Ryabovitch is the picture of self-consciousness, clearly aware of his own awkward bearing, small stature, and unusual looks. While attending a glamorous party hosted by Lieutenant General von Rabbek, Ryabovitch avoids the other guests by wandering into a darkened room where he suddenly finds himself in the embrace of a woman who favours him with a passionate kiss. However, once the woman realizes that Ryabovitch is not the man she had been waiting for, she disappears. With the memory of that single kiss now permanently imprinted in his mind, Ryabovitch leaves the party a changed man, unaware of the powerful effect that kiss will have on his future.
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