AP Chekhov The
Under the Palm Sunday, in early April, His Eminence Peter serves the All-Night Vigil. The church is full of people, the monastic choir sings. The bishop is unwell for three days, he feels heaviness and fatigue. Precisely in a dream or delirium, it seems to him that his mother came to him in a crowd, which he had not seen for nine years. And for some reason tears streamed down his face. Close to him, someone else cried, then again and again, and little by little the church is filled with a general silent cry. After the service, he returns home to the Pankratiev Monastery. A quiet, pensive moon, a beautiful bell ringing, the breath of spring in the soft cold air. And I wanted to think that this will always be so.
At home, he learns that his mother really came, and laughed with joy. Prayers at bedtime tangle him with a mother’s thoughts, memories of childhood, when he (then it was called Pavlusha), son of a deacon in a poor village, walked in procession, bareheaded and barefoot, with naïve faith, with a naive smile, happy infinitely.
He has a fever. He talks with his father Sisoy, a hieromonk, always displeased with something: “I do not like me!” are the usual words of Sisoy.
The next day, after the services, he receives dear guests, mother and niece Katya, a girl of eight. The Reverend noticeably that his mother, despite his affection, is embarrassed by him, speaks respectfully and timidly. In the evening,
Reverend Peter accepts petitioners. And now, when he is unwell, he is struck by the emptiness, the fineness of all that he was asked for, his heart is undeveloped, timidity. Abroad, he must have become unaccustomed to Russian life, it is not easy for him. For all the time he’s here, no one has spoken sincerely, simply, humanly, even an old mother, it seems, is not the same, not at all the same!
In the evening the monks sang harmoniously, inspiringly. The Most Reverend during the service sat in the altar, tears streamed down his face. He thought that he had achieved everything that was available to man in his position, he believed, but still not everything was clear, something else was missing, he did not want to die; and still it seemed that he did not have something of the most important thing that he had vaguely dreamed about sometime, and in the present he worries all the same hope for the future that he had in childhood, at the academy, and abroad.
On Thursday – the church in the cathedral, returning home on a warm, sunny day. Mother is still timid and respectful. Only by unusually kind eyes, timid, anxious gaze could be guessed that this mother. In the evening in the cathedral reading of the twelve gospels, and during the service the Most Reverend, as always, feels active, cheerful, happy, but by the end of the service his legs were completely numb and began to worry fear that he was about to fall. At home he quietly confesses to Sisu: “What kind of bishop am I?” Presses me all this… presses. “
The next morning he started bleeding from the bowels: typhoid fever. The old mother no longer remembered that he was a bishop, and kissed him, who had become thin, thin as a child, and for the first time called Pavlusha, son. And he could not utter a word any more, and it seemed to him that he, already a simple, ordinary person, was walking along the field, free now, like a bird, can go anywhere!
The Reverend died on the morning of Saturday, and the next day was Easter – with a joyful ringing, a general gaiety – as it always was, as will, in all likelihood, in the future.
A month later, a new bishop was appointed, nobody remembered the former one, and then completely forgot. And only the old woman, the mother of the deceased, when she went out into her remote town in the evening to the pasture to meet the cow, told other women that she had a son, the bishop, and at the same time spoke timidly, afraid that she would not be believed…
And she in fact, not everyone believed.