Fekla and Lukerya, the daughter of nobleman Velkarova, were brought up by their aunt governess Madame Grigry “in the last manner.” Father came from Moscow to work with them and decided to take his daughters to his place. Fashion-makers angered the old man by “ripping off the rudeness and ridicule” of his relatives and friends and always invited “non-Russian” into his house. At Velkarova, patience broke, and he brought his daughters to the village.
Here the father forbids Fekle and Lukerye to speak French, which is the greatest punishment for them. And even to all his guests Velkarov orders to speak only in Russian. In order for the girls not to disobey, Velkarov places an old nanny Vasilisa, who watches every step of the girls.
Nurse Vasilisa feels sorry for the young ladies who hear French speech only from the parrot. Nurse persuades Velkarova to cancel the ban on French, but he is adamant. The young ladies with regret remember the life in the city: teachers of drawing, music and dancing went to them there, Fekla and Lukerya went there on fashionable benches, at lunch and balls, knew all the city’s rumors and gossip. After that, village life seems unbearably boring to them. And his father also tells them suitors from among the local noblemen: Khoprov and Tanin, people of “worthy, reasonable, sedate and rich.” But the girls have already refused many grooms; as they are going to do with Khoprov and Tanin.
The servant reports to Velkarova that a certain Frenchman is standing at the door of his door, and besides the marquis, who is on his way to Moscow. Hospitable Velkarov agrees to accept it. Thekla and Lukerya are beside themselves with joy. They are worried: whether they will be able to meet the Marquis with dignity. The father allows them to speak French, if the guest does not know how to speak Russian.
But, to the great chagrin of Fekla and Lukerya, the Frenchman speaks Russian. And no wonder: it’s actually Semyon, posing as a marquis. The young ladies affectionately meet the imaginary Frenchman, in an interview with him they admit in disgust for the Russian language and love for the French. Fekle and Lukerye interesting to hear about France… However, the falsehood can only inform that “in France all cities are built on high roads.” But the sisters are also delighted with this. When asked about literature, Semyon says that reading is not an occupation for notable people. And most importantly, the “Marquis” wants to tell that many misfortunes have happened to him: he, a nobleman, travels on foot and needs money. The young ladies, hearing about this, weep with pity. Looking at them, Vasilissa’s nurse also cries: she remembers her grandson Egorka, who was given to drink for recruits.
Velkarov is pleased that the “Marquis” can speak Russian. On the joy he sends the “Frenchman” a new pair of dresses and two hundred rubles of money. Thekla and Lukerya are horrified at the sight of the dress: there are “some half-poods” on it. But the “marquis”, oddly enough, is satisfied.
Fekla and Lukerya are delighted with the “marquis”, his “nobility and sensitivity.” They grieve over their fate, not wanting to be majors or assessors. At the same time they come up with the same idea: maybe, either Fekle or Lukerye will manage to become a “marquis” …
The clerk Sidorka wants to write down in the account book that the “Frenchman” received two hundred rubles. He asks Semyon to give his name. But he, as luck would have it, does not know a single French name. He has a book about the adventures of the Marquis of Glagol, and he decides to call himself the same. Semyon hopes to get two hundred rubles from the young ladies, and then by the evening “fold Marquisism”, get married with Dasha, say goodbye to his master and immediately go to Moscow. There he will open “or a barber, or a shop with powder, lipstick and perfume.”
Fekla and Lukerya write letters to Khoprov and Tanin, where they are flatly denied and even forbidden to come to visit. Nanny Vasilisa they lock in their room. The girls try to get Semyon to speak French, but he does not go to meet them, referring to the word given to Velkarova. Lazhomarkiz no longer knows where to leave the perseverance of young ladies, but then, fortunately, Vasilissa’s nurse appears.
Velkarov is angry with his daughters: he managed to intercept their letters to Khoprov and Tanin. But Fekla and Lukerya rushed to his knees before him: they confessed their hopes that at least one of them would marry a Frenchman. Velkarov promises to teach the girls.
Sidorka announces that the room for the Marquis Glagol is ready. This name of all puzzles. Velkarov guesses about deception and demands that the alleged Marquis speak French about his misadventures. Semyon has nothing left to do but confess his imposture. He tells his story, talks about love to Dasha. Velkarov is angry at first: “Your back will pay me dearly for this.” Semen and Dasha beg for forgiveness. And Velkarov forgives Seeds for the lesson that he taught Fekle and Lukerye. He allows Semyon to go with Dasha anywhere, and even gives them money for the journey.
And he promised his daughters that he would remain in the village until they abandoned “all the nonsense”, learn “modesty, courtesy and meekness” and stop frowning at the Russian language. Sisters only publish woeful exclamations in French. But Vasilissa’s nurse is ready: “Mothers, young ladies, please be on your guard in Russian.”