Summer noon. Two young philosophers, Nikanor Zubar and Koronat Khmara, having studied for ten years in the Seminary of Poltava and “having exhausted all the fount of wisdom in that temple,” make their way home through the dense forest. The storm makes them seek refuge, and they go out on a tent whose owners turn out to be their fathers.
Noble gentry Ivan Zubar and Ivan Khmara are inseparable friends since adolescence, and so the surrounding people call them Ivan the eldest and Ivan the Younger. The way of the two Ivanovs lies in Mirgorod, but the meeting with the sons changes their plans, and they all return to their native Gorbyli.
On his way home Ivan Jr. tells Nikanor and Koronat about the motivating reason for their today’s trip to Mirgorod – this is a litigation, so persistent and irreconcilable as nobody remembers in this region. And it all began with a pair of rabbits, which about ten years ago gave the younger brother Nikanor. Rabbits quickly bred and began to visit the garden of Khariton Zanozy, located next door. One fine day, when both Ivan and his families were resting under blossoming trees, gunshots rang out. After that Pan Zanoza appeared with half a dozen dead rabbits, threatening with court and extermination of all the remaining damned animals. He not only spoke defiantly, but also dared not take off the cap, than finally angering Ivan the elder, a military man. The latter tried to remove the cap from Khariton with a stake kicked from the fence, but he did it so awkwardly that he touched his neighbor on the ear, why he flew to the grass. From this case, and began a ten-year lawsuit, during which on both sides was much destroyed and burned.
The next day, both friendly families go to the fair, where the nose to the nose face Pan Khariton, with all his home and many guests, among whom the scribe’s clerk, Anuria, is different. Exchanging insults, the enemies pass to more weighty arguments: after the spitting of Ivan the eldest, who had crept into Khariton’s forehead, Zanoza’s stick followed, “like a lightning bolt” that fell on the enemy’s head. The clerk was clamped down by the scribe Anuria, who called upon Khariton not to shed human blood, but to “pozyvatsya”, in which he offered his services as the originator of the petition to the hundred chancery.
Young philosophers were not carried away by the passion of their fathers to endless confessions, their hearts are captivated by the charming daughters of Khariton Zanoza. And Lydia and Raisa do not remain indifferent to polite manners and pleasant appearance of Poltava dandies. And while the two Ivan and Khariton are once again called in Mirgorod, their children begin to meet secretly and soon realize that they can not live without each other.
Ten days passed unnoticed in daily meetings on the Bashtan. Fathers come from Mirgorod with the decision of the Chancellery, and the meetings of young lovers are temporarily suspended. The case on the mutual complaints of the two Ivanovs and Khariton was decided in favor of the latter. And although he, like Ivana, spent a lot of money on this trip, the idea that Zanoza has gained the upper hand, robs the hearts of his opponents. “Stand by, Khariton,” Ivan the elder exclaims with fervor, “You will repent of your victory and repent soon!”
Young noblemen, realizing that the presence of Khariton Zanozy in Gorbyli makes dates with their amiable impossible, decide to contribute to his next trip to the city. Driving past the Haritone dovecote, Nikanor inspires his father to shoot pigeons in revenge for those dirty tricks that Khariton caused. The execution of poor creatures ends with the fire of a pigeon. But Ivans for a short time rejoice – in retaliation for his dovecot Hariton burned the apiary of Ivan the elder.
Again, the enemies rush to Mirgorod with mutual complaints.
While parents are called in the hundredth chancery, their children, secretly married, spend a whole month in ecstasy and raptures of love. But they can not hide their love indefinitely, and Nikanor swears by all means to reconcile the parents.
Friends begin to act. They send a letter to Pan Zanoza on behalf of his wife Anfisa, in which it is reported that his house in Gorbyli has been burned, and his family, burnt during the fire, are forced to move to the farm.
After receiving the letter, Khariton hurries to the farm and, not finding anyone there, travels to Gorbyli. At home, after leading a terrible turmoil and frightening his family to death, Pan Zanoz finds out that the letter he received is forged. Of course, this is a new invention of the insidious Panov Ivanov, who wanted to remove him from the city, so that in his absence it is more convenient to act in his favor!
The next day in the house of Khariton is Pan Anuria with a letter from the chancellery about the last call. The decision of the chancellery in favor of Ivan the elder, according to whom Zanoza should pay the ruble to his offender, leads Khariton to indescribable rage. After hurling Pan Anuria, Khariton announces... his decision – he is going to Poltava in the regimental office to pretend to be a stupid-sotnik and his idlers!
But the regimental chancellery decides not in favor of Khariton, moreover, it awards the farmer Zanozy to give the beaten scribe for eternal and hereditary use. Now the path of Zanoza lies in Baturin, in the military chancery, to be called with new enemies.
The case of Khariton with the regimental and hundreds of chancellery ends with Anfisa and her children being expelled from Gorbylov’s house, which is handed over to the centurion and members of the Chancellery, and Khariton himself is imprisoned for six weeks in a Baturin prison for “violent temper.”
Assistance to the unfortunate family of Pan splinter comes from an unexpected side: Ivan’s eldest uncle Artamon Zubar, a rich and respectable elder, offers Anfize and children to live “up to the time” in his house. He himself condemns the fatal passion of his nephews to “disastrous litigation.” One hope for your beloved grandchildren, Nicanor and the Coronate, who must reconcile the warring.
Meanwhile, in the house Artamon unexpectedly for the owners come Ivans with all their household members. According to the decision of the military chancellery for “riot, frenzy, ignition” their movable and immovable estate is attributed to a hundred-year-old estate. Only now, both Ivan have learned all the justice of Artamon’s judgments about the accursed urge. Help and protection, they ask from their “magnanimous uncle.”
Artamon is ready to help his nephews, but he sets before them two indispensable conditions: the first – never again to be no one else; the second – consider the daughters of the Kharitonovs, who became the wives of their eldest sons, along with their daughters, and their mother as a kind and worthy mother of the family, and if Khariton expresses a desire to reconcile with them, take him into his arms as a brother. Both Ivan and “unspeakable pleasure” agree with the conditions of their good-natured uncle. But who will tame the indomitable temper of the matchmaker Ivanov, Pan Hariton? What is happening to him now?
And Pan Khariton is in the Baturin prison. And chew him stale bread, washed down with water, if not for his two neighbors – young Zaporozhians Dubonos and Nechos, who brotherly share with him their breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Khariton is attached to generous young men by fatherly love, and when they complete the sentence, they offer him to go to Zaporizhzhya Sich, he gladly agrees – after all, only shame awaits him at home.
Under the influence of young people in the character of Khariton beneficent changes take place. Recalling his past life, he feels deep remorse. Pana Zanozu is worried about the fate of his family, but he does not dare to come to them. “What I will offer them, when I myself exist from the gifts of friendship and generosity.”
Seeing the torments of Khariton, Dubonos and Necos make him an unexpected proposal: they ask Zanoza to introduce them to their daughters. Perhaps they will like each other, and then, having made one family, Khariton will regain lost calmness.
So, it was decided: in the Sich the Cossacks with Khariton go through Gorbyli to get full information about the whereabouts of the family of Zanoza. In Gorbyli it turns out that Artamon bought the estates of Zanoza, Zubar and Khmara and became their sole proprietor. Artamon meets Khariton and proposes, while they search for his family, to live on a farm which until recently to him, Khariton, belonged.
A few days later, Artamon brings Anfisa with his children to the farm, and the shocked Khariton learns that his wife and children have been staying at the Artamonovo farm, from the uncle of his sworn enemies, since the day of his expulsion from the farmhouse. Artamon takes Khariton with a promise to reconcile frankly with his neighbors Ivan, and then he leaves to see his nephews.
From the penetrating gaze of Pan Khariton, it did not disappear that Raisa and Lydia at first sight captivated the hearts of the Cossacks, and therefore, when the young men ask him to keep his promise, he joyfully blesses the young couples.
Two days fly by like a happy minute. On the third to Khariton, both Ivan come to the farm and, finishing the final reconciliation, offer Pano Zanoze to marry children. The splinter is touched, but his daughters already have suitors. Parting, the panellists of Ivana promise that they will participate in the wedding festival.
Finally comes the all-desirable day. Many visitors come to Khariton, among them – Artamon and his two nephews with their families. Everybody is waiting for the brides to leave. And then there are Kharitonov daughters, holding hands on a lovely baby. Kind Artamon reveals to the shocked Khariton the truth: his daughter has been married for a long time, and their husbands are sons of Ivanov, Nikanor and Coronath, they are the beloved Cossacks. The happy Khariton blesses the children and presses his grandchildren to his chest.
For several days the festivities in the estates of the Khariton, Ivan the eldest and Ivan the Younger are continuing. And from now on only peace, friendship and love will reign in their homes.