An old bargee and his wife have two sons, Willem and Hendrik, and a foster-daughter, Jeanne, a Belgian refugee. Willem, the older brother, is steersman on an ocean-going vessel and Hendrik works on his father's barge. Both men are in love with their foster-sister, whose real father is doing time in a Belgian prison, but Jeanne loves only the older brother. During one of his voyages, Willem meets the dancer "La Manuella", who completely enchants him and easily succeeds in getting him to marry her. Hendrik wants to marry Jeanne, but she has no wish to share her life with a humble bargee. She returns to Belgium to meet her father who has just been released from prison. Father and daughter go to Paris where, at the instigation of a criminal friend, the father starts counterfeiting money. When the criminal is unable to get his hands on the girl, he shoots Jeanne's father. Meanwhile, Hendrik, disappointed and angry, leaves home and goes to America. This is a great blow for his father who, as the result of a paralytic stroke, can no longer do his work. With only the old couple left on the barge, it is the mother who must do all the work, towing the barge until she collapses and dies. Willem, whose married life is unhappy, has not the heart to leave his father to the care of strangers and takes him into his house. When her husband is at sea, Manuela torments the old man as much as she can. He is convinced that she is deceiving her husband, but, paralysed as he is and tied to his chair, he is unable to utter a word. His hatred of Manuela grows from day to day, until it reaches its culmination when he, acting as his son's avenger, strangles the creature he considers has no right to exist. The physical effort required is too much for him and he dies. When Willem returns from abroad, he is alone and in need of moral support. Then his foster-sister comes back from France. Willem learns to esteem Jeanne highly and knows that together they will find true happiness.
- La Manuela
- Wife of the master of the ship
- Jeanne's father
- Old master of the ship
G. Donaldson, Of Joy and Sorrow. A Filmography of Dutch Silent Fiction, Amsterdam (1997), pp. 250-252