The protagonist of the novel, Kolen, a very nice young man of twenty-two years, who so often smiles with an infantish smile that from this on his chin he even had a dimple, is preparing for the arrival of his friend Shik. Nicholas, his cook, conjures in the kitchen, creating masterpieces of culinary art. Shik is the same age as Kolen and also a bachelor, but he has much less money than his friend, and, unlike Kolen, he is forced to work as an engineer, and sometimes to ask money from his uncle who works in the ministry.
The apartment at Kolen is remarkable in itself. The kitchen is equipped with miracle devices that perform all the necessary operations themselves. The washbasin in the bathroom supplies the Knee of the living acne. Lighting from the street into the apartment does not penetrate, but it has two of its sun, in the rays of which plays a small mouse with black antennae. She is a full-fledged resident of the apartment. It is fed and touched with care. There are also the “pianokteil” – a mechanism created on the basis of a piano and allowing one or another melody to get excellent cocktails from alcoholic beverages. At dinner it turns out that Alisa, the girl whom Shik recently fell in love with, is Nicolas’s niece. She, like Shik, is fond of the work of Jean-Sol Partra and collects all his articles.
The next day, Colin leaves with Shik, Alizoy, Nicolas and Isis (a common acquaintance of Knee and Nicolas) to the ice rink. There, through the fault of the Knee, rushing to meet his friends across the rest of the skating, is a pile-small. Ishida invites the entire company on a Sunday to her not the party she arranges on the occasion of the birthday of her poodle Dupont.
The knee, looking at Shik, also wants to fall in love. He hopes that at the reception of Isis he will be blessed with happiness. He really meets there a girl named Chloe and falls in love with her. Their relations develop rapidly. It’s about the wedding. Meanwhile, Alisa begins to be sad, since Schick believes that her parents will never agree to their marriage because of his poverty. The knee is so happy that it wants to make its friends happy. He gives Shik twenty-five thousand inflank of the one hundred thousand that he possesses so that Shik could finally marry Aliz.
The wedding of the knee is a success. Everyone admiringly looks at the performance, which is given in the church by the Priest, Pianoman and Svyatchenok. For this event, Kolen pays five thousand infank. Most of them, the Superstar rakes himself. The next morning, the newlyweds in a luxurious white limousine ride south. This time Nicholas plays the role of chauffeur. He has one very unpleasant, from the point of view of the Tribe, peculiarity: when he dresses in the uniform of a cook or chauffeur, it becomes utterly impossible to talk to him, since he begins to express himself solely in ceremonial-official language. At some point the patience of the knee bursts, and, while in his room in some roadside hotel, he throws a shoe into Nicolas, but gets into the window. Through a broken window from the street into the room penetrates winter cold, and the next morning Chloe wakes up completely sick. Despite the care of the care of Knee and Nicolas, her health is deteriorating every day.
In the meantime, Schick and Alisa are most diligently attending all the lectures of Jean-Sol Partra. To squeeze them, they have to go to all sorts of tricks: Shiku – change into a doorman, Alize – spend the night in the back. Knee, Chloe and Nicolas return home. From the very threshold, they notice that the apartment has changed. Two suns now do not fill the corridor, as before. Ceramic tiles are dull, the walls no longer sparkle. A gray mouse with black mustaches, not understanding what the matter is, just planting paws. Then she begins to rub the tarnished tiles. The corner again shines, as before,... but the mouse’s paws are blown into the blood, so Nicolas has to make small crutches for her. The knee, glancing into his safe, discovers that he has only thirty-five thousand infants. Twenty-five he gave to Shik, fifteen was worth the car,
Chloe feels better on her return home. She wants to go to the store, buy herself new dresses, ornaments, and then go to the ice rink. Schick and Kolen immediately go to the rink, and Isis and Nicolas accompany Chloe. When, during the skiing, Colin discovers that Chloe is bad and she fainted, he rushes headlong into the house, fearfully thinking about the worst that could happen.
Chloe – calm and even enlightened – is lying on the bed. In the chest, she senses someone’s evil presence and, wanting to cope with it, coughs from time to time. Doctor D’Ermo examines Chloe and prescribes her medicines. She had a flower, a nymphaea, a water lily in her chest. He advises to surround Chloe with flowers, so that they dry the nymph. He thinks that she needs to go somewhere to the mountains. Knee sends her to an expensive mountain sanatorium and spends huge money on flowers. Soon he has almost no money left. The apartment is becoming more dull. Twenty-nine-year-old Nicholas for some reason looks like the whole thirty-five. The walls and ceiling in the apartment are compressed, leaving less space.
Schick, instead of marrying Alize, spends all his Inflats, given to him by Colin, on purchasing Partra’s books in luxurious bindings and old things that supposedly belonged to his idol once. Having spent the last thing he has, he tells Alize that he can not and does not want to see her anymore, and puts her out the door. Alisa is in despair.
Colin asks Nicolas to go to work as a cook to the parents of Isis. Nicolas painfully leave his friend, but the tribe can no longer pay his salary: he has absolutely no money. Now he himself is forced to seek work and sell his antiquary to his pianoktail. Chloe comes back from the sanatorium, where she had an operation and removed the nymph. However, soon the disease, having spread to the second lung, resumes. The knee now works in a factory where rifle barrels are grown with the help of human heat. The trunks of the Knee come out uneven, from each stem grows a beautiful metal rose. Then he goes to the bank guard, where he has to walk all day through the dark underground corridor. All the money he spends on flowers for his wife.
Chic was so carried away by the collection of works by Partra that he spent all his money on them, in particular, those that were intended for paying taxes. The seneschal of the police comes to him with his two assistants. Aliza, meanwhile, goes to the cafe where Jean-Sol Partr works. At the moment he is writing the nineteenth volume of his encyclopedia. Alisa asks him to postpone the publication of the encyclopedia, so that Shik managed to save money for her. The partner refuses her request, and then Alisa tears his heart from her heart. The partner dies. Likewise, she deals with all the sellers of the books that supplied Shika to the works of Partra, and their shops set fire to them. In the meantime, the police are killing Shik. Alisa perishes in the fire of a fire.
Chloe is dying. The Tribe only has enough money for a funeral for the poor. He must endure the mockery of the Primate and Priest, who has little to offer. Chloe is buried in a remote cemetery for the poor, who is on the island. From this moment, the knee begins to weaken hour from hour. He does not sleep, does not eat, and always spends at Chloe’s grave, waiting for a white lily to appear over her to kill her. At this time, the walls in his apartment are closed, and the ceiling falls to the floor. The gray mouse barely manages to escape. She runs to the cat and asks her to eat.