Sandalwood Blood: A tiny glimpse of history

The sandalwood trade flourished in Fiji in the 19th century with China being one of the main recipients of the much desired wood. But business back then was not as straightforward as one would have hoped and given the lucrative trade in sandalwood, the buying and selling fetched such good prices that it surpassed other commodities and large ships were sought to ship the product from Fiji across the Pacific and Asia to China.

Sam Lala’s, Sandalwood Blood tries to provide an essence of that period and weaves a good and interesting tale of trade and mutiny and a love story that blossoms on the high seas under a strange guise! Captain Lovat Mellon in charge of the brig, Fair Wind owned by one John Stewart-Kerr is given a proposition by an ex convict in Botany Bay, Mr Simieon Lord to collect sandalwood from Feejee (Fiji) but first they have to stop in Tongataboo (Tongatapu) to pick up an interpreter to accompany them to Fiji.

Captain Lovat informs his boss of the lucrative trade and while Stewart-Kerr shows some interest it remains just that, nothing further. Captain Lovat has other plans which he later puts into action. In his quest for adventure and more money he sells John Stewart-Kerr’s ship and purchases another, Portland, using the additional funds from what was given to him to purchase more goods.

Julian, the son of Stewart-Kerr’s business partner, John Boston, is also on board the Fair Wind to sail and gain some experience of the trading business. His girlfriend is Edaline, daughter of John Stewart-Kerr. On discovering that the love of her life will be away she disguises herself as a man and goes on board. When the discovery is made it’s too late.

To complicate matters, Captain Lovat has also agreed to take on board two female passengers, Elizabeth Morey and her (black) slave Eliza to deliver them, to the North-West Coast of America. The crew, are none too pleased about this arrangement but no one can question the Captain. Much later do we discover why he agreed to take on his female passengers

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