Jacqueline Floriot (Ruth Chatterton) is thrown out into the street without any money by her jealous husband Louis (Lewis Stone) when he discovers she has been carrying on an affair. She is not even allowed to see their four-year-old son. She sinks into depravity.
Twenty years later, she has become the mistress of Laroque. When he finds out that her husband is now the Attorney General, Laroque decides to blackmail him. Desperate to shield her son from her disgrace, she shoots and kills her lover.
By chance, the lawyer assigned to her turns out to be her own son, on his first case. He is puzzled and frustrated when she refuses to defend herself in court. During the trial, her husband shows upin support of his son. When she sees that he recognizes her and is about to speak out, she makes an impassioned plea, not for mercy but for understanding of what drove her to murder. As she had intended, the hidden message silences Louis. When Jacqueline faints from the strain, she is carried into a private chamber. There, she kisses her still-unaware son and dies.