Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Amid the lingering London ruins of the bombing raids of World War II, a gang of adolescent boys pass their summer holidays carrying out various projects of collective mischief. They are the inhabitants of a neighborhood known as Wormsley Common, one of the poorest sections of the city. They meet and play in a communal parking lot, which adjoins a battered but stately eighteenth century house. The house, more than two hundred years old, stands alone, “like a jagged tooth,” while its neighbors lie in wartime rubble. Blackie, the hitherto undisputed leader, is indirectly challenged one day by the newest recruit, a boy known as “T.” From the time he first joined the group at the beginning of the summer, T. has had little or nothing to say, simply voting “yes” or “no” with the rest of this curiously democratic collection of children.
Now T. intrigues the boys with a plan of diabolic proportions, an enterprise far beyond any that Blackie could conceive. The house that adjoins their parking lot play area, T. has discovered, was built by Christopher Wren, Great Britain’s greatest architect. It was Wren who, in the late seventeenth century, designed and built Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the most notable of London landmarks. The sole inhabitant of the house is the owner, an elderly and somewhat cranky gentleman named Mr. Thomas, whom the boys call “Old Misery.”
T. has developed a curious fixation on the house. He gains entry by the simple device of...
(The entire section is 608 words.)
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