In a top-story bedroom in an old-fashioned house in a northern suburb of London, a girl of fourteen was kneeling on the floor, turning out the contents of the bottom cupboards of a big bookcase. Her method of doing so was hardly tidy; she just tossed the miscellaneous assortment of articles down anywhere, till presently she was surrounded by a mixed-up jumble of books, papers, paint-boxes, music, chalks, pencils, foreign stamps, picture post-cards, crests, balls of knitting wool, skeins of embroidery silk, and odds and ends of all kinds. She groaned as the circle grew wider, yet the apparently inexhaustible cupboards were still uncleared. "Couldn't have ever believed I'd have stowed so many things away here. And, of course, the one book I want isn't to be found. That's what always happens. It's just my bad luck. Hello! Who's calling 'Renie'? I'm here! Here! In my bedroom! Don't yell the house down. Really, Vin, you've got a voice like a megaphone! You might think I was on the top of the roof. What d'you want now? I'm busy!"