The action takes place in a taiga district center in the early summer morning. Valentina, a slender, pretty girl of about eighteen, goes to the teahouse where she works, and on the way she looks around the front garden in front of the house: again the boards are taken out of the fence, the gate is torn off. She inserts planks, spreads the crushed grass and begins to repair the gate. Throughout the action she does this several times, because passers-by for some reason prefer to walk straight on the lawn, bypassing the gate.
Valentina is in love with the local investigator Shamanov, who does not notice her feelings. Shamanov goes to the pharmacist Kashkin, who lives next to the tea, and therefore Valentine, as well as the whole village, is aware of their connection. She suffers in silence. Shamanov is about thirty years old, but he feels himself a lot of old and tired man. His favorite saying: “I want to retire.” His lover Kashkin is offended that he does not tell her about himself, although she already knows a lot about him from city acquaintances. Previously, he worked as an investigator in the city, he was expected to have a great future, he had a beautiful wife, a car and all sorts of other good things. However, he was one of those for whom the truth is more important than the situation, and therefore, investigating the case of the son of a dignitary who shot down a man, the Shamans, in spite of the pressure from above, did not want to hush up the matter.
Valentine is in love with Pashka, the son of the barman of the Good, and the stepson of the local worker, Dergachev. Arriving from the city, Pashka constantly turns around Valentina, calling her to dance. But Valentine firmly refuses to him. Pashka hints that he knows his rival and, posing as steep, even threatens to deal with him. Pashka is constantly at the center of family quarrels. His mother and Dergachev are tied to each other, one might say, they love each other. However, Pashka is not healing even with time, Dergachev’s wound, because he was born from another person when Dergachev was at the front. Mother asks her son to leave, but Pashka is not very willing to listen to her. He is also hurt: why should he throw his own house when he plans to marry Valentine, settle here.
Dergachev repairs the tea, he is evidently irritated, and he pushes this irritation on his wife, who right from the morning demands booze on the occasion of a meeting with a longtime friend who came from the taiga by the old Evenks Yermeyev fumigation. Remained after the death of his wife alone, Eremeev came to work on the pension. However, he faces difficulties here: he does not have a work record book or job references – he hunted all his life, worked in geological parties and did not think about old age.
Another participant in the action is an accountant Mechetkin, a bore and a bureaucrat. He wants to get married and at first has views on Kashkin, hinting that her connection with Shamanov causes gossip in the village and offends public morality. However, right there, as soon as Kashkin invites him to come to her and even offers a drink, Metshetkin, who has grown weary, admits his serious intentions. Kashkin knows that Valentina is in love with Shamanov, and therefore, fearing a possible rivalry, advises Mechetkin to turn his attention to Valentina. She assures Mechetkina that he, a man respected in the village, can easily succeed if he approvingly addresses his father Valentina. Without delay, Mechetkin wins Valentina. Her father does not mind, but says that nothing can be done without Valentina.
Meanwhile, between Shamanov, waiting in the tea service car, and Valentina, mending the fence of the front garden, a conversation begins. Shamanov says that Valentina is in vain engaged in this, because people will never stop bypassing him. Valentina objected stubbornly: someday they will understand and walk on the sidewalk. Suddenly, Shamanov makes Valentine a compliment: she is a beautiful girl, she looks like a girl that Shamanov once loved. He asks her why she did not go to town, like many of her contemporaries. And suddenly he hears the confession that she is in love, and not with anyone, but in him, Shamanov. Shamanov is confused, it is difficult for him to believe it, he advises Valentina to throw it out of her head. But then suddenly he begins to feel for the girl something special: she suddenly becomes for him “a ray of light from behind the clouds,
Pashka Shamanov, who threatened Pashka, advises him to cool his head, and a quarrel ensues between them. Shamanov clearly wants a scandal, he hands Pashka his gun and purposely teases him, informing him that they have a date with Valentina for ten hours and that she loves him, Shamanov, and she does not need Pashka. Pashka fires the pistol in a rage. Misfire. Pashka, frightened, drops his weapon. But Shamanov is also not himself. He writes a note to Valentine, really giving her a ten-hour appointment, and asks Yeremeyev to hand over it. However, the note is cunningly intercepted by the jealous Kashkin.
That same evening, Valentina, witnessing another discord between her stepfather and Pasha, whom his own mother insults and drives, pity agrees to go with him to dance. It is felt that Valentina decided on something serious, because she also goes straight through the front garden, as if losing faith, that she can overcome the common resistance. They are going away. Soon the Shamans appear and, meeting Kashkin, enthusiastically admits to her that something suddenly happened to him today: he seems to be gaining peace again. It is connected with Valentina, about which he asks Kashkin. She honestly tells him that Shamanov’s note is from her and that Valentina, not knowing about the appointment, left with Pashka. Shamanov rushes to her search. Late at night Valentina and Pashka come back. It is clear that they were close, although this did not in the least change their relationship: Pashka as was, and remained for her a stranger. Feeling remorse, Kashkin tells Valentine that Shamanov was looking for her, that he loves her. Soon Shamanov himself appears, he admits to Valentine that thanks to her a miracle happened to him. Valentina is crying. Appeared to her father, ready to stand up for her honor, she says that she was at the dance not with Pashka and not with Shamanov, but with Mechetkin.
The next morning Shamanov leaves for the city to speak at the trial. The play ends with the views of those in the teahouse turning to Valentina, who left the house. She proudly approaches, as usual, to the gate and begins to build it, and then, along with Eremeev, corrects the front garden.