Anton Chekhov

“A winnowing fan was droning away in one of the barns and dust poured out of the open door. On the threshold stood the master himself, Alyokhin, a man of about forty, tall, stout, with long hair, and he looked more like a professor or an artist than a landowner. He wore a white shirt that hadn't been washed for a very long time, and it was tied round with a piece of rope as a belt. Instead of trousers he was wearing underpants; mud and straw clung to his boots. His nose and eyes were black with dust. He immediately recognised Ivan Ivanych and Burkin, and was clearly delighted to see them.
'Please come into the house, gentlemen,' he said, smiling, 'I'll be with you in a jiffy.'
It was a large house, with two storeys. Alyokhin lived on the ground floor in the two rooms with vaulted ceilings and small windows where his estate managers used to live. They were simply furnished and smelled of rye bread, cheap vodka and harness. He seldom used the main rooms upstairs, reserving them for guests. Ivan Ivanych and Burkin were welcomed by the maid, who was such a beautiful young woman that they both stopped and stared at each other.
'You can't imagine how glad I am to see you, gentlemen,' Alyokhin said as he followed them into the hall. 'A real surprise!' Then he turned to the maid and said, 'Pelageya, bring some dry clothes for the gentlemen. I suppose I'd better change too. But I must have a wash first, or you'll think I haven't had one since spring. Would you like to come to the bathing-hut while they get things ready in the house?'
The beautiful Pelageya, who had such a dainty look and a gentle face, brought soap and towels, and Alyokhin went off with his guests to the bathing-hut.
'Yes, it's ages since I had a good wash,' he said as he undressed. 'As you can see, it's a nice hut. My father built it, but I never find time these days for a swim.'
He sat on one of the steps and smothered his long hair and neck with soap; the water turned brown.
'Yes, I must confess...' Ivan Ivanych murmered, with a meaningful look at his head.
'Haven't had a wash for ages,' Alyokhin repeated in his embarrassment and soaped himself again; the water turned a dark inky blue.”


Anton Chekhov, Gooseberries and Other Stories
tags: wash
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Gooseberries and Other Stories (The Greatest Short Stories, Pocket Book) Gooseberries and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov
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