The first question to ask Maitre Hauchecorne is, "Did you take the pocketbook?" He is never asked this. He is simply accused.
Maître Hauchecorne," said he, "this morning on the Beuzeville road, you were seen to pick up the pocketbook lost by Maître Houlbrèque, of Manneville."
In fairness, the mayor should have asked at least a few questions. The mayor could have asked Maitre Hauchecorne about his dealings with M. Malandain, if there were any ill feelings. The mayor could have questioned M. Malandain as well. Also, instead of simply concluding that M. Hauchecorne was looking for any money that might have dropped from the pocketbook, the mayor could have asked, "Even if it was a piece of string you picked up, why did you continue to look around?" To this, M. Hauchecorne could/would have replied that he was embarrassed to be picking up a piece of string in front of M. Malandain.
After all M. Hauchecorne's attempts to convey his innocence, an interviewer might ask, "If you are innocent, why not just drop the matter?" M. Hauchecorne is so adamant that others know he is innocent that the more he tells his story, the less he is believed. His fellow townspeople are unfair but M. Hauchecorne might have been better to be satisfied knowing, by himself, that he was innocent.