jake, brains and scrapper, three nearly ten year olds, lived their daily life within the constraints of wartime conditions - the bombing, the gasmasks, the shelters, the sweet rationing. Still, the "gang", plus scrapper's little sister, sally, enjoyed life. They collected shrapnel the morning after the air raids, they concocted sweets substitutes to chew on the way back from school, they held meetings in brains' underground air raid shelter, and had the occasional battle with olly stott's rival gang. jake's granddad was a bit if a nuisance, always hanging around them, and behaving strangely, to jake's embarrassment. granddad had been in the first world war, had been sent with his regiment to russia, and had an unexpected meeting with a refugee russian countess, who gave him a precious object to keep. This he did, in secret, for over twenty years before telling the story to jake. jake was overwhelmed, and his consequent actions, led to the loss of the object. The gang, reluctantly aided by olly stott, recovered it, and the unexpected visit to their street by a foreigner led to a happy end.
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