July 11, 1856 in a room of one of the large hotels in St. Petersburg find a note left by a strange guest. The memo says that its author will soon be heard on the Liteiny Bridge and that no one should have any suspicions. The circumstances are being clarified very soon: at night a certain person is shooting at the Liteiny Bridge. From the water caught his gun shot through.
On the same morning, at the dacha on the Stone Island, a young lady sits and sews, singing a brisk and bold French song about working people whom knowledge will release. Her name is Vera Pavlovna. The maid brings her a letter, after reading which Vera Pavlovna sobs, covering her face with her hands. The young man who enters is trying to reassure her, but Vera Pavlovna is inconsolable. She repels the young man with the words: “You’re bloody, you have his blood! You’re not guilty – I’m alone…” The letter received by Vera Pavlovna says that the writer is coming off the stage because he loves ” both of you”…
The tragic denouement is preceded by the life story of Vera Pavlovna. She spent her childhood in St. Petersburg, in a high-rise building on Gorokhovaya Street, between Sadovaya and Semyonovsky Bridge. Her father, Pavel Konstantinovich Rozalsky – the manager of the house, the mother gives money on bail. The only concern of her mother, Marya Alekseevna, in relation to Verochka: to give her soon to marry a rich man. A distant and
Dmitry V. Lopukhov, a teacher, a graduate medical student, was invited to Vera’s brother Fedya. At first young people treat each other wary, but then they start talking about books, music, about a fair image of thoughts and soon feel the disposition towards each other. Learning about the plight of the girl, Lopukhov tries to help her. He is looking for her as a governess, which would give Verochka the opportunity to settle separately from her parents. But the search is unsuccessful: no one wants to take responsibility for the fate of the girl, if she escapes from home. Then the enamored student finds another way: shortly before the end of the course, in order to have enough money, he leaves his studies and, taking private lessons and translating the geography textbook, makes Verochka an offer. At this time Verochka dreams her first dream: she sees herself released from a damp and dark cellar and conversing with an amazing beauty who calls herself a love for people. Verochka promises a beauty that she will always let out of the cellars of other girls locked in the same way as she was locked
Young people rent an apartment, and their life goes well. True, the apartment owner seems to be strange their relationship: “cute” and “cute” sleep in different rooms, enter each other only after a knock, do not show themselves to one another in undressed, etc. Verochka hardly succeeds in explaining to the hostess that such should be the relationship between the spouses, if they do not want to bother each other.
Vera Pavlovna reads books, gives private lessons, runs a farm. Soon she starts her own enterprise – a sewing workshop. Girls work in a workshop for self-employed, but are her co-owners and receive their share of income, like Vera Pavlovna. They not only work together, but spend their free time together: go on picnics, talk. In her second dream, Vera Pavlovna sees a field on which ears grow. She sees on this field and dirt – or rather, two mud: fantastic and real. The real dirt is the care of the most necessary (such that Vera Pavlovna’s mother was always burdened with), and ears may grow from her. Fantastic dirt – taking care of unnecessary and unnecessary; nothing good comes out of it.
Lopukhov’s spouses often have the best friend of Dmitry Sergeevich, his former classmate and a spiritually close person – Alexander Matveyevich Kirsanov. Both of them “pierced their way, without ties, without acquaintances.” Kirsanov – a strong-willed man, courageous, capable of decisive action, and a subtle feeling. He brightens up Vera Pavlovna’s loneliness by talking, when Lopukhov is busy, takes her to the Opera, which they both love. However, soon, without explaining the reasons, Kirsanov ceases to visit his friend, which offends both him and Vera Pavlovna. They do not know the true reason for his “cooling”: Kirsanov is in love with his friend’s wife. He reappears in the house only when Lopukhov becomes ill: Kirsanov is a doctor, he treats Lopukhov and helps Vera Pavlovna to take care of him. Vera Pavlovna is in utter confusion: she feels, that she is in love with her husband’s friend. She has a third dream. In this dream, Vera Pavlovna, with the help of some unknown woman, reads the pages of her own diary, in which she says that she feels gratitude towards her husband, and not that quiet, tender feeling, the need for which is so great in her.
The situation, in which three smart and decent “new people” fell, seems to be unsolvable. Finally, Lopukhov finds a way out – a shot on the Liteiny Bridge. On the day when this news was received, an old acquaintance of Kirsanov and Lopukhov-Rakhmetov, “a special person”-comes to Vera Pavlovna. “Higher nature” awakened in him in his time Kirsanov, who introduced the student Rakhmetov to books, “which you need to read.” Coming from a rich family, Rakhmetov sold the estate, gave out his money to his fellows and now leads a harsh life: partly because he considers it impossible for him to have what the common man does not have, partly from the desire to educate his character. So, one day he decides to sleep on nails to test his physical abilities. He does not drink wine, does not touch women. Rakhmetov is often called Nikitushka Lomov – because he walked along the Volga with barge haulers to approach the people and gain the love and respect of ordinary people. The life of Rakhmetov is shrouded in a veil of mystery clearly revolutionary. He has a lot to do, but it’s not his personal business. He travels through Europe, intending to return to Russia in three years, when he will “need” to be there. This “specimen of a very rare breed” differs from simply “honest and kind people” in that it is “the engine of engines, the salt of the salt of the earth.” intending to return to Russia in three years, when he “will” be there. This “specimen of a very rare breed” differs from simply “honest and kind people” in that it is “the engine of engines, the salt of the salt of the earth.” intending to return to Russia in three years, when he “will” be there. This “specimen of a very rare breed” differs from simply “honest and kind people” in that it is “the engine of engines, the salt of the salt of the earth.”
Rakhmetov brings Vera Pavlovna a note from Lopukhov, after reading which she becomes calm and even cheerful. In addition, Rakhmetov explains to Vera Pavlovna that the dissimilarity of her character with Lopukhov’s character was too great, that’s why she reached out to Kirsanov. Calmed down after a conversation with Rakhmetov, Vera Pavlovna leaves for Novgorod, where, in a few weeks, she is crowned with Kirsanov.
The dissimilarity between the characters of Lopukhov and Vera Pavlovna is also said in a letter that she soon receives from Berlin. A medical student, supposedly a good friend of Lopukhov, communicates to Vera Pavlovna his exact words that he began to feel better parting with her, because had a propensity for seclusion, which in no way was possible in life with the sociable Vera Pavlovna. Thus, love affairs are arranged for the common pleasure. The Kirsanov family has about the same lifestyle as before the Lopukhov family. Alexander Matveyevich works hard, Vera Pavlovna eats cream, takes baths and is engaged in sewing workshops: they now have two. In the same way in the house there are neutral and non-neutral rooms, and in non-neutral rooms the spouses can come only after a knock. But Vera Pavlovna notices, that Kirsanov not only provides her with the kind of lifestyle that she likes, and is not only ready to put her shoulder in a difficult moment, but also is keenly interested in her life. He understands her desire to engage in some business, “which can not be postponed.” With the help of Kirsanov, Vera Pavlovna begins to study medicine.
Soon she dreams of a fourth dream. Nature in this dream “pours aroma and song, love and bliss in the chest.” The poet, whose brow and thought is illuminated by inspiration, sings a song about the meaning of history. Before Vera Pavlovna there are pictures of the life of women in different millennia. First, the female slave obeys her master among the tents of the nomads, then the Athenians worship the woman, still not recognizing her as an equal. Then there is the image of a beautiful lady, for which the knight fights in the tournament. But he loves her only so long as she does not become his wife, that is, a slave. Then Vera Pavlovna sees her own face instead of the face of the goddess. His features are far from perfect, but it is illuminated by the radiance of love. A great woman, who she knew from the first night, explains to Vera Pavlovna what the meaning of women’s equality and freedom is. This woman shows Vera Pavlovna and pictures of the future: the citizens of New Russia live in a beautiful house made of cast iron, crystal and aluminum. They work in the morning, have fun in the evening, and “who did not work out enough, he did not prepare a nerve to feel the fullness of fun.” The guide explains to Vera Pavlovna that this future should be loved, for him it is necessary to work and transfer from it to the present everything that can be transferred.
Kirsanovs have a lot of young people, like-minded people: “This type has recently appeared and quickly blossoms.” All these people are decent, hardworking, having unshakable life principles and possessing “cold-blooded practicality.” Among them, the Beaumont family soon appears. Ekaterina Vasilyevna Beaumont, born Polozova, was one of the richest brides of Petersburg. Kirsanov once helped her with a wise advice: with his help, Polozova figured out that the person she was in love with was unworthy of her. Then Ekaterina Vasilievna marries a man who calls himself an agent of the British firm Charles Beaumont. He speaks perfect Russian, because he supposedly lived in Russia for up to twenty years. His novel with Polozova develops calmly: they are both people who “do not run without reason.” When Beumont meets Kirsanov, it becomes clear that this man is Lopukhov. The families of Kirsanovs and Beaumont feel such spiritual intimacy that they soon settle in the same house, receive guests together. Ekaterina Vasilievna also arranges a sewing workshop, and the circle of “new people” becomes thus wider.