The captain of artillery and his wife Alice, a former actress, live in a fortress on the island. Autumn. They are sitting in the living room, located in the fortress tower, and talking about the forthcoming silver wedding. The captain believes that it must be noted, while Alice would prefer to hide from their eyes the family hell. The captain conciliatory notes that in their lives there were also good minutes and they should not be forgotten, because life is short, and then – the end of everything: “Only it will remain, what to take out on the wheelbarrow and manure the garden!” – “So much fuss over the garden!” – Answered Alice sarcastically. The spouses are bored; not knowing what to do, they sit down to play cards. This evening everyone gathered
The maid reports that Kurt came. The captain and Alice are happy about his arrival. Talking about themselves, they try to soften the colors, to pretend that they live happily, but can not long pretend and soon begin to scold. Kurt feels that the walls of their house seem to exude a poison and hatred has thickened so that it is difficult to breathe. The captain leaves to check the posts. Left with Kurt alone, Alice complains about his life, a tyrant husband who can not get along with anyone; even their servants are not detained, and for the most part Alice has to deal with the economy herself. The captain sets up the children against Alice, so now the children live separately, in the city. Inviting Kurt to stay for dinner, Alice was sure that there was food in the house, but it turned out that there was not even a crust of bread. The captain returns. He immediately guessed that Alice had time to complain about him to Kurt. Suddenly, the Captain is unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he soon fainted again. Kurt tries to call a doctor. Having woken up, the Captain discusses with Alice, whether all married couples are as unhappy as they are. Having rummaged in memory, they can not remember any happy family. Seeing that Kurt does not return. The captain decides that he turned away from them, and immediately begins to talk about him disgusting.
Soon comes Kurt, who found out from the doctor that Captain had a heart sclerosis and he must protect himself, otherwise he might die. The captain is laid to sleep, and Kurt remains at his bedside. Alice is very grateful to Kurt for wanting both of them well. When Alice leaves. The captain asks Kurt to take care of his children if he dies. The captain does not believe in hell. Kurt is surprised: the Captain lives in the heat. The captain protests: this is just a metaphor. Kurt replies: “You depicted your hell with such certainty that there can be no talk about metaphors – neither poetic, nor about anything else!” The captain does not want to die. He talks about religion and in the end he is consoled by the thought of the immortality of the soul. The captain falls asleep. In a conversation with Alice, Kurt accuses the Captain of arrogance, for he reasons by the principle: “I exist, therefore, God is.” Alice tells Kurt that the Captain had a hard life, he had to start working early to help the family. Alice says that in her youth she admired the Captain and at the same time was terrified of him. Again talking about the flaws of the Captain, she can not stop. Kurt reminds her that they were going to talk about the Captain only good. “After his death,” answers Alice. When the Captain wakes up, Kurt persuades him to write a will so that after his death Alice will not be left without a livelihood, but the Captain does not agree. The Colonel, at the request of Alice, gives the Captain a vacation, but the Captain does not want to admit that he is ill and does not want to go on vacation. He goes to the battery. Kurt tells Alice that the Captain, when it seemed to him that life was leaving him, began to cling to Kurt’s life, began to question his affairs, as if he wanted to get into it and live his life. Alice warns Kurt that he never in any way let the Captain to his family, did not introduce his children, or the Captain would take them away and put them away from him. She tells Kurt what the Captain arranged so that Kurt divorced children from divorce, and now regularly scolds Kurt for allegedly abandoning his children. Kurt is astonished: for at night, thinking that he is dying, the Captain asked him to take care of his children. Kurt promised and is not going to take out his offense on children. Alice believes that keeping the word and there is a better way to take revenge on the Captain, who hates nobility most of all. otherwise the Captain will take them away from him. She tells Kurt what the Captain arranged so that Kurt divorced children from divorce, and now regularly scolds Kurt for allegedly abandoning his children. Kurt is amazed: for at night, thinking that he is dying, the Captain asked him to take care of his children. Kurt promised and is not going to take out his offense on children. Alice believes that keeping the word and there is a better way to take revenge on the Captain, who hates nobility most of all. otherwise the Captain will take them away from him. She tells Kurt what the Captain arranged so that Kurt divorced children from divorce, and now regularly scolds Kurt for allegedly abandoning his children. Kurt is amazed: for at night, thinking that he is dying, the Captain asked him to take care of his children. Kurt promised and is not going to take out his offense on children. Alice believes that keeping the word and there is a better way to take revenge on the Captain, who hates nobility most of all.
Having visited the city. The captain returns to the fortress and says that the doctor did not find anything serious in him and said that he would live another twenty years, if he watches himself. In addition, he reports that Kurt’s son was assigned to the fortress and will soon arrive on the island. Kurt does not like this news, but Captain does not care about his opinion. And again: The captain filed an application to the city court for divorce, because he intends to associate his life with another woman. In response, Alice says that she can blame the Captain for attempting her life: once he pushed her into the sea. This was seen by their daughter Judith, but since she is always on her father’s side, she will not testify against him. Alice feels powerless. Kurt pours his compassion for her. He is ready to start a fight with the Captain. Kurt came to the island, not concealing malice in his soul, he forgave the Captain all his former sins, even that the Captain had separated him from the children, but now, when the Captain wants to take his son away from him, Kurt decides to destroy the Captain. Alice offers him his help: she knows something about the dark affairs of the Captain and the bayonet-junker who committed embezzlement. Alice rejoices, anticipating the victory. She remembers how in his youth Kurt was not indifferent to her, and tries to seduce him. Kurt rushes to her, squeezes her in his arms and bites his teeth in her neck so that she screams.
Alice is happy that she found six witnesses ready to testify against the Captain. Kurt becomes sorry for him, but Alice scolds Kurt for cowardice. Kurt seems as if he was in hell. The captain wants to talk with Kurt face to face. He admits that the doctor actually told him that he would not last long. All that he says about the divorce and the appointment of Kurt’s son in the fortress, is also untrue, and he asks Kurt for forgiveness. Kurt asks why the Captain pushed Alice into the sea. The captain himself does not know: Alice stood on the pier, and suddenly it seemed quite natural to push her down. Her revenge also seems to him quite natural: since the Captain peeked death in his eyes, he had found a cynical humility. He asks Kurt who, in his opinion, is right: he or Alice. Kurt does not recognize any of them right and sympathizes with both of them. They shake hands. Alice enters. She asks the Captain how his new wife feels, and says, kissing Kurt, that her lover feels fine. The captain reveals his saber and rushes to Alice, cutting right and left, but his blows fall on the furniture. Alice is calling for help, but Kurt does not move his place. Cursing them both, he leaves. Alice calls Kurt a scoundrel and a hypocrite. The captain tells her that his words that he will live another twenty years and everything else that he said when he came from the city is also untrue. Alice is desperate: she did everything to put the Captain in jail, and they are about to come. If she could save him from prison, she would faithfully take care of him, fall in love with him. The telegraph machine is knocking: everything turned out. Alice and the Captain are happy: they have already tormented each other enough, now they will live peacefully. The captain knows that Alice was trying to ruin him, but he crossed it and is ready to move on. She and Alice decide to celebrate their silver wedding fluently. Kurt’s son Allan sits in the ornate drawing room of his father’s house and solves problems. Judith, the daughter of the Captain and Alice, calls him to play tennis, but the young man refuses, Allan is obviously in love with Judith, and she flirts with him and tries to torment him.
Alice suspects that the Captain has conceived something, but she can not understand what. Once she forgot herself when she saw the rescuer in Kurt, but then she came to her senses and believes that it is possible to forget “something that never was.” She is afraid of her husband’s revenge. Kurt assures her that the Captain is an inoffensive penny, always showing his disposition. Kurt has nothing to fear – after all, he copes well with his duties as the chief of quarantine and otherwise behaves as expected. But Alice says that in vain he believes in justice. Kurt has a secret – he is going to run to the Riksdag. Alice suspects that the Captain has learned about this and wants to run for himself.
Alice talks with Allan. She tells the young man that he is in vain jealous of the Lieutenant: Judith is not at all in love with him. She wants to marry the old colonel. Alice asks her daughter not to torment the young man, but Judith does not understand why Allan is suffering: she does not suffer. The captain returns from the city. He has two orders on his chest: one he received when he retired, the second – when he used Kurt’s knowledge and wrote articles on quarantine posts in Portuguese ports. The captain announces that the soda factory went bankrupt. He himself managed to sell his shares on time, and for Kurt it means complete ruin: he loses both the house and the furniture. He now can not afford to leave Allan in artillery, and the Captain advises him to transfer his son to Norrland, to the infantry, and promises his help. The captain holds out Alice’s letter, which she carried to the post office: he checks all her correspondence and stops all her attempts to “destroy family ties.” Learning that Allan is leaving, Judith is upset, she suddenly realizes what suffering is, and realizes that she loves Allan. The captain was appointed a quarantine inspector. Since the money for Allan’s departure was collected on subscription lists, Kurt’s failure in the Riksdag elections is inevitable. Kurt’s house goes to the Captain. Thus, the Captain took everything from Kurt. “But this man-eater left my soul untouched,” says Kurt Alice. The captain receives a telegram from the colonel, for whom Judith wanted to marry. The girl called the colonel and uttered insolence, so the colonel breaks off relations with the Captain. The captain thinks that the case was not without the intervention of Alice, and reveals the saber, but falls, overtaken by an apoplectic blow. He begs Alice not to be angry with him, but Kurt – take care of his children. Alice is happy that the Captain is dying. Judith thinks only of Allan and does not pay attention to the dying father. Kurt’s sorry for him. In the moment of death, only the Lieutenant appears next to the Captain. He says that before the death the Captain said: “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Alice and Kurt argue that, no matter what. The captain was a good and noble man. Alice understands that she not only hated, but also loved this man.