When peasant girl Nives is deserted by smuggler Gino Lodi, she betrays him to the police. Police officer Enzo Cinti, who loves Nives, traces her to the Po River cane-fields, where she is working as a cutter to support herself and an infant son, and warns her that Gino has escaped from prison and is seeking revenge. She rejects his offer to protect her. Gino finds Nives, mourning the drowning death of their son. He surrenders himself to the police and then walks at Nives' side in the funeral procession.