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In eighteenth century France, Queen Marie Antoinette asks her devoted cousin Noel, the Marquis de Maynes, to find the true identity of Marcus Rufus, author of a pamphlet extolling "equality--liberty--fraternity." Noel, who is France's greatest, but most ruthless, swordsman, readily agrees. The queen also asks Noel to select a bride, and suggests her protégée, Aline de Gavrillac, whose beauty and spirit charm Noel. Meanwhile, in the forest, Andre Moreau, a handsome ne'er-do-well, goes to see his sweetheart Lenore, an actress with Gaston Binet's troupe. After learning that Lenore has grown tired of waiting and gone to Paris to marry a wealthy man, Andre follows her. Disguised as a coachman, Andre abducts Lenore and her fiancé. After convincing Lenore to marry him, Andre goes to meet his best friend, Philippe de Valmorin. Learning that Philippe is in trouble, Andre drives the coach to the Valmorin house and discovers that Philippe is Marcus Rufus. Soldiers ransacked the house but did not find Philippe, who was hidden by his kindly parents, Georges and Isabelle. Andre, who was reared by the Valmorins, helps Philippe escape by switching coats with him so the soldiers think that Philippe is the coachman. Andre then agrees to get money for Philippe and arranges to meet him in the forest. Andre goes to his lawyer, Fabian, and asks for an advance on his allowance, but Fabian tells him that there are no longer provisions for him. Andre, who was born out of wedlock, demands to know his father's identity and Fabian reveals that the man is the Count de Gavrillac of Normandy. After Andre meets Philippe, the two travel to Normandy, and near the Gavrillac estate, encounter Aline, whose carriage has a broken wheel. Not knowing who she is, Andre is immediately attracted to her, and when the wheel is fixed, he jumps into her carriage and says that he loves her. When he learns her identity, he quickly cools, thus confusing the equally smitten Aline. At the estate, when they find that the count has died, Andre leaves the grieving Aline. Later, at a nearby inn, Philippe is recognized by one of Noel's men, the Chevalier de Chabrillaine, and accused of being Marcus Rufus. Noel, who is also at the inn, seems to defend Philippe, but soon insults his lineage, even though he is from one of France's noblest families. Philippe then strikes Noel with a glove, precipitating a duel. He is no match for Noel and is run through before Andre can free himself from Chabrillaine. Because Andre is not a swordsman, he grabs a pistol and shoots at Noel, but only wounds him. As Andre jumps on his horse and rides away, he promises one day to kill Noel with Philippe's sword. With Chabrillaine's soldiers in pursuit, Andre rides to the Gavrillac estate and sees Aline in the garden. When soldiers approach, she hides Andre and he is able to ride into town, where Binet's troupe is performing. Hiding in the basement of the theater, Andre comes face to face with a drunken actor known as "Scaramouche," who wears a mask because he is disfigured. As the soldiers search for Andre, they happen onto the troupe's performance. Andre, who exchanged clothes with Scaramouche, is pushed onstage, and the soldiers are so delighted with his comic antics with Lenore that Chabrillaine asks to meet Scaramouche. By use of the stage's trap door and a quick change, Andre hides while the real Scaramouche is unmasked. After Chabrillaine and his men leave, Lenore, who recognized Andre after their onstage kiss, angrily threatens to throw him out, because he left her in Paris. When Andre sees the real Scaramouche with the pamphlet, he asks where it came from and is told that it was from Noel's sword master, Doutreval. Andre soon sneaks onto the de Maynes estate and convinces Doutreval to tutor him by saying that he is a friend of Marcus Rufus. In the following weeks, Andre receives lessons from Doutreval by day, while in the evenings he becomes the star of Binet's troupe. Lenore, who thinks that Andre's frequent absences are to see a woman, becomes suspicious when he refuses an offer to go with the troupe to Paris. One day, while getting a lesson from Doutreval, Andre is seen by Noel, who accuses Doutreval of treachery. Andre saves his teacher by saying that he was duped, then Noel draws his sword. He has the advantage over Andre until Aline arrives and momentarily distracts him, thus enabling Andre to escape through a secret passageway. There Andre encounters Doutreval, who tells him that only Perigore, a Parisian master, can further instruct him. Soon the troupe becomes the toast of Paris and Lenore is pursued by several officers, including Chabrillaine. When Andre learns that Noel and Aline are to be married, Lenore thinks that Andre's hatred of Noel is solely because of Aline. When she realizes that Andre plans to kill Noel, who is now Aline's guardian, because of Philippe, she secretly tells Aline. On the morning of the intended ambush, Aline rides out to meet Andre, thus preventing the duel. She tells him that they are in love with each other, but he vehemently denies it. When Andre returns to Lenore's dressing room, he finds Dr. Dubuque, a patriot who has seen him at Perigore's and wants him to take a vacancy in the French Assembly. Andre agrees and, at the next session, joins the Assembly without fear, as all seated members are immune from arrest. For several days, Andre is challenged to duels by Noel's supporters, but each time is victorious. Lenore and Aline have secretly arranged with the sympathetic queen to send Noel away on official business so he is unaware of Andre's presence. On the evening of Noel's return, Aline distracts him from the news by flirting and cajoling him into taking her out. Chabrillaine suggests seeing Binet's troupe, and during the performance, Aline recognizes the masked Lenore and Andre, but says nothing. When Andre sees Noel in the audience and stops to introduce him, Aline pretends to faint and asks to go home, but Andre confronts Noel by removing his mask. The two men then fight furiously throughout the theater, but when Andre has Noel at sword's point, he cannot bring himself to kill Noel and runs away. Later that night, Andre is sulking on the empty stage when he is approached by Georges. Andre feels that he has betrayed Philippe's memory, but Georges reveals that Count de Gavrillac was not his father, but was only covering for the late Count de Maynes. While Georges expounds that instinct prevented Andre from killing his own brother, Andre happily realizes that Aline is not his sister. Lenore, who has overheard everything, says that Aline is the marrying kind, which she is not, and kisses Andre goodbye. Soon Aline and Andre are married and Lenore goes off with a short new suitor, a brooding young corporal.