The author tells how among the Don Cossacks in the Tatarsky farm appeared a kind of Melekhovs, nicknamed the Turks. This family went from Prokofiy Melekhov, who started a Turkish wife. The locals recognized her as a witch and tried to kill her. Dying, the woman gave birth to a premature baby. The son, named Pantelei, managed to get out. Years passed, and Pantelei acquired his own family. He himself and his children had a lot of things from the Turkish woman – “witches”.
The family of Pantelei is described, special attention is paid to the son of Gregory, already quite an adult, but not yet married. Pantelei with Grigory goes fishing, after which the son carries the captured carp to the merchants Mokhov. Father before leaving his son instructs him not to take care of neighbor Aksinya Astakhova, because she is a married woman.
Strolling horse Grigory meets at the river Aksinya and contrary to the instructions of his father, he starts to flirt with her. Aksinya at first laughed, but then was afraid that their people would see, and hastily left. On this day, Aksinya saw her husband off to the May camps: Grigory watched them closely because of the fence.
Towards evening a storm broke out. Domestic Pantelei is afraid of her, but he argues that in this weather it is best to catch a raving sterlet and another large fish. He calls with him all those who are not afraid of bad
Stepan along with other Cossacks on the road. To pass the time, they sing a song about how the Cossack left the house and began to molest his “boy” with courtship. But the Cossack dared obsessively the cotton.
At night, when a storm broke out, the Cossacks stopped. One of them, Hristonya, began to tell his comrades how he had been looking for a treasure in his youth.
The author acquaints the reader with the biography of Aksinya, whose life was very difficult. As a child, Aksinya was raped by a drunken father, who, in a fit of anger, was killed by her mother and brother. Marriage with Stepan did not bring happiness, because my husband mercilessly beat his wife. The appearance in the life of Aksinya Grigory changed something in her: the woman was pleased with the guy’s attention. But realizing that the fastening romance would bring nothing but troubles, Aksinya firmly decided to discourage Gregory from courting her.
Mitka invites Grigory to look at the races: Mitka was going to compete with the centurion, who is proud of his mare. Grigory agreed and even joined the competing, but not for the sake of victory. Mitka gained the upper hand and barely held back his pride. On the way back the guys meet Aksinya. She is afraid to say hello to Grishka, which offends him.
Melekhovs’ family goes to haymaking. The work goes all day. Grigory is absorbed in thoughts about Aksinya. He did not notice the duck nest in the grass and cut a braid of one of the ducklings, which he grieved. Late in the evening, Gregory found Aksinya alone, the woman yielded to him.
The connection between Aksinya and Gregory soon became known to everyone in the village. When the rumors reach Pantelei, he hurries to Aksinya with threats. The woman boldly replies that she loves Grigory and she does not intend to obey Pantelei. Behavior Aksinya markedly changed, she seemed to be reborn, as if she was proud of herself. Enraged father arranges for him to scold his son, frightening the promise to marry Marfushka the little fool.
In the military camp, Stepan Astakhov at that time was treated with leeches from a sudden attack on him. One of his Cossack friends, Andrei Tomilin, was visited by his wife, who brought with her rumors about Aksinya’s connection with Grishka. The insulted husband conceives how to punish the unfaithful wife and her lover.
Aksinya and Gregory did not try to hide their love, which caused particular indignation among the farmers, who were just waiting for the denouement with Stepan’s arrival. Ten days remain before he returns. Aksinya plots herself with thoughts about how to live on. She is not afraid of beatings of Stepan, but is afraid to remain without Grigory, whom his father decided to marry Natalia Korshunova. Grigory responds to her words languidly; he is joking, then silent. He does not want to marry against the will.
Stepan since he learned about the betrayal of his wife, has become angry and irritable. Most of all, he saved his anger at Petro Melekhov – brother Gregory. When Stepanova’s horse injured his leg, Astakhov declared Petro guilty and wanted to fight with him-the Cossacks separated them by force. A sick horse was left in a neighboring village, where Stepan found a sorceress who promised to heal the horse.
Aksinya meanwhile appealed to the local sorceress – grandmother Drozdikha – to take her love affair out of her, helped to stop loving Grigory. In the morning Drozdikha led Aksinya to the Don to perform the ritual. Back on the farm, Astakhova began milking cows. At this time the steps of her husband were heard at the gate of her house. As if he were not himself, he lay down, ate, and then, furious, began to beat his wife. Grishka came running to the noise, to which Petro’s brother joined. They both barely held onto Stepan. The Cossack Khristonya divided the fighting.
Pantelei took up the long-planned. Gathering relatives and inviting friends, including the curious Vasilisa – a famous matchmaker, he went to the Korshunov to negotiate the marriage of his son. The Korshunovs doubted, Pantelei was hot, so that the matchmaking nearly broke, if Vasilisa had not gotten in time, pouring out quick-spoken words reconciling both sides. Korshunovs decided to think it over without refusing it at once, and Pantelei promised to call on Sunday.
Stepan brutally beaten Aksinya day after day. Seeking help from Gregory, she met with him and asked for advice. Up to the last minute it seemed to her that Grishka would do something to save their love. But from his indifferent, embarrassed words, the woman realized that the guy had stopped loving her. Grigory, stumbling and stumbling, suggested Aksinya forget about everything that was, and part.
While the case with the matchmaking was postponed – the wheat ripened. Petro and Gregory went to the field to reap. Petro played a trick on his brother, telling him from time to time the rumors that were written on the farm about the connection between Grishka and Aksinya. Once angry, Grigory threw a fork at Petro, but then the brothers laughed and made up. The wife of Hristony, who saw this, ran to tell everyone that the Panteleyevs had nearly killed each other in a fight. Old Pantelei rushed to deal with the threshing floor, but seeing that his sons were whole, he became angry with himself, that he believed in female gossip.
Natalia firmly decided that she would go after Gregory, but her father was unhappy: he was not happy that the groom got from Melekhovs – “Turks”, that he was not rich, and most importantly – that he was notorious for his connection with Stepanova’s wife. On Sunday, the matchmakers arrived again, taking Miron Korshunov by surprise. Myron intended to show Pantelei a cucumber, but having drunk with him, agreed to do as his daughter wishes, only appointed a dear ransom for the bride and did not yield to Pantelei’s persuasion to demand less.
In the house of the Korshunovs, preparations were preparing for the wedding: the marriage of the bridegroom and the bride was assigned to the first Savior. Mitka, Natalia’s brother, discouraged his sister, or, in jest, or seriously, intimidated her. Grandfather Grishak intervened in the conversation, scolding Mitka for joking and driving away. Natalia liked to talk with her grandfather, he also liked being with his granddaughter: Grishaka was slightly annoyed that she was getting married without waiting for him to die.
Aksinya yearns for Grishka. It is persistently pursued by the idea of taking the young groom away from Natalia. Gregory, after parting with Aksinya, also began to feel some kind of incomprehensible melancholy, and, angry with himself, often left the house to “pamper” with his sword.
On the day of the wedding, after a long and noisy gathering with relatives on three bricks Gregory drove to the house Korshunov. Here, as the customs require, Petro knocked on the door three times with a prayer, to which he was answered with a pile, and then allowed to enter. The bargaining started, Natalia’s sisters requested a ransom for the bride. Then the guests and the newlyweds went to the festive table. At the table, Gregory became “dreary”: and there was a desire more than to admire the bride, and she appeared to him ugly. The groom persistently recalled Aksinya.
Those who returned from the wedding were greeted with an icon in the hands of old Pantelei and his wife. Father blessed his son and daughter-in-law, it’s time to go to the ass. Petro was supposed to go to the church, but he drank too much at the wedding, and now he’s worn out. Daria’s wife raped Petro. The newlyweds were taken to the church, Petro agreed on everything with Father Vissarion. During the ritual, Gregory became completely sleepy and indifferent. With a glance he asked his brother if the wedding would end soon.
After leaving the church, the groom’s family returned home, met the relatives of the bride. Everyone sat down again at the festive table. When the Korshunovs cried “It’s bitter!”, Grigory frowned-he was unpleasant to kiss his wife. Then the guests start to dance to the harmonica, the old people talked about the war – each recalled something of his own, not listening to the interlocutor. At the end of the conversation one of the old men fell asleep.