On a rainy summer night in 1912, on one of the docks of the Amur, the steamer leaves a young man alone. This is the German Otto Meisner, master of philosophy, a pet at the University of Konigsberg. The vague feeling that he once was here is stored in his soul. It seems to him that he is the counterpart of another Otto Meissner, who already existed a long time ago or will exist in future times. Otto Meissner touches in his pocket a letter of recommendation to the local buyer of opium Korean Tian from Khabarovsk merchant Opoilov. With the merchant had a long and great business grandfather Otto, Friedrich Meisner. In the precept that the grandfather made up before traveling for the grandson, there are many points. The purpose of visiting the Far East is to study the production of opium and the possibilities of monopolistic coverage of trade in this product,
Like Charon, an old man appears in the boat by the pier. He also asks Otto Meisner how to find the merchant Tian. The escort
leads a master to the village above the high bank. In the house of merchant Otto hears female crying and lamentations. After reading the letter, the merchant leaves the guest in the room assigned to him. Going to bed, Otto mentally wants his grandfather good night. After the morning toilet, Otto prepares coffee on the spirit lamp, the smell of which spreads throughout the house. The owner comes, tells about his misfortune: he is seriously ill and is at the death of his youngest daughter. But Tiang assures the guest that he will do everything for him, as Opoelov wrote in his letter. The Korean leaves, but after a while comes back and asks for a cup of coffee. It turns out that a dying eighteen-year-old girl wants to try something that smells amazing. Otto brews a new coffee pot and carries it to the girl.
The patient recovers. And the merchant Tiang now fully pays attention to the guest, teaching him the cunning secrets of poppy cultivation.
One night, Otto listens to the nightingale singing for a long time and sees his explanation with Olga in a dream. Above the waters of the Styx, on the high bridge, under
which the deafening cough of the unreceived Charon is heard, they meet, and Olga says that now and forever belongs to him, Otto, and offers to run together from the parental home. And no longer in a dream, but in reality they soon discuss a plan for escape. Olga leaves home – supposedly to visit her relatives, in another village she sits on the steamer. Towards the arrival of this steamer, Otto bids farewell to the owner and sets sail – along with Olga. After the first kiss, Olga goes to the window of the cabin to see her home for the last time. And he sees the elder sister, who has come to the glass. Sister rushes into the water and yells: “You will come back to me, Olga! You’ll see!”
On the second day, the fugitives descend from the steamer and marry in the church of a large village. On a high bank, under an apple tree, on a camp bed, Otto puts his wife to bed. And he himself looks into the sky, talking with one of the stars – with his future grandson.
In Chita, where Otto brings his wife, he lives at the confidant of his grandfather, the owner of the fur farms of the Reader. This time is the best in the life of young spouses. By Christmas, it turns out that Olga is carrying one more life. Otto does not conceal anything in his letters to his grandfather and receives backing congratulations in return. Grandfather reminds: in addition to personal happiness, a person should not forget about his higher mission, his duties and recommends his grandson to continue his journey to study the asbestos deposits of Tuva and the Baikal crafts of omul. In Irkutsk Olga is born a first-born. This event forces Otto to postpone all matters for a long time, and only by the end of August they leave for Tuva. Nothing so reveals the powerful connection of people through love, as a minute of mortal danger. In the winter, when Meisner is traveling in the steppe on a sleigh with a charioteer, they are attacked by wolves. Olga bends under a huge sheepskin coat over the child, Khakas wildly tears the reins, Otto shoots from the wolves. Losing one predator after another, the pack slowly lags behind.
And now the new driver is sitting in a wagon, and it is harnessed by three big wolves, which the Master of Philosophy killed in the battle, and they gain height above the earth, staring in amazement at the heavenly world passing by. This is how the narrator of this story presents his grandfather and grandmother, one of the many fiery reddish grandchildren – red hair and Korean features – rewarded their descendants Otto and Olga.
The war finds Meissner in the Volga town. Traveling in the depths of Russia, the German raises suspicions, and Otto decides to go to the police to explain himself to the authorities and hand over the revolver. Seeing him off, Olga feels how the second child moved under the heart. On the way Meissner meets a huge crowd of demonstrators, and only by a miracle the “Teuton”, as menacingly shout to him from the crowd, avoids blind massacre. Otto leaves the city, to the eastern side of the horizon, and shoots at the edge of a distant rye field, having experienced nothing at this moment, except for guilt over his wife and minor physical pain. The owner of the house where Meissner lived, goes to the front, his childless wife Nadya remains with her, with whom Olga survives the war, the revolution and the Volga famine. In the twenty-fifth year, Olga and her children returned to the Far East to their sister,
The narrator of this story, the grandson of Otto Meissner and Olga, after the betrayal of his wife leaves Moscow, settles in the Volga Tatar village and works at a local school. At night he listens to nightingale concerts, as if echoing from the past, mentally talking with his grandfather Otto Meissner that everything in this world has a cause and its special significance. And this knowledge, which was revealed in their conversations, can be conveyed even to the unborn by their golden-headed grandchildren – “for that reason, the euphonious human letters are running, thundering through the transparent earthly time.”