This is one of those slight, sentimental stories, complete with managed hilarity at appropriate moments, that might have appeared in a ladies' magazine in more innocent times. Alison, eleven, who grew up at a mission in India where her parents died and who raised two younger orphans as her little brothers, is sent to live with her gruff, unwelcoming writer/uncle Nicholas when the mission collapses. Since the three children are inseparable San Ignacio (an East Indian who dresses like a red one since the mission's stint in South America) and little Fat Buttery soon follow Alison, even though Uncle Nicholas insists that she can't stay either. Eviction threats, rooftop chases, a self-appointed panel of aged female snoops and other complications combine to effect the inevitable melting of Uncle Nicholas, who turns out to be not only sympathetic but also, pseudonymously, Betty Bounce who wrote the children's books that have sustained the trio through their troubles. A mechanical heartwarmer.