Study Guide

The Luminaries Part 1, Chapter 6

By Eleanor Catton

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Part 1, Chapter 6

Moon in Taurus, Waxing (27 January 1866)

  • The book returns to Charlie Frost, the banker, to see what he got up to after Balfour's visit to the bank that morning. Apparently, he got curious and started looking through the bank's records, discovering that the Aurora mine had seemed to dry up suddenly after Staines, the owner, sold half the shares to Frank Carver.
  • Frost then left for the day and went to visit Dick Mannering, Anna's, er, boss—and the previous owner of the Aurora mine.
  • They talked about Anna and Emery Staines, who had been together the night Staines disappeared.
  • Then, Mannering turned the topic to Frost's involvement the quick sale of Crosbie Wells's property, saying the expedited sale looked really bad now that a widow had come forward.
  • Frost denied any wrongdoing, but he was in a pinch—Clinch, upon buying the Wells property, had given Frost a thank you gift of 30 pounds, much of which Frost had already spent. He would have to repay that if the sale was revoked. He did not admit that to Mannering, however.
  • Frost explained that he was visiting Mannering because he didn't believe the fortune found in Wells's house actually belonged to him. He explained that when the fortune was found, the name "Aurora" had been stamped into the gold—which means it belonged to the Staines mine, and not Crosbie Wells.
  • For some reason, this news made Mannering extremely angry, and he thought that Frost was up to something in bringing this intel to him now. Frost was bewildered.
  • Once Frost had convinced him he wasn't up to anything shady, Mannering decided he was going to go visit Johnny Quee, the digger at the Aurora. He started packing up pistols and wanted Frost to be armed as well and to come with.
  • Frost refused until Mannering told him what was going on.
  • Mannering explained that the Aurora was actually a dry claim, and that he had been "salting" it—that is, taking gold from another source and scattering it on the land to make it appear that the claim was still producing—prior to selling. Each time Quee dug it out, he'd re-salt the land with that same gold.
  • At some point, Quee, the digger, had figured out what Mannering was doing and started retorting the gold into little blocks with "Aurora" engraved on them, making it harder for him to pull off the re-salting fraud.
  • Then Staines arrived in town, and Mannering sold him the Aurora.
  • Anyway, because now four thousand pounds worth of Aurora-stamped gold had turned up in Crosbie's house, and Mannering thought it was time to have a chat with Quee, the author of that signature smelting style…
  • At this point, the story moves over to what Balfour was up to at around the same time. It seems he was visiting Ben Löwenthal, the editor of the West Coast Times.
  • Balfour wanted to know who had been putting notices in the paper asking about Staines. Löwenthal claimed it was Anna Wetherell.
  • After talking about that for a while, the men moved on to the topic of Francis Carver. It seems when he left two weeks ago on an unscheduled trip, he got Löwenthal in trouble, since Ben hadn't reported the trip in the paper (because he didn't know about it). Then Balfour revealed to Ben that Carver had seen Crosbie Wells that night, according to Tauwhare.
  • They continued to discuss these and other related fishy goings-on for a while. Ben noted that Cowell Devlin had also been by to ask about the Staines notice in the paper. Apparently, Devlin really wanted to talk to Staines.
  • At this point, in the present, Ben interjects with some additional knowledge. It seems that the man known as Frank Carver (Ben is fairly sure it was him) had come to him the year before to advertise for a lost shipping crate. To prove his name, he provided a birth certificate that said "Crosbie Francis Wells" on it.
  • Ben had printed the ad, but omitted the "Francis" to save room. Carver came back furious, insisting that the ad had to be published with his middle name in there. The news causes quite a stir in the room.
  • Anyway, back in the past, the story zooms over to Kaniere, where Mannering and Frost had traveled to meet with Quee earlier that day. Although Mannering was packing a lot of heat, he assured Charlie that there would be no need for the gun …

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