Nine-year-old Bessie is the hardworking daughter of a widow, who lives out in the country. Her mother sells quilts to neighbours, and does whatever it takes to make ends meet. But, like many of her neighbours, she is extremely poor. And the water from the stream often makes the locals sick with fever. Bessie soon discovers that she can make a meager amount of money selling watercress that grow on her property. It is not much, but gives her and her mom a bit of money to get through the brutally cold winters. Bessie and her friends often forage for nuts in the dense woods, and their friend teaches them how to fish at the pond. And that is where Bessie and her friends meet the mischievous squirrel, who causes them trouble.