We learn that John is sixteen and grew up in Hades, Mississippi in an affluent family. He is now ready to go to St. Midas' prep school in Boston.
John has a tearful good-bye with his parents.
John enjoys hob-nobbing with the wealthy kids at school. He spends summers with wealthy families.
John becomes friends with the reserved Percy Washington. He accepts an invitation to spend the summer with Percy.
He travels by train, buggy, and finally automobile to Percy's place in Montana. On the way, he learns that Percy's father has a diamond as big as the Ritz Hotel.
John is awed by the sights and sounds of the opulent Washington estate. He falls asleep several times in the course of the night.
The next morning, John hears from Percy the story of the Washington family.
John meets Percy's sister, Kismine, and thinks she is perfect. Romance blossoms.
John goes on a tour of the estate with Braddock. He learns about the imprisoned aviators and hears of the escaped Italian prisoner.
He falls in love with Kismine; they share their first kiss together.
John learns from Kismine that Braddock intends to murder him before the summer is over. He and Kismine decide to elope together.
John hears a noise outside his bedroom; he spots Braddock in the hall with three slaves and fears for his life. Then he realizes that the place is under attack. He goes to get Kismine and tells her to put some jewels in her pocket. He escapes with her and Jasmine.
Out in the woods, John spies on Braddock as he tries (and fails) to bribe God.
John and the two girls make their way down the mountain. They watch it explode, killing the rest of the Washington family and the attackers.
He learns that Kismine has brought only rhinestones with her.