Part 9 out of 9
"He'll be his guardian, ha, ha, ha!"
Their quiet laughter and whisper mingled with the groaning of the
engine did not seem to reach Foma's ear. Motionlessly he stared
into the distance before him with a dim look, and only his lips
were slightly quivering.
"His son has returned," whispered Bobrov.
"I know his son," said Yashchurov. "I met him in Perm."
"What sort of a man is he?"
"A business-like, clever fellow."
"Is that so?"
"He manages a big business in Oosolye."
"Consequently Yakov does not need this one. Yes. So that's it."
"Look, he's weeping!"
Foma was sitting leaning against the back of the chair, and
drooping his head on the shoulder. His eyes were shut, and from
under his eyelids tears were trickling one after another. They
coursed down his cheeks into his moustache. Foma's lips quivered
convulsively, and the tears fell from his moustache upon his
breast. He was silent and motionless, only his chest heaved
unevenly, and with difficulty. The merchants looked at his pale,
tear-stained face, grown lean with suffering, with the corners of
his lips lowered downward, and walked away from him quietly and
And then Foma remained alone, with his hands tied behind his
back, sitting at the table which was covered with dirty dishes
and different remains of the feast. At times he slowly opened his
heavy, swollen eyelids, and his eyes, through tears, looked dimly
and mournfully at the table where everything was dirty, upset,
.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Three years have passed.
About a year ago Yakov Tarasovich Mayakin died. He died in full
consciousness, and remained true to himself; a few hours before
his death he said to his son, daughter and son-in-law:
"Well, children, live in richness! Yakov has tasted everything,
so now it is time for Yakov to go. You see, I am dying, yet I am
not despondent; and the Lord will set that down to my credit. I
have bothered Him, the Most Gracious One, with jests only, but
never with moans and complaints! 0h Lord! I am glad that I have
lived with understanding through Thy mercy! Farewell, my
children. Live in harmony, and don't philosophize too much. Know
this, not he is holy who hides himself from sin and lies calm.
With cowardice you cannot defend yourself against sin, thus also
says the parable of the talents. But he who wants to attain his
goal in life fears not sin. God will pardon him an error. God has
appointed man as the builder of life, but has not endowed him
with too much wisdom. Consequently, He will not call in his
outstanding debts severely. For He is holy and most merciful."
He died after a short but very painful agony.
Yozhov was for some reason or other banished from the town soon
after the occurrence on the steamer.
A great commercial house sprang up in the town under the firm-
name of "Taras Mayakin & African Smolin."
Nothing had been heard of Foma during these three years. It was
rumoured that upon his discharge from the asylum Mayakin had sent
him away to some relatives of his mother in the Ural.
Not long ago Foma appeared in the streets of the town. He is worn
out, shabby and half-witted. Almost always intoxicated, he
appears now gloomy, with knitted brow, and with head bent down on
his breast, now smiling the pitiful and melancholy smile of a
silly fanatic. Sometimes he is turbulent, but that happens
rarely. He lives with his foster-sister in a little wing in the
yard. His acquaintances among the merchants and citizens often
ridicule him. As Foma walks along the street, suddenly someone
shouts to him:
"Eh, you prophet, come here!"
Yet he rarely goes to those who call him; he shuns people and
does not care to speak with them. But when he does approach them
they say to him:
"Well, tell us something about doomsday, won't you? Ha, ha, ha!