The waiting-room of the celebrated Petersburg lawyer was full
when Alexey Alexandrovitch entered it. Three ladies--an old
lady, a young lady, and a merchant's wife--and three gentlemen--
one a German banker with a ring on his finger, the second a
merchant with a beard, and the third a wrathful-looking
government clerk in official uniform, with a cross on his neck--
had obviously been waiting a long while already. Two clerks were
writing at tables with scratching pens. The appurtenances of the
writing-tables, about which Alexey Alexandrovitch was himself
very fastidious, were exceptionally good. He could not help
observing this. One of the clerks, without getting up, turned
wrathfully to Alexey Alexandrovitch, half closing his eyes.
"What are you wanting?"
He replied that he had to see the lawyer on some business.
"He is engaged," the clerk responded severely, and he pointed
with his pen at the persons waiting, and went on writing.
"Can't he spare time to see me?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"He has not time free; he is always busy. Kindly wait your
"Then I must trouble you to give him my card," Alexey
Alexandrovitch said with dignity, seeing the impossibility of
preserving his incognito.
The clerk took the card and, obviously not approving of what he
read on it, went to the door.
Alexey Alexandrovitch was in principle in favor of the publicity
of legal proceedings, though for some higher official
considerations he disliked the application of the principle in
Russia, and disapproved of it, as far as he could disapprove of
anything instituted by authority of the Emperor. His whole life
had been spent in administrative work, and consequently, when he
did not approve of anything, his disapproval was softened by the
recognition of the inevitability of mistakes and the possibility
of reform in every department. In the new public law courts he
disliked the restrictions laid on the lawyers conducting cases.
But till then he had had nothing to do with the law courts, and
so had disapproved of their publicity simply in theory; now his
disapprobation was strengthened by the unpleasant impression made
on him in the lawyer's waiting room.