Michel is a wealthy young man who marries Marceline in order to please his dying father. He admits he does not love his wife, however he has never loved any woman and believes this is a good enough basis for marriage. On their honeymoon travels through Africa Michel is struck by tuberculosis, and the disease will make him reassess his life and begin to live in a whole new way.
Marceline dotes on Michel during his illness, and introduces him to local boys in order to distract him from his sickness. While Michel appreciates his wife's affection and care, he does not enjoy her company and develops a preference for the company of the small mischievous Arab boys. When he spies one of the boys stealing from his wife he is delighted, and this particular child, Moktir, becomes his favourite.
When Michel's health improves, he and Marceline return to France, but Michel finds his friends tedious and his wife dull. He struggles with concepts of what is immoral and what is acceptable, as he increasingly lives his life in order to please himself. He sets off to travel once more, and again finds the company of boys and young men to be more pleasing than the company of his wife or the tedium of minding his French estates. When Marceline falls ill with the disease her husband passed on to her, Michel must decide whether he owes her the kindnesses she showed him during his illness, or if he is justified in placing his own needs and desires before hers.
This report prepared by Ren Rorschach