Ivan Ivanovich Chimsh-Himalayan and Burkin enter the estate of the poor landowner Alyokhin, who himself works in his fields, despite the brilliant education he received. Ivan Ivanovich tells Burkin and Alekhine about his younger brother Nicolae. They spent their childhood in the village and loved life in nature forever. Nikolai had worked in the state chamber since nineteen and was very sad. He had a dream in his youth: buy an estate and a piece of land and certainly plant gooseberry there. He refuses everything in himself, he accumulates money, reads announcements about the sale of land plots with estates with enthusiasm. Nicholas even marries for money on an elderly and ugly widow, who soon dies, as Nicholas keeps her in a black body. Finally, the purchase took place, however, on the site there was no gooseberry. But Nikolai does not lose heart:
Ivan Ivanovich goes to visit his brother. Nikolai grew old, fat, completely entered the role of the master: he eats a lot, bathes in the bath, sues his neighbors, considers himself a noble (although by origin from the soldiers).
To the tea, the cook serves a full plate of sour gooseberry, which seems to Nicholas delicious delicacy in the world. Ivan Ivanovich sees “a happy man whose cherished dream was realized so clearly that he achieved the goal in life…” At night he hears how Nikolai repeatedly gets up, comes to a plate of gooseberries and takes one berry. All this leads Ivan Ivanovich to the idea that every happy person should be reminded periodically of how many unfortunate people are around and that misfortune can happen to a happy person. Ivan Ivanovich laments that his youth has passed, and he can no longer make significant deeds; but only waiting for something and sailing with the flow. He begs Alyokhin “not to lull yourself to sleep,” to do more good, because “if in life there is a meaning and purpose,