Florence Hightower, bless her, still writes a richly furbished, carefully worked story. It does, of course, take her some time to set it up--to explain what, in this case, twelve-year-old Phoebe Smith and her radiant, impetuous, not-quite-adult mother Miranda are doing in Denby, New Hampshire, in 1954 and why ""Feeble"" Phoebe is so eager for the favor of the awesomely rich, slightly mysterious Mottrells, Constance and her twin brother Harry, who are fellow ""Himalayan freaks."" Hightower also presumes that the reader will share their consuming interest, but it's not hard to do here, so vividly does she detail the climbs that the children hope some day to emulate. Then the oldest Mottrell sibling, cynosure brother Tony, returns changed--he's still an avid outdoorsman but cruel and violent and, worst of all, not the least receptive to talk of the great Himalayan trek. Phoebe is led through a trail of deception before she recognizes the Mottrells' selfishness and returns to the support of her extended family circle, chastened but strengthened. Well done, with even the unlikely aspects--a restive ghost, an eccentric Finnish cook--treated with disarming good humor.