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Page finalised 5th November, One of these is the unlikely basic premise of so many different adventures happening to such a small set of well-known characters. After all there are just so many treasures to be found, just so many hidden passages to explore, just so many criminals to be outwitted and, not least, so many times for dangers to be risked or even injury to be inflicted. The most difficult problem of all, however, concerns the characters. The writer faces the question , "Should they stay the same or should they develop into something different and mature and change in the way that all children do?
Anne Shirley of "Green Gables" fame, most gloriously and movingly, becomes a woman, whilst the incorrigible "William" and "Jennings" remain wonderfully frozen forever in the ten to eleven age bracket. The Hardy boys, product of the Stratemeyer team of writers, under the pseudonym Franklin W.
Dixon, eventually move on from Bayport High School but this was more a deliberate repackaging of a product that had grown stale than an organic growth from the stories themselves. That really was making Joe grow up with a bang. And yet this seemingly insoluble problem of keeping our attachment to the characters strong whilst allowing them to mature, can be handled with both subtlety and charm.
Sometimes, almost without us realising it, it can become the principal attraction of the books themselves. Malcolm Saville, the subject of this article, recognised the conflicting forces at work when it came to his characters. In the preface to many of the books, once the series was under way, he commented on how some of his readers "have asked that they should not grow up from book to book". The reason quoted was that they should carry on having adventures at their present age.
Everything would be reassuringly the same except perhaps the setting, or the circumstances, of the new adventure. Nevertheless, in the later books, Saville told his readers they must forgive him if he set the new stories in the sixties and later the seventies. By the time of "Rye Royal" "the Lone Piners have grown a little older" and finally the characters have begun "to realize how much they mean to each other. See p 67 of Mystery Mine.
Shrewsbury Castle. See To the right is Clun Castle. Peter Petronella loves David and David loves Peter. It takes them a long time to realise it, even longer to declare it and then finally to recognise it as an adult relationship that can be fulfilled in engagement and marriage. A closer look at this core relationship reveals some surprising facts and the skill and artistry with which the author constructed his narratives.
It takes time for us to realise that in fact each book is merely a chapter in a longer and, in many ways, a superior story. It is a story that it well worth tracing. By the time of their last adventure the initial meeting of David and Peter on the Long Mynd has become almost mythical to both of them. They had known something remarkable from the first moment is what is asserted. In fact, a close search of that section of "Mystery at Witchend", Lone Pine adventure number one, would just reveal the very first meeting as an encounter between David, the twins and a rather lonely girl who lives with her father at a remote cottage in the hills.
Peter rides to the rescue of Dickie who is stuck in a bog but there is no sign of anything between her and David. The reader would certainly never notice. Take another look at the episode when Peter loses her patience with David whom she has invited to swim with her. He has spent his time patiently looking at the sluices and the other machinery that her fussy old father wants to show to him.
Her reaction to this delay is a little too intense, a little too angry for ordinary friendship. He instinctively loses his first swimming race to her and the rift is healed. When she apologizes and declares that they are friends again we are told that "David felt rather shy about looking at her. They need to be alone together after the traumatic events, and, much as he would like Peter to come back to Witchend with them, he understands that the old man needs to spend time in the familiar routines with his daughter.
Was it a romance? Peter is quick to laugh and deny it, though her special relationship with David is acknowledged and she finds herself "going a little pink" when she mentions his name in recounting her first adventure. Even the beginning of her letter to him "Dear David" cannot be done unselfconsciously.
He is already dear David to her but she cannot say so, at the risk of embarrassing both herself and him. The opening of the letter gets changed to "Dear David and all".
With such light touches Saville keeps this special undefined feeling alive in the background of the stories. The term is used again about two reunions in the tale where the Morton children see their father again, home for a while from the war, and Charles and Micah, the estranged son and father, are brought together by Mary.
As for the relationship between David and Peter, just enough is said or left unsaid to keep the reader aware of the special nature of their friendship. Re-united, at last, we are told that David and Peter "shook hands rather shyly".
Soon after we are told that David is "never demonstrative" and this is confirmed when the adventure is over and the procession of participants returns from the mountain, for David and Peter fall into step alongside each other.
Aunt Carol tells Peter the full story of how Micah and Charles came to split up and Peter knows that the only person she can confide in is David. It is obviously not meant to be a bad omen in their case, however.
Peter remains behind in Shropshire whilst David and the twins share the experience with their new friends. It seems that their special relationship has been put "on hold" for the time being, though she is not entirely absent from the book. David remains "blissfully unaware" of her feelings when he describes Penny in glowing terms to Peter. Her cold answer, which fails to mask her jealousy to the readers, is surely not just about the fact that she missed out on all the excitement.
On the other hand her warm heart is shown in her kind words about her other lonely friend, Jenny, whom she encourages David to like. The twins quickly give a lie to this statement when they point out that David had skipped breakfast in order to be there early waiting for Peter.
Cantor considers her to be a liar. On the surface all this is done because of the respect and trust that the Lone Piners must show each other, particularly the Captain and Vice-Captain of the club. When, towards the climax of the book, the three girls attempt their rescue of the imprisoned boys each shows their individual character traits. Penny, impetuous, determined to plunge straight into action, and Jenny, aware of a greater danger, finding her courage both to defy the others and to go off in the dark to search very sensibly for the grown-ups who can save dear Tom more quickly.
At this point, Peter, torn between her heart and her head, goes with Penny, and Jenny understands why she needs to. Those who read "Lone Pine Five", a book which concentrates on Jenny and her growing feelings for Tom, might not notice what lies between David and Peter.
Only towards the end are we given a hint both of his admiration for her and the difficulty he has in expressing it. And in the next story "The Elusive Grasshopper" she is left behind once again.
His letter to her at the end is merely the captain reporting club business to his vice captain. Just what is happening in the core relationship in the whole series is brought into the sharpest of focus in "The Neglected Mountain". David chooses Peter to accompany him when he hears the plane in the middle of the night.
When she asks him again and again why he selected her and not Tom he is unable or unwilling to explain. She follows him and thinks to herself that she hardly ever refuses "anything he asked her", though she doubts that he even notices. Goodbyes, hellos and letters all play their part and sometimes cause their problems as the series develops.
Peter, accepted into the Morton family, can hug the twins and kiss the parents in greeting , but what can she do with David? He too can never find the right words, though he always tries to contrive to be alone with her before they part.
Their simultaneous declaration of "Only twelve weeks", neutral though it may be in content, indicates what is lying below the surface. She can also talk about her father in both an open and an intimate way when she writes to David.
We learn that he has written back but none of the details of his style emerge. The contrast between their appearance is brought out strongly when next they meet. David may be "friendly and nice" but Peter will soon be "a very beautiful girl". David realises that soon other people will notice this and he becomes very shy when he meets her. He has also fallen into the power of his twin brother and sister who realise that he is fascinated by Peter. Dickie, in particular, rolls his eyes towards Peter, when he hints just why his older brother was so excited at the prospect of coming to Witchend.
As the story builds towards its climax Malcolm Saville pauses the action so that, in a remarkable passage of writing, David begins to take stock of what it is about Peter that he likes. He realises that she is a "good friend" and that she is dependable, loyal and unselfish. Once again he notes that she is "very pretty" and that "he had never been so aware of this before".
His conclusion is that "she was entirely natural" and that "You knew where you were with her. However, instinctively Peter knows he is thinking about her, and she blushes under all this attention and David finds himself "colouring" for he understands that she must have known.
She falls backwards down the slope into darkness. As she drifts in and out of consciousness she is aware of a hand stroking her hair and an arm is round her waist holding her upright. When he saw her lying there, a crumpled figure at the bottom of the slope, he was totally unaware of how he got down there. Something has changed irrevocably between Peter and himself.
We are only in book 7 of the Lone Pine series but already the characters are growing up and Peter and David seem destined for each other. Indeed Malcolm Saville cleverly indicates that the others have begun to notice it. Certainly, the incurable romantic, Jenny, watched David closely to see how he would greet Peter when she came out of hospital.
She is bound to be disappointed for David knows that Peter will not want a fuss made of her. What happened between him and the wonderful girl was strictly private. Mary, however, knows far more than any of the others and tells Dickie that Peter will always belong to their family. We realise with the last words of the book that Mary had overheard everything that David had said to Peter as he talked desperately over her unconscious body.
In this landmark book, "The Neglected Mountain", there are also other indications of romance. What is happening between Jenny and Tom is different but indicates that they too are finding out new things about they way they feel about each other. But David likes Dan and no real jealousy is shown and nothing further happens to either intensify or dissipate the relationship between the two central young people.
We are told of how she looks forward to seeing him and talking to him. Later when she and Sally are lost in the snowstorm it is David instinctively who is there for her.
Lone Pine Series
The Lone Pine Series The longest, and most popular, of the series. Twenty books and a short story make up the series. The series begins with the Mortons travelling away from war-torn London. They have obtained a house Witchend on the slopes of the Long Mynd, a mountain in Shropshire. With their father away in the RAF, it falls on the shoulders of the 16 year old David to look after his mother and his brother and sister. Dickie and Mary are twins, and are only about ten when the stories begin.
Malcolm Saville Society