This gem of Slovak naturalism was written in 1940. The story takes the reader to a mountain village. The protagonist narrates the vicissitudes, suffering, and success he experiences as he pursues a love affair, resulting in the triumph of pure love.
Peter has been in love with a girl—Magdalena—since childhood and asks her to marry him. But he is too late, because a rich man, Jano Zapotočný, has already proposed to Magdalena, a proposal that her greedy mother promptly accepted on her behalf. Magdalena, out of respect for her mother's wishes, accepts the engagement. However, Magdalena promises Peter that she will put off marrying Jano and will marry him instead if he can prove that he truly loves her. He must build a house and earn a living. After almost two years Peter returns to show her that he kept his promise. But Magdalena is already married; Jano has raped her and she is pregnant. Desperate, Peter is tempted to take out his anger on Jano, nevertheless he resists the impulse. In the end, the author finds a way to reward Peter's faith in love and morality.