A reader in a publishing house is given a diary to take home and read overnight. This sets three worlds spinning: the reader's dream world, the real world and the world of the diarist. In his dreams the reader is to marry the owner's daughter while his lady is eager to wed and bed him. In reality, he proposes to the landlady and is promptly scorned. The diarist loved a girl who fell victim to a dashing cossack and was left pregnant when his regiment moved on. The diarist is scorned for having provoked a duel, and the girl will not even have him as a foster father for the child.
"Sure and subtle craftsmanship [and] ... language with a grace and suppleness one does not often encounter." - Harper's Magazine