GM3

The Priest’s Tale part 8

I josep time in going up to his room, and fortunately found him in one of his intervals of quiet. He was sitting on the floor with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. The furniture was all in dis- order, and broken dishes were lying about. I admit I was a little frightened. It was rash to go in alone, but I could not turn back even if I had wished; so I went up to him, and laying my hand on his head repeated a prayer.

‘When I was done he made the sign of the cross, and kissed my hand. ‘You are not very comfortable here, my dear Christos,’ said I. Come, let us go to your uncle’s; the house is empty, and you’ll be better there. Won’t you come?’

“He rose without a word, and then said quietly: ‘I don’t want anybody to see me; please ask them to stay away.’

“I opened the door, and although there was no one there, I cried

“‘Go away, all of you; go home!—There, Christos, the street is empty; let us go.’

“ ‘I can’t bear the light, father; it hurts me.

“The sun was near its setting, and its rays streamed into the room through the open door. Christos put on his cloak, and pulling the hood over his eyes, gave me his hand. He followed me to his uncle’s house. I stayed with him a long time, trying my best to comfort him, and it was night when I came away.

“As I opened the door to go out, I thought I saw men with guns standing there in the darkness.

Friend and comrade

“I shut the door and locked it, taking the key with me. The peasants gathered about me and plied me with questions about Christos. 1 told them he was going to die, and implored them in the name of the merciful Father to let him die in peace. The poor men were not heartless- in their way they sincerely pitied their friend and comrade; but the instinct of self-preservation is stronger than pity, and fear fills the heart of the ignorant with the passion of wild beasts.”

Just then the ladies came in to join us, for the cool evening air had driven them in from the balcony.

“What are you still in the dark!” said my sister. Father Seraphim s story must have been very interesting. Won’t you tell us about it? I m sure we should be interested too.” And she ordered the lights “What became of Christos?” asked Andrew, in a whisper.

The priest closed his eyes and stretched out his hand.

I do not care to dwell upon the meaning of this gesture. Was he allowed to die in quiet—or did they kill him?

The servant came in with the lighted candles, and we talked of other things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.