The Brothers Karamazov
7. A Young Man Bent on a Career
ALYOSHA helped Father Zossima to his bedroom and seated him on his bed. It
was a little room furnished with the bare necessities. There was a narrow iron
bedstead, with a strip of felt for a mattress. In the corner, under the ikons, was a
reading-desk with a cross and the Gospel lying on it. The elder sank exhausted
on the bed. His eyes glittered and he breathed hard. He looked intently at
Alyosha, as though considering something.
"Go, my dear boy, go. Porfiry is enough for me. Make haste, you are needed
there, go and wait at the Father Superior's table."
"Let me stay here," Alyosha entreated.
"You are more needed there. There is no peace there. You will wait, and be of
service. If evil spirits rise up, repeat a prayer. And remember, my son" -- the elder
liked to call him that -- "this is not the place for you in the future. When it is God's
will to call me, leave the monastery. Go away for good."
"What is it? This is not your place for the time. I bless you for great service in the
world. Yours will be a long pilgrimage. And you will have to take a wife, too. You
will have to bear all before you come back. There will be much to do. But I don't
doubt of you, and so I send you forth. Christ is with you. Do not abandon Him
and He will not abandon you. You will see great sorrow, and in that sorrow you
will be happy. This is my last message to you: in sorrow seek happiness. Work,
work unceasingly. Remember my words, for although I shall talk with you again,
not only my days but my hours are numbered."
Alyosha's face again betrayed strong emotion. The corners of his mouth
"What is it again?" Father Zossima asked, smiling gently. "The worldly may follow
the dead with tears, but here we rejoice over the father who is departing. We
rejoice and pray for him. Leave me, I must pray. Go, and make haste. Be near
your brothers. And not near one only, but near both."
Father Zossima raised his hand to bless him. Alyosha could make no protest,
though he had a great longing to remain. He longed, moreover, to ask the
significance of his bowing to Dmitri, the question was on the tip of his tongue, but
he dared not ask it. He knew that the elder would have explained it unasked if he
had thought fit. But evidently it was not his will. That action had made a terrible