"The good old days" aren't all they're cracked up to be . . . at least in Jeanne M. Dams's turn-of-the-century novels. Her woman on the spot, Hilda Johansson, a maid in the Studebaker household in South Bend, sees what's going on among the rich, suffers what's going on among the less fortunate . . . and has no trouble telling it like it is. In the fourth in this series, Hilda's situation is still fragile. She's still crammed into a small house with her family of seven, and her happiness at being reunited with them is bittersweet. Worst of all, her 12-year-old brother, Eric, can't hold a job. When a friend of Eric's runs away to join the circus and is found beaten, perhaps worse, events take a desperate turn.