At the beginning of the century. To punish him for his failure at school, Count Ivan Petrov takes his son Alexander to spend the two summer months in their Crimean estate, far from any distraction. For the 18-year-old, this is the beginning of a long period of isolation, one-on-one with a father whose severity he fears. Once on the spot, Ivan announces to his son the imminent arrival of his cousins Katia, whom he loves in silence, and Natacha, accompanied by their mother Elena. The joy of Alexander is short-lived, Natacha learning to him immediately that Katia comes in fact to celebrate her engagement with Nicolai. His dismay increases when he discovers that it is his father who arranged this marriage, of which Katia does not seem to be very happy.