En she had seen Sasha off to the gymnasium, she returned home quietly, content,
serene, overflowing with love. Her face, which had grown younger in the last half year,
smiled and beamed. People who met her were pleased as they looked at her. "How are you, Olga Semyonovna, darling? How are you getting on, darling?" "The gymnasium course is very hard nowadays," she told at the market.
"It's no joke. Yesterday the first class had a fable to learn by heart, a Latin translation, and
a problem. How is a little fellow to do all that?"
And she spoke of the teacher and the lessons and the text-books, repeating exactly what Sasha said about them. At three o'clock they had dinner. In the evening they prepared the lessons together, and Olenka wept with Sasha over the difficulties. When she put him to bed, she lingered a long
time making the sign of the cross over him and muttering a prayer. And when she lay in bed, she dreamed of the far-away, misty future when Sasha would finish his studies and become a doctor or an engineer, have a large house
of his own, with horses and a carriage, marry and have children. She would fall asleep still thinking of the same things, and tears would roll down her cheeks from her closed eyes. And the black cat would lie at her side purring: "Mrr, mrr, mrr." Suddenly there was a loud
knocking at the gate. Olenka woke up breathless with fright, her heart beating violently. Half a minute later there was another knock. "A telegram from Kharkov," she thought, her whole body in a tremble. "His
mother wants Sasha to come to her in Kharkov. Oh, great God!" She was
in despair. Her head, her feet, her hands turned cold. There was no unhappier creature in the world, she felt. But another minute passed, she heard voices. It was the veterinarian coming h