mother. And to avoid condemning the father with whom he lived and on whom he was dependent, and, above all, to avoid giving way to sentimentality, which he considered so degrading, Seriozha tried not to look at his uncle, who had come to disturb his peace of mind, and not to think of what he recalled to him.

But when Stepan Arkadyevich, going out after him, saw him on the stairs, and, calling to him, asked him how he spent his playtime at school, Seriozha talked more freely to him away from his father's presence.

`We have a railway now,' he said in answer to his uncle's question. `It's like this, you see: two sit on a bench - they're the passengers; and one stands up straight on the bench. And all are harnessed to it by their arms or by their belts, and they run through all the rooms - the doors are left open beforehand. Well, and it's pretty hard work being the conductor!'

`That's the one that stands?' Stepan Arkadyevich inquired, smiling.

`Yes, you want pluck for it, and cleverness too, especially when they stop all of a sudden, or someone falls down.'

`Yes, that must be a serious matter,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, watching with mournful interest the eager eyes, like his mother's; not childish now - no longer fully innocent. And though he had promised Alexei Alexandrovich not to speak of Anna, he could not restrain himself.

`Do you remember your mother?' he asked suddenly.

`No, I don't,' Seriozha said quickly. He blushed crimson, his eyes drooping. And his uncle could get nothing more out of him.

His Slavic tutor found his pupil on the staircase half an hour later, and for a long while he could not make out whether he was ill-tempered or crying.

`What is it? I expect you hurt yourself when you fell down?' said the tutor. `I told you it was a dangerous game. And we shall have to speak to the director.'

`If I had hurt myself, nobody should have found it out, that's certain.'

`Well, what is it, then?'

`Leave me alone! If I remember, or if I don't remember?... What business is it of his? Why should I remember? Leave me in peace!' he said, addressing not his tutor, but the whole world.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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