Ranga hails from Hosahalli, a village in Mysore. Like many other cultural aspects artistically portrayed by the author the custom of child marriage too is typical to this village.
Ten years ago when the village accountant sent his son Ranga to Bangalore for studies, the situation in the village was different. People never used to use English words while talking in Kannada, their mother tongue. But now they do it with an abominable pride. For instance, Rama Rao’s son was not ashamed to use the word ‘change’ while buying some firewood from a woman who knew no English, thereby creating confusion.
Now people are so fond of the foreign language and education that Ranga’s homecoming is made a big affair. People crowd his house to see if he has changed. They return home on finding no significant change in him. The narrator is particularly happy to find the boy still quite cultured as he respectfully does ‘namaskara’. The narrator spontaneously blesses him saying ‘May you get married soon.’
But the boy is not ready for marriage, he says. He is of the opinion that one should better remain a bachelor than marry a young girl, as the custom of the village is. The narrator is disappointed to hear this, but as he sincerely wants Ranga to get married and settled to be of some service to the society, he does not lose heart. He takes a vow to get him married, and that to a young girl of 11 by the name of Ratna, Rama Rao’s niece, who has of late come to Hosahalli to stay for a few days.
Now the narrator plans to make the prospective bride and the bridegroom meet each other. So he does by asking Rao’s wife to send Ratna to his house to fetch buttermilk. As Ratna arrives she is asked to sing. As planned at that very moment Ranga arrives and gets mesmerized by Ratna’s singing and almost instantly falls in love with her being oblivious of his theories regarding child marriage. The narrator, from his experience, notices this quite well but purposely disappoints Ranga saying that Ratna is married.
The next morning the narrator meticulously plots with Shastri, the fortune teller, to trap Ranga and have him marry Ratna. He tutors him in what is to be said and done when he will bring the boy to him.
The narrator finds Ranga miserable that day. The latter complains of headache and the narrator suggests that they visit Shastri. Thereupon Ranga is taken to Shastri who cleverly reacts by saying that their visit has been a surprise. The narrator acts foolishly forgetting what he is supposed to say but Shastri cleverly manages the scene.
Everything goes well as per the plan. Shyama, the narrator, asks Shastri what might be worrying the boy. Shastri calculates throwing his cowries and suggests that it is about a girl. On further calculation he suggests that the girl’s name has connection with something found in the ocean. The narrator asks if it could be ‘Kamala’. Then he suggests ‘Pachchi’, meaning moss. When Shastri hints ‘pearl’ or ‘Ratna’, the narrator becomes jubilant and Ranga is amazed. Shyama further asks if there is any chance of negotiation of the marriage bearing any fruit, to which Shastri answered affirmative. But once again the narrator pours water on Ranga’s hopes by saying that Ratna is married.
However, on the way the narrator enters Rama Rao’s house and comes out of the house to inform Ranga that Ratna is unmarried and the previous information about her marriage was wrong. Now visibly Ranga’s joys have no limits. When the narrator asks him whether whatever the astrologer told is right, he admits that it is true and further adds that there is more truth in astrology than he thought.
Later the narrator informs Shastri about the success story and makes a sarcastic comment about astrology. But Shastri is not ready to accept. He says that the former gave only the hints and whatever he said was the result of his calculation.
Whatever the case might be, Ranga finally gets married to Ratna and fathers two children, moreover Ratna is now eight months pregnant. The narrator is invited to the third birth anniversary of Ranga’s child, who was named after the narrator as ‘Shyama’. On finding this, the narrator mildly chides Ranga saying that he knows that it is the English custom to name the child after someone one likes, but it is not fair to name him ‘Shyama’ because he is fair complexioned.