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Pilfering food for her sickly máthair, Aisling O'Quinn wanders amidst the filth-ridden cobbled streets of Five Points, Manhattan. A matron of the Children's Aid Society catches her and considers it her civic duty to force the twelve-year-old onto an orphan train to a "better life". Though Five Points is a notorious slum, with its rag-picker alleys and bandit haunts, Aisling desperately misses her beloved parent and their shabby room at the bend on Mulberry Street. In 1863, after four years of misery on a foster farm in Pennsylvania and as troops from the North and the South converge for the Battle of Gettysburg, Aisling finally musters the courage to escape. Not even the crippling fear of capture as a runaway fades her intense longing to reunite with her parent. At sixteen, she digs deep within herself for the courage, faith, and determination that will guide her safely back to the circle of her máthair's love.