I should like to wake up, but I can’t. I wander around and wander around until I am weary and feeble, and when I rouse myself I find I am here, in the very same place. There is the monastery and the belfry, and the clock strikes the hour. And it’s all like a dream, a fantasy. You close your eyes, and it does not exist. You open them, and it’s there again. Sometimes I go out into the fields at night and close my eyes, and then it seems to me there is nothing at all existing. Suddenly the quail begin to call, and a wagon rolls down the road. Again a dream. For if you stopped up your ears, you wouldn’t hear those sounds. When I die, everything will grow silent, and then it will be true. Only the dead know the truth, Mr. Savva.
FRIAR (smiling, cautiously waving his hands at a bird; in a whisper) It’s time to go to bed, time to go to bed.
What dead? Listen, my dear sir. I have a plain, simple, peasant mind, and I don’t understand those subtleties. What dead are you talking about?
About all the dead, every one without exception. That’s why the faces of the dead are so serene. Whatever agonies a man may have suffered before his death, the moment he dies his face becomes serene. That’s because he has learned the truth. I always come here to attend the funerals. It’s astonishing. There was a woman buried here. She had died of grief because her husband was crushed under a locomotive. You can imagine what must have been going on in her mind before her death. It’s too horrible to think of. Yet she lay there, in the coffin, absolutely serene and calm. That’s because she had come to know that her grief was nothing but a dream, a mere phantom. I like the dead, Mr. Savva. I think the dead really exist.
I don’t like the dead. (Impatiently) You are a very disagreeable fellow. Has anybody ever told you that?
Yes, I have, heard it before.
I would never have taken you out of the noose. What damn fool did it anyway?
The first time it was the Father Steward, the next time my classmates. I am very sorry you disapprove of me, Mr. Tropinin. As you are an educated man, I should have liked to show you a bit of writing I did while I was in the seminary. It’s called “The Tramp of Death.” It’s a sort of story.
No, spare me, please. Altogether I wish you’d—
There comes Father Kirill. I had better beat it.