In Elizabethan London, no child is safe. Children are misused and exploited by parents, masters, strangers, and society at large. Even the children of the rich are in danger. When a five-year-old heiress to great estates is kidnapped, Christoval Alvarez, the players of James Burbage's company, and a disreputable group of child beggars all become involved in the search. At Seething Lane, matters are approaching a crisis. Sir Francis Walsingham is dying and, as Thomas Phelippes struggles to hold the intelligence service together, he receives information that another attack on the Queen is planned. The identity of the assassin is unknown, but Phelippes does know the place and the date - Whitehall Palace on the day of the Twelfth Night Revels.
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