Yegor Savvitch, an artist, is sitting in his room feeling depressed. His landlady's daughter, Katya, is visiting him and wants to discuss their future together. Yegor says he cannot marry because artists must be free, but Katya pleads with him not to leave her as she is afraid of her strict mother. Yegor eventually agrees to pay his debts and gives Katya a glass of vodka. He begins to dream of becoming great and imagines a future filled with success and adoration.