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NATALIA IVANOVNA SVENTIZKY'S telegram proved useless. The committee
appointed to deal with the petitions in the Emperor's name, decided not
even to make a report to the Czar. But one day when the Sventizky case
was discussed at the Emperor's luncheon-table, the chairman of the
committee, who was present, mentioned the telegram which had been
received from Sventizky's widow.
"C'est tres gentil de sa part," said one of the ladies of the imperial
The Emperor sighed, shrugged his shoulders, adorned with epaulettes.
"The law," he said; and raised his glass for the groom of the chamber to
pour out some Moselle.
All those present pretended to admire the wisdom of the sovereign's
words. There was no further question about the telegram. The two
peasants, the old man and the young boy, were hanged by a Tartar hangman
from Kazan, a cruel convict and a murderer.
The old man's wife wanted to dress the body of her husband in a white
shirt, with white bands which serve as stockings, and new boots, but she
was not allowed to do so. The two men were buried together in the same
pit outside the church-yard wall.
"Princess Sofia Vladimirovna tells me he is a very remarkable preacher,"
remarked the old Empress, the Emperor's mother, one day to her son:
"Faites le venir. Il peut precher a la cathedrale."
"No, it would be better in the palace church," said the Emperor, and
ordered the hermit Isidor to be invited.
All the generals, and other high officials, assembled in the church of
the imperial palace; it was an event to hear the famous preacher.
A thin and grey old man appeared, looked at those present, and said: "In
the name of God, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," and began to speak.
At first all went well, but the longer he spoke the worse it became. "Il
devient de plus en plus aggressif," as the Empress put it afterwards. He
fulminated against every one. He spoke about the executions and
charged the government with having made so many necessary. How can the
government of a Christian country kill men?
Everybody looked at everybody else, thinking of the bad taste of the
sermon, and how unpleasant it must be for the Emperor to listen to it;
but nobody expressed these thoughts aloud.
When Isidor had said Amen, the metropolitan approached, and asked him to
call on him.
After Isidor had had a talk with the metropolitan and with the
attorney-general, he was immediately sent away to a friary, not his own,
but one at Suzdal, which had a prison attached to it; the prior of that
friary was now Father Missael.
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