The story title is "The Piece of String," details the events concerning the main character, Maitre Hauchecorne, an old peasant, who picks up a piece of useless string on the road near the market and is accused of stealing a pocketbook containing 500 Francs. No matter what he says, no one believes that he just picked up a piece of string.
The climax of the story comes when the pocketbook and its contents are returned to its owner. Still the people in the town don't believe that Hauchecorne just picked up a piece of string. He spends hours and hours trying to convince the villagers of his innocence. He becomes ill from his efforts and eventually dies at the end of the story, muttering it was only a piece of string.