City of Dreams: A Novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan

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9780684871738: City of Dreams: A Novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan

In 1661, Lucas Turner, a barber surgeon, and his sister, Sally, an apothecary, stagger off a small wooden ship after eleven weeks at sea. Bound to each other by blood and necessity, they aim to make a fresh start in the rough and rowdy Dutch settlement of Nieuw Amsterdam; but soon lust, betrayal, and murder will make them mortal enemies. In their struggle to survive in the New World, Lucas and Sally make choices that will burden their descendants with a legacy of secrets and retribution, and create a heritage that sets cousin against cousin, physician against surgeon, and, ultimately, patriot against Tory.

In what will be the greatest city in the New World, the fortunes of these two families are inextricably entwined by blood and fire in an unforgettable American saga of pride and ambition, love and hate, and the becoming of the dream that is New York City.

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About the Author:

Beverly Swerling is a writer, consultant, and amateur historian. She lives in New York City with her husband.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Eleven weeks in a ship thirty-seven feet long by eleven wide, carrying a crew of nine as well as twenty passengers. Lurching and lunging and tossing on the Atlantic swells, the sails creaking night and day, spread above them like some evil bird of prey. Hovering, waiting for death.

The dung buckets on the open deck were screened only by a scanty calico curtain that blew aside more often than it stayed in place. For Sally Turner the dung buckets were the worst.

She was twenty-three years old -- small, with dark hair, bright brown eyes, and a narrow, pinched face -- from a Rotterdam slum by way of a rodent-infested corner of a Kentish barn. The crossing had turned her insides to water. She went seven or eight times a day to the dung buckets. The flimsy cloth almost always blew aside and she saw the grizzled, hungry-eyed crewmen watching, waiting for her to lift her skirts. As if all the battles between Kent and now had been for nothing.

Her brother suffered more from the seasickness. Lucas Turner was a big man, like his sister only in his dark coloring, and in the intelligence that showed behind his eyes. Until now most would have called him handsome; the journey had reduced him to a shell. From the start Lucas hung day and night over the side of the wooden ship, vomiting his guts into the sea.

The voyage was beyond imagination, beyond bearing. Except that there was no choice but to bear it. One small consolation: the April day when the Princess left Rotterdam was exceptionally warm. A premature summer rushed toward them as they sailed west. Most of the food spoiled before the end of the first three weeks. Constant illness prevented hunger.

A crossing longer and more miserable and more dangerous than anything they had talked about or prepared for, and when they got there -- what? By all reports bitter cold in winter and fierce heat in summer. "And savages," Sally Turner said the first morning of June, when they were nine weeks into the voyage, and she and her brother were hanging on to the rail in the ship's bow. The swells were stronger in that position, but Lucas was convinced he could be no worse. And there was a bit of privacy. "There are red men in America, Lucas. With painted faces and feathers and hatchets. In God's name, what have we done?"

Lucas didn't answer. They had decided the risk was worth the taking while they were still in Holland. Besides, he had to lean over the rail and puke yet again. There was nothing in his stomach to come up, even the bile was gone, but the dry heaves would not leave him.

For as long as Sally could remember, it was Lucas who made such security as there was in her world. She felt every shudder of his agony-racked frame as if it were her own. She slid down, using the wooden ship's planked bulkhead to keep her steady, and pawed through her basket. Eventually she drew herself up and pulled the tiny cork of a small pewter vial. "Chamomile powder, Lucas. Let me shake some onto your tongue."

"No, that's all you've left. I won't take it."

"I've more. With our things down below."

"You're lying, Sal. I can always -- " He had to stop to heave again.

His sister leaned toward him with the remedy that promised relief. Lucas eyed the small tube with longing. "You're sure you've more?"

"In our box in the hold. I swear it."

Lucas opened his mouth. Sally emptied the last few grains of the chamomile powder onto his tongue. It gave him some fifteen minutes of freedom from nausea.

Below decks, in the sturdy box that held all their belongings carefully wrapped in oilskin, she did indeed have more chamomile, but only in the form of seed. Waiting, like Lucas and Sally Turner, to be planted in Nieuw Amsterdam and thrive in the virgin earth of the island of Manhattan.

*

There was a wooden wharf of sorts, but two ships were already moored alongside it. The Princess dropped anchor some fifty yards away, and a raft carried them to shore. It wasn't big enough to take everyone in one trip. Lucas and Sally were dispatched on the third.

They clung together to keep from being pitched overboard, and listened in disbelief to one of the crewmen talk about the calm of the deep, still harbor. "Not too many places on this coast you can raft folks to land like this. But here the bay's flat as a lake when the tide's with you." Meanwhile it seemed to Lucas and Sally that they were sliding and rolling with each wave, unable to lift their heads and see what they'd come to after their eleven weeks in hell.

At last, land beneath their feet and they could barely stand on it. They'd experienced the same misery three years before, after the far shorter crossing between England and the Netherlands. "Give it a little time, Sal," her brother said. "We'll be fine."

Sally looked at what she could see of the place. A piece of crumbling earthworks that was a corner of Fort Amsterdam. A windmill that wasn't turning because there was no breath of air. A gibbet from which was suspended a corpse, covered in pitch and buzzing with flies. And the sun beating down on them. Relentless. "Lucas," she whispered. "Dear God, Lucas." Her brother put a hand on her arm.

"You there," a voice shouted. "Mijnheer Turner. When you get your legs under you, come over here."

"There's some shade over by that tree," Lucas murmured. "Wait there. I'll deal with this."

A couple of rough planks had been spread across two trestles made from saplings. The man seated behind this makeshift table was checking off names on a list. Lucas staggered toward him. The clerk didn't look up. "Turner?"

"Aye. Lucas Turner. And Sally Turner."

"English?"

His accent always gave him away. "Yes, but we're come under the auspices of..."

"Patroon Van Renselaar. I know. You're assigned to plot number twenty-nine. It's due north of here. Follow the Brede Wegh behind the fort to Wall Street. Take you some ten minutes to walk the length of the town, then you leave by the second gate in the wall. The path begins straightaway on the other side. You'll know your place when you get to it. There are three pine trees one right behind the other, all marked with whiting."

Lucas bent forward, trying to see the papers in front of the Dutchman. "Is that a map of our land?"

"It's a map of all the Van Renselaar land. Your piece is included."

Lucas stretched out his hand. The clerk snatched the papers away. At last, mildly surprised, he looked up. "Can you read, Englishman?"

"Yes. And I'd like to see your map. Only for a moment."

The man looked doubtful. "Why? What will it tell you?"

Lucas was conscious of his clothes hanging loose from his wasted frame, and his face almost covered by weeks of unkempt beard. "For one thing, a look at your map might give me some idea of the distance we must go before we reach those three pine trees."

"No need for that. I'll tell you. Half a day's walk once you're recovered from the journey." The clerk glanced toward Sally. "Could take a bit longer for a woman. Some of the hills are fairly steep."

This time when Lucas leaned forward the map wasn't snatched away. He saw one firm line that appeared to divide the town from the countryside, doubtless the wall the clerk had spoken of, and just beyond it what appeared to be a small settlement of sorts. "Our land" -- Lucas pointed to the settlement beyond the wall -- "is it in that part there?"

"No, that's the Voorstadt, the out-city, a warehouse and the farms that serve the town." The clerk seemed amused by the newcomer's curiosity. He placed a stubby finger on an irregular circle a fair distance beyond the Voorstadt. "And that's the Collect Pond as gives us fresh water to brew beer with. Anything else you'd care to know, Englishman? Shall I arrange a tour?"

"I was promised land in the town," Lucas said. "But I'll take a place in this Voorstadt. I'm a barber. I can't earn my keep if -- "

"Your land's where I said it was. You're a farmer now. That's what's needed here."

"Wait." The voice, a woman's, was imperious. "I wish to speak with this man." A slight figure stepped away from the knot of people standing a little distance from the clerk. Despite the heat she was entirely covered by a hooded cloak of the tightly woven gray stuff the Dutch called duffel. She freed a slender arm long enough to point to Lucas. "Send him to me."

"Ja, mevrouw, of course." The clerk jerked his head in the woman's direction. "Do as she says," he muttered quietly in the Englishman's direction. "Whatever she says."

Lucas took a step toward the woman. He removed his black, broad-brimmed hat and held it in front of him, bobbed his head, and waited.

Her hair was dark, shot with gray and drawn back in a strict bun. Her features were sharp, and when she spoke her lips barely moved, as if afraid they might forget themselves and smile. "I heard you tell the clerk you could read. And that you're a barber."

"Both are true, mevrouw."

"Were you then the surgeon on that excuse for a ship?" She nodded toward the Princess riding at anchor in the harbor. "God help all who cross in her."

"No, mevrouw, I was not."

"A point in your favor. We are cursed with so-called ship's surgeons in this colony. Ignorant butchers, all of them. You're English, but you speak Dutch. And that miserable craft sailed from Rotterdam, not London. So are you a member of the English Barbers' Company?"

"I am, mevrouw. But I've lived two years in Rotterdam, and I was told I'd be allowed to practice here exactly as..."

"I have no reason to think otherwise. And if you know your trade -- " She broke off, chewing on her thin lower lip, studying him. Lucas waited. A number of silent seconds went by; then the woman pointed toward Sally. "I take it that's your wife."

"No, mevrouw, I am unmarried. That is my sister, Sally Turner." Lucas motioned Sally forward. She didn't come, but she dropped a quick curtsy.

The woman's eyes betrayed a flicker of amusement. "The juffrouw does not seem particularly obedient, Lucas Turner. Is your sister devoted to you?"

"I believe she is, mevrouw."

"Good. I, too, have a brother to whom I am utterly devoted. I am Anna Stuyvesant. My brother is Peter Stuyvesant. He is governor of Nieuw Netherlands. And right now..."

Sweet Jesus Christ. Bloody Stuyvesant and his bloody sister. When the only thing Lucas wanted, the thing that had made him come to this godforsaken colony at the end of the world, was to be where the authorities would leave him in peace.

Either his reaction didn't show, or she chose not to notice it. "Right now my brother is in need of a man of great skill. And I am trying to decide, Lucas Turner, if you might be he."

He had no choice but to seize the moment. "That depends on the nature of the skill your brother requires, mevrouw. I know my trade, if that's what you're asking."

"It is part of the question. The other part is the precise nature of your trade. Is it true that, though they belong to the same Company, London barbers and surgeons do not practice the same art?"

Lucas heard Sally's sharply indrawn breath. "Officially yes, mevrouw. But the two apprenticeships occur side by side, in the same hall. A man interested in both skills cannot help but learn both. I am skilled in surgery as well as barbering. What is it the governor requires?"

The woman's eyes flicked toward Sally for a moment, as if she, too, had noted the gasp. A second only; then she dismissed the younger woman as of no importance. "I believe my brother to be in desperate need of a stone cutter, barber."

Lucas smiled.

Finally, for the first time in weeks, he felt no doubt. "Pray God you are correct, mevrouw. If it's an expert stone cutter your brother needs, he is a fortunate man. He has found one." Lucas turned to Sally. She was white-faced. He pretended not to notice. "Come, Sal. Bring my instruments. I've a patient waiting for relief."

*

Word was that Peter Stuyvesant ruled with absolute authority and that any who questioned him paid a heavy price. Right then, ashen, sweating with pain, the man lying in the bed looked small and insignificant.

Lucas put his hand on Stuyvesant's forehead. The flesh was cold and clammy. "Where does it hurt, mijnheer?"

"In my belly, man. Low down. Fierce pain. And I cannot piss for the burning. My sister is convinced it's a stone."

Anna Stuyvesant was in the room with them, huddling in the gloom beside the door. Some mention had been made of a wife, and when they arrived Lucas had heard the voices of children, but none had appeared. He'd seen only a black serving woman -- from what he'd heard of this place she was probably a slave -- and the man in the bed. And, in control of all, the sister. Obviously married, or had been, since the clerk at the dock had called her mevrouw, but one who, following the Dutch fashion, hadn't taken her husband's name. Looked like the type who wouldn't take willingly to his cock, either. Lucas was conscious of her fierce glance drilling a hole in his back.

He leaned closer to the patient, observing the clouded eyes, the pallor, the sour breath that came hard through a half-open mouth. "Judging from the look of you, mijnheer, Mevrouw Stuyvesant may be right. And if she is, if it's a stone, I can help you. But..." He hesitated. Afterward, some men thought of the relief, and were grateful. Others remembered only the agony of the surgery, and those hated you forever. God help him and Sally both if the governor of Nieuw Netherland hated him forever.

"But what?" Stuyvesant demanded.

"But it will hurt while I do it," Lucas said, choosing not to dip the truth in honey. "Worse than the pain you're feeling right now. After the operation is over, however, you will be cured."

"If I live, you mean."

"The chances are excellent that you will, mijnheer."

"But not certain."

"In this world, Mijnheer Governor, nothing is certain. As I'm sure you know. But I've done this surgery dozens of times."

"And all your patients lived?" Wincing with pain while he spoke. Having to force the words between clenched teeth.

"Perhaps six or seven did not, mijnheer. But they were men of weak constitution before the stone began plaguing them."

Stuyvesant studied the Englishman, even managed a small smile. "I am not a man of weak constitution. And you, you're a strange one, barber. Despite your mangled Dutch, you...

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Descrizione libro SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In 1661, Lucas Turner, a barber surgeon, and his sister, Sally, an apothecary, stagger off a small wooden ship after eleven weeks at sea. Bound to each other by blood and necessity, they aim to make a fresh start in the rough and rowdy Dutch settlement of Nieuw Amsterdam; but soon lust, betrayal, and murder will make them mortal enemies. In their struggle to survive in the New World, Lucas and Sally make choices that will burden their descendants with a legacy of secrets and retribution, and create a heritage that sets cousin against cousin, physician against surgeon, and, ultimately, patriot against Tory. In what will be the greatest city in the New World, the fortunes of these two families are inextricably entwined by blood and fire in an unforgettable American saga of pride and ambition, love and hate, and the becoming of the dream that is New York City. Codice libro della libreria BZV9780684871738

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