Through the eyes of the narrator, who happens to be a minor character and a writer, we follow Larry’s both spiritual and literal journey. During one of his rare visits to Chicago, Elliot Templeton, an art dealer and the biggest snob in Paris, invites his old acquaintance, the narrator, to a lunch at his sister’s house. He meets Larry there, a young man, who immediately catches his interest.
A veteran with good connections and a sharp mind, he could easily go into business and start making big money just like his friends. To Isabel’s dismay, he turns down one good opportunity after another. In an attempt to clarify what his plans are, she asks him directly. Larry’s intention is to go to Paris and try to gain needed knowledge. He and Isabel decide to marry later.
Almost two years after, Isabel breaks off the engagement and marries Gray, who has an appropriate social position and money. Elliot and Isabel’s mother are ecstatic for Gray is everything that they wanted to see in Isabel’s husband. Soon enough the young pair becomes parents. Unlike his friends, who almost all settled down, Larry travels. Almost 10 years passes before they all meet again.
The narrator sits in a café when a strange looking man comes to greet him. Trying to get rid of a beggar, the narrator starts feeling annoyed. He is taken aback when he understands that it is Larry. He informs Isabel, who with her Gray and children, lives in Elliot’s flat in Paris. After Larry’s return, her old feelings are rekindled. Tormented with migraines and lack of self-confidence, Gray has a hard time. It is not a wonder, for his family business is destroyed with the economic decline. To everyone’s surprise, Larry cures him.
Later on, they meet Sophie, their old childhood friend. Trying to blank the death of her husband and child out, she becomes alcohol and opium addicted. Soon Larry announces that he and poor Sophie are going to marry. Being aware of Sophie’s struggles to return to a normal life, Isabel plays a dirty trick on her, leaving her alone with a bottle of alcohol. She drinks it all and runs away from Larry and his sanity. At the same very time, Elliot’s health declines. He used to be in the center of events, but now he is left alone. He dies and leaves a part of his fortune to Isabel, which allows her and Gray to start everything anew. Sophie is found dead and the narrator pays for her funeral. Larry decides that it is time to return back home.