In this charming, comfortably old-fashioned story, set between the World Wars around a crumbling 600-year-old castle, everyone knows and agrees on the rules; a meanie's attempt to frame a conscientious servant of the king is easily seen through by the authority in charge; and army jam is put in its place. Sergeant George Harington, a one-armed war veteran appointed keeper of the castle, is an avid castle historian and diligent caretaker. Lord Badger, Harington's officer during the war, is his superior. Both hated the bad jam made by another local resident, Sir Anderson Wigg, who got rich by selling it to the wartime army. And so, when a silly pub argument between Harington and Wigg's chauffeur leads to a plot between Wigg and his chauffeur to discredit Harington, Lord Badger supports the keeper and gives the villains their comeuppance. Like a satisfying folk tale, the story ends with justice amplified: Sergeant Harington and his son Giles, named for the castle's original knight, find a 600-year-old treasure which the original Giles had sealed in a tower during a fatal battle we've already heard of. (This story, we're told in an appendix, is a similar treasure, discovered in a manuscript 50 years after its creation.) Both the matter of false blame and the conspirators' methods (from fabrications to scattering litter for incriminating evidence) are well geared to a child's perspective, and this is reinforced in Graves' earnest manner of telling. His niece Elizabeth Graves' decorous, naive drawings suit it well.
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