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By December 1916, in the middle of World War I, the little Galician town of Sucha has been taken three times by the Russians and four times by the Austrians. Just outside the town, Anna Warshawska, a Polish actress in a small traveling theatrical troupe, attends the funeral of her younger sister, Sonja, a girl of seventeen who committed suicide. To find out why Sonja killed herself, Anna takes Sonja's job as a chambermaid in the Hotel Imperial without identifying herself. The hotel is the headquarters for whatever army currently occupies the city. She is hired by the porter, Elias, a mildly patriotic Austrian, and the housekeeper Anton, who pretends to be crippled to avoid military service. When the town is again attacked by the Russians, the Austrians flee, and Elias and Anton change the menu and switch official portraits from the archduke to the czar. On cavalry patrol nearby, the exhausted Lieutenant Stephen Nemassy of the Second Hussars is nearly caught, but escapes by a mad dash behind enemy lines. Arriving at the hotel, he evades a Russian search by hiding in room twelve. Aware that Sonja's lover had stayed in the same room, Anna begins to suspect Nemassy of being the cause of Sonja's death. The Russians are being led by General Videnko, a pompous artist, who decides to paint Anna. Nemassy is employed by Elias as a waiter, and after she learns there are two rooms numbered "12," Anna helps to conceal Nemassy's true identity. Kuprin, a Russian spy who uses the alias Von Alting in the Austrian army, visits Videnko to collect pay and deliver information. Meanwhile, Nemassy is arrested for lacking proper identification papers and is sentenced to be shot by a firing squad. Learning that Nemassy was in room twenty-four and "Von Alting" was in room twelve, Anna uses her influence with Videnko to save Nemassy. Anna and Nemassy plan to escape during the Russian Christmas revels, but when Kuprin is brought in as a prisoner, Nemassy, unaware Kuprin is a spy, feels it is his duty to stay and help a fellow officer. Before Anna can warn Nemassy about Kuprin, Nemassy reveals his true position to him and learns he is a spy. In the ensuing fight, Kuprin is fatally wounded, and Anna persuades him to approach the Austrian army as Von Alting and tell them their plans were betrayed by Kuprin, while she stays behind to divert the Russians by singing "Nitchevo." With his dying breath, Kuprin alerts the Austrians, but declares that Anna killed him. Videnko must now sentence her to death. Just in time, Nemassy leads an early morning Austrian attack on Sucha, expels the Russians and rescues Anna.