Page:The Czar, A Tale of the Time of the First Napleon.djvu/28

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CHAPTER II.


IVAN'S ADVENTURE.


"Adventures are to the adventurous."—Coningsby.


IVAN BARRINKA, or Ivan Pojarsky, as he may now be called, was a genuine child of Russia. His nature was quick, mobile, restless, passionate. He was capable of strong determination, but capable also of changefulness and inconstancy, because the mood of the moment always seized upon and swayed his whole soul. But he was all this only in the germ, for his was as yet the unawakened, undeveloped mind of a child. The simple-hearted guardians of his infancy had given him all they could—food, shelter, and tenderness; and this not only without hope of reward, but during some years under absolute terror of discovery and punishment. But they could not give him the instruction to which his intelligent mind would have so eagerly responded. No one in the village, except the priest, knew the mysteries of the Russian alphabet; and Pope Nikita, like most Russian priests, was in no real sense a pastor or a teacher, but rather a machine for performing the numerous ceremonies of his Church. All that could be said in his favour was, that if he did little good, he did little harm. Neither from him nor from the starost did Ivan learn any religion except a series of outward acts and postures, of bowings and crossings, and formal repetitions of "Gospodin pomilvi,"[1] with a respect for sacred pic- " Lord, have mercy upon me."

  1. "Lord, have mercy upon me."