London, England. 1840.
The Chimney Sweep Act has just been passed by Parliament, forbidding the use of underaged orphans as chimney sweeps’ assistants—four- and five-year-olds are being sent down into chimneys with wire brushes to scrape out the creosote. The government means well, but has instead put hundreds or even thousands of little kids with no real protectors out of work. Right before Christmas.
Caroline, a.k.a. the infamous Smoke, has been trying to rescue them all.
Three of the orphans are staying at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Croft, well-off mill-owners from Yorkshire. The first night, all seemed to be fine—but the next time Caroline checks on them, they have left the sign for trouble in their window. All three of them are missing, and their belongings are still nailed up in the crate they were delivered in.
Caroline breaks into the house, fearing the worst…