It is always unfortunate when plot and background possibilities are allowed to dribble away to nothing. The story potential here is limitless -- and all unexplored. The time is 1812 and the place is a mill farm in Ontario across from the U.S. border. A border dispute is in fact under way as the story opens when a small, mute Negro boy, an escaping slave, arrives and is befriended by the Dobson family. The border trouble is never clearly outlined and the escaping boy soon loses stage center to 8 year old Mattie who is jealous of the attention paid him. A captured Yankee becomes part of the household to further snarl a plot that ends with now talking Jim reunited with his father; Dobson pere home from the border wars and a repentant and forgiven Mattie. All, all is melodramatically happy-- and the book is lost.