One middle-aged spinster shepherding ten orphans to New South wales in 1825--unsuitable, intriguing but not ultimately satisfying. The ten, victims of a typhus epidemic, are gathered into the Switherby vicarage by Missabella (Miss Arabella Braithwaite); for them and for her (brother Hugh, the Vicar, is about to be married) New South Wales is the chance for a new life. The children--from five-year-old baby Sally-Lou to thirteen-year-old stalwart Francis--react variously to the preparations, to the five month voyage on a convict ship, to the prospect of living alone in the bush; mostly they have little to leave behind and thrive on responsibility, especially impetuous, intelligent Cassie, even refined Selina, whose particular courage is to start forth into the wilderness dressed in her dainty best. The trouble is that it takes them too long (more than half the book) to arrive at their holding and to begin coping, which is what they (and we) have been waiting for from the start. Not to leave bad enough--isolation, inexperience, uncleared land--alone, there's a menace in the form of the escaped convict father of three of the children, and his downfall, rather than the success of their venture, provides the climax of the story. Milssabella adjusting to circumstances is in the best British no-nonsense tradition, and so is the sharp style, making the contrived conclusion a particular disappointment.