A spectacular film adaptation of Stefan Żeromski's novel of the same title. A heroic love drama set in the times of the January Uprising, it depicts Polish peasants' meaningful antipathy for the uprising and lack of understanding of its purpose.
Heavily wounded insurgent, prince Józef Odrowąż, crawls out of the battleground. He manages to get to a ruined manor house inhabited by noblewoman Salomea Brynicka. Moved by Józef's condition, she decides to save him and has him operated by a town doctor. As Józef slowly gets better, he and Salomea fall in love with each other. Meanwhile, the Cossacks are after him. National Government commissary Hubert Olbromski arrives at the manor. He gets into a dispute with Józef which reveals deep divisions and the reasons behind the weakness of the uprising. At dawn, Cossacks attack the manor. Olbromski is killed in battle. The Cossack commander suspects that Odrowąż is an insurgent and that he and Salomea are in love. In a spur of kindness, he lets them stay in the manor. The couple cherish their love. In spring, Józef's mother, princess Odrowąż, arrives at the manor. She gives Salomea a pouch of gold coins for saving her son and looking after him. The noblewoman throws it in the river and falls to the ground unconscious.