Set in Rumania the early 20th century, the story begins with a young peasant worker who seduces a woman above his station in life simply for material gain and no other reason. In order to carry out his intentions, he breaks off an engagement to a woman he loves -- who has no money herself. He convinces the wealthy young woman to marry him, only to find that her father resents both him and the marriage. The shallow motives of the new husband are so much the worse because he abuses the wife he has deceived all along. She cannot bear her life with him, or her father's continuing mistreatment of her. Meanwhile, the peasant seeks out the woman to whom he had been engaged. She now has a husband of her own, and nothing good can come of a renewed relationship with her former lover, yet they meet for a forbidden tryst. Her husband finds out what has happened and goes to search for the peasant as the story reaches its climax.
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