Fedya wails aloud and begins to sob.
“This is insufferable,” says his mother, getting up from the table and flinging down her dinner-napkin. “You never let us have dinner in peace! Your bread sticks in my throat.”
And putting her handkerchief to her eyes, she walks out of the dining-room.
“Now she is offended,” grumbles Zhilin, with a forced smile. “She’s been spoilt. . . . That’s how it is, Anfissa Ivanovna; no one likes to hear the truth nowadays. . . . It’s all my fault, it seems.”
Several minutes of silence follow. Zhilin looks round at the plates, and noticing that no one has yet touched their soup, heaves a deep sigh, and stares at the flushed and uneasy face of the governess.
“Why don’t you eat, Varvara Vassilyevna?” he asks. “Offended, I suppose? I see. . . . You don’t like to be told the truth. You must forgive me, it’s my nature; I can’t be a hypocrite. . . . I always blurt out the plain truth” (a sigh). “But I notice that my presence is unwelcome. No one can eat or talk while I am here. . . . Well, you should have told me, and I would have gone away. . . . I will go.”
Zhilin gets up and walks with dignity to the door. As he passes the weeping Fedya he stops.
“After all that has passed here, you are free,” he says to Fedya, throwing back his head with dignity. “I won’t meddle in your bringing up again. I wash my hands of it! I humbly apologise that as a father, from a sincere desire for your welfare, I have disturbed you and your mentors. At the same time, once for all I disclaim all responsibility for your future. . . .”
Fedya wails and sobs more loudly than ever. Zhilin turns with dignity to the door and departs to his bedroom.
When he wakes from his after-dinner nap he begins to feel the stings of conscience. He is ashamed to face his wife, his son, Anfissa Ivanovna, and even feels very wretched when he recalls the scene at dinner, but his amour-propre is too much for him; he has not the manliness to be frank, and he goes on sulking and grumbling.
Waking up next morning, he feels in excellent spirits, and whistles gaily as he washes. Going into the dining-room to breakfast, he finds there Fedya, who, at the sight of his father, gets up and looks at him helplessly.
“Well, young man?” Zhilin greets him good-humouredly, sitting down to the table. “What have you got to tell me, young man? Are you all right? Well, come, chubby; give your father a kiss.”
With a pale, grave face Fedya goes up to his father and touches his cheek with his quivering lips, then walks away and sits down in his place without a word.
ANDREY VASSILITCH KOVRIN, who held a master’s degree at the University, had exhausted himself, and had upset his nerves. He did not send for a doctor, but casually, over a bottle of wine, he spoke to a friend who was a doctor, and the latter advised him to spend the spring and summer in the country. Very opportunely a long letter came from Tanya Pesotsky, who asked him to come and stay with them at Borissovka. And he made up his mind that he really must go.