The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The book is divided into four parts: “This Aye Night,” “Standing Stones,” “On Hare Trod,” and “Fire and Fleet and Candlelight.” The central characters are two fifteen-year-old boys: David Wix, whose father is a doctor, and Keith Heseltine, whose father is a lawyer. They live in the small town of Garebrough in the Yorkshire Dales of northern England.

In the first part, they discover, in late summer, movement of the earth in a field outside town. From it emerges a red-coated drummer boy, Nelly Jack John, who had been, he claimed, in a garrison based at the castle in town. He had gone searching for treasure underground, following a local legend that King Arthur and his knights lay buried under the castle mound. The two boys realize that the drummer boy must have entered the under-ground passage he had found in the mid-eighteenth century but did not seem to be aware of any passage of time. When the drummer boy is finally made to believe this, he returns into the ground as he came. The drummer boy leaves behind a candle, which David picks up and takes home. It does not appear to give light or consume itself, and its flame cannot be extinguished and burns cold.

The second part of the story, set in the fall, brings to light other strange phenomena: a boggart (goblin) is found in a moorland farm, standing stones appear to have moved on the moor, a wild boar is heard of, and many pigs are stolen.

David and Keith investigate...

(The entire section is 503 words.)