The book is opened with a short copyright notice that after the death of Joaquin Monegro in his papers were found notes, something like “Confessions”, addressed to the daughter of the deceased. Some of these notes illustrate the story told by the author.
Abel Sanchez and Joaquin Monegro grew up together from infancy, from the time when the wet nurse was walking with them. Since childhood, Joaquin has shown a more volitional character than his friend; but he, conceding, always knew how to put on his own. Therefore, for Joaquin, the glory of a sharp and unpleasant person became stronger, and behind Abel – the sweet and glorious. Joaquin chose his field of medicine, and Abel decided to devote himself to painting. Passionately in love with his cousin Elena, Joaquin suffers greatly: the girl does not reciprocate in his love, but does not reject it, playing with the feelings of a young man. When Joaquin introduces Abel to Elena, the artist, shocked by the beauty of the girl, decides to paint her portrait. Work on it ends with their engagement, and then with a wedding, the portrait is destined to become that first picture, after which the attention of the public will always accompany Abel. Joaquin greatly experiences the success of his friend: the sufferings of a lover are compounded by the belief that he was born an outcast, who can not be loved, and also a suspicion that Abel was moved not so much by love for Elena, as by a desire to humiliate Joaquin. The
Joaquin decides to get married, although he does not believe in his ability to love anyone, nor because he can evoke a reciprocal feeling. He connects his fate with Antonia, the embodiment of tenderness and compassion, which, feeling in Joaquin’s secret pain, fell in love with him. After the wedding, Joaquin continues to work as an obsessive – he dreams that his fame doctor eclipsed the fame of Abel, the artist, who is growing. The whole life of Joaquin is subject to the painful, exhausting rivalry of his soul with Abel, in whose contempt he is firmly convinced, and the fight against hatred for his former friend, to which all his powers go. The blow for Joaquin is the news that Elena is waiting for the child: and here he feels Abel’s superiority, because they have no children with Antony. The boy is called Avelin, in honor of his father. And soon and Antonia is born a child – the daughter of Joaquinite, to which the father is extraordinarily attached. His love for his daughter stems not only from the natural parental feelings, but also from the hope that the child will help his spiritual renewal, help him get rid of his unkind thoughts about Abel Sanchez.
In the meantime, Abel, already an illustrious artist, paints a picture of “Abel and Cain”, inspired by Cain of Byron. Joaquin is inclined to see in this canvas a reflection of their complex relationships and their sufferings, which the artist does not suspect. At a banquet dedicated to the new painting by Abel Sanchez, Joaquin, a beautiful speaker, speaks with a heartfelt speech, praising the artist’s new work. This speech is so brilliant, so profound that everyone forgets about the picture and speaks only about Joaquin’s speech. This deeply offends Elena, who sees envy and a desire to eclipse her husband in the doctor’s behavior, although Abel himself does not share this point of view.
Joaquin, in the depths of his soul, regrets that he did not go further – he did not say about the deliberate and false art of Abel, his coldness and imitation. After this incident, yielding to the requests of his wife, the doctor begins to go to confession, where he has not been for many years. Abel writes to the Virgin Mary with the baby – the exact portrait of Elena and her son. The picture was a success, many reproductions were made from her, before one of which Joaquin often prays.
Learning about Abel’s affair with the model, Joaquin strengthens even more in the thought that Abel married Elena not for love, but only in order to humiliate a friend; The past feeling for Elena flares up in Joaquin’s soul with renewed vigor. Having chosen a time when Abel is not at home, he goes to Elena and confesses to her in his passion, in that before her image, kneeling, she prays to the Theotokos. Encountering the coldness of a woman, Joaquin does not stop to tell her about her husband’s connection to the model, but in vain – Elena is inexorable, and does not show any feelings, except contempt, to Joaquin.
From now on, all the thoughts and powers of the doctor are focused on the adored daughter, on her upbringing and teaching. Meanwhile, the son of Abel went to the medical unit, and when he completed his education, the father asked Joaquin to take the young man as an assistant. He agrees, deep in his heart hoping that Avelin will prove mediocre and his defeat in the scientific field will more than repay Joaquin for the exorbitant glory of his father. However, Avelin appears to be very capable, and unexpectedly, they with Joaquin imbue each other with warm sympathy. The young man persuades the teacher to write a book where he could summarize all his knowledge, but since Joaquin can not leave practice, they decide that the book – according to Joaquin’s notes – will write to Avelyn. From the young man the doctor learns that he also considers his father to be a cold and rational man; he complains that his father never paid him any attention.
Between the young man and Joaquin, there are such warm, trusting relationships that a doctor is born the idea of giving his daughter for an assistant. However, this idea encounters an unexpected obstacle: Joaquina decided to devote herself to God and go to the monastery. From an intimate conversation with his daughter, the father learns that such a decision is dictated by the desire to heal the father of his miserable suffering, the origins of which the girl does not have the slightest idea, but who is keenly aware. As a loving daughter, Joaquina concedes to the pleas of her father and agrees to cancel her decision to go to the monastery and be supportive of Avelin’s courtship. Soon the engagement of young people took place. After the wedding, they live in the house of Joaquin, where it immediately becomes warmer and more comfortable. Elena often visits children, trying to change her way of life and her way of life, to bring in it secular elegance and elegance. Antonia, with her usual humility, usually agrees with all Elena’s proposals; the example of the mother follows and Joaquin, but her mother-in-law constantly senses her hidden discontent, and the relationship between the two women is quite tense. Joaquin, the very naturalness and simplicity, can not overcome the hostile attitude towards Elena’s committed secularity; besides, she knows that once this woman rejected the love of her father, causing him a lot of suffering. It can not overcome the hostile attitude towards Elena’s committed secularity; besides, she knows that once this woman rejected the love of her father, causing him a lot of suffering. It can not overcome the hostile attitude towards Elena’s committed secularity; besides, she knows that once this woman rejected the love of her father, causing him a lot of suffering.
When the firstborn is born in young people, after a hesitation they call him Joaquin. The child grows healthy and beautiful, and although everyone spoils him, he involuntarily reaches out to Abel: he likes his stories, his drawings, his colors. All this awakens in the soul of Joaquin the elder the former hatred of Abel, which he believed he had long ago managed to get rid of. And then he decides to talk frankly with Abel, begging not to deprive him of his grandson’s love. The conversation takes a sharp character, men shower each other with reproaches, recalling old grievances and knowing each other’s sore spots perfectly. At some point, unable to stand it, Joaquin grabs Abel by the throat, but immediately unclasps his fingers – Abel starts wheezing and emits a spirit.
Joaquin experiences Abel for a year. And all this time he is tormented by the thought that he was the cause of the death of a former friend, he was in the role of Cain, who killed Abel. Some mysterious, incomprehensible disease puts him in bed. Feeling the approach of death, Joaquin evokes a wife, children and Elena. When everyone gathers at his bed, he confesses that he considers himself guilty of the death of Abel, who died almost in his arms, at the moment when Joaquin grabbed him by the throat. The dying man tells what a nightmare his whole life was, and asks forgiveness from his relatives, first of all Antonia, who considers her main victim. Lamented by the assembled and most devoted to Antonia, Joaquin departs to a different world.