"You are about to enter into holy matrimony, and God may bless
you with offspring. Well, what sort of bringing-up can you give
your babes if you do not overcome the temptation of the devil,
enticing you to infidelity?" he said, with gentle
reproachfulness. "If you love your child as a good father, you
will not desire only wealth, luxury, honor for your infant; you
will be anxious for his salvation, his spiritual enlightenment
with the light of truth. Eh? What answer will you make him when
the innocent babe asks you: 'Papa! who made all that enchants me
in this world--the earth; the waters, the sun, the flowers, the
grass?' Can you say to him: 'I don't know'? You cannot but know,
since the Lord God in His infinite mercy has revealed it to us.
Or your child will ask you: 'What awaits me in the life beyond
the tomb?' What will you say to him when you know nothing? How
will you answer him? Will you leave him to the allurements of
the world and the devil? That's not right," he said, and he
stopped, putting his head on one side and looking at Levin with
his kindly, gentle eyes.
Levin made no answer this time, not because he did not want to
enter upon a discussion with the priest, but because, so far, no
one had ever asked him such questions, and when his babes did ask
him those questions, it would be time enough to think about
"You are entering upon a time of life," pursued the priest, "when
you must choose your path and keep to it. Pray to God that He
may in His mercy aid you and have mercy on you!" he concluded.
"Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the abundance and riches of
His lovingkindness, forgives this child..." and, finishing the
prayer of absolution, the priest blessed him and dismissed him.
On getting home that day, Levin had a delightful sense of relief
at the awkward position being over and having been got through
without his having to tell a lie. Apart from this, there
remained a vague memory that what the kind, nice old fellow had
said had not been at all so stupid as he had fancied at first,
and that there was something in it that must be cleared up.