come from a wedding. When they met him, they inquired with ill-disguised enjoyment after his wife's health.

The presence of Princess Tverskaia was unpleasant to Alexei Alexandrovich from the memories associated with her, and also because he disliked her, and he went straight to the nursery. In the day nursery Seriozha, leaning on the table with his legs on a chair, was drawing and chatting away merrily. The English governess, who had during Anna's illness replaced the French one, was sitting near the boy, knitting mignardise. She hurriedly got up, curtsied, and pulled Seriozha.

Alexei Alexandrovich stroked his son's hair, answered the governess's inquiries about his wife, and asked what the doctor had said of the baby.

`The doctor said it was nothing serious, and he ordered a bath, sir.'

`But she is still in pain,' said Alexei Alexandrovich, listening to the baby's screaming in the next room.

`I think it's the wet nurse, sir,' the Englishwoman said firmly.

`What makes you think so?' he asked, stopping short.

`It's just as it was at Countess Paul's, sir. They gave the baby medicine, and it turned out that the baby was simply hungry: the wet nurse had no milk, sir.'

Alexei Alexandrovich pondered, and after standing still a few seconds he went in at the other door. The baby was lying with its head thrown back, stiffening itself in the nurse's arms, and would not take the plump breast offered it; and it never ceased screaming in spite of the double hushing of the wet nurse and the other nurse, who was bending over her.

`Still no better?' said Alexei Alexandrovich.

`She's very restless,' answered the nurse in a whisper.

`Miss Edwards says that perhaps the wet nurse has no milk,' he said.

`I think so too, Alexei Alexandrovich.'

`Then why didn't you say so?'

`Who's one to say it to? Anna Arkadyevna is still ill...' said the nurse discontentedly.

The nurse was an old servant of the family. And in her simple words there seemed to Alexei Alexandrovich an allusion to his position.

The baby screamed louder than ever, struggling and choking. The nurse, with a gesture of despair, went to it, took it from the wet nurse's arms, and began walking up and down, rocking it.

`You must ask the doctor to examine the wet nurse,' said Alexei Alexandrovich.

The smartly dressed and healthy-looking nurse, frightened at the idea of losing her place, muttered something to herself, and, covering her bosom, smiled contemptuously at the idea of doubts being cast on her abundance of milk. In that smile, too, Alexei Alexandrovich saw a sneer at his position.

`Luckless child,' said the nurse, hushing the baby, and still walking up and down with it.

Alexei Alexandrovich sat down, and with a despondent and suffering face watched the nurse walking to and fro.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.