Russia. Late XIX – early XX century.
The Brothers of Color, Tikhon and Kuzma, were born in a small village of Durnovka. In their youth they were engaged in small trade, then they quarreled, and their ways parted. Kuzma went to work for hire. Tikhon took off his inn, opened a tavern and shop, began buying up grain from the landowners, buying land for a pittance, and, having become a fairly wealthy landlord, bought even a mansion from the impoverished descendant of the previous owners. But all this did not bring him joy: the wife gave birth only to dead girls, and there was nobody to leave everything that he had made. Tikhon did not find any consolation in the dark, filthy village life, except the tavern. He began to drink. By the time he was fifty, he realized that there was nothing to remember from the runaway years, that there was not a single close person and he himself was a stranger to everyone. Then Tikhon decided to make peace with
Kuzma was a completely different person in character. From childhood he dreamed of learning. A neighbor learned his reading and writing, a bazaar “freethinker”, an old accordionist, supplied books and introduced them to debates about literature. Kuzma wanted to describe his life in all its poverty and terrible routine. He tried to compose a story, then he began to write poetry and even published a book of simple verses, but he himself understood all the imperfections of his creations. And the income did not bring this business, and a piece of bread was not given for nothing. Many years have passed in search of work, often infertile. Having seen enough of human cruelty and indifference in his wanderings, he drank, began to sink lower and came to the idea that one must either go into the monastery or commit suicide.
Here, and found him Tikhon, who invited his brother to take over the management of the estate. It seems that there was a quiet place, Settled in Durnovka, Kuzma cheered up. At night, he walked with a beater-he guarded the estate, read newspapers in the daytime, and in the old
office book took notes on what he had seen and heard around. But gradually he began to overcome his longing: there was nobody to talk to. Tikhon appeared rarely, only talked about the farm, the villainy and malice of the peasants and the need to sell the estate. The cook Avdotya, the only living being in the house, always remained silent, and when Kuzma fell seriously ill, leaving him to himself, without any sympathy, went to spend the night in the room.
Kuzma recovered from his illness and went to his brother. Tikhon greeted the guest cordially, but there was no mutual understanding between them. Kuzma wanted to share what was read from the newspapers, but Tikhon did not care. For a long time he had been obsessed with the idea of organizing the wedding of Avdotya with one of the village boys. Once he sinned with her for the sake of his indomitable desire to find a child – even if unlawful. The dream did not come true, and the woman was disgraced throughout the village. Now Tikhon, who rarely went to church, decided to justify himself before God. He asked his brother to take the trouble on this matter. Kuzma resisted the idea: he was sorry for the unfortunate Avdotya, in whose fiance Tikhon identified a real “beast” who beat his own father, had no inclination for the au pair and was tempted only by the promised dowry. Tikhon stood his ground,
The wedding was played in order. The bride sobbed bitterly, Kuzma blessed her with tears, the guests drank vodka and sang songs. The irrepressible February blizzard accompanied the wedding train to the dull chime of the bells.