A story of wartime China , this combines a Terry and the Pirates type adventure with quite a deep feeling for the country and the people in tough but delicate prose. Principals in the story are the Tiens of Kumming, a fishingboat family whose father is with the Nationalist Army, and who count among their valuables Precious Grief, a rain bird and the last of a breed held in high esteem at the old Chinese courts. The course of the Tiens' life is changed when they meet an American flier. Their boat is sunk while ferrying goods for him, but through its recovery they strike up an odd friendship with a smuggler, Scarface. News comes then that Father Tien lies wounded in Chengtu- but, to pay for young Chuck Tien's trip to find him, they must promise Precious Grief to Feng, a murderous miser. Chuck's trip to Chengtu is a wonder of the old and new- and on their return, Chuck and his father meet the flier again who, with Scarface, helps them expose Feng for what he is and save Precious Grief- a symbol of the spirit of China. Sensitively and seriously told.