Young Harry Hawkins--overwhelmed by misery and self-pity--runs away from his postwar London home with a chimpanzee as company. Harry's pillars of stability are crashing: his father is dead in the war; his mother has remarried and (to Harry's disgust) given birth to baby George; and Harry's often in trouble at school. The ""den"" he's built in the cellar of a bombed-out house is his only refuge; his only friends are an old circus clown (Signor Blondini) and Ocky (a trained chimp). When Harry finds Ocky running loose, he coaxes her into his den; subsequently flushed out, the pair escape pursuit by jumping a train for the seaside. In a climactic scene, Harry's stepfather (who is really a brick, would Harry but see) appears on the beach in time to rescue Ocky from drowning. After a happy reunion between chimp and clown, Harry decides to turn over a new leaf. The characters here (even, disappointingly, Ocky) are drawn with traditional British understatement--it will take a discerning reader to appreciate the mild humor--but the plot is well-knit; and several scenes, especially Harry's sojourn with gypsies camped near a field of war-surplus tanks, are startlingly vivid. Another unusual, well-told story by the author of King of the Cloud Forests (1088).