In a French province, in the late eighteenth century, Louise de Villefort is forced by her father, on the verge of bankruptcy, to marry the Marquis Philippe Baguy Puyvallées, a wealthy young man, rake and gambler.
Very quickly abandoned by her husband, she sinks into depression.
Manon, her friend, worries about Louise’s loneliness and invites her to a reception given by her brother in honour of a childhood friend, Charles Ligeac of Vigonde. A brave captain in the King’s Army, Charles has just returned to France after having fought with La Fayette to liberate America. Louise and Charles fall in love.
Meanwhile, Philippe plays a game of Brelan (a card game of rapidly escalating bets quite similar to Bouillotte, no longer played in France). The outcome is dramatic for him, he loses his fortune.
But he still wants to play one more hand and, having no money to bet, he offers a night of passion with his wife as the stake for this final game. His opponent, the Marquis de Noayes, wins.
Returning home Philippe tells Louise what he’s done. A violent argument ensues during which Louise, in a moment of intense anger, stabs Philippe in the neck and kills him.
With Manon and Charles, Louise decides to explain Philippe’s death as suicide, an act to protect her honour. Noayes has to accept this explanation.
Charles, resigns from the Royal Army and returns to take Louise to build a new life together in the Americas.