The young male narrator, who “cast fate for six months in the remote village of Perebrod, Volyn province, on the outskirts of Polissya,” unbearably misses, and his only entertainment was hunting with the servant Yarmola and trying to teach the latter literacy. One day, during a terrible blizzard, the hero learns from the usually inconsiderate Yarmola that about ten versts from his house the real witch Manuilikha lives, who knows where from whence she appeared in the village, and then was evicted beyond its limits for her sorcerous deeds. The opportunity to get acquainted with it appears quickly: as soon as it became warmer, the hero with Yarmoloy goes hunting and, straying in the woods, stumbles upon the hut. Assuming that a local forester lives here, he walks inside and discovers
All the first spring days of the hero’s thought did not leave the image of Olesya. And, as soon as the forest paths dried, he went to the witch’s hut. As for the first time, the granddaughter met the guest more affably than Manuilikha. And when the guest asked Olesya to give him credit, she confessed that she had already spread cards on him, and most importantly, that she had guessed him – that this year “you fall in love with a lady with dark hair”. And those “who will love you, you will bring much grief”. Another card told Oles that the hero of this lady’s club will bring shame, one that is worse than death… When Olesya went to accompany the guest, she tried to prove to him that she and her grandmother had the real gift of witchcraft, and had several experiments on him. Then the hero tries to find out where Manuilich came from
From that day on, the hero became a frequent visitor in the hut. Olesya was always glad to see him, although she met with restraint. But the old woman was not particularly pleased, but Ivan managed to coax her with gifts, Olesya’s intercession also played a role.
Ivan was fascinated not only by the beauty of Olesya. He was also attracted by her original mind. A lot of disputes between them flared up when Ivan tried to scientifically prove Olesino’s “black art”. And, despite disagreements, deep affection arose between them. Meanwhile, the character deteriorated relationship with Yarmola, who initially did not approve of the desire to get acquainted with the witch. He does not like the fact that both witches are afraid of the church.
Once, when Ivan once again appeared in the hut, he found the sorceress and her granddaughter in frustrated feelings: the local sergeant ordered them to get out of the hut at twenty-four hours and threatened to let them through the stages in case of disobedience. The hero is called to help, and the old woman does not refuse the offer, despite Olesino’s displeasure. Ivan tries to persuade the sergeant not to expel women from the house, to which he objects with the words that they are “the plague of these places.” But, cajoling him with treats and expensive gifts, Ivan achieves his. The officer Yevpseyh Afrikanovich promises to leave Manuilikha and Olesya alone in peace.
But now the relationship between Olesya and Ivan has changed for the worse from now on, and Olesya carefully avoids any explanations. Then Ivan suddenly and seriously ill – six days of his “beat terrible Polesie fever.” And only after recovery he manages to find out the relationship with Olesya. She honestly confessed that she avoided meeting with Ivan just because she wanted to get away from fate. But, realizing that it was impossible, confessed to him in love. Ivan reciprocated her. But Olesya could not forget about her fortune telling. But all the same, their love, despite Ivan’s misgivings and the malice of Manuilikha, developed.
Meanwhile, Ivan’s duties in Perembroda were over, and more and more often came to him the idea of marrying Oles, taking her with him. Convincing himself of the correctness of this decision, he makes a proposal to his beloved. But Olesya refuses, motivating refusal by that does not want to spoil the life to the young, educated master. In the end, she even offers Ivan just to go after him, without any marriage. Ivan has a suspicion that her refusal is connected with the fear of the church, to which Olesya says that for the sake of love for him, she is ready to overcome this superstition. She appointed him a meeting in the church the next day, on the feast of the Holy Trinity, and Ivan was seized with a terrible foreboding.
The next day, the hero did not manage to get to the church in time, delayed on official business, and when he returned, he found a local clerk who told him about today’s “fun” – village girls were caught in the square by a witch who was asked to shake, they wanted to smear tar, but she managed to escape. Indeed, Olesya came to church, defended the mass, after which she was attacked by village women. Miraculously escaped, Olesya threatened them that they would still remember her and pay a lot of attention. But Ivan could find out all this details later. In the meantime, he rushed to the forest, and found in the hut beaten Olesya without memory, ridden by a fever, and cursing him Manuilich. When Olesya came to herself, she told Ivan that they can not stay here any more, so they need to say goodbye. At parting Olesya admitted that she was sorry,
That night a terrible hail fell upon Perebrod. And in the morning Yarmola, awakening Ivan, advised him to get out of the village – hail, which struck a half of the village, according to the village, was sent by sorceresses out of vengeance. And the embittered people began already about Ivan “screaming unkind.” Wanting to warn Olesya about the impending disaster, the hero rushes into the hut, where he finds only traces of a hurried flight and bright red beads, which were the only thing to remember Oles and her gentle, generous love…