A young adventurer steals two complimentary idols of Buddha from a Chinese temple, one of which is supposed to have a debasing and malevolent effect upon its owners. One of the idols represents the Body, and all of the corruption and evil of Mankind, the other represents the Soul, and all that is good. The Ballastons are a spendthrift aristocratic family threatened with the loss of their ancestral home due to large debts. The son steals these idols, ends up with just the naughty one, and in the process crosses swords with Wu Ling, a wily Chinese merchant who later manages to become English. Mr. Oppenheim can be depended upon to give his plots that turn which is as admirable as it is unexpected, and this is one of the best of his many good and exciting books.