The next day, at eight o'clock in the morning, Anna got out of a hired coach and rang at the front entrance of her former home.

`Run and see what's wanted. Some lady,' said Kapitonich, who, not yet dressed, in his overcoat and galoshes, had peeped out of the window and seen a lady in a veil standing close up to the door. His assistant, a lad Anna did not know, had no sooner opened the door to her than she came in, and pulling a three- rouble note out of her muff put it hurriedly into his hand.

`Seriozha - Sergei Alexeich,' she said, and was going on. Scrutinizing the note, the porter's assistant stopped her at the second glass door.

`Whom do you want?' he asked.

She did not hear his words and made no answer.

Noticing the embarrassment of the unknown lady, Kapitonich went out to her, opened the second door for her, and asked her what she was pleased to want.

`From Prince Skorodumov for Sergei Alexeich,' she said.

`He's not up yet,' said the porter, looking at her attentively.

Anna had not anticipated that the absolutely unchanged hall of the house where she had lived for nine years would so greatly affect her. Memories sweet and painful rose one after another in her heart, and for a moment she forgot what she was here for.

`Would you kindly wait?' said Kapitonich, taking off her fur cloak.

As he took off the cloak, Kapitonich glanced at her face, recognized her, and made her a low bow in silence.

`Please walk in, Your Excellency,' he said to her.

She tried to say something, but her voice refused to utter any sound; with a guilty and imploring glance at the old man she went with light, swift steps up the stairs. Bent double, and his galoshes catching in the steps, Kapitonich ran after her, trying to overtake her.

`The tutor's there; maybe he's not dressed. I'll let him know.'

Anna still mounted the familiar staircase, not understanding what the old man was saying.

`This way, to the left, if you please. Excuse its not being tidy. He's in the former smoking room now,' the hall porter said, panting. `Excuse me, wait a little, Your Excellency; I'll just see,' he said, and overtaking her, he opened the high door and disappeared behind it. Anna stood still waiting. `He's only just awake,' said the hall porter, coming out.

And at the very instant the porter said this, Anna caught the sound of a childish yawn. From the sound of this yawn alone she knew her son and seemed to see him living before her eyes.

`Let me in; go away!' she said and went in through the high doorway. On the right of the door stood a bed, and sitting up in the bed was the boy. His little body bent forward, his nightshirt unbuttoned, he was stretching and still yawning. The instant his lips came together they curved into a blissfully sleepy smile, and with that smile he slowly and deliciously rolled back again.

`Seriozha!' she whispered, walking noiselessly up to him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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