Short summary - A Drama in Livonia
Jules Gabriel Verne
The main theme around which the plot of the novel unfolds is the confrontation between two parties in the Riga City Council - the "Slavic" party, supported mainly by the lower strata of the population - the proletariat and the peasantry, and the "German", supported, respectively, by the upper strata - the nobility and large the bourgeoisie, and the social and political struggle of the local population against the dominance of the Baltic barons is connected with a criminal intrigue.
The action of the novel takes place in the Russian Empire, in Livonia. The main characters of the novel are Professor Dmitry Nikolev and his two children - daughter Ilka and her younger brother Ivan, a student at Dorpat University. Ilka is in love with a young lawyer, Vladimir Yanov, who, 8 years before the events of the novel, was arrested for revolutionary activities and sentenced to life exile in Siberia.
Elections to the City Duma are approaching in Riga, in which two parties participate - the “German”, headed by the German banker Frank Johausen, and the “Slavic”, headed by Professor Nikolev. Dmitry Nikolev, a widower who lives with his daughter Ilka in great poverty, earns a living for himself and his daughter and for his son’s studies by tutoring, but this money is not enough, and the professor, in addition to everything, owes his political opponents, the Johausen brothers, a large the amount of 18 thousand rubles, which must be returned before May 15, that is, no later than a month from the beginning of the events of the novel. Dmitry Nikolev is going to go away for a few days on his own business, without telling anyone where and why. Shortly thereafter, Poh, a bank teller, is robbed and murdered at the Broken Cross Inn. The only suspects in this case are Kroff, the owner of the tavern where the murder took place, and Professor Nikolev himself, who also stayed at the same tavern. The professor flatly refuses to answer the police's questions about where and why he went, but it soon becomes clear - Vladimir Yanov, Ilka's ex-fiance, who fled from Siberia a few months ago, appears in the city. It turns out that Vladimir's father, before his death, left Dmitry Nikolev for safekeeping 20 thousand rubles, and that the professor, having received a letter from Yanov about a successful escape, went to Pernov to give them to him. Vladimir is arrested, but he soon falls under an amnesty and is released. Nevertheless, Professor Nikolev is still among the suspects, but since there is no direct evidence against him or Kroff, they decide to leave them at large for the time being under a written undertaking not to leave and proper behavior. In the meantime, the due date is approaching. Vladimir Yanov accidentally finds out about this and decides to pay Nikolev's debt at his own expense, from the amount transferred to him by the professor, but when he comes to the bank, it turns out that this is the same money that was stolen from Pokh - they are identified by numbers. Vladimir informs Nikolev about this, and he runs away from home in horror. The police arrive at Nikolev with a warrant for the arrest of the professor, but without finding him at home, together with Ilka, Ivan and Vladimir, they go in search and soon find him dead on the outskirts of the city. After examining him, the police come to the conclusion that Dmitry Nikolev, apparently, squandered the money given to him for safekeeping by Vladimir's father, and having received a letter from his son, went to Pernov to confess this, but having met a collector along the way, he killed him in order to to take possession of the money, and when his guilt was proven, he committed suicide. As a result, the professor's good name is discredited, his party loses in the elections, and Ilka and Ivan have to pay their father's debts, which are still considered outstanding, and sell family property for this. Despite this, Vladimir still offers his hand and heart to Ilka, but she refuses because she does not want him to marry the daughter of the killer.
A few months later, Kroff dies. Before his death, he confesses to the priest, instructing him to write down the confession and pass it on to Nikolev. From it it turns out that the real killer of the collector is Kroff, and that he not only killed Pokh, but also shifted the blame on Nikolev, and then killed him himself. As a result, the good name of the professor is completely restored, and Vladimir and Ilka get married.