Handsome, wealthy, landowner Paul (Pierre Clémenti
) returns from World War I to his family's estate a shattered-man. Haunted by flashbacks and crippled by a permanent war injury that causes him to limp, he considers suicide until he runs into a mysterious 11 year-old girl on the estate. He comes to find that this is Eva (Katya Berger
), the orphaned neice of his servants.
Paul quickly becomes smitten with the girl and she becomes his constant companion, his photography model, the muse for his budding writing career, the object of his sexual fantasies and his reason for living. Unfortunately, soon after Eva's 12th birthday she begins to have sexual urges and she starts hinting she wants a physical relationship with Paul. He avoids this with her and while he is away on a trip she loses her virginity to a carnaval/street performer.
During Paul's return to his home we find that his war injury doesn't only include the limp. He is unable to have sex and this is the reason for his preference of Eva to an adult relationship. He expected that Eva's interest in a physical relationship, whch he cannot give her, would not come for many years.
When he returns and sees that she has had a sex with the carnaval boy, he realizes that his relationship with her can never be the same and he commits suicide.