Jip could not understand why no one had claimed him after he tumbled off a wagon on the West Hill Road when he was a small child. Brought to the town poor farm, Jip was content to tend the animals and do chores-until the day the lunatic arrived. Put’s rages in his padlocked wooden cage terrified the residents, but when the old man was lucid, he sang sweetly and let the boy take care of him. More menacing to Jip was the weasel-like stranger who kept unexpectedly appearing. Who was he? And how could his puzzling story that he had been sent by a grieving parent to find his long lost son-who might well be Jip-be true?
Events quicken when Jip starts attending the one-room schoolhouse in the fall with Lucy, another poor farm resident, and there meets Teacher and her Quaker sweetheart, Luke Stevens. Befriending Jip, Teacher and Luke help the boy grapple with the astounding revelation of his true ancestry and the horrible consequences he faces if he does not escape.