Michael Patrick Kelly, age 11, is one of his five brothers and sisters who are being sent west on an orphan train by their Ma so they can live a better life than they've had working on the streets of New York City. While his brothers and sisters are placed in good homes, Mike finds life difficult with the family he has been adopted into, especially since he had been a pickpocket out of necessity in New York and going west had been his only other choice besides being sent to Tombs Prison. Mr Friedrich, the father, believes that Mike is nothing but trouble and beats him whenever his temper rises. Gunter, the 13 yr. old who hates Mike and would like to see him sent back to NY and Tombs Prison,tries everything he can to get him in trouble. Most of the time, he succeeds, but Mike remains determined and stays with them despite Gunter's efforts. Mrs.Friedrich is a motherly woman who gladly welcomes his placement in their family, and Mike finds a true friend in Reuben, the hired hand, and Marta, who is a housekeeper for the Friedrichs. While Mike is in the wagon on the way to his new home, he overhears a whispered conversation about a man named Ulrich that disappeared. Apparently, Mr.Friedrich thinks that Mike is just like Ulrich and that he should be "taken care of". As the days pass, Mike hears more tidbits of conversation and believes that Mr. Friedrich has killed Ulrich and that he is afraid someone is going to find his out secret. Mike tries to pry more information loose out of Marta, but she only hints that she knows something which does not need concern him. When Reuben disappears after a fight with Mr.Friedrich, Mike can only fear the worst, and later while in the woods he spies a freshly dug patch of dirt. And then on a trip to St. Joseph, Missouri, he openly tells the people at the general store that Reuben is gone and that he suspects Mr.Friedrich of his murder.What will happen next to Mike--Will he find Reuben?And who was Ulrich? Read this 2nd book in the Orphan Train Quartet by Joan Lowery Nixon to find out the happy ending to Mike's story.