Childhood

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"No. Tell me what he says," replied Papa, showing by a movement of his head that he had no desire to have speech with the miller.

"Well, it is easy enough to guess what he says. He declares that there is no grinding to be got now, and that his last remaining money has gone to pay for the dam. What good would it do for us to turn him out? As to what you were pleased to say about the mortgage, you yourself are aware that your money there is locked up and cannot be recovered at a moment's notice. I was sending a load of flour to Ivan Afanovitch to-day, and sent him a letter as well, to which he replies that he would have been glad to oblige you, Peter Alexandritch, were it not that the matter is out of his hands now, and that all the circumstances show that it would take you at least two months to withdraw the money. From the hay I understood you to estimate a return of 3000 roubles?" (Here Jakoff jotted down "3000" on his tablets, and then looked for a moment from the figures to Papa with a peculiar expression on his face.) "Well, surely you see for yourself how little that is? And even then we should lose if we were to sell the stuff now, for you must know that--"

It was clear that he would have had many other arguments to adduce had not Papa interrupted him.

"I cannot make any change in my arrangements," said Papa. "Yet if there should REALLY have to be any delay in the recovery of these sums, we could borrow what we wanted from the Chabarovska funds."

"Very well, sir." The expression of Jakoff's face and the way in which he twitched his fingers showed that this order had given him great satisfaction. He was a serf, and a most zealous, devoted one, but, like all good bailiffs, exacting and parsimonious to a degree in the interests of his master. Moreover, he had some queer notions of his own. He was forever endeavouring to increase his master's property at the expense of his mistress's, and to prove that it would be impossible to avoid using the rents from her estates for the benefit of Petrovskoe (my father's village, and the place where we lived). This point he had now gained and was delighted in consequence.

Papa then greeted ourselves, and said that if we stayed much longer in the country we should become lazy boys; that we were growing quite big now, and must set about doing lessons in earnest,

"I suppose you know that I am starting for Moscow to-night?" he went on, "and that I am going to take you with me? You will live with Grandmamma, but Mamma and the girls will remain here. You know, too, I am sure, that Mamma's one consolation will be to hear that you are doing your lessons well and pleasing every one around you."

The preparations which had been in progress for some days past had made us expect some unusual event, but this news left us thunderstruck, Woloda turned red, and, with a shaking voice, delivered Mamma's message to Papa.

"So this was what my dream foreboded!" I thought to myself. "God send that there come nothing worse!" I felt terribly sorry to have to leave Mamma, but at the same rejoiced to think that I should soon be grown up, "If we are going to-day, we shall probably have no lessons to do, and that will be splendid, However, I am sorry for Karl Ivanitch, for he will certainly be dismissed now. That was why that envelope had been prepared for him. I think I would almost rather stay and do lessons here than leave Mamma or hurt poor Karl. He is miserable enough already."

As these thoughts crossed my mind I stood looking sadly at the black ribbons on my shoes, After a few words to Karl Ivanitch about the depression of the barometer and an injunction to Jakoff not to feed the hounds, since a farewell meet was to be held after luncheon, Papa disappointed my hopes by sending us off to lessons--though he also consoled us by promising to take us out hunting later.

On my way upstairs I made a digression to the terrace. Near the door leading on to it Papa's favourite hound, Milka, was lying in the sun and blinking her eyes.

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