Perspectives on Protection Ep 127

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 22-23

Week 13

“Perspectives on Protection”

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Summary: Roger finds a horrifying historical fact. A sin of omission is not a lie, is it? Fraser’s Ridge is growing with new tenants. Claire rides into a storm. Her traitorous horse leads her astray. A friendly ghost visits Claire’s resting place. Rollo proves himself a worthy hound. Jamie, Young Ian, and the dog find Claire well. They find a visitor upon return to the Ridge. Duncan greets them at the door. Jamie tends to Claire. He was frightened Claire was dead.  Jamie puts Claire to bed. Duncan has news to share. Claire makes a startling discovery.

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 22:

Spark of an Ancient Flame

Oxford, September 1970

Roger’s research turns up a horrifying “fact” about Jamie and Claire. He cannot easily bring himself to believe what he’s reading. A notice in a newspaper says they died in a house fire on February 13, 1776, in North Carolina (p411, Nook). All the pieces point to this being THE JAMIE AND CLAIRE. One blessing is the assurance that Claire had found Jamie when she left Roger and Brianna that Feast of All Saints morning almost two years prior. Roger liked and loved Claire; he hopes the years were happy before the fire (pg412, Nook). Roger feels newly orphaned as he processes what he’s read. He believes he cannot tell Brianna this piece of information. He knows she will be newly devastated.

Roger wants to destroy all evidence of this revelation. He takes the page from the book. He has no idea how many of these books are in circulation, but Brianna knows how to research and if this is the only one, he can keep the information to himself. Roger is running the scenarios through his head. Roger doesn’t believe history can be changed. Brianna might.  He remembers she asked him “How do you mourn a time-traveler?” This would be the vehicle to allow her to mourn if it wasn’t for Craigh na Dun being available for transit services.

The mere thought of the stone circle gives Roger a cold chill. He shivers at the horror and remembers the day Claire went through (p415, Nook). Roger and Brianna had been unconscious and woke on the ground in the late afternoon. The impact of the event on them had been physical and psychological. Imagine how terrible it must be for the person going through the stones. When Brianna awoke, Roger promised to take care of her. He vowed to protect her. Does this remind you of someone else? He would do anything to save her from pain, grief, and those awful stones. Back home, Roger ponders the timeline. Brianna might too and could calculate the opportunity to go back and try to change things since the time jump is 202 years back. Could he convince her the past couldn’t be changed? She’s a determined and fierce sort of person. I don’t think he has a chance of convincing her to do nothing. He does not want to lose her before he ever gets the opportunity to be with her. He plans to dissuade her from looking into the past any longer. He wonders if it is okay to suppress the information (p417, Nook). He tears up the page from the 1906 book. His decision is made.

This is a pivotal moment of insight into Roger and his motivations. It’s also a point of climax for his character and how he develops from here. How might this one decision cascade into a myriad of problems or good? I don’t think he should hide it from her. He could help her make any decision based on trust and love, not only protection. Brianna is an adult and is tremendously strong-willed. Her father IS Jamie Fraser.

Chapter 23:

The Skull Beneath the Skin

Summer 1768 Fraser’s Ridge

This giant chapter opens with Claire lightly recounting the past eight months on Fraser’s Ridge. Duncan had brought 20 Ardsmuir men and their families to settle the land. Her doctoring skills are required again. She’s even catching babies as part of her duties. Her fame becomes known to the whole area, and she finds herself traveling all around the thirty square mile mountainous region. She even makes occasional visits with Young Ian to Anna Ooka to see Nayawenne. In the beginning, Jamie or Young Ian would go with Claire for safety, but as time wore on, she ventured out solo by horse to tend those in need. She was adding more cases to Dr. Rawling’s casebook. Though Claire never asks her patients for payment, something is always offered and gratefully received. Many of her patients don’t speak English or French, but body language proves to be enough for her to get the jobs done.

Now that Claire has caught us up, it’s August 1768. She’s been at a lengthy delivery at the Mueller’s for a few days and is trying to ride through a heavy storm back to Fraser’s Ridge. Claire describes it as a harrowing task. The creek is rising quickly. Claire’s horse swims across to the other side. Claire is taking the risk because she doesn’t want to stay several more days with the entire Mueller family. She wants to go home. The language is incredibly descriptive in this section. It makes me a bit anxious reading about the storm. I don’t want Claire riding in it.

As Claire rides away, she thinks over the three-day labor and delivery she attended with 18-year old Petronella Mueller. It was a slow and difficult process, but she did it. She and her 17-year old husband now have a daughter. Claire fondly thinks of the delicious meals during her time with the extended Mueller family. Claire moves on to Jamie and Young Ian. She hopes they fed themselves decently and took good care while she was away (p421, Nook).

The terrain is getting slick and muddy in the heavy downpour. Claire reassures the horse. Apparently, he hasn’t a name yet. Jamie says it will be revealed in good time. The horse comes to a stop as the trail is washed out on that side of the mountain. Claire must find a place to crossover for safety. At this point, she thinks she would turn back if the creek wasn’t flooded. She found a place to get through and cross over to the other side of the hill before finding the trail again. The wind lessens, but it is cold and still raining. Claire describes the landscape, oak, red-berried mountain ash, and blackberry brambles. She distracts herself with thoughts of her pantry and what to make for dinner when she gets back to Fraser’s Ridge.

Hail starts to pelt her, and she finds shelter under a chestnut tree. Here’s a link to the most common trees in North Carolina. Claire talks to the horse to keep him calm. Then the lightning starts. Horses do not ever like lightning. Though the hail storm passed, the rain continued with roaring thunder and lightning (p424, Nook). The horse had thrown Claire down a 30-foot cliff. The wind is knocked out of her, but she’s surprisingly unharmed, except for a banged up knee. The horse had stopped abruptly at the edge. Claire yells at the horse, then tries to get up. She cannot go back up the cliff face. She starts to worry. No one knows where she is, and she has no food, horse, or weapons. She is determined to find shelter (p425, Nook).

She finds a place under a fallen tree (p426, Nook). Just last Christmas Claire had to find Jamie in the snow. At least she knew a general sense of where he was. He has no idea where she might be because she had to go off trail.  She sleeps after placing her wet shoes next to her. She has fitful dreams of childbirth. Frank and Jamie are both present. She continues to wake and sleep. She wakes a final time to the smell of smoke. A lightning strike had hit a nearby balsam poplar tree.

Claire cannot find her shoes, but she heads toward the warmth of the smoldering tree anyway. The tree provides her much needed warmth (p427, Nook). Now she aches and her empty belly rumbles. The horse is nowhere to be seen. Claire’s clothing is near dry, though she wishes to stay warm, they’re too many predators who could harm her, so she returns to the shelter.

She crawls in and doesn’t find her moccasins; she finds a complete human skull (p428, Nook). She wonders how the man arrived there. Was his death by violence? She concludes since the Cherokee and the Tuscarora bury their dead, someone must have disliked this man very much. She also wonders where the rest of him is. She finds a stone with a carving on it near the skull, but the rest of the remains are not there. Claire feels somehow comforted by the skull (p429, Nook). This scene brings the memory of Fr. Fogden’s coconut and his sheep skull collection. Claire names the man Yorick and for some reason thinks he was an Indian and not a European. She recites various poetry to him. She recites Ode to the West Wind insofar as she can remember.   I am curious why Diana Gabaldon chose this poem for Claire to say.

At the end of her recitation, Claire sees a light coming toward her from the ridge above (p430, Nook). She holds the skull tightly in her hands. She knows the thing coming toward her would be unaffected by weapons.  The light seems to float in the air with a steady pace of a man walking. She is terrified inside of her hiding place. She wants to run, and she sweats. She knows what St. Elmo’s Fire looks like, this is not that nor is it marsh gas. She sees the specter (p431, Nook). Though hidden, the ghost knows she is there. Claire stays still, and he looks directly where she is through the dark. His torch is steady and soundless without the wood being consumed. She calls it a corpse candle.

Claire realizes she is not scared any longer (p432, Nook). Claire experiences her surroundings anew. The four elements of earth, air, fire, and water are present, like in the Shelley poem. She asks what he wants (p432, Nook). Claire sits and cradles the skull. She decides to stay put until morning. She is cold and hungry, but not scared. She thinks about what happened and can make no sense of it. She finally falls into an uneasy and dream filled sleep (p433, Nook). Does her dream tell of how the man died? Or is she processing through cold and hunger? She wakes and sleeps again. Again, she dreams of death, pursuit, and blood.

Something brushes her skin, and a pair of yellow eyes are staring into hers. It’s ROLLO (p434, Nook)! Jamie grabs her out of the hiding place and checks her for injury. She breathes in the smell of him. She starts to cry from the relief of being found. He picks her up and carries her toward the stream (p434, Nook). Young Ian finds the skull. Jamie tenses in response (p435, Nook). Claire drinks the Brandywine and trembles all over. Jamie asks how long she’s been there. Claire explains what happened and says the horse’s name is Judas. She asks how they found her (p435, Nook). Claire doesn’t understand how Rollo tracked her down. Jamie asks her where she lost her shoes. She points to the lightning ravaged tree (p435, Nook). Rollo couldn’t be calmed, so Jamie had Young Ian let him out in case he had gone completely mad. Her shoes were on the doorstep. Rollo ran looking for an intruder. Jamie and Young Ian searched the area around the cabin, but there was no one. Rollo came back to her shoes and ran off tracking the scent.

Jamie puts the shoes on her frozen feet (p436, Nook). Young Ian is proud of Rollo. Claire ponders the fact if Rollo could track the scent to her, someone had to have worn her shoes and walked to Fraser’s Ridge to place them on the doorstep to be found. Young Ian and Jamie saw nothing along the way, but Jamie looks exhausted and drawn. He had been worried stiff.

Jamie and Young Ian take turns carrying Claire to where the horses are. He continues to ply her with a drink (p437, Nook). She is getting quite inebriated. Rollo is too interested in the skull. Jamie wants to know what Claire plans on doing “with Prince Charming?” Should they bury him and if so how? Claire thinks the man was a pagan and shows the stone she found alongside the skull (p438, Nook). Young Ian explains his mother Jenny’s thoughts on opals and how they take on the aspect of their owner. Collectively they decide to keep the large opal because of its worth. Claire wants to show it to Nayawenne so that she can decipher the carvings. Nearing the horses, Claire feels too drunk to walk to them, so Jamie and Young Ian go to bring the horses to her (p439, Nook).

They arrive home in the late afternoon. Claire is cold, wet, lightheaded, and starving. She is viewing everything through a haze of unreality. She thinks the smoke coming from the chimney is a hallucination. Then she realizes it’s real (p440, Nook). Claire’s horse, Judas is in the penfold without his saddle, alongside an unfamiliar horse. It must be a friend because the goat’s been milked, and the animals have been fed. Duncan Innes opened the cabin’s front door (p440, Nook).

Jamie is trying to get Claire into the cabin to bed. She insists on a bath first (p441, Nook). Jamie sends Duncan and Young Ian to do a task so that he can wash Claire properly. He must undress her because she’s so stiff and unable to do so herself. He sits her on a stool, feeds her some stale bannocks, and gathers all the necessary supplies. He washes her feet first. She’s in heaven. He eyes her seriously bruised and swollen knee (p442, Nook).

He sounds angry while they talk. He is mad because it scared him that she could have been dead. He continues to argue with her. Claire is baffled (p443, Nook). That’s how most people act when they have been terrified a loved one is hurt or dead. Claire offers him to scold her in Gaelic, so she’ll only understand some of it. She ignores him until she hears the things he would like to do to her (p444, Nook). I wouldn’t like being talked to that way in any language. Claire is certainly understanding.

Cleaned, warmed, and relaxed he sneakily rubs in the ointment of peppermint and camphor to her chest. It turns out he does it to keep her from getting ill. She explains the theory of germs to him again. He’s not totally convinced (p445, Nook). Jamie feels too good in Claire’s arms for her simply to go to bed. She rubs on him and holds onto his bum. He tries to tell her, no, but she is insistent (p446, Nook). He’s losing the battle. This reminds me of her insisting on sex in Voyager when she was fevered.

A little while later, as she stares into a cup of barley crowdie (I cannot find a reference or recipe for this), she remembers a story of the Earl of Montrose saved after a battle by ingesting something similar. She thanks, Young Ian for making it for her and asks him to go out to hunt for a squirrel or other animal for dinner. He’s delighted to go hunting. Apparently, he and Jamie haven’t been eating well while she was gone.

Claire is highly relaxed in bed. Jamie had done a proper job of warming her up and thoroughly released her tension. He is not a candidate for hunting today. Camphor and peppermint would easily be scented by the animals. Jamie left Claire to sleep while he spoke to Duncan.

The sight of her casebook as she looks around the room reminds her she hasn’t posted the details of Mueller’s birth. Her dizzy head quickly moves on to thinking about a hearty meat broth for dinner. She does hope Young Ian catches something. She decides to get up and pour the barley stuff back into the pot. She eyes the damp barley bag and moves to spread the barley to dry so it won’t rot. This is every woman’s thought when she starts a task, sees another task, then another.

She hears Jamie and Duncan talking about the horse. Jocasta purchased the horse for Duncan. Jamie is wondering about the purpose of his aunt gifting it to Duncan (pp449, Nook). This is an interesting development. Duncan changes the subject to those of men who could settle on Fraser’s Ridge. Duncan brings up planting season, and Jamie continues to be sharp (p449, Nook).

Duncan changes the subject again. Jocasta has sent a bottle of whisky for Jamie. Jamie apologizes to Duncan for his harsh tones and accepts the offer of a dram or two. Duncan accepts the apology, and they walk together.

Claire watches from the window. She thinks what life would be like for one-armed Duncan had Jamie not found a place for him. Jamie did find him, and the Colonies are a second chance at life. The choice between a cooper and a farmer is not clear-cut. So far 20 Ardsmuir men are under Jamie’s sponsorship on Fraser’s Ridge. Claire recalls, Jamie borrowing money from several men he knew and gambled enough winnings to quadruple the amount. He proceeded to pay the men back with interest and had extra left over for his use. Claire put him to bed after his three-night adventure. She watched him sleep (p451, Nook). Fergus and Marsali with baby Germaine lived a mile away in their cabin. Claire loved having them around to help ease her heart as it longs for Brianna.

Claire sits down at the desk to record the labor and delivery. She intermingles the dream of Brianna she had while sleeping under the tree and the true events of Petronella’s delivery. Brianna had been born in the caul (p452, Nook). There are many beliefs surrounding babies born this way. I have the special privilege of catching two babies en caul. Claire cannot think of any special powers Brianna has from her birth. Claire adds a sketch of the baby to her charting. Though competent to document medical occurrences, Claire is not an artist like Brianna.

Claire’s mama’s heart is missing her daughter. She thinks about Jocasta having no living children to leave her legacy. Claire stares out the window as twilight rises (p453, Nook). This is a time we find Claire in throughout the books. I wonder what she’s connecting to within the space between light and dark. At this moment, she misses Brianna but doesn’t want her in this dangerous place.

The charting notes are finished, and Claire longs for bed, but dinner needs to be made. She picks up the skull finding beauty in it and has a flashback to Master Raymond’s back room filled with skulls and bones from many types of animals. She hears Master Raymond’s voice in her head (p453, Nook). She wonders if the skull summoned the ghost of the Indian man she met. She examines the skull again noticing the teeth are shattered on one side, but well intact on the other. She notices the wear and tear on the teeth; then she turns it over to examine the molars (p454, Nook). I would get the chills too at finding fillings in a skull in the 18th century. Who was he? He was a fellow traveler no doubt. Claire immediately shows Jamie her discovery. They surmise there must be another stone circle nearby.  Jamie will bury him after dinner.

Speaking of dinner, Jamie contends they can eat the leftover barley concoction. Claire refuses outright. Jamie agrees. Claire tells him the rest of the barley needs to be spread to dry. He takes up the sack. As he’s getting to the door, he asks Claire why she doesn’t think the Indian was a Christian. She cannot answer the question. Jamie responds, “Aye, well. We’ll give him the benefit o’ the doubt.”

Holy chapter batman! This could have been two chapters. So much action and discovery. Who was the apparition? Why did he help Claire? What does the stone mean? When did he travel from and why? What is Duncan up to taking a gift from Aunt Jocasta? I do love Claire needing to sexually communicate with Jamie to ground herself once safely back at the cabin. She needs his physical presence to feel secure and well. This chapter has conflict, flashback, figures of speech, figurative language, imagery, and plot. There are multiple threads of storylines being eluded to. The literary devices are leading to resolutions in the future.

What’s Coming up? Chapters 24 and 25 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

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Oh Snowy Night Ep 126

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 20-21

Week 12

“Oh Snowy Night”

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Summary: The small cabin is completed. Visitors come bearing gifts. Claire makes a friend and receives a prophecy. Young Ian is on a hunting trip. Jamie goes to check the traps. Claire tends to the business of home. Jamie doesn’t return. Claire tracks him in the snow. Jamie has injured his back. Claire stays with him. They see a band of Mohawk. Young Ian and friends rescue Claire and Jamie. Back home they are safe and sound. Jamie has a vision.

(For the record, I realize I said the incorrect episode number and week.)

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 20:

The White Raven

October 1767

This chapter opens with Jamie and Young Ian building the cabin together. Jamie is reciting the translated version of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Once they get to a difficult log placement, Jamie can no longer continue his recitation. Jamie wants Young Ian to be educated. Rollo alerts them to a visitor. It’s Nacognaweto, a friend of Young Ian’s, with three women in tow. They are dressed for visiting and were bearing gifts. Jamie declares it’s an ambassage and wants Claire in her finest (p372, Nook). The formal greeting ritual is performed by the men. Once it concludes the second woman acknowledges Claire (p373, Nook). Gabrielle is Nacognaweto’s wife. The elder woman, Nayawenne, is his grandmother. Claire looks her over, noticing the leather pouch hung around her neck. The younger of the three women is Berthe, Gabrielle’s daughter not by her husband it seems. The girl has the look of an American Indian and European. The introductions are complete; the girl opens the bundle she carried. There’s a variety of foods; Claire makes an exclamation about the return of Squanto. It’s about two months’ worth of food.  The bear meat was received well in the village; this is a small gift in return. The women giggle at Claire having heard the full exploits of the bear attack including Claire hitting Jamie with a fish. The old woman moves closer to Claire. She pats her all over talking to herself during the proceedings. Her reaction to Claire’s hair is pure sweetness (p375, Nook).

Jamie shows Nacognaweto the construction. The women chat. Claire learns Gabrielle is Nacognaweto’s second wife and him her second husband. Her first husband was a Frenchman and died ten years earlier. They live in a village called Anna Ooka, two days northwest of Fraser’s Ridge.  Claire and Nayawenne are having a conversation without words. Claire felt the unspoken conversation, though the woman said nothing to her. Across the clearing she sees Jamie offer a gift of brandy to Nacognaweto. It’s time to offer gifts. Claire gives an item to two of the women but has something different in mind for Nayawenne. She gives her four large ginseng roots.  The old woman hands Claire a small bag from her waist; it’s ginseng roots. This confirms she and Claire speak the same language. It takes a healer to know one. Claire asks about the amulet Nayawenne wears (p378, Nook). The woman hands Claire her amulet; the bag feels heavy and almost alive. Nayawenne offers to show Claire plants for use in the area. Claire’s impressed by the old woman’s spryness. The two younger women followed behind interpreting as needed. The old woman tells Gabrielle something astonishing about Claire (p377, Nook). The old woman is a shaman. She needed to meet Claire and give her the message. I wonder how long it will be for Claire to be in her full power. She’s almost 51. What do you think of the prophecy of illness to come that’s not Claire’s fault? I wonder what else Nayawenne knows.

Chapter 21:

Night on a Snowy Mountain

December 1767

It’s been a couple of months since the Indians visited Jamie and Claire. The snow arrived at the end of November. Life on the Ridge takes on the rhythms of winter (p379, Nook). They had few animals to care for and no sheep to have wool to spin and no cloth to weave or dye. Myer’s had brought a small bag of useful tools. Jamie and Young Ian had gotten a roof on the cabin before the first snow. Young Ian and Jamie spent time carving wood. He already had made a stool. Myer’s had also brought a bag of woman’s tools for sewing and mending clothing. Claire’s not a fan of sewing, but Jamie and Young Ian’s clothes are in constant need of repair. Jamie sits bolt upright in bed when a drop of water hits him in the ear. There’s a leak in the roof. Jamie refuses to wait until daylight to fix the shingle (p381, Nook). With Young Ian’s help on the inside, Jamie replaces the split shingle on the outside (p382, Nook).

Claire reflects on their meager but successful existence. They have enough food to last until spring. They spend time talking, telling stories, and Jamie even carved dishes and a chess set. Young Ian and Rollo spent time going to Anna Ooka and going on hunting trips with the men. Young Ian learned to speak the Indian language. Claire is happy Young Ian goes on the trips. Threes a crowd when you ache for a feather bed, a fire, and a lover without an audience. When alone Claire and Jamie could continue deepening their relationship and knowledge of each other (p382, Nook). Jamie often asks about Brianna. Claire shares a story about visiting Brianna’s school on Career Day (p383, Nook). It turns out her school visit became quite a scene (p383, Nook). It turns out Claire had taken the job the boy’s father desired. That’s our Claire, always making friends and influencing people. Brianna has the fire of the Frasers in her.

Interested in Brianna’s career path Jamie asks about her plans. He’s surprised to find out children in the future often change their minds many times before settling on a vocation (p384, Nook). Claire goes over a litany of 20th-century occupations. Jamie’s nipple distracts her from the telling. Claire thinks Brianna chose history for the love of Frank and after he died, she stayed in the program.  She has no idea she changed her major after she left for the 18th century. Jamie says she loyal. He wonders if she sticks with history if she finds them in her research. Claire doesn’t think so. They’d have to do something worthy of widespread news. And Brianna would have to be looking for them. Jamie points out something else about loyalty (p385, Nook). Then they turned to the language of their bodies intertwined. A slow, peaceful, “knife and sheath together.” The last thing Jamie says before they drift to sleep, “She’ll look.”

A couple of days later, Jamie takes advantage of the improved weather to hunt. Claire is worried about him going, but they do need meat. Claire tends to the cauldron on the fire. They have an ingenious way of using the boiling water (p386, Nook). She sits down to reads Daniel Rawling’s casebook and mends stockings. I would find it scary having Jamie go out alone in inclement weather. As time goes on and Jamie hasn’t returned, she openly worries. The daylight is dimming, and she’s on high alert. She goes about her work but is increasingly concerned. She now takes on a more clinical view of her tasks. The way she gets the firewood and plans every step of use until morning. She’s frightened now (p387, Nook). The dinner stew is ready to eat, and the cabin has an inviting aroma. Claire’s without appetite. It’s now dark. She forces herself to eat, she smoored the fire and tries to rest. Her mind is reeling. She worries he’s injured. She also knows he can live outdoors quite capable, and yet… (p389, Nook). She cannot stop thinking of the what if’s out there in the dark. She longed for him (pp389, Nook). That sums it up right there. He’s her world. Her everything.

She gets up, dresses, and prepares to go out searching for him. She knew the general direction he’d been planning to go. She hears him in her head reminding her how to track. She finds the snares and follows his footprints from one snare to the next. The fourth snare wasn’t empty, so he hadn’t gotten that far. She thinks he must be between snare three and four. Claire calls for him. Picks a direction and promptly loses her footing sliding down a hill. She finds him partially covered in leaves on his belly. She throws herself on him.

He groans loudly from pain. First, she assesses him for damage and injury. He tells her “back,” but she thinks he’s been shot. She looks for a wound (p393, Nook). He’s injured his back, it’s out, and he cannot move because of the pain. It should take only a couple of days to mend itself. Ahem. He’s lying face down on the frozen ground, and it’s snowing. Claire can’t think of what she can do to remedy the situation given the location Jamie crawled and ended up. She stops trying to figure out how to get him back to the cabin and alarms with a fresh concern. Hypothermia might already be setting in. Jamie could freeze to death. Claire goes into doctor mode alpha. She makes him stay awake and move whatever body parts he can. She has him moving and in a bad temper (p395, Nook). I’d say Claire’s in a bit of a bad temper too.

He tells her to cut hemlock branches to cover them. He’s warm, so she goes off to cut the branches. The task is difficult with her cold hands and the branches being fresh and spongy. Claire completes the job and snuggles in behind him. It’s her turn to shiver from “relief and fear.” As Jamie does, he tries to reassure Claire and tells her what happened (p397, Nook). She finds the area of pain. It runs from his back down his leg. She thinks it’s severe muscle spasms. She has none of the things to treat it. She offers acupuncture, but he declines (p398, Nook). To some people cooking is love, to Claire clinical care is love. Well, and sex is love (p399, Nook).

They lie together in quiet Claire asks what time it is. It’s just past solstice, so it’s one of the longest nights. It’s very late in the middle of the night. He explains to her they can sleep and be okay. The snow is insulative like a blanket. They have a serious and humor-filled moment during the discussion (p400, Nook). She tells him a Christmas story revolving around a tradition she, Frank and Briana had with A Christmas Carol.  During one Christmas the three of them were traveling to a relative’s home. They skidded off the road. They were holed up in the car until morning when they could be rescued. Frank told A Christmas Carol from memory until Brianna had fallen asleep. He and Claire finished the story while holding hands beneath the blankets. Frank had always loved her hands. Claire came to the last words of the story (p402, Nook). Claire isn’t cold-hearted. She loved Frank and still has a place of mourning for him. Jamie invites her to place her hands underneath his shirt and assures her he won’t let her freeze. The difference between Frank and Jamie is Jamie can hear of Frank and be okay. He can even be appreciative even when jealousy might rise for the time he did without Claire and Brianna. He understands Claire is made up of her experiences, including Frank. I think Frank wanted Jamie banished and refused to let him into their marriage. Claire doesn’t have to apologize for Frank or her life; she can simply be who she is with Jamie.

Claire and Jamie sleep until dawn nears. They hear voices. The men are speaking an Indian tongue, but it isn’t Tuscarora. Are these men safe or raiders? The situation could be dangerous. Their hiding place becomes less secure as snow melts and falls away. Jamie grips Claire hard. The Indians are across the grove. The men come closer to their shelter. Claire’s fear rises. There are several armed men in the party. Jamie and Claire are sweating with worry. They are upwind from the men, so their adrenaline scented sweat is not going to be detected. As the last man comes through the grove, another large chunk of snow falls from their makeshift shelter. The last man is a Jesuit priest. Claire thinks it’s safe to call them men as they are Christian. Jamie doesn’t believe these Indians are safe. The men pass without incident, but Jamie and Claire receive no help.

After the danger passes, Claire inquires about Jamie’s back. It’s not in good shape, and he has no idea how to get down the mountain. Then the matter of hungry bellies makes their needs known. He wants Claire to go to the cabin; there’s the small issue of Claire not knowing how to get back (p405, Nook). It turns out Jamie had shot an elk before hurting his back. He thinks anything dangerous is eating the elk. Claire thinks it’s crazy to leave him here on his own. She insists she’ll get supplies and return. She’s not leaving him alone. He agrees for her to come back if she returns with whisky.

She snuggles up to him kissing the hollow of his throat (p.406, Nook). He tries nibbling on her to see what will happen (p407, Nook). Then she goes into an explanation about vampires and their seductive qualities. He finds it completely disgusting. Claire wants him to nibble some more. Jamie changes his mind and would like her in the flesh, cold or not. In the process of getting busy, Claire gets the sense of being watched. She looks out of the shelter. He doesn’t want her to stop, but now she hears something (p408, Nook). Hallelujah, they’re rescued by Young Ian and some Tuscarora.

They come across the dead elk. The sight of its frozen form assures Claire she’d done the right thing going out in the night to find Jamie (p408, Nook). The Tuscarora would help Jamie get back to the cabin for a share of elk meat. After the animal is properly prepared, they set out with Jamie is dragged on a travois. Claire asks Young Ian about the other band of Indians who had a priest along. He and the Tuscarora were following them when they found Jamie and Claire. The Indians were Mohawk from the north. The young Mohawk men were looking for wives (p409, Nook). Jamie wants to know why Young Ian and the others were following them (p409, Nook). Nacognaweto is a smart man.

They return to the cabin by sunset and are joyously greeted by Clarence, the mule. He’s a very social creature. Everything looks normal. Claire wants to get into the cabin. They invite the Tuscarora men to stay, but they decline (p410, nook). It’s Christmas evening, and after a few drams of whisky, Claire and Jamie lay in their own bed listening to Young Ian snore (p410, Nook). So, it seems Jamie travels in his dreams. I think he astral projects. This is important to note. Tuck it in your cap or pin it in your mind.

This section tells us again of the very real dangers Claire and Jamie face settling in the mountains. This chapter is filled with figurative language, rising action, conflict, and resolution.  Diana Gabaldon’s use of bantering humor bring their relationship off the page into reality.

What’s Coming up? Chapter 22 and 23 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

How can you participate? Send your comments to or call the listener line at 719-425-9444 by Friday of each week. If you’re reading ahead, you can leave comments for any part of the book too. Join the weekly Twitter chat Wednesday nights at 6 pm PT/9pm ET using the hashtag #ADoO. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

The Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook

All images are Wiki Commons. Click on picture for attribution link.

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Of Lust and Blessings Ep 125

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 18-19

Week 11

“Of Lust and Blessings”

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Roger attends Mass with Brianna and survives it. He proposes marriage. She turns him down. They argue. She explains herself. He’ll wait for her. They declare love for the other. Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian are living in the mountains. Jamie is taking the offer. They build small outbuildings. Provisions arrive. Duncan becomes Jamie’s agent. They receive a blessing from Jocasta. They, in turn, bless their hearth. Duncan leaves to procure settlers. The white pig is a jerk.

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 18:

Unseemly Lust

After being raised by Reverend Wakefield in the Presbyterian church, Roger is trepidatious of going to the Christmas Eve Catholic Mass with Brianna. Brianna dons a small circle mantilla instead of a full-size mantilla or chapel veil after they enter the church. She tells Roger it follows the tradition of women not being objects of unseemly lust while in church (p341, Nook). If you click on the link about veils, there’s an FAQ that explains it more fully. By the way, I chose that site because Lily is someone I know. Brianna kisses Roger to the surprise of two parishioners (p342, Nook). Two women Roger has known his whole life are surprised to see Roger attending a Catholic service. To them, his intentions are apparent to set foot in such a place. He introduces Brianna to the elderly ladies. She seems unaware of the importance of his attending mass with her. Maybe. Brianna crosses herself after dipping her fingers in holy water. Roger remembers a hill-walking day with the Reverend (p343, Nook). The reverence and the beauty in the use of water to bless or to prepare for prayer. Roger finds himself unsettled during parts of the service before it moves into a service he has familiarity. He’s enthralled by Brianna’s hair (p345, Nook). As images of Brianna’s bare skin and snakelike hair in the hallway of the manse return to mind, he thinks that Saint Paul may have been on to something in respect to women’s hair and unseemly lust. He focuses on the priest giving communion. Brianna goes to partake in communion, and Roger realizes he’s praying in a wordless way of the heart. He yearns to be worthy of her, to love her right, and to care for her. He describes her face. It’s strong and changeable. Brianna sang “We Three Kings” as they walked home.

By sobolevnrm [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

They lightly talk about religion, and she hopes she hasn’t damned him for taking him to Mass. The fog thickens as they walked along the River Ness. Roger is feeling vulnerable without the comfort of the church, knows it’s time to ask her. Looking at her wide eyes, he senses secrets lurking. She reminds him of a kelpie (p347, Nook). He takes the plunge and asks her to marry him. She doesn’t respond the way he expects. He tries to play it off that it’s nothing. Saying his name, he turns to her with difficulty, not wanting to hear platitudes. She grabs his face and kisses him hard. This reminds me of how Jamie kisses Claire sometimes.  He pushes Brianna away, confused (p348, Nook). He’s angry at her suggesting she just wants to bed him. He yells at Brianna he could’ve had her anytime during the last summer. She slaps him. They have a row reminiscent of Claire and Jamie. Roger kisses her hard and long, while she fights him. Just to prove the point, he could’ve had his way with her had he wanted to (p348, Nook). She has confused and frustrated him to no end. His Scottish accent thickens when he’s upset (p349, Nook). I cannot understand why people think Roger is boring. He’s every bit as strong, protective, smart, devoted, and loving as Jamie. Then they get into the territory of her being a virgin and him not being one. He didn’t want to marry the women he’s bedded nor loved them. He loves Brianna and wants to marry her.  She thinks she loves him too. Claire loving Frank then falling in love with Jamie and breaking her promises and vows is something Brianna wants to avoid (p350, Nook). Knowing it’s more than a year they can be together, she worries she could meet someone else or he could. He wants to know if she loves him. She responds by opening his coat and putting her arms around him tightly. As Roger and Brianna kiss, the two women from Mass comment and walk by them. Roger tries to let go of Brianna, but he cannot (p352, Nook). He wants her body, mind, and spirit.

He gives her the present he bought. An engraved silver bracelet (p352, Nook).

Phew! That was uncomfortable and passionate. They needed to hammer it out. To get on the same page. Brianna is wise in not saying yes at this point. Her mother did break her vows to Frank even though she didn’t mean to do it. She did fall in love with someone else. Roger will wait the year out. They’re still working on communication and expectation. I wonder if being only children make it more difficult to speak up?

Chapter 19:

Part Seven: On the Mountain

Hearth Blessing

July 1767

Claire compares sleeping under the stars with a lover to sharing a cramped lean-to with a wet husband, a wet nephew, and a large wet dog. One is a bit more romantic than the other. Pungent male odor overpowers, and Claire needs air. She makes her way into the cold air. The rain stopped, but it was high humidity with everything covered in water. She is going to the creek to wash and fill the kettle. She describes the pre-dawn morning (p354, Nook). It sounds like one of two magical times of day, the other being twilight. At Jamie’s suggestion, they’d stayed on the mountain to take advantage of the decent weather. It would be snowing soon, and the two months would be enough time to get a small cabin built and dry meat they hunted. Claire is scared. She thought they’d return to Cross Creek for winter and come back in the spring. They are far away from any other settlers.It’s a dangerous prospect considering the lack of tools and supplies. Claire misses the safety and security River Run offers. Jamie is getting out from under Jocasta’s hospitality, and thumb is necessary to keep out of her Machiavellian web. Claire likens her to a blind spider. Diana Gabaldon uses this theme of spiders weaving and webs throughout the series. Being out of sight from Sergeant Murchison is also exceedingly wise. Given all of the reasons Claire can think of, she believes none of them, are the reason Jamie chose to stay. He needs the land to need him. A place to build and shape. He needs the burden and responsibility. He needs to lead something. He needs to have a mountain. Claire trusts him with her heart and life.

Myers went back to Cross Creek to give instructions to Duncan, assure Jocasta all is well, and gather all the stores the rest of their money would buy. He’d return before first snow if he could. Otherwise, he will come back in spring with the supplies. Young Ian is staying with Claire and Jamie. He’s needed to help build the shelter and with any other needed work. For now, they were managing on what Claire could gather. She splashes her face and swishes her mouth with the creek water (p358, Nook). Once the deer disappear, Claire sees a large cat. It gazes in her eyes after drinking its fill but leaves her alone after it cleans its ears. The cat is six feet long. Claire was terrified after the cat left. She shakes and can barely manage to fill the kettle. She trusts Jamie and this time stayed alive (p359, Nook). They are settling in the unspoiled wilds of North Carolina.

When Claire returns, Jamie is pacing out a shed. Young Ian had started a fire. The shed is going to be for curing and smoking meats as the Indians do. The second shed is for Claire’s herbs and plants. The first shed is built in two days, though the roof was crude, it is fit for sleeping the three of them and Rollo. As they lie together, Jamie critiques his workmanship. Claire tends to his splintered hands while he talks (p361, Nook).  He turns his attention to telling her his plans for a big house on the hill where the strawberries grow. It will have a surgery for Claire and a library for Jamie. He only owns one book at present, “The Natural History of North Carolina.” It will be a grand house.

Myers returned within the month bringing three pack-mules with many necessary items, and Duncan Innes. They now had two sheds and a pen built for the animals they might acquire. Currently, they only have a small white piglet as their total stock of animals. She slept in the shed with them. Jamie shows Duncan the layout of the land and tells his plans. Jocasta sent a feather bed along with pens and paper. Claire is thrilled. Young Ian and Myers return from successfully hunting squirrel and a wild turkey. They will eat well over the next several days. This shows how fertile the land and offerings are.

Jamie needs to write the Governor to accept the offer and give the details of the land he chose. They eat a nice meal, but Claire hopes Myers will stay to help fill their meat shed, so they don’t need to eat dried fish all winter. After dinner, Jamie wants to walk with Duncan so he can choose his plot of land in exchange for acting as Jamie’s agent. Duncan is stunned. He’s been penniless since Culloden. Every emotion runs through him, and he accepts. He’s to oversee finding settlers, particularly to find those transported from Ardsmuir. The second job is to help his Aunt Jocasta run her plantation.  He’s hesitant, but Jamie explains that Jocasta knows the business end, she simply needs a man to speak for her. Young Ian is going through the packs Myers brought; Aunt Jocasta sent a piece of iron as a hearth blessing. The gift moves Jamie.  It’s rooted in pagan tradition. It’s a blessing for protection and prosperity to put the iron on the entry door, in this case under the hearth. It is also Jocasta saying she blesses and accepts the new venture while forgiving Jamie for not returning. Two days later they bless the hearth (p367, Nook). I would love to participate in such a blessing. Outside the cabin, Duncan offers a blessing of his own (p368, Nook). This brings tears to my eyes to have Duncan offer something so beautiful in prayer to their home. He’s a good man who has found a family with Mac Dubh. He’s not alone.

Myers and Duncan left to attend the large Scots gathering at Mount Helicon. Jocasta and Farquard Campbell would be there. It’s the best place to start searching for the transported Ardsmuir men. Scots came from other colonies to attend. Jamie wrote Jocasta a letter but gives a message to Duncan to pass on to her (p369, Nook). Claire feels a sense of loss with Duncan leaving. He feels like a link to civilization. They are not alone. Young Ian is still there will Rollo, the pig, three horses, and two mules. Claire feels better thinking of what they’ve done so far. As soon as Claire is feeling encouraged, Young Ian tells her the pig ate all the nutmeal. That act could be a foreshadowing of hard times to come, or simply the pig’s devil may care attitude.

What’s Coming up? Chapter 20 and 21 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

How can you participate? Send your comments to or call the listener line at 719-425-9444 by Friday of each week. If you’re reading ahead, you can leave comments for any part of the book too. Join the weekly Twitter chat Wednesday nights at 6 pm PT/9pm ET using the hashtag #ADoO. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

The Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook

All images are Wiki Commons. Click on picture for attribution link. Featured image.

Outlander Conventions

Follow A Dram of Outlander

Thank you for sharing posts, joining the discussions, and following this website or pages listed below!

Facebook,  InstagramTwitterTumblrGoogle+

To financially support the podcast, go to my Patreon page.

Call 719-425-9444 listener/reader line to leave your comments.

Listen to this podcast!