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Synopsis

The story setting is England and Australia in the mid-1860s. Patrick Scanlan an orphan of seven is sold into slavery at a weaving mill in London. Half starved and often whipped for refusing to work he manages to escape from the weaving mill and onto the dangerous London streets with their whores thugs and thieves. He survives his childhood years by stealing. He chances upon Thief Takers bounty hunters lying in wait to kill Claude Duvall a famous highwayman. Warned by Patrick Duvall fights his way out of the trap. Patrick joins Duvall in his robberies and becomes one of the elite class of thieves a Two Pops And A Galloper a mounted highwayman with two pistols who robs the rich travelers on the highways. Thief Takers try to arrest Duvall and Patrick. Patrick shoots the Thief Takers. He is captured and given a sentence of life at hard labor in the penal colony on Van Diemens Land an island off the south coast of Australia. Patrick is often flogged with the cat-o-nine-tails for fighting. He organizes a group of convicts into a Sydney Trip. Sydney offers a slim opportunity for escape. The cost to the convicts to get to Sydney is for one of them to die and one to hang for the murder. In Sydney Patrick escapes from his guards and steals a small sailing boat and takes to the open sea. For weeks he endures frigid Antarctic storms and starvation. Then more dead than alive he comes upon the ghost ship The Huntress and climbs aboard. This gripping novel explodes with passion and adventure. Based on the reality of the slavery of orphans in England and the savagery of the prison on Van Diemens Land the story is an epic of endurance and a shattering journey into the soul of a man.

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