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On the banks of the mighty Ukrainian river, Dnieper, a young soldier Sergei arrives home from the battlefields of World War I. Upon his return, Sergei realizes he no longer loves his fiancée, Natalia, but is attracted to Olga, a village beauty who is betrothed to another man. After a brief encounter, the lovely Olga finds she, too, is completely charmed by Sergei and begins to doubt she loves her fiancé.

At a celebration of Olga's betrothal, the villagers enjoy lively dancing and boisterous cheer. Filled with jealousy, Sergei interrupts the festivities to challenge his rival, Olga's groom, and a brawl ensues. The guests disperse as the fight comes to a close, and Sergei, Olga and Natalia are left alone. Grief-stricken yet noble, Natalia unselfishly helps the young lovers, Sergei and Olga, to escape together to a life of happiness. Natalia is alone, heartbroken.