Sick in bed and bored while his mother works, Raymond is visited by a horn-playing dwarf who takes him behind the kitchen screen and into the grander days of the 19th-century London rowhouse. There Raymond meets Laura, whose benevolent mill-owner father has been kidnapped by men in league with the American Confederates. In order to rescue the captive and prevent the villains from launching the raiding ship Alabama, Raymond, Laura, and the dwarf dash up-river by barge, over land (with Raymond driving) by train, and up the factory chimney after a Confederate/murderer. Meanwhile back in present-day reality, Raymond grows sicker, and he ends up in hospital at a grand party attended by his past and present-day friends. Throughout the adventure, overheard hymns about going to heaven prepare you for Raymond's end, and Wood scatters other bits of Victoriana (e.g., hair bracelets) almost at random. But this has the wordiness of a Victorian novel without its fullness, and the sentimentality without its vitality or firm humanity.