Circumstances force eight-year-old Sarah and her widowed mother to enter the notorious St Giles and St George's Workhouse.
When her mother dies in childbirth, the independent-minded Sarah falls foul of the workhouse master, Trigg and his cruel wife.
Sarah's ordeal seems to be over when a sugar mill owner takes her into his home.
But her wealthy benefactor reports Trigg and his wife. And blaming Sarah for their misfortune, in a fit of revenge, the couple decide to take the law into their own hands.