The time passed in such meditations, and when the teacher came, the lesson about the adverbs of place and time and manner of action was not ready, and the teacher was not only displeased, but hurt. This touched Seryozha. He felt he was not to blame for not having learned the lesson; however much he tried, he was utterly unable to do that. As long as the teacher was explaining to him, he believed him and seemed to comprehend, but as soon as he was left alone, he was positively unable to recollect and to understand that the short and familiar word “suddenly” is an adverb of manner of action. Still he was sorry that he had disappointed the teacher.
He chose a moment when the teacher was looking in silence at the book.
“Mihail Ivanitch, when is your birthday?” he asked all, of a sudden.
“You’d much better be thinking about your work. Birthdays are of no importance to a rational being. It’s a day like any other on which one has to do one’s work.”
Seryozha looked intently at the teacher, at his scanty beard, at his spectacles, which had slipped down below the ridge on his nose, and fell into so deep a reverie that he heard nothing of what the teacher was explaining to him. He knew that the teacher did not think what he said; he felt it from the tone in which it was said. “But why have they all agreed to speak just in the same manner always the dreariest and most useless stuff? Why does he keep me off; why doesn’t he love me?” he asked himself mournfully, and could not think of an answer.
After the lesson with the grammar teacher came his father’s lesson. While waiting for his father, Seryozha sat at the table playing with a penknife, and fell to dreaming. Among Seryozha’s favorite occupations was searching for his mother during his walks. He did not believe in death generally, and in her death in particular, in spite of what Lidia Ivanovna had told him and his father had confirmed, and it was just because of that, and after he had been told she was dead, that he had begun looking for her when out for a walk. Every woman of full, graceful figure with dark hair was his mother. At the sight of such a woman such a feeling of tenderness was stirred within him that his breath failed him, and tears came into his eyes. And he was on the tiptoe of expectation that she would come up to him, would lift her veil. All her face would be visible, she would smile, she would hug him, he would sniff her fragrance, feel the softness of her arms, and cry with happiness, just as he had one evening lain on her lap while she tickled him, and he laughed and bit her white, ring-covered fingers. Later, when he accidentally learned from his old nurse that his mother was not dead, and his father and Lidia Ivanovna had explained to him that she was dead to him because she was wicked (which he could not possibly believe, because he loved her), he went on seeking