Study Guide

The Luminaries Part 1, Chapter 3

By Eleanor Catton

Part 1, Chapter 3

Mars in Sagittarius (27 January 1866)

  • This chapter picks up with Balfour still sitting in the restaurant.
  • He was still sitting there (to drink some wine that otherwise would have gone to waste) when he realized that the clergyman at the next table was staring at him. It seems the gentleman overheard some of Balfour's conversation with Lauderback. Balfour asked him to keep whatever he heard to himself.
  • The clergyman referenced some "bad news" Lauderback and Balfour had been discussing. It seems he was referring to Crosbie Wells. He then told Balfour that he had been involved in digging Wells's grave.
  • Then we get a whole lot of backstory on this holy man, whose name is Cowell Devlin. He was a new arrival to Hokitika, having come a couple of days before Crosbie Wells died. He was to be the chaplain at the prison once the new "gaol-house" was finished.
  • Devlin's memories take us through his involvement in collecting Crosbie Wells's body. It seems that while he was in Wells's house, he found a piece of paper half-burned in the range that granted a bunch of money to Anna Wetherell from Emery Staines. Wells was the witness.
  • Instead of reporting the find (or telling Balfour about it—remember, this is all in his head), Devlin held on to the paper.
  • Anyway, back in the restaurant, Devlin and Balfour parted ways when Balfour left.
  • When Balfour got outside, he saw a Maori man sitting on the veranda of the Reserve Bank. He recognized the man, Te Rau Tauwhare, as a friend of Crosbie Wells.
  • We then get some backstory on that relationship.
  • Through their conversation, Balfour learned that Te Rau saw four people enter Crosbie's house on the night he died: Lauderback and his aides (who claimed to enter after Crosbie was dead), and one other (who entered earlier).
  • Balfour was super interested in hearing more about the person who entered earlier. Te Rau said he'd give him the name for a pound. However, Balfour just took a guess…and judged from Te Rau's reaction that he was right. His guess was Francis Carver.
  • Then Balfour went into the Reserve Bank to find out if Carver had taken out a miner's right in New Zealand. When that yielded nothing, he asked if Carver owned shares in any mining company or a private claim. Turns out that he did—he owned fifty percent of the Aurora mine, which was owned by Emery Staines. Staines had recently vanished.
  • The banker was mighty suspicious about all these questions, and Balfour finally admitted that his cover story (that he was going into business with Carver) was false, saying he suspected Carver of wrongdoing and that's why he was investigating. The banker, whose name was Charlie Frost, said it really wasn't any of his business.
  • Balfour then went down to the quay and chatted with some stevedores there. He learned that Carver had done time under Shepard (the jailer) on Cockatoo Island. Shepard had actually followed Carver to New Zealand.

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