Colonel Clarence J. Birdwhistle - Elderly gentleman, retired from the British Army. “Regarding his appearance, he had noticed over the years that his ears had grown quite large and the bulb of his nose had rounded. It was a disturbing trend, and he feared what they would be after another decade. Years of work in the sun had chiseled deep lines through his darkened face, giving his skin a strange, leathery aspect. However, the oddest thing about this man was not his face as a whole but what was on it. He wore huge bushy sideburns and a long, white mustache. Every morning he spent time rolling each end of his mustache into a tight spring that he fancied as the fashion of the times. It was not the fashion of the current times, and had not even been fashionable in his own lifetime. But he liked the way it looked on him very much and had convinced himself that others looked upon him with a favorable air because of it.”
He is always polite, loves to wear hats and can usually be found in his trademark red coat. In the story he takes to wearing a pith helmet for safety. The Colonel left his home as a young man in search of adventure and spent his entire service in southern Africa until his retirement from duty. He moved to Portsmouth as a sort of secondary adventure. During the story, he becomes woven into the fabric of the city and comes to view its citizenry as a new family replacing the one he left behind.
Virgil Creech - As the youngest son of the most notorious family in Portsmouth, Virgil is a boy who craves attention and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He has had to learn to fight eight brothers to get his way and doesn’t even mind losing if he can get a black eye out of the scrum (thereby garnering more attention.) Virgil is selfish and lonely, but there is a glimmer of hope in the boy that emerges as his friendship with Henry grows.
Here's the description of the dog: “He wasn’t much to look at. His coat was a dabbled mix of grays and browns that flowed together unevenly, as if a failed artist had poured paints over him and walked away before getting the portrait right. In fact, it was impossible to tell if the color on him was really him at all or filth and grime that had stuck itself onto him over the years. His coat didn’t waste its time with a single patch of clean. It was wiry and matted and evidently itched him in places just out of reach of his back paw at the moment. His ears stood straight up when he wasn’t scratching something. Behind him, half a crooked tail wagged slowly in the air. The fur on it was stuck close so it almost looked like rope with only a few wispy strands poking out. He had a look of intelligence to him and he seemed to trust these three strangers, although he had yet to allow them the privilege of getting too close.”