When Hetty Huggins made a promise to her dying mother that she would look after her younger sister and brothers, little did she know how difficult this would be.
But despite the threat of being turned out onto the streets by the unscrupulous tallyman and the never-ending struggle just to exist, Hetty is determined her family will never starve or want for a roof over their heads.
Longing for something better out of life than the daily grind of making matchboxes for a pittance, she dreams of setting up her own business.
With the help of friends she sells hot potatoes on the streets and things begin to look up for them all.
But when the tallyman comes calling, they are faced once more with a future full of hardship and despair ...