Mary MacAlistair is a young teenage girl searching for her New Orleans family. Just before graduation in a girl's Pennsylvania boarding school, Mary receives a box from her father which has been in her mother's family for years. Enclosed are items such as gloves, an Indian arrowhead, and a fan. However, the next day, Mary gets shocking news: her father has died, and her mother is really her stepmother, who doesn't want Mary as a daughter anymore.
Mary discovers that her real mother came from New Orleans. So, Mary packs her bags, and gets on a boat for New Orleans. Mary is a very naive young girl, and gets taken advantage off. On the boat, she meets Miss Rose, who promises to take care of her in New Orleans. It turns out that Miss Rose is a madam and runs a whore house. Miss Rose tries to turn Mary into a prostitute, but Mary escapes. She runs into a cathedral and seeks the help of nuns in a convent.
Mary explains her story to the nuns, and finds out that the box that belonged to her mother is called a caskett. A caskett is a box of history for a family, which contains items pertaining to events that happens in that person's family. Celeste Sazerac promises to get the caskett back from Miss Rose and help find Mary's family. But, when Celeste finds out that Mary is actually her niece, she keeps the caskett for herself and lies to Mary & to the nuns. Mary is turned over to a family to become a companion to their daughter, Jeanne. Mary still believes that Celeste is trying to find her family. But Celeste wants to keep Mary out of the way.
When Jeanne's brother's friend, Valmont St. Brevin, finds out that Mary is a companion to Jeanne, he tells Jeanne's father that Mary used to be a whore. (Valmont had seen Mary on the boat with Miss Rose, and Valmont has visited that whore house.) Mary is kicked out and left to fend for herself on the streets. The ironic part is that Mary is in love with Valmont, until Valmont uses her. From that point on, Mary ceases to become trusting and innocent. She forgets about finding her family, and becomes hard and self-reliant. Eventually, she seeks revenge for all those who have mistreated her in New Orleans, including Valmont St. Brevin.
This report prepared by Marie Morris