“Oh, What an Offer”
They arrive in Wilmington smelling of peaches. They require a boat to get to Cross Creek. A man tries to show Claire his wares. Jamie meets a cousin. To a dinner party, they go. Claire distracts. A ruby necklace shines. Jamie receives an intriguing offer.
Inside the Chapters:
Chapter 6 – I Encounter a Hernia June 1767
Jamie hates boats. For expediency sake, it’s the preferred mode of travel to Cross Creek where Jamie’s family, the Cameron’s reside. Hector Cameron is his Uncle by marriage to his Aunt Jocasta. Claire tries to assure him that rivers don’t have waves like the ocean. She also still carries the acupuncture needles if he does become motion sick. They had been traveling their way from Charleston north to Wilmington. They’d come across a peach orchard on an abandoned homestead, they heartily ate and sold what they gathered to earn money along the way (DOA, p98, Nook, 3:00). Claire is tasked with getting provisions, while Jamie and Duncan must sell the wagon and horses to secure boat services. Young Ian sends Rollo along as an added security measure.
Fergus is eyeing the goods Claire picked up, except for the item of lace and ribbon. Claire is certain it’s necessary, so they can look presentable when they arrive at the Cameron’s. Fergus gets on board with the idea and states Claire needs a ribbon color too (DOA, p99, Nook). Jamie and Rollo return. Rollo, like Jamie, can’t go unnoticed (DOA, p100, Nook). A very tall man named John Quincy Myers. He’s seeking a healer and wondering if Claire might be one (DOA, p101, Nook). They talk about what he might need. He’s not ill precisely, but he seems to have grown a third testicle (DOA, p102, Nook). Enter Jamie to the conversation (DOA, p102, Nook, 8:15). The men are evaluating each other like two dogs sniffing each other’s backsides. This assessment included Fergus, Young Ian, and Rollo. He can help them get to River Run but turns out hector died the Winter before (DOA, p103, Nook). He turns his attention back to his testicles; Claire is sure she knows what it is without seeing it. It’s an inguinal hernia (9:00). Claire explains she could repair it, but he would need to be unconscious for her to do so. There’s no way for her to do it. He takes in her words then says he know the right person to sail them upriver. Jamie’s response to this whole episode is patently Jamie (DOA, p. 104, Nook).
In another twist of goodness, Jamie found a potential gem buyer. They’re heading to a party where the Governor William Tryon and other influential people will be. It turns out the Governor’s wife’s Secretary is a cousin to Jamie. Now they have to look the part. With an advance from cousin Edwin on the gem sale, Claire goes shopping for an out of date but a decent gown. The seamstress was unimpressed with Claire’s fashion tastes (DOA, p106, Nook). Jamie swoops in with a bauble for her bare chest. He’d also bathed, had his coat brushed and rented beautiful buttons for the occasion (15:00). Claire’s a fine distraction for the evening’s dinner plans. There will be movers and shakers at this dinner party.
Chapter 7 – Great Prospects Fraught with Peril
At the dinner, Claire was unnerved by the sturgeon staring at her from the plate (DOA, p109, Nook). Claire is not too happy with the companions near her or the conversation, Mr. Stanhope and Phillip Wylie. Then the topic of taxation erupts at the table, including the repeal of the Stamp Act. Claire dives in to make amusing conversation, momentarily diffusing the situation. She inquires what the current tax rate is, and the dandy Wylie fills her in (DOA, p111, Nook, 19:00). Claire’s cleverly trying to find out about local business, the printing business. Perhaps Jamie can get his Bonnie out of storage in Edinburgh. The Committee of Safety is brought up as well as discussion of Jamie’s political leanings. Alarms were going off in Claire’s head. Jamie was seated between the host and the Governor. Jamie’s family connections become the topic of conversation. Dinner parties were the social networking of the time. FaceBook, but in person. The ruby around Claire’s neck was getting attention from the Baron. Claire thinks of Geillis and her good taste in gems. Remember this came from the cache Geillis had with her to travel in the cave at Abandawe. Claire accomplished the task of being a distraction.
After the dinner, she escaped to the room they’d been given. Defrocked and naked, she sat in the dark of the open window, enjoying the breeze. The ruby still hung about her neck. She notices it’s as warm as her temperature. She could hear the conversation as the guests waited below for their carriages. She caught pieces of the Wylie’s and Stanhope talking (DOA, p115, Nook, 24:00). Now holding the stone, it felt even warmer than her temperature. It seemed almost alive to her. All the guests had left, but Jamie hadn’t come to their room. She decided to put her dress back on and go looking for him. He and the Governor were talking. She stayed outside the room listening, staying as quiet as possible. The Governor is pitching Jamie an interesting offer for settlement (DOA, p117, Nook). They discuss the details of who he might recruit to settle land (DOA, p119, Nook). The issue of him being a Papist (DOA, p120, Nook). That blasted oath they all had to take after Culloden. They conclude their meeting. Claire makes her way as quickly as she can back to the room. She’s fascinated with the offer and Jamie’s ability to run a settlement. To regain what he lost in Scotland. Remember Lallybroch is his nephew Jamie’s property now. Claire is pondering all it could mean to find men to help settle any given land. Her biggest fear was Jamie’s gravestone in Scotland (DOA, p122, Nook). Jamie returned noting how light on her feet Claire is. As she helps him undress she notices the odors about him, brandy, cigar, and nicotiana (flowering tobacco) from his walking in the garden. She surmises he’s in an excited mood to go for a stroll at this hour.
He mutters about the amount of clothing in the heat, thinking the natives are smarter for wearing a loincloth and apron. Claire is not so sure if it would play out well in reality (DOA, p122, Nook). The Baron agreed to purchase the stone for 300 pounds sterling. Jamie thanks Claire for being such a wonderful distraction at dinner keeping Stanhope, Wylie, and the Baron occupied so he could speak with the Governor. Jamie’s protectiveness rises as he recounts Stanhope’s eyes were falling into Claire’s bosom (33:45).
The idea of discretion came up and well; Claire thinks Scots are not a discreet bunch. The conversation turns to Jamie’s grandfather Old Simon. The meeting with the Governor must have brought the memories to the surface. The Jacobites, Culloden, or Stuart are not things Jamie ever speaks of (DOA, p.123, Nook). Then she asked about THE OATH he swore (DOA, p123, Nook, 35:00). Heavy words. Heavy oath. Imagine the emotional damage uttering such an oath could being regardless of saying it under duress or freely. The gravity of words and what holds the meaning to die for is discussed. “What about- ‘I love you’? Aye, That’ll do.”
Claire is disturbed and unable to sleep. Her mind restless, even after sex and release. She envied his sleep. She looked at him then tried counting sheep (DOA, p125, Nook). Jamie asks her what the trouble is. She tries to feign being fine, but he can hear her thinking (DOA, p125, Nook, 32:15). They discuss the Governor’s offer. Why had it been made? He wants to understand both sides of the bargain before he agrees. Why ask Jamie. He’s a Jacobite, lacks wealth, and is a Papist. Jamie in a newcomer with wealthy family ties, but no loyalties of his own yet. He’s a soldier too. The Governor knows this. There have been difficulties in the backcountry with men calling themselves the Regulators (DOA, p127, Nook). Jamie could be placed in the backwoods as an experienced soldier who might be of service and help to the Governor if the Regulators cause further trouble. He would be purchased for 100 pounds and some acreage. Claire claims the Governor is sneaky and practically Scottish. He could use the knowledge of Jamie being a Catholic to rescind the lands if he wanted to in the future.
As dawn approaches the smell of mud, river water, and faint pine fill the room. Time for some sleep.
Claire’s mind calms momentarily. She is terrified he’ll die if he goes to Scotland. That damned gravestone is a relentless reminder of Jamie’s mortality. Jamie has much to think over. It’s quite the offer albeit with grand strings attached from the Governor. What about his Aunt? Surely, she’ll have something to ask of him. So much for Claire and Jamie trying to play under the radar. Certainly, they will be topic of much conversation among the who’s who in North Carolina.
What’s Coming up? Chapters 8-9 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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