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At the turn of the century in southern Algeria, a French Algerian cafe hostess named Cigarette, whom British Major L. C. Doyle wants to marry, flirts with Corporal Victor, who saved his convoy from an attack by the rebel chieftain Sidi-Ben Youssiff, but Victor ignores her. After Victor is promoted to sergeant, he sees Cigarette try to swindle a British officer in a horse deal and wagers a bottle of wine to a kiss that he can beat Cigarette racing. After he wins, Victor further antagonizes Cigarette by offering his horse for her to kiss. She then rides into the desert, he follows, they kiss and she confesses her love for him. Victor meets Lady Venetia Cunningham, the niece of the British commissioner, and after showing her the Arab village, he invites her late at night to a nearby oasis. Although she initially refuses, she arrives later and spends the night with him, while Cigarette, greatly upset, waits up all night. After chieftain Ben Hamidou, who sides with the British, is murdered by chieftains loyal to Sidi-Ben Youssiff, war is declared. Before the troops leave, Victor learns that Lady Venetia is the niece of the visiting Lord Seraph. Worried that Lord Seraph will recognize the little wooden horse which Victor gave Lady Venetia, Victor sneaks into Lady Venetia's room to retrieve it. They confess their love for each other, but Victor reveals that he will be sent to prison if he returns to England. Meanwhile, Doyle, now a colonel, learns that Cigarette, who jealousy witnessed Victor and Lady Venetia's goodbye kiss, loves Victor. After the battalion leaves, Lord Seraph discovers the wooden horse and tells Lady Venetia that the horse was once given to him by Rafe Brett, a popular officer who disappeared after taking the blame for an accident committed by his younger brother, and who since has been cleared completely. Lady Venetia confronts Cigarette, and learning that Doyle has been sending Victor on extremely dangerous missions to get him killed, she asks Cigarette to save him. She refuses, knowing that Victor loves Lady Venetia. Meanwhile, Doyle, uncomfortable with his actions against Victor, orders his battalion to rescue Victor and his men. During a battle, Doyle is shot in the shoulder, and afterward, with the battalion surrounded, Victor tells him that he does not love Cigarette. After Victor meets with Sidi-Ben Youssiff to stall for time, Cigarette brings French troops to attack, and during the battle she is shot. As she dies in Victor's arms, he says he will always remember their day in the desert and kisses her. The revolt is prevented, and Cigarette is given an honored burial at the post.