Two days ago there were still those who went about saying that Peter was a false Tsar, perhaps the Anti-Christ himself. But then, just as the hour of three was being struck, two long, thin clouds joined in the form of a cross above our village. It was a Friday according to the new reckoning. Marina, the serf girl, was the first to see it. She fell to her knees and crossed herself, then ran to tell the priest, my father. If he was drunk, as usual, he was nevertheless quick to realize how he could use this “sign”. Were the rumblings of those who opposed the Tsar to go unchecked, the soldiers would soon be set upon our village to leave behind the smoldering remains of peasant huts and bodies swaying from scaffolds. So I was ordered to toll the bell which summons the peasants to the village square where my father put them on their knees in witness to this miracle. Such a voice he had!
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