Emmeline, lived a modest but happy life with her parents and her little brother, Tommy, in the English countryside. Until their village became ravaged with illness. Her father dies, and her infant brother is left deaf as a result of the sickness. Emmeline's mother, Cat, becomes an alchoholic, and they can no longer support themselves in their idyllic village, so they relocate to the big city of London. Cat gets a job working for her sister-in-laws mill, working day and night to make pennies. Everything changes again- for the worst- when Cat has her hand crushed while working, and soon becomes addicted to opium. She sells the little possesions they have (even family heirlooms) for money to fund her addiction. The final straw for Emmeline comes when Cat sells Tommy to a chimney sweep master, comdemning him to a dangerous job among the flues. So, Emmeline must search the city of London, the largest city in the world at that time, finding all possible leads to find her brother and escape from the dismal future that lays before her.