Seven year old Robert, during his mother's illness, is sent up north to with his uncle Malcolm Harmsworth, his aunt Dora, and their seraphic ten year old, Julie. Robert (sometimes he seems older than seven) finds that ""they look being good real hard, up North"" and he doesn't take to it. Malcolm lives, the Christian rule"" and, like Sadie Thompson's little minister, his high-minded morality only camouflages his low instincts (particularly frustrated during Robert's visit- Dora is fatigued). Dora showers her ""darling mixed-up little pet"" with endearments to which Robert does not respond (who could?) and he resists all their loving kindness and togetherness and ""talk about love"" as well as everyone except Julie, who is not quite so innocent as she seems to her parents, and leads him astray. He steals money in order to get sent home; this fails; he is helped to run away by an older man, then retrieved; and finally he is really rescued by his father. Bodkin-tongued Miss Hale makes some acute observations about life in general as well as within this sanctimonious household and her text is unmistakable: a little original sin is a healthier than its protective coloration in a so-called Christian society where sex is still something of a bugaboo. In any case, Robert is very appealing and so is his story.