Forget the erroneous title, the central figure of this particular slice of Balzac’s lifelong gift to literature is a woman of character, Madame Veronique Graslin. Honoré de Balzac (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) is considered to be one of the fathers of realism in fiction and has crafted a vivid picture of Europe during the end of the Bourbon Monarchy. The first characters presented are the shopkeeper Sauviat and his family. The daughter, Veronique, is beautiful and charming, a favorite in the entire quarter. When she is eleven she falls desperately ill with smallpox. Her beauty has been ruined by the disease and her parents love her even more and try to give her everything money can buy in compensation. A marriage to a rich banker is arranged. What causes Veronique to later live a life of penance?