Lord Stratte, a wealthy aristocrat whose family has long owned enormous wealth, a parish priest and cunning attorney are persuaded to bequeath his entire estate to his cousin, Philip Baboon. To the cruel disappointment of another cousin, Esquire South, the title and estate after the death of Lord Stratt go to the young Philip the Baboon.
To the young lord are the constant suppliers of the late Stratt, the cloth trader John Bull and the linen merchant Nicolas Frog. Despite the many debts of the late Lord Stratt, it is extremely unprofitable for them to miss such a rich client as Philip Baboon, and they hope that they will receive orders from him for their goods. The young lord promises them not to resort to the services of other traders. However, Boole and Frog have a suspicion that the grandfather of the young lord, the dodger and swindler Louis Baboon, who is also engaged in trade and does not disdain any machinations for the sake of obtaining profitable orders, will pick up
all the affairs of his grandson. Fearing ruin because of the wiles of the malicious Louis Baboon, a dishonest swindler and fighter, Bul and Frog write a letter to Philip Baboon telling him that if he intends to receive goods from his grandfather, then they, Bul and Frog,
The young Babun is frightened by such a turn of events. Since he does not have the cash to pay the debt, he vows to Boile and Frog to buy the goods only from them. However, traders do not doubt that the old sneak builder Louis Baboon will certainly rob his grandson. Whether and Frog are going to court with a lawsuit. The solicitor Humphrey Hokus drafts a claim defending the interests of Bull and Frog by right of prescription and challenging Louis Baboon’s right to trade, as the latter “is not a merchant at all, but a ruffian and a sorcerer who wanders through rural fairs where he forces an honest people to fight on fists or batons for the sake of prize. “
Ten years pass, and the case still drags on. Young Lord Stratt can not get a single decision in his favor. However, Boole does not win anything, on the contrary, all his
cash gradually settles in the pockets of judicial officials. John Buhl is an honest and good-natured fellow, hospitable and cheerful, but his passionate and stubborn nature encourages him to continue the litigation, which threatens to completely ruin him. Seeing how the lawsuit is gradually eating up all of his capitals, he unexpectedly decides for everyone to become a lawyer, as long as this is a profitable business. He throws all his affairs, instructs him to conduct his trading operations to Frog, and zealously studies jurisprudence.
Nicolae Frog is the exact opposite of Boole. The sly and calculating Frog closely follows the lawsuit, but not at the expense of the interests of his trade.
Buhl, who has gone headlong into studying the subtleties of judicial science, unexpectedly learns about the relationship of the solicitor Hokus, who picks up huge sums of money from Buhl, with his wife. Bul is outraged by the behavior of the spouse, who openly betrays him, but she declares that she considers herself free from any obligations to her husband and henceforth intends to behave as she sees fit. Between them a quarrel breaks out, turning into a fight: the wife is seriously injured, which in half a year dies.
In the papers of the late wife, Boule discovers a treatise on “defending the all-important duty of the wife to instruct the husband of the horns in the event of his tyranny, infidelity or incapacity.” In this treatise, she sharply condemns female chastity and justifies treachery, referring to the laws of nature and to the example of “the wisest wives of all ages and nations” who, using this means, saved the family of the husband from destruction and oblivion because of the lack of offspring. “It turns out that this disastrous teaching has already spread among women, despite the unconditional condemnation of their husbands. Women are creating two parties whose views on chastity and conjugal fidelity are diametrically opposed, but in fact the behavior of both is not much differs.
Bule marries a serious and sedate country woman, and she prudently advises him to take up his mind and check the bills, instead of engaging in legal sciences that undermine his health and threaten to let his family around the world. He follows her advice and discovers that Hokus, the solicitor, appropriately takes his money without a twinge of conscience, and Frog participates in their common expenses only in words, whereas in fact all costs of litigation are borne by Boole’s shoulders. Outraged, Boule refuses the services of Hokus and hires another solicitor.
Frog sends Boole a letter in which he assures him of his honesty and devotion to the common cause. He complains that he suffers harassment from the insolent Louis Baboon, and complains that he lost much more money than Bull. Frog asks Buhl to continue to trust him, Frog, with his trading business and promises fantastic profits.
Boule meets in the tavern with Frog, Esquire South and Louis Baboon. Boule suspects that Louis Baboon and Frog can come to terms with each other and deceive him. Bull requires Frog to fully account for how he spent the money that Boole entrusted to him. Frog tries to sweep Bul, but he convinces him.
Frog begins to intrigue against his former companion and friend: he inspires Bulle’s servants and households that their master went mad and sold his wife and children to Louis the Baboon, that arguing with him on the slightest occasion is unsafe, since Bul constantly carries a poison and a dagger. However, Buhl guesses about who dissolves these ridiculous rumors.
Louis Baboon, who is experiencing constant financial difficulties due to the fact that all the traders he has ever cheated, have united against him, is on a visit to Buly. Louis Baboon bears the greedy Frog, with whom he tried to deal, and asks Buly to take him, the Baboon, under his protection and dispose of him and his capitals, as Buly would like. Boule agrees to help old Louis, but only on condition of full confidence in him. Buhl demands from the old swindler, firm guarantees, and insists that he transfer to his full ownership the castle of Ecclesdown together with the surrounding lands. Louis Baboon agrees.
Frog, who himself does not mind taking possession of the castle, enters into a secret conspiracy with Esquire South. He persuades the Esquire to bribe the judicial officials and deprive Boole of all rights to the estate. However, Buhl, who manages to overhear their conversation, exposes Frog’s criminal intentions and, contrary to everything, becomes the absolute master of the castle of Ecclesdown.