Ye-es. The Father Superior turned pale. “You scamp,” he said, “do you know with whom you have had dealings?” “I do,” I said, trembling all over. Well, they called together the whole brotherhood and discussed the matter in secret. And then the Father Superior said to me: “It’s this way, Kondraty,” he said. “God has chosen you as the instrument of His sacred will. Yes. (Weeps) God has chosen you as the instrument—”
Well? Go on.
Ye-es, hm. “Go,” he said, “and put down the machine as you were told to do, and set it going according to the directions. Carry out the devil’s plot in full. I and the other brothers will sing a hymn quietly as we carry the ikon away. Yes, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll carry the ikon away. And thus the devil will be made a fool of.”
But, Father Kondraty, how can that be?
[Savva laughs heartily.
Patience, patience, Miss Olympiada. “And when,” said the Father Superior, “the devil’s plot shall have been carried out, then we’ll put the ikon—the dear, precious ikon—back in His place.” Well, I won’t attempt to describe the scene that took place when we carried the ikon away. It’s beyond my power. The brothers sobbed and wept. Not one of them was able to sing. The little candles burned with tiny little flames. And then when we carried Him out to the gate, and when we began to think and remembered—who is now in His sacred place—we lay around the ikon, our faces on the ground, and cried and wept bitter, bitter tears, tears of pity and contrition. “O Thou, our own, our precious idol, have mercy on us, return to Thy place.” (Lipa cries; the Friar wipes his eyes with his fist) And then—bang! went the machine, and the sulphurous smoke spread all around so that it was impossible to breathe. (In a whisper) And then many beheld the devil in the smoke, and they were so terrified that they lost consciousness. It was horrible! And then, as we carried Him back, all of one accord, as though we had agreed beforehand, began to sing “Christ is arisen.” That’s how it happened.
You hear, Lipa? But what’s the matter with you? Why are you all crying?
It makes one feel so sorry, Mr. Savva.
Why, they fooled you, they played a trick on you. Or else you are all lying, lying with your tears.
[Kondraty makes a gesture of indifference.