They continued watching in horror, hoping against hope for a sign of life in the flood, but seeing only raging water coursing towards the sea. Stephen shivered. His father, now grimly fully aware of their loss, was at once concerned. “Come on. There’s nothing more we can do. No point in catching our death…” He broke off, bitterly. He turned away toward the truck. Stephen still gazed into the darkness, motionless.
“Stephen! Come on home.”
His son was still numb with shock as if the full realisation of his friends’ fate had still to sink in. His father pulled at him.
About to turn away, Stephen stiffened. “Dad, wait. I think I heard something.”
“What?” Perhaps before this night Henry would have told him not to be silly and imagine things. His attitude, their attitude to each other, was being subtly tested by the events. Instead he turned back and said again “What? What did you hear?”
“Don’t know. Wait.”
They peered out into the blackness once again, trying to filter out the noises of the weather. After a moment: “There!” exclaimed Stephen. “Did you hear that?”
“No. You’ve got better hearing. What was it?”
“It was a call… I think. Dad, could it be…?”

In the hills of Dartmoor a dam bursts.

The rushing wall of water drowns the valley that the Victorians had drained a century previously, recreating it as a sea estuary. The water drowns farmland, creates an island from a farmstead on a bluff, but destroys a nearby home, washing away a boy, a girl and their parents. The girl is saved by the father and son now marooned on their island, Loft Island; the others are dead.

The Lofts take Mary in. They have to encounter the injustices of the time, the 1950s, and attitudes which are foreign to modern life. They find support and friends, as well as both sympathetic and unsympathetic officialdom. They endure the inquest and the funerals, each of which is made traumatic by the unwanted attentions of a relative of the girl who believes she should become her guardian.

The two youngsters, hardly out of childhood, naturally support each other. Gradually their life-long friendship develops, in total innocence and without either realising it.

Around them, the farm can no longer provide a living. Poverty rears its head.

And then the girl, Mary, disappears without trace. Stephen’s father tries to provide an income through smuggling but is arrested. Stephen is distraught about the loss of both Henry, his father and Mary, his friend. But is there an ally in a local woman?

Paperback, 6 x 9 inches; 32 chapters, 342 pages

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