Vignettes of nostalgic town life reminiscent of Tom Sawyer or the Five Little Peppers. We first meet Babs and Betty Moss at a dolls' tea party in which they discover the clever show dog Sancho foraging for his master Ben, a runaway from the circus. Ben's father had left the circus for a more promising job, intending to send for his son once he was settled. With his father's protection gone, Ben is harshly treated by the circus master and runs away.
Arriving soon after the runaways are Celia and her young brother Thornton, returning to their old home after being gone for years. Thorny is weak from a long illness and is wheelchair-ridden and crabby although he admits that Celia is "the best sister that ever was". She hires Ben to amuse her brother during his convalescence while allowing Babs and Betty, whose mother takes care of the premises, to continue to play house on the porch and path. The kids occupy themselves with botanical expeditions, ship-building, water wheels and other waterworks play, picnics, baseball and archery. Babs loses Sancho at a circus and Betty finds him again in pitiful shape after accompanying Thorny to the dentist. Celia breaks her arm after a fall from her horse and is rescued by Ben. He is gradually weaned away from the roving circus life although Celia invites the school to a splendid birthday party for him where he shows himself in his former circus glory as Cupid on a galloping horse. There is a little trouble with missing money and false accusations but Ben, who is honest and true, gradually endears himself to the two families. Several joyous unions and reunions take place at the end as well as one intended for the future, although in the midst of preparing for one, the incorrigible Babs almost burns down the house under the lilacs. The tone is quaint and old-fashioned but the simple pleasures of life shine through and Ben is both boy-like and engaging.