One day at a café, Julien stares off into space while thinking about his boring life. He catches the eyes of another young man, whom he realizes is staring right back at him. The staring contest eventually turns into an argument, and the young man insults Julien so much that Julien demands a duel.
The young man throws a card into Julien's face. The card has the man's name and address on it.
Julien shows up at the guy's house the next day, bringing Count Norbert as his backup.
When they meet the master of the house, they encounter a polite young man who is definitely not the dude Julien met in the café the day before.
While leaving, Julien recognizes one of the man's servants as the guy from the café and lays a beat-down on him. Two servants try to help their friend, but Julien fires a gun at them and they run off.
The master of the house decides that there is now good reason for a duel, since Julien has attacked one of his servants. The two of them drive out to a dueling ground and the guy shoots Julien in the arm.
It's not a major wound, and the guy even drives Julien home in his carriage.
The master is shocked to learn that Julien is only a servant. It's bad form for a nobleman to fight with someone of such lower class. He decides to keep the whole thing hush hush in order to avoid any damage to his reputation.
The two of them start hanging out and going to the opera together. The master decides to make up a story about Julien being the son of one of the Marquis de La Moles' wealthy relatives in order to put them on a similar social footing.
Word spread across town until the Marquis finds out. He's not mad, and decides to let the rumor stand. The condition is that Julien has to study all the rich folks at the opera and learn to carry himself like a rich person.