Little John Sarto, ruthless gangster with a Napoleon complex, returns from ten years in prison to find that his throne has been usurped and that he is to be "taken for a ride." He escapes his would-be murderers and takes refuge with the Little Brothers of the Flowers, a community of monks who, as Little John puts it, do nothing but "pray and herd posies." Brother Nasturtium, ex-prizefighter, Brother Hollyhock, the community physician, and Abbot Jonquil, show Little John a kindness and a way of life he never knew possible, and he begins his regeneration by changing his name to Brother Orchid. Continual use of slang and his propensity for such antics as playing Alexander's Ragtime Band on the chapel organ startle the brothers just a little, but they accept him for what he is and he finds happiness with them. His chance to do "something big" comes when his former cronies attempt to break into the flower market, which is the brothers' sole means of existence. Fat Dutchy, the dumb, genial bartender is the only one of Orchid's old friends who remains faithful to him in his new life. How Brother Orchid handles the mobsters and becomes a hero makes the climax of the play.