A strange, stark, surreal adventure, with a background of flames and darkness and the stench of garbage, about a magic Campbell's soup can that David, visiting his aunt, finds at the town dump where a girl named Jane, a welfare foster child, is engaged in her habitual scrounging. Inside the can is a clothes line and as the children pull it out a pair of lacy panties, a silk kimono, bath towels, a flag and other items come too, all pegged to the line. More stuff later emerges--goo, junk, a snapping, frothing terrier who scampers away--and when after dark the children take the can to a city alley and aim it at stores and a bank, they get diamond jewelry, toys, food, toilet paper, hundred dollar bills. . . a ""mountain of plunder."" Then (not from the can) come rain, police, frenzy, a brush with a fat woman David sends sprawling on her back ""like an overturned beetle,"" sanitation men who toss the children (hiding from the police in garbage cans) into their truck. David and Jane fight over the disposition of the can: he, scared from the start, is all for selling it or asking his mother's advice; she wants to keep it--""not just for the stuff"" but, she explains at different times, for the secret, the adventure, the security of always having a way to get food and money. At night in the burning dump David tosses the can away, Jane leaves him to lose his way, and at last, wondering if she might have been right, he's homeward bound on a train he views as ""carrying him out of a mysterious country, enchanted, perilous."" A blazing but baffling orgy of acquisition.