Eleven-year-old Stella Barry is forced into service when her family find themselves living hand-to-mouth. Leaving her mother and younger brother and sister behind, Stella goes to a big country house outside London. When she returns home one Sunday, she discovers they have disappeared. Thrown out of their lodgings, no one knows where they have gone. Seven years later it looks likely Stella will soon become Cook. But circumstances compel her to flee with no references and only a few personal possessions to her name. She has never forgotten her loving family and is determined to find out what happened to them - once and for all.