“Indeed?” said Pierre, looking with curiosity and seriousness (for which Princess Marya felt particularly grateful to him) at the face of Ivanushka, who, seeing that he was the subject under discussion, looked at all of them with his crafty eyes.

Princess Marya had not the slightest need to feel embarrassment on her friends’ account. They were quite at their ease. The old woman cast down her eyes, but stole sidelong glances at the new-comers, and turning her cup upside down in the saucer, and laying a nibbled lump of sugar beside it, sat calmly without stirring in her chair, waiting to be offered another cup. Ivanushka, sipping out of the saucer, peeped from under his brows with his sly, feminine eyes at the young men.

“Where have you been, in Kiev?” Prince Andrey asked the old woman.

“I have, good sir,” answered the old woman, who was conversationally disposed; “just at the Holy Birth I was deemed worthy to be a partaker in holy, heavenly mysteries from the saints. And now, good sir, from Kolyazin a great blessing has been revealed.”

“And Ivanushka was with you?”

“I go alone by myself, benefactor,” said Ivanushka, trying to speak in a bass voice. “It was only at Yuhnovo I joined Pelageyushka …”

Pelageyushka interrupted her companion; she was evidently anxious to tell of what she had seen. “In Kolyazin, good sir, great is the blessing revealed.”

“What, new relics?” asked Prince Andrey.

“Hush, Andrey,” said Princess Marya. “Don’t tell us about it, Pelageyushka.”

“Not … nay, ma’am, why not tell him? I like him. He’s a good gentleman, chosen of God, he’s my benefactor; he gave me ten roubles, I remember. When I was in Kiev, Kiryusha, the crazy pilgrim, tells me—verily a man of God, winter and summer he goes barefoot—why are you not going to your right place, says he; go to Kolyazin, there a wonder-working ikon, a holy Mother of God has been revealed. On these words I said good-bye to the holy folk and off I went …”

All were silent, only the pilgrim woman talked on in her measured voice, drawing her breath regularly. “I came, good sir, and folks say to me: a great blessing has been vouchsafed, drops of myrrh trickle from the cheeks of the Holy Mother of God …”

“Come, that will do, that will do; you shall tell me later,” said Princess Marya, flushing.

“Let me ask her a question,” said Pierre. “Did you see it yourself?” he asked.

“To be sure, good sir, I myself was found worthy. Such a brightness overspread the face, like the light of heaven, and from the Holy Mother’s cheeks drops like this and like this …”

“Why, but it must be a trick,” said Pierre naïvely, after listening attentively to the old woman.

“Oh, sir, what a thing to say!” said Pelageyushka with horror, turning to Princess Marya for support.

“They impose upon the people,” he repeated.

“Lord Jesus Christ!” said the pilgrim woman, crossing herself. “Oh, don’t speak so, sir. There was a general did not believe like that, said ‘the monks cheat,’ and as he said it, he was struck blind. And he dreamed a dream, the holy mother of Petchersky comes to him and says: ‘Believe in me and I will heal thee.’ And so he kept beseeching them: ‘Take me to her, take me to her.’ It’s the holy truth I’m telling you, I’ve seen it myself. They carried him, blind as he was, to her; he went up, fell down, and said: ‘Heal

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