But the embraces of the mother and child, the sound of their voices, and what they were saying, made him change his mind.
He shook his head, and with a sigh he closed the door. “I’ll wait another ten minutes,” he said to himself, clearing his throat and wiping away tears.
Among the servants of the household there was intense excitement all this time. All had heard that their mistress had come, and that Kapitonitch had let her in, and that she was even now in the nursery, and that their master always went in person to the nursery at nine o’clock, and every one fully comprehended that it was impossible for the husband and wife to meet, and that they must prevent it. Korney, the valet, going down to the hall porter’s room, asked who had let her in, and how it was he had done so, and ascertaining that Kapitonitch had admitted her and shown her up, he gave the old man a talking-to. The hall porter was doggedly silent, but when Korney told him he ought to be sent away, Kapitonitch darted up to him, and waving his hands in Korney’s face, began:
“Oh yes, to be sure you’d not have let her in! After ten years’ service, and never a word but of kindness, and there you’d up and say, ‘Be off, go along, get away with you!’ Oh yes, you’re a shrewd one at politics, I dare say! You don’t need to be taught how to swindle the master, and to filch fur coats!”
“Soldier!” said Korney contemptuously, and he turned to the nurse who was coming in. “Here, what do you think, Marya Efimovna: he let her in without a word to anyone,” Korney said addressing her. “Alexey Alexandrovitch will be down immediately—and go into the nursery!”
“A pretty business, a pretty business!” said the nurse. “You, Korney Vassilievitch, you’d best keep him some way or other, the master, while I’ll run and get her away somehow. A pretty business!”
When the nurse went into the nursery, Seryozha was telling his mother how he and Nadinka had had a fall in sledging downhill, and had turned over three times. She was listening to the sound of his voice, watching his face and the play of expression on it, touching his hand, but she did not follow what he was saying. She must go, she must leave him,—this was the only thing she was thinking and feeling. She heard the steps of Vassily Lukitch coming up to the door and coughing; she heard, too, the steps of the nurse as she came near; but she sat like one turned to stone, incapable of beginning to speak or to get up.
“Mistress, darling!” began the nurse, going up to Anna and kissing her hands and shoulders. “God has brought joy indeed to our boy on his birthday. You aren’t changed one bit.”
“Oh, nurse dear, I didn’t know you were in the house,” said Anna, rousing herself for a moment.
“I’m not living here, I’m living with my daughter. I came for the birthday, Anna Arkadyevna, darling!”
The nurse suddenly burst into tears, and began kissing her hand again.