Alexei Alexandrovich glanced at his face, and saw that the shrewd, gray eyes were laughing, and seemed to know all about it already.

`You know my name?' Alexei Alexandrovich resumed.

`I know you and the good' - again he caught a moth - `work you are doing, like every Russian,' said the lawyer, bowing.

Alexei Alexandrovich sighed, plucking up his courage. But, having once made up his mind, he went on in his shrill voice, without timidity or hesitation, accentuating a word here and there.

`I have the misfortune,' Alexei Alexandrovich began, `to be a deceived husband, and I desire to break off all relations with my wife by legal means - that is, to be divorced; but do this so that my son may not remain with his mother.'

The lawyer's gray eyes tried not to laugh, but they were dancing with irrepressible glee, and Alexei Alexandrovich saw that it was not simply the delight of a man who has just got a profitable job: there was triumph and joy, there was a gleam like the malignant gleam he had seen in his wife's eyes.

`You desire my assistance in securing a divorce?'

`Yes, precisely; but I ought to warn you that I may be wasting your time and attention. I have come simply to consult you as a preliminary step. I want a divorce, but the form which it may take is of great consequence to me. It is very possible that if that form does not correspond with my requirements I may give up a legal action.'

`Oh, that's always the case,' said the lawyer, `and that's always for you to decide.'

He let his eyes rest on Alexei Alexandrovich's feet, feeling that he might offend his client by the sight of his irrepressible amusement. He looked at a moth that flew before his nose, and moved his hand, but did not catch it from regard for Alexei Alexandrovich's situation.

`Though in their general features our laws on this subject are known to me,' pursued Alexei Alexandrovich, `I should be glad to have an idea of the forms in which such things are done, in practice.'

`You would be glad,' the lawyer, without lifting his eyes, responded, adopting, with a certain satisfaction, the tone of his client's remarks, `for me to lay before you all the methods by which you could secure what you desire?'

And on receiving an assenting nod from Alexei Alexandrovich, he went on, stealing a glance now and then at Alexei Alexandrovich's face, which was growing red in patches.

`Divorce by our laws,' he said, with a slight shade of disapprobation of our laws, `is possible, as you are aware, in the following cases... To wait!' he called to a clerk who put his head in at the door, but he got up all the same, said a few words to him, and sat down again. `In the following cases: physical defect in the married parties, desertion without communication for five years,' he said, crooking a short finger covered with hair, `adultery' (this word he pronounced with obvious satisfaction), `subdivided as follows' (he continued to crook his fat fingers, though the cases and their subdivisions could obviously not be classified together): `physical defect of the husband or of the wife, adultery of the husband or of the wife.' As by now all his fingers were used up, he straightened them and went on: `This is the theoretical view; but I imagine you have done me the honor to apply to me in order to learn its application in practice. And therefore, guided by precedents, I must inform you that in practice cases of divorce may all be reduced to the following - there's no physical defect, I may assume, nor desertion?...'

Alexei Alexandrovich bowed his head in assent.

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