A Lady of Little Faith
A visitor looking on the scene of his conversation with the peasants and his blessing them shed silent tears and wiped them away with her handkerchief. She was a sentimental society lady of genuinely good disposition in many respects. When the elder went up to her at last she met him enthusiastically.
Ah, what I have been feeling, looking on at this touching scene! She could not go on for emotion. Oh, I understand the peoples love for you. I love the people myself. I want to love them. And who could help loving them, our splendid Russian people, so simple in their greatness!
How is your daughters health? You wanted to talk to me again?
Oh, I have been urgently begging for it, I have prayed for it! I was ready to fall on my knees and kneel for three days at your windows until you let me in. We have come, great healer, to express our ardent gratitude. You have healed my Lise, healed her completely, merely by praying over her last Thursday and laying your hands upon her. We have hastened here to kiss those hands, to pour out our feelings and our homage.
What do you mean by healed? But she is still lying down in her chair.
But her night fevers have entirely ceased ever since Thursday, said the lady with nervous haste. And thats not all. Her legs are stronger. This morning she got up well; she had slept all night. Look at her rosy cheeks, her bright eyes! She used to be always crying, but now she laughs and is gay and happy. This morning she insisted on my letting her stand up, and she stood up for a whole minute without any support. She wagers that in a fortnight shell be dancing a quadrille. Ive called in Doctor Herzenstube. He shrugged his shoulders and said, I am amazed; I can make nothing of it. And would you have us not come here to disturb you, not fly here to thank you? Lise, thank himthank him!
Lises pretty little laughing face became suddenly serious. She rose in her chair as far as she could and, looking at the elder, clasped her hands before him, but could not restrain herself and broke into laughter.
Its at him, she said, pointing to Alyosha, with childish vexation at herself for not being able to repress her mirth.
If any one had looked at Alyosha standing a step behind the elder, he could have caught a quick flush crimsoning his cheeks in an instant. His eyes shone and he looked down.
She has a message for you, Alexey Fyodorovitch. How are you? the mother went on, holding out her exquisitely gloved hand to Alyosha.
The elder turned round and all at once looked attentively at Alyosha. The latter went nearer to Lise and, smiling in a strangely awkward way, held out his hand to her too. Lise assumed an important air.
Katerina Ivanovna has sent you this through me. She handed him a little note. She particularly begs you to go and see her as soon as possible; that you will not fail her, but will be sure to come.
She asks me to go and see her? Me? What for? Alyosha muttered in great astonishment. His face at once looked anxious.
Oh, its all to do with Dmitri Fyodorovitch andwhat has happened lately, the mother explained hurriedly. Katerina Ivanovna has made up her mind, but she must see you about it. Why, of course, I cant say. But she wants to see you at once. And you will go to her, of course. It is a Christian duty.
I have only seen her once, Alyosha protested with the same perplexity.
Oh, she is such a lofty, incomparable creature! If only for her suffering Think what she has gone through, what she is enduring now! Think what awaits her! Its all terrible, terrible!
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