Polly Milton is a 14 year old girl from the countryside who goes to visit her friend Fanny Shaw for six weeks. Fanny lives in Boston and the two girls met during the previous summer when Fanny paid a visit to her cousin. Polly is soon troubled by the Shaw's behaviour. The Shaws have become distracted by worldly, fashionable things and have forgotten the importance of family. Fanny is vain and selfish and is embarrassed of Polly's simple clothes and "old-fashioned" tastes. Her brother Tom is running wild and her sister Maud is whiny and spoiled. Mr Shaw is a workaholic, Mrs Shaw is a hypochondriac, and Grandma Shaw is lonely and overlooked. But over the course of Polly's visit the Shaws begin to recognise Polly's virtues and become a happier family under her influence. They all become extremely fond of Polly and are sad to see her go. Six years later, 20 year old Polly comes back to Boston and finds a job as a music teacher so she can financially support her younger brother through university. She rents a room in a boarding house and continues to visit the Shaws. When Polly then discovers that the once wealthy Shaws now have serious financial problems and are in danger of going bankrupt she does her best to help the family.