Chapter 1 - The Raven

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June 20, 1877


The crew of the Raven hollered out their location, in the Saint John harbour, to the two rowboats trying to reach it from shore. Smoke from the fire, which raged through the city all day, darkened the sky blocking the ship from view.

"Ahoy Captain Shaw, this way Sir!" was called out numerous times until the rowers following their voices, could feel the sides of the ship. Seth Shaw and his son, Solomon, were the first to climb the rope ladder to the ship's deck. Then the rowboat's crew passed up the ladder two strongboxes, into Seth's awaiting arms, which he immediately whisked away to his cabin. The First Mate, Shawn McBride gave the orders to pull up anchor and make way to Rose Manor, the Shaw family estate. 

In his cabin, Seth shook off his long, black dress coat covered in ash, and brushed his top hat clean, before going to a basin to wash grit from his face and hands. He ran his wet fingers through his black curls as he looked into the mirror. A vain man, he took the time to admire himself in some detail. Seth enjoyed the fact that he appeared younger than his forty-one years, with not a winkle or grey hair in sight. 

After admiring himself, Seth massaged the sore muscles of his face. He remembered how he forced smiles all afternoon with a former partner, William Thompson. The man, who held all his debts and planned to put him into bankruptcy. Seth recalled trying to charm Thompson as he proposed a debt repayment plan. A genuine smile crossed his face, for the first time today. Thompson's desire to escape the fire gave Seth an opportunity to put his financial troubles to rest. 

Solomon knocked on the Captain's door knowing not to enter until he heard his father's voice giving him permission. One never knew what Seth might be doing.

"Who is it?" Seth called out, now taking a wet cloth to his coat to clean off the remaining ashes. Appearances matter to him.

"Solomon."

"Come in my boy." He gave a weak smile to the young man entering the cabin.

"Father, we need to talk?"

"Yes son, we do. Take a seat and I will pour us both a drink."

Taking the glass from his father, Solomon slipped his lean six-foot frame into a wooden chair, while Seth struck the lanterns in the cabin. It was only four o'clock in the afternoon, but the smoke made the sky as if it was midnight, with not a star in the firmament.

Now seated, Seth started to leisurely sip his drink and studied his son across from him; admiring his part in Solomon's creation. The boy's skin was the colour of polished mahogany, while Seth's was olive. His eyes were the colour of onyx, with flecks of yellow, red and gold in the irises, and they changed colour according to his feelings and the lighting in the room. Tonight they were the colour of dark earth, both rich and disturbed. Seth's own eyes were such a deep brown that they appeared black.

The boy was a magnificent creature, and Seth was fond of having Solomon with him because of the attention he drew. Fond of the boy yes, but he did not love him. To be honest, Seth did not believe he was capable of love. He tried a few times, but it did not take hold. He cared for Solomon, as one might dote on of a beautiful horse, or a good hunting dog. Seth was both clever and careful to give the notion that he adored his son, especially to give Solomon that impression.

Alone, at home and on the ship, they were father and son. In public, Solomon, his brilliant, handsome, half-African son was Seth's servant. Seth played the father role to perfection in private; he lavished attention and simple gifts on the boy. However, he played the employer's role equally well and was mercilessly cruel to Solomon in public. Regardless, the boy adored him - one even might say worshiped him, but all that was about to change.

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