Miss Bennett Cranley, so busy with the cafe that she owns, finds no time at all for house-cleaning. She advertises for a maid, but the only person to apply is 13-year-old Shirley Madison. Though reluctant at first, Miss Cranley decides to give the girl a try and leaves her in charge for the day. However, when the cafe owner returns home that evening, she is surprised to find the house cleaner than ever, and a delicious dinner prepared for her, as well. Miss Cranley is so taken with the young maid that she decides to keep her on.
CHAPTER 2: LITTLE MARIE
Miss Cranley closes the cafe early one day and stops on the way home to buy a doll for Shirley. The young maid names the doll Marie and begins busily designing and making new clothes for her. Miss Cranley is amazed with the girl's fashion sense and believes that she will someday become a fine dressmaker.
CHAPTER 3: BLONDE AND CORSET
Shirley serves Miss Cranley her morning tea, and while sipping from her cup, the woman says that they will need to order flour from a new supplier. As Miss Cranley is dressing, the girl can't help but admire her mistress' long blonde hair and the way her corset shapes her body. She then wishes that she had blonde hair, as well. Later, she is placing the order for flour with a Mrs. Colby, when the woman's husband begins commenting on Miss Cranley's beauty. Mrs. Colby scolds him, but Shirley believes his comments further bolster her views on being blonde. However, later that evening, Miss Cranley herself expresses a wish to become a brunette, extolling its many virtues. The young maid then decides that being a brunette is not so bad after all.
CHAPTER 4: HOME
Miss Cranley receives an invitation to a social function for that evening and asks Shirley to alter a dress for her to wear. The girl works hard at it, fixing it to her mistress' satisfaction. While attending the evening's function, Miss Cranley receives many compliments, but is especially taken with that of an old male acquaintance. Later that night, Shirley comes downstairs to find her mistress sitting pensively by the fireplace. They sit together quietly for a while, then Miss Cranley remarks how nice it is to have a home, to which Shirley agrees. The next morning, after her mistress has left for the cafe, Shirley wonders if something happened at the previous evening's function. Meanwhile at the cafe, Miss Cranley has decided to put her regular customers to work helping set up the place.
CHAPTER 5: RAIN
Miss Cranley and Shirley are hard at work in the garden, when the postman arrives with a letter from the woman's aunt informing her of an impending visit. There is also a threat of rain in the air, so the two of them quit and head indoors. During the course of the day, Shirley commits a series of blunders, but Miss Cranley forgives each one, telling the girl to be more careful the next time. No sooner has the rain begun to pour, than Miss Cranley's aunt arrives. While Shirley is serving tea, the aunt lectures her mistress on both personal and business matters. Her incessant badgering begins to annoy the girl, suddenly causing her to voice her frustrations. Miss Cranley scolds the young maid and tells her to wait in the kitchen. Poor Shirley is now distraught over her own recent behavior; but after the aunt has left, Miss Cranley apologizes and thanks her. While consoling the tearful maid, she explains that her aunt's loneliness and pride are what lead to her continual visits and constant lecturing. By the next day, the weather has cleared, and the two of them are back at work in the garden.
ME AND NELLIE AND ONE AFTERNOON
Nellie is a young maid with glasses who sees after the lonely boy of an aristocratic family. One day he finds a baby bird out of its nest and insists on keeping it, naming it "Tweeters." Nellie helps him fix a place for Tweeters to sleep then tucks the lad into bed for the night. But when morning comes, Nellie discovers that the bird has died. Following its burial, the boy stops inviting Nellie to play with him. Then one day, the gardener's granddaughter visits and says that she would like to play with him instead. So, off they go together, leaving Nellie pleased at the inevitable outcome.
Mary Banks is a young maid who works for Sir James Bolton, an eccentric old bachelor who regularly enjoys pulling pranks on his staff. Eric Welles is the house steward and has, like Mary, grown accustomed to his employer's whimsical antics. However, newly hired employees seem unable to cope and quit after only a day or two. Though Mary occasionally complains, she still cares for the old man and promises to spend the rest of her days as his maid. Unfortunately, he soon passes away. In his will, he leaves Mary a globe in his study; however, when she tries to retrieve it, a clever trap is sprung. "Even from beyond the grave!" she exclaims. Then Eric shows her a hidden hatch in the globe and inside finds a letter addressed to Mary. In it, Sir Bolton apologizes and thanks her for staying with him. When Eric invites her to go to work with him for another employer who, like Sir Bolton, has trouble keeping good help, Mary readily accepts.
SILLY AFTERWORD (& EXCUSES) MANGA: THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE
Creator Kaoru Mori highlights various elements from each story, giving background info in her usual nutty way.