Four children, ranging in age through late adolescence, escape a tyrannical uncle and arrive in New York City. With money from mother's jewels and Peter's job as a map colorist they manage financially and are forthwith directed to a zany warm-hearted haven of a boarding house known as Plippen's Palace where they meet a gay assortment of eccentrics. How they adjust to life in 19th Century New York and how they make friends comprise an absorbing often humorous series of incidents. At Christmas time the actors in the house dispense some unusual gifts, more amusing and precious than material baubles, their talents. When Uncle Lasher finally finds them, he is set upon and sent away for good by the loyal Plippen entourage. A happy ending sees Peter a talented artist, with a sponsor, and the rest of the group housed permanently with the Neepers, kind and loving neighbors. Individual character delineation makes for an enchanting story of people set amidst the unique atmosphere of old New York.