On a frosty evening, a man named Glebov was being driven to the Loskutnaya Hotel in Moscow. He was planning to leave for abroad and asked his cab driver, Kasatkin, to pick him up in an hour to take him to the Brest Station.
At the hotel, Glebov felt a pang of sadness at leaving his familiar surroundings and his friends, Nadya and Lee. Nadya, a young girl of sixteen, came to say goodbye and expressed her wish to accompany him to the station, but Glebov refused.
‘And I think I’d give my life to go with you!’ ‘And how do I feel? But you know it’s not possible…’
On the train to Brest, Glebov shared a compartment with Heinrich, a tall, lively woman with whom he had a close relationship.
‘Heinrich, how I love such railway-carriage nights, this darkness in the speeding carriage, the lights of a station glimpsed behind the blind – and you, you, ‘human women, the net for the enticement of man’!’
They discussed their respective love interests, Lee and an Austrian man, and made plans to meet in Nice. However, Glebov suggested they go to Italy instead, to which Heinrich agreed.
In Warsaw, Heinrich left Glebov to meet her Austrian lover. Glebov continued his journey alone, arriving in Nice the next day. He expected a telegram from Heinrich but received none. He spent the next few days in a state of agitation, drinking heavily and gambling. On the third day, he decided to return to Moscow via Venice.
While in Nice, Glebov read a newspaper article that reported the murder of Heinrich by her Austrian lover, Arthur Schnitzler. The news left him stunned and devastated.