The sky is overcast with heavy clouds, but it does not rain. Two old men-- Ivan, a vet, and Burkin, a teacher-- walk across the fields. Ivan prepares to tell his friend a story and lights his pipe in preparation. At this point a storm breaks and the men run to shelter at their friend Aliokhin's estate. They find the forty year-old standing in one of his barns near a winnowing machine. Aliokhin is dirty from his work, and he invites his friends into the main house to bathe. A beautiful young girl named Pelageia brings the men towels and some soap, and all three start to wash. Ivan and Burkin are shocked when the water around Aliokhin turns brown, but Aliokhin makes the excuse that he has not washed for a long while. Unexpectedly, Ivan rushes outside and flings himself into the wide expanse of water in front of the house, flinging his arms around and asking god for mercy.
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