Of Promises and Pirates
Jamie hates boats. Aunt Jocasta fancies Cameron men. Fergus fancies himself a landowner. Marsali prepares for the birth in Jamaica. Young Ian is not a scholar. Claire receives a tremendous anniversary gift. Jamie worried for Young Ian’s future. They prepare to meet Aunt Jocasta. Claire reminisces. Pirates board. Bonnet lacks honor. Rollo is injured. Claire tries to swallow her pride and joy. The gems are gone. They survive the robbery. Tomorrow isn’t solid, but home is where the heart is.
Inside the Chapters:
Chapter 8 ? Man of Worth
Jamie hates boats. Selling the Ruby afforded them to keep the horses and wagon. Duncan set off with the heavier goods by land with Myers as a guide. The rest were aboard the Sally and with Captain Freeman to Cross Creek. Sally Ann was not a large boat. The quarters are cramped, and it floated mere inches above the water line. The waters of the Cape Fear are described as peaty brown. Nonetheless, Claire is happy to be away from the Governor and his offer. Claire reminds us of Jamie’s severe seasickness. It’s his one true physical weakness. She offers the acupuncture needles. He declines and asks her to distract him with conversation instead. She asks about Aunt Jocasta. Jamie hasn’t seen her since he was two. Jamie can’t give a decent description of her. His mind wanders, wondering if Troklus needs help with the steerage of the boat. Though elderly, he seemed to know what he was doing without aid. Jamie doesn’t like feeling useless and unable. He then gives the background he knows of Jocasta. She married Cameron of Erracht before his mother and father married. That husband died, and she married his cousin Black Hugh Cameron of Aberfeldy. When he died, she married Hector Mor Cameron of Loch Eilean. As Claire points out, she had quite a taste for Camerons. Jamie recalls the Camerons to be wordsmiths, specifically the one who was part of the Rising. They were still in the harbor, working to clear it. She recalls how she last slept upon Jamie’s knee in a taproom during final preparations. He begins to massage her neck while telling the story of the Camerons. He moves to sit behind her (DOA, p132, Nook). Cameron had prepared himself for the disaster of Culloden. He escaped the battle, made it home, loaded all he could in a coach and fled to Edinburgh for a ship bound for North Carolina. They made it out of the Crown’s pursuit. When Hector died, he was 73. Jocasta had not seen it necessary wed again, yet (DOA, p133, Nook). (6:00)
The river travel was slow going. Young Ian let his annoyance known before going to speak to the Captain. Jamie tries to wink at Claire lewdly, but since he cannot wink?Young Ian butts back into the sexually charged conversation (DOA, p133, Nook). His teenage energy is driving Jamie bonkers. It was also very hot and sticky. Claire and Fergus talk. Fergus is thrilled at the idea of 50 acres to homestead. Claire is dubious about Fergus’ ability to farm with only one hand and his background. He’s keen to have a house built so he can send for Marsali and the baby. He left her in the protection of friends and his patron saint in Jamaica to birth their first child. Claire wants to know if they will call the baby Dismas after the saint (DOA, p135, Nook). She asks why he’s not in Jamaica. He doesn’t believe he would be of any help in Jamaica, with childbirth being woman’s work. At Fergus pondering the dangers in this new place, and Jamie needing his help, they pass a corpse of a man hung on a stake. This is how pirates were dealt with if they couldn’t be taken for hanging in the city. (11:00)
The next sighting of interest is an alligator gliding into the water. The Governor had given Jamie the book, The Natural History of North Carolina. Fergus launches into a Lawrence Stern story (DOA, p138, Nook). Leave it Fergus to discuss copulation in such a way. Poor Young Ian is stunned. (13:00)
Cape Fear is a tidal river; the tide surge moved them along faster giving the freedman relief from the pole and reduced anxiety over the slow pace. Everyone relaxed into the rhythm of the boat moving swiftly. Jamie presents Claire with a present (DOA, p140, Nook). Claire is thrilled with the luxurious doctor’s kit. Instruments, bottles, microscope. She’s in clinical heaven. Turns out this amazing box and the clinical notebook was owned by a Dr. Daniel Rawlings. He never came back for them like he was supposed to. The woman he lodged with went to the sheriff, the justice, and the constable. No one could find him. He disappeared the year prior. Claire remembers the doctor’s bag she left in the 20th century (DOA, p142, Nook). Jamie found the box at the goldsmith’s shop. He intended to buy her something else; then he saw this. Claire thinks he was trying to make up for having to send money to Laoghaire (DOA, p.143, Nook). He’s a romantic and Claire has no idea what day it is. It’s not been a year since she’s been back. (19:00)
Claire notices the plantations and the greenery as they ride the tidal surge. When the tidal surge ran out, they stopped and ate by the river, but slept on the boat because of the water moccasins (agkistrodon piscivorous), that like to snuggle with campers on the shore. In the morning, Claire awoke with Jamie drowsy and aroused behind her (DOA, p144, Nook). He means to take his time of it when they finally can get sexy time. Claire spent her time going over the clinical casebook, while Jamie tried to give Young Ian a Latin lessons. It wasn’t going at all well. Young Ian was adept at mathematics, but not at languages like his uncle, who spoke several languages. Claire was thankful Dr. Rawlings preferred English to Latin in his clinical writings. As she reads, she gives a proper diagnosis to a patient entry (DOA, p146, Nook). Jamie continues his frustrating lessons with Young Ian, while Claire reads further. The lessons reach a loud end with Jamie yelling at Young Ian and him back (DOA, p147, Nook). Claire peeks around the corner and is swiftly brought into the conversation by Jamie (DOA, p148, Nook). Jamie is concerned for Young Ian’s future. He should be at the university. Young Ian says his father was fighting in France at his age. Jamie recounts joining Ian Murray four years later when he was outlawed. This would have been after his flogging by Black Jack Randall. They fought in Flanders with a Scottish regiment (DOA, p149, Nook). Young Ian has never been told tales of his father’s time in France. He thinks his mother babies him. Though admittedly she’d skelp him if he went home at that moment. Jamie goes on to explain what his parents would want for him (DOA, p151, Nook). As always Young Ian pushes back and wants to know if Jamie did what his parents wanted him to do. Jamie puts him in his place while letting the boy off the hook (DOA, p151, Nook). Jamie takes his turn at the pole, but unlike Troklus or anyone else, he wouldn’t take off his shirt. Instead, he takes off his breeks then ties his shirt between his legs. Jamie will not show the scars on his back openly. He flashes Claire a smile, hands her his breeks, and recites a poem (DOA, p151, Nook). A wee bawdy and getting the lessons across to young Ian.
Jamie is a man of worth in his choices and actions. He wants what’s best for his nephew, but the boy has wanderlust and adventure is where his heart leads. He is also the baby in his family; his mother wants to hold him more tightly because of it. He terrifies her. Claire is well pleased to have Dr. Rawlings medical box and journal. She can treat more effectively and efficiently with the tools of her trade. We are seeing how their paths with form, by Fergus speaking of the land grant and Jamie providing this useful box. (31:00)
Chapter 9 ? Two-Thirds a Ghost
Everything in the opening paragraphs of chapter 9 describes the landscape and processes as the alchemy of water and trapped sun with the heat soaking into the ground and water. Jamie comes alongside her. His brief touch causes sweat to erupt. The air is thick with moisture. Claire thinks it smells wonderful though, of all the green things and sun-warmed wood (DOA, p152, Nook). Rollo settles down next to them while Young Ian is learning how to cheat at cards. Jamie knows Ian is a young man and knows his own business, even if it might cause trouble or send him the devil’s way. Claire thinks he listens to Jamie, but he’s still with them and not in Scotland as he was meant to be Jamie reminds her. Near the narrowing river, an opossum with babies on her back appears, Jamie and Rollo both wonder if they can catch her. Claire hands Jamie roasted peanuts to try. He likes them. He’s amazed at how easily crops grow here. Claire isn’t sure and reminds him of events to come (DOA, p155, Nook). Claire tries to convey it might be their fight if they stay in that region. The war is coming. She reflects on Jamie’s age with thankfulness. He’s still in his prime, but no longer young. He may be tempered now not to run off into every battle that presents. North Carolina is big, and perhaps they could find a place that could remain untouched by future events. Jamie cautiously thinks of Claire as a planter’s lady (DOA, p156, Nook). Jamie worries he hasn’t given Claire enough material goods. Brianna is enough for her. This is Brianna’s country in her time. She’s an American. Jamie is willing to fight if he can make it a better and safer place for her. Claire left the heirloom pearls with Brianna. All she needs is the silver wedding band (DOA, p157, Nook). I love how they return to the simple truths between them. The inscription inside her ring is part of the love song by Catullus. These moments continue to strengthen and bond them. He wants so much for her, and she needs so little. She only needs him. I couldn’t put my finger on why I dislike the ring in the TV show so much. As I podcast prep chapter 9 of Drums of Autumn the reason for my dislike hit me. The Catullus inscription reminds us of their connectedness and foundation. It’s a reminder of their beginnings. There’s no specific promise the ring or their relationship hangs upon, except their vows, what they are to each other. Therefore, this is why I dislike the ring in the show. It’s not only unattractive to me; it holds brokenness as it’s lasting meaning. Lallybroch was barely his to give her when they married. He was an outlaw and only laird in name. It was a promise of a home he couldn’t return. Then once he signed it over to Young Jamie because of the Rising, the ring becomes a broken promise. He had no home or place to give her. He was no longer a laird. The key was to someone else’s door. The inscribed Celtic ring from the book never alters with the passage of time or events. I know others see it as special because it’s all Jamie had to give her. (39:00)
As they rest for the night, Claire contemplates the Highland notions of hospitality and kinship, the family line, and what Jocasta MacKenzie Cameron Cameron Cameron would be like. Jocasta was the baby of the five siblings. Claire, of course, had known Dougal and Colum quite well. She thinks Jocasta will be tall and maybe red-haired. Claire ponders what Jamie will say when asked about the last time he saw Dougal or Colum. Remember Jamie had killed Dougal in her defense before Culloden. Colum had died of his disease just before. She joined Jamie in sleep after remembering his ease of sleeping anywhere. (40:00)
Claire wakes to them being boarded by pirates. Rollo tried to bite one of them. He was injured. Claire told one of the masked men she wanted to help the dog. He waved her on with his pistol. Rollo was conscious and whining. Claire found him to have a strong pulse. He’s not seriously injured. Ian even has to hold him back from going after the pirates once more. The leader of the pirates is none other than Stephen Bonnet (DOA, p161, Nook). Claire is hearing bottles breaking leaps up to go after her medicine box (DOA, p162, Nook). After being drug back on deck, the robber she’d hit pulled at her rings. She was reluctant, but Bonnet told her she must. She took off Frank’s gold ring, but Jamie’s silver ring was more difficult to release from her finger. Instead of handing them over, Claire decides to swallow the rings. Ouch! Going down and coming out will not feel pleasant. Jamie crushes Claire to the deck to protect her. Bonnet stops the other man from mortally harming either of them. Bonnet’s version of debt repayment is a skewed and honorless one (DOA, p154, Nook). Bonnie came for the gems he’d heard about, and he also claimed one of her rings off the deck. Everyone scrambled to get things back in order after the men left. Claire likely had a concussion, as well as a few other cuts and bruises. Jamie is angry and according to Ian enough to do physical violence, though he doubted he would raise a hand to Claire. Claire made the situation worse by trying to swallow the rings and clubbing the robber on the head for messing with the doctor’s box. She tended to Rollo with Ian’s help. Her throat was sore; she had no idea which ring she maintained possession of. In an unusual move, Jamie took off his shirt to help the freedman use a pole to move the boat. When they were sufficiently moving, Eutroclus took the pole from Jamie. (45:45)
Jamie turns his attention to a nervous Claire. He means to help her dislodge the ring (DOA, p167, Nook). Every time I read this passage my guts roil, and I get nauseated. His method worked, though Claire is none too happy with him (DOA, p168, Nook). Stephen Bonnet has Frank’s ring. The deck is back in order, and Claire holds a cup of applejack near her face. She’s unable to drink anything just yet but finds it comforting nonetheless. They had gone from potential riches to rags, and the only goods that remained were a bag of beans and her medicine box. Claire felt powerless like she was falling down a well having their circumstances and even future altered so swiftly and unexpectedly at the hands of Bonnet. Jamie must feel even worse. He was responsible for so many. He’d sent Laoghaire money, and she was far better off than they were now. What would Jamie do to Bonnet for this injustice? Jamie had allowed Bonnet to escape. He had helped him. Was Jamie concerned over the countless others that might be harmed by Bonnet being loose? Jamie thinks himself a fool, though Claire tries to say he was kind and is not to blame. Someone had told Bonnet of the gems they were trying to sell. Likely one of Lillington’s servants. He apologizes for Claire losing her other ring. She tries to say it’s okay but can’t (DOA, p171, Nook). They stood without talking, the rain waiting to break over them. Her hand looked frail and pale without the ring, in Jamie’s larger hand. Her hand the same as it ever was an instrument of healing, but different somehow without it. She lifted her ringed right hand and pressed it against her heart to reassure Jamie. The rain began (DOA, p171, Nook). (51:30)
Claire is momentarily comforted by what she still has. The safety and comfort of the silver ring and Jamie. How might she feel in the future? Remember back to the attack by the soldiers after they were wed and she had to kill a man. She felt okay at the time but later felt that Jamie didn’t protect her. That he put her in a bad position. Will the loss of Frank’s ring be brought up again? What else might it mean to her? She’s an honorable and loyal woman. She never took Frank’s ring off when she married Jamie. He mattered to her. She never took Jamie’s ring off when she returned to Frank pregnant with Brianna. They represented all that was dear to her upon the instruments of her work. How with this effect Jamie in the future? What will he do to Bonnet? How will they arrive at Jocasta’s? Will she accept them seeming like beggars? Will the loss of the gems and their lowered circumstances press Jamie to accept the Governor’s offer of land even knowing what it means? These are pivotal chapters indeed. The title of this chapter leads me to think Stephen Bonnet is the one who’s two-thirds a ghost. He should be dead.
What’s Coming up? Chapter 10 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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