Cheshire 1813. A tale set against the turbulent backdrop of Luddite riots and the final years of the Napoleonic Wars. Robbie Enright is a teenaged orphan indentured at a remote cotton-spinning mill called Providence, owned by the eminent Samuel Stead. In this highly-successful enterprise reliant on child labour, all is not as it seems, however. Several of the female hands have disappeared, supposedly escaping from the mill's harsh discipline. Robbie, suspecting a terrible secret, is forced to contend with the mill's authorities, especially Titus Bredlow, the sadistic overlooker. Bright and courageous, Robbie has no resources and only one friend: Ned Wainwright, a notorious Luddite and a wanted man. Against the odds he is determined to expose the truth not least because he's fallen in love with the mill's newest arrival: pretty Mary Pepper.