Book Two: Past and Present in St. Lucia


  • The scene shifts to the events surrounding the Battle of the Saintes in the past. We encounter Plunkett, a midshipman spy from Holland, aboard The Marlborough.
  • Plunkett is delivering war intelligence for the fort that Admiral Rodney is building.
  • The black slaves and white engineers work to bring the cannon to the fort. Afolabe is renamed Achilles.


  • The battle of Les Saintes itself.
  • Plunkett reaches for his sword as the Ville de Paris rams The Marlborough.
  • Plunkett falls on his own sword, and wine bottles float from the ship, connecting with the material from Book One.


  • Plunkett plans his "ances-tree, " even as he admits that he has no heir.
  • The Major marks maps, while Maud stitches her shroud.
  • Plunkett reflects on his failed secular pilgrimage to the battles of the Empire.


  • Plunkett researches the battle at Fort Rodney, talks to a lizard, and realizes that history has been rewritten by the colonials.
  • Plunkett continues his research in the Ordnance, and he uncovers midshipman Plunkett. 
  • Plunkett believes that he has found a kind of namesake.


  • Plunkett reflects on the causes of the battle and wonders how history can rework time. He contrasts passionless history with Helen's beauty.
  • Plunkett explores the vows of empire and sees himself in them.
  • Plunkett finds two buttons on a dig.


  • Plunkett takes joy in telling Maud of midshipman Plunkett, finds Homeric connections, and asks forgiveness for the midshipman's involvement in the colonial enterprise.
  • Plunkett imagines the past of places he observes from his Land Rover.
  • Plunkett's project of local history is a kind of infidelity for Helen. He recalls his school essay.


  • Maljo, nicknamed Statics or the Professor, decides to start a third political party with Philoctete's involvement.
  • Philoctete acts as a frontman for Statics, who indulges in political rhetoric. Philoctete reflects on his love of the island.
  • Statics' block fête is rained out and thus die his political aspirations. Philoctete is left to clean up.


  • Achille at the No-Pain Café reflects on the corruption and ravages of tourism to St. Lucia, as well as his loss of Helen.
  • Failing at prayer, Plunkett attempts to but cannot make out the constellations that Achille sees. 
  • Achille recalls when he had confronted Helen about Hector.


  • Helen moves in with Hector and leaves her hairpin in soap dish, a move which Achille interprets as her eventual return.
  • Hector buys The Comet, his Western ("Space Age") van with "African" leopardskin on the plastic seats. He believes that Helen still loves Achille.
  • Months pass, days pass, and a government "that made no difference to Philoctete" arises.


  • A section of setting--the Church of the Immaculate Conception's bells announce the Angelus and the lunch hour.
  • Maud sees Achille's canoe from her porch, "[h]eaded for Africa, probably."
  • Helen comes to borrow money from Maud, and Maud reflects on Helen's impact on others.


  • The swift, "the bait of the gods" guides Achille and his partner out to sea.
  • Achille and partner recover the body of a dead fisherman, which Achille suffering from sunstroke sees as the ghost of his ancestor. Achille wonders who he is.
  • The swift makes Achille question his identity and guides him out into the ocean.