Rather undiplomatic British diplomat Harrington Brande (Sir Michael Hordern) takes up his new post in Spain accompanied by his son Nicholas (Jon Whiteley). The posting is something of a disappointment to Harrington, who was hoping for a promotion. That his wife had left him seems to have affected his career. Nicholas sees it all as something of an adventure, and soon becomes fast friends with the new gardener, José (Sir Dirk Bogarde). The apparently "delicate" Nicholas becomes attached to José, and Harrington's jealousy leads him to bar Nicholas from even speaking to José. As tensions mount, another servant frames José for theft, forcing everyone to review the situation.