Sergeant Kite on the market square in Shrewsbury urges everyone who is dissatisfied with their lives to enlist in the Grenadiers and promises ranks and money. He offers those who wish to try on a grenadier hat, but people listen with caution and are in no hurry to enlist in the army; but when Kite invites everyone to visit, there are many hunters to drink at someone else’s expense. Captain Plume appears. Kite reports on his success: over the past week, he recruited five, including a solicitor and a pastor. Plume orders the lawyer to be immediately released: diplomas in the army are not needed, what good, he will begin to scribble complaints. But the pastor, who plays the violin great, is very useful. Kite says that Molly from Kasda, whom Plume “recruited” the last time, had a baby. Plume requires Kite to adopt a child. Kite objects: then he will have to marry her, and he has so many wives. Kite pulls out a list of them. Plume offers to write Molly to Kite’s list, and Plume will add the newborn boy to his list of recruits: the child will appear on the list of grenadiers under the name of Francis Kite, who was sent to visit his mother.

Plume meets an old friend - Worthy. Worthy says that he was in love with Melinda and wanted to take her for maintenance, when suddenly the girl received an inheritance of twenty thousand pounds from her aunt - Lady Capital. Now Melinda looks down on Worthy and does not agree not only on the role of a lover, but also on the role of a wife. Unlike Worthy, Plume is a staunch bachelor. His girlfriend Sylvia, who believed that it was necessary to get married first, and then enter into close relations, did not achieve anything. Plume loves Sylvia and admires her open, noble character, but freedom is most important to him.

Sylvia comes to her cousin Melinda. The languid capricious Melinda is the exact opposite of the active cheerful Sylvia. Upon learning of the return of Captain Plume, Sylvia decides to become his wife at all costs. Medina is struck by her arrogance: does Sylvia imagine that a young wealthy officer will connect his life with a young lady from a bear's corner, the daughter of some judge? Melinda considers Plume a libertine and a loafer, and friendship with Plume only hurts Worthy in her eyes. Sylvia reminds Melinda that she was recently ready to go to Worthy for maintenance. Word for word, the girls quarrel, and Sylvia leaves, telling her cousin not to bother to return her visit. Melinda wants to thwart Sylvia's plans and writes a letter to Judge Balance.

Balance receives news of the death of her son, now Sylvia is his only heir. Balance announces to her daughter that her condition has increased significantly, and now she should have new affections and new views on the future. “Know your worth and throw it out of Captain Plume’s head,” says Balance. While Sylvia had one and a half thousand pounds of dowry, Balance was ready to give her for Plume, but a thousand and two hundred pounds a year would destroy Plume, drive him crazy. Balance receives a letter from Melinda, where she warns him against Plume: she knows the herd that the captain has dishonorable intentions regarding her cousin, and she advises Balance to immediately send Sylvia to the village. Belance follows her advice, having previously taken the word from Sylvia that she would not give her hand to anyone without his knowledge, and promised that she would not force her to marry. Upon learning of Melinda's letter, Worthy tells Balance that she quarreled with Sylvia and wrote a lie. Balance rejoices that Plume, to whom he favors, is not a deceiver, but still pleased that his daughter is far away.

Kite is trying to recruit Thomas and Costar by deception: under the guise of portraits of the queen, he gives them gold coins. Plumey, who arrived in time, explains to them that since they have royal money, they are recruits. Thomas and Costar are outraged and accuse Kite of fraud. Plume pretends to stand up for them. Having driven Kite away, he extols the soldier’s life and boasts that he did not carry the musket on his shoulder for very long, and now he commands the company. Having attracted the gullible guys, he persuades them to sign up as volunteers.

Plume and Worthy are equally unlucky: while their lovers were poor, everything was fine, but as soon as Melinda and Sylvia got rich, they immediately lifted their nose and did not want to know them. Worthy hopes to outwit Melinda. Plume wants to outwit Sylvia in his own way: he will stop thinking about her. He was admired by the generosity and nobility of Sylvia, and he did not need the arrogant and arrogant Sylvia with all her money. Seeing the cute village girl Rosie, Plume flirts with her, and Kite, meanwhile, tries to get into the trust of her brother Bullock. Rosie returns from Plume with presents. To Balance’s question about why gifts were received, she replies that Plume will take her brother and two or three of her boyfriends into the soldiers. “Well, if everyone recruits soldiers like this, then soon each captain will become a father to his own company,” Balance notes.

Worthy complains to Balance that he has a rival - Captain Braisen, who is courting Melinda. Melinda made an appointment with Braisen by the river, Worthy follows him to make sure. Walking along the bank of the Severn, Melinda complains to her maid Lucy that for two days no one has been declaring her love. Seeing Captain Braisen, she is surprised that this brainless talker has the audacity to look after her. Lucy is afraid that Braisen would not mention that Melinda had dated him: after all, Lucy had actually dated him. Worthy appears, and Melinda, to annoy him, goes hand in hand with Braisen. When they return, Plume approaches them and tries to recapture Melinda from Braisen. Braisen challenges Plume to a duel: whoever wins will get Melinda. Having been the subject of a dispute between a fool and a reveler, the girl asks for protection from Worthy and runs away with him. Sylvia appears in a man's dress. Calling herself Jack Wilful, she says that she wants to enlist and will go to the one who offers the most. Plume and Breisen vied with each other for the golden mountains. Wilful had heard a lot of good things about Captain Plume. Plume rejoices and says that it is he, but Braisen declares: "No, it is I - captain Plume." Plume dutifully agrees to be called Braisen, but still wants the Wilful to be recruited from him. Plume and Breisen cross swords, while Kite carries Sylvia away. that he is, but Braisen declares: "No, it's me - Captain Plume." Plume dutifully agrees to be called Braisen, but still wants the Wilful to be recruited from him. Plume and Breisen cross swords, while Kite carries Sylvia away. that he is, but Braisen declares: "No, it's me - Captain Plume." Plume dutifully agrees to be called Braisen, but still wants the Wilful to be recruited from him. Plume and Breisen cross swords, while Kite carries Sylvia away.

Finding that the recruit has disappeared, the captains make up and part with their friends.

Wilful and Plume are trying to please Rosie. A lively peasant woman cannot decide who is dearer to her, and asks who will give her what. "Wilful" promises her an impeccable reputation: she will have a luxurious carriage and footmen on her heels, and this is enough for everyone to be ashamed of his virtue and envy someone else's vice. Plume promises to give her a scarf with sparkles and a ticket to the theater. Rosie is ready to choose a ticket to the theater, but then Wilful confronts Plume with a choice: either he refuses Rosie, or Wilful enlisted from Braisen. “Take her. I always prefer a man to a woman, ”Plyum yields. Wilful asks what awaits him when he enlisted. Plume intends to keep the young man with him. “Just remember: you’re guilty of the small, I ask you, and if the big, I’ll expel you,” he warns. "Wilful" agrees to such conditions, for it feels

Melinda complains to Lucy about the coldness of Worthy. By chance meeting him, Melinda treats the poor lover so much that Worthy curses Plume, who advised him to stay cold and alienated with Melinda.

Kite, posing as a predictor, receives visitors. He predicts to the blacksmith that in two years he will become the captain of all the forges of the huge artillery convoy and will receive ten shillings a day. Butcher Kite promises the position of chief surgeon of the entire army and a salary of five hundred pounds a year. When Melinda and Lucy come to him, he predicts to Melinda that the next morning a gentleman will come to her to say goodbye before leaving for distant lands. His fate is connected with the fate of Melinda, and if he leaves, then his and her life will be destroyed. As Melinda leaves, Braisen appears. He was about to get married and wants to know if this will happen in a day. He shows love letters, and Worthy recognizes Lucy's hand. And Plume learns that Balance sent Sylvia to the village because of Melinda's letter. Friends rejoice: Melinda is faithful to Worthy, and Sylvia is faithful to Plume.

The constable arrests Sylvia, Bullock, and Rosie and brings them to Judge Balance. Sylvia, who this time calls herself Captain Nabekren, is accused of seducing Rosie. But captain Nabekreni explains that he and Rosie had a wedding according to the military regulations: they put the sword on the ground, jumped over it and went into the bedroom under the drumming. Balance asks what brought the captain to their lands, and Sylvia replies that the provincials aren’t smart enough, and he, the capital gentleman, needs money ... Hearing such impudent speeches, Balance orders to take Sylvia to prison and keep him there until further notice.

Arriving at ten in the morning to Melinda, Worthy meets an affectionate welcome, and the lovers make peace.

Braisen is going out of town on a date with the lady of his heart. So that Worthy's friends do not recognize her, she will come in a mask and take it off only after the wedding. Worthy hurries to the bank of the river and, catching Braisen with a masked lady, challenges him to a duel. The lady takes off the mask. Seeing that this is Lucy, Worthy retreats: he has nothing against Braisen's marriage. But Braisen does not want to marry Lucy at all, he thought that Melinda was with him, because Lucy wrote a letter on her behalf.

In the courtroom, Balance, Skade, and Scrouplus are seated at the judiciary chair. Enter the prisoners. The first of them has not been charged, but after some bickering, Kite takes him away. The next prisoner - the miner - is accused of being the most honest fellow. Plume wants to have at least one honest fellow in her company for a change, as a result, Kite takes it with his wife. When it comes to Sylvia, she holds on so defiantly that the judges unanimously decide to surrender her to the soldiers. Balance asks Captain Plume under no pretext to let the insolent boy out of military service.

The manager tells the Balance that Sylvia has escaped by dressing in a man’s suit. Balance understands that he was held: the daughter promised not to control her fate without his consent and arranged so that he himself gave it to Captain Plume, voluntarily and with witnesses. After making sure that Plume is not aware of the tricks of Sylvia, Balance asks him to fire the impudent boy from the army. The judge says that the father of this youth is his close Friend. Plume signs the dismissal of Wilful. Upon learning that everything has opened, Sylvia falls at the feet of his father. Judge Balance entrusts her to Plume and advises the conjugal authorities to impose a disciplinary sanction on her. Plume is amazed: he only now learned that in front of him is Sylvia. For the love of her, he is ready to resign. Plume gives his entire set to Captain Braisen - instead of the twenty thousand dowry he dreamed about, he will receive twenty dozen recruits. And from now on, Plume will serve the queen and fatherland at home, recruitment is a troublesome business, and he leaves him without regret.