Mr. Stone, at 62, is a Prufrockian bachelor waning away in the even tenor of his days. Only a pepper-dust war with the garden-wrecking neighbor cat brings excitement to the life he considers "as something to be moved through". Even his well loved numbers have lost their consoling appeal--30 years as "industrial librarian" with Excal, 45 years since his mother died--leaving him alone and painfully aware of his approaching retirement. In a last-ditch stand he marries Mrs. Springer and steps gradually into variations on his well-worn habitual theme; until one day, with a flash of insight, he conceives of..."The Plan". A unit of retired Excal employees recalled to service in a door-to-door reacquaintance campaign, the "Knights Companion" (as Whymper, the irritating PRO named them much against Mr. Stone's humble design) were to visit other pensioners with a small gift from the company. Mr. Stone gets a promotion and an inward thrill from the success of his personal plan for the aged. But, after a moment of brilliance, the founder of the Unit is forgotten and Mr. Stone returns to his niche as a useless servant about to be discarded. He is, chivalry to no avail, a finished item. The novel is unassuming, understated, and British in tone with the ennui of an effete existence counterpointed by the style. Effective and a little over-poignant, but Mr. Stone is not alone.