Study Guide

The Luminaries Part 2, Chapter 8

By Eleanor Catton

Part 2, Chapter 8

Mars in Capricorn (18 February 1866)

  • Here, Gascoigne and Carver meet while walking out and about near the water. Gascoigne approaches Carver, asking if he's the captain of the wrecked Godspeed (he's been watching them recover the ship).
  • They start chatting, and Gascoigne manages to shift the conversation to the topic of insurance on wrecked sea crafts.
  • Carver is suspicious of Gascoigne, but eventually warms up enough to tell Aubert that he'll be down a chunk of change for the Godspeed.
  • Aubert thinks he can help, explaining that Carver might be eligible for a particular kind of funding/compensation based on a policy Lauderback likely had before selling the boat.
  • As they leave each other, they finally do formal introductions.
  • Meanwhile, Sook is on his way to Quee—and thinking about his past with Carver. Now we get the full details of their hatred of each other. It seems that Carver had framed his father, who owned a warehouse in Kwangchow. Carver's father's shipping firm, Dent & Co., used Sook's father's warehouse for exports.
  • Carver and Sook had started off as BFFs—being about nine years younger, Sook had idolized Carver. However, Carver ended up framing Sook's father for possession of opium that was actually his, and the elder Sook was executed without a trial. Sook didn't discover his "friend's" betrayal immediately—it took him about 15+ years to catch on.
  • He only discovered the betrayal after following Carver to Australia and seeing some opium packets with his family's name on them. It was only then that he realized what Carver had been doing all along.
  • Oh, and it's worth mentioning that the reason he saw the opium packet was that he had gotten beaten up after trying to find Carver at a brothel, and the brothel's barmaid had taken pity on him and brought him supplies—including opium. So that's how Ah Sook got the taste for the stuff…
  • Anyway, after his epiphany, Sook started planning revenge on Carver. When he tried to sneak into the brothel to kill him, though, he accidentally entered the room of the dude who had beaten him up—and the barmaid who had been helping him. Apparently his name was Jeremy Shepard, and the barmaid was his wife. In the ruckus that followed Sook's mistake. Shepard pulled a gun on Sook, and then his wife ended up shooting him.
  • At the barmaid's insistence, Sook fled, but he was soon captured and put on trial for murdering Shepard. He got off, though, because Shepard's wife testified her husband had committed suicide.
  • During the trial, he was surprised when Carver was led into the courtroom to testify in handcuffs. Sook took the opportunity to promise Carver that he would avenge his father's death.
  • Later, he discovered that Carver had been in handcuffs because he had been discovered smuggling in breach of customs during a routine search. Carver had been sent off to Cockatoo Island for his 10-year sentence.
  • Sook waited out that sentence and then wrote the jail in 1864 to find out where Carver had gone after he was released. He got some information and tried to follow up, but the search went nowhere, and eventually he gave up—until, totally by coincidence, he came across Carver talking to Te Rau in the street eight months later.
  • Anyway, back in the present, Ah Sook arrives at Quee's place and tells him that Emery is going to be at Lydia's hotel that night. He admits that Lydia is the same woman he had told Quee about when he relayed the story of his relationship with Carver.
  • Quee thinks it's a trap, but Sook disagrees.
  • They then discuss Sook's addiction. Quee balls Sook out for being so dependent on opium.
  • In the distance, there's a gunshot and a cry.
  • Despite the unpleasantness of their exchange there, Quee calms down and agrees to go with Sook.

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