The narrator's father was a high-ranking official in their province's main town, a stern and cold man who resembled a raven.
The father was a widower with two children, the narrator and his younger sister Lilya. The family lived in a large, cold apartment, and the narrator spent most of his time studying in Moscow, only returning home for holidays.
One year, the narrator returned home to find a young girl named Yelena Nikolayevna, who had replaced Lilya's old nanny.
Yelena was the daughter of one of his father's subordinates and was happy to have found a good position after school. The narrator and Yelena fell in love, but their relationship was kept a secret due to the father's stern nature.
My God, when will it ever end! Just tell him finally that you love me, that nothing in the world is going to part us anyway!
One day, the father caught the narrator and Yelena in an intimate moment. He sent the narrator away to a village in Samara for the summer and told him to find work in Moscow or St Petersburg in the autumn. The father threatened to disinherit the narrator if he disobeyed.
Tomorrow you'll leave for my village in Samara for the whole summer. In the autumn, go to Moscow or St Petersburg and find yourself work.
The narrator left for a friend's village and later found work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in St Petersburg. He renounced his father's inheritance and any future assistance. Later, he learned that his father had moved to St Petersburg with a young wife. One evening at the theatre, the narrator saw his father and Yelena. Yelena was elegantly dressed and wore a ruby crucifix, just as his father had once imagined.