At the Ecclesia, we meet three very critical characters. This meeting is a foreshadowing and a key point in the plot and theme. I begin with the introduction of Father Makar.
At the end of the service, the Freiherr introduced the Priests to her, “Father Makar.” The Freiherr stumbled over the simple Russian pronunciation. Father Makar was a short man with a very calm face. His smile pressed through his full beard and even touched Aksinya’s heart. The Freiherr continued, “This is the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.”
Father Makar put his hands together, “We heard that you were in the city, Countess. We are very pleased to greet you in our Ecclesia.”
Aksinya held her handkerchief before her lips. The crucifix burned against her chest, “Good day, Father.”
“Are you all right, Countess? You seem a little pale.”
“I did not get much sleep last night. I am well enough, thank you.”
“Then please let me introduce my wife, the Matushka Ekaterina.” He pointed at a woman who was a little shorter than he. Her features were as pleasant as his. Her face was round and her eyes large. She gave an impression of youth, but her hair was gray and she wasn’t more than a decade younger than Father Makar.
Matushka Ekaterina’s voice was gentle. She took Aksinya’s hand and curtsied, “Good day, Countess. I hope to make your further acquaintance.”
Aksinya couldn’t imagine a person she would less like to be close to, but she simply nodded.
Father Makar waved the other priest over to them. He was young and tall. His hair was not gray and his face unwrinkled. He appeared not more than thirty, but that was difficult to tell since he wore a priest’s typical beard. The beard was a little less than full, but it seemed to fit his face. His face was fine boned and gentle. At that moment, his features did not appear very pleasant to Aksinya. His mouth was set in a severe frown. He gazed at Aksinya with unconcealed concern. Father Makar still smiled, “This, Countess, is Father Dobrushin. Countess, don’t let Father Dobrushin’s demeanor bother you. He is young and still too solemn…”
Aksinya spoke from behind her handkerchief, “He does not hate me because I am a member of the aristocracy, does he?”
Father Dobrushin tried to smile, “I’m sorry for my appearance, Countess. I do support our Russian nobility, but I felt that you were not comfortable here and that concerned me.”
“Not comfortable?” Father Makar gave Aksinya a second appraisal. “Father Dobrushin is usually very sensitive about theses things. Are you certain, Countess, that you are well?”
Aksinya could not smile, “Don’t concern yourself about me. I am well and comfortable,” she lied. “I will feel better when I have dined. If you will excuse me?”
The priests bowed and the Matushka curtsied.
Father Makar seems to be a pleasant person. We will learn later, he is an archpriest in the Orthodox church. Is is not a bad man or a bad priest. He has obviously built up a wealthy Ecclesia. He is gentle and impresses Aksinya at least so she has no negative opinion. Aksinya's problem is her nausea and her crucifix that burns her chest. This is obviously in reaction to the Ecclesia.
Father Makar notices Aksinya's distress. He doesn't understand it. Aksinya lies about what disturbs her. Father Makar introduces his wife. The wife of an Orthodox priest is called a Matushka. A Matushka helps her husband in the work of the Ecclesia. She is expected to help the priest especially with the women of the congregation. The Matushka Ekaterina is a nice woman. Aksinya can't stand her because he is gentle, personable, and mature. Note, these are all the characteristics of Natalya. The are the characteristics Aksinya didn't like about Natalya to begin with. They are the characteristics that Aksinya claimed not to have.
Then we meet Father Dobrushin. Father Dobrushin is young. He notices Aksinya has some problem. He is sensitive, as Father Makar noted. Aksinya's answer is defensive and insensitive. She asks the obvious question you would expect from this time. A person who frowns at a Countess might be a Bolshevik. That wasn't the reason Father Dobrushin frowned.
Father Makar trusts Father Dobrushin's judgements--at least right now. Aksinya lies again. In this short series of introductions, we see the two priests and the Matushka. The Father Dobrushin is sensitive and interested in Aksinya. Father Makar is concerned but breezy. We needed to meet them all.