Summer of 1969 Ep 117

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 3-5

Week 3

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Brianna takes an unexpected early morning call. Roger plans a visit. Brianna sends confusing signals. There’s a sweet airport reunion. After his week-long conference, off to the Scottish festival they go. Brianna struggles with the past, grief, and healing. A kilted Roger performs to an appreciative crowd. Brianna’s wounds are exposed. Roger passes Uncle Joe’s assessment. The Apollo 11 mission prevails. “Yeah, it’s like that,” for the both of them.

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 3 – The Minister’s Cat – Boston, June 1969

Roger calls Brianna from Scotland and gets the time difference wrong. She is dead asleep and wakes with a humorous start. They haven’t seen each other in some time, and Roger is nervous and unsure of her because she hasn’t answered his letter. There’s a conference he can attend the following month, and does she want to see him? He nervously talks, worrying she’ll reject him. They speak over each other. Of course, she wants to see him. He laughs as their words collide once more. He understands her now, warming her through. She acknowledges he’s the only other person who can understand her. She’d been dreaming about Jamie when he called her. She was trying to catch up to him while they hiked in the mountains. She’d used to do that with Frank. Roger brings up bagging Munros* in Scotland and explains the hobby of hiking mountains over 3000 feet. His laugh brings the memory of his parting kiss last upon her lips. Roger and Brianna like to play games with each other. She guessed he was in Inverness, Scotland and not in England because his accent was thicker when there. He playfully rolled his r’s for her (DOA, p66, Nook). She wished he was there now. Bree admitting wanting him catches Roger off guard. She tries to explain why she didn’t write, but he says there’ll be time to discuss it when he’s there in a month. He’s happy she said he could visit. She’s happy remembering her hand upon his chest. 

Now sleepless, she goes to the kitchen for a glass of milk. While peering into the refrigerator, the contents become the standing stones in her mind’s eye. She shivers. She knows why she didn’t write, yet she has no idea how to explain it to Roger. He was part of the devastation and loss of learning about Jamie Fraser and her mother leaving. Though her mother wasn’t dead, there was nothing to do but grieve the loss. She was utterly lonely without her mother. Brianna’s Catholic upbringing shows as she hears an ambulance and crosses herself. She says a small prayer for those who need it. She also prays daily for her mother and father. Even though Uncle Joe Abernathy knew everything that happened, only Roger could hear the stones too. The experience had marked them after Claire had gone. She needed to heal and rebuild her life, away from Scotland and stone circles. When Roger was present, she couldn’t forget any of it, not even for a moment. Had he cared and protected her only because her mother had asked him too? She doesn’t want a future based on crushing obligation. Was she presumptuous he wanted a future with her? She thinks if she left and came back again to him, they could do it right at their choosing. If they were to take the relationship further, it would need to be their choice. Bree sits down to her mathematics work, soothing and controlled (DOA, p.69, Nook). Like in Voyager we see the image of a spider weaving. Above all, she was glad she’d said yes to his visit.

The following month she’s at the airport with her friend Gayle to pick Roger up. Gayle sounds vapid and unworldly, but able to fill conversational spaces. She thinks England and Scotland are the same. Brianna clears up the misconception of England versus the United Kingdom and Scotland. Nosy Gayle wants to know if Bree and Roger have had sex yet. Bree is aghast at the question but tells her no. At this moment, Roger appears. Gayle is impressed by him, while Bree stiffens at the sight (DOA, p70, Nook). He does sound a bit like a pirate, doesn’t he? Bree’s body reacts at the sight of him; perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to have him come after all. He sees her and lights the room; she runs to him without thinking. He meets her halfway, nearly picking her up from the ground and squeezing her hard. Can you hear the music playing in the background? I do. It’s funny how Brianna thinks she hasn’t already chosen him. He kisses her. She doesn’t want his whisky flavored lips to stop. Breathlessly, they stop. Gayle breaks into the reunion scene (DOA, p.71, Nook). Gayle fauns over Roger’s accent. Brianna finally remembers to introduce her friend. Roger plays along rolling his r’s in a most undignified fashion. Bree is not amused. He explains that in addition to the conference; he’s playing at a Scottish Festival to earn money while he’s in town (DOA, p.71, Nook). He sometimes does Scottish folk singing at ceilidhs* and highland games*. Funny that Gayle knows about kilts, but is unaware Scotland is a separate country. Bree is once again not amused. Gayle remarks about the big box, it’s Roger’s bodhran*, a Scottish drum. She also offers to drive Roger to the festival, which Bree quashes. Gayle again presses her about them having sex and thinks Bree is crazy if she doesn’t. It’s 1969. I think young adults have always been the same, no matter what outward social mores would say.

As Brianna drives Roger to the Scottish Festival, they play The Minister’s Cat*. Roger says it’s a Scottish game, but it’s a Victorian parlor game. They play for a while (DOA, p.73, Nook). These two are a brainy and vocabulary laden duo. They reach the turn for the festival; Roger is apologetic at how far it is from Boston. Brianna says it isn’t far. She scoffs at the 150-mile drive (DOA, p.73, Nook). The conversation takes a turn while using The Minister’s Cat as a conversational pathway. She becomes aloof and thoughtful. Roger decides tea is the answer, but Bree hates tea. She’s no English woman indeed. Roger reflects upon Brianna. She looks like her heritage but seems MORE.  She begins to explain what she’s thinking. Roger is thinking of all the ways he likes her. She tells him how great he was after her mother left and wanted to know if he’s been back to Craigh na Dun. He hasn’t been back. Is he scared of it (DOA, p.75, Nook)? She points out how much he helped regardless of being scared. She tells him though she’s not spoken of her parents in half a year, she can’t be around him without talking about her parents immediately. She blushes (like Jamie) when she talks to him. She also says, she had a crush on him and didn’t know he was just nice to her for her mother. He assures her he wasn’t just nice. She wasn’t sure what to do (DOA, p.75, Nook). He kisses her after asking permission. Always a gentleman. He’s a combo of Frank and Jamie. After parking, Roger suddenly realizes where he brought her and is horrified. A Scottish festival with all the trappings would remind her of Jamie.

Chapter 4 ? A Blast from the Past

Roger finds the dressing area to be luxurious in comparison to what he’s used to in Scotland. This leads him to husband thinking. Would he be financially able to equal the level of comfort Brianna is used to? She is driving a brand-new Mustang. In 1969, that vehicle MSRP was from $2740-4798 for the various models. The average American made $5900 in 1969. It was a pricey car. He is not stupid for wondering what income level she expected. He also had an envelope for her. He’s hesitant to give it to her based on their earlier conversation and her reaction to seeing the 78th Fraser Highlanders’* pipe-band in the flesh, made him worry about her. Incidentally, the 78th Fraser Highlanders’ pipe-band did not come into existence until 1982. Diana’s timey-wimey writing! The Fraser motto* is Je suis prest! (I am ready!). He’s worried about her as he’s getting ready for two performances and mulling over what he’ll do based on the audience. He’s donning his kilt while she is off entertaining herself. He decides to go full Scots in his kilt and eschews the underwear (DOA, p.78, Nook). On his way out, he asked for luck from his father. The appearance of him made Brianna sit up and take notice. Her mother was right about a man in a kilt. It makes them sexy indeed. She asks him if he’s hungry and goes over the available food options (DOA, p.79, Nook). He’s sorry for bringing her since it’s been such a shock, but she’s okay with it. She thinks the festival is so Scottish. Roger decides it is, “the Scots’ age-old talent for survival-the ability to adapt to anything and make a profit from it.” He hugs her, noticing she smells like fresh grass. Claire smells like herbs and green things when Jamie hugs her. He points out she’s Scots too, but she doesn’t want to eat haggis*. Roger thinks the food vendors are quite unusual. Apparently, the festival changes and the vendors stay the same. The vendor asks about his kilt to a bland-faced response (DOA, p.80, Nook). Brianna gives her version of an over the top Scottish accent. They look around at all the merchandise. Brianna asks why he’s using MacKenzie*. He explains Wakefield is his adopted father’s name; his family name is MacKenzie. Roger Jeremiah MacKenzie is his given name. Jerry was his father. His nickname was Jemmy when he was young. He explains why Jeremiah was the best family name to choose from (DOA, p.81, Nook). Their conversation veers to Claire explaining sex in Brianna’s health courses in school. Yes, one can get pregnant the first time or while having sex only once. She explains to Roger the word health is a euphemism for sex in America. Roger is thankful his sporran is holding down the kilt fort with this frank conversation. She backwardly asks if he’s had sex and a steady girlfriend (DOA, p.83, Nook). She’s no steady boyfriend. He kisses her fingers. Roger don’t be a too shy man.

It was time for him to perform, he hands her the envelope. His voice is lovely, to her and the crowd. He’s very good. He sings a variety of songs from the always popular choices to those of war. The song about Prestonpans, “Hey Johnnie Cope”* struck Bree as she realizes her mother and Jamie were both at that battle. She had an epiphany about herself and Roger (DOA, p.85, Nook). Roger shifted from the music of the ’45 with a piece from 1715 rising*. Brianna took this as her opportunity to open the envelope. It’s pictures of Claire and Frank happily married. It’s their wedding day. Roger is singing another Jacobite piece as she discovers the details of these wedding photos. Roger’s set ends with “The Bonnie Banks o’Loch Lomond*,” Brianna is overtaken with emotion looking at her mother so sure and happy on her wedding day to Frank.  This is one of the issues she has loving Roger. What if she changes her mind? What if she finds someone else like her mother did?

A bit later without discussing her departure from his performance, he needs to leave her for a bit during the calling of the clans*. This is where all the clans present are called and accounted for. They wandered the festival spending the afternoon together. Pay attention to the description of the people and families at this festival for the later gathering in the book. As the Clans were called during the torchlight ceremony, Brianna pondered the existence of clans today (DOA, p.89, Nook).

Chapter 5 ? Two Hundred Years from Yesterday

Snapped back into reality, it’s Roger’s final day in Boston. The moon landing is anticipated as several people gather at Joe Abernathy’s house. Uncle Joe is frustrated over the TV not working, so he asks Bree to figure it out after she introduces, the boyfriend, Roger to him. Joe and Roger have a chat over some Lagavulin* whisky Claire gifted him with before she left. Joe jumps right in since Claire and Frank are both gone. He wants to know what Roger’s intentions are (DOA, p.92, Nook). Thankfully the television interrupts for a moment before Joe dives in for more (DOA, p.93, Nook). Ultimately he sees Roger is in love with Brianna, that it isn’t a fling to him. “It’s like that.” They all anxiously await the Apollo 11* landing. Bree is pressed against Roger. In the safety of people, they can have close contact.

Roger thinks of the drive back from the festival, their conversation, the long drive back with Roger at the wheel, and unable to figure the way back to her apartment, took her to his hotel room, where he inhabited the floor. When dawn broke, he sat in the chair wrapped in her sweater, the scent about him. He simply watched her sleep. “Yeah, it was like that.” Apollo 11 landed, the rest of the room gripped by the television. “It was a fine day to be an American.” Roger felt it was two hundred years from where they were yesterday at the festival (DOA, p.95, Nook).

Interesting Links*:

What’s Coming up? Chapters 6-7 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 6pm PT/9pm ET using the hashtag #ADoO. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

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

All images are Wiki Commons. Hover over picture for attribution and click for link. Featured Image: By Hinnerk R Hinnerk Rümenapf – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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