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The watermill was at work, drowning the sound of the rain; the dam was shaking.
In one of the barns there was the sound of a winnowing machine, the door was open, and clouds of dust were coming from it.
In the doorway was standing Alehin himself, a man of forty, tall and stout, with long hair, more like a professor or an artist than a landowner.
Far ahead of them they could just see the windmills of the village of Mironositskoe; on the right stretched a row of hillocks which disappeared in the distance behind the village, and they both knew that this was the bank of the river, that there were meadows, green willows, homesteads there, and that if one stood on one of the hillocks one could see from it the same vast plain, telegraph-wires, and a train which in the distance looked like a crawling caterpillar, and that in clear weather one could even see the town.
Now, in still weather, when all nature seemed mild and dreamy, Ivan Ivanovitch and Burkin were filled with love of that countryside, and both thought how great, how beautiful a land it was.
" 'Country life has its conveniences,' he would sometimes say. and the gooseberries are growing.' "He used to draw a map of his property, and in every map there were the same things -- (a) house for the family, (b) servants' quarters, (c) kitchen-garden, (d) gooseberry-bushes.
'You sit on the verandah and you drink tea, while your ducks swim on the pond, there is a delicious smell everywhere, and . He lived parsimoniously, was frugal in food and drink, his clothes were beyond description; he looked like a beggar, but kept on saving and putting money in the bank. I did not like to look at him, and I used to give him something and send him presents for Christmas and Easter, but he used to save that too.
Gardening books and the agricultural hints in calendars were his delight, his favourite spiritual sustenance; he enjoyed reading newspapers, too, but the only things he read in them were the advertisements of so many acres of arable land and a grass meadow with farm-houses and buildings, a river, a garden, a mill and millponds, for sale.
And his imagination pictured the garden-paths, flowers and fruit, starling cotes, the carp in the pond, and all that sort of thing, you know.
"Her first husband had been a postmaster, and with him she was accustomed to pies and home-made wines, while with her second husband she did not get enough black bread; she began to pine away with this sort of life, and three years later she gave up her soul to God.
And I need hardly say that my brother never for one moment imagined that he was responsible for her death. In our town there was a merchant who, before he died, ordered a plateful of honey and ate up all his money and lottery tickets with the honey, so that no one might get the benefit of it.