When Maggie Boatworth steals a duckling from its wild mother she finds she has saddled herself with more than she really bargained for. Although her promises to her parents to give the constant attention that Billy must have in order to survive were promptly, freely and sincerely given -- catching his food, combating his stench and keeping him occupied soon devolve on Maggie's mother while Maggie goes sailing. When charged with neglect, Maggie can't understand why. She feels that her mother has been unfair and goes to the other extreme, becoming a quack-ridden recluse. Growing into her responsibilities and in understanding while getting Billy to grow into a size that can safely be returned to the wild state finishes off a satisfying, low pressure story.