The narrator talks about what many people understand by the word “artists”, and then reports on the master who was in Russia. His little brother was nursed by old Lyubov Onisimovna, an actress of the former Orlovsky Theater Count Kamensky. She led them to walk in the cemetery to a simple grave with an old cross. Here the author also heard from her the story of the “tupeyn artist”, that is, the serf hairdresser and makeup artist who combed and “drew” all actresses of the theater. He was the best master of his craft. Lyubov Onisimovna was then nineteen, and Arkady was twenty-five. They fell in love with each other. But the Count began to show his benevolence to the young actress: she gave her aquamarine earrings and demanded that after the performance she be brought to him. Arkady, not wanting to part with his beloved, organizes an escape for the money earned by him. The coachman takes them to the village of Dry Orlitsa to the priest, who was supposed to hide them from the chase and marry them. But when the count’s people appear in his house, he immediately gives them out.
Arkady punished directly under the little room of Lyubov Onisimovna, who, unable to stand, tried to commit suicide by suffocating her own scythe. But she is rescued and sent to the farmyard to the old woman Drosida.
Then the Count sends Arkady Ilyich for three years to the war. For good service he gets an officer’s rank and a noble title. He arrives on vacation to heal wounds, writes a letter to Lyuba, informing him that tomorrow he will go to the count with money to buy it and get married.
But in the morning Lyubov Onisimovna learns that at night Arkady was stabbed by a janitor at an inn, taking all his money. He was buried, and the killer was punished in the square with a whip and sent to penal servitude.