“Who is here?” asked Alexey Alexandrovitch.
“Princess Elizaveta Federovna Tverskaya,” the groom answered, and it seemed to Alexey Alexandrovitch that he grinned.
During all this difficult time Alexey Alexandrovitch had noticed that his worldly acquaintances, especially women, took a peculiar interest in him and his wife. All these acquaintances he observed with difficulty concealing their mirth at something; the same mirth that he had perceived in the lawyer’s eyes, and just now in the eyes of this groom. Everyone seemed, somehow, hugely delighted, as though they had just been at a wedding. When they met him, with ill-disguised enjoyment they inquired after his wife’s health. The presence of Princess Tverskaya was unpleasant to Alexey Alexandrovitch from the memories associated with her, and also because he disliked her, and he went straight to the nursery. In the day nursery Seryozha, leaning on the table with his legs on a chair, was drawing and chatting away merrily. The English governess, who had during Anna’s illness replaced the French one, was sitting near the boy knitting a shawl. She hurriedly got up, curtseyed, and pulled Seryozha.
Alexey Alexandrovitch stroked his son’s hair, answered the governess’s inquiries about his wife, and asked what the doctor had said of the baby.
“The doctor said it was nothing serious, and he ordered a bath, sir.”
“But she is still in pain,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch, listening to the baby’s screaming in the next room.
“I think it’s the wet-nurse, sir,” the Englishwoman said firmly.
“What makes you think so?” he asked, stopping short.
“It’s just as it was at Countess Paul’s, sir. They gave the baby medicine, and it turned out that the baby was simply hungry: the nurse had no milk, sir.”
Alexey Alexandrovitch pondered, and after standing still a few seconds he went in at the other door. The baby was lying with its head thrown back, stiffening itself in the nurse’s arms, and would not take the plump breast offered it; and it never ceased screaming in spite of the double hushing of the wet-nurse and the other nurse, who was bending over her.
“Still no better?” said Alexey Alexandrovitch.
“She’s very restless,” answered the nurse in a whisper.
“Miss Edwarde says that perhaps the wet-nurse has no milk,” he said.
“I think so too, Alexey Alexandrovitch.”
“Then why didn’t you say so?”
“Who’s one to say it to? Anna Arkadyevna still ill...” said the nurse discontentedly.
The nurse was an old servant of the family. And in her simple words there seemed to Alexey Alexandrovitch an allusion to his position.
The baby screamed louder than ever, struggling and sobbing. The nurse, with a gesture of despair, went to it, took it from the wet-nurse’s arms, and began walking up and down, rocking it.