Several travelers are hiding in the inn from the weather. One of them states that “every saved man… the angel guides,” and the angel himself led him. The next story he says, kneeling, because everything that happened – “a very sacred and terrible thing.”
Markusha, an “insignificant man,” born in the “old Russian faith”, serves as a mason in the artel of Luke Kirillov, the most wonderful icon in which the image of an angel is considered. On the Dnieper, the artel builds a stone bridge with the British and has a “peaceful” spirit for three years, and “the preeminence of the God-created nature” feels. But after the ignorant and reminiscent of the “verbluda” Mara devises a special way to break the strongest bolts, the glories are about the Old Believers. Pimen Ivanov, who, unlike “true power old-fashioned people,” does not shy away from communicating with officials, meets with the wife of “an important person” who asks the Old Believers to beg her daughter. Pimen does not tell anything to the Old Believers about this, nor about subsequent assignments, but all of them are being fulfilled. Having paid Pimen the money “for candles and oil,” the lady expresses her desire to see the guardian angel, and Pimen has to tell the Old Believers everything. The next morning after the arrival of the lady, the wife of Luke Kirillov, Aunt Mihailitsa, says that at night the angel came down from the icon. At this time, the lady’s mistress, for whom Pimen “prays”, receives a bribe from the “Jews”, but they deceive him and demand even more backward. The lady demands this money from the Old Believers. The Old Believers do not have such money, and gendarmes attack their homes, “seal” the icons, including the face of an angel, with a sealing wax, take them away and put them in the basement. The icon with the angel looks at the bishop, and she is put in the altar. The Old Believers decide to change the guardian – “hide and print”, but “to fulfill this determination”
Meanwhile, according to Pimen, suddenly “the panthoto has gone,” and the “Old Sorrow” is attacked by “extreme anguish,” and with it is a disease of the eyes, which only the guardian icon can cure. Such piety touches the elder among the Englishmen Yakov Yakovlevich, whom Markusha explains, that the artist from the city can not perform an exact copy, to present “a type of person that is not fair.” And the icon is that of Stroganov’s drawing, and he is very different from other writings. And today “the high inspiration of the type is lost” and “in the new schools of art, the universal excrescence of feeling is developed and the mind is obeying.” “It is not given to anyone to understand the Scriptures, and the depicted heavenly glory very much at the same time helps about money and all the glory of the earth to think only of abomination to the Lord.” The Old Believers themselves pray “
They reach Moscow, “drevlego Russian society of the glorious queen,” but they are not consoled by it, considering that the old man in Moscow is not based on “kind-heartedness and piety, but on a single obstinacy” is based. And the masters in art are inaccurate, everyone is magnified before each other or, “gangs meld together”, at the restaurants they drink wine and praise their art “with an arrogant arrogance.” Marcus is attacked by boredom, and Levonti is afraid that his “temptation to gain”, and expresses a desire to see the irresistible old man Pamva... and understand what is the “grace” of the ruling church. For all the protests of Markushi that church “kofi” drink and hares are eaten, Levonty answers his education. From Moscow, travelers go to Suzdal to search for Sevastian’s isogram, and are lost on the road chosen by Markusha. Levonti looks sick and refuses to go. But the little old man who emerged from the forest urges him to stand up and leads the travelers to his dwelling. Markusha understands that this is Pamva without wrath.
Pamva releases the soul from Levontia, “like a dove from a cage,” and the child dies. Marcus can not be accused of the old man: “this person will be irresistible with such humility,” but he decides that “if only there are two such people in the church, then we are lost, for this one is all animated with love.” When Markusha walks through the forest, he is again Pamva and says: “An angel lives in the soul, but is sealed, and love will set him free.” Markusha runs away from the old man and meets the isographer Sevastyan, with whom he returns to the artel. To check the skill of the isograph, Yakov Yakovlevich asks him to write an icon to his wife, Sevastian learns that the Englishwoman is praying for children, and writes the icon with such subtlety of “shallow” writing that the English did not hear. But to copy the portrait of the Englishwoman in the ring refuses, not to “humiliate”
Yakov Yakovlevich asks the lord to return the angel to the artel for a while, to gild the rhizome on the engraved angel and decorate the crown. But the bishop gives only a robe. Sevastyan explains to the Englishman that an authentic icon is needed. He first throws out the isograph, but then he himself is called to commit the theft and agrees that while the vigil at the bishop goes, a copy is written, the old icon is removed from the old board, fakes are inserted, and Yakov Yakovlevich was able to put it again on the window, as if nothing happened. The Englishman takes with him a strong spirit of Kovacs Maroi, so that he took all the blame on himself and “died” if the Old Believers are deceived. The contract is based on “mutual faith”.
“Action” is successful, but Sevastian refuses to impose a seal on the copy, and this has to be done by an Englishwoman. At this time the ice starts to move, and in order to cross the river to the other shore, Luka, crossing the Old Believers’ singing, crosses the river on the bridge circuit. Mara sees above him a glow and protection by angels. The sealing wax disappears on the copy of the icon, and Luka rushes to the bishop who answers that the Old Believers “brought down from their angels a deceitful seal, and the other removed himself from himself and brought you here.” Requested by the bishop, the Old Believers “of the body and blood of the Savior are imbued with money.” And along with them Markusha, who after meeting with the elder Pamva, “has an inclination to be animated with all Russia.”
Surprisingly travelers about the missing seal Markusha says that the seal of the Englishwoman was paper and fell out. Against the fact that everything happened in an ordinary manner, the Old Believers do not argue: “It does not matter what ways the Lord will require, if only to seek.” Markusha wishes everyone a Happy New Year and asks forgiveness of Christ for his own sake.