Rodion Potapych Zykov – “the oldest master” (mining master, who is in charge of mine work) “in all the Balchugov goldfields” of the Urals. He directs the prospecting works on the Fotyanovskaya placer, which gave the treasury “more than a hundred poods of gold.” This placer was discovered by Andron Kishkin, the “old office clerk” with “small, curious, thieving” eyes. Zykov does not like Kishkin and is therefore not pleased when one winter morning he is visiting him with a “businessman.” Kishkin informs that soon a state-owned Kedrovsky dacha will be opened for general use, and suggests that Rodion Potapich seek gold there. A stern old man of a conservative warehouse, a “fanatic of a state-owned mining business,” Zykov categorically refuses, and Kishkin leaves with nothing. The person is not rich,
Rodion Potapich in the forties about forty years. And he himself,
and his first, early-dead wife, in which he did not cherish the soul and from which the eldest son was born, “dissolute Yasha,” were formerly convicts. He married for the second time, already on the daughter of a convict who had given him four daughters, “but he did not bring happiness, according to the proverb: the deceased at the gate is not worth it, and will take his own.” After the death of his beloved wife, Rodion Potapich went head over heels. Only once he “scolded” – when he hid from the “official fiscal” the fact of widespread theft of gold at the Balchugovsky factory (however, they stole in other state and private mines, there were gold buyers who already had a detective, and if not Zykov, Balchugovsky plant would have suffered much more). By the way, then Kishkin, who was involved in this business, miraculously survived… When the penal servitude was abolished, Rodion Potapych, who did not understand freedom, became embarrassed, but “settled down in the fisheries of the company business”. The fishing workers continued to remain in slavery:
they had nowhere to go, and had to work on the most unfavorable conditions: “do not be hungry and you will not die of hunger.” Therefore, the opening of the Kedrovsky state dacha for free work will change the “whole structure of the fishing life,” and no one feels this as Rodion Potapych Zykov, “this commercial tested wolf.”
And in the family, Rodion Potapych happens rarely, disappearing at the recently opened mine Rublyhe, whose profitability is earnestly believed. And he is really attached to the family only to the youngest daughter Fene, with the rest is cool: from the daughter of Mary, he dumped all the grooms, his son scored; the eldest, Tatiana, escaped with the planing worker Mylnikov, making a “mesalliance, forever forsaking a disobedient daughter from his own family.” Tatyana’s husband often drinks, beats his wife and children, especially the restless and unresponsive ugly Oxya, and lives all of them badly (mother, USINYA Markovna, secretly helps Tatiana). But the favorite Zykov Fedosya, to the horror of the family, runs in the absence of his father from home, like Tatiana, but, unlike her, is not married, but leaves for Taibolu, a schismatic family, which is considered the gravest sin. While the terrible father of the family did not return from the mines,
Zykov, as a thunderbolt, is amazed at the news of his daughter’s escape, curses her before the icon and mourns the death of his first wife, which, he thinks, could not have happened. Another misfortune, which is about to break out, is reported to Rodion Potapich by his son-in-law, Mylnikov: in his opinion, Kishkin, out of envy of the rich at the mines, is preparing a denunciation of all miners for the theft of gold. Zykov listens to the unloved son-in-law with contempt and does not attach special significance to his words. Meanwhile, the chief administrator of the Balchugov mines Karachunsky, whom Zykov highly respects for his mind and knowledge of the matter, but condemns for weakness to the female sex, manages to persuade Fenya and Kozhin to ask forgiveness from the father. However, Rodion Potapych has already cursed his daughter and does not want to know her – and he decides to send her up to “Baushke Lukerye,” the sister of his late wife,
Fenu deceit is taken to the “bauschke”. While listening to the old woman’s arguments, the girl returns to Orthodoxy, she willingly performs all the chores around the house, but does not forget her chosen one. It’s sad that he could have moved to Orthodoxy, if not for his mother, the schismatrix of the steep morals of Maremyan; Kozhin, himself not his own melancholy, was addicted to drinking: how to forget Fedosya Rodionovna! Meanwhile, the shy beauty Fenya was very fond of the manager of Karachunsky…
Gold mining is in full swing, and passions are seething around gold. Kishkin, Mylnikov and son Zykov Yakov are working with excitement at the Kedrov cottage; to scouting works attract and the daughter of Mylnikov Oksyu: according to folk legend, an innocent girl will bring gold seekers luck. Everyone laughs at the hunted and unrequited Oxya, who, however, turns out to be an indispensable worker, besides herself on her mind: she is in love with the working Mother and, having really attacked the gold mine, secretly drags gold from there to her dowry and hides it in her dowry the desk of the unsuspecting Rodion Potapych, who genuinely adheres to Oks and is not even able to be with his granddaughter stern, realizing that she and her father, like Mylnikov, are already unhappy. And Kishkin really gives a denunciation to the prosecutor’s office, starting a protracted process, distracting Zykov from his work: Zykov is the main witness, but he shies away from the testimony, and the matter drags on indefinitely, eventually getting bogged down in a bureaucratic routine. In general, Kishkin’s revenge falls not on those people: most of all gets to the beloved manager Karachunsky.
At this time, the gold merchant, the swindler of the Hawks, is growing richer; he becomes an advantageous lodger, and therefore Lukusha’s bower, in which greed awakens, lets him live. Baushka Lukeryu now do not know: also fell ill with a gold rush, “made a fuss of money,” became greedy, began to build a second hut; her son and the son, crooked in one eye, are trying to make it up-Petr Vassilich. Fenya notices this change in the old woman and leaves for Karachunsky, supposedly “to the maids.” Karachunsky truly loves Fenya and is jealous of Kozhin, but Fenya can not fall in love for the second time, although she does not want to return to Kozhin: “the young happiness has broken,” and in Karachunskoe she discerns wonderful spiritual qualities and seeks “that quiet pier, to what every woman tears, who has not lost the best female instincts. ” And Kozhina mother Maremyan marries a quiet girl, which he beats and tortures to death. Having learned about this, Fenya asks Mylnikov to reason with Kozhin. Shurin is ready to help, if Fenya will ask Karachunsky for a good plot for the prospecting work, but it’s too late: Kozhin’s unhappy wife is found almost dead, and Kozhin is put on trial.
And the eldest daughter of Zykov, Marya, who has sat up “in the girls” and is therefore angry, decides to settle at the bower of Lukerya instead of Fenya, and for a while Oksi has mixed it up: she wants to be closer to the money of the baushka, and then, look, and find the groom… And in In fact, the cunning girl manages to marry the machinist Semenych, a kind and hard-working peasant who is six years younger than her; she and her husband “go to Kishkin at Bogotanka” – the mine opened by the old man, and to live with the Baushka Lukerya defines the daughter of the married sister Anna Natashka. Meanwhile Bogognanka brings wealth to the old man Kishkin, although he complains, which is late; he keeps the money in a chest with seven seals – many would like to open it; Baushka Lukerya leads friendship with Kishkin and gives him money at interest; he also “put an eye” on Natashka and even wants to ask her to marry.
Meanwhile, a series of terrible misfortunes comes. Under threat of exposure, rescuing his honor and the honor of the plant, Karachunsky shot himself (having provided Fenya first), and the workers “disliked” the “new broom”, the manager of Onikova, and they call him “clean”: he breaks all the “spurts,” without hesitation, introduces new rigor; the buyer of gold Yastrebova gave the investigation deceived by the son of Baushka Lukerya Petr Vasilich, for which he was carved by the elderly people who were interested in Yastrebov; himself not his own anger and humiliation, Pyotr Vasilich set fire to his house, and Lukerya, distraught with greed, climbed into the fire for money and died. Petr Vasilich is outlawed. Marya along with her husband, Natasha and her brother Petrunka settle on Bogotanka at Kishkin. Natasha, who previously disliked an imperious aunt Marya (still at home “
And the working mother, who married Oaks, who is now waiting for the child, begins to flirt with Mary and becomes her lover: he wants to get access to Kishkin’s money through Marya; and her husband, Semyonych, Marya, with the help of Kishkin, directs him to work on the night shift. She also pokes the naive Natashka to find and allegedly jokingly hide the key from the treasured Kishkin trunk. Natasha likes the idea of ”scare the nasty old man, who again began to look at her with oily eyes.”
The tragedy bursts out suddenly. One day around midnight, Semenych urgently called from work on Bogonanka. He finds both Kishki-na, and Maryu, and Natashka, and Petrunku killed, and the cash-desk is empty. First think that this is the work of Peter Vasilich, who went “to desperation,” but later find his corpse. The investigation is perplexed, until Matyushka confesses to Rodion Potapich that he himself “solved everything”: Pyotr Vasilich was an accomplice who interfered with him, who beat him to a crime and wanted to run away with money. Oksya died from childbirth and before her death said that she knew everything and that she was dying for Ma-Tyushkin’s guilt; exhausted by remorse and reproach of Oxy, he decided to surrender. Rodion Potapich, and without that a little insane from all events, after the recognition of Matyushka is completely damaged in the mind and floods the mine with Rublyu,
The rubble is destroyed, the dam at Balchugovka is blurred with spring water, “and this is in a place where a hundred thousand people and a dozen such companies could prosper with the right economy.” Zykov is really going crazy, “raving hard labor” and walking surrounded by a crowd of children at the Balchugovsky plant, along with the local executioner Nikitushka, “giving out formidable orders.” Fenya goes to Siberia “for a party of prisoners, in which Kozhin was sent: he was sentenced to hard labor, and Yastrebov also left in the same party.” Mother “hanged himself in prison.”