Trade and business life is boiling in all the streets and alleys of China Town, when on a bright September morning Andrei Dmitriyevich Paltusov, who returned to Moscow recently, a thirty-five-year-old nobleman of a notable and peculiar appearance, visits the bank on Ilyinka and meets his old friend Evgraf Petrovich there. After talking about how Russian people are still behind the Germans in financial affairs, Andrei Dmitrievich transfers a fair amount of money to his current account, and then goes to a bar in Varvarka where he already has breakfast with construction contractor Sergei Stepanovich Kalakutskiy. It turns out that Paltusov is burning with the desire to get rich by setting out for the hospitality of the Titam Titychs, and thus becoming one of the “pioneer” gentry
Anna Serafimovna, a twenty-seven-year-old wife of the elder co-owner, appears, and, presenting her promissory note to her husband, issued to him by one of his mistresses, demands that Viktor Mironovich, having received compensation, completely disregarded his deeds. He is forced to agree, and Anna Serafimovna, after chatting with Paltusov for a few minutes and glancing at the light and sympathetic to her, is sent on business visits, first to a trusted friend-banker Bezrukavkin, then to Aunt Martha Nikolaevna. Becoming from this morning sovereign sovereign of a huge, though frustrated firm, Stanitsyna needs support and receives it. Especially gloriously she feels herself in the circle of “youth”, gathering in the aunt’s house, where the emancipated daughter of Marfa Nikolaevna Lyubasha and their distant relative Senya Rubtsov are singled out,
A month later, on a rainy October morning, the reader finds himself in a luxurious mansion built by the most fashionable architect of the mansion of commissar Eulampia Grigorievich Netov. It is a kind of museum of Moscow-Byzantine rococo, where everything breathes richness and, despite the merchant’s origin of the owners, with an elegant, aristocratic style. One misfortune: Evlampi Grigorievich has long been living “at odds with” his wife Maria Orestovna and is afraid of her panicky. And today, waiting for another “emergency conversation” with the wayward companion of life, Netov slips out of the house early in the morning and goes on a visit. Having received useful instructions from his uncle – “the manufacturing king” Alexei Timofeevich Vzlomtsev, he goes to another of his relatives – Kapiton Feofilaktovich Krasnoperom, famous among businessmen for their rude arrogance and demonstrative Slavophilism. Netovu is extremely uncomfortable to have any business with the “hubby” Krasnoperevym, but there is no way out: we need to coordinate the interests of all potential heirs of the dying patriarch of the Moscow merchant class – Konstantin Glebovich Leschov. To Leschov, therefore, and the last one this morning was Evlampy Grigorievich’s visit. But even here the ill luck: having learned that neither the Burglars nor the Netov, fearing scandalous consequences, do not want to become his executors, Leschov turns Evlampia Grigorievich, scolds his wife, with a lawyer, over and over again rewrites his will, establishing in one of the points a special school, which will have to bear his name. A timid, repeatedly humiliated for several hours Evlampi Grigoryevich hurry home, to meet with the adored, but despising his wife. And learns that Maria Orestovna, it turns out, has already firmly decided for the winter, for a year, and maybe for good, to leave him alone, having gone abroad alone. Moreover, she demands that the husband at last translates some of his fortune into her name. To the depths of my soul shaken by these news, Netov does not even dare to be jealous when he sees Paltusov, who is on a visit to Maria Orestovna. They recently began to see each other quite often, although the motives for their rapprochement are different: Netov is obviously driven by a heartfelt inclination, and Paltusov is just a hunting passion, since Maria Maria Orestovna’s feminine charms do not bother him and, as he himself admits, there is no respect in him either to “noble bourgeoisie”, nor to any of the new Moscow bourgeois. Nevertheless, he readily accepts the duties of attorney in the affairs of Maria Orestovna. Netov, in turn, confidently informs Paltusov that he intends to put his wife to fifty thousand annual maintenance and, obviously trying on a fast loneliness, starts a talk about what he also supposedly has bothered to spend all his life “on the potholes” and it’s time to take his destiny in their own hands. Waking up suddenly courage causes usually embarrassed Evlampiya Grigorievich very successfully perform at the funeral of Leschov. This success of Maria Orestovna is told by her brother Nikolai Orestovich Ledshchikov, who has been working in the diplomatic field without much brilliance, and this slightly brings her and her husband together. In addition, Madame Netova understands that, after parting with Evlampi Grigorievich, she will immediately receive a “worthless” brother in the parasites. Her resolve is shaken, and besides, the doctor who comes to the call suddenly hints to Maria Orestovna that she may soon become a mother. Netov, learning about this, goes mad with joy, and Maria Orestovna… “Not the desired birth of a healthy child presented itself to her, and his own death…”
Two months later, on Christmas week, the action is transferred to a one-story house on Spiridonovka, where, under the leadership of Katerina Petrovna, eighty, the vast noble family of the Dolgushins lives in poverty. At the daughter of Katerina Petrovna were taken away after a dissolute youth of a leg; the son-in-law, having resigned as a general, has squandered, starting up in more and more new scams, not only his own means, but also his mother-in-law; grandchildren Peter and Nick did not ask… One hope for the twenty-two-year-old granddaughter Tashi, dreaming of a theatrical stage, but, unfortunately, has no money, even to study. With the humiliation of lending seven hundred rubles from his brother Niki, once again plucking a good jackpot in the cards, Tasia asked for advice and support first from a longtime friend of the house of Ivan Alekseevich Pirozhkov, and then from his distant relative Andrey Dmitrievich Paltusov. They are anxiously looking at the theatrical future of Tasi, but they understand that in another way a young woman without a dowry, perhaps, does not escape from the family “mortuary”. Therefore, Pirozhkov, in order for the girl to compose herself an idea of acting life, takes her to the theater club, and Paltusov promises to introduce the actress Grusheva, from whom Tasia could later take lessons.
Paltusov himself continues to travel around the “circles” of post-reform Moscow, with particular sadness visiting the “catacombs”, as he calls the old-fashioned Povarskaya, Prechistenka, Sivtsev Vrazhek, where the ruined and degenerate noble live out their time. Having met with the forty-year-old Princess Kuratova, he ardently proves to her that the nobility has already left the historical scene and the future belongs to businessmen whose fathers baptized their forehead with two fingers, but whose children are in Paris with crown princes, they start villas, museums, and art people.
Feeling like a “pioneer” in the world of capital, Paltusov eagerly meets with a variety of people – for example, the elderly landowner and a fan of Schopenhauer Kulomzov, who, almost alone in the nobility, preserved his fortune, but also thanks to usury. Especially nice and nice Andrew Dmitriyevich “Epicurean” Pirozhkov. On January, 12th, in Tatyana’s day, they together go on a celebration to university, have dinner in “Hermitage”, have supper in “Strelna”, and finish evening on Grachevka, famous for its brothels.
After deciding that Paltusov would at least one day fulfill the promise to reduce it to the actress Grusheva, Tasia Dolgushina comes to the furnished rooms of Madame Guzho, where Pirozhkov lives, and addresses him with the same request. Ivan Alekseevich and I would be happy to be an ex-boy, but he does not want, as he says, to take sin on his soul, introducing a noble girl into a society that does not fit her. Angry Tasia independently learns the address of Grusheva and is to her without any recommendations. Wishing to test the future student, Grusheva tells her to play the scene from “Jokers” A. Ostrovsky before the artist Rogachev and the playwright Smetankin. The spark of God in Tasse seems to have been discovered, and the girl is left to listen to the new comedy that Smetankin composed. Tasia is happy.
And Pirozhkov at this time trying to help already Madame Guzhau – the homeowner “from the merchants” Gordei Paramonovich decided to set this esteemed French woman away from the post of the manager of the furnished rooms, and sell the house. From the troubles of Ivan Alekseevich nothing good comes out, then he appeals for support to Paltusov, who recently moved from his furnished rooms to his own apartment near Chistye Prudy. Halibut is happy to serve a friend. In addition, the case of Madame Guzhot confirms once again his theory that the “Vakhlaq” merchant for everything in Moscow is laying his paw, and therefore, “our brother” – a nobleman and an intellectual must finally take up his mind not to be eaten. Having resorted in negotiations with Gordey Paramonovich to the mediation of Kalakutskiy, Andrei Dmitrievich soon realizes that his “principal” he was dulled in financial speculation and that from now on it is more profitable for him not to serve in Kalakutskiy’s “agents”, but to open his own business. Having taken this decision, Paltusov goes to the benefit theater in the Maly Theater, where, meeting with Anna Serafimovna Stanitsyna, comes to the conclusion that she is much more decent, more intelligent and “more generous” than the outlawed Maria Orestovna Netova, who finally went abroad. Entering into the intermission with Anna Serafimovna in a conversation, Andrei Dmitriyevich is convinced that he is not indifferent to her. Among other things, the conversation goes on about the fate of the Dolgushin family. It turns out that Tasin’s paralyzed mother has died, the father-general has entered the warders of the tobacco factory, and Tasia herself, barely distracted from the dangerous actress Grusheva for a decent girl, is in dire need of earnings. Touched by this news,
The next evening, Stanitsyna and Paltusov, as if inadvertently, meet again – already at a symphony concert in the hall of the Noble Assembly. Andrei Dmitrievich does not mind even closer to the charming merchant, but he is stopped by the rumor of people. Perhaps, I suppose, he was sitting near a straw widow-“millionaire”, whereas in fact he does not need “women’s money”; he, Paltusov, and he will punch his way. Aggravated scruples and delicacy prevent Anna Serafimovna and Andrei Dmitrievich from explaining in mutual cordial sympathy. They part ways, agreeing, however, to see the ball at the merchants Rogozhins. In the meantime, having learned that Kalakutskiy was finally ruined, Paltusov went to visit him. It is driven not only by a friendly feeling, but, to admit, it is also the hope to intercept the former “principal” the most profitable contracts. These plans can not come true, because in the house near Kalakutskiy he finds a percussion: Sergei Stepanovich has just shot himself. Halibut and saddened, and excited by the dream, secretly using the money entrusted to him by Maria Orestovna, to take possession of the highly profitable house of her deceased employer. This dream is so unrelenting that, having met at the Rogozhin ball with Stanitsyna, Paltusov hardly sees it. Now the head of Countess Daller is turning his head, and the idea that he is about to temporarily become a full-fledged member of the “family” of Moscow’s most cash people is about to turn. Anna Serafimovna, of course, having gathered herself with desperate courage, invites Andrei Dmitrievich to his carriage and… rushes with kisses to his neck, but soon, however, hesitating, thinks about it. Lovers parted:
The action of the fifth book of the novel begins with the emancipated daughter of Stanitsa’s aunt Lubasha. Noticing that her “brother”, in fact, the far-distant relative, Senya Rubtsov “breathes unevenly” in relation to Tas, who plays the role of the bird at Anna Serafimovna, the young “Darwinian of the merchants” understands that she herself is in love. “Youth”, flirting and diving, spends whole days in the house of Stanitsyna. But Anna Serafimovna is not up to them. Having learned that the dismissed husband once again issued false bills on which, so that there was no shame, she would have to pay, she decides to divorce Viktor Mironovich, freeing himself for a fraudulent and, it seems, such a possible marriage with Paltusov. And things require attention to themselves. Having hired sensible Senya to be its director, Sta – nitsyna along with him, with Lyubashyu and Tasei going to his own factory, where, according to the German-manager, a strike seems to be brewing. The visitors inspect the spinning shops, the “barracks”, where workers, factory schools live and are convinced that the strike “does not smell”, since the matter in Anna Serafimovna’s possessions is not bad at all. But things are quite bad in Netov’s house. Maria Orestovna returned from a foreign voyage dying, afflicted by Antonovo fire, but Evlampi Grigorevich does not feel any more for her than the former love, nor the former fear. However, Netova does not see any changes in her husband, whose consciousness is clearly darkened, because he, as they say in their environment, has long suffered from progressive paralysis. Grieved by the fact that Paltusov did not like it as it should, she wants to impress the chosen one with her generosity, making him either his executor, or, what the devil does not joke, heir. Maria Orestovna sends for him, but Andrei Dmitrievich can not be found, and, with vexation without leaving a will, Maria Orestovna dies.
All legacy by law passes, therefore, to her husband and her “insignificant” Ledenshchikov. And then finally comes Paltusov. It turns out that he was ill, but entered the inheritance Ledenschikov, not wanting to enter into any circumstances, requires that Andrei Dmitrievich immediately return the five hundred thousand, the management of which entrusted him the late Maria Orestovna. Paltusov, who secretly ordered a fair amount of this sum at his own discretion, was struck at the heart: for “everything was so well calculated for him.” He flies for a loan to Osetrov – and receives a decisive refusal from a man whom he considers his ideal; going for help to Stanitsyna – and stops herself, for it is unbearable for him to be indebted to a woman; fantasizes about that, as for the sake of money, he will strangle the old-percenter and Schopenhauerian Kulomzov-and immediately becomes ashamed; thinks of suicide – and does not find the strength to do it… All this ends, as expected, first by signing on his own recognizance, and then by the arrest of Paltusov, who fell into the trap.
Having learned about this from the confused and not knowing what to do, Tashi, Anna Serafimovna immediately orders the crew to be dispatched and goes to the convict’s, where the third day is already held by Andrei Dmitrievich. She is ready to pay the bail, get all that is required, the amount, but Paltusov nobly refuses, because he decided to “suffer.” He, according to lawyer Pakhomov, “looks at himself as a hero,” all of whose actions in competition with the merchant’s mosque are not only permissible, but also morally justified. Pirozhkov, visiting Dmitri Dmitriyevich in prison, is not entirely sure of his correctness, but Paltusov is insistent: “… I’m a child of my age” – and a century, they say, requires a “broad view of the conscience”.
The investigation into the embezzlement case continues, and Stanitsyna with the “youth” celebrate Easter in the Kremlin. They are all worried: Anna Serafimovna – the fate of Andrei Dmitrievich, Tasia – his unsuccessful theatrical career, Lyubasha because “the noblewoman repulsed her whom she had predestined as her husband.” On the break in the house Stanitsyna unexpectedly is Viktor Mironovich – he, having “jumped” abroad on some intangibles, himself offers Anna Serafimovna a divorce, and she, with one memory of the languishing in prisoner Paltusov, becomes “so much fun that even the spirit captured “Freedom, when was it more necessary than not now?”. A happy ending awaits and Tashu: during the visit to the Tretyakov Gallery Senya Rubtsov offers her his hand and heart. Everything is quietly arranged for everyone’s pleasure, and already walking along Prechistensky Boulevard Ivan Alekseyevich Pirozhkov sees a carriage in which Andrey Dmitrievich, released by her efforts to freedom, is sitting side by side with Anna Serafimovna. It’s time to go to the “Moscow” inn, where, as in other innumerable restaurants of the capital city, the “owners” of the top businessmen taking in the country are gathering at the feast of the winners and the musical car is deafeningly cracking the victorious chorus: “Be glorified, glory, Holy Russia! “