We look in on a guy named Monsieur Appert, who has been sent from Paris to meet with a local priest named Father Chélan.
It sounds like the two of them need to visit the prison on some mysterious business. The Father seems especially annoyed about something that's going on.
Monsieur Appert visits the prisons with Chélan. He never says a word the whole time.
When the two of them visit the prison a second time that day, the guard says he's received orders not to let them in. Father Chélan scolds him until he lets them pass.
Meanwhile, we find out that the mayor, Monsieur de Rênal, and another man named Valenod want to get Chélan removed from the district because he doesn't play ball with them politically.
When the two tell Chélan the news, he answers that he'll never leave the community.
He'll live there even in retirement just to shame de Rênal and Valenod about what they've done. For crying out loud, the guy is 80 years old.
Later on, the mayor's wife asks him what harm it could do to let Chélan keep his job.
But the conversation quickly turns to the fact that the mayor wants a special tutor to teach their children. It's a matter of pride, since having a private tutor is a symbol of wealth just like owning a Porsche or a big house.
The mayor is eager to have the town talking about how well off he is.
The person the mayor wants to hire is the son of the sawmill owner, Sorel.
The narrator gives us a short description of Madame de Rênal, telling us that she's a beautiful woman who can't admit to herself that she finds her husband boring.
She has never known anything other than obedience and shyness, so she can't even imagine what love is supposed to look like.