Clyde Small is a middle-aged man whose wife has sent him to New York City in order to sell a violin which he inherited from his father who inherited it from his father, a violinist with the London Philharmonic. Clyde has taught history and English grammar for about twenty years, and has scarcely had a chance to reveal any impetuosity in his nature; although he doesn't play the violin, he is given to private, monthly performances (without the bow, of course) and has strong convictions that the instrument is of great value. During his experiences with violin dealers and collectors, Clyde is crossed, double-crossed, fooled, and enlightened by a group of New Yorkers who baffle and delight him with their ways of life. Clyde returns home without having sold the violin after all, but full of wisdom and experience which enables him to browbeat his wife into a submissive role, and they are both delighted. The greater part of this book is devoted to long discourses about the actual history of famous violins and violin-makers, delivered at great length by Clyde's New York acquaintances in the field. Clyde is supposedly enraptured, but most renders will find it all a bit tedious and a poor substitute for good characters and cogent treatment.