On the banks of the River Thames in 1850’s London, many people struggle to survive. Picking up pieces of coal, rope, or wood from the river banks and turning them in for a few pennies is all that prevents families from starving. This is the bleak existence that Jamie lives as he toils to help his parents support his many siblings. Although his life is rough, it is worse for his two friends, Davies and Ten Tons, who are homeless orphans that need to steal from docked ships in order to feed themselves.
The lives of the three boys will change dramatically when they come across something that could make them rich! It seems that the copper treasure will be out of their reach until an accident on the boat sends the copper over the edge and into the muddy water. When no one else can find a way to retrieve the valuable (and extremely heavy) metal from the river bottom, the boys concoct a plan to bring up the roll and to sell it. However, their seemingly simple plan takes an unexpected turn, and the treasure ends up costing the young scavengers more than just a few nights sleep.