In the estate of Raisa Pavlovna Gurmyzhskaya, “a very wealthy landowner,” Bulanov, “a young man who did not finish school in a gymnasium”, pestered Aksyusha’s pupil. Aksyusha leaves, and lackey Karp hints to Bulanov: do not he pay attention to the lady herself.
At this time, Gurmyzhskaya herself appears and, along with her, “rich neighbors-landlords”: the retired cavalryman Bodayev and Milonov. The hostess says that she wants to do “three good things at once” – to give Aksyusha for Bulanov and take care of the deceased husband’s nephew; she had not seen him for fifteen years, and he was her only relative and legal heir. He sends her small gifts from all over Russia, but where he is, what is with him – is unknown.
In the forest there are Peter and Aksyusha. They love each other, but Peter’s father does not want to hear about his daughter-in-law without a dowry. They are going away. Appears from different sides of Happy and Unhappy, two familiar actors: a comedian and a tragedian. They meet accidentally on the way one of Vologda to Kerch, the other from Kerch to Vologda. And now they inform each other that there is no company in Kerch, or in Vologda, there is no place to play. Both go on foot, without money. In the knapsack of Gennady Demyanovich Neschastlivtsev “a pair of good dress,” “a folding hat,” and something else and a broken gun. At Arcady Schastlivtsev all property – a knot on a stick and the “lightest” coat, and in a knot “library”, “plays thirty”, and sham orders. “And did you get all this?” (in the sense of sneaking, pulled). “And for sin, I do not think: they are holding up their wages.” They dream about their own troupe: “Now if we find a dramatic, young, good actress, a woman rushes into the pool with her head from love – that’s an actress. Yes, that I saw it myself, otherwise I will not believe it. I’ll pull it out of the pool, then I’ll believe. , go. ” “Where?” – Asked Arkady. And reads the inscription: “In the estate of” Penka “Mrs. Gurmyzhskaya.” They “slowly leave”.
In the morning in the garden of the estate Gurmyzhskaya, flirting with Bulanov, tells him a dream, as if her nephew “came and killed you from a gun in front of my eyes.” She is concerned: “… And suddenly he will appear!” He will also have to give him some part! “And I will have to take away from the one I love.” They decide better and do not talk about their nephew. Karp enters and reports: the samovar is ready, and at night “the master has arrived.” And with the words “Now do not believe in dreams,” Gurmyzhskaya and Bulanov are going to have tea.