Chapter 2 – In Which We Meet a Ghost
The Merry Fraser Band bury a friend in the creepy kirkyard. They get a terrible fright. They meet the fugitive prisoner and reluctantly help him to freedom. Claire takes a much-needed river bath. Jamie joins her. They swelter in love and heat. Their future is wide open like the vast wilderness before them.
Play by Play:
They have the funds* to bury poor Gavin Hayes thanks to Fergus’s quick thinking and hat passing in the tavern. They need to figure out what to do with Gavin now it is late at night. The priest will not be awake, but they cannot take him into the woods with them to sleep or leave him in the town. Jamie decides they’ll bury him themselves in the church cemetery.
Claire notes the funeral procession (the cortege) is less dignified than usual with Duncan repeating unsavory parts of the lament. Fergus sourly mumbles about the likelihood of getting thrown in jail for disturbing the peace.
The churchyard is quiet and remote. In fact, it’s as dark as a crypt due to the overhanging Magnolia* branches. Moving through the air is described as “pushing aside curtains of black velvet” (DOA, p 35 Nook). If you’ve never been to the southern United States, this is an apt description when the weather is warm. The air is a palpable force. Though nothing like the crisp Highlands air, the mist reminded Claire of the tannasq in the story, Jamie told.
They roamed the graveyard for an open space to bury the body. The men are all well lubricated by alcohol, leaving Young Ian emotionally tender. The effects of the dark cemetery are not lost on Claire either. She feels she’s a ghost herself with the remoteness and isolation of this place.
Industrious as ever, Jamie had taken a candle from the tavern. He says it will be like an Easter vigil. He saw one once at Notre Dame in Paris (DOA, p.37 Nook). Requiescat in pace* is Latin for rest in peace (DOA, p37 Nook).
Young Ian and Jamie take turns digging the hole. Claire recounts how medical students used to steal fresh bodies to practice dissection. “Did they or do they?” Jamie asks. One of Claire’s not uncommon inadvertencies (unintentional or not focusing the mind, in her case eluding to things out of time or referencing now as the past). She remembers the difference between an embalmed body in a clinical setting to this reality. Young Ian injects a story about his father Ian being mistaken for dead and almost taken away by doctors while in prison. Ian always regarded doctors as ghouls henceforth. Claire had been a skilled surgeon in her own time; here she’s merely a wise woman. Claire could never be anything but a physician regardless of title.
Jamie not fearing the ghoulies himself, leans down to kiss Claire. They both have an unexpected sexual response. Per Claire, it’s common for a surge of lust to accompany the presence of death. I was unable to find quality information on this; however, it does make sense the need for release, connection, or feeling good, much like how lust surges after a battle or fight*. Have any of you experienced this phenomenon?
Claire is encouraged to sit because her leg is not long healed from the tibia fracture. Claire is in lust, he touches her, and she envisions dragging him down to the earth and having her way with him. Jamie is no better off getting gooseflesh where she touches him. The spell is broken for the moment as Rollo eyes Claire narrowly.
They go to fetch Gavin. Young Ian is scared in the dark from the story Jamie told. Claire most assuredly tells him it will not be coming for Gavin here. They reach the cart; Claire is happy they will be done with this soon so that they can go to the woods and sleep. Suddenly all hell breaks loose with shrieks of horror. A figure was sitting up from the wagon bed.
Rollo launches at the figure, and the ghost screams. Fergus clubs the figure with the spade, yelling at him to stop, pig (DOA, p42 Nook).
It turns out the figure is the prisoner who escaped from the gallows earlier that day. He’s not from hell, or is he? He’s described as a man around 30, muscular, and powerfully built with fair hair. He’d been waiting in the wagon since midafternoon. His name is Stephen Bonnet. He’s no stranger to a fight and likely attracts women easily.
Jamie is sizing up this criminal. He wants to know why he was sentenced to hang. Smuggling and piracy he says. Jamie is trying to decide if he is a good risk to turn in or let go his way. He invokes Gavin’s name to negotiate for them to help him to safety out of town. Jamie agrees, but Gavin must be buried first.
They made a simple gravestone and cairn. The lit candle was left behind to give Gavin a light to guide his ascent. They leave him with a simple blessing (DOA, p45 Nook).
They were helping Bonnet get passed the military checkpoint. Unlike the prior checkpoints they’d come across during their travels, this one was highly fortified due to the missing prisoner.
They go through the checkpoint process, one of the soldiers stabs the “corpse” to make certain it’s dead. They’re allowed through in the nick of time before Bonnet starts to bleed.
Bonnet has the balls to ask them for some provisions before they drop him off at a set point a few miles away. This sets the tone for the type of man he is. Is there honor among thieves? He’s very mercenary barely grateful for them not turning him in, he insists on the taking him to safety and giving him provisions. They need to watch out for this guy. They discuss his trade in smuggling. Duncan has a dislike for him, and Jamie is suspicious but agreeable to get him on his way.
As they ride along, Claire leans into Jamie, feeling the safety and security of him, she drifts into uneasy sleep. I adore this picture of him pulling her in, and she releases the weight of the world for a moment of relaxation against him.
Jamie urges her to go lie down on the wagon bed; he’s afraid she fall into the road. She changes places with Bonnet and lays her head upon a leather bag of salt. After more uneasy sleep, she wakes to Bonnet and Jamie talking. Jamie explains why he saved him (DOA, p51 Nook). Bonnet calls Jamie an asgina ageli or a half-ghost. One meant to be dead but living with one foot on earth and one in the spirit world. These half-ghosts are supposed to be able to communicate with spirits and with the little people or the Nunnahee (faerie folk or the auld ones). I cannot find Native American Cherokee connection for this concept, except for one Wiki page that needs additional citations. If any of you are more versed in Native American Lore, please email email@example.com or call 719-425-9444. They discuss similar Highland lore, though Jamie contends he’s not a savage.
Claire wakes as the wagon stops, Young Ian and Jamie are going to tend to the horses. Claire insists on bathing before finding a place to sleep. She heeds Jamie’s cautions about the currents. She turns finding Stephen Bonnet in front of her. He bids her adieu and she wishes him luck. He mentions how a man makes his own luck. As he leaves she remarks on his walking the ghost of a crippled bear. Another ghost reference for this chapter.
Jamie hopes he didn’t make a mistake in allowing him freedom, saying to Claire, “The crown doesna always pick the wrong man to hang, Sassenach.” He worries he helped a villain go free. (DOA, p53 Nook).
Claire kisses him before her bath in the river; he wants her to stay awake just a bit longer. Someone is still lustful it appears.
Claire disrobes and enters the water. It’s much cooler than the hot night air. The water is fresh and sweet. She drinks. She splashes her body and rinses her hair several times and scrubs her body all over with the fine sand until she glows (DOA, p54 Nook). The imagery is such a relief. Cleansed from the days on the road. Rinsed until fresh. Lying upon the warm rock, she feels tingly and alive. her lustfulness hasn’t left either.
Rollo catches his dinner nearby; Claire is reminded of a wild Rousseau painting. Her mind wanders to the primitive nature of the New World. It’s vast wilderness and dangers. Freedom and adventure are also out there in that wild.
Her mind continues to wander to Brianna safe in her own time, to the bugs and how she combats them daily (DOA, p56 Nook). Pennyroyal is a mosquito repellant along with basil, peppermint, and others. If Claire went to another time, insects, viruses, and bacteria would indeed affect her just like anyone else. She would not have some time traveler’s immunity by nature or inoculation.
Her mind goes back to Jamie. They hadn’t been intimate in some days with traveling roughly with others near. Claire talking about her dislike of having sex when others were close by affirms my idea that Claire is a bit prudish unless she is having sex with the person she loves. No holds barred in the circle of trust. Following her thoughts, she begins to masturbate wondering out loud where Jamie is. He is of course there watching her silently. She opens her eyes to him six feet away (DOA, p.57 Nook).
We get the full impact of the heat, the sweltering humidity in this delicious sex scene. Always the wordsmith, “Christ your mouth is slick and salty as your quim.” That’s a much nicer word than some he could’ve used. Jamie surmises people would die if they had sex in this heat all the time. Always a Highlander.
They take a dunk in the water before returning to the rock shelf to dry off. He reads Claire’s mind, thinking of the vastness of out there. She talks about how it is in her time. Jamie’s impressed there’ll be Scots in America including the inventor of asphalt, a Scot named McAdam. Claire shares there will be people all the way to California. They also discuss the plight of the Native Americans. To Jamie, it seems not a problem to kick them off their lands and kill them since they are savages. Claire has a difficult time getting through to him and even brings home the point to the Scots being kicked off their lands.
Deeply happy and content, Claire wonders how long this bliss can last. What will their life be like? Will they be able to stand each other when the day in and day out takes root? Hearing her thoughts again, Jamie asks, “Will ye grow tired of me, do ye think. Once we’re settled?” He won’t tire of her in the flesh because he never did when she was a ghost. He wanted her more on the last day they were together before sending her back. She agreed (DOA, p60 Nook). He was surprised to see her masturbating. He had no idea women did such a thing. He’s in wonderment over the whole thing concerned a woman wouldn’t need a man then. It’s a sweet exchange between them. She assures him it’s better with a man. This pleases him.
I love the next bit saying making love like this is like being slippery eels (DOA, p62 Nook). Jamie’s a man who aims to please his woman. Laoghaire missed out on some good loving. Their pillow talk or rock talk, in this case, is always interesting and entertaining. It gives us additional insight into the two of them.
Stephen Bonnet is one to watch for. Was the crown right to sentence him to death? I think so. They should’ve listened to their inner voices and turned him in.
This chapter rounds out with more references to stars, life itself.
Links of Interest*:
- 18th Century British Denominations
- The Complete Guide to Magnolia Trees
- Requiescat in Pace
- Sexual Attraction and Survival Mode
- Mosquito Repellent Plants
- Macadam Asphalt
What’s Coming up? Chapters 3-4 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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