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Louis XVIII has once again returned to power and the emigres are returing to France to reclaim the lands and fortunes they had relinquished. The Duc de Sairmeuse is returning to his tiny hamlet where the now widowed Lacheneur has been managing his estate for twenty years, so long that he is currently living in the chateau as owner. The duke is a snobbish tyrant of the old school and mortally offends the good Lacheneur who leaves the estate with only his daughter, not even allowing her to collect her clothing and other belongings. The duke's son, Martial, is very attracted to Lacheneur's daughter, Marie-Anne, who is secretly engaged to a baron's son, Maurice.

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