Having finished the paper, a second cup of coffee and a roll and butter, he got up, shaking the crumbs off his waistcoat; and, squaring his broad chest, he smiled joyously; not because there was anything particularly agreeable in his mind - the joyous smile was evoked by a good digestion.

But this joyous smile at once recalled everything to him, and he grew thoughtful.

Two childish voices (Stepan Arkadyevich recognized the voices of Grisha, his youngest boy, and Tania, his eldest girl) were heard outside the door. They were carrying something, and dropped it.

`I told you not to sit passengers on the roof,' said the little girl in English; `there, pick them up!'

`Everything's in confusion,' thought Stepan Arkadyevich; `there are the children running about by themselves.' And going to the door, he called them. They left off the box that represented a train, and came in to their father.

The little girl, her father's favorite, ran up boldly, embraced him and hung laughingly on his neck, enjoying as she always did the well-known smell of scent that came from his whiskers. At last the little girl kissed his face, which was flushed from his stooping posture and beaming with tenderness, loosed her hands, and was about to run away again; but her father held her back.

`How is mamma?' he asked, passing his hand over his daughter's smooth, soft little neck. `Good morning,' he said, smiling to the boy, who had come up to greet him.

He was conscious that he loved the boy less, and always tried to be fair; but the boy felt it, and did not smile responsively to his father's chilly smile.

`Mamma? She is up,' answered the girl.

Stepan Arkadyevich sighed.

`That means she hasn't slept again all night,' he thought.

`Well, is she cheerful?'

The little girl knew that there was a quarrel between her father and mother, and that her mother could not be cheerful, and that her father must be aware of this, and that he was pretending when he asked about it so lightly. And she blushed for her father. He at once perceived it, and blushed too.

`I don't know,' she said. `She did not say we must do our lessons, but she said we were to go for a walk with Miss Hoole to grandmamma's.'

`Well, go, Tania, my darling. Oh, wait a minute, though,' he said, still holding her and stroking her soft little hand.

He took off the mantelpiece, where he had put it yesterday, a little box of sweets, and gave her two, picking out her favorites, a chocolate and a bonbon.

`For Grisha?' said the little girl, pointing to the chocolate.

`Yes, yes.' And still stroking her little shoulder, he kissed the nape of her neck, and let her go.

`The carriage is ready,' said Matvei; `but there's someone to see you with a petition.'

`Been here long?' asked Stepan Arkadyevich.

`Half an hour or so.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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