Chapter 26

`Well, Kapitonich?' said Seriozha, coming back rosy and good-humored from his walk the day before his birthday, and giving his Russian plaited overcoat to the tall old hall porter, who smiled down at the little person from the height of his long figure. `Well, has the bandaged official been here today? Did papa see him?'

`He saw him. The minute the head clerk came out, I announced him,' said the hall porter with a good- humored wink. `Here, I'll take it off.'

`Seriozha!' said his Slavonic tutor, stopping in the doorway leading to the inner rooms. `Take it off yourself.' But Seriozha, though he heard the tutor's feeble voice, did not pay attention to it. He stood keeping hold of the hall porter's shoulder knot and gazing into his face.

`Well, and did papa do what he wanted for him?'

The hall porter nodded his head affirmatively.

The bandaged official, who had already been seven times to ask some favor of Alexei Alexandrovich, interested both Seriozha and the hall porter. Seriozha had come upon him in the hall, and had heard him plaintively beg the hall porter to announce him, saying that he and his children had death staring them in the face.

Since then Seriozha, having met him a second time in the hall, took great interest in him.

`Well, was he very glad?' he asked.

`Glad? I should think so! Almost dancing as he walked away.'

`And has anything been left for me?' asked Seriozha, after a pause.

`Come, sir,' said the hall porter; then with a shake of his head he whispered: `Something from the Countess.'

Seriozha understood at once that what the hall porter was speaking of was a present from Countess Lidia Ivanovna for his birthday.

`You don't say? Where?'

`Kornei took it to your papa. A fine plaything it must be, too!'

`How big? Like this?'

`Rather small, but a fine thing.'

`A book?'

`No-something else. Run along, run along, Vassilii Lukich is calling you,' said the porter, hearing the tutor's steps approaching, and, carefully taking away from his shoulder knot the little hand in the glove half-pulled off, he indicated with his head Lukich, the tutor.

`Vassilii Lukich, I'm coming in one tiny minute!' answered Seriozha with gay and loving smile which always won over the careful Vassilii Lukich.

Seriozha was too happy; everything was too delightful for him to be able to help sharing with his friend the porter the family good fortune, of which he had heard from Lidia Ivanovna's niece during his walk in the public gardens. This piece of good news seemed to him particularly important from its coming at the same time with the joy of the bandaged official, and his own joy at toys having come for him. It seemed to Seriozha that this was a day on which everyone ought to be glad and happy.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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