Literary"" cousin Hester's country house comes well furnished with an overstuffed assortment of Victorian cliches: there's Guenevere, fifteen and already well along into what appears to be a terminal decline; there's the wind bag clergyman Mr. Copplestone who disdains to do the tutoring for which he was hired; and there's the large assortment of poetasters and salon painters who appear for a house party but never seem to pull their own satiric weight. Twelve year-old Margaret is herself enough of a phony to find this odd lot impressive and even her more levelheaded brothers, Charles and Arthur, are impressed by Copplestones' resourcefulness in procuring food -- a substance most of Camelot House's denizens consider hopelessly vulgar. However, 20th century children may not get the humor of cousin Aethelstan Fulkes' preoccupation with his patented ""book breathers,"" or Copplestone's two-wheeled ""ordinary"" or possibly even of Hester's artistic notions (""do you think that when the spirit works within cousin Hester it's like the castor off working. . .""? wonders Charles). Or on the other hand, they may soon get too much of it. Avery, who fought The Elephant War (KR, 1971) with the same heavy artillery, doesn't always know when to come in out of the Oxfordshire drizzles. But no doubt there are other Margarets around who can relish both the pretenses and the pretension -- and will find this as heady as an iced claret cup.