The action takes place in Sweden, in the count’s, a manor in the kitchen on the night of Ivan Kupala, when, according to folk tradition, among all who celebrate this religious and magical holiday all the class boundaries are temporarily canceled. Christina, a cook of thirty-five years, is standing by the stove, preparing a potion for a sick woman with a lady’s hair. Jean enters the kitchen, a thirty-year-old footman in livery. He is not a Frenchman, he is a Swede, but he can speak French, because
At one time he worked in a large Swiss hotel in Lucerne: for the love of a foreigner, he altered his original name Yang. Jean just came from the dances, which were arranged in the threshing floor by courtyards and peasants: he danced – with whom would Christina think? – with the very Julia, the count’s daughter! She, apparently, completely lost her head: otherwise, even if Ivan Kupala, with the lackey would not have danced. Lately the young lady does not seem to be at all herself.
Most likely, it’s because of a break with her fiancé. Jean himself saw how Julia in the stable made him jump over the whip like a dog. She hit him twice, and he did not wait for the third one – he took away her whip, broke the handle and was like that! And today, too. Why freken Julia did not go with the count to her relatives and stayed at home alone. Julia enters the kitchen. Is the brew ready for the dog?
Oh, there’s Jean! Would he like to dance again? Christine has nothing to be afraid of: he will not get her fiancé out of her! Jean and Julia leave and after a while come back. Julia praises the dexterity of the footman: he dances quite well! But why is he in livery? It is a holiday today. Let him put on a frock coat!
He is shy? A footman should not be embarrassed by his lady! The surcoat perfectly sits on it. How? Does Jean understand and speak French? Oh yes, he worked in Switzerland. But he also owns a good speech. Does Jean go to the theater? Or reading books? Yes, he got some education. His father worked as a messenger with the prosecutor, and he saw freken as a girl, although then she paid him attention