Anna karenina, p.208
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       Anna Karenina, p.208

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 19

  Stepan Arkadyevitch was about to go away when Korney came in toannounce:

  "Sergey Alexyevitch!"

  "Who's Sergey Alexyevitch?" Stepan Arkadyevitch was beginning, but heremembered immediately.

  "Ah, Seryozha!" he said aloud. "Sergey Alexyevitch! I thought it was thedirector of a department. Anna asked me to see him too," he thought.

  And he recalled the timid, piteous expression with which Anna had saidto him at parting: "Anyway, you will see him. Find out exactly where heis, who is looking after him. And Stiva ... if it were possible! Couldit be possible?" Stepan Arkadyevitch knew what was meant by that "if itwere possible,"--if it were possible to arrange the divorce so as to lether have her son.... Stepan Arkadyevitch saw now that it was no good todream of that, but still he was glad to see his nephew.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch reminded his brother-in-law that they never spoketo the boy of his mother, and he begged him not to mention a single wordabout her.

  "He was very ill after that interview with his mother, which we had notforeseen," said Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Indeed, we feared for his life.But with rational treatment, and sea-bathing in the summer, he regainedhis strength, and now, by the doctor's advice, I have let him go toschool. And certainly the companionship of school has had a good effecton him, and he is perfectly well, and making good progress."

  "What a fine fellow he's grown! He's not Seryozha now, but quitefull-fledged Sergey Alexyevitch!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling, ashe looked at the handsome, broad-shouldered lad in blue coat and longtrousers, who walked in alertly and confidently. The boy looked healthyand good-humored. He bowed to his uncle as to a stranger, butrecognizing him, he blushed and turned hurriedly away from him, asthough offended and irritated at something. The boy went up to hisfather and handed him a note of the marks he had gained in school.

  "Well, that's very fair," said his father, "you can go."

  "He's thinner and taller, and has grown out of being a child into a boy;I like that," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Do you remember me?"

  The boy looked back quickly at his uncle.

  "Yes, _mon oncle_," he answered, glancing at his father, and again helooked downcast.

  His uncle called him to him, and took his hand.

  "Well, and how are you getting on?" he said, wanting to talk to him, andnot knowing what to say.

  The boy, blushing and making no answer, cautiously drew his hand away.As soon as Stepan Arkadyevitch let go his hand, he glanced doubtfully athis father, and like a bird set free, he darted out of the room.

  A year had passed since the last time Seryozha had seen his mother.Since then he had heard nothing more of her. And in the course of thatyear he had gone to school, and made friends among his schoolfellows.The dreams and memories of his mother, which had made him ill afterseeing her, did not occupy his thoughts now. When they came back to him,he studiously drove them away, regarding them as shameful and girlish,below the dignity of a boy and a schoolboy. He knew that his father andmother were separated by some quarrel, he knew that he had to remainwith his father, and he tried to get used to that idea.

  He disliked seeing his uncle, so like his mother, for it called up thosememories of which he was ashamed. He disliked it all the more as fromsome words he had caught as he waited at the study door, and still morefrom the faces of his father and uncle, he guessed that they must havebeen talking of his mother. And to avoid condemning the father with whomhe lived and on whom he was dependent, and, above all, to avoid givingway to sentimentality, which he considered so degrading, Seryozha triednot to look at his uncle who had come to disturb his peace of mind, andnot to think of what he recalled to him.

  But when Stepan Arkadyevitch, going out after him, saw him on thestairs, and calling to him, asked him how he spent his playtime atschool, Seryozha talked more freely to him away from his father'spresence.

  "We have a railway now," he said in answer to his uncle's question."It's like this, do you see: two sit on a bench--they're the passengers;and one stands up straight on the bench. And all are harnessed to it bytheir arms or by their belts, and they run through all the rooms--thedoors are left open beforehand. Well, and it's pretty hard work beingthe conductor!"

  "That's the one that stands?" Stepan Arkadyevitch inquired, smiling.

  "Yes, you want pluck for it, and cleverness too, especially when theystop all of a sudden, or someone falls down."

  "Yes, that must be a serious matter," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, watchingwith mournful interest the eager eyes, like his mother's; not childishnow--no longer fully innocent. And though he had promised AlexeyAlexandrovitch not to speak of Anna, he could not restrain himself.

  "Do you remember your mother?" he asked suddenly.

  "No, I don't," Seryozha said quickly. He blushed crimson, and his faceclouded over. And his uncle could get nothing more out of him. His tutorfound his pupil on the staircase half an hour later, and for a longwhile he could not make out whether he was ill-tempered or crying.

  "What is it? I expect you hurt yourself when you fell down?" said thetutor. "I told you it was a dangerous game. And we shall have to speakto the director."

  "If I had hurt myself, nobody should have found it out, that's certain."

  "Well, what is it, then?"

  "Leave me alone! If I remember, or if I don't remember?... what businessis it of his? Why should I remember? Leave me in peace!" he said,addressing not his tutor, but the whole world.

 

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