The author hears this story from the nurse of his younger brother Lyubov Onisimovna, in the past the beauty of the actress of the Oryol Theater Count Kamensky. At the Trinity, she leads the author to the cemetery, where the simple grave tells the story of “tupeynogo artist” Arkady.
Arkady – a hairdresser and makeup artist – combs all serfs of the count’s artists. He himself is a “man with ideas,” in other words, an artist, a handsome man, and even the Count loves him, but contains in the greatest rigor and no one but him is allowed to use the services of Arcadia. The count is very bad “through his always malicious” and all animals immediately resembles. Lubov Onisimovna sings in the same theater in the choir, dances and knows all the roles in the tragic plays. Arkady and Lyubov Onisimovna love each other, but dating is absolutely impossible: the covenant of chastity, unalterable for actresses, can only be broken by the count himself.
At this time, the Count arranges a performance in honor of the sovereign passing through Orel. The actress, who must play “the Duchess de Bourblanc”, hurts her leg, and her role is given to Lyubov Onisimovna. And in addition kamarinovye earrings from the graph – a gift “flattering and disgusting” – the first sign of special honor to be erected in the “odalische” and delivered to the count’s half. Meanwhile, the “fateful and tempting affair” creeps up to Arkady. To the count comes from the village a brother, even more terrible and overgrown. He calls all the barbers and orders them to cut themselves like a brother, threatening to kill anyone who cuts it. But tsirulniki say that only Arkady can bring him into a good-looking appearance. To circumvent the rule of Count Kamensky, his brother calls for Arkashka to ostrich a poodle. Arkady, despite the threat of guns and being in the darkest mood because of the prepared Lubov Onisimovna, the Count’s brother tonsures. And Lyubov Onisimovna promises to take her away. During the performance, Kamensky is courteous, which foreshadows a thunderstorm, and after the performance, when Arkady comes to comb Lyubov Onisimovna’s head “in an innocent style, as in the pictures indicated by Saint Cecilia”, his six people wait at the door to take to “tortures” in...
Upon arrival, Lyubov Onisimovna was asked how long they had been alone. Arkady is tormented just under the “dead body” of Lyubov Onisimovna, who can not stand it and falls unconscious. And in itself comes to the calf yard, where she was sent on suspicion of madness under the supervision of the old woman Drosida. Drosida is often applied to the “terrible placon,” in which “poison for zamenoveniya, but Lyubov Onisimovna does not give it. She also reports that Arkadia the Count gives soldiers, but for the fact that he did not fear the pistol of his brother, supplies him with a letter that he served in regimental sergeants and that he was immediately sent to war. Love Onisimovna believes the story and three years every night in a dream sees how Arkady Ilyich is fighting.
To the theater, because of her illness, her legs are no longer returned, and she is made the same “pestyadnikoyu” as Drosida. One day a stone, wrapped in a piece of paper from Arkady falls into the window. He writes that he returned, received an officer’s rank and all the money that is, will carry to the count with a request for the purchase of Lyubov Onisimovna and in the hope of marrying her. Love prays to God all night, because he is afraid that, although Arkady is now an officer, the count will beat him again. And the next morning he learns that an innkeeper at night had robbed and stabbed an officer. As soon as Lyubov Onisimovna hears it, at once “the patch is out of the way.” The governor himself comes to the funeral and calls Arkady “a bolyar.” And Lyubov Onisimovna is addicted to the “plakonchik” for a long time, and already in the memory of the author is attached to him at night. The author admits,