing the master with capricious report of the expenses with the works of the isba and the necessary supply of the two segregated from society, affirming, joyfully, that the residence, rapidly built, had become comfortable; but added, somewhat disappointed, that Kozlovsky had enjoyed such benefits for only two months, since he had died soon after he found himself surrounded of assistance and affections, whereas now the house was inhabited only by the dwarf Karl.
Dimitri did not feel sorry for the death of that one who he had seen only once, but who he considered as a friend. At heart, he even gladdened himself with the news of the liberation of that soul who so painfully had ransomed the debts acquired in previous existences. But, by hearing his servant, prolonged sigh dilated his chest and he murmured to himself:
—Perhaps . . . I suppose, it was better this way . . . He set himself free of sin . . . or, at least, of some sins. But it was horrible, my God! It was horrible that expiation, a true hell! And, nevertheless, he withstood it with resignation and greatness of soul, enlightened by the majestic ideal of the New Revelation, and yet with strength to worship the Love by remembering the happy days passed with his wife! Praise be to God, for the grandiose Spiritist Revelation! How comforting it is to know that Ivan IV, the Terrible, softened, somehow, the debts of his conscience, through the peripetias of successive lives, and that the day shall come on which he
shall recognize himself redeemed, harmonized for good with the light of Truth!
He enquired, afterwards, if the two mujiks chosen for the nursing of the paralytic, death-mute and blind, Elias Peterof, accomplished duly the obligations which had been ordered to them, if the isba of Tito Jerkov had been equally repaired and if the couple definitively appointed to treat him and look after the house continued in their post. Fedor Fedorovitch informed him once again that all his orders regarding this matter had also been strictly fulfilled, that the sick ones lacked nothing else but otherwise the blessings from God to die in peace . . . but that Elias´ mother, who, as a matter of fact, had left for the city, in order to find a job in a wealthy residence, soon after the two servants had presented themselves to treat her sick one, stayed there for only a month, returning suddenly to be near her son, for she said she missed him so much and felt remorse for abandoning her son, asserting she would accept the cooperation of the mujiks, yes, for she found herself exhausted of so many years of struggles with her sick son, but she would preside over her house, watching over her so unhappy son.
A month after his return from St. Petersburg, and when the spring found itself in the plenitude of the reviviscence of its enchantments, Earl Dolgorukov married Melanie Petroveevna and settled with his intendant Fedor Fedorovitch two important resolutions: the departure of Yvan to France, as he had wished prior to his trip, at his expense, where it would be tried the recovery of his is health with high standing physicians from Paris, and a meeting with architects and constructors from Kiev for a building, in his domains, of a hospital to assist the workers of his lands, or for as many needed its services. And in such a way Dimitri speeded up the works, anxious for starting the new life dedicated to Good, that in the next spring the establishment was inaugurated, to which he decided to name “Kozlovsky Hospital”, in the memory of the leper of a redeemed soul who had initiated him in the high conceptions of the Eternal Truths. During this time, Dimitri was resurrected for the practice of his duties to God, dedicating to the reformation of himself; dedicated as well to the charitable enterprises which were within his reach, always recalling the indication received from chapter 15 of Saint Mathews, in the afternoon of
the first stop over, on the return journey from St. Petersburg. And for understanding that the origin of the leprosy lies in the conscience debt of its carrier, and that, with no existing motives of expiation brought by the Spirit for the new reincarnation, as heritage of past lives, there would not be any infection, made come into contact of living with the rest of society the dwarf Karl, after submitting him to rigorous medical exams, Karl, that angelical soul confined to a deformed body, took over the management of the Hospital, and its charitable features.
Restrained in his wheelchair, right there ne t to the fireplace in the winter and from the height of the marble terraces in spring and in summer it was really true that Earl Dolgorukov, now transformed as a disciple of Christ and follower of Psychic Science, irradiated meritorious activities not only for his countrymen and servants, but all over the world, now that he collaborated with magazines and newspapers, giving accounts of the observations realized around the facts and the elucidations that he gathered day by day.
And, on the day of the inauguration of the Kozlovsky Hospital, he already was able to move himself supported on two canes, for his renewed mind had strengthened his nervous system by the moral reform which he imposed on himself, and on that day, sitting in his favourite armchair, from the height of the marble terrace of his library, from where disclosed the panorama of the village, with its fields of wheat and of hay, of rye and barley, he talked to Melanie, who at that moment had placed on the knees of her husband the little new-born baby son of their happy matrimony. Smiling, by receiving, the enchanting gift, and lulling him unskilfully in his arms, the former officer of the hussars told his wife:
—It´s a pity my dear, that I cannot transmit to these poor mujiks as well the transcendental teachings of the Spiritist Science, with all its courtship of revelations: the positive interchange with the dead ones; the possibility of materializing them to see them, listen to them directly and touch them; the possibility even to photograph them . . . as well as the triple nature of man: spirit, perispirit and matter; the law of Reincarnation, the law of Evolution, the law of Cause and Effect, the substantial reality of the Hereafter . . . They are treasures, these ones, of Eternal Truth, of
which, well examined and reasoned, shall resolve all human problems. Unfortunately, the current mentality of our workers won´t bear the weight of such revelations.
Melanie Petroveevna, now Countess Dolgorukov, smiled sweetly, with that attractive expression which was familiar to her, the arm embracing his shoulders, while the other hand fondled the little son, who slumbered on his father´s knees, and answered, simple and natural as it had always been:
—To the simple and humble ones we should offer, in first place, the mild teachings of the Gospel, little papa, which was written to them and that they shall easily be able to understand. Later on, if they progress enough in the evangelical moral, we shall give them the Science of Life, because then they shall be prepared to receive it. How would they receive this one, without the re-education furnished by that one? Should they not progress enough to receive the Science now . . . they shall receive it in future carnal existences, or even in the spiritual life, since the law of Evolution thus authorizes us to expect. Karl dissertates about the Good News of the Lord with vehemence and persuasion and knows how to teach. Hand over the task to him. The Gospel is sublime enough to rescue the humble ones, orienting them on the path to happiness. And as far as we are concerned, proportioning them such auspicious truths, haven´t we fulfilled the sacred duty that is incumbent upon us, that is, the duty to smooth the footpaths so that the kingdom of Love and Truth establishes itself in this world?
—Yes, you´re right. We shall give, then, the humble and little evolved mentally, the Gospel, which shall guide them by the heart. We shall re-educate their souls in the principles of love to God and to the fellow creatures, which, as a matter of fact, encloses it all . . . and slowly dosing their souls with the scientific instruction, in order to not to shock them before the dazzling panorama of the Revelation.
But the afternoon had fallen down. The spring reignited the perfume of the flowers, and in the garden and in the park there was a profusion of aromas and the touch of moving poetry. The birds doubled their warbles, hopping happily by the eaves of the houses and by the branches of the
lindens and gooseberries, in search of their nests. And those melodious canticles, transcending intense happiness of living, seemed to the kind soul of Dimitri Stepanovitch Dolgorukov the hymnal of nature as it rejoiced in itself for the inauguration of the Kozlovsky Hospital.
A nightingale landed, confident, on a branch of linden which swung very close to the balcony of the terrace at which the Dolgorukov couple were with their little son . . . and stroke its first warble of that afternoon. The twilight came down and the first stars appeared, very pale, in the blue space. Dimitri listened, smiling, to the tender melody and looked at Melanie, the good angel who discreetly and humbly had loved him her whole life. Their hands searched for one another caressingly and straitened themselves. And from the countenance of her paralytic husband she saw irradiating from him an intense happiness so real and a very powerful and communicative happiness for living that she said to herself, smiling, while she kissed his hair, which the afternoon breeze had dishevelled:
—He´s so happy that his eyebrows don´t seem closed anymore . . .
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
“ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” affirmed Jesus . . .
Translation by: Marcelino Almeida
** Visit the web site , the publishing house of the International Spiritist Council, for books on Spiritism in English and other languages.

© Copyright 2017 Marcelino Almeida. All rights reserved.

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