The story opens with a description of a flowerbed in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, detailing the colors and shapes of the petals, stalks, and leaves. A married couple with children wander down the path, both reflecting on significant emotional experiences in their past. As they continue into the distance, the focus changes to describe the activities of a snail journeying through a flowerbed.
Next, the narrative turns to a young man walking patiently with an older, senile man, who makes various wild and irrational comments. These two figures are followed along the path by two working-class women whose attention is caught by the gestures of the eccentric old man. The narrative returns to the depiction of the snail's efforts in the flowerbed before moving to the story's final characters, a young man and woman who are clearly courting. After a brief description of their interaction, the narrative zooms back out to survey the whole scene—figures, voices, flowers, and colors on the hot summer day.