Provincial French city of Saumur is the habitat of wine growers, landowners, forest merchants, bocharas, innkeepers and ship-keepers who sell their goods on the ancient Great Street. The life of the townspeople goes on in everyone’s mind. They have breakfast, lunch, and quarrel each at their porch. In the upper part of the Great Street there are ancient noble mansions. One of them belongs to Mr. Grande.
In the past, “Papa Grande” was a simple bochar. The events of 1789 allowed him to buy a few good vineyards and farms for a pittance. Over time, he became mayor, with the advent of Napoleon resigned, in 1806 he received three inheritances, and then became the chief taxpayer of the province. By 1816, according to the rumors of the townspeople, the state of Papa Grande reached seven million. At the same time, despite his wealth, he spent his money very sparingly, spending only on the most necessary things and that he could not get his land from tenants – for
example, clothes for his wife and the only daughter of Eugenia.
In the house of Mr. Grande there were six people: the notary Cruchet, his brother – the abbot, the nephew – the chairman of the Mussul court, Mr. de Bonfon, the richest banker of the city – Mr. de Grassen, his wife and son Adolf. Between Mr. de Bonfon and the youngest de Grassen there was an unspoken rivalry for Eugene’s hand.
Ms. Grande and her daughter spend most of their time repairing the laundry for the whole family. Serving in the house is the only maid – Nanet the Hulk, a woman of enormous growth and remarkable physical strength.
In the middle of October 1819, on the birthday of Eugenia, Mr. Grande, contrary to custom, allows to flood the fireplace and gives his daughter another gold coin. In the evening, guests come. Family Kriusho presents Eugenia flowers, Adolphe de Grassen – a precious casket for needlework. The game of the society in the lotto is broken by the arrival of the cousin of the girl – Charles, the son of the Parisian Grande. He makes an indelible impression on his cousin.
Eugene helps her mother and Nanet arrange a room for Charles.
From the letter of his younger brother Grande learns about his ruin and decision to die. The Paris Grande asks a relative to take care of his son.
At night, Eugene dreams of Charles. In the morning she carefully dresses and goes for a walk with her father. They are joined by notary Kriusho. From the conversation of men the girl understands that she will never be the wife of her cousin.
Mother learns about Eugene’s feelings. Together with her daughter they set breakfast for Charles. Grande finds them behind a “terrible squandering” and hurries to take his nephew out to the garden to inform him of the bankruptcy and death of his father. Charles is crying all day in his room.
In the morning, when Eugene gives him coffee, the young man, touched by sincere concern, realizes that he fell in love. In the evening, the Grande invites the Krysho family for dinner and leads them to an idea, to help him in liquidating the debt obligations of the Paris Grande. The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of de Grassenov, and the miser with joy delegates his capital affairs to them.
At night Grande takes a barrel of gold from home. Eugenia hears Charles groan, goes to his room and finds there a letter to his mistress Anet and friend Alphonse. Learning about the plans of his cousin to try his luck in the East Indies, Eugene gives him a collection of his gold coins, the total cost of about six thousand francs. In return, Charles asks the girl to become the guardian of his mother’s precious nessessera with portraits of her parents.
In the morning, Charles and Eugene walk together in the garden, and Grande sells his gold in Angers.
Papa Grande reconciles with a temporary presence in the house of Charles. Watch over the “children” he instructs his wife, relying on her high morality and religiosity.
Charles imbued with the simple mores of the house Grande and increasingly falls in love with Eugene. He signs papers to renounce the inheritance, sells through his friend his Parisian situation. In Saumur, a young man gets rid of exquisite, expensive costumes. Papa Grande buys from him gold jewelry, of which Charles gives his aunt – a gold thimble, Eugene – clasps for hand tapes, uncle – diamond cufflinks.
Before leaving, Charles and Eugene admit each other in love and exchange the first pure kiss.
For five years, Grande leads the nose of the Paris liquidators and creditors. De Grassen remains in the capital and begins to trail behind the pretty actress Florina. Madame de Grassen divorces him. Her daughter is unsuccessfully getting married. The chances of Adolf de Grassen marry Evgenia fall to zero.
It takes four months. January 1, 1820 Grande, as usual, wants to look at his daughter’s gold and invites her to invest precious metal in the state rent, as he did himself. Eugenia says she has already disposed of gold at her own discretion. Papa Grande is furious. He locks Eugene in the room and puts her on bread and water. From the experience, Mrs. Grande is sick. Naneta feeds Eugene secretly from her father.
In the absence of his father, Eugene leaves the room and sits with a sick mother. Church girl visits under the supervision of Nanety. Saumur is filled with rumors about what is happening in the house Grande. Ms. Grande is getting worse every day. She asks Crucheau to reconcile her father with her daughter.
On the morning of June, the notary Kriucho tells Grande that as soon as his wife dies, Eugenia will be able to inherit her property. Spouses own everything together, so the father will have to go to the division of his state with his daughter.
Wanting to make peace with Eugenia, Papa Grande goes to his wife’s room and stumbles upon Charles’s beautiful vanity case. He is proud of his daughter – she made a great deal! Grande wants to tear off the gold from the casket. Eugene promises to kill herself if her father desecrates the relic given to her for preservation.
Not wanting to lose his wife, daughter and money, Grande surrenders. He gives the daughter a dressing-case, invites a doctor to his wife.
In October 1822, Yevgenia’s mother died. Papa Grande begins to behave with her daughter gently and affectionately. He wants her to renounce the inheritance, promising to give her a hundred francs a month. Instead of money at the end of the year Grande gives his daughter a piece of Charles jewelry.
Papa Grande realizes that death is not far off. For several years he has been teaching Evgenia how to farm. After five years, the miser breaks paralysis. After the death of his father, Yevgeny learns that he became the heir to 17 million francs. Naneta marries Antoine Cornoyer. Eugene makes him the chief caretaker of their lands.
Kriucho and Madame de Grassen visit the Grande Grandma every evening. The chairman of the court de Bonfon constantly gives her flowers. Evgenia gets used to universal worship, but still waits for news from Charles.
Cousin Eugenia quickly became rich in the East Indies. Starting with trading trinkets, he moved to trafficking and took on a new name – Carl Sefer. About Eugene Charles recalled only as a man who gave him a loan. In 1827, on his way to France, he met with chamberlain Charles X and decided to marry his ugly but noble daughter – Mademoiselle d’Abrion.
Learning from the letter of Charles about marriage, Eugene decides to go to the monastery. Abbot Cruchet persuades her to marry. Eugenia pays for the debts of Charles’s father and becomes de Bonfon’s wife. Marriage of a young woman exists only on paper. In 36 years, Eugene becomes a widow and continues to lead a lonely and pious life.