The first book. The Sisters
Beginning in 1914, St. Petersburg, “tormented by sleepless nights, deafening his longing for wine, gold, bezlyuboy love, tearing and powerless sensual sounds of tango – the death hymn lived as if waiting for a fateful and terrible day.” A young, clean girl, Daria Dmitrievna Bulavina, arrives in St. Petersburg for legal courses from Samara and stops at Ekaterina Dmitrievna’s older sister, who is married to a well-known lawyer, Nikolai Ivanovich Smokovnikov. Houses at the Smokovnikovs – salon, it is visited by various progressive personalities, talking about the democratic revolution, and fashionable people of art, among them – the poet Alexei Bessonov. “Everything died a long time ago-both people and art,” Bessonov says dully… “And Russia is a carrion… And those who write poetry, everyone will be in hell.” Clean and straightforward Daria Dmitrievna and pulls to the vicious poet,
but she does not suspect that her beloved sister Katya has already betrayed her husband with Bessonov. Deceived Smokovnikov guesses, says about this Dasha, blames his wife, but Katya convinces both that all is untrue. Finally, Dasha learns that this is still true, and with all the heat and spontaneity of youth persuades her sister to apologize to her husband. As a result, the couple are leaving: Ekaterina Dmitrievna – to France, Nikolai Ivanovich – to the Crimea. And on the Vasilievsky Island there lives a kind and honest engineer from the Baltic plant Ivan Ilyich Telegin and hands over some of the apartment to strange young people who organize “futuristic” evenings at home. On one of these evenings, entitled “Magnificent blasphemies”, Darya Dmitrievna gets to; she does not like “blasphemy” at all, but immediately she liked Ivan Ilyich. In the summer Dasha, going to Samara to his father, doctor Dmitry Stepanovich Bulavin, unexpectedly meets on the Volga steamer Ivan Ilich, who had already been dismissed after the labor unrest in the factory; their mutual sympathy is getting
stronger. On the advice of his father, Dasha goes to Crimea to persuade Smokovnikov to make peace with his wife; Bessonov is wandering about in the Crimea; Telegin suddenly appears there, but only in order that, having explained to Dasha in love, to say goodbye to her before leaving for the front, the First World War began. “In a few months, the war completed the work of a century.” Bessonov mobilized absurdly at the front. Darya Dmitrievna and Ekaterina Dmitrievna, who returned from France, work in Moscow in the infirmary. Smokovnikov, reunited with his wife, leads into the house of a lean captain with a shaven skull, Vadim Petrovich Roshchin, seconded to Moscow to receive equipment. Vadim Petrovich is in love with Ekaterina Dmitrievna, trying to explain herself, but so far without reciprocity. The sisters read in the newspaper that Ensign II Telegin was missing; Dasha is in despair, she does not yet know that Ivan Ilyich escaped from the concentration camp, was caught, transferred to the fortress, alone, then another camp; when he is threatened with execution, Telegin and his comrades again decide to escape, this time successful. Ivan Ilyich arrives safely to Moscow, but meetings with Dasha do not last long, he receives instructions to go to Petrograd to the Baltic plant. In St. Petersburg, he witnesses how the conspirators throw the body of Grigory Rasputin, who was killed by them, into the water. The February revolution begins before his eyes. Telegin goes to Moscow for Dasha, then the young couple again moved to Petrograd. The Commissar of the Provisional Government Nikolai Ivanovich Smokovnikov enthusiastically leaves for the front, where he is assassinated by outraged soldiers who do not want to die in the trenches; his faithful widow is consoled by the faithful Vadim Roshchin. The Russian army is no more. There is no front. The people want to share the land, and not to fight the Germans. “Great Russia is now a dung to arable land,” says the cadre officer Roshchin. “Everything has to be rebuilt: the army, the state, the soul needs to be squeezed into us by another…” Ivan Ilyich objects: “The county from us will remain – and from there the Russian land will go… “In the summer evening of 1917, Katya and Vadim are walking along Kamennoostrovsky Avenue in Petrograd. “Ekaterina Dmitrievna,” said Roshchin, taking in her hands her thin hand… “the years will pass, the wars will cease, the revolutions will cease,
The second book. Eighteenth year
“Petersburg was terrible in the end of the seventeenth year.” It is terrible, incomprehensible, unknowable. ” In a cold and hungry city, Dasha gave birth before the time, the boy died on the third day. Family life is deteriorating, the non-partisan Ivan Ilyich goes to the Red Army. And Vadim Petrovich Roshchin – in Moscow, during the October battles with the Bolsheviks, is contused, goes with Ekaterina Dmitrievna first to the Volga to Dr. Bulavin to wait for the revolution, and then to Rostov, where the White Volunteer Army is being formed. They do not have time – volunteers are forced to leave the city in their legendary “ice hike”. Unexpectedly, Ekaterina Dmitrievna and Vadim Petrovich quarrel on ideological grounds, she remains in the city, he follows the south following the volunteers. White Roshchin is forced to join the Red Guard part, get along with her in the area of fighting with the Volunteer Army and at the first case runs to his own. He bravely fights, but is not pleased with himself, suffers from a break with Katya. Ekaterina Dmitrievna, having received news of Vadim’s death, leaves Rostov for Yekaterinoslav, but does not reach – the Makhnovists are attacking the train. Makhno would have had it bad, but the former Roshchin, Alexei Krasilnikov, recognizes her and undertakes to take care of her. Roshchin, having received leave, rushes for Katya to Rostov, but no one knows where she is. At the Rostov station he sees Ivan Ilyich in a White Guard uniform and, knowing that Telegin is red, still does not betray him. “Thank you, Vadim,” Telegin whispered softly and disappears. And Darya Dmitrievna lives alone in red Petrograd, to her is an old acquaintance – the Denikin officer Kulichek – and brings a letter from her sister with a false news about Vadim’s death. Kulichek, sent to St. Petersburg for intelligence and recruitment, draws Dasha into the underground work, she moves to Moscow and participates in Boris Savinkov’s Union for Protection of Homeland and Freedom, and spends time in the company of anarchists from the Mamont Dalsky detachment; on the orders of the Savinkovites, she goes to workers’ meetings, watches Lenin’s speeches, but the speeches of the leader of the world revolution make a strong impression on her. Dasha breaks both with anarchists, and with conspirators, goes to his father in Samara. In Samara, he illegally gets everything in the same White Guard form Telegin, he runs the risk of turning to Dr. Bulavin for some news from Dasha. Dmitry Stepanovich guessed that he had a “red snake” in front of him, distracts his attention with an old letter from Dasha and calls counterintelligence over the phone. Ivan Ilyich is trying to arrest him, he fled and suddenly comes across Dasha; the spouses have time to explain themselves, and Telegin disappears. Some time later, when Ivan Ilyich, commanding a regiment, is one of the first who breaks into Samara, Dr. Bulavin’s apartment is already empty, the glasses are knocked out… Where is Dasha? ..
The third book. Gloomy morning
Night fire in the steppe. Daria Dmitrievna and her occasional companion are baking potatoes; they rode in a train that was attacked by white Cossacks. Travelers are walking along the steppe towards Tsaritsyn and fall into the reds that suspect them of espionage, but it suddenly turns out that the regimental commander Melshin knows Dasha’s husband of Telegin well both in the German war and in the Red Army. At the same time Ivan Ilyich is carrying guns and ammunition along the Volga to the defending Tsaritsyn from the whites. In the defense of the city, Telegin is seriously wounded, he lies in the infirmary and does not recognize anyone, and when he comes to, it turns out that the nurse sitting by the bed is his beloved Dasha. And at this time, honest Roshchin, already completely disappointed in the white movement, is seriously thinking about desertion and suddenly in Ekaterinoslav accidentally learns that the train in which Katya was traveling, was captured by the Makhnovists. Throwing a suitcase in the hotel, tearing off his shoulder straps and stripes, he gets to Gulyaypol, where Makhno’s headquarters is located, and falls into the hands of the head of the Makhnovist counterespionage Levka Zadova, Roshchin is tortured, but Makhno himself, who is in talks with the Bolsheviks, takes him to his headquarters to the Reds thought that he was simultaneously flirting with the whites. Roshchin manages to visit the farm, where Alexei Krasilnikov and Katya lived, but they have already gone to an unknown destination. Makhno concludes a temporary alliance with the Bolsheviks for the joint taking of Ekaterinoslav, controlled by the Petlyuraites. Brave Roshchin takes part in the storming of the city, but Petlyura takes the upper hand, the wounded Roshchin is taken away by the Reds, and he is in the Kharkov hospital. After discharging from the hospital, Vadim Petrovich receives an appointment to Kiev, to the headquarters of the cadet brigade to Commissar Chugai, familiar with the fighting in Yekaterinoslav. He participates in the defeat of the Green gang, kills Alexei Krasilnikov and everywhere he seeks Katya, but without success. Once Ivan Ilyich, already a brigade commander, gets acquainted with his new chief of staff, finds out in him an old acquaintance Roshchin and, thinking that Vadim Petrovich is a white scout, wants to arrest him, but everything is explained. And Ekaterina Dmitrievna returns to starving Moscow in the old Arbat apartment where she once buried her husband and explained to Vadim. She still teaches. At one of the meetings in the front-line soldier speaking to the people, she recognizes Roshchina, whom she considered dead, and faints. Dasha and Telegin come to the sister. And here they are all together – in a cold, crowded hall of the Bolshoi Theater, where Krzhizhanovsky makes a report on the electrification of Russia. From the height of the fifth tier, Roshchin points to Katya at the present Lenin and Stalin. Ivan Ilyich whispers to Dasha: “A sensible report… I’m dying to work, Dashenka…” Vadim Petrovich whispers to Katya: “Do you understand what sense all our efforts, bloodshed, all unknown and silent tortures are gaining… The world will be we are rebuilt for good… Everything in this room is ready to give for this life… It’s not fiction – they’ll show you scars and bluish spots from bullets… And this is in my homeland, and this is Russia… “