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Marie de Nardi, an internationally known opera singer, gives birth to an illegitimate son and, as a consequence, loses her following at the height of her artistic and financial success. Bitter at the neglect of those who once flattered her, she turns to drink and eventually comes to live in seclusion in a tumbledown shack, tending geese for her livelihood. Living under the name of Mary Holmes, she brings up her son, Gerald, with neither love nor affection, blaming him for her decline. Gerald becomes engaged to Hazel Woods, a local actress, and, out of spite, Mary tells him of his illegitimacy. Amos Ethridge, a millionaire who backs the local stock company, is murdered, and Mary sees the chance to be again on the front pages of the world's newspapers. She fabricates a story concerning the murder, with herself as the key witness, only to discover that by chance the circumstances of her story implicate her son. Her long-suppressed love for her son finally bursts forth, and she retracts her testimony. The doorman at the theater confesses that he shot Amos, who had seduced a number of young girls, in order to protect Hazel from his vile advances.