" The House of Tellier " is a brothel named after the boss, Mrs. Tellier, located in the province of Fécamp. On a Saturday evening, as usual, customers of the "café-bordel", mainly workers, French and English sailors, but also the city's bourgeoisie, gather in front of the brothel, but in front of an equally closed door. After fighting for futile reasons revealing their frustration and bitterness due to the disappointment of not being able to enjoy the girls of joy on this weekend, they left in disarray. However, one of them, who had toured the building, discovered the reason for this closure: we did not receive "because of first communion". From then on, a parallel is drawn and will continue throughout the story between prostitution and religion.
The manager, Mrs. Tellier, took her employees, of whom she is very close, to her niece Constance's first communion. This is followed by a rather agitated train journey for the boss and her troop of prostitutes, even if their appearance makes them look like nuns. Indeed, a traveling clerk will say with respect "that these ladies change monasteries". Prostitution was mainly an urban activity, and none of the people they meet from the rural world suspect their true condition.