Tom is a fifteen year old boy who lives in New York City with an old man named Jacob in Mrs. Flanagan’s rooming house. They pose as grandfather and grandson, but, while Tom understands that they are no real relation, he knows nothing about his real family. Tom makes a living for them both as a street bootblack. Just before Jacob dies, he tells the boy that he is really Gilbert Grey, the son of a wealthy Cincinnati, OH, businessman named John Grey. However, John’s brother James conspired with Jacob to spirit the child away, claiming that he drowned, so that James could inherit the family wealth. Jacob has written a confession explaining all the details. So after Jacob’s death, Tom, or Gilbert, heads for Cincinnati to see if he can locate his uncle and claim his fortune. What will he find? Can he succeed?