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Marfa,' the stoical firmness of the sectarians in the midst of persecutions. At the end of the narrative, the author transports us into the midst of a group of peasants, whose conversation reveals their religious tendencies. Collected on the banks of a river, they wait the ferry-boat which is to transport them to the other side. A troop of young peasants come out from a neighbouring forest, who are going to pay the last duties to a 'Cenobite. While all these groups, scattered upon the banks, furnish by their conversation many curious particulars of the Russian sects, a traveller lies hid at the bottom of his carriage, listening with an attentive ear to the conversation. He is a superior of the police, named Mark Ilarion Filoveritof. He is going through the district on confidential business; and the care with which he avoids the peasants convinces us that his mission concerns these sectarians. The ferry-boat appears at last; and the peasants direct their steps towards their village. The official takes the road to the town, and arrives there at the close of the day. This little town, which is a nest of Old Believers, presents a remarkable peculiarity; the male population seem so banished from it, that one only meets women there. They advance, covered with long tunics of grave colours, with a solemn and grave step. The town is perfectly quiet—no movement, no disputes in the street, no drunkenness. The official goes through the town, and gets out of the carriage at the post-house. At the same instant a man in uniform approaches him; it is the ispravnik,* whose portrait the author draws with great spirit. “He was a little man, but very robust, with a low forehead; he had a bull's neck, and blood shot eyes. When

any one gave him secret information relating to his functions, he drew himself up, his eyes became fierce, like those of a wild beast scenting his prey, and he began to bite his lips. Sometimes he would joke, or relate a coarse anecdote, but even in these moments of gaiety there was something sinister in his physiognomy. “Will your worship begin the business ?' he demands of the superior official. This latter affects to be greatly astonished at this question. Has the ispravnik then been forewarned of his arrival ? He knows the mission with which he is charged! The employé cannot help showing some surprise. What is then the business which these two personages ought to inquire into so promptly? It is about an inquiry into the conduct of Marfa Kosmoona, who has been the superior of a Dissenting community of women in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately it is too late to proceed immediately with the inquiry, as the ispravnik wished. The night is dark, and the official is obliged to defer till the next day the visit that he intends to make to Marfa. The ancient superior lives in a house nicely built, and nice looking. On opening the official finds himself in a long, gloomy passage ; and not knowing which way to turn, an old servant comes to his assistance. When she is a few steps from him she becomes pale, and shakes all over. As she pretends not to understand him, she utters piercing shrieks. An elderly



* Director of police.

woman, still robust, and very tall, wearing a black saraphane,* her head covered with a handkerchief of the same colour, appears at the door of a neighbouring room ; it is the mistress of the house. The first words she addresses to the official show us that she has been warned of his arrival, for she asks him if he wishes to make a search. This question is, however, very natural, for the sectarians are exposed to very frequent searches. The room into which the old superior takes Mark Lariomovitch is light, and well arranged. A cloth covers the floor; and at the end of the room is a bed, surmounted according to the Russian custom with a pile of pillows. A man in a clerical dress is walking about the room; and whispering, which came from the bedside, indicated the presence of others. This man is drunk; and a somewhat curious scene takes place between him and the mistress of the house, who is visibly uneasy. He suffers some singular words to escape him; that of archbishop occurs frequently in the exclamations that he utters. However, he finishes by going away without the official being able to comprehend the sense of his words. Left alone with his hostess, Mark tries in vain to draw from her a confession on this subject, but she only tells him that this man is a priest, deprived of his office, and known to all the town for his misconduct. The official then makes Marfa Kosmoona understand that the object of his mission is to collect particulars concerning the Old Believers in that locality, and makes an appointment for the evening of the next day for the purpose. The ispravnik visits him at the post-house, and informs him that he has suborned an accomplice of Marfa named Magdalina. A meeting of sectarians had taken place during the night, and the ispravnik, hidden behind an oven, had heard the discourse. A merchant of Moscow, Mikail Trofcinitch, and Marfa Kosmoona, were present at this meeting, with the drunken priest, named Mitréitch. Now the name of the merchant is that of a man implicated in a criminal affair, which has necessitated the very inquiry in which the official is engaged. From conversations held at this nocturnal council, it appears that Mitréitch, the deprived priest, has decided to go orer to the schism party, by paying 150, roubles in two payments, and eau-devie at pleasure for fifteen days. The merchant, who appears to be an old acquaintance of the two women, has only come to speak respecting the speedy arrival of an archbishop of the sect, who is to consecrate Mitréitch and some other priests. After having exchanged notes, the ispravnik and the official agree to act in concert. The next evening the examination of Marfa is to take place; and that is the moment to secure the accomplices. At the appointed hour, Mark goes into a distant chamber of the post-house, where they are to bring him the old sectarian. However, an unexpected incident troubles him; the man who was to be present at this inquiry as witness, the citizen Polovnikoff, has disappeared, and without him it cannot legally proceed. As he walks up and down this room, cursing this contretemps, the door opens,

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and a man in a close coat, with his hands tied before him with a cord, presents himself. The poor fellow has seal in his hand, which he turns between his fingers in a sort of despair.

• " Here he is, your honour,” says the soldier. “Who is it?" “The citizen Polovnikoff, your honour.” “Ah, wretch!'' exclaimed the official, “what has become of you?” The unfortunate citizen continued to turn the seal convulsively in his hand, trembling all over. “He had hidden himself in the garret, your honour, behind a pile of faggots. We found him by chance." “Have pity on me, your honour,” stammered the citizen, "The magistrate's secretary hates me, because, being poor, I cannot make him a present. They choose me, because I am in arrears; it is a way of making me pay; but I have a wife and children.” “What have you in your hand ?” “A seal, your honour; as I cannot sign my. name, I place it there, where they tell me.” “Go and see if Kosmoona is come,” said the official to the soldier.

• “Your honour,” replied the citizen, when the soldier was gone out, “sometimes the gentlemen allow me to go to my work. I leave them my seal, and they make use of it as they think proper.” At this moment the door opened, and Marfa Kosinoona entered. Nothing in her appearance indicated the slightest uneasiness, she crossed in the ancient manner, bowed stiffly, and appeared to pay no attention to the man. “ This man asks," said the official,“ permission to go away.” please, sir,” she said calmly. "If you prefer to question me without a witness, that is your business; however, I believe the law forbids it.” “Well," said the official to the man, “ you must remain.” “Why so, Marfa Kosmoona,” asked the man, eagerly, “I am of no use. If I had thought of whispering a word, they would have turned me out of doors with a blow. Why will you mix me up with your affairs? I will leave my seal.” “But if his honour," maliciously replied Marfa, “ does not confine himself to a simple chat-if he brings an accusation against me- then a witness—?” “I repeat to you," said the official, " that I wish to confine myself to asking you some general information, but quite friendly.” “Even in that case, sir,” she replied, “it seems to me that a witness is never in the way. Besides, he will not die.” “Have pity on me,” exclaimed the man, “I have to work." All these supplications were useless. However, Kosmoona must have known that the presence of this man was of no use, and that his seal was sufficient. “May the Devil take these wretches,” said the man, looking at her indignantly. “They are the cause of our being disturbed all the year through, whether for a search or an inquiry. Curses upon them all,” added le, between his tecth, and throwing upon the official a look burning with anger. Having imposed silence on the man, the official somewhat cleverly led Marfa Kosmoona to relate her life to him. She expressed herself according to the habits of the sectarians, slowly, and using old terms. While speaking, she gesticulated with one hand, and with the other crumpled her handkerchief. “I was born at Moscow," said she; “my parents were of the old faith, but I was an orphan at an early age. My brothers, not knowing what to do with me, through avarice, sent me to a community of women, which then existed in its environs. The superior, who was called the mother Alexandra, was a severe woman. For the least fault, she put us in a cell, with irons on our feet and hands; but she was a true superior. You should have seen her when the merchants came. The superiors of other communities hurried to meet them with all the oldest sisters, as if they were starved. The mother Alexandra, on the contrary, made them wait a long time, and advanced slowly, with much majesty. We were not the only ones that feared her. When the nuns of other communities saw her at a distance on the stairs, they took care to put on a smiling face in order to please her. However, we liked her well, for she drew to our community money and provisions of all kinds.” “Why had the merchants such affection for that mother?" the official adroitly asked, “I will tell you," exclaimed the unfortunate citizen. "The mother Alexandra was always ready to hide their misdeeds. Did one of their daughters make a faux pas, they confided it to the mother. Did a husband take a dislike to his wife, they shut


her up in mother Alexandra's community." "Ah! old gossip that you are,” added he, turning towards the sectarian. “Is it true," asked the official, in an indifferent tone, " that they brought girls by force into your community?” “You believe, then, the words of that drunken fellow!" replied Marfa. Do you not see he has drunk a glass of brandy ?” “Me drunk !” exclaimed the man, furious; " then you have forgotten the sister Varka. That happened, however, in your community, when you were superior! Yes; tell us that story." An attentive observer would have remarked that at the name of Varka the officer pricked up his ears; but he hid his feelings, and, turning towards Marfa, asked her, in a careless tone, " What is that story? Is there anything true in it?” “ It is a very simple story,” calmly replied the sectarian, but looking, for the first time, very distrustfully at the official. “About five years since, a merchant from Moscow, Michail Trofimitch, who was one of us, came to our community. It was in the autumn, at night, and the weather was bad. However, he asked for me, and would see me. I went to him; he did not leave me time to say, but threw himself at my feet. What is the matter?' I asked. “Have pity on me, mother,' he replied. My daughter Varka has dishonoured us. She has given herself to a heretic! I tried to calm him; he entreated me to take his daughter, and lead her back into the right way. I received Varka; I do not deny it; but a father has ever the right.” “And the child of Varka," replied the man, with earnestness, “what did you do with it?” “What did I do with it?" answered Marfa, unmoved; "what they do with the newly-born who die in coming into the world.” “You suffocated it." “Will not your honour make this wretch hold his tongue?” exclaimed Marfa, rising. At this instant the door half opens, and a woman calls Marfa, in a trembling voice. Mother, come quick, I have something to say.” The old sectarian goes out, having first asked permission of the official. This latter rose, took up hurriedly a bundle of paper, pen and ink, which were by the window, puts them on the table, and runs to a neighbouring door. A young woman appeared; he made her sit down in a dark corner of the room, and rescated himself at the table. At the end of a few minutes Marfa Kosmoona re-entered, and told the official that as the ispravnik, having ordered her house to be searched, she wished to be present.'

The official refused, saying, that she had been submitting to an interrogatory according to law. He added, that he was sent to proceed against Marfa Kosmoona, accused of having decoyed the daughter of the merchant Michail Trofimitch, and suffocated the child to which she had given birth.

The moment the employé reveals his official mission, the old sectarian completely changed her bearing; she resumed that stoical firmness with which her co-religionists meet the demands of justice. The official, who is a clever counsel, is not put out by this obstinacy. Upon a sign from Mark Harionovitch, the woman advances towards Marfa; it is the merchant's daughter. Marfa becomes pale, but declares she does not know her.

“The young woman, enraged at this, relates with care her arrival at the community, and the sufferings they made her endure to compel her to take the veil; and that when she consented, they sent her to Siberia, to collect alms for the community. As to her child, she never knew what became of it. The old sectarian, on being questioned on this point, does not alter her manner, but says she knows nothing about what they ask her. The officer reads to her a letter bearing her signature, and addressed to the father of the young woman; shc says in it, they have done with the child according to his paternal intentions.'

Marfa will not acknowledge this letter.

then a great noise is


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heard in the streets; they bring in some prisoners, whom the ispravnik has taken at the old sectarian's house. A confused crowd follows them at a distance. The door opens, and the ispravnik enters, his face radiant with joy.

* “ Your honour," says he to the officer, “ we have succeeded better than I expected; we have taken in the same net the archbishop and the merchant of whom I spoke to you. They are bringing them in." This news produced a profound impression on Marfa; she fell back in her chair, leant her hands on her knees, and stretching forwards hier body, her eyes fixed on the door, appearing to wait with anxiety the arrival of the prisoners. They were not long in bringing in one, whom the Old Believers called their archbishop.

*** Here is the archbishop,” said the ispravnik, laugliing, to the official; “I have the honour of presenting him to you." Now," addressing the prisoner in a coarse tone, "tell us what you are called.” This remark produced no effect upon the prisoner; he looked steadily at the ispravnik, but did not open his mouth.

Come, then,” replied the ispravnik,“ will you make haste; if not, we shall know how to make you speak." The prisoner still continued silent. "He is a real block," said the ispravnik to the official. “We have already kept him on the stool for half an hour, and I have even pinched his hands, but it is impossible to get a word from him.” “Your honour,” exclaimed Marfa, rising and approaching the official, “will you suffer such a scandal?” The official made a sign to the ispravnik, who went out of the room with a discontented air. “Good day, Andrei.”

" • Larionètch," said Marfa, respectfully, to the sectarian, and bowing to the ground, we meet in tronble," and large tears flowell down her withered cheeks. “Good morning, Mistress Marfa Kosmoona," he replied, with a calm and firm voice; "it seems that we have lived long enough. It is time that we rest in the bosom of Christ, who first gave himself a sacrifice for all men."

• “Pardon, Varka Mekarlorna,” added Marfa, turning towards the young woman, “I have greatly sinned towards thee. Father,” continued she, addressing herself to the officer, " what she has said is true; you can write more, but make haste.” The young girl fell at the feet of Marfa, sobbing and uttering confused words. “Bring in the merchant," said the otlicer, who seemed in a hurry to finish. The merchant was brought in. He was an extremely tall old man, with a long beard and hard features. " Ah, there you are, said he, with a bitter smile, on perceiving his daughter, who had just risen; " it seems that, since our separation, you have learnt to betray your own kindred. Good day, Kosmoona,” said he to Marfa, “your last hour is come. If your honour has any questions to ask me,' continued he, addressing the officer, “I am at your service; but do not think to obtain anything by tormenting us, it will be lost trouble.” “Think of thy daughter," said Marfa to him, “ give her thy paternal pardon. Thou wilt knowy that if she has spoken it is not willingly.” Father," exclaimed the young girl in a voice choked by her tears, and kissing his feet. The merchant remained for some minutes sad, then he looked at his daughter, and one would have said that her despair touched him, but his face soon resumed its wonted serenity. “No, child,” said he, sighing, and making a sign with his hand, "the time is passed to speak of that.”

" " Live with God and think no more of us; we do not consider you as in this world. Well, your honour," added he, looking at the officer resolutely, going to question us, or will they conduct us directly to the government room?" Upon an order from the officer, all the scetarians were led to prison.'

The clergy of the regime of the Emperor Nicholas had the most profound aversion for the Old Believers, and would continue hunting them out, as being already too much tolerated. The men who are at the head of the Western party, as this is called, and the greater part of

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