"But is that love, my friend? Is it sincere? Admitting that you
have forgiven--that you forgive--have we the right to work on the
feelings of that angel? He looks on her as dead. He prays for
her, and beseeches God to have mercy on her sins. And it is
better so. But now what will he think?"
"I had not thought of that," said Alexey Alexandrovitch,
Countess Lidia Ivanovna hid her face in her hands and was silent.
she was praying.
"If you ask my advice," she said, having finished her prayer and
uncovered her face, "I do not advise you to do this. Do you
suppose I don't see how you are suffering, how this has torn open
your wounds? But supposing that, as always, you don't think of
yourself, what can it lead to?--to fresh suffering for you, to
torture for the child. If there were a trace of humanity left in
her, she ought not to wish for it herself. No, I have no
hesitation in saying I advise not, and if you will intrust it to
me, I will write to her."
And Alexey Alexandrovitch consented, and Countess Lidia Ivanovna
sent the following letter in French:
"To be reminded of you might have results for your son in leading
to questions on his part which could not be answered without
implanting in the child's soul a spirit of censure towards what
should be for him sacred, and therefore I beg you to interpret
your husband's refusal in the spirit of Christian love. I pray
to Almighty God to have mercy on you.
This letter attained the secret object which Countess Lidia
Ivanovna had concealed from herself. It wounded Anna to the
For his part, Alexey Alexandrovitch, on returning home from Lidia
Ivanovna's, could not all that day concentrate himself on his
usual pursuits, and find that spiritual peace of one saved and
believing which he had felt of late.