Lichonin struck the table with his palm.
“No!” he exclaimed stubbornly. “Simanovsky is partly right concerning the great danger of a person’s being led in leading strings. But I don’t see any other way out. In the beginning I’ll help her with room and board... find some easy work, buy the necessary accessories for her. Let be what may! And let us do everything in order to educate her mind a little; and that her heart and soul are beautiful, of that I am sure. I’ve no grounds for the faith, but I am sure, I almost know. Nijeradze! Don’t clown!” he cried abruptly, growing pale, “I’ve restrained myself several times already at your fool pranks. I have until now held you as a man of conscience and feeling. One more inappropriate witticism, and I’ll change my opinion of you; and know, that it’s forever.”
“Well, now, I didn’t mean anything... Really, I... Why go all up in the air, me soul? You don’t like that I’m a gay fellow, well, I’ll be quiet. Give me your hand, Lichonin, let’s drink!”
“Well, all right, get away from me. Here’s to your health! Only don’t behave like a little boy, you Ossetean ram. Well, then, I continue, gentlemen. If we find anything which might satisfy the just opinion of Simanovsky about the dignity of independent toil, unsustained by anything, then I shall stick to my system: to teach Liuba whatever is possible, to take her to the theatre, to expositions, to popular lectures, to museums; to read aloud to her, give her the possibility of hearing music—comprehensible music, of course. It’s understood, I alone won’t be able to manage all this. I expect help from you; and after that, whatever God may will.”
“Oh, well,” said Simanovsky, “the work is new, not threadbare; and how can we know the unknowable—perhaps you, Lichonin, will become the spiritual father of a good being. I, too, offer my services.”
“And I! And I!” the other two seconded; and right there, without getting up from the table, the four students worked out a very broad and very wondrous program of education and enlightenment for Liubka.
Soloviev took upon himself to teach the girl grammar and writing. In order not to tire her with tedious lessons, and as a reward for successes, he would read aloud for her artistic fiction, Russian and foreign, easy of comprehension. Lichonin left for himself the teaching of arithmetic, geography and history.
While the prince said simple-heartedly, without his usual facetiousness this time:
“I, my children, don’t know anything; while that which I do know, I know very badly. But I’ll read to her the remarkable production of the great Georgian poet Rustavelli, and translate it line by line. I confess to you, that I’m not much of a pedagogue: I tried to be a tutor, but they politely chased me out after only the second lesson. Still, no one can teach better playing on a guitar, mandolin, and the bagpipes!”