YEGOR (sitting down, calmly)
All right, swill until you bust, devil. What was I saying? That fool put it out of my head. Oh yes, the pilgrims are going, it strong this time. It’s been a bad year for the crops. That’s another reason, I suppose. There’s no grub, they have nothing to eat, and so they’ll pray. If God listened to every fool’s prayer, we’d have a fine time of it. If he listened to every fool, what chance would the wise man have? A fool remains a fool. That’s why he is called a fool.
I should say it is correct. Father Parfeny is a smart man. He flim-flams them all right. He put up a new coffin—did you hear that? The old one has all been eaten away by the pilgrims, so he put a new one into its place. It was old, so he put a new one instead. They’ll eat that one away. No matter what you give them—Tony, are you drinking again?
I am! I am! I’ll hand you out another one in a moment and we’ll see what you say then.
[Enter Savva, looking very gay and lively. He stoops less than usual, talks rapidly, and looks sharp and straight, but his gaze does not rest long on the same person or object.
Ah, the philosophers! Father! A worthy assemblage. Why do you keep it so dark here, like some hell-hole with a lot of rats in it? A philosopher has to have light. The dark is good only for going through people’s pockets. Where is the lamp? Oh, here it is. (He lights the lamp)
Perhaps you’ll open the windows too?
Quite right. I’ll open the windows also. (Opens them) My, how they keep pouring in!
A whole army.
And all of them will die in time and acquire peace. And then they’ll know the truth, for it never comes except in the society of worms. Have I got the essence of your optimistic philosophy down right, my thin, lean friend?
SPERANSKY (with a sigh)
You are always joking.
And you are always moping. Look here now. What with the poor, scanty fare the deacon’s wife doles out to you and your constant grieving, you will soon die, and then your face will assume an expression of perfect peace. A peaked nose, and all around, stretching in every direction, a vast expanse of peace. Can’t you get some comfort out of that? Isn’t it a consolation to you? Think of it, a tiny island of nose lapped in an ocean of peace.