'Presuming even your capacity for borrowing money without qualm or security has by now lost much of its edge, it only remains that you should make some.' The words of the Bursar ringing in his ears, Esme Sangrail Sa Foy is pushed into working in his summer holidays as a way of settling his college's bills. Hired by the Honourable Mrs Sandra Fairweather, as holiday tutor to her adopted son Terence, Esme's brief is unusual. Not expected to teach Terence anything, he is there to keep him out of trouble. Perhaps Terence's psychiatrist Doctor MacTavish is a sign that nothing in the Fairweather household is what it seems. As the summer develops and Esme and Terence leave London for Suffolk and finally Biarritz, Esme makes his discoveries.