WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
COUNT LYOF N. TOLSTOÏ
In a certain city dwelt Martin Avdyeeich, the cobbler. He lived in a
cellar, a wretched little hole with a single window. The window looked up
towards the street, and through it Martin could just see the passers-by.
It is true that he could see little more than their boots, but Martin
Avdyeeich could read a man's character by his boots, so he needed no more.
Martin Avdyeeich had lived long in that one place, and had many
acquaintances. Few indeed were the boots in that neighborhood which had
not passed through his hands at some time or other. On some he would
fasten new soles, to others he would give side-pieces, others again he
would stitch all round, and even give them new uppers if need be. And
often he saw his own handiwork through the window. There was always lots
of work for him, for Avdyeeich's hand was cunning and his leather good;
nor did he overcharge, and he always kept his word. He always engaged to
do a job by a fixed time if he could; but if he could not, he said so at
once, and deceived no man. So every one knew Avdyeeich, and he had no lack
of work. Avdyeeich had always been a pretty good man, but as he grew old
he began to think more about his soul, and draw nearer to his God. While
Martin was still a journeyman his wife had died; but his wife had left him
a little boy—three years old. Their other children had not lived. All the
eldest had died early. Martin wished at first to send his little child
into the country to his sister, but afterwards he thought better of it.
"My Kapitoshka," thought he, "will feel miserable in a strange household.
He shall stay here with me." And so Avdyeeich left his master, and took to
living in lodgings alone with his little son. But God did not give
Avdyeeich happiness in his children. No sooner had the little one begun to
grow up and be a help and a joy to his father's heart, than a sickness
fell upon Kapitoshka, the little one took to his bed, lay there in a
raging fever for a week, and then died. Martin buried his son in
despair—so desperate was he that he began to murmur against God. Such
disgust of life overcame him that he more than once begged God that he
might die; and he reproached God for taking not him, an old man, but his
darling, his only son, instead. And after that Avdyeeich left off going
And lo! one day, there came to Avdyeeich from the Troitsa Monastery, an
aged peasant-pilgrim—it was already the eighth year of his pilgrimage.
Avdyeeich fell a-talking with him and began to complain of his great
sorrow. "As for living any longer, thou man of God," said he, "I desire it
not. Would only that I might die! That is my sole prayer to God. I am now
a man who has no hope."
And the old man said to him: "Thy speech, Martin, is not good. How shall
we judge the doings of God? God's judgments are not our thoughts. God
willed that thy son shouldst die, but that thou shouldst live. Therefore
'twas the best thing both for him and for thee. It is because thou wouldst
fain have lived for thy own delight that thou dost now despair."
"But what then is a man to live for?" asked Avdyeeich.
And the old man answered: "For God, Martin! He gave thee life, and for Him
therefore must thou live. When thou dost begin to live for Him, thou wilt
grieve about nothing more, and all things will come easy to thee."
Martin was silent for a moment, and then he said: "And how must one live
"Christ hath shown us the way. Thou knowest thy letters. Buy the Gospels
and read; there thou wilt find out how to live for God. There everything
These words made the heart of Avdyeeich burn within him, and he went the
same day and bought for himself a New Testament printed in very large
type, and began to read.
Avdyeeich set out with the determination to read it only on holidays; but
as he read, it did his heart so much good that he took to reading it every
day. And the second time he read until all the kerosene in the lamp had
burnt itself out, and for all that he could not tear himself away from the
book. And so it was every evening. And the more he read, the more clearly
he understood what God wanted of him, and how it behooved him to live for
God; and his heart grew lighter and lighter continually. Formerly,
whenever he lay down to sleep he would only sigh and groan, and think of
nothing but Kapitoshka, but now he would only say to himself: "Glory to
Thee! Glory to Thee, O Lord! Thy will be done!"
Henceforth the whole life of Avdyeeich was changed. Formerly, whenever he
had a holiday, he would go to the tavern to drink tea, nor would he say no
to a drop of brandy now and again. He would tipple with his comrades, and
though not actually drunk, would, for all that, leave the inn a bit merry,
babbling nonsense and talking loudly and censoriously. He had done with
all that now. His life became quiet and joyful. With the morning light he
sat down to his work, worked out his time, then took down his lamp from
the hook, placed it on the table, took down his book from the shelf, bent
over it, and sat him down to read. And the more he read the more he
understood, and his heart grew brighter and happier.
It happened once that Martin was up reading till very late. He was reading
St. Luke's Gospel. He was reading the sixth chapter, and as he read he
came to the words: "And to him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer
also the other." This passage he read several times, and presently he came
to that place where the Lord says: "And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do
not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth My
sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like a
man which built an house, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on a
rock. And when the flood arose, the storm beat vehemently upon that house,
and could not shake it, for it was founded upon a rock. But he that
heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an
house upon the earth, against which the stream did beat vehemently, and
immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."
Avdyeeich read these words through and through, and his heart was glad. He
took off his glasses, laid them on the book, rested his elbow on the
table, and fell a-thinking. And he began to measure his own life by these
words. And he thought to himself, "Is my house built on the rock or on the
sand? How good to be as on a rock! How easy it all seems to thee sitting
alone here. It seems as if thou wert doing God's will to the full, and so
thou takest no heed and fallest away again. And yet thou wouldst go on
striving, for so it is good for thee. O Lord, help me!" Thus thought he,
and would have laid him down, but it was a grief to tear himself away from
the book. And so he began reading the seventh chapter. He read all about
the Centurion, he read all about the Widow's Son, he read all about the
answer to the disciples of St. John; and so he came to that place where
the rich Pharisee invites our Lord to be his guest. And he read all about
how the woman who was a sinner anointed His feet and washed them with her
tears, and how He justified her. And so he came at last to the forty-fourth
verse, and there he read these words, "And He turned to the woman and
said to Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou
gavest Me no water for My feet; but she has washed My feet with tears and
wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss, but this
woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet. Mine
head with oil thou didst not anoint."
And again Avdyeeich took off his glasses, and laid them on the book, and
"So it is quite plain that I too have something of the Pharisee about me.
Am I not always thinking of myself? Am I not always thinking of drinking
tea, and keeping myself as warm and cozy as possible, without thinking at
all about the guest? Simon thought about himself, but did not give the
slightest thought to his guest. But who was the guest? The Lord Himself.
And suppose He were to come to me, should I treat Him as the Pharisee
And Avdyeeich leaned both his elbows on the table and, without perceiving
it, fell a-dozing.
"Martin!"—it was as though the voice of some one close to his ear.
Martin started up from his nap. "Who's there?"
He turned round, he gazed at the door, but there was no one. Again he
dozed off. Suddenly he heard quite plainly, "Martin, Martin, I say! Look
to-morrow into the street. I am coming."
Martin awoke, rose from his chair, and began to rub his eyes. And he did
not know himself whether he had heard these words asleep or awake. He
turned down the lamp and laid him down to rest.
At dawn next day, Avdyeeich arose, prayed to God, lit his stove, got ready
his gruel and cabbage soup, filled his samovar, put on his apron, and sat
him down by his window to work. There Avdyeeich sits and works, and thinks
of nothing but the things of yesternight. His thoughts were divided. He
thought at one time that he must have gone off dozing, and then again he
thought he really must have heard that voice. It might have been so,
Martin sits at the window and looks as much at his window as at his work,
and whenever a strange pair of boots passes by he bends forward and looks
out of the window, so as to see the face as well as the feet of the
passers-by. The house porter passed by in new felt boots, the
water-carrier passed by, and after that there passed close to the window
an old soldier, one of Nicholas's veterans, in tattered old boots, with a
shovel in his hands. Avdyeeich knew him by his boots. The old fellow was
called Stepanuich, and lived with the neighboring shopkeeper, who
harbored him of his charity. His duty was to help the porter. Stepanuich
stopped before Avdyeeich's window to sweep away the snow. Avdyeeich cast a
glance at him, and then went on working as before.
"I'm not growing sager as I grow older," thought Avdyeeich, with some
self-contempt. "I make up my mind that Christ is coming to me, and lo!
'tis only Stepanuich clearing away the snow. Thou simpleton, thou! thou
art wool-gathering!" Then Avdyeeich made ten more stitches, and then he
stretched his head once more towards the window. He looked through the
window again, and there he saw that Stepanuich had placed the shovel
against the wall, and was warming himself and taking breath a bit.
"The old man is very much broken," thought Avdyeeich to himself. "It is
quite plain that he has scarcely strength enough to scrape away the snow.
Suppose I make him drink a little tea! the samovar, too, is just on the
boil." Avdyeeich put down his awl, got up, placed the samovar on the
table, put some tea in it, and tapped on the window with his fingers.
Stepanuich turned round and came to the window. Avdyeeich beckoned to him,
and then went and opened the door.
"Come in and warm yourself a bit," cried he. "You're a bit chilled, eh?"
"Christ requite you! Yes, and all my bones ache too," said Stepanuich.
Stepanuich came in, shook off the snow, and began to wipe his feet so as
not to soil the floor, but he tottered sadly.
"Don't trouble about wiping your feet. I'll rub it off myself. It's all in
the day's work. Come in and sit down," said Avdyeeich. "Here, take a cup
And Avdyeeich filled two cups, and gave one to his guest, and he poured
his own tea out into the saucer and began to blow it.
Stepanuich drank his cup, turned it upside down, put a gnawed crust on the
top of it, and said, "Thank you." But it was quite plain that he wanted to
be asked to have some more.
"Have a drop more. Do!" said Avdyeeich, and poured out fresh cups for his
guest and himself, and as Avdyeeich drank his cup, he could not help
glancing at the window from time to time.
"Dost thou expect any one?" asked his guest.
"Do I expect any one? Well, honestly, I hardly know. I am expecting and I
am not expecting, and there's a word which has burnt itself right into my
heart. Whether it was a vision or no, I know not. Look now, my brother! I
was reading yesterday about our little Father Christ, how He suffered, how
He came on earth. Hast thou heard of Him, eh?"
"I have heard, I have heard," replied Stepanuich, "but we poor ignorant
ones know not our letters."
"Anyhow, I was reading about this very thing—how He came down upon earth.
I was reading how He went to the Pharisee, and how the Pharisee did not
meet Him half-way. That was what I was reading about yesternight, little
brother mine. I read that very thing, and bethought me how the Honorable
did not receive our little Father Christ honorably. But suppose, I
thought, if He came to one like me—would I receive Him? Simon at any rate
did not receive Him at all. Thus I thought, and so thinking, fell asleep.
I fell asleep, I say, little brother mine, and I heard my name called. I
started up. A voice was whispering at my very ear. 'Look out to-morrow!' it
said, 'I am coming.' And so it befell twice. Now look! wouldst thou
believe it? the idea stuck to me—I scold myself for my folly, and yet I
look for Him, our little Father Christ!"
Stepanuich shook his head and said nothing, but he drank his cup dry and
put it aside. Then Avdyeeich took up the cup and filled it again.
"Drink some more. 'Twill do thee good. Now it seems to me that when our
little Father went about on earth, He despised no one, but sought unto the
simple folk most of all. He was always among the simple folk. Those
disciples of His too, He chose most of them from amongst our
brother-laborers, sinners like unto us. He that exalteth himself, He says,
shall be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted. Ye, says He,
call me Lord, and I, says He, wash your feet. He who would be the first
among you, He says, let him become the servant of all. And therefore it is
that He says, Blessed are the lowly, the peacemakers, the humble, and the
Stepanuich forgot his tea. He was an old man, soft-hearted, and tearful.
He sat and listened, and the tears rolled down his cheeks.
"Come, drink a little more," said Avdyeeich. But Stepanuich crossed
himself, expressed his thanks, pushed away his cup, and got up.
"I thank thee, Martin Avdyeeich. I have fared well at thy hands, and thou
hast refreshed me both in body and soul."
"Thou wilt show me a kindness by coming again. I am so glad to have a
guest," said Avdyeeich. Stepanuich departed, and Martin poured out the
last drop of tea, drank it, washed up, and again sat down by the window to
work—he had some back-stitching to do. He stitched and stitched, and now
and then cast glances at the window—he was looking for Christ, and could
think of nothing but Him and His works. And the divers sayings of Christ
were in his head all the time.
Two soldiers passed by, one in regimental boots, the other in boots of
his own making; after that, the owner of the next house passed by in
nicely brushed goloshes. A baker with a basket also passed by. All these
passed by in turn, and then there came alongside the window a woman in
worsted stockings and rustic shoes, and as she was passing by she
stopped short in front of the partition wall. Avdyeeich looked up at her
from his window, and he saw that the woman was a stranger and poorly
clad, and that she had a little child with her. She was leaning up
against the wall with her back to the wind, and tried to wrap the child
up, but she had nothing to wrap it up with. The woman wore summer
clothes, and thin enough they were. And from out of his corner Avdyeeich
heard the child crying and the woman trying to comfort it, but she could
not. Then Avdyeeich got up, went out of the door and on to the steps,
and cried, "My good woman! My good woman!"
The woman heard him and turned round. "Why dost thou stand out in the
cold there with the child? Come inside! In the warm room thou wilt be
better able to tend him. This way!"
The woman was amazed. What she saw was an old fellow in an apron and
with glasses on his nose calling to her. She came towards him. They went
down the steps together—they went into the room. The old man led the
woman to the bed. "There," said he, "sit down, gossip, nearer to the
stove, and warm and feed thy little one…."
He went to the table, got some bread and a dish, opened the oven door,
put some cabbage soup into the dish, took out a pot of gruel, but it was
not quite ready, so he put some cabbage soup only into the dish, and
placed it on the table. Then he fetched bread, took down the cloth from
the hook, and spread it on the table.
"Sit down and have something to eat, gossip," said he, "and I will sit
down a little with the youngster. I have had children of my own, and
know how to manage them." The woman crossed herself, sat down at the
table, and began to eat, and Avdyeeich sat down on the bed with the
child. Avdyeeich smacked his lips at him again and again, but his lack
of teeth made it a clumsy joke at best. And all the time the child never
left off shrieking. Then Avdyeeich hit upon the idea of shaking his
finger at him, so he snapped his fingers up and down, backwards and
forwards, right in front of the child's mouth. He did not put his finger
into its mouth, because his finger was black and sticky with cobbler's
wax. And the child stared at the finger and was silent, and presently it
began to laugh. And Avdyeeich was delighted. But the woman went on
eating, and told him who she was and whence she came.
"I am a soldier's wife," she said: "my eight months' husband they drove
right away from me, and nothing has been heard of him since. I took a
cook's place till I became a mother. They could not keep me and the
child. It is now three months since I have been drifting about without
any fixed resting-place. I have eaten away my all. I wanted to be a
wet-nurse, but people wouldn't have me: 'Thou art too thin,' they said.
I have just been to the merchant's wife where our grandmother lives, and
there they promised to take me in. I thought it was all right, but she
told me to come again in a week. But she lives a long way off. I am
chilled to death, and he is quite tired out. But God be praised! our
landlady has compassion on us, and gives us shelter for Christ's sake.
But for that I don't know how we could live through it all."
Avdyeeich sighed, and said, "And have you no warm clothes?"
"Ah, kind friend! this is indeed warm-clothes time, but yesterday I
pawned away my last shawl for two grivenki."
The woman went to the bed and took up the child, but Avdyeeich stood up,
went to the wall cupboard, rummaged about a bit, and then brought back
with him an old jacket.
"Look!" said he, "'tis a shabby thing, 'tis true, but it will do to wrap
The woman looked at the old jacket, then she gazed at the old man, and,
taking the jacket, fell a-weeping. Avdyeeich also turned away, crept
under the bed, drew out a trunk and seemed to be very busy about it,
whereupon he again sat down opposite the woman.
Then the woman said: "Christ requite thee, dear little father! It is
plain that it was He who sent me by thy window. When I first came out it
was warm, and now it has turned very cold. And He it was, little father,
who made thee look out of the window and have compassion on wretched
Avdyeeich smiled slightly, and said: "Yes, He must have done it, for I
looked not out of the window in vain, dear gossip!"
And Avdyeeich told his dream to the soldier's wife also, and how he had
heard a voice promising that the Lord should come to him that day.
"All things are possible," said the woman. Then she rose up, put on the
jacket, wrapped it round her little one, and then began to curtsey and
thank Avdyeeich once more.
"Take this for Christ's sake," said Avdyeeich, giving her a two-grivenka
piece, "and redeem your shawl." The woman crossed herself, Avdyeeich
crossed himself, and then he led the woman to the door.
The woman went away. Avdyeeich ate up the remainder of the cabbage soup,
washed up, and again sat down to work. He worked on and on, but he did
not forget the window, and whenever the window was darkened he
immediately looked up to see who was passing. Acquaintances passed,
strangers passed, but there was no one in particular.
But now Avdyeeich sees how, right in front of his window, an old woman,
a huckster, has taken her stand. She carries a basket of apples. Not
many now remained; she had evidently sold them nearly all. Across her
shoulder she carried a sack full of shavings. She must have picked them
up near some new building, and was taking them home with her. It was
plain that the sack was straining her shoulder. She wanted to shift it
on to the other shoulder, so she rested the sack on the pavement, placed
the apple-basket on a small post, and set about shaking down the
shavings in the sack. Now while she was shaking down the sack, an urchin
in a ragged cap suddenly turned up, goodness knows from whence, grabbed
at one of the apples in the basket, and would have made off with it, but
the wary old woman turned quickly round and gripped the youth by the
sleeve. The lad fought and tried to tear himself loose, but the old
woman seized him with both hands, knocked his hat off, and tugged hard
at his hair. The lad howled, and the old woman reviled him. Avdyeeich
did not stop to put away his awl, but pitched it on the floor, rushed
into the courtyard, and in his haste stumbled on the steps and dropped
his glasses. Avdyeeich ran out into the street. The old woman was
tugging at the lad's hair and wanted to drag him off to the police,
while the boy fought and kicked.
"I didn't take it," said he. "What are you whacking me for? Let me go!"
Avdyeeich came up and tried to part them. He seized the lad by the arm
and said: "Let him go, little mother! Forgive him for Christ's sake!"
"I'll forgive him so that he shan't forget the taste of fresh
birch-rods. I mean to take the rascal to the police station." Avdyeeich
began to entreat with the old woman.
"Let him go, little mother; he will not do so any more. Let him go for
The old woman let him go. The lad would have bolted, but Avdyeeich held
"Beg the little mother's pardon," said he, "and don't do such things any
more. I saw thee take them."
Then the lad began to cry and beg pardon.
"Well, that's all right! And now, there's an apple for thee." And
Avdyeeich took one out of the basket and gave it to the boy. "I'll pay
thee for it, little mother," he said to the old woman.
"Thou wilt ruin them that way, the blackguards," said the old woman. "If
I had the rewarding of him, he should not be able to sit down for a
"Oh, little mother, little mother!" cried Avdyeeich, "that is our way of
looking at things, but it is not God's way. If we ought to be whipped so
for the sake of one apple, what do we deserve for our sins!"
The old woman was silent.
And Avdyeeich told the old woman about the parable of the master who
forgave his servant a very great debt, and how that servant immediately
went out and caught his fellow-servant by the throat because he was his
debtor. The old woman listened to the end, and the lad listened too.
"God bade us forgive," said Avdyeeich, "otherwise He will not forgive
us. We must forgive every one, especially the thoughtless."
The old woman shook her head and sighed.
"That's all very well," she said, "but they are spoiled enough already."
"Then it is for us old people to teach them better," said Avdyeeich.
"So say I," replied the old woman. "I had seven of them at one time, and
now I have but a single daughter left." And the old woman began telling
him where and how she lived with her daughter, and how many
grandchildren she had. "I'm not what I was," she said, "but I work all I
can. I am sorry for my grandchildren, and good children they are, too.
No one is so glad to see me as they are. Little Aksyutka will go to none
but me. 'Grandma dear! darling grandma!'" and the old woman was melted
to tears. "As for him," she added, pointing to the lad, "boys will be
boys, I suppose. Well, God be with him!"
Now just as the old woman was about to hoist the sack on to her
shoulder, the lad rushed forward and said:
"Give it here, and I'll carry it for thee, granny! It is all in my way."
The old woman shook her head, but she did put the sack on the lad's
And so they trudged down the street together side by side. And the old
woman forgot to ask Avdyeeich for the money for the apple. Avdyeeich
kept standing and looking after them, and heard how they talked to each
other, as they went, about all sorts of things. Avdyeeich followed them
with his eyes till they were out of sight, then he turned homewards and
found his glasses on the steps (they were not broken), picked up his
awl, and sat down to work again. He worked away for a little while, but
soon he was scarcely able to distinguish the stitches, and he saw the
lamplighter going round to light the lamps. "I see it is time to light
up," thought he, so he trimmed his little lamp, lighted it, and again
sat down to work. He finished one boot completely, turned it round and
inspected it. "Good!" he cried. He put away his tools, swept up the
cuttings, removed the brushes and tips, put away the awl, took down the
lamp, placed it on the table, and took down the Gospels from the shelf.
He wanted to find the passage where he had last evening placed a strip
of morocco leather by way of a marker, but he lit upon another place.
And just as Avdyeeich opened the Gospel, he recollected his dream of
yesterday evening. And no sooner did he call it to mind than it seemed
to him as if some persons were moving about and shuffling with their
feet behind him. Avdyeeich glanced round and saw that somebody was
indeed standing in the dark corner—yes, some one was really there, but
who, he could not exactly make out. Then a voice whispered in his ear:
"Martin! Martin! dost thou not know me?"
"Who art thou!" cried Avdyeeich.
"'Tis I," cried the voice, "lo, 'tis I!" And forth from the dark corner
stepped Stepanuich. He smiled, and it was as though a little cloud were
breaking, and he was gone.
"It is I!" cried the voice, and forth from the corner stepped a woman with
a little child; and the woman smiled and the child laughed, and they also
"And it is I!" cried the voice, and the old woman and the lad with the
apple stepped forth, and both of them smiled, and they also disappeared.
And the heart of Avdyeeich was glad. He crossed himself, put on his
glasses, and began to read the Gospels at the place where he had opened
them. And at the top of the page He read these words: "And I was an
hungered and thirsty, and ye gave Me to drink. I was a stranger and ye
took Me in."
And at the bottom of the page he read this: "Inasmuch as ye have done it
to the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
And Avdyeeich understood that his dream had not deceived him, and that the
Saviour had really come to him that day, and he had really received Him.