Jonathan's sister Miriam brings Hephzibah, a childhood friend, to Ostia. Hephzibah was a slave to the wealthy Dives, who freed her just before he died, but she has no witness to the fact and Dives' son Celo is accusing her of being behind his father's death. Flavia brings poet and aspiring lawyer Flaccus to plead Hephzibah's case and purveyor of sacred chickens Floridius is also brought forward as a witness but is killed. After Miriam dies in childbirth, requesting that Hephzibah looks after her baby sons, Flavia works out who really killed Dives and the witness, thus securing Hephzibah's freedom.
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