Petersburg Day is slipping towards evening, and everyone who usually gathers at the card table, by this hour begin to bring themselves into the appropriate form. Two friends – Boris Pavlovich Raisky and Ivan Ivanovich Ayanov – are to meet again in the house of the Pakhotins, where the owner himself lives, Nikolai Vasilyevich, his two sisters, the old maidens Anna Vasilyevna and Nadezhda Vasilievna, as well as the young widow, the daughter of Pakhotin, the beauty Sofya Belovodova, which is the main interest in this house for Boris Pavlovich.
Ivan Ivanovich – a simple man, without embarrassment, he goes to Pakhotin only to throw himself in cards with inveterate players, old maidens. It’s another thing – Paradise; he needs to stir Sophia, his distant cousin, turning it from a cold marble statue into a lively, passionate woman.
Boris Pavlovich Raisky is obsessed with passions: he draws a little, writes a little, plays music, putting his strength and passion of the soul into all his activities. But this is not enough – Paradise needs to awaken passions and around to constantly feel himself in the boiling of life, at that point of contact with everything he calls Ayanov: “Life is a novel, and a novel is a life.” We get acquainted with him at a time when “Paradise for thirty years, and he has not sowed anything yet, has not shaken or walked on the same track as those coming from within Russia.”
He understood only one thing: the main thing for him is art; something that especially touches the soul, forcing it to flame with passionate fire. In this mood, Boris Pavlovich goes on vacation to the estate, which after the death of his parents is managed by a great-aunt Tatyana Markovna Berezhkova, an old maiden, whom in times immemorial her parents were not allowed to marry a chosen one, Tit Nikonovich Vatutin. He remained a bachelor and he, and goes all his life to Tatiana Markovna, never forgetting gifts for her and two female relatives, whom she brings up – the orphans of Verochka and Marfenka.
Malinovka, the estate of Paradise, a blessed place in which there is a place for everything that pleases the eye. Only here the terrible precipice with which the garden ends, frightens the inhabitants of the house: according to legend, at the bottom of it in the distant past, “he killed for his infidelity his wife and rival, and then himself was slaughtered, one jealous husband, a tailor from the city. crime scene. “
Tatyana Markovna came joyfully to her grandson who had come on vacation-she tried to introduce him into the course of the business, show the farm, to addict to him, but Boris Pavlovich remained indifferent to both the au pair and the necessary visits. His soul could only be touched by poetic impressions, and they were not associated with the city storm, Neil Andreevich, whom his grandmother certainly wanted to present, neither with the provincial coquette Polina Karpovna Krytska, nor with the bunch of old folks Milochkovs, as if Filemon and Bawkida lived their century inseparable…
The vacation was over, and Raysky returned to Petersburg. Here, at the university, he became friends with Leonty Kozlov, the son of a deacon, “clogged by poverty and shyness”. It is unclear what could have brought such different young people together: a young man who dreams of becoming a teacher somewhere in a distant Russian corner, and a rebellious poet, an artist obsessed with the passions of a romantic young man. However, they became really close to each other.
But the university life was over, Leonti went to the province, and Paradise can not find the real thing in life, continuing to amateurish. And his white-marble cousin Sophia all seems to Boris Pavlovich the most important goal in life: to awaken fire in her, to make him experience what a “thunderstorm of life” is, to write a novel about her, to paint her portrait… He spends all the evenings at Pakhotins, preaching Sofya truth life. On one of these evenings, Sophia’s father, Nikolai Vasilievich, brings Count Milari, “an excellent musician and the most gracious young man,” to the house.
After returning home that memorable evening, Boris Pavlovich can not find a place: he then peers at the portrait of Sophia that he started, then reread the essay he began once about a young woman in whom he managed to awaken the passion and bring it even to the “fall”-alas! , Natasha is no longer alive, and in the pages written by him, a genuine feeling has not been imprinted. “The episode, which turned into a memory, introduced itself as someone else’s event.”
Meanwhile summer came, Raysky received a letter from Tatyana Markovna, in which she called her grandson to the blessed Malinovka, and a letter came from Leonty Kozlov, who lived near the family estate of Paradise. “This destiny sends me…” – decided Boris Pavlovich, bored already awakening passions in Sofya Belovodova. In addition, there was a small embarrassment – Paradise decided to show his portrait of Sofia Ayanova, and he looked at the work of Boris Pavlovich, pronounced his sentence: “She is here as if drunk.” The portrait was not appreciated by the artist Semyon Semenovich Kirilov, she herself found that Paradise flattered her – she was not so…
The first person that Raisky meets at the estate is a young charming girl who does not notice him, busy with feeding poultry. The whole appearance of her breathes such freshness, purity, grace that Paradise understands – here, in Malinovka, is destined to find to him the beauty, in search of which he was languishing in cold Petersburg.
Glad to meet Paradise Tatiana Markovna, Marfenka, a servant. Only cousin Vera is staying behind the Volga with her friend-priest. Once again, my grandmother tries to entice Raisky with economic troubles, which still do not interest Boris Pavlovich at all – he is ready to give the estate to Vera and Marfenka, which causes Tatyana Markovna’s anger…
In Malinovka, despite the joyous troubles associated with the arrival of Paradise, everyday life goes on: servant Savely is called upon to give an account of the landlord who has arrived, Leonty Kozlov teaches children.
But here’s a surprise: Kozlov was married, but on whom! On Ulenka, a flirtatious daughter of the “economist of some state institution in Moscow,” where they held a table for incoming students. All of them were gradually in love with Ulenka, one Kozlov did not notice her cameo profile, but it was for him that she eventually left and went to the far corner of Russia, to the Volga. Different rumors go about her around the city, Ulenka warns Raisky about what he can hear, and in advance asks for nothing to believe – obviously in the hope that he, Boris Pavlovich, will not remain indifferent to her charms…
Returning home, Paradise finds a full guest house – Tit Nikonovich, Pauline Karpovna, all gathered to look at the mature master of the manor, grandmother’s pride. And many people sent congratulations on their arrival. And the usual rustic life with all its charms and joys rolled along the well-trodden track. Paradise gets acquainted with the surroundings, delves into the life of people close to him. The Yards find out their relationship, and Paradise becomes witness to Saveliy’s wild jealousy towards the unfaithful wife Marina, the trusted servant of the Faith. That’s where the true passions boil! ..
And Polina Karpovna Kritskaya? That’s who would willingly succumb to the preaching of Paradise, come to him in the head to attract this aging coquette! She literally climbs out of her skin to get his attention, and then carry around the town the news that Boris Pavlovich did not resist her. But Paradise jumped in horror at the lady who was mad on love.
Quietly, the days in Malinovka are quiet. Only Vera does not come back from her spouse; Boris Pavlovich does not lose time for nothing – he is trying to “form” Marfenka, finding out slowly her tastes and passions in literature, painting, so that she can begin to awaken real life in her. Sometimes he enters Kozlov’s house. And one day he meets with Mark Volokhov: “the fifteenth class, a police officer under the supervision of the police, an uncivil citizen of the city here,” as he himself recommended.
Mark seems like a Paradise man funny – he had already heard about him a lot of horrors from his grandmother, but now, having met, invites to his dinner. Their improvised dinner with an indispensable burning in the room of Boris Pavlovich awakens the fearsome fires of Tatiana Markovna, and she is horrified by the presence in the house of this man, asleep like a dog, without a pillow, curled up.
Mark Volokhov also considers it his duty to awaken people – only, unlike Paradise, not a concrete woman from the sleep of the soul to the thunder of life, and abstract people – to anxieties, dangers, reading forbidden books. He does not think to hide his simple and cynical philosophy, which almost all boils down to his personal use, and even in his own way is charming in such a childish openness. And Paradise is fond of Mark – his nebula, his riddle, but it is at this moment that the long-awaited Faith returns from beyond the Volga.
It turns out to be not at all what Boris Pavlovich expected to see, – closed, not going to frank confessions and conversations, with her small and big mysteries, riddles. Paradise understands how much it is necessary for him to unravel his cousin, to know her secret life, in the existence of which he does not doubt for a moment…
And gradually in the subtle Paradise Wild Saveliy awakens: as this courtyard is following his wife Marina, so Paradise “knew at every moment where she was, what she was doing.” In general, his abilities, focused on one, occupying his subject, were refined to an incredible subtlety, and now, in this silent observation of Vera, they have attained the degree of clairvoyance. “
In the meantime, grandmother Tatiana Markovna dreams of marrying Boris Pavlovich to the daughter of a tax-farmer so that he will forever settle in his native land. Paradise refused such an honor – so much around the mysterious, that which must be solved, and he will suddenly hit on his grandmother’s will in such prose! .. Moreover, the events around Boris Pavlovich, indeed, unfold a lot. A young man Vikentiev appears, and Paradise instantly sees the beginning of his novel with Marfenka, their mutual attraction. Vera still kills Paradise with her indifference, Mark Volokhov disappeared somewhere, and Boris Pavlovich goes to look for him. However, this time and Mark is not able to entertain Boris Pavlovich – he alludes to what he knows about the attitude of Raysky to the Faith, about her indifference and the fruitless attempts of the capital’s cousin to awaken a provincial living soul. Vera herself can not stand it at all: she resolutely asks Paradise not to spy on her everywhere, to leave her alone. The conversation ends with reconciliation: now, Paradise and Vera can calmly and seriously talk about books, about people, about understanding the life of each of them. But this is not enough for Raisky…
Tatyana Markovna Berezhkova still, at least in some ways, insisted on her, and one day the entire city society was called to Malinovka for a dinner in honor of Boris Pavlovich. But a decent acquaintance does not work out: a scandal breaks out in the house, Boris Pavlovich speaks openly to the venerable Neil Andreevich Tychkov all that thinks about him, and Tatyana Markovna unexpectedly comes to her grandson’s side: “I swelled with pride, and pride – a drunken vice, leads oblivion. “Sober up, rise and bow: before you stands Tatiana Markovna Berezhkova!” Tychkov was shamelessly banished from Malinovka, but Vera, who was subdued by the honesty of Paradise, kissed him for the first time. But nothing this kiss, alas, does not mean, and Paradise is going to return to Petersburg, to a habitual life, habitual environment.
True, Vera and Mark Volokhov do not believe in his early departure, and he himself can not leave, feeling around the movement of life, inaccessible to him. Moreover, Vera is again leaving for the Volga to her friend.
In her absence, Paradise tries to find out from Tatyana Markovna: what kind of person is Vera, in what exactly are the features of her character hidden. And learns that the grandmother considers herself unusually close with Vera, loves her with deep, respectful, compassionate love, seeing in her in some sense her own repetition. From her, Paradise also learns about a man who does not know “how to start, how to get involved” to Vera. This is the forester Ivan Ivanovich Tushin.
Not knowing how to get rid of thoughts about the Faith, Boris Pavlovich gives Kritsky to take her to her house, from there he goes to Kozlov, where he is met with open arms by Ulenka. And Paradise could not resist her charms…
On a stormy night, Vera is brought by Tushin on his horses-finally, Raysky has the opportunity to see the person Tatiana Markovna told him about. And again he is obsessed with jealousy and is going to Petersburg. And again he remains, unable to leave without having unraveled the secret of the Faith.
Paradise even succeeds in annoying Tatyana Markovna with constant thoughts and arguments that Vera is in love and grandmother is planning an experiment: a family reading of the edifying book about Kunigund, in love with the will of her parents and ending her days in the monastery. The effect turns out to be completely unexpected: Vera remains indifferent and almost falls asleep over the book, while Marfenka and Vikent’ev, thanks to the edifying novel, are explained in love under the nightingale singing. The next day, the mother of Vikentyev, Marya Yegorovna, arrives at Malinovka – official matchmaking and conspiracy takes place. Marfenka becomes a bride.
And Vera? .. Her chosen one is Mark Volokhov. It is to him that she goes on a date to a precipice where a jealous suicide is buried, this is what she dreams of calling her husband, first remaking her image and likeness. Faith and Mark divide too much: all concepts of morality, goodness, decency, but Vera hopes to persuade his chosen one to what is right in the “old truth.” Love and honor are not empty words for her. Their love is more like a duel between two convictions, two truths, but in this duel the characters of Mark and Faith are more and more clearly manifested.
He still does not know who was elected his cousin. He is still immersed in the riddle, still gloomily looks at the surrounding. And the rest of the town in the meantime is shocked by Ulenka’s flight from Kozlov and the teacher Monsieur Charles. Despair Leontius is boundless, Paradise together with Mark are trying to bring Kozlov to life.
Yes, passions are really seething around Boris Pavlovich! A letter from Ayanov has already been received from St. Petersburg, in which the old friend talks about Sophia’s novel with Count Milari-in a strict sense what happened between them-no novel, but the light regarded a certain “false step” of Belovodova as discrediting her, and so the relations of the house of the Pakhotins with the Count were completed.
A letter that could have hurt Raisky not so long ago does not produce a particularly strong impression on him: all thoughts, all feelings of Boris Pavlovich are completely occupied by Vera. Imperceptibly the evening comes on the eve of Marfenka’s engagement. Faith again goes to the precipice, and Paradise waits for her on the very edge, realizing – why, where and to whom his unhappy, passionate cousin went. The orange bouquet, ordered for Marfenka to her celebration, coinciding with her birthday, Paradise cruelly throws a window Vera, falling without feelings at the sight of this gift…
The next day, Vera falls ill-her horror lies in telling her grandmother about her fall, but she can not do it, especially since the house is full of guests, and Marfenka is escorted to the Vikentyevs. Having opened everything to Paradise, and then to Tushin, Vera briefly calms down – Boris Pavlovich tells at the request of Vera about what happened to Tatiana Markovna.
Tatiana Markovna trains her troubles day and night in her house, in the garden, in the fields around Malinovka, and no one can stop her: “God has visited, I do not walk myself.” His strength is-he must be carried to the end. pick me up… “- says Tatiana Markovna to her grandson. After many hours of vigil Tatiana Markovna comes to Vera, lying in fever.
Having come out of the Faith, Tatyana Markovna understands how it is necessary for both of them to relieve the soul: and then Vera hears the terrible confession of her grandmother about her long-standing sin. Once, in his youth, the unloved person who came up to her found Tatiana Markovna in the greenhouse with Tit Nikonovich and took her oath never to marry…