Will, a foundling, adapts to all sorts of lifestyles. 4-year-old Willy is found on the steps of the church, abandoned by his mother. He is taken to Master Perry's mansion until a suitable home can be found. Although the maids, Marie and Gillian, are not excited about the extra work of caring for him, Marie does not complain when she finds a gold brooch in Will's bundle, and pockets it. However, everyone else likes Willy, who charms the cook, Perry's assistant, Rogers, and even Perry himself. They are sad to see Willy leave, although they know he is in good hands with Mistress Bessie.
Click here to see the rest of this review
Will spends the next 8 years of his life at Mistress Bessie's house. Following her death, Master Perry, who is still in charge of Will's welfare, finds him a home with a vicar. Will moves to yet another house.
Life at the vicar's is not what Will expected. He was supposed to attend lessons with the vicar's kids, but instead he is treated like a scullery boy and does chores all day. His life is not entirely miserable though; he smuggles the vicar's books into his cubbyhole and reading by candlelight. Meanwhile, the vicar continues his shady ways until Rogers, who comes for a progress report, finds out the truth and takes Will back with him, appalled at the vicar's dishonesty and lack of morals.
After a short stay at the Perry's, Will is apprenticed to an ironmonger. The work is tiring and dirty, but the men are kind and Will feels at home with them. In his free time he hangs out with his friends, John, Robert, and Sam. Sam is weak and sickly, mistreated by his master, and though his friends try to help there is not much they can do.
As Will's ironmaking skills improve, he is assigned to study a ship so he knows how to make its fittings. At the shipyard he meets Pete, a spirits who kidnaps boys and sells them to a corrupt ship captain. However, Will does not know this, and sees Pete as a good friend. When Pete, hearing about Sam's miserable life, offers to help Sam run away to sea, Will agrees to bring Sam as soon as possible.
But things start to get ugly as Pete, after greeting Sam and his friends, proceeds knock them out. When they awake they are bound and gagged, imprisoned in the tavern's cellar awaiting the captain's arrival. All hope is lost as the boys board the ship and prepare to set sail.
Suddenly a pirate cuts the boys' ropes and tells them to run. They obey and get away safely. It turns out that the ‘pirates' who were aboard the ship were in fact Rogers, Perry, Will's master and others. They had suspected Pete's plot and intervened in the nick of time. Luckily, Will is not in too much trouble.
The book ends happily as Will, on an errand to a pawn shop, discovers his mother's locket. In the epilogue it is revealed that he had a long, successful life though he started off as a poor foundling.
Best part of story, including ending:
Throughout his childhood, Will is faced with multiple obstacles. These include a scolding, thieving maid, a dishonest, pompous vicar, and a kidnapper, but somehow he pulls through.
Best scene in story:
Mr. Perry finds himself liking young Willy, who reminds Perry of is late son Daniel. the scene is touching and sad. Mr. Perry, who is a successful merchant with a large, comfortable house, has a gaping void in his heart which little Willy fills.
Opinion about the main character:
Will looks out for his friend. Although he breaks the law, he does it with his friend's best interests at heart, and sacrifices for him.