The Brothers Karamazov HTML version

2. The Old Buffoon
THEY entered the room almost at the same moment that the elder came in from
his bedroom. There were already in the cell, awaiting the elder, two monks of the
hermitage, one the Father Librarian, and the other Father Paissy, a very learned
man, so they said, in delicate health, though not old. There was also a tall young
man, who looked about two and twenty, standing in the corner throughout the
interview. He had a broad, fresh face, and clever, observant, narrow brown eyes,
and was wearing ordinary dress. He was a divinity student, living under the
protection of the monastery. His expression was one of unquestioning, but self-
respecting, reverence. Being in a subordinate and dependent position, and so
not on an equality with the guests, he did not greet them with a bow.
Father Zossima was accompanied by a novice, and by Alyosha. The two monks
rose and greeted him with a very deep bow, touching the ground with their
fingers; then kissed his hand. Blessing them, the elder replied with as deep a
reverence to them, and asked their blessing. The whole ceremony was
performed very seriously and with an appearance of feeling, not like an everyday
rite. But Miusov fancied that it was all done with intentional impressiveness. He
stood in front of the other visitors. He ought -- he had reflected upon it the
evening before -- from simple politeness, since it was the custom here, to have
gone up to receive the elder's blessing, even if he did not kiss his hand. But when
he saw all this bowing and kissing on the part of the monks he instantly changed
his mind. With dignified gravity he made a rather deep, conventional bow, and
moved away to a chair. Fyodor Pavlovitch did the same, mimicking Miusov like
an ape. Ivan bowed with great dignity and courtesy, but he too kept his hands at
his sides, while Kalganov was so confused that he did not bow at all. The elder
let fall the hand raised to bless them, and bowing to them again, asked them all
to sit down. The blood rushed to Alyosha's cheeks. He was ashamed. His
forebodings were coming true.
Father Zossima sat down on a very old-fashioned mahogany sofa, covered with
leather, and made his visitors sit down in a row along the opposite wall on four
mahogany chairs, covered with shabby black leather. The monks sat, one at the
door and the other at the window. The divinity student, the novice, and Alyosha
remained standing. The cell was not very large and had a faded look. It
contained nothing but the most necessary furniture, of coarse and poor quality.
There were two pots of flowers in the window, and a number of holy pictures in
the corner. Before one huge ancient ikon of the virgin a lamp was burning. Near it
were two other holy pictures in shining settings, and, next them, carved
cherubim, china eggs, a Catholic cross of ivory, with a Mater Dolorosa embracing
it, and several foreign engravings from the great Italian artists of past centuries.
Next to these costly and artistic engravings were several of the roughest Russian