Boris, a 19th century Russian falls in love with his distant (and married) cousin Sonja. Pressed into service with the Russian army during the war against Napoleon, Boris accidentally becomes a hero, then goes on to win a duel against a cuckolded husband. He returns to Sonja, hoping to settle down on the Steppes somewhere, but Sonja has become fired up with patriotic fervor, insisting that Boris join a plot to kill Napoleon. The effort fails, and Boris faces the firing squad. After death, Boris materializes in front of Sonja to bid her goodbye, philosophizes a bit for the benefit of the audience, and dances a mazurka with the Grim Reaper.