A carpenter's mate named Jacques Raudel had been walking for forty days, searching for work. He left his hometown, Ville-Avaray, because there was no work available there. He had been living off his family for two months, and they were struggling to make ends meet. Jacques decided to look for work in the Midlands, and set off with a few belongings and seven francs in his pocket.
Jacques struggled to find work and had to resort to doing odd jobs for very little pay. He became increasingly frustrated and angry at his situation, blaming others for his misfortune. One night, he found shelter by sleeping next to a cow in a field. The next day, he continued his search for work but was met with hostility from the people he encountered.
I have a right to live, because I breathe, because the air belongs to everyone. So no one has a right to leave me without bread.
Eventually, Jacques was arrested for vagrancy and begging. He was taken to the local mayor, who decided to set him free but warned him not to be caught again.
If you let me go on dying of hunger, you'll force me to crime, and that'll be the worse for you great fat fellows.
Jacques continued on his way, but his hunger and desperation led him to break into a house and steal food and alcohol. He became intoxicated and assaulted a servant girl who happened to pass by.
The girl managed to escape, and Jacques fell asleep in the woods. He was soon found by the same policemen who had arrested him earlier, and they took him back to the village. The mayor was pleased to see Jacques captured again and declared that he would receive a lengthy prison sentence for his crimes.