The story sets in the England ruled by Queen Victoria. Sara (Shirley Temple) is a little girl who doesn't have anything in the world but her father, Captain Reginald Crew (Ian Hunter). War times run, and Captain Crew's sent to fight with the British army to Africa, to fight against the boers. Sara's worried about her father and she's afraid of his security. The girl is registered in an exclusive seminary for girls, only for a period of time, until Captain Crew returns from Africa. Amanda Minchin (Mary Nash) is the strict woman that runs the seminary, but Sara makes friendship with a kind young teacher, Rose (Anita Louise) and with a horse instructor, Geoffrey (Richard Greene). So, Sara's life at Minchin Seminary is very happy, but everything there has a monetary cost, even the birthday party and the presents that Miss Minchin sets up for the girl. When Sara knows the terrible notice about Captain Crew's death, the girl feels devastated and all the privileges will end up, because there's no money to pay for that. Miss Minchin tells to Sara that she can stay, but in a dark and creepy attic and she'll have to work as a servant of all her friends. But the friendship with a nice Indian servant from the next house (CÚsar Romero) and with the other servant girl, Becky at the seminary, will make much pleasant the things for Sara, who keeps the hope that her father is still alive.
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