At the very end of August, the cadet adolescence of Alexei Alexandrov is over. Now he will study in the Third Junker name of Emperor Alexander II infantry school. In the morning he visits Sinelnikov, but alone with Yulenka he manages to stay no more than a minute.
Always in the foreground, always in the main place; incomprehensible, unattainable, incomparable, unique, delightful, dizzy – Julia.
The girl offers Alyosha to forget the summer dacha nonsenses: both of them have now grown up.
In the building of the school, Alyosha appears with sadness and confusion on his soul. True, he flattered that he was already a “pharaoh”, as the sophomore “first-year officers” called sophomores. Aleksandrovsky junkers love in Moscow and are proud of them.
However, during the studies on the heads of the young men, superfluous day-trips are also strewed, and the cancellation of leave and arrest. Junkers like, but the school “warm” mercilessly platoon, course officer and commander of the fourth company, Captain Fofanov, dubbed Drozdom. Daily exercises with heavy infantry drill and drill could cause disgust for the service, if not for the patience and harsh participation of all “heaters”.
There is no younger school in the school, which is usual for St. Petersburg schools. Here the atmosphere of knightly military democracy, a harsh but caring partnership dominates. All that concerns the service, does not allow indulgences, even among friends, but outside this is prescribed a friendly appeal to “you.”
After the oath, Drozd recalls that now they are soldiers and for the misdemeanors they will be sent not to mamma, but to soldiers in the infantry regiment. And yet, the boyishness that has not been overcome until the end makes young cadets give their surroundings their names. The first company is called “stallions”, the second – “beasts”, the third – “mazochki” and the fourth (Aleshina) – “fleas”.
Each commander, except for the second course officer Belov, also has a nickname. From the Balkan war, Belov brought his wife a Bulgarian of indescribable beauty, before which all the cadets bowed, why her husband’s personality was considered inviolable. But Dubyshkin is called the Pup, the commander of the first company is Khukhrik, and the battalion commander is Berdy-Pasha. All the officers of the cadet are mercilessly harassed, which is considered a sign of youth.
However, the life of eighteen-twenty-year-olds can not completely absorb the interests of the service. Aleksandrov is living through the collapse of his first love, but is also keenly interested in the younger Sinelnikovs. At the December ball, Olga Sinelnikova informs Alyosha about Yulenka’s engagement. Shocked Alexandrov responds that he does not care. He loves Olga for a long time and will devote her first story to her, which will soon publish “Evening leisure”.
This is his writer’s debut really happens, but on the evening roll call Drozd assigns him three days of punishment for publishing without the sanction of the authorities. Alexandrov takes Tolstoy’s Cossacks to the cell, and when Drozd asks whether he knows the young talent, why he is punished, he answers cheerfully: “For writing a stupid and vulgar work.”
Alas, the troubles do not end there. The dedication reveals a fatal mistake: instead of “O” is “Yu” (this is the power of the first love!). Soon the author receives a letter from Olga: “For some reason, I hardly ever see you, so forgive me.”
Shame and despair of the cadet has no limit, but time heals all wounds. Alexandrov gets to the ball at the Catherine Institute. This is not included in his Christmas plans, but Drozd cuts through all the Aleshin arguments. For many years, Alexandrov will remember the brilliant entrance of the old house, marble staircases, bright halls and pupils in dresses with ball gowns.
At the ball, Alyosha meets Zinachka Belysheva, whose very presence brightens and the air itself shines with laughter. Between them there is real and mutual love. In addition to undeniable beauty, Zinochka has something more valuable and rare.
Aleksandrov confesses to Zina in love and asks to wait three years. Three months later he graduated from the school, and before joining the Academy of the General Staff will serve two more years. Then he will pass the exam and will ask for her hand. The Second Lieutenant receives forty-three rubles a month, and he will not allow himself to offer her the pathetic fate of a provincial regimental lady. Zinochka promises to wait.
True love, like gold, it never rusts and oxidizes.
Since then Alexandrov has been trying to get the highest score. With nine points you can choose a suitable regiment for the service. He does not have a ninth of any three-tenths because of the six for military fortification.
But all obstacles are overcome, Alexandrov receives nine points and the right to choose the first place of service. When Berdi-Pasha names his name, the Junker without looking pokes his finger at the list and stumbles upon the undeathed Undom infantry regiment.
And now a new officer’s uniform is worn, and the chief of the school, General Anchutin, sends out his pupils. Usually there are at least seventy-five officers in the regiment, and in such a large society gossip is inevitable, which corrodes this society.
After finishing his parting words, the General says goodbye to the newly-minted officers. They bow to him, and General Anchutin remains “forever in their minds with such firmness, as if he carved a diamond in carnelian.”