Monsieur Rigaud is traveling through what seems to be an unending country road towards Chalon. He is wet and has blisters on his feet. He is in a bad mood from the discomfort. He is tired, thirsty, and hungry.
He finally arrives at a billiard hall. He orders a meal, a drink, and lodgings.
The other patrons resume their conversation. One man discusses a man who has supposedly fled to France. The landlady tells them that she knows there are some people who were born bad. They are enemies of the human race. This man was one of them. It turns out they are talking about Rigaud.
Monsieur Rigaud asks about this man they are talking about. The landlady tells him it was a man who killed his wife, but the law couldn’t find enough proof to convict him.
Rigaud then asks to be shown to his room, and the landlord takes him to it. There is another traveler sleeping in the next bed. Rigaud recognizes his old cell mate John Baptiste.
John Baptiste wakes up, alarmed to see the figure hovering over his bed. It takes him a few minutes to recognize Rigaud, who asks him to call him Lagnier.
John Baptiste reveals that he was let out two days after Rigaud. He has been doing odd jobs and traveling about. He was thinking of going to Paris next. Lagnier wants to travel with him. John Baptiste is not that enthused with the idea but doesn’t argue. Rigaud is confident he will regain his gentleman status, and both of them will profit from it.
Lagnier is full of vengeance. The populace had wanted to stone him. He had to be driven in the dead of night to be released at a far off destination. He can’t return to his old home. He is even being slandered by the people in this inn.
During the night, John Baptiste flees while Lagnier sleeps.