The story follows the adventures of two eleven year old children Lizzie and Sam when they discover a one-arm-bandit in a scrap yard where they had gone to hide from PC Goodrich. Eager to see if the machine worked, Sam pulls on the lever and, in the blink of an eye they are transported back in time to the burial of a Saxon King at Sutton Hoo.
Relieved to find themselves returned safely to the scrap yard,their joy is short lived when they find PC Goodrich waiting there to apprehend them. But when the policeman spots the one arm bandit, unable to resist the temptation, PC Goodrich pulls down the handle. Instantly the trio are transported back in time to the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Montana on the very day that General Custer is making his famous last stand. With the seventh cavalry and the Indians locked in battle as it reaches its climax. Before PC Goodrich can stop her, Lizzie suddenly rushes onto the battle-field, and without a thought for her own safety, she saves the life of a cavalry officer's horse.
Safely back in the scrap yard, thanks to the policeman's knowledge of American history, Lizzie learns that because of her bravery, the horse who's life she saved, would turn out to be the only survivor of the battle. But sadly there were to be no more time travel adventures, as a few weeks later the scrap yard was demolished, burying the one arm bandit under mounds of rubble. At least that's what Lizzie and Sam thought. But they were wrong. Thanks to a canny Scot named Hamish MacGregor and his trusty old van, the one arm bandit was in fact on its way up the A1 to Scotland.
SAM AND LIZZIE knew someone was following them. They had first caught sight of him as they came out from the spinney behind the Abbott’s farmhouse and again as they cut across the meadow where Mr Abbott grazed his two horses. Most worrying of all was the fact that he seemed quite unconcerned that they were aware of his presence. Lengthening their stride and keeping to the rutted track, which ran alongside a tall hedgerow, the two youngsters made a beeline for the cluster of houses in the distance. With arms and legs flying they raced down a steep hillside known locally as “The Slope” on account of it being used as a toboggan run on the rare occasions when there was a sufficient fall of snow. At the foot of the hill lay their final obstacle, the rusting remains of tall wrought iron railings, which ran alongside a disused railway line. Quick as a flash, Lizzie hitched up her dress and tucking it into her knickers, she scaled the railings with ease and dropped down safely on the other side. Agile as a monkey Sam followed after her and reaching the top, he paused for a moment to cast an anxious look behind him.
‘He’s still following us,’ said Sam, jumping down from the fence, ‘what do we do now?’
Lizzie stared thoughtfully for a minute and then her freckled face lit up with a smile.
‘Follow me,’ she said excitedly ‘I know just the place to hide.’ And with that she raced away with Sam hot on her heels.
Trudging along the narrow track PC Goodrich began to regret answering the telephone, ruefully aware that if he hadn’t picked up the receiver, he would still be back in his snug little office at the local police station enjoying a nice cup of tea, instead of gallivanting around the countryside on some wild goose chase. Reaching the end of the track and seeing his quarry disappear below the crest of the hill, PC Goodrich quickly pushed such thoughts aside and reminded himself that a crime had been committed and although it only involved the theft of a few apples, as the local constable it was his duty to investigate the matter and apprehend those responsible.
He was also very aware that the person who had made the phone call was none other than Miss Litchetwood, chairperson of the Parish Council and a lady who you definitely didn’t want to get on the wrong side of. His predecessor had made that mistake and as a result he was now back pounding the beat in Fordingham. No, the position of Tingwick village constable suited PC Goodrich very well and the last thing he wanted was to put it in jeopardy. So on reflection, answering the telephone had been a wise decision after all as apprehending the perpetrators of the crime would put him in Miss Litchetwood’s good books and that was not a bad thing at all.
Pushing his bicycle and quite out of breath he reached the top of “The Slope” just in time to see the two youngsters climb the railings and race away. He considered free-wheeling down the steep hill in pursuit but after viewing the phalanx of rusting railings and imagining for one horrible moment being impaled on their spear-like spikes he decided against it. Besides he reminded himself, there was really no need for him to hurry, after all he had a pretty good idea where his two suspects were heading for. In fact he would bet a week’s wages on it.