Short description “Lefty”

About the work

The story of “Lefty” Leskov was released in 1881. The work is dedicated to the genius Tula gunsmith, who was able to surpass the skill of English masters. But his talent was not appreciated at home, in the end, all forgotten, he died in the hospital. The title of the story “Lefty” defines the “fantastic” manner of the narrative. Of the 20 chapters of the story, only the final one is the author’s reflections. In all the rest is narrated on behalf of the storyteller, the craftsman.

Main characters

The left-handed Tula weapon master, along with his comrades, shackled an English mechanical flea.

Other characters

Platov is the ataman of the Don Cossacks, who served under Alexander Pavlovich, and then under Nikolai Pavlovich.

Alexander Pavlovich is a Russian emperor, who was given a flea as a flea during his trip to England.

Nikolai Pavlovich is a Russian emperor who ordered Tula

masters to perfect the English flea.

Tula masters are gunsmiths who managed to stuff a horseshoe with a microscopic clockwork flea, brought by Alexander Pavlovich from England.

English masters – gunsmiths and engineers who recognized the art of Tula. Persuaded the left-hander not to leave for Russia and introduced him to various technical innovations.

Martyn-Sokolsky is a doctor who tried to convey the last request of Lefty.

Chernyshev – Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Chapter 1

Russian Emperor Alexander Pavlovich after the Vienna Council, which summed up the war of 1812 with Napoleon, travels to Europe. Everywhere he was shown different curiosities, which the emperor admired. But Don Ataman Platov, who was with him on a trip, did not share the views of the tsar. He believed that the Russian masters are no worse than foreign masters. At the end of the tour the king comes to England.

Chapter 2

The English began to show their technical achievements to the Russian Tsar. Alexander was delighted with foreign science, and was fully convinced

that Russians are far away from foreigners. Platov did his best to belittle English masters, proving that the Russians had bypassed them all. Thus, the British showed the king a “pistol” of the delicate work of the “unknown, inimitable master.” The Emperor was sad that the Russians could not create such a miracle. And Platov opened the lock at the pistol and showed that it was made by “Ivan Moskvin in the town of Tula”. This discovery led the British into confusion, and they decided to create such a miracle of technology, against which Platov could not object.

Chapter 3

In the morning the Russian Tsar and Platov went to watch the sugar factory, and then they were brought to the “last cabinet of curiosities, where they collected from all around the world mineral stones and nymphosoria.” Here, Alexander showed a full-scale mechanical flea created by English masters. She could jump and dance. The delighted Emperor handed the British a million, and they gave him this miracle of technology. The tsar placed the flea in a case made of a diamond, dropped it into a snuffbox and departed to his homeland.

Chapter 4

Until the death of Alexander, there was a flea in a snuffbox. When he died, she was transferred to his wife Elizaveta Alekseevna, and from it she went to a new emperor, Nikolai Pavlovich. At first the tsar did not take an interest in the flea, but then he began to think about why she had kept her brother Alexander for so many years.

No one could solve this riddle until the old Don Ataman Platov arrived at the palace. He gave Nicholas a “melkoscope”, taken once from the British masters, and the king saw the steel flea jumping. But, unlike Alexander, the new king before the foreigners did not bow. He instructed Platov to go to the Russian masters, so they tried to create something more amazing than the English flea.

Chapter 5

Fulfilling the will of the sovereign, he rode Platov to Tula, which was famous for its weapons masters. The gunmen undertook to execute the order, but they asked the Don Ataman to leave the flea for a few days. How many Platov did not try, they did not tell him what they came up with. Having achieved nothing, the ataman went to the Don, leaving an amazing flea to the Tula masters.

Chapter 6

When Platov left, the three most skilled gunsmiths, among whom was the “oblique left-hander.” On the cheek, the spot is born, and on the temples, the hair is torn out at the temples, “they set off from the city. People began to wonder where they went. Many thought that the masters did not come up with anything, and to avoid punishment, they decided to hide, taking with them the royal snuffbox.

Chapter 7

The masters went to the city of Mtsensk, Orel province, to ask for advice from the icon of Nicholas the Wonderworker. Praying, they returned to their own village and locked themselves in Lefty’s house. The neighbors were very curious what the masters do. Under various pretexts, they tried to entice the three armourers from home. But, not a single attempt was successful. The masters did not open it to anyone and did not talk to anyone, working day and night.

Chapter 8

Having finished negotiations on the Don, Platov hurried back to Tula. He himself did not go to the masters, but sent many couriers for them.

Chapter 9

At this time the masters finished their work. How many couriers did not knock at them, they did not let them into the house. Then, to get to the stubborn gunsmiths, the couriers took the roof off the house. After that, Lefty and his comrades went out of the hut and reported that they had finished their work and could go to Platov.

Chapter 10

The gunsmiths gave the ataman to the steel flea in the snuffbox. He began to ask them where their work was. But, they, offended at the insults, said that only the Tsar could see her. An angry Platov threw Lefty into his wagon and took him to Petersburg with him. Upon his arrival, he went to Nicholas Pavlovich, and left the master with his hands tied down.

Chapter 11

Platov hoped to talk about the Cossacks to distract the tsar from the flea. But he did not succeed. Nikolai remembered the assignment, and ordered the work of the Tula masters to be brought. Platov said that the Tula people did not create anything new, but returned the English flea. The Tsar could not believe in deception and decided to see for himself the words of the ataman.

Chapter 12

When they brought a flea and brought it with a key, it turned out that the “nymphosoria” stopped jumping. Platov was furious. He decided that the gunsmiths broke the mechanism. The ataman went to the stairs, where Lefty left, and began to beat him, calling him a deceiver. The left-hander claimed that the work was done, but you can only see it in the “melkoscope”.

Chapter 13

They brought Lefty to the Tsar, and showed him what the work of the gunsmiths was. It turns out that they managed to stuff the English flea into the legs of the horseshoe. The Emperor was surprised and delighted that his Russian masters had succeeded in surpassing the English.

Chapter 14

Nicholas decided to send the master to England, so he showed his subtle work to foreign masters. Dressed him better and sent abroad with a special courier.

Chapter 15

Left courier left-hander in the hotel. And he took the flea to the masters. They learned the master who managed to shoe a flea, and came to the master to the hotel. For three days they drank it and fed it, and then they started asking about education. It turned out that the master had studied “according to the Psalter and the Half-Moon”, but did not know arithmetic at all.

Chapter 16

The British sent the courier home, and Lefty began to drive around the factories and persuade them to stay with them. But, Lefty missed his native Tula and asked that he be released back. They planted the English masters of the gunsmith on a ship and sent them to Russia, giving money for the journey and presenting a gold watch for memory.

Chapter 17

On the ship Levsha seemed bored, and he made a bet with the half-sipper that he would drink it. They drank to the very end of the voyage, causing both to fall ill, but no one won.

Chapter 18

In Russia, the half-captain was brought to the British Embassy, ​​where he was given excellent conditions. And Lefty, who was weak, unable to even talk, was taken to the quarter. There they robbed him and decided to send him to a hospital for treatment. Since the armourer did not have a “tugamenta” with him, he was not accepted in any hospital. By morning it became clear that Lefty would not live long, and he was taken to die in the Obukhvin hospital for the common people.

Chapter 19

Polshkiper was very worried about his friend. Miraculously, he found Lefty in the hospital and made sure that doctors were sent to him. The dying master asks Martyn-Sokolsky to tell the emperor that “the English do not clean their guns with bricks.” The doctor is trying to convey the words of Lefty to Chernyshov, but nobody listens to him, and the purge continues until the outbreak of the war.

Chapter 20

At the end of the story, the author reflects on talents like Levshe. In the machine age, they almost disappeared from the Russian land, but the memory of them lives forever.


In the story “Lefty” Nikolai Leskov, an unrivaled master of small literary forms, shows how many talents in the Russian people have not developed in full force due to the conditions of life. A brief retelling of the “Lefty” by chapters can not reveal the full power of the writer’s artistic talent. Therefore, we recommend that you get acquainted with the full version of the story.

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Short description “Lefty”