Miss Adams and Mr. Patton, the nurse and detective from The Buckled Bag, are on another case. The Reeds are behaving very strangely. They live in Beauregard Square, an exclusive neighborhood in the city. They’ve recently dismissed all their servants, ripped up the carpets, pulled the furniture away from the walls, and leave every light on around the clock. Their two boys are kept locked in the nursery on the second floor and Mr. and Mrs. Reed alternate in keeping a 24 hour watch at the head of the stairs. Mr. Reed needs someone to babysit the children, but they have to be a registered nurse.
The Reeds were living far beyond their means. The bubonic plague is sweeping a European country. Mr. Reed is a bacteriologist and has been hired to find a cure. Several plague rats were kept in his basement lab, but they’ve escaped. Their strange behavior was a precaution against the plague rats or the fleas they carry reaching the children.