Accompanied by Con, a stray dog, and an eerie toy monkey, ten-year-old Silas begins one of those vaguely symbolic adventures, more atmosphere than action, more attempted than realized. Abandoned by his mother and stepfather, Silas travels the Scottish ""plain,"" spends an uncomfortable night with a spooky tinker woman, and, when his food supply diminishes, settles down on a farm, trading off work for basic necessities. Surreptitiously accumulating a heifer, a kitten, a hen, and four chicks--non-productive rejects--Silas leaves the hard-edged farmer and leads his caravan of animals, almost a self-sufficient family, to the Sea. A land bridge draws them to an island inhabited by another outcast, a disfigured man missing legs, fingers, an eye, and a reluctant exchange ensues. Silas is something of an insular figure himself--a silent, bruised sensibility--too removed from everyday considerations to attract many readers.