Twenty-year-old Lena Grove arrives in Mississippi on foot. She is pregnant and has been traveling for four weeks to get there.
Lena has come to Mississippi all the way from Alabama, and she's looking for Lucas Burch, the father of her child.
As Lena rests in a ditch on the side of the ride, Armstid happens upon her in his wagon and offers her a ride.
After chatting for a while, Armstid offers to let Lena spend the night with him and his wife, even though he knows his wife is probably going to throw a fit! Lena agrees and the two head to Armstid's.
Mrs. Armstid gives Lena some money and Armstid drops her off at a storefront where she'll be able to catch a wagon into town.
On the steps of the store, a man named Varner tells Lena that the man she's looking for is named Bunch, not Burch. Bunch works at a planning mill in Jefferson. Lena sets her sights on Jefferson and waits at the store until a wagon appears to give her a ride.
The driver of the wagon listens to Lena's story on the ride. As the two approach Jefferson, the driver points out two columns of smoke; it seems there's a house burning in Jefferson.