7:Dublin. June 1856
Finbar is having dinner with Liam. The friends have kept in touch and are catching up, as they have not seen each other for three years. Liam has been doing his ‘apprenticeship’ in the family bank, via various postings around the Empire. He is now just about to take over the London investment office but gives the impression that he is rather bored with the prospect. While they were in college together, Finbar had introduced Liam to his cousin, Elizabeth. Although his family were not pleased with the relationship, as Elizabeth was considered middle-class, Liam had married her five years ago. The couple had recently come to terms that it was unlikely they could ever have children. After taking over his family business, Finbar had built it successfully to a point that it has been sold, making him independently wealthy. Finbar is as passionate as ever about an independent Ireland, but realistic about how it can be achieved. He argues that half-baked rebellions have never been the answer. If you cannot bring the British Government to its knees in one fell swoop, than you have to look at a slower, political route. Finbar has kept in contact with William Smith O’Brien, who now has been pardoned and after living for a time in Brussels, is now back in Ireland, on the condition that he is not politically active. Finbar has also become friendly with Isaac Butt, a lawyer who defended the ’48 rebels and is now a British MP. Butt is convinced that by uniting a group of MPs in Westminster a power base will be created that can force the Government to give Ireland home rule, which in turn will be a stepping-stone for independence. Finbar tells Liam that with time and money on his side he is going to stand for Parliament as the Member for Galway.
8:Claiborne County, Mississippi. July 1856
Belle’s younger brother Sam, 15, is talking with his father. The strapping young man is angry and tempestuous. He is bitterly complaining, both about the way they are treated on the Cobb Plantation, and slavery in general. The father is trying to calm him, arguing from a spiritual position that it is the life they have been given. When the son rejects this argument the father gives more practical advice, quoting examples of slaves who have stood up to their masters and suffered the consequences. A few