A young boy is sleeping, and they wake to the sound of a shovel hitting the dirt. There is a man outside of his window digging a hole next to a blazing fire. The kid ducks when he's spotted in the window, and the man starts pounding on the door. There is screaming down below as the man begins beating the boy's mother.
Groaning like an animal, the man chokes her to death before going after the boy hiding in a trunk.
His father chases Charles outside, where he bonks him in the head with the shovel and tosses him into the open grave. As he's shoveling dirt onto Charles, Charles' mother shoots dad dead, and he falls next to Charles.
Mom says Charles has to go far, far away.
1850 on the Whaler Narwhal on the Sea of Japan
Charles is an adult who has lost his wife. She didn't want him to raise the girls on the ship. The girls need a home and school. He has been worried that he'll become like his father, but she knew that he wouldn't.
God sent them a gift in his cousin's letter, she told him.
Nobody is sleeping. The kids are outside. Their boy, Tane, thinks that they might have put their mother in the water alive. He heard scratching and thought it was her trying to get back into the ship. Honor and Loa are there, too.
Loa hasn't spoken all day.
When the family gets to Chapelwaite, they cannot believe that it's so big. Bigger than they imagined. Mrs. Clores, the former housekeeper, is there to greet them. Her absence has left the house victim to vandals.
Mrs. Clores isn't thrilled with their arrival and turns down a governess position. She has no desire to be in that house any longer.
Whipperwhils outside kick up a fuss, and she has never seen them during the day.
The house is a mess. Things have been toppled, and it's filthy.
The picture of Charles' father is ripped out of its frame. He tells the kids he was peculiar and not worth mentioning further.
Charles takes some items to the cellar, where he finds scratch marks on the floor. He is disconcerted.
The basement walls are filled with worms.
Charles tells the girls that nobody goes down there as it's not safe.
Honor thinks they're going to like it here.
Charles hears a noise in the walls. He thinks it's rats. He and Loa listen to the wall, but the rats are being clever now.
Charles has asked a man named Mr. Fletcher to bring rat traps, but the man is confused since he doesn't see anything to indicate rats.
Tane is in the weeds with a sickle and finds a cemetery. He screams for his father.
It scares the kids.
Writer, Rebecca Morgan, is pressured to write. She's walking with her mother when they see the new Boones come into town.
Rebecca follows their carriage.
Elsewhere in town, a house is marked quarantine. A minister assures the parents of a girl that she'll pull through.
The neighbors speak poorly of the children, who look like they've just left the reservation. Charles tells them that it's because they don't look like them.
Charles visits the Constable, George. George isn't excited to meet a Boone. He says that people here don't like Chapelwaite. He thinks Charles should sell the mill, take what he can, and move.
The family has a reputation as strange, unpredictable men. Not good people. He says Charles will not find friends in Preacher's Corners. They practically threw a parade when Stephen hanged himself.
Rebecca is following the children. Tane goes into an alley to get a ball. A girl emerges from the backyard, asking if he killed her bunny. She's the sick girl.
Charles is trying to feed the horse, but it's spooked. Hay comes out of the barn door above, freaking out Charles, too.
Rebecca Morgan comes to the house to inquire about being a governess. She's pleased that the children have read literature and learned math from their mother.
Honor didn't know that women could go to college. Rebecca went to Mount Holyoke.
She makes a deal with them. She'll teach them what she learned in college if they teach her about their culture and the wonders they've seen.
The children have arrived at a decision. Tane doesn't think Loa wants her, but Honor and Tane do. Loa refrains from a vote either way.
Rebecca is thrilled. She'll return in the morning with her things. Charles says that his children will need more help on land than they think.
The whippoorwills come out as Charles wonders if he should walk Rebecca home. She's good.
When Charles goes into the house and turns off the lights, he hears the scratching in the walls again, walking with him as he visits each lamp.
Able Stewart has been keeping the ledgers. Charles appreciates his efforts.
Daniel Thompson, though, Charles doesn't appreciate. The ledgers show that production has decreased 60%, and the men gave themselves an increase that Abel didn't take. Charles offers severance to Daniel. Charles has plans for the mill, and he intends for it to work. He's not giving orders; he's offering choices.
He changes the way wages are given to the workers. He splits the lay 100 ways. The foreman gets three, and the workers get two. Able gets one for his job and two for keeping the ledgers. Charles gets 30.
Rebecca wants to help the kids make costumes for All Hallow's Eve. You go door to door and get treats and food. There are also games using a mirror to see your future husband and a pendulum to see spirits. She has one and uses it with the kids.
They're all scared when Honor sneaks up on them. A draft takes out the candle, and when Rebecca closes the window, a whippoorwill smashes into it, breaking its neck. But then the basement door opens, and they hear clattering. Rebecca calls for Mr. Fletcher and locks the door.
She's concerned, though.
Rebecca writes about ghosts in her book. There is a knock at her door. It's Charles. He's like to speak with her privately.
Charles hopes that she won't tell any more ghost stories. She admits her efforts to share a little seasonal fun were misguided.
Rebecca thinks they should go to church the next day, not because she believes or approves, but because it's small-town main and fitting in is paramount.
They meet at the door with a Burrows woman. Her father, Samuel Gallup, wants to speak with him. They want them to leave. Samuel is contrary and rude. Rebecca is embarrassed.
Rebecca says that the town blames Chapelwaite for the illness in town. Two stable hands were the first to get ill, and in the last two years, five others were in the graveyard.
Loa is alone, and Charles thinks it might be since he pulled her from the church. He also admits that their mother might not have died if she'd remained on the island, but she demanded that they stay a family, which meant sailing with Charles.
Charles says Loa cannot stay silent forever. They all miss mom. She launches herself into his arms. He's hiding something inside, and it scares her.
Another annoying town member is whining about the Boones. Daniel shoves a lighter at him. Burn it then, he says.
The nearby kid takes the lighter and gathers large jugs of lamp oil. He's Susan's father. Susan seems not ill but possessed.
Rebecca writes that she could leave, and nobody would care. But she answers to herself and hidden within the timbers of this dark manor lies the truth. She can feel it. Fear gathers, and ignorance spreads from home to home like the illness.,P> She's in the basement when Susan's father is riding up toward the mansion. A man is on the road. He kills the horse and slices the man's throat into a bucket before setting him on fire.
Rebecca wants to know what drove the family to madness, suicide, death. To know, she must know the mystery of Charles Boone.
Charles, who is taking a bath, goes underwater. When he pulls himself out, the water looks like worm-riddled dirt. He shakes himself out of it after hearing a voice... he is coming.