I stayed at home scaring doves and playing at leap frog with the street boys. After this fashion I reached my sixteenth year. Then came the turning point of my life.
One autumn afternoon my mother was making jam in the sitting-room, and I stood by, licking my lips and watching the boiling preserve. My father was sitting at the window reading the "Court Calendar," which he received yearly. This book ever exercised a strong influence over him; he always read it with particular attention, and its perusal invariably stirred up his bile. My mother, who knew all his whims and ways, constantly tried to hide away this unfortunate book, and then it would happen that months went by without his ever seeing the "Court Calendar." But when he did chance to find it, he would not let it out of his hands for hours. Thus it was that my father was reading the "Court Calendar," now and then shrugging his shoulders, and repeating to himself, "Lieutenant-general! . . . . he was a sergeant in my company! . . . . Knight of the two Russian orders! . . . . is it so long ago since we? . . . ." At last my father threw the "Calendar" on the sofa and remained sunk in thought, which forbode no good.
Suddenly, he turned to my mother. "Avdotia Vassilievna, how old is Petrousha?"
"He has entered his seventeenth year," answered my mother. "Petrousha was born the same year in which aunt Nastasia Gherassimovna lost an eye, and when——"
"Very well," interrupted my father; "it is time he should enter the service. He has had enough of nurseries and of pigeon worrying."
- Pet name for Piotr—Peter.—Tr.