"Mother! She often comes to see me, and when she comes..." he
was beginning, but he stopped, noticing that the nurse was saying
something in a whisper to his mother, and that in his mother's
face there was a look of dread and something like shame, which
was so strangely unbecoming to her.
She went up to him.
"My sweet!" she said.
She could not say good-bye, but the expression on her face said
it, and he understood. "Darling, darling Kootik!" she used the
name by which she had called him when he was little, "you won't
forget me? You..." but she could not say more.
How often afterwards she thought of words she might have said.
But now she did not know how to say it, and could say nothing.
But Seryozha knew all she wanted to say to him. He understood
that she was unhappy and loved him. He understood even what the
nurse had whispered. He had caught the words "always at nine
o'clock," and he knew that this was said of his father, and that
his father and mother could not meet. That he understood, but
one thing he could not understand--why there should be a look of
dread and shame in her face?... She was not in fault, but she
was afraid of him and ashamed of something. He would have liked
to put a question that would have set at rest this doubt, but he
did not dare; he saw that she was miserable, and he felt for her.
Silently he pressed close to her and whispered, "Don't go yet.
He won't come just yet."
The mother held him away from her to see what he was thinking,
what to say to him, and in his frightened face she read not only
that he was speaking of his father, but, as it were, asking her
what he ought to think about his father.
"Seryozha, my darling," she said, "love him; he's better and
kinder than I am, and I have done him wrong. When you grow up
you will judge."