No, Rodya. I often dont see her; she leaves me alone. Dmitri Prokofitch comes to see me, its so good of him, and he always talks about you. He loves you and respects you, my dear. I dont say that Dounia is very wanting in consideration. I am not complaining. She has her ways and I have mine; she seems to have got some secrets of late and I never have any secrets from you two. Of course, I am sure that Dounia has far too much sense, and besides she loves you and me but I dont know what it will all lead to. Youve made me so happy by coming now, Rodya, but she has missed you by going out; when she comes in Ill tell her: Your brother came in while you were out. Where have you been all this time? You mustnt spoil me, Rodya, you know; come when you can, but if you cant, it doesnt matter, I can wait. I shall know, anyway, that you are fond of me, that will be enough for me. I shall read what you write, I shall hear about you from everyone, and sometimes youll come yourself to see me. What could be better? Here youve come now to comfort your mother, I see that.
Here Pulcheria Alexandrovna began to cry.
Here I am again! Dont mind my foolishness. My goodness, why am I sitting here? she cried, jumping up. There is coffee and I dont offer you any. Ah, thats the selfishness of old age. Ill get it at once!
Mother, dont trouble, I am going at once. I havent come for that. Please listen to me.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna went up to him timidly.
Mother, whatever happens, whatever you hear about me, whatever you are told about me, will you always love me as you do now? he asked suddenly from the fullness of his heart, as though not thinking of his words and not weighing them.
Rodya, Rodya, what is the matter? How can you ask me such a question? Why, who will tell me anything about you? Besides, I shouldnt believe anyone, I should refuse to listen.
Ive come to assure you that Ive always loved you and I am glad that we are alone, even glad Dounia is out, he went on with the same impulse. I have come to tell you that though you will be unhappy, you must believe that your son loves you now more than himself, and that all you thought about me, that I was cruel and didnt care about you, was all a mistake. I shall never cease to love you. Well, thats enough: I thought I must do this and begin with this.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna embraced him in silence, pressing him to her bosom and weeping gently.
I dont know what is wrong with you, Rodya, she said at last. Ive been thinking all this time that we were simply boring you and now I see that there is a great sorrow in store for you, and thats why you are miserable. Ive foreseen it a long time, Rodya. Forgive me for speaking about it. I keep thinking about it and lie awake at nights. Your sister lay talking in her sleep all last night, talking of nothing but you. I caught something, but I couldnt make it out. I felt all the morning as though I were going to be hanged, waiting for something, expecting something, and now it has come! Rodya, Rodya, where are you going? You are going away somewhere?
Thats what I thought! I can come with you, you know, if you need me. And Dounia, too; she loves you, she loves you dearlyand Sofya Semyonovna may come with us if you like. You see, I am glad to look upon her as a daughter even Dmitri Prokofitch will help us to go together. But where are you going?
What, to-day? she cried, as though losing him for ever.
I cant stay, I must go now.
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