The children of the house had the nursery and the schoolroom and the great park encircled by three miles of fence and, most important, each other, but never enough food nor proper clothes nor money to spend--raiding the kitchen garden was an escapade and finding a half crown warranted a celebration. The servants were their natural allies against Sir Robert's rigidity and Lady Hatton's acquiescence, and the chief friends that Laura and Tom and Hugh and Margaret had. . . . Once, hard-pressed, Tom spoke out: "We are kept short of all kinds of things just so that Papa can keep all the horses he wants and you can live at Stanford Park like Grandfather." But life on the estate changed only imperceptibly as the children grew older, until the advent of the First World War; then Father, who could have rejoined his regiment, instead closed Stanford to take a munitions post profferred by a rich neighbor: "There are plenty of young men like his son and ours who can do the actual fighting." Framing the story is a visit to the Hall, which has stood empty for the fifty years since Tom and Hugh and Laura were killed in the war, Hugh as a sixteen-year-old midshipman. . . . What starts as a conspiracy against authoritarian parents by youngsters who are refreshingly free of guilt feelings becomes a fight for survival, with this household mirroring aristocratic. Britain on the brink of dissolution. But the poignancy needs no historic perspective--they were gallant and merry and they looked forward so much to good times when the house would be theirs.