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When her health fails, Mrs. Pepper takes Polly, Phronsie, Ben, Joe and Davie, the five little Peppers, to visit her sister, Alice Anderson, who runs a boardinghouse for loggers in Oregon. Jim Anderson, Alice's husband and a surly drunk, resents the family's presence from the moment they arrive. Sensing his hostility, the children stay away from him. Nevertheless, Phronsie incites Jim's wrath when he bumps his head on her bird cage, and in a drunken rage, he frees her beloved pets. Despite Jim's antagonism, Polly suspects that he has a better side to his nature and vows to uncover it. In her task, she is aided by Ole, a big Swedish lumberman who boards at the Anderson house. Inspired by Ole's stories of his pirate days, the children leap at his offer to drive them to the river, where they can build a raft and play pirates. En route, however, Jim falls into a drunken stupor and passes out at the river's edge. The five Peppers build their raft, but it breaks loose from its moorings with Phronsie, Joe, Davie and Ben aboard. Caught in a log jam, the children are in desperate danger, and as Ole rushes to their rescue, he is knocked unconscious by a log. Polly frantically awakens Jim, who unhesitatingly plunges to the rescue. After safely steering the raft to shore, Jim rescues Ole, thus proving that Polly was right about his inherent nobility.