It tells the story of John Melmoth, a man who sells his soul to the Devil for another 150 years of life and then spends the rest of his life searching for someone to take over the pact. Melmoth, as a character, has become indicative of much - in Nabokov's Lolita, Humbert Humbert calls the car he takes Lolita on a journey across America in Melmoth, and Oscar Wilde called himself Sebastian Melmoth during his travels made after his release from prison.
Five o'clock on a Friday afternoon in one of the largest banks in Paris. Castanier, the lone remaining cashier is practicing forgery of the banker's signature in preparation for an unauthorized extended trip. He is interrupted by a stranger who signs his name John Melmoth. Yet the porter claims to have admitted no one. Castanier meets hard times is about to steal money, suddenly meets John Melmoth who makes a deal with him eventually engulfing him in a curse.