In the heart of teeming nineteenth-century London, Owen Oliver walks out of his gloomy, unwelcoming lodgings - and he doesn't stop his travels until he reaches Kent. There, Owen's life is dramatically altered. An orphan, he is adopted by a loving old lady and her roguish amicable son, Tom. With Tom's help, he secures employment in the shipping agency of an old sea captain and his fortunes soon increase as he proves to be invaluable in his clerical job. But Owen is not content. All around him he sees a widening gap between the comfortable middle classes and the helpless destitution of the poor. He is horrified by the plight of the thin and hungry and the evils of child labour. So when he takes the matter into his own hands and rescues a beautiful ragged child with haunting blue eyes and long golden hair, his fate is sealed ...