"I have the misfortune," Alexey Alexandrovitch began, "to have
been deceived in my married life, and I desire to break off all
relations with my wife by legal means--that is, to be divorced,
but to do this so that my son may not remain with his mother."
The lawyer's gray eyes tried not to laugh, but they were dancing
with irrepressible glee, and Alexey Alexandrovitch saw that it
was not simply the delight of a man who has just got a profitable
job: there was triumph and joy, there was a gleam like the
malignant gleam he saw in his wife's eyes.
"You desire my assistance in securing a divorce?"
"Yes, precisely so; but I ought to warn you that I may be
wasting your time and attention. I have come simply to consult
you as a preliminary step. I want a divorce, but the form in
which it is possible is of great consequence to me. It is very
possible that if that form does not correspond with my
requirements I may give up a legal divorce."
"Oh, that's always the case," said the lawyer, "and that's always
for you to decide."
He let his eyes rest on Alexey Alexandrovitch's feet, feeling
that he might offend his client by the sight of his irrepressible
amusement. He looked at a moth that flew before his nose, and
moved his hands, but did not catch it from regard for Alexey
"Though in their general features our laws on this subject are
known to me," pursued Alexey Alexandrovitch, "I should be glad
to have an idea of the forms in which such things are done in
"You would be glad," the lawyer, without lifting his eyes,
responded, adopting, with a certain satisfaction, the tone of his
client's remarks, "for me to lay before you all the methods by
which you could secure what you desire?"
And on receiving an assuring nod from Alexey Alexandrovitch, he
went on, stealing a glance now and then at Alexey
Alexandrovitch's face, which was growing red in patches.