Time and Place
The mountain village Prodains in Upper Savoy near the border to Wallis, Switzerland, towards the end of the war of the Cevennes in the year 1704
The men from the village of Prodains evacuate their wives to safety from a troop of dragoons. When the soldiers, led by their sergeant Belamy, enter the town on their horses, they are surprised to find not a soul apart from the innkeeper Thibaut and the goatherdess Rose. Rose, who is snubbed by the villagers because she is not involved in village life, tells Belamy where the women are. To the great excitement of the soldiers, they are taken out of their hiding-places. The womenfolk's fear and embarrassment soon give way to merriment, and shortly after they are dancing and feasting with the soldiers. Sylvain, Thibaut's labourer, is afraid for the political refugees who are hiding in a cave near the village and who he wants to lead to safety in Switzerland the following day. Unexpectedly, Rose helps him with her knowledge of the place. Belamy, who has started an affair with Thibaut's wife Georgette, sets out with her to explore the mystery of the little bell which hangs in a solitary hermitage near the cave and which, according to a legend, starts to ring every time a woman of the village becomes unfaithful to her husband. Rose becomes a witness to the flirtation, thus having Belamy at her mercy. For when he observes Sylvain showing the refugees the way to liberty and wants to arrest and execute him as a traitor, Rose plays her trump. Threatening Belamy that she will inform his superiors of the incidents at the hermitage, she is thus able to induce him to give in.