Excerpt from City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

City of Dreams

A Novel of Early Manhattan

By Beverly Swerling

City of Dreams
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Oct 2001,
    591 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2002,
    592 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Lucas leaned forward and wiped the governor's face with a corner of the bedding. Half a minute, maybe less. The wave of agony abated. Stuyvesant drew a few deep breaths. "This operation..." He whispered the words, his strength sapped by the pain. "How long will it take?"

"Forty-five seconds," Lucas said. "Start to finish. You can time me."

The governor stared into Lucas's eyes. "I will. Forty-five seconds? You're certain of that?"

"I am."

Stuyvesant flung back the covers. "Took them forty-five minutes to do this." His right leg had been cut off at the knee.

Lucas looked down at the stump, then at the face of the man in the bed. Pain had hollowed his cheeks, but when their eyes met Stuyvesant did not look away. Finally Lucas nodded. He turned to the woman beside the door. "Bring some rum, mevrouw. He must drink as much as we can get down him."

Anna Stuyvesant stepped out of the shadows. "There is no rum in this house."

"Then send someone to get some. Your brother cannot -- "

"Yes, I can." Stuyvesant's voice, sounding firmer than it had, trembling less with agony. "I must. I take no drink stronger than ordinary ale."

"But under the circumstances..." Lucas looked again at the stump of leg.

"Not then, either," Stuyvesant said quietly. "I fear the Lord more than I fear pain, barber."

"As you wish. But perhaps I can satisfy both masters. If you will excuse me for a moment..."

Lucas stepped into the narrow hall. Sally was there, sitting at the top of the stairs, clutching her basket and the small leather box that contained his instruments. She jumped up, pressing her bundles to her, her narrow face shriveled with anxiety. "How is he? Can you help him without cutting?"

"No." Lucas was sweating. He wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his black jacket. The accumulated filth of the journey left a dark mark. "God help me, I must remove the stone."

"But -- "

"There is no 'but.' If it doesn't come out, like as not he'll drown in his own piss."

"What if he dies of the pain of surgery? What if he bleeds to death?" Her voice was an urgent whisper.

"This man can bear suffering." Lucas looked anxiously toward the bedroom door. "He's had one leg cut off at the knee, and he doesn't take more than an ale to quench his thirst. No strong spirits, not even to dull the onslaught of the knife and the saw. As for bleeding to death, I must see that he does not. Say your prayers, girl, and give me my instruments."

"Lucas, if anything happens, what -- "

"Nothing is going to happen. Except that mijnheer the governor will think I'm the greatest surgeon since Galen."

"But you're a barber, Lucas. In heaven's name, your surgeon's instruments are what got us hounded out of London in the first place."

"I know. But we're in Nieuw Amsterdam, not London. We must take our chance when it presents itself. See if you've any stanching powder in your basket."

Sally hesitated.

"Do it, Sal. Otherwise I'll go ahead without it."

A few seconds more. Finally she began pawing through her things. "Yes, here it is." She held up a small pottery crock. "Stanching powder. A fair supply."

"Excellent. Now some laudanum."

Sally shook her head. "I have none. I swear it, Lucas. I only brought a little aboard, and we used -- "

"Damnation! Look well, Sal. If any's left, I can use it to advantage."

After a few moments groping, she produced a tiny pewter vial of the kind she'd used to store the last of the chamomile powder. "This held laudanum. But it's empty."

Lucas snatched the container, uncorked it, sniffed, squinted to peer inside. "A drop, perhaps. It will be better than nothing. Aye, I can see a drop or two at the bottom." He recorked the vial and slipped it into the side pocket of his breeches, then turned back to the bedroom. "Wish me luck, Sal. And stop up your ears. But don't worry, the shouts won't go on for long."

Copyright © 2001 by MichaelA, Ltd.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.