Chapter 1 – A Hanging in Eden
Before we begin, we left off Voyager with Claire and Jamie, finding themselves blown off course and landing in Georgia. Duncan Innes, Fergus, and Young Ian were with Claire and Jamie. Marsali is in Jamaica pregnant and waiting for the birth of their baby. John Grey is the Governor of Jamaica. Claire had a broken leg. The Porpoise sunk during the harrowing storm as it followed the Artemis. Yi Tien Cho stayed on Jamaica after killing Archibald Campbell. He was the fiend and murdered the woman Yi Tien Cho was accused of murdering. Geillis is dead at the hand of Claire. She and Jamie found Geillis in the cave at Abandawe where she was set to sacrifice Young Ian, to go back to the future to fulfill the prophecy through Jamie’s line.
Summary: They are in the New World. Claire is recovered. It’s hot and muggy in Charleston. A friend is hanged. A prisoner escapes. Young Ian stays put. A fur friend is procured. Ale all around. A lament is sung. Plans are made. Claire wants a bath. Jamie is the leader and protector. They need to bury the body, then go north.
Chapter 1 A Hanging in Eden
Charleston, June 1767
They are in Charleston, South Carolina. As indicated by the title of the book and the opening line to this chapter, drums are an important theme.
It’s a hot day and men will be hanged. It is crowded with spectators. A friend of Jamie’s from Ardsmuir Gavin Hayes was among those set to hang. He was mightily drunk per Jamie’s help. He stole 6 pounds 6 shillings worth and would die for it. That’s about $1072 in American dollars today. Can you imagine losing your life for a $1000? When Gavin was hung, Jamie made sure he saw him and was comforted by his presence. A loyal friend is Jamie Fraser.
Claire and Fergus watched the hanging too. It’s not a pretty business. It’s not efficient whether or not the hangman knows his job.
One of the other prisoners makes a break for it. All hell breaks loose, and he seems to get away. They escape the chaos to find Young Ian. Fergus is told to claim Gavin’s body. The Merry Fraser band is rounded out by Duncan Innes being alongside.
Jamie expects to be sending Young Ian back to Scotland as he promised his sister Jenny and Ian.
He’s concerned about their money. Claire cleverly sewed her pocket shut, and Jamie is hiding his portion in his pants. Hopefully, no tart of a harlot tries to pick his breaks.
Young Ian finds them, and he’s exceedingly happy. Jamie intent on getting Young Ian passage to Scotland heads with everyone in tow toward the docks. He attracts attention from the ladies along the way. He’s mindful of his extra package. Turning gems into money was difficult. They were wealthy on paper and functionally poor.
The atmosphere was stuffy, hot, windless, and filled with all sorts of the stench.
The Olivier’s who had helped them after the shipwreck gave them modest transportation and provisions for their trip to South Carolina.
It turns out Young Ian has been playing dice and winning. He also has procured a rather wolfish dog named Rollo.
Jamie playing animal whisperer makes acquaintance with the beast. Ian has it sussed, the dog hunts for himself. Jamie doesn’t think the captain of the ship he intends to send Young Ian home on would want a dog aboard. Looking all too happy, it turns out the ship left three days prior. Jamie is worried what Jenny will say.
Making plans stay and try to sell a stone and secure alternate passage or head north to Cape Fear, NC where Jamie has family relations. Young Ian thinks it’s grand to go north. He can help be of protection he thinks. This the boy who trouble finds. In his excitement, he names all the things he hopes to meet, Indians, bears, panthers, and the foul creature known as the skunk.
In this unfamiliar place, Jamie is very worried about being able to protect themselves against whomever and whatever they come across. It’s wild and much untamed. He knows people tell stories and they might be fodder for conversation. Word could be out about the gems.
He’s acting as leader of his wee clan of people.
They would feel safer in Cape Fear because of the large Scottish Highlander settlement.
Claire can only think about bathing and removing the clothing she’s been wearing in that scorching heat and sleeping rough in for eight days.
Soldiers come into the pub no doubt searching for the escaped prisoner. Jamie and Duncan were ill at ease with it. Jamie’s tell is a hand curling into a fist or tapping with his fingers.
Fergus arrives aggravated. He’s unhappy with how much the priest/pastor wants to charge to bury Gavin. He’s such one for the insult. It’s hilarious. They have very little money, and that would put them too near pennilessness.
A rag woman made a bargain with Fergus to take the clothing and wash the body. He’s in the cart waiting to for burial.
Duncan is on his way to drunkenness. Poor Gavin. Slainte.
They discuss where to bury Gavin since the priest wants too much money. The wood will not do.
They go on to tell a lengthy story of a night Gavin came across a spirit while looking for an escaped cow. He was mortally afraid of the dark ever after. Until he left home to follow the Bonnie Prince, he never went out after dark.
The cow was waiting outside the croft in the morning looking as if she’d been ridden to hell and back.
Gavin never knew what happened to his wife or son after Culloden. His son had been on the field next to him when the fighting started.
Even with lists kept it would be impossible to find any other existing transported family or those who may be alive in Scotland.
They made the point it might be best to never know for certain what happened to your child, hope could remain.
Jamie and Claire knew Brianna was safe and sound in the 20th century. They had that between them.
With Rollo lying under the table the serving maid was careful to avoid him.
Duncan is drunk and grieving Gavin. Duncan decides they will indeed sing a lament for the man. The taproom responds to his opening notes with near violence until they realize he is singing. Even the dog lets out a woof. He sings the lament in Gaelic.
The other tables joined into the chorus after realizing violence isn’t happening, but they don’t know Duncan is saying disparaging things.
Fergus savvy as ever takes a hat to pass around, and the drunken patrons fill it with many coins.
Claire went out to relieve her bladder and spied the cart. She sees an outline of a body she presumes to be Gavin. She hopes he’d enjoyed the lament.
Claire heard a familiar tune coming from inside the taproom. It’s a drinking song in which its tune was used for the Star-Spangled Banner.
This opening chapter sets the tone for life in the new world. The weather is hot; there’s not much money in circulation to exchange gemstones with, they are outsiders, it’s unfamiliar and potentially dangerous from gossip and all the wild things of the vast wilderness. Jamie is reasserting himself as the leader. Young Ian is staying at least for a little while. Fergus is the faithful if salty sidekick. Marsali is in Jamaica waiting for the baby to be born. Claire is recovered from her broken leg. They have to start over yet again. Jamie and Claire as a recommitted couple stepping into their future. Though near penniless, Jamie’s aunt should be able to assist them.
Links of Interest:
- White Point Garden
- Community history of Charleston
- Myths and Facts about execution by hanging
- Highland Scots North Carolina
- Scottish Laments – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLXd2wl2f-Q, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0AS8TrZ82U&index=15&list=RDVLXd2wl2f-Q
- The Anacreon Song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydAIdVKv84g, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1auJXq7q7w
What’s Coming up? Chapter 2 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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