Nezhdanoff gets a home teacher from the Sipyagins at a time when he is in great need of money, even more in changing the situation. Now he can rest and gather strength, most importantly – he “fell out of the care of the Petersburg friends.”
In Petersburg he lived in a dark little room with an iron bed, bookshelves, books, and two unwashed windows. In this room, once appeared a solid, overly self-confident gentleman – known to the official Petersburg, Boris Andreevich Sipyagin. For the summer he needs a teacher for his son, and Prince G. recommended the outgoing adjutant to Aleksei Dmitrievich.
At the word “relative” Nezhdanoff instantly blushes. Prince G. – one of his brothers, who do not recognize him, illegitimate, but paying him by the will of the late father an annual “pension.” Alexey all his life suffers from the ambiguity of his position. For this reason, he is so painfully self-centered, so nervous and internally contradictory. Is not this why it’s so lonely?. For embarrassment Nezhdanoff has plenty of reasons. In the smoky cage of the “princely cousin” Sipyagin found his “Petersburg friends”: Ostrodumov, Mashurin and Paklin. Unclean figures, heavy and clumsy; careless and old clothes; rough features, Ostrodumov still had small pox; loud voices and red big hands. In their guise, however, “something honest, persistent, and industrious” affected, but to correct
Now Nezhdanoff was resting from it all. He was not alien to the aesthetic, wrote poetry and carefully concealed it to “be like everyone else.”
The Sipyagins have a large stone house, with columns and a Greek pediment. Behind the house is a beautiful, well-kept old garden. The interior bears the imprint of a new, delicate taste: Valentina Mikhailovna shares not only the convictions, but also the addictions of her husband, a liberal figure and a humane landowner. She herself is tall and slender, her face reminds of the Sistine Madonna. She was used to embarrass the heart, not at all in order to have a special relationship with the object of her encouraging attention. Nezhdanoff did not escape him, but quickly realized the absence, so to say, of the content in her barely perceptible recruitment and the demonstration of the alleged lack of distance between them.
The tendency to subordinate and top it up is especially evident in relations with Marianna, her husband’s niece. Her father, the general, was convicted of embezzlement and sent to Siberia, then forgiven, returned, but died in extreme poverty. Soon the mother died, and Marianna was sheltered by Uncle Boris Andreevich. The girl lives on the position of a poor relative, gives lessons to the French son of the Sipyagins and is very burdened by her dependence on the powerful “aunt”. She also suffers from the knowledge that others know about the dishonor of her family. “Auntie” knows how to casually say a word about it to friends. In general, she considers her nihilist and atheist.
Marianne is not beautiful, but attractive, and a beautiful addition reminds a Florentine statuette of the XVIII century. In addition, “from all her creatures she woke with something strong and courageous, impetuous and passionate.”
Is it surprising that Nezhdanoff sees her as a kindred spirit and draws her attention to her, not left unrequited. But Marianna is passionately and hopelessly in love with Valentina Mikhailovna’s brother Sergei Mikhailovich Markelov, an ugly, sullen and bilious man. As a relative, he is in a house where the main principles are freedom of opinion and tolerance, and Nezhdanoff and the extreme conservative Kallomiytsev, who do not hide dislike for nihilists and reforms, converge at the table.
Unexpectedly it turns out that Markelov came for a meeting with Nezhdanoff, who was brought a letter from Vasily Nikolaevich himself, who recommended that both of them interact “in the dissemination of known rules.” But it is better to talk in the estate of Markelov, or else the sisters and walls have ears in the house.
Sergei Nezhdanov is in for a surprise. In the living room, in the light of a kerosene lamp, they drink beer and smoke Ostrodumov and Mashurin. Until four in the morning, there is talk of someone to rely on. Markelov believes that it is necessary to attract a “mechanic-manager” of the local paper mills of Solomin and a merchant from the splitters of Golushkin. In his room Nezhdanoff again feels a terrible mental fatigue. Again much is said that it is necessary to act, that it’s time to start, and to what, no one knows. His “Petersburg friends” are limited, although they are honest and strong. However, in the morning he noticed marks of the same mental fatigue on the face of Markelov, an unhappy, unfortunate person.
Meanwhile, after Marcel’s refusal, Marianne and Nezhdanoff are increasingly feeling mutual sympathy. Alexei Dmitrievich finds it even possible to tell the girl about Vasily Nikolaevich’s letter. Valentina Mikhailovna understands that the young man completely turned away from her and that Marianna is to blame: “We must take action.” And young people are already switching to “you”, and an explanation soon follows. This did not remain a mystery to Mrs. Sipyagina. She overheard this at the door.
Solomin, to which Nezhdanoff and Markelov are sent, once worked in England for two years and knows modern production perfectly. The revolution in Russia is skeptical. He started a school and a hospital at the factory. These are his concrete deeds. In general, there are two manners to wait: wait and do nothing and wait and move things forward. He chose the second.
On the way to Golushkin, he finds Paklin and calls them into an “oasis”, to old men – the spouses Fimushka and Fomushka, who continue to live, as if in the court of the XVIII century. In what way of life they were born, grew up and married, they stayed. “Standing water, but not rotten,” he says. There is a servant here, there is an old servant Kalliopych, confident that this is the will of the Turks. There is also the dwarf Pufka, for entertainment.
Lunch Galushkin asked “with the force.” In drunken courage the merchant donates large sums of money to the case: “Remember Capito!”
On the way back, Markelov rebukes Nezhdanoff in disbelief in the matter and cooling towards him. This is not without reason, but the subtext is different and is dictated by jealousy. He knows everything: and with whom the handsome Nezhdanov was explained, and who after ten in the evening was in the room. Only here is not merit, but the well-known happiness of all illegitimate children, all of you…!
Nezhdanoff promises to send seconds upon returning. But Markelov has already come to his senses and begs to forgive: he is unhappy, even in his youth, “deceived one.” Here is a portrait of Marianne, once he painted, now passes on to the winner. Nezhdanoff suddenly feels that he has no right to take it. All that was said and done seemed to be a lie. However, barely seeing the roof of the Sipyagin house, he tells himself that he loves Marianna.
The same day a meeting was held. Marianne is interested in everything: and when will begin, at last; and what is Solomin like; and what is Vasily Nikolaevich. Nezhdanoff notes to himself that his answers are not quite what he really thinks. However, when Marianne says: you need to escape, he exclaims that he will go with her to the end of the world.
Sipyagins meanwhile make an attempt to entice Solomin. Invitation to visit them and inspect the factory was accepted, but refused to go. The nobleman will never go into factory business, they are strangers. And the landlords themselves do not have a future. The merchant will pick up the land. Marianne, listening to Solomin’s words, is more and more imbued with the trust to the solidity of a person who can not lie or brag, who does not betray but will understand and support. She catches herself and on what compares him to Nezhdanoff, and not in favor of the latter. That’s the idea of leaving both of the Sipyagins Solomin immediately made a reality by offering shelter in his factory.
And here the first step towards the people is done. They are at the factory in an inconspicuous outbuilding. To help the loyal Solomin Pavel and his wife Tatiana, who are perplexed: young people live in different rooms, do they love each other? They are going to talk together, read. Including Alexei’s poems, which Marianna appreciates quite severely. Nezhdanoff is touched: “You buried them – and me by the way!”
The day comes “to go to the people.” Nezhdanoff, in a caftan, boots, a cap with a broken visor. His trial output does not last long: the peasants are deafly hostile or do not understand what they are talking about, although they are dissatisfied with life. In a letter to a friend Silin Alexei reports that the time to act is unlikely when it comes. He doubts and in his right to finally add Marianne’s life to his, to the essence of the half-dead. And how he “goes to the people” – it is impossible to imagine anything more stupid. Or get down to the ax. Only a soldier instantly wipes you out of his gun. I’d better kill myself with myself. The people are asleep, and it will not awaken him at all what we think.
Soon the message comes: restless in the neighboring district – it must be Markelov’s work. We must go find out and help. Nezhdanoff leaves, in his popular dress. In his absence, Mashurin appears: are you all ready? Yes, she still has a letter for Nezhdanoff. But where is it? She turned away and quietly put a piece of paper into her mouth. No, I probably dropped it. Tell me to be more careful.
Finally, Paul returns with Nezhdanoff, from which he is puffed up by a fume and which hardly keeps on his feet. Caught in the crowd of peasants, he began to speak with passion, but a guy dragged him to the tavern: a dry spoonful of mouths are gnawing. Paul barely got him out and brought home already drunk.
Suddenly Paklin appeared with the news: Markelov was seized by peasants, and Golushkin’s clerk gave out his master, and he gives frank testimony. The police are about to come to the factory. He will go to Sipyagin – ask for Markelov.
The next morning there is a final explanation. Nezhdanoff clearly: Marianne needs another person, not like him, but as Solomin… or himself Solomin. There are two people in it – and one does not allow to live another. It’s better to stop living both. The last attempt at propaganda proved Nezhdanoff’s failure. He does not believe more in the affair that connects him to Marianna. She also believes and dedicates her life to her work. Their politics united, but now this very basis of their union collapsed. “And there is no love between them.”
Solomin, meanwhile, hurries to leave: the police will soon appear. And everything is ready for the wedding, as agreed. When Marianna goes to pack her things, Nezhdanoff, left alone, puts two sealed pieces of paper on the table, enters Marianna’s room and kisses her bed at her feet and leaves for the factory yard. At the old apple tree he stops and, looking around, shoots himself in the heart.
Still alive, he was taken to a room where he tried to unite the hands of Marianne and Solomin before his death. One letter is addressed to Solomin and Marianne, where he entrusts the bride to Solomin, as if “connecting them with an after-death hand,” and sends greetings to Mashurin.
The police who came to the factory found only the body of Nezhdanoff. Solomin and Marianna left ahead of time and two days later they executed Nezhdanoff’s will-they were married.
Markelov was tried, Ostrodumov was murdered by a bourgeois who he rebuked for rebellion. Mashurin disappeared. Golushkina for “sincere repentance” was subjected to easy punishment. Solomin, for lack of evidence, left alone. On Marianne speech and did not start: Sipyagin spoke with the governor. Paklin, as the investigator, was released.
In the winter of 1870 in Petersburg he met Mashurin. In response to the appeal, she responded in Italian with an amazingly pure Russian accent, that she was Countess di Santo Fiume. Then she went to Paklin, drank his tea and told me how she showed interest at the border to her-in a uniform, and she said in Russian: “To untie you from me.” He fell behind.
“Russian Mephistopheles” tells the “contessa” about Solomin, which is the real future of Russia: “a man with an ideal – and without a phrase, educated – and from the people” … Gathering to leave, Mashurin asks for something in memory of Nezhdanoff and, having received the photo, leaves without answering the question of the Samsonovich Force, who is now directing it: are all Vasily Nikolayevich, or Sidor Sidorych, or what’s the nameless? Already because of the threshold, she said: “Maybe even a nameless!”
“Nameless Russia!” Paklin repeated, standing in front of the closed door.