• The story opens in 1913 with Nellie Reid leaving her husband Frank in Moscow, the resolution of this situation being the main thread of the story.
• Nellie has taken their three children, Dolly, Ben, and Annushka along with her by railroad, presumably with the intention of returning to Great Britain.
• Born and raised in Moscow to English parents, Frank's father was an importer and assembler of printing machinery who acquired a small printing business along the way, and which is about all that Frank has inherited.
• Frank telephones a fellow Englishman, Selwyn Osipych Crane, who is his chief accountant and who consoles him briefly.
• Selwyn later comes to Frank's residence at 22 Lipka to encourage him to accompany him for a walk, but Frank is not interested, and when Selwyn departs, Frank assures him he will be in to work at his usual time.
• The reader is also introduced...
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