It’s not the first month that the landowner Pyotr Konstantinovich Muromsky, having entrusted the village economy to the manager, lives with his daughter Lidochka and her elderly aunt Anna Antonova Atueva in Moscow. He has extensive land in the Yaroslavl province and as many as 1,500 serfs – a serious state.
Of course, the twenty-year-old girl Lidochka is a “tidbit” for the Moscow dandies-suitors. But her aunt does not understand this. She believes that Lidochka needs to show the light, to invite guests to the house: “You will not give the girl away without spending money”. But suddenly it turns out that there is no need for spending any more.
Lidochka secretly confesses to her aunt, that the bridegroom is already there! Yesterday at the ball she danced a mazurka with Mikhail Vasilievich Krechinsky. And he – oh, my God, right! – made her an offer. But that’s what’s annoying – there’s no time to think! The answer must be given immediately. “Michelle” today does not leave Moscow tomorrow and wishes to know before the departure – “yes” or “no”.
How to be? After all, papa will not give a blessing in a hurry. He must know well the future son-in-law. And what is this Krechinsky – a figure of the most mysterious. He has been going to the house of Muromsky for the whole winter, but little is known about him, although it is enough for his aunt and
But Muromsky can not be riddled with such conversations. What is the state of Krechinsky? How much land he has, how many souls – no one knows. But they say that he staggers around in clubs, plays cards and has “long”. And here is another young man, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nelkin, a longtime “friend of the house”, all on his palm. Modest, even shy. Cards do not take in hand. True, he does not dance well and does not glow with manners. But he is a neighbor – his estate side by side, “furrow to the furrow.” And he, too, is here in Moscow, and also visits the house of Muromsky: he is tacitly in love with Lidochka. Its something Muromsky and reads to his husbands “kralechke” and “bagolnitsa.”
However, with the diligence of his aunt and Krechinsky himself, the matter is settled so that Muromsky on the same day blesses his daughter to marry a “fine man”, to whom “princes and counts are mates.” Nelkin is in despair. No, he will not allow this wedding to take place! He knows something about the “sins” of Krechinsky. But now he “knows everything about the inside story” and then he will present the old man of this “wit” and “lihacha” in the true light.
A “lowdown” is. Yes, even what! Krechinsky does not just play cards – he’s a “terrible player.” He raves about the game. And Lidochka with her dowry – for him only a jackpot, with which you can enter into a great game. “I have in my hands a thousand and five hundred souls,” he thinks, “and that’s a half million, and two hundred thousand pure capital, because you can win two million for this amount, and I’ll win, I’ll win for sure.”
Yes, but you still need to get this jackpot. The blessing of the parent is only a shaky fortune, torn from fate by an inspired bluff. Bluff must endure to the end! But how, how?! The position of Krechinsky is catastrophic. He contacted the “riff-raff”, a small card cheater Ivan Antonovich Rasplyuev, whose impure and insignificant wins hardly support his existence. The apartment where he lives with this miserable scoundrel is incessantly besieged by creditors.
No money even for a cab! And then this dastardly merchant Shchebnev, demands that this card debt be given out this very minute, he threatens to write down his name in the club today in a shameful debt book, that is, to send him to the whole city as a bankrupt! And this at the very moment when Krechinsky “a million a hand climbs” … Yes, on the one hand, a million, and on the other – you need some two or three thousand to distribute debts, pay bills and hastily – in three day – to arrange a wedding. Without these small bets, the whole game will collapse! Yes there! – it is already crumbling: Schebnev agrees to wait until evening, the creditors behind the door are threateningly raging.
However, there is still hope. Krechinsky sends Rasplyuyev to the usurers, ordering them to borrow money from them at any interest. They will give, they will certainly give, they know Krechinsky: he will return in full. But Rasplyuev is with bad news. The moneylenders can no longer believe in Krechinsky: “Evidently, they smelled! ..” They demand a reliable pledge. And what remains of the poor player! Nothing but a gold watch at seventy-five rubles. Everything is over! The game is lost!
And then, in a moment of complete hopelessness, Krechinsky is shone with a brilliant idea. However, neither Rasplyuev nor servant Fedor can appreciate her brilliance yet. They even believe that Krechinsky has lost his mind. And really, he seems to be not himself. He takes out of the office a penny pin, the one he used as a model, “dressing” Lidochkin’s tapeworm, looks at her with enthusiastic amazement and exclaims: “Bravo!. Hurray! Found…” What did he find? Some kind of “trinket”. A stone is in a pin, pale, from leaden glass!
Without explaining anything, Krechinsky tells Rasplyuev to lay a gold watch and to buy a luxurious bouquet of flowers for the money that was “to make it all from white camellias.” Meanwhile he sits down to compose a letter to Lidochka. He fills him with tenderness, passion, dreams of family happiness – “the devil knows what nonsense.” And as though by the way, she asks her to send him a tapeworm with a messenger – he made a bet about his size with a certain Prince Belsky.
As soon as Rasplyuev appears, Krechinsky sends him with flowers and a note to Lidochka, explaining to him that he should get a tapeworm from her and bring the thing “in the most accurate manner”. Rasplyuev understood everything – Krechinsky intends to steal the diamond and flee with him from the city. But no! Krechinsky is not a thief, he still cherishes honor and he does not intend to flee. On the contrary. While Rasplyuev is carrying out his assignment, he orders Fyodor to prepare an apartment for a magnificent reception of the Muromsky family. There comes a “decisive minute” – will Rasplyuev bring a tapeworm or not?
Has brought! “Victoria, the rubicon is gone!” Krechinsky takes both pins – false and genuine – and rushes with them to the pawnbroker Nikanor Savich Beck. Asking for money on bail, he presents the pawnbroker with a genuine pin – “that just made him move and his mouth exploded.” Thing in fact the most valuable, worth ten thousand! Beck is ready to give four. Krechinsky traded – he asked for seven. Beck is not inferior. And then Krechinsky takes a pin: he will go to another pawnbroker… No, no, why – to another… Beck gives six! Krechinsky agrees. However, you need to put the pin in a separate box and seal it. At the moment when Beck leaves behind the box, Krechinsky replaces the genuine false pin. Beck calmly puts it in the box – the diamond has already been checked and under the loupe and on the scales. It is done! The game is won!
Krechinsky returns home with money and with a tapeworm. Debts were distributed, bills paid, expensive outfits were bought, servants in black tailcoats and white waistcoats were hired, an appropriate dinner was ordered. There is a reception of the bride and her family. Dust is blown into the eyes, dust is golden, diamond! All perfectly!
But suddenly the apartment Krechinsky is Nelkin. Here it is, the exposure! Nelkin had already found out everything: oh, God! with whom the most honorable Pyotr Konstantinovich was contacted! Yes, they are crooks, gamblers, thieves! They after all have stolen from Лидочки a tapeworm… What there bet? What prince Belsky?! There is no solitair at Krechinsky – he laid it to the usurer us Beck! .. Everyone is confused, all in horror. Everything except Krechinsky, for at this moment he is at the peak of his inspiration – his bluff is of special impressiveness. Magnificently portraying the noblest person, whose honor is offended by a treacherous slander, he takes from Muromsky a promise “to kick out” the offender if the tapeworm is immediately presented for public viewing.
The old man is forced to make such a promise. Krechinsky with a solemn indignation presents a diamond! Nelkin is disgraced. His card of bit Sam Muromsky points him at the door. But this is not enough for Krechinsky. Success needs to be consolidated. Now the skillful player portrays a different feeling: he is shocked that the family so easily believed the vile gossip about his future son-in-law, husband!! Oh no! now he can not be Lidochkin’s husband. He returns her heart to her, and Muromsky his blessing. The whole family is praying for forgiveness. Well, he’s ready to forgive. But on one condition: the wedding should be played tomorrow, to put an end to all the gossip and rumors! Everyone is happy to agree. Now the game is really won!
It remains only to buy time, that is, to send expensive guests as soon as possible. Nelkin’s not going to calm down. He can come here any minute with Bek, a false pin and fraud charges. We have to catch it… The guests are already up, they are moving to the exit. But no! The doorbell rings… they knock, they break. Nelkin was in time! He appeared with Beck, and with a pin, and with the police! Only for a moment Krechinsky loses his composure; ordering not to unlock the door, he grabs the handle from the chair and threatens to “blow his head” to anyone who moves from the spot! But this is not a game – it’s robbery! But Krechinsky is still a player, “not devoid of genuine nobility.”
The next moment Krechinsky “throws a corner from the armchair” and already as a true player recognizes his defeat with an exclamation typical for the card player: “It broke!” Now it shines “Vladimir road” and “diamond ace on his back.” But what is this?! From a sad road to Siberia and prisoner’s clothes “Michel” rescues Lidochka. “Here’s a pin… which should be in the mortgage,” she tells the moneylender, “take her… it was a mistake!” For this whole family, “running away from shame,” leaves the player’s apartment.