In formal attire, Ivan Vassilievich Lomov calls upon his neighbor, the bluff Stefan Stefanovich Chubukov. Chubukov fears that the prolix Lomov has come to borrow money, but is delighted when Lemov finally gets to the point and proposes to marry Chubukov's daughter Natalia. Without telling her why, Chubukov sends Natalia into the drawing room, and Lemov begins an even more roundabout proposal. Before he can make his intentions clear, Natalia takes exception to something he says, and an argument ensues. Lemov works himself into a lather. Will a funeral be required? Perhaps a neutral conversational topic, such as hunting dogs, can ease the couple past their disagreement.