Throughout the ages, small children have scratched out a living working at difficult and dangerous jobs. When she makes a speech acknowledging her promotion to the position of Judge of Orphans, lawyer Mary Rose Cabrini captures the attention of a mysterious child named Joseph Di Buonna who begs her for help in pursuing the truth about his family. The boy's tale stretches beyond his own generation back to gas-lit New York City and an era in which every child of the street had to fend for himself against starvation, filth, nosey do-gooders, other street children, cops, truant officers Mary Rose discovers that, conquering all, Joseph's ancestors did manage to pass down the secret legacy of his family. Has the hour finally come for Joseph to claim what is rightfully his? Or is Mary Rose being tricked by a clever child capable of leading her into a trap of deceit, disgrace and ultimately-death?