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Although Roberta Morgan's parents give her everything money can buy, she is an unhappy child. Her parents are too busy for her, and her bratty behavior, which is actually an unspoken cry for love, only alienates them further. The only person to take any notice of her thirteenth birthday is her father's secretary, Williams. Roberta's only friends are a little black boy, Pinkie White, and his sister Arabella. When they take Roberta home with them, she is charmed by the warmth and love of their mother, Mrs. White, who unlike Mrs. Morgan, gives her children first priority. When Roberta tries to reciprocate by inviting Pinkie for dinner, however, Jenkins, the butler, angrily throws Pinkie out. Furious, Roberta acts even brattier, and after her parents leave for Europe, Jenkins locks her in her room. She runs away, but Jenkins tracks her to Pinkie's house. On the way home, Roberta and Jenkins argue and Roberta grabs the steering wheel causing the car to swerve into an oncoming car and kill the driver. At first, out of revenge, Roberta insists that Jenkins was drinking and the accident was all his fault, but after he is sentenced to prison, she confesses and is sent by the court to a special girls' school run by the enlightened Helen Cosgrove. Helen tries every method to reach Roberta and is about to give up when a talk with Williams convinces her to ask for Roberta's help with the younger students. Roberta loves her new duties and is delighted when she makes friends. By the time her parents return from Europe, Roberta has changed, but when Helen tells her that she will be allowed to go home, Roberta cries that her parents never loved her and refuses to go. The Morgans overhear her protests and, chastened, change their ways. At Roberta's next birthday party, they attend with all her new friends, including Pinkie, Arabella and Mrs. White, who has baked a beautiful cake.