A story of four crash survivors who make their way from an island in the Indian Ocean to Mukalla, Aden and civilization, as the sensuousness of the East- and the resignation to destiny exerts its pressure upon them. Against a background of dirt and dishonesty and sickness, Miss Todd, an elderly Englishwoman who alone had understood the Arabs, dies of the disease she had tried to assuage in nursing a dying village. Dr. Moss, an archeologist, who withholds his discoveries which are sacrosanct, is also the victim of his own fear. Young, shy Sylvia, finds in her feelings for David- the fourth member of the party- a young American diplomat-the many-faceted world of love, but a fever strangely wastes her body to the hardness of a boy's- in a land where men desire men as well as women. David alone remains to live- but also to grieve the loss of beauty in a friendship such as the Arab Ahmed's- when he leaves Aden... A pilgrimage in which the rich texture of visual imagery and suggestive nuance heightens- rather than deepens- a search for spiritual awareness.