In Kansas, the Boxcar Children stay in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast owned by Grandfather's friend, Kate Crawford. The children learn that the famous photographer Ethan Cape once stayed there and that there is almost nothing known about his early life.
The children meet the other guests. Professor Brewer is not friendly and seems shocked to learn about the Ethan Cape photo of Kate's grandmother. They also meet the Mavins, a young couple who seem very interested in Kate's necklace. And Lindsay, the young woman Kate has hired to help around the Bed and Breakfast, seems to have something to hide.
While polishing Kate's old family desk, the Aldens find a mysterious rhyme in a hidden compartment. Will the rhyme help them learn more about Ethan Cape? The Boxcar Children follow the clues.