The events described in the play develop in the village, which is jointly owned by Chestin and Eugenia. In the past, they loved each other, but, at the request of his father, whose will Evgenie did not dare disobey, she had to go under the crown with a rich old man. Chestin, who had no idea of life without Eugenia, went to the front, but the bullets passed him by.
Meanwhile, their separation did not last long. The rich old man, who was jealous of Eugenia, died and left her a fair inheritance, which included half of the village. The second half was owned by an elderly landowner, Chestin’s mother. She gave the peasants land and eradicated drunkenness. Her peasants worked hard, but they lived soundly. She did not leave the estate, and her lonely life was brightened up by an orphan Matvei, whom she picked up in infancy, raised and nurtured. Before her death, she instructed her son to take care of him.
And here, for the first time after the war, Chestin comes to
the estate. Among other things, he hopes to meet and his long-standing love – Eugene.
Events begin to develop with the conversation of the elder Vlas with his wife Isava. Vlas does not get out of the head of the profits of their neighbor Paramon. Each winter, their rich neighbor goes to Petersburg, and has already traded his own capital. He has a son – a foolish fool Aksen. The last circumstance does not excite Vlas, he seeks to be related to the rich Paramon, giving his daughter Anyuta for his son.
Paramon agrees, he likes a beautiful, intelligent and hard-working girl, and where else will you find a bride, such a fool? Vlas and Paramon hit on the hands and, having discussed the future wedding, go to the pub. But Chestin’s servant appears on their way – Ignat Khvatov, a cheerful and defeated fellow. As he himself speaks of himself, the master without him is nowhere. He also accept, he and give, he and dress, he and behind him and before him. In conversation with the headman, Khvatov listed so many of his duties – he and valet, and a confidant and the like, that the naive elder’s
wife gasped: how many names spilled – the gulf! If there are so many names among the slaves, how many do they have with the master? And how do you all remember?
The boisterous Khvatov moved the measured village life. He checks the readiness of the barracks, available supplies, giving short, military-laconic commands.
From the forest comes the daughter of the elder Anyuta. In connection with the arrival of the master she was sent to collect a bowl of strawberries. Near the house she meets a pupil of the old lady Matvei.
Matvei lives like a fodder, does not plow land, but does not sit idle either. He planted a garden in the wasteland, he grew fruit trees and berry bushes in it, spread flowers. He is always ready to help anyone who asks for it. He helps the elder – then shear the sheep, then put the tuna. However, he has, and his interest – Matvei has long been looking at Anyuta. He loves her, too, but she does not show her love – her older friends told her that there is a belief that if he reveals his feelings to a guy, then his love will be lost.
Anyuta and Matvey have a long conversation. They began with tenderness, had time to quarrel and quarrel, then reconciled and explained themselves in love. It ended in timid, almost childish kisses.
The delighted Matvey rushes to the headman. Knowing his frankness and truthfulness, he takes it with a wary eye, but when he finds out that he asks for his blessing for marriage, he smiles: it’s time, it’s high time, and without the elder in this business is impossible. He promises not only to support Matvey, but also to act as a matchmaker and asks who is the bride? Matvei kneels: “Bless Anyuta, father!”. Hearing this, Vlas and Paramon raise him to laugh. Matvey swears he will not allow Anyuta’s wedding with the fool Aksen.
Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Khvatov jumped on a person who was noticeably different from other village girls. Those are not interested in him, he is sure that none of them will be able to resist him. But this one – it’s completely different. Approaching, he recognizes Evgenia’s servant Anisya, her old love. She reprimands him for his disappearance in the past. He is justified, the master, they say, completely lost his head from love, he could do anything with himself, he could not be left.
They reconciled and discuss the current situation – will each other meet Evgenie and memory Chestin in love with her? Appear and gentlemen. A conversation begins, filled at first with embarrassments and sharp reproaches. But feelings are still hot, and love flares up again.
Chestin is confused by the fact that Eugene now has a huge fortune. Will not evil tongues say that he is concerned about the money question?
Mocked Matvei grieves, sitting in the clearing. Nothing is nice to him, there was hope and disappeared. Quarreling on the move, Aksen and Khvatov approach. Barin decided to make presents to all village women of fashion, and Khvatov bought for him from Paramon lace, ribbons, copper rings and bugles. In total it turned out almost for eleven rubles to the goods, but released him, until there was a father, Aksen, who can not think otherwise, like Altyns. He accepted the imperial (a gold ten-ruble note), with which Khvatov paid him, for a coin worth one ruble. Khvatov’s eloquence was not enough to convince a stubborn fool and he turned to help Matvey, but the upset Matvey sent him “to hell.” Khvatov directed his fists, but Chestin and Evgenia appeared and warned the fight. It is interesting to them that a peasant who talks so calmly can not count at all. Matvei has nowhere to go, he continues to insist that he was not taught this. Eugene with a laugh orders him to substitute his hat and poured into it all the silver from his purse, suggesting that Cestina do the same. “You’ll find it’s yours,” she says. Matvey disingenuous, – “Yes, and so do I believe you, such a mistress can not deceive.” As a reward for his wit, Eugene gives him silver. Out of himself with happiness, Matvei runs to the elder – now he certainly will not stand, there’s as much money! As a reward for his wit, Eugene gives him silver. Out of himself with happiness, Matvei runs to the elder – now he certainly will not stand, there’s as much money! As a reward for his wit, Eugene gives him silver. Out of himself with happiness, Matvei runs to the elder – now he certainly will not stand, there’s as much money!
Vlas and Paramon meanwhile wring Anyuta. The girl cries from grief, having learned that her husband was intended fool Aksena. Dodgy Vlas bribes Khvatov, so that he would slander Matvey. Khvatov, without feeling embarrassed, considers the money, and as if between deeds, cleverly inserts that Matvei begged the master for permission to marry, and he, having made sure of his love, resolved. Anyuta is delighted, but Vlas, as if accidentally, asks Khvatova, because of whom the mare was bowing to the master. He calls Viculu’s daughter Malanya. Anyuta is enraged: Matvei deceived her! The girlfriend’s right is that you can not talk about love. She told me – and there is no!
Anyuta runs to the street where he meets Matvey. After a long conversation, Anyuta realized that they had slandered him, and they reconciled. They boldly go to the elder, to whom Matvey gives all the money. But how did the poor man get so much silver? The old men think that Matvey robbed Paramon’s shop, because he promised to teach the rich a lesson. They knit him, and drag him to the master.
Everything turns out in the final scene. Eugenia confirmed that she had given money to Matvei, and the latter really rushed to his feet to the master. Chestin agrees to his wedding with Anyuta, and Khvatov, not wanting to lag behind the master, announces his marriage to Anissya. He appeals to the audience: “At the same time, the master, the servant and the mare are coming under the crown,” guess who is the happier? “.