Through a business misadventure, the European Axel Heyst ends up living on an island in what is now Indonesia, with a Chinese assistant, Wang. Heyst visits a nearby island when a female band is playing at a hotel owned by Mr. Schomberg. Schomberg attempts to force himself sexually on one of the band members, Alma, later called Lena. She flees with Heyst back to his island and they become lovers. Schomberg seeks revenge by attempting to frame Heyst for the "murder" of a man who had died of natural causes and later by sending three desperadoes to Heyst's island with a lie about treasure hidden on the island.