Pukka sahib India without perspective, a sanctuary that's really a trap, a treasure that's never revealed. The story generally is disjointed: Phyllida, nine, and Annabelle, eight, rude to their ayah and imperious toward everyone, amuse themselves on their father's tea plantation with their pet deer, Miranda, and their miniature rice field (in simulation of the villagers). Then Phyllida, taken with stories of the Hindu god Krishna and his flute, finds a small abandoned temple in the jungle, and, when Miranda disappears, sees it as a potential sanctuary for helpless animals--which are providentially supplied by a flute-playing boy named Krishna abetted by his spell-working grandmother. They have a tortoise, an owl, a python, an anteater and a small ape when Krishna produces a leopard kitten and is forced to admit that he's been maiming the older animals and wresting the babies from their mothers. The girls are disillusioned but happy memories counterbalance, and there's still the secret of the temple to unriddle. Foxy grandmother spotlights the way, Phyllida finds a tunnel (unexplained), and they decide not to open the sealed brick box inside because knowing would violate the ineffable. Ineffable indeed, and inexcusable for its failure to date the circumstances, for its readiness to place the pleasure of the children above the cruelty to animals.