Mary Cary is not your typical sentimental orphan story. Mary is a twelve-year old "inmate" of the Yorkburg Female Orphan Asylum. She talks about Miss Bray, the head of the Asylum, who lies to the Board to further her own selfish ends. Miss Katherinei is her friend, role model and nurse. Martha is Mary's bolder other self who is not afraid to speak her mind. Mary states her philosophy as "When you're miserable you don't get much of anything that's going around. I won't be unhappy ... I haven't enough other blessings."