The nightingales burst into song, a cockchafer knocked against him and crept up the back of his neck. He brushed it off. 'But does He exist? What if I am knocking at a door fastened from outside? The bar is on the door for all to see. Nature--the nightingales and the cockchafers--is that bar. Perhaps the young man was right.' And he began to pray aloud. He prayed for a long time till these thoughts vanished and he again felt calm and confident. He rang the bell and told the attendant to say that the merchant might bring his daughter to him now.
The merchant came, leading his daughter by the arm. He led her into the cell and immediately left her.
She was a very fair girl, plump and very short, with a pale, frightened, childish face and a much developed feminine figure. Father Sergius remained seated on the bench at the entrance and when she was passing and stopped beside him for his blessing he was aghast at himself for the way he looked at her figure. As she passed by him he was acutely conscious of her femininity, though he saw by her face that she was sensual and feeble-minded. He rose and went into the cell. She was sitting on a stool waiting for him, and when he entered she rose.
'I want to go back to Papa,' she said.
'Don't be afraid,' he replied. 'What are you suffering from?'
'I am in pain all over,' she said, and suddenly her face lit up with a smile.
'You will be well,' said he. 'Pray!'
'What is the use of praying? I have prayed and it does no good'--and she continued to smile. 'I want you to pray for me and lay your hands on me. I saw you in a dream.'