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Wealthy and politically ambitious Clay Anderson brings his bride, Holly, home to the family mansion, where she is met by Estelle, her mother-in-law. The marriage is a happy one, with Holly devoting most of her time to their son. Soon, however, Clay's ambition and frequent absences cause Holly to feel neglected, and she begins to date Phil Benton, a bachelor. Estelle, who has hired a detective to follow Holly, demands the end to the relationship; and at the time of their separation, it happens that Phil falls down the stairs in his flat and dies. Panic-stricken, Holly flees and seeks Estelle's help. Estelle then reveals that she never thought Holly good enough for her son and presents her with the alternatives: either ruin Clay's career by facing a court trial, or disappear. Holly goes abroad with a pension provided by Estelle. Falling ill in Denmark, Holly receives help from Christian Torben, a concert pianist. He falls in love with her, but Holly is unable to accept him or explain her situation and so runs away. Twenty years later, while in Mexico, Holly, now an absinthe addict, meets Dan Sullivan, a con man, who, after finding out about Holly's past, plans to blackmail the Anderson family. To prevent this crime, Holly shoots Dan and calls the police. Refusing to reveal her identity, Holly now calls herself Madame X, and upon discovering that her young lawyer is her own son, she becomes more determined than ever to keep her identity secret and readily accepts the prospect of punishment. Clay, Sr., is present at the trial and becomes suspicious of the true identity of his son's client; but Holly dies of heart failure before the verdict is rendered, knowing that she truly has a fine son.