Yevgraf Ivanovitch Shiryaev, a small farmer, whose father, a parish priest, now deceased, had received a gift of three hundred acres of land from Madame kuvshinnikov, a generals widow, was standing in a corner before a copper washing-stand, washing his hands. As usual, his face looked anxious and ill- humoured, and his beard was uncombed.
What weather! he said. Its not weather, but a curse laid upon us. Its raining again!
He grumbled on, while his family sat waiting at table for him to have finished washing his hands before beginning dinner. Fedosya Semyonovna, his wife, his son Pyotr, a student, his eldest daughter Varvara, and three small boys, had been sitting waiting a long time. The boysKolka, Vanka, and Arhipkagrubby, snub-nosed little fellows with chubby faces and tousled hair that wanted cutting, moved their chairs impatiently, while their elders sat without stirring, and apparently did not care whether they ate their dinner or waited.
As though trying their patience, Shiryaev deliberately dried his hands, deliberately said his prayer, and sat down to the table without hurrying himself. Cabbage-soup was served immediately. The sound of carpenters axes (Shiryaev was having a new barn built) and the laughter of Fomka, their labourer, teasing the turkey, floated in from the courtyard.
Big, sparse drops of rain pattered on the window.
Pyotr, a round-shouldered student in spectacles, kept exchanging glances with his mother as he ate his dinner. Several times he laid down his spoon and cleared his throat, meaning to begin to speak, but after an intent look at his father he fell to eating again. At last, when the porridge had been served, he cleared his throat resolutely and said:
I ought to go tonight by the evening train. I ought to have gone before; I have missed a fortnight as it is. The lectures begin on the first of September.
Well, go, Shiryaev assented; why are you lingering here? Pack up and go, and good luck to you.
A minute passed in silence.
He must have money for the journey, Yevgraf Ivanovitch, the mother observed in a low voice.
Money? To be sure, you cant go without money. Take it at once, since you need it. You could have had it long ago!
The student heaved a faint sigh and looked with relief at his mother. Deliberately Shiryaev took a pocket- book out of his coatpocket and put on his spectacles.
How much do you want? he asked.
The fare to Moscow is eleven roubles forty-two kopecks.
Ah, money, money! sighed the father. (He always sighed when he saw money, even when he was receiving it.) Here are twelve roubles for you. You will have change out of that which will be of use to you on the journey.
After waiting a little, the student said:
I did not get lessons quite at first last year. I dont know how it will be this year; most likely it will take me a little time to find work. I ought to ask you for fifteen roubles for my lodging and dinner.
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