This is a fairy-tale of love and lust in which the characters play out their destinies against a jeweled, Oriental- tapestried background. Henni and Stella are cousins, heirs to the complex family of Europe. They meet when Henni is orphaned and sent to America and Henni, now Henry, finds Stella an abrupt, ugly, fascinating child, henceforth to be indeed the polestar (Stella) of his life. Henry drifts through various phases of intellectual life, reencountering Stella who is pursuing a parallel course. He meets her in New York where he is writing poetry and she is studying ballet. He follows her to Paris where he becomes a male dancer and model, and she is a nightclub singer, living with a painter. Now a beautiful woman, she collects other lovers and in Italy Henry finally, briefly, possesses her. Eventually traveling on to Spain and Africa, Stella comes to a desperate end, but Henry, the chameleon, survives. This exotic, slightly decadent pilgrimage, which represents perhaps the decay of Europe, is filled with a lovely, brittle poetry, and beginning as orphans of families, Stella and Henry wind up orphaned by the whole world.