Іван Корсак - The last lover of the Empress (сторінка 12)

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Metropolitan Arceniy was washing floors on that day, crawling on hands and knees all day till he felt a backache, and a pain was down a little only in the evening as if a pain went to rest at a sunset too.

       “If God gave a man wings, I would fly to far countries where neither injustice nor human despite exist, where truth prevails and conscience is on the throne,” monk Feophilakt told at the supper, eternal dreamer, a child at heart, though this child’s beard is covered with frost.

       “We’ve had our fill of it, Feophilakt, you wake us before all the cocks” – they hinted of his habit of waking up early and starting to mess around, and to wake all by his faltering.

       “Lord, would it be better if we were fed up with officer-drinker and I would rise to clouds and fly to places without officers in monasteries, where only God’s love saves everybody?”

       Metropolitan didn’t want to answer willingly, his hands still hurt after afternoon work, and nobody got angry with Feophilakt with his baby talks, and it was impossible simply to get angry, it was even a sin to fulminate with this kind-hearted codger who could share his last crumb with everybody, and help everybody.

       “And I happened to see man-bird,” metropolitan answered.

       Nobody still paid attention to Feophilakt’s chat, they were tired at the supper, and that’s all, but now everybody turned head as if they arranged.

       “It was in Rostov” – metropolitan put away his spoon – “one peasant, I remember, his name was Yevsey, he was able to do any work: a skilled carpenter, a clever cobbler – he managed to do everything. He got into his head that he could make the wings and fly with those wings. But wings must be made of daze, it’s very expensive.”

       And metropolitan told how a man visited different official departments, asking for loan, without telling about his unexpected matter. At last he got money, made wings of daze. Many different people gathered to see Yevsey’s flight, there was a big crowd. He took a run at first, flapped his wings. Once, twice, he really rose three fathoms, then suddenly fell on the ground. He didn’t die, of course, only got bruises and he seemed to have broken a rib. But official people were worse than pain. 

       “To swindle loan out of a state? Sorcerer, magician, bring him to justice…”

       They came to the metropolitan to bear witness that a man hatched sinful, ungodly thing, there weren’t words in the Holy Bible that a man could fly like an insect.

       The metropolitan Arceniy disappointed too zealous officials, “It’s not a sin. A man can swim in water, why can’t he float by air?”

       And the metropolitan told that a priest made an air-balloon for flights more than fifty years ago, and a clerk Kryakutniy from Nerehta made the same air-balloon for himself in 1731 in Russia. God let a man learn secrets of nature deeper, He gave him a mind for this, and there are no limits for this learning. God will take care himself about what is not given to know. It doesn’t matter if people fly by air-balloons, with help of wings, by unknown means, it’s not important, let only human mind be not lazy. Maybe our descendants will fly faster than any bird?”

        Broyher Feophilakt began to tell ordinary people and wave his hands next day: “If I’m fed up with this life and the metropolitan allows, I’ll make wings and fly to fertile lands” – and he tried to show with his hands how he would float under clouds.

       People only observed Feophilakt’s hands which had to bring him to promised lands.

       “Can the lord bless this?” – They asked each other again to make sure.

       “He’ll let me! He lets everybody!” – A monk crossed himself for verification widely, so as he was showing his flight.

       People had been blowing for a long time, considering gimmick which they heard from a monk, they believed and didn’t believe in Feophilakt’s boast, but rumours were already spreading, people were retailing news, adding something from them, because this life was too depressing.

       The metropolitan Arceniy’s words about descendants flying faster than any bird would come true, and a descendant of his family Levko Matsievich would gain the world glory as a pilot, air and water engineer. He would erupt like a dazzling meteor on the horizon of human memory; he would manage to do so much till his age of thirty tree years. Levko Makarovich Matsievich would master the science of shipbuilding in Germany, aviation in France, in a famous Anry Farman’s aviation club, where he would certification of a pilot; Matsievich would fulfil the first night flights, give projects of fourteen submarines, first aircraft carrier for 25 planes in the world, prepare a book on aeronautics, and die in the skies over St. Petersburg in front of the crowd of 175,000 thousand people. “Our best aviator died” – the press would write – “he was appointed to the leaders of the aviation business by fate.” More than one hundred thousand of his fans would see him on his last journey, and his friend Simon Petlura would put circlet of flowers from Ukrainian Community among three hundred fifty wreaths, he would tell a report about life of his famous countryman and friend at the party of honoring the memory. And Levko Matsievich would organize workers’ theater with Ukrainian repertoire in Sevastopol; carry out the celebration of anniversaries of Taras Shevchenko. Eugene Raht would write about him and his friends, “They were revolutionaries at heart, dreamed of separation of Mala Rus.” A photo of opening a monument to Ivan Kotlyarevskiy in Poltava. Nickolay Mihnovskiy, the author of a programme “Independent Ukraine”, was standing near Levko Matsievich, Michael Starytskyi, Eugene Chikalenko, Nikolai Arkas, Sergey Efremov, Elena Pchilka, Michael Kotsjubinsky, Lesia Ukrainka.

       They are standing together among famous people of Ukrainian history.

       Alexander Oles printed an obituary to L. Matsievich in the newspaper “Sovet” obituary on the 1st of October, 1910, “He was ours in spirit and in blood. Ukrainian Community must honor his memory independently from the rest. People are collecting donations for the monument to Matsievich. This comforting message can only please us, but not calm.

       We must honor Matsievich’s memory ourselves, with feeling of deep surprise and pride, and erect a bust of him, at least, in the heart of Ukraine, Kiev.

       Lev Makarovich was ours; Ukrainian, our companion and he would remain ornament and honor, first of all of our forgotten nation.”

       And Nikolay Voronoy would express his vision of Lev Makarovich in such a way, “Matsievich’s fame spread throughout the world, but Ukraine has the honor that one of its sons wrote his name down in scrolls of human progress.”

 

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       Stepan Ivanovich Sheshkovskiy was entering the empress’s hall so as if he were walking with bare heels on a red-hot floor, he didn’t want to go, but whether an invisible force, or duty, or fear of self-force pushed him in the back; if he didn’t report, he would be guilty.

       “Your Majesty, there is an annoying news” – he inhaled air, as if he was about to dive – “metropolitan Arceniy’s letters are found in some towns, I’m sorry, the Lier’s letters… Letters are delivered here and now it is being checked if they are true… Our people took them in Pskov, Kholmogory, Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Rostov. By the way, this lier appeals to You too, asking to conduct the most thorough investigation of the murder of Ivan Antonovich. If it isn’t done, Your Majesty will be considered an accomplice of the murder.”

       After a long silence, to Stepan Ivanovich’s surprise, the empress’s face remained immovable, she only drank a small sip of water.

       “Who guarded the Lier?”

       “Four soldiers and one officer.”

       “Officer must be reduced to the ranks, whips and servitude are for soldiers.”

       Sheshkovskiy was surprised at the empress’s calmness from annoying news but this calmness had neither part nor lot in indifference, the empress managed to control herself constrainedly. She could expect resistance to her intentions everywhere – from courtiers with their endless intrigues, from army where soldiers were underfeed and officers had not seen their pay for half-year, from tribal nobility in the province, who considered themselves to be autocratic kings, having right to pardon and punish up to death, but she didn’t expect this from Russian clergy, tamed by Peter I long ago, lured and intimidated. And not even from the whole clergy but from one man who was aged, suffered from scurvy, bald, wrinkled, and flattened. She could negotiate and bargain with everybody, by gold, by hot and thirsty body, by manors, ranks, but she was helpless only with one man. Name of Arceniy Matsievich stuck as a constant threat, indestructible and overwhelming, he was hidden in a hole which was far away from active world, but he managed to rile water even from there.

       It was out of place, especially because they didn’t have to waste time with church reforms – who knew, maybe unrest would break out. Only one hundred and sixty one monasteries remained in Russia from seven hundred and thirty two, and only thirty nine convents from two hundred and twenty two. She knows whom to give lands taken from monasteries and churches, but now seven eights from this four million encome goes to treasury, as chancellor reported. Despite disagreements of Synod, new Synod public prosecutor Melissino forces reforms: he insists on reducing of Lents, banning bringing icons into houses, to allow the bishops to marry, to cancel the wake of dead, to allow more than three marriages, to ban to communicate children under ten.

       “Not to stop Lier’s case” – the empress interrupted her thoughts – “and Mirovich, how does he conduct himself?”

       “He is walking in a cell, speaking something in his beard, maybe he’s writing his verses…”

       Sheshkovskiy was reported about Mirovich twice a day.

       “It would be better tackle him with zeal, he may tell much interesting. But terms of investigation should be extended…”

       “By no means” – the empress didn’t agree – “unbelievable rumors, fabrications and fantasies roam in Europe. And trial must say its fair word sooner.”

       The empress didn’t want to delay this case; she made senate push things on, and senate made Supreme Court do it. She prepared a list of judges personally, considering every surname. Both local dignitaries and representatives of other states, who had to report in monarch’s houses, had to spread rumors about her innocence in death of former emperor Ivan Antonovich, and it must be established forever. She was turning her head as a schoolgirl of primary school, because it was still difficult to her to write in Russian, she had to express regret for her terrible orthography, but she wrote out names of future famous in the empire judges personally: “metropolitan Dimitriy, archbishop Gavriil, bishop Athanasius, archimandrite Laurentiy, archimandrite Simeon, count Razumovsky, count Alexander Buturlin, prince J. Shakhovskoy, count P. Chernyshev, count Z. Chernyshev, count I. Chernyshev, count M. Skavronsky, count G. Vorontsov, count N. Panin, count P. Panin, F. Ushakov, N. Muravyov, F. Miloslavskiy, A. Olsufyev, prince P. Trubetskoy, count V. Fermor, S. Naryshkin, L. Naryshkin, count Ernst Minih, S. Mordvinov, count Minnih, I. Talysin, count A. Golitsin, vice-chancellor count A. Golitsin, count I. Gendrikov, D. de Bosket, I. Betskiy, count G. Orlov, count S. Yaguzhinskiy, F. Emme, baron A. Cherkasov, I. Shlatter, A. Glebov, F. Vadkovskiy, G. Veinmarn, baron von Dits, N. Chicherin, J. Yevreinov, D. Volkov…”

       The empress thought that at worst they would be guilty in unfair and unjust proceedings; they would be answerable to the world and next generations. But the matter shouldn’t come to it.

 

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