Abandoned at birth, little Mercy Hanley shows a fierce determination few others can match. Her inner fire burns brightly, even in the harsh conditions of turn-of-the-century Birmingham. For behind Mercy's pale and haunting face, there is a mind of steel, as her harsh foster mother, Mrs Gaskin, soon discovers. Beatings, threats and poverty cannot halt Mercy's efforts to improve herself, or to create a new life for Susan, Mrs Gaskin's crippled daughter. Even in the worst times, it is as if someone is watching over Mercy, and willing her to succeed. Through the dark shadow of world war, Mercy continues her fight for survival. She will first earn her freedom and security. Then at long last she can give her love ...