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While covering the war in the Sudan, newspaper illustrator Dick Heldar is struck over the eye with a spear when he attempts to shield his friend and fellow correspondent Torpenhow from a native attack. After a short stay in Port Said, Dick is summoned back to London by Torp, and returns home to discover that he is now an acclaimed artist. In London, Dick achieves great success for his paintings of the war, but succumbs to the lure of easy money and allows his work to become commercial and superficial. His success in painting is not paralled by success in love, for when he meets his childhood sweetheart Maisie, she refuses to relinquish her career as a painter for marriage. After Maisie leaves for France, Torp introduces Dick to Bessie Broke, a cockney bar maid, and Dick, inspired by her air of melancholy, decides to paint her. As Bessie models for Dick, she falls in love with Torp, but Dick intervenes and destroys her chance of romance. Meanwhile, plagued by headaches and blurred vision, Dick visits the doctor, from whom he learns that he is going blind as a result of the blow he suffered in the Sudan. Spurred by the desire to paint one last masterpiece before he loses his sight, Dick summons all his talents to repaint Bessie's portrait, the last work he will ever paint. He finishes the masterpiece just as he loses his sight, but Bessie, bent on revenge because he ruined her romance with Torp, destroys the painting. When Torp is called back to the Sudan, he summons Maisie to care for Dick, but Dick turns her away and later sends Torp off to the Sudan. Dick, now totally alone, meets Bessie, who unwittingly informs him of the destruction of her portrait. Learning that his masterpiece no longer exists, Dick loses all desire to continue living. As his final act, he returns to the Sudan to gallantly ride to his death in a cavalry charge.