Events unfold in France eighteen years after the end of the First World War. Gaston, a man who fought against Germany and lost his memory at the end of the war, along with Master Yuspar, the attorney representing his interests, and the Duchess DuPont-Dufon, lady-patroness of the hospice for the mentally ill, where Gaston spent the last eighteen years, come to a rich provincial home, belonging to the masters of Reno – the supposed family of Gaston. Several families, whose members were missing during the war, claim to be related to Gaston. Many of them are probably attracted by his disability pension, which all these years he had no right to dispose of and which now amounts to two hundred and fifty thousand francs.
The meeting with the other four families at Gaston was to take place even earlier, but the duchess decided to give priority to the family of Renault, taking into account her social position and well-being. Gaston had already seen more than one family in the orphanage
to meet with him, but none of them had awakened memories in him.
The head waiter warns the guests about the appearance of Reno, and they for a while send Gaston to take a walk in the garden. In the living room includes the alleged mother of Gaston, or rather Jacques’ mother – that was the name of her missing son; his brother, Georges, and his wife Georges, Valentine. After mutual greetings, Mrs. Reno expresses her indignation over the fact that earlier with the former managing shelter, face-to-face bets with patients were arranged. Then they saw Gaston in just a few seconds. Mrs. Reno and her sister-in-law stopped after that meeting at the hotel, hoping to see Gaston at least once more. Valentine even settled in the shelter of a seamstress to be closer to him.
Gaston enters. As before, he does not recognize anyone. Meanwhile, the servants are crowding around and talking animatedly about the newcomer. Almost all of them think that they will recognize in Gaston their former master, Jacques, the younger son of Mrs. Reno, but none of them express any excitement about this, because everyone except
Juliette’s maid did not see anything good from him in the past and were glad to hear of his death.
Mistress Reno and George lead Gaston into Jacques’ room, furnished with ridiculous furniture, made according to the drawings of Jacques himself. Gaston considers an unusual structure made of wood, it seems to be curved by a storm. Mrs. Reno tells Gaston that as a child he could not stand music, and furiously squeezed violins with heels. A music stand for notes is the only thing left from that time. He considers his picture at the age of twelve. He always believed that he was a blond, shy child, but Mrs. Reno assures me that he was a dark brown-haired man, he drove football all day and crushed everything in his path. Soon Gaston becomes known and other circumstances of the life of Jacques,
He learns that in his childhood he liked to shoot with a slingshot and destroyed all valuable birds in his mother’s enclosure, and once he broke a paw with a stone. Another time he caught a mouse, tied a thread to her tail and dragged it along for a whole day. A little later he killed a lot of unhappy little animals: squirrels, weasels, ferrets, and from the most beautiful ordered to make stuffed. Gaston is at a loss. He wondered whether he had a friend in his childhood with whom he never parted, exchanged thoughts? It turns out that he really had a friend, but during a fight with Jacques he fell down the stairs, broke his spine and was forever paralyzed. After this incident, friends stopped talking. Gaston asks to show him the place of the fight. He feels that his alleged relatives are clearly not telling anything. Gaston learns that during the fight there was a maid Juliette. He asks her to come and in detail asks the girl about the circumstances of the accident. Juliette excitedly tells Gaston that before Jacques was called to war, she was his mistress. His friend also tried to look after her; When Jacques found him kissing Juliette, he fought with him, when he fell, Jacques dragged him by the feet to the edge of the stairs and pushed him down.
Jacques enters George’s room, and Juliette has to retire. Georges reassures Gaston, assuring that it was only an accident, childishness. He, himself without knowing much and not believing rumors, believes that this was a fight, the reason of which was the rivalry of sports clubs. From Georges Gaston learns that Jacques is guilty of other crimes. At one time he was fascinated by a longtime friend of the family, an elderly lady, and lured her five hundred thousand francs, allegedly as an intermediary of some big company. I signed a false promissory note to her, and when everything was open, Jacques had only a few thousand francs left. The rest he let down in some dens. The family had to pay a huge sum. After all these stories, Gaston truly admires the joy with which Reno is preparing to take back to the bosom of the family his son and brother,
However, it turns out that the list of his “exploits” is not over yet. In addition to everything else, he also seduced Georges’s wife, Valentina. They can not continue the conversation because of the appearance of Mrs. Reno. She announces the arrival of numerous relatives who wish to greet the returning Jacques. Gaston is not thrilled with the procedure that is due to him.
He asks Mrs. Reno whether there were any joys in the life of Jacques that did not concern the school, at least in that short time when he had already said goodbye to the textbooks, but had not yet taken the rifle in hand. It turns out that at that time, almost a year, the mate “did not talk to him, because before that he insulted her and did not ask for forgiveness.” Even at the front, Jacques left without saying good-bye to his mother, for neither of them wanted to take the first step towards him Gaston, in a fit of outrage at the fact that her mother let her son go to war, does not even say good-bye, repeating Jacques’s words at the age of seventeen when his mother did not allow him to marry a seamstress, he says that he hates her and does not want he was called Jacques.
After the departure of Jacques’s mother and his brother Valentina appears in the room. She reminds him of their former love and insists on restoring their previous relationship. Gaston never twice wants to become a traitor to his own brother, he is not at all sure that he is Jacques and what will remain in this house. Then Valentine points out to him an irrefutable proof: Jacques under the shovel “has a small scar that the doctors did not notice.” This trace left Valentine herself with a hat pin, when she decided that he was cheating on her. When she leaves, Gaston discovers this scar and sobs bitterly.
The next morning in the house of Reno are the remaining four families, claiming a kinship with Gaston. Among them is a boy who came from England with his lawyer, Maitre Pickwick. The boy, wandering around the house, accidentally enters the room of Gaston, He tells him that it is the supposed uncle Gaston that all his relatives and friends sank together with the ship “Neptunia” when he was still a baby. After talking with the boy’s lawyer, Gaston informs the duchess that he is the boy’s wanted nephew and forever leaves Reno’s home, as he does not want to start a new life with the baggage of old sins and constantly be surrounded by countless relatives who, remind them.