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Plot Summary:J. Daniel Villars has fitted up his studio on the fifth floor of the house he inhabits, in one of the popular sections or Paris. The young man works hard to make a name for himself, but purchasers are few, his pictures sell badly; it is sheer misery. For some time past, the artist's wretched attitude has impressed his neighbors. Father Morel, an old clerk, and his daughter, Denise, not having seen the artist for two days, and not hearing any noise in his studio, inform the janitor of their fears. They open his door and find him lying on his bed unconscious. A doctor, hastily summoned, quickly ascertains that the man is starving. The Morels take care of him; Daniel recovers. Denise is charming and the two young people constantly together, soon fall in love and marry. Denise seems to have become a good fairy for her husband. Happiness and success now abide in their home; customers swarm, the celebrated artist Cecile Borel orders Daniel Villars to paint her portrait; it is the first rung of the ladder of fame. They have given up the small studio of yore and entertain widely in the drawing-rooms of the noted artist. Life pours its choicest gifts on the young couple, but unfortunately Villars' rapid and complete success has turned his head. Mrs. Villars, however remains as timid and unaffected as when she was Denise Morel. Daniel is pained to see his wife persist in attending to menial duties when guests rich customers and snobs attend his receptions. Cecile Borel has not failed to notice Mrs. Villars' perplexities and awkwardness; she smiles scornfully. Villars has been awarded the Medal of Honor upon his splendid picture of Cecile Borel. Fame is his today, fortune will follow. The artist receives the congratulations of numerous friends; he is landed, while Denise, secretly conscious that her husband's triumph threatens her happiness, holds aloof. That same evening Daniel attended a dinner given in his honor by a number of his admirers. Alone in their residence, far into the night, Denise waits for him, thinking of their early love. Day by day she has noticed her husband's increasing coldness and she suffers in silence. The artist is smitten with Cecile Borel. Denise finds them one day, locked in each other's arms in the studio. That same day Daniel abandons his home and follows the enchantress. Denise is heart-broken and returns to her father. He consoles her to the best of his ability. Daniel is now in Cecile Borel's power; she has given him to choose between herself and his wife. A last letter from Denise to Daniel remains unanswered, for the artist is traveling in Italy with Cecile Borel. There, in the soft and warm Venetian twilights, on the lagoons, on the blue sea, their days pass as in a dream. It is, however, all but a mirage, a delicious lie, an ephemeral happiness. For soon Daniel's jealousy is tested. Friends have joined them and Cecile has a host of admirers. A rival, some pretentious snob, soon supplants Daniel; scenes of jealousy are frequent. Daniel disgusted, tortured by jealousy, sees one evening the two lovers kissing passionately. Heart-broken, he returns to his deserted studio, takes up his palette and brushes and seeks by hard work to forget his mental anguish. It is useless. He is perfectly incapable of doing anything; he is thoroughly disgusted with himself and life. Denise abides with her father, nursing her sorrow. She has suffered so much that she does not even read the letters, full of pleadings, sent by Daniel, wretched and repentant. It is all over; she will have nothing more to do with him. Villars has not the moral courage to bear the weight of his folly. He starts drinking. At the last moment, on the shores of the lake, the dark waters of which seem to attract him, he hesitates. The next morning he is found in a heap on the ground stricken with a serious illness. The police take him home and advise old Morel. At first Denise refuses to accede to the pleadings of her father, but finally she wipes her tears and goes back to Villars. The unfortunate man is very low indeed. Denise seeing him in that wretched condition, abandons all resentments. He is no longer guilty; he is but a victim of a pitiful past, who has broken his fetters. Her love was not dead; it was but slumbering.