The story concerns three students from the Brothers' Monastery at Kiev. Every summer, after classes have ended, there is usually a large procession of all the students moving around the area as they travel home, getting progressively smaller as each student arrives at his home. Eventually, the group is reduced to three students, the theologian Khaliava, the philosopher Khoma Brut, and the rhetorician Tibery Gorobets.
As the night draws in, the students hope to find a village near the main road where they can find some rest and food. However, they become lost in the wilderness, eventually coming upon two small houses and a farm.