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Jean Dumas, a Parisian artist, is introduced to the addictive liquor absinthe by his materialistic mistress, who also convinces him to rob his well-to-do parents' house. Jean is discovered and disowned by his parents, then he marries one of their maids, who becomes repelled by his poverty and leaves him for a wealthier man. Jean, suffering from drug-induced hallucinations, eventually turns to robbery as a means of supporting his habit and joins an Apache gang. One night, disguised as a cabby, he attempts to rob a passenger who turns out to be his wife. He drives her through Paris to the forest where he strangles her and leaves her for dead. The next morning, he returns to his parents' home where his father gives him a gun and turns him away. In the city streets, Jean is ridiculed by urchins and follows a company of soldiers.