In a little over half an hour the horses had borne Tchitchikov over the seven or eight miles, at first through an oak copse, then by cornfields just beginning to turn green in the midst of the freshly ploughed land, then along the edge of the hillside from which fresh views over the distant plain came into sight every minute, and finally by a wide avenue of spreading lime-trees leading up to the general's village. The avenue of limes was followed by an avenue of poplars, protected below by hurdles and ended in openwork iron gates, through which peeped the ornately magnificent carved façade of the general's house, supported by eight columns with Corinthian capitals. Everywhere there was a smell of oil paint, with which everything was continually renewed, so that nothing could fall into decay. The courtyard was like a parquet floor for cleanliness. Driving up to the front door Tchitchikov mounted the steps deferentially, sent in his name, and was conducted straight to the study.
He was impressed by the general's majestic appearance. He was attired at the moment in a crimson satin dressing-gown. He had a frank glance, a manly face, grizzled whiskers and big moustaches, his hair was closely cropped, and