Father Alexyei paused for a moment, and covered his eyes with his hand.
But why should I weary you longer [he went on], and myself? My son and I dragged ourselves home, and there he soon afterward expired, and I lost my Yasha. For several days before his death he neither ate nor drank, but kept running back and forth in the room and repeating that there could be no forgiveness for his sin.... But he never saw him again. “He has ruined my soul,” he said; “and why should he come any more now?” And when Yakoff took to his bed, he immediately sank into unconsciousness, and thus, without repentance, like a senseless worm, he went from this life to life eternal....
But I will not believe that the Lord judged harshly....
And among other reasons why I do not believe it is, that he looked so well in his coffin; he seemed to have grown young again and resembled the Yakoff of days gone by. His face was so tranquil and pure, his hair curled in little rings, and there was a smile on his lips. Marfa Savishna came to look at him, and said the same thing. She encircled him all round with flowers, and laid flowers on his heart, and set up the gravestone at her own expense.
And I was left alone.... And that is why, my dear sir, you have beheld such great grief on my face.... It will never pass off—–and it cannot.
I wanted to speak a word of comfort to Father Alexyei ... but could think of none. We parted soon after.
About forty versts from our village there dwelt, many years ago, the great-uncle of my mother, a retired Sergeant of the Guards and a fairly wealthy landed proprietor, Alexyei Sergyeitch Telyegin, on his ancestral estate, Sukhodol. He never went anywhere himself, and therefore did not visit us; but I was sent to pay my respects to him a couple of times a year, at first with my governor, and later on alone. Alexyei Sergyeitch always received me very cordially, and I spent three or four days with him. He was already an old man when I made his acquaintance; I remember that I was twelve years old at my first visit, and he was already over seventy. He had been born under the Empress Elizabeth, in the last year of her reign. He lived alone with his wife, Malanya Pavlovna; she was ten years younger than he. They had had two daughters who had been married long before, and rarely visited Sukhodol; there had been quarrels between them and their parents, and Alexyei Sergyeitch hardly ever mentioned them.