In 1835, in order to cope with an ever increasing number of infants left alone during the day while their impoverished mothers had to go to work in factories, refuge rooms were put in place in some towns. They were like day-nurseries for underprivileged children. With their establishment, it was hoped these children would be kept off the streets where they otherwise caused problems. Marie Carpantier always wanted to be a poet but she finds a job as the manager of one of the refuge rooms. At first, she reluctantly accepts her new responsibilities, disheartened by the children's rowdy behavior and the lack of education, hygiene and guidance and the absence of any funding. However, she comes to believe that it is possible to do so much more than just keeping an eye on them. With a strong will, she sets about catching the children's interest in order to give them at least a basic level of education and above all to teach them to read and write before they themselves go to work in a ...