Study Guide

The Luminaries Part 1, Chapter 5

By Eleanor Catton

Part 1, Chapter 5

Midnight Dawns in Scorpio (27 January 1866)

  • Instead of going back to his lab after leaving Nilssen, Pritchard headed to the Gridiron hotel to see Anna Wetherell.
  • We then get a bit more intel on Pritchard's backstory and his relationship with Anna.
  • Pritchard questioned Anna about her alleged suicide attempt. She claimed that she wasn't trying to commit suicide; she simply took her pipe and then was knocked out until she woke up in jail.
  • Pritchard wanted to get a sample of the remaining opium in her possession to see if it was tampered with/poisoned (to explain her extreme reaction that night—she usually didn't get knocked out so completely), but she claimed she didn't have it anymore. He thought she was lying.
  • She noted that Ah Sook, the owner of the opium den in Kaniere, thought Pritchard was the one who poisoned the opium.
  • Pritchard got agitated and started searching the room for the opium, convinced Anna was lying about not having it.
  • In his anger, he lunged at her, and Anna pulled a gun. In the commotion, the gun went off and she appeared to have shot herself in the chest. As that was happening, Aubert Gascoigne entered the room.
  • They soon realized that Anna was not shot, much to everyone's surprise. They couldn't figure out where the bullet had gone.
  • Soon after, Pritchard left, with Anna still claiming that she didn't have what he was looking for. She asked him to explain the gunshots to the people downstairs by saying she was cleaning her gun.
  • At this point in the story, we zoom back to the present, where Moody is asking a question about how Anna was holding her pistol when it went off. It seems he might have something to contribute in the way of an explanation, but he'll hold off until the rest of the story is complete.
  • After leaving Anna, Pritchard went back to his drug hall, left a sign saying he was out of the office until Monday, and then went to his lab.
  • He then settled in to consider his encounter with Anna. He was convinced she was lying to protect someone.
  • We then get some backstory on Pritchard's opium operation. Francis Carver supplies his opium, so we get some more reflections on Carver himself. Then Pritchard worked.
  • Then, Albert, Nilssen's clerk, walked in with a note from his employer. Apparently Nilssen wanted Albert to watch Pritchard burn it when he was through reading it.
  • Nilssen's note said that he had met with Quee per Pritchard's request, and he had admitted the gold was his work, although he had no clue how it ended up in Wells's cabin. He proposed a council that very evening at the Crown to talk all these strange events out.

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