The scene is Michele's barge on the Seine, in a corner of Paris. Giorgetta, MIchele's young wife, is in love with Luigi, a longshoreman hired by her husband during the loading of the barge. Michele, by mere accident, guesses the truth. Having overheard his wife giving a rendezvous to Luigi by night, Michele waits for the man, surprises him as he jumps on the barge, seizes him by the neck, compels him to admit he is his wife's lover and strangles him. Then he hides the body under his cloak, and when Giorgetta, in mortal fear, comes on deck and asks Michele if he does not wish her to come and rest near him under his cloak—for, according to the text, “every man carries a cloak, hiding sometimes a great joy, sometimes a terrible sorrow”—her wronged husband throws it open and Giorgetta utters a shriek of horror as her lover's body rolls at her feet.