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to be a very open wooden hut. Closer inspection disclosed, however, that what had appeared to be "Alexander's House" was not so in reality, but was merely a protecting shed: the real thing lay inside. The outward covering had not struck one as being of any size; but this quaint domicile beneath, this maisonette, how insignificant, how humble!
Our guide entered, devoutly crossing herself. The door was apparently left open without fear, -no one could enter but by that padlocked gate, and the hut was well protected by its ample case. One stooped in crossing the threshold, which lay on the left of the front exposure as you face the house, and thereafter became aware of a short passage that ended to all appearance in a recess. But off the right there opened the single chamber of this house, – the home of him whose memory is still revered.
A window not two feet square admits through its dull glass what rays of light can penetrate the thick branches of the surrounding trees and bend under the eaves of the protecting edifice. In the corner immediately to the left of the door is the whitewashed brick stove, along a wing of which is placed a plank-bed with pillow to match. This is so arranged that the head is next the wall, and is of such a breadth that it takes up almost all the spare room between the stove proper and the door. From the free end of the stove to the opposite wall extends a shelf, now crowded with relics of the former resident. On it you may see some sacred literature, the cowl and garments of an anchorite, cooking utensils of the simplest quality-china cups, a metal teapot curiously enough, and a spoon. The wall above the bench is hid
den by numerous portraits of the great monarch Alexander I., whom one imagines to have been, perhaps, the special hero of the late occupant of this room, or, as is more likely, the reigning monarch of his time. But these pictures differ from those in any ordinary Russian house in this, that they represent the Emperor at different periods of his life. The apparent design of this heroworshipper has been to collect as complete a series as possible of the object of his adoration. One sketch supposed to represent the monarch in death is particularly striking, and you wonder why there is placed alongside of it the picture of an older man also in his last long sleep; and as you gaze at the two, you almost fancy that you see a resemblance. But this is absurd.
The wall opposite the door is now a mass of ikons and sacred pictures, but these are later accretions. An altar stands against the wall, and serves as the depository for another group of ikons, amongst which are dispersed candlesticks with dimly burning tapers, while a lamp faintly but steadily illumines the regular ikon in one of the far corners of the room. In the opposite corner by the window a censer hangs, and the musty odour of incense pervades the cheerless chamber. On the fourth wall, between the window and the door, are disposed prints and lithographs of a white haired and bearded old man, dressed in a loose single garment to which the modern dressing-gown best corresponds. He holds one hand across his narrow chest, and has shoved the other carelessly into the hempen belt that gathers his mantle about him. Beneath one of the portraits is the inscription, "The Bondservant of God, the old man Theodore
Kuzmitch, who passed a hermit life in Tomsk, and died in 1864 in the cell of Khromoff."
Such is the little house that the Tomsk people consider to be one of their chiefest possessions. For For the history of the mysterious being for whose sake they venerate it we are most indebted to his patron the merchant Khromoff, who built the cell for him, and to whom alone was at first revealed the secret of his life. In the following account, which is largely drawn from an abstract of Khromoff's memoirs, some of the leading features in this extraordinary story are briefly stated.
ing the simplicity of his life and speech, it was evident that he was not a man of common origin.
Amongst his fellow - villagers was a convict who had reached the stage of a "free-command," and was employed in Government works there. Old Theodore took an interest in him, and, desiring company, shared his hut with this fierce creature. The following year the peasantry roused themselves and built a log cabin for him, in which he lived for over eleven years a life of selfeffacement, with a bare subsistence on bread and water. would, however, make occasional excursions to the neighbouring villages, where it was his peculiar pleasure to gather the children round him and teach them their letters. Latterly, on the invitation of a peasant named Latîsheff, he left Zertzal and took up residence in Krasnorjetchinsk, the village of his host, who erected a special hut for him, which he occupied in winter, while in summer he passed his time in the woods beside the wood-cutters. His private property merely included the clothes on his back and a few sacred books.
Somewhere in the "thirties" an old man appeared in the town of Tomsk. He had come from European Russia with a prisoner band, having been sentenced to exile in Siberia for vagrancy by the court of a small town in the Government of Perm. After a short stay in the Forwarding Prison at Tomsk, he was conducted to the village of Zertzal, in the Government of Tomsk, as his place of residence. On settlement he gave very little satisfaction to all eager inquiries about his past, merely stating that he It was in the year 1858 that, had received twenty strokes with at the invitation of the merchant the plet for vagrancy, and giving Khromoff, Kuzmitch passed a winas name the commonplace appel- ter on his farm, about four versts lation of Theodore Kuzmitch. In out of Tomsk. Ultimately Khromoutward appearance he was of high off built for him the little domain stature, while his years might have described above in a corner of his been put down at sixty. Add to garden, where his guest spent the this that he had a noble carriage, greater part of the last years of could with all truthfulness be his life in prayer and fasting. styled good-looking, and ever spoke in a quiet sedate manner, so that from the first his peasant neighbours felt bound to treat him with marked respect. His general bearing and manner of conversation proclaimed him to be an educated man, and notwithstand
The kind-hearted merchant had first made the acquaintance of Kuzmitch in 1852. His curiosity had been aroused by the tales which a friend recounted to him about the aged hermit, and having occasion to pass through the village of Krasnorjet chinsk, he re
solved to seek him out. This was in the summer-time, and Kuzmitch was as usual with the wood-fellers, sharing a modest little home with his peasant host. Their dwelling was situated at a distance of two versts from the village that formed the centre of operations for those who were at work, and it lay on the bank of a rivulet. Khromoff relates how he arrived at the cell, made the sign of the cross, and entered, as the door stood open. He saluted the white-haired inmate, who, in true Russian style, demanded of him whence he had come and whither he was bound. "I come from Tomsk, and go to Yeneseisk on matters connected with gold- mining," answered the merchant. To his surprise his interrogator would not let the subject drop, but talked long on the gold industry, finally exclaiming, "Vainly you are occupied with the gold industry, for without it God will sustain you." Khromoff was fascinated by his new acquaintance, and used to pay him a short visit each time he passed that way. But on whatever themes they discoursed-and they were varied - the old man always returned to this maxim, "Do not endeavour to discover the mines; thou hast enough, and Another will provide."
In 1859, while resident Khromoff's country estate, Kuzmitch took seriously ill, and his host, thinking that it was high time he learned something about his mysterious guest, asked him on several occasions if he would not disclose his identity. But the reply, if continually the same, was at least decided: "No; that cannot be revealed-never.'
His illness was of a somewhat serious nature, and it was with great difficulty that those who were anxious about him could per
suade him to take anything beyond his accustomed bread and water. Khromoff remarks how during this time he observed that the knees of the anchorite were covered with excrescences, the result of persistence in a kneeling posture during prayer, and it was difficult to know to what extent he suffered, as he kept so very much to himself. He exercised great care in the selection of his visitors, and when later he was restored to some measure of health, he never left his cell except to enter a church. If he ever referred to his vagrant life or journey to Siberia, it was only to speak in the kindest terms of his fellow - prisoners, as also to eulogise the treatment that he had received at the hands of the convoy soldiers, and in short from all who had had anything to do with him. It seems that he now removed for a change to a Cossack village not far off, and lived in the house of one of the inhabitants. He had, however, a renewal of his old trouble, and not being perfectly happy in his new quarters, was quite ready, even in his weak state of health, to accept an invitation from Khromoff to stay with him in Tomsk. Knowing how matters stood, the worthy merchant went himself to bring his friend to town: this was in 1863. Kuzmitch, fearing that there might be some well-intentioned effort made to keep him in the Cossack village, resolved not to disclose his plan of leaving till the last moment, when he engaged in quiet conversation with his host, and explained to him very shortly the reasons for his sudden departure. This device was successful, and during the time spent in arranging him and Khromoff comfortably in the latter's tarantass, the whole village came out to see him off. In return Kuzmitch
merely said, "I thank you all for everything you have done for me."
The journey was taken slowly, and it was only after a couple of days that the party eventually arrived at their destination. Khromoff, who was much affected by the low state of his friend's health, desired to pass the first night with him in the little wooden house which he had prepared for him. He relates that the old man spent much of the night in prayer, and that he could repeatedly catch the words, "I thank Thee." He was roused at 5 A.M. by the patient, who said that he felt better, adding that the cause of the improvement was a vision that he had seen in the nightwatches. His look seemed to be keener and his conversation brighter, and Khromoff hoped that perhaps he might still live. On the morning of the 20th January, as Khromoff was leaving for his business, he asked that the old man would bless him. “ Nay, rather," said he, "bless me." In the course of the day the merchant ran over several times from his office, but did not speak much with Kuzmitch, who was lying on his hard bed, with his face to the stove. In the afternoon Khromoff had occasion to go a short distance out of town on some business affair, but was soon hastily summoned by his nephew, who reported that the aged sufferer had suddenly become worse, and might at any moment pass away. Khromoff returned home at once, and on arrival found the little cell crowded with anxious friends who had come to make inquiries, having heard of the serious turn matters had taken. Kuzmitch was tossing restlessly about, now lying on one side, now on the other, but saying nothing. Khromoff's wife sat by him, power
less to give relief. He suffered, like an infant, in silence, and his only action was to continually make the sign of the cross.
About 9 P.M. the visitors departed, and Khromoff was left alone with the old man. He asked to be raised in his bed. He sat up for a little, but evidently had not strength for the exertion, for he fell back, and requested to be laid on his left side. He lay for a little while in this posture, and then suddenly turned on his back. Khromoff noticed a distinct change in his eyes, and sent for wax-candles, for the end was not far off. Kuzmitch once again asked his benefactor to lay him on his right side, and for a moment he seemed to find satisfaction in weakly clasping the merchant's hand. Then came a short sharp struggle with the last enemy, a single long-drawn sigh, and Khromoff was left alone. "Quietly and peacefully, without a moan, died the servant of God; his right hand grasped a crucifix, and his left hand lay upon it. We wept for our father, the man of prayer and our instructor, and then proceeded to prepare his body for interment." So runs the unvarnished narrative.
We learn also that they dressed the body in a "new white shirt,' but did not employ that upper garment already described as having a resemblance to a dressinggown, and for this reason. While Theodore was still alive, Madame Khromoff once asked him in the simplicity of her heart, with reference to his usual attire, "Father, in the event of death, shalt thou be clothed in that black dressinggown?" "Nay," he replied; "I am no monk." And Khromoff carried out his wish the more readily, as he well knew the surpassing humility of his strange guest.
"Friend," he had said to him once, "I am not great." These two incidents have their interest, in that they are two of the few instances on which Kuzmitch ever referred to himself.
His body was carefully deposited in a chaste coffin of cedar-wood, and, by his wish, his grave is in the monastery at Tomsk. There was a large assemblage gathered on the 23d January to witness the last rites and to do honour to this well-loved saint. The Archimandrite addressed a few words to the crowd, in which he briefly alluded to the suffering life of their late friend, as also to his travels, for this side of the old man's life had exercised a strong fascination over the populace.
It seems, then, that with one important exception Theodore Kuzmitch, as he chose to call himself, spoke to no one on the subject of his origin, nor ever dropped hints as to his identity, except occasionally of a negative kind. .It was his secret, and it almost seemed as if he would carry it with him to the grave. On one occasion,
Madame Khromoff, somewhat exasperated at his reticence on this topic, said, "Father dear, disclose to me at least the name of thy guardian angel." "That God knows," was his quiet reply, and more than this he would confide to no one.
It was only natural that round the story of the life of such an unusual personage should cluster a tangled growth of fanciful and far-fetched tales. He was popularly credited with a marvellous power of foresight, which was probably nothing more, as is often the case, than deep insight into character. Thus they say in all simplicity that on one occasion a priest named Israel, who was formerly attached to the Cathedral of Archangel, desired to see the old man while yet he was with
Latîsheff at Krasnorjetchinsk. He reached their humble home towards evening, and without any ceremony stepped into Kuzmitch's room, crossed himself, and proceeded to salute him. The startled occupant, still sitting on a bench, briefly made answer, "Good day, Father Israel," and this "when as yet he had not heard of him or his arrival, or named his name." A similar story is told of him, on the occasion of a visit which he received from a priest who belonged to Krasnoyarsk. They are probably the same incident, with merely a difference in the name. The best instances of Kuzmitch's remarkable perspicacity are, however, related in connection with private interviews that he had with people who went to consult him when in difficulty. This makes it the more probable that he was gifted with a very remarkable power of observation and insight into character rather than with any supernatural power such as the average Russian is so ready to believe in. There was in particular one woman, a Government official, who resided for some time in Krasnorjetchinsk, and who used to call on him frequently to ask his blessing on any new projects she was about to undertake. She recounts how he often seemed to foresee her wants, and sometimes gave her advice in epigrammatic sayings.
Another somewhat extreme episode is to the effect that Khromoff, intending to visit Kuzmitch on one particular occasion when passing through Krasnorjetchinsk on his way to the mines, suggested to his wife, who was to accompany him, that she should take a linen shirt of the finest quality as a gift for the old man. But she considered that it would be better to supply him with a garment of some thicker material, and