“Of Lust and Blessings”
Roger attends Mass with Brianna and survives it. He proposes marriage. She turns him down. They argue. She explains herself. He’ll wait for her. They declare love for the other. Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian are living in the mountains. Jamie is taking the offer. They build small outbuildings. Provisions arrive. Duncan becomes Jamie’s agent. They receive a blessing from Jocasta. They, in turn, bless their hearth. Duncan leaves to procure settlers. The white pig is a jerk.
Inside the Chapters:
After being raised by Reverend Wakefield in the Presbyterian church, Roger is trepidatious of going to the Christmas Eve Catholic Mass with Brianna. Brianna dons a small circle mantilla instead of a full-size mantilla or chapel veil after they enter the church. She tells Roger it follows the tradition of women not being objects of unseemly lust while in church (p341, Nook). If you click on the link about veils, there’s an FAQ that explains it more fully. By the way, I chose that site because Lily is someone I know. Brianna kisses Roger to the surprise of two parishioners (p342, Nook). Two women Roger has known his whole life are surprised to see Roger attending a Catholic service. To them, his intentions are apparent to set foot in such a place. He introduces Brianna to the elderly ladies. She seems unaware of the importance of his attending mass with her. Maybe. Brianna crosses herself after dipping her fingers in holy water. Roger remembers a hill-walking day with the Reverend (p343, Nook). The reverence and the beauty in the use of water to bless or to prepare for prayer. Roger finds himself unsettled during parts of the service before it moves into a service he has familiarity. He’s enthralled by Brianna’s hair (p345, Nook). As images of Brianna’s bare skin and snakelike hair in the hallway of the manse return to mind, he thinks that Saint Paul may have been on to something in respect to women’s hair and unseemly lust. He focuses on the priest giving communion. Brianna goes to partake in communion, and Roger realizes he’s praying in a wordless way of the heart. He yearns to be worthy of her, to love her right, and to care for her. He describes her face. It’s strong and changeable. Brianna sang “We Three Kings” as they walked home.They lightly talk about religion, and she hopes she hasn’t damned him for taking him to Mass. The fog thickens as they walked along the River Ness. Roger is feeling vulnerable without the comfort of the church, knows it’s time to ask her. Looking at her wide eyes, he senses secrets lurking. She reminds him of a kelpie (p347, Nook). He takes the plunge and asks her to marry him. She doesn’t respond the way he expects. He tries to play it off that it’s nothing. Saying his name, he turns to her with difficulty, not wanting to hear platitudes. She grabs his face and kisses him hard. This reminds me of how Jamie kisses Claire sometimes. He pushes Brianna away, confused (p348, Nook). He’s angry at her suggesting she just wants to bed him. He yells at Brianna he could’ve had her anytime during the last summer. She slaps him. They have a row reminiscent of Claire and Jamie. Roger kisses her hard and long, while she fights him. Just to prove the point, he could’ve had his way with her had he wanted to (p348, Nook). She has confused and frustrated him to no end. His Scottish accent thickens when he’s upset (p349, Nook). I cannot understand why people think Roger is boring. He’s every bit as strong, protective, smart, devoted, and loving as Jamie. Then they get into the territory of her being a virgin and him not being one. He didn’t want to marry the women he’s bedded nor loved them. He loves Brianna and wants to marry her. She thinks she loves him too. Claire loving Frank then falling in love with Jamie and breaking her promises and vows is something Brianna wants to avoid (p350, Nook). Knowing it’s more than a year they can be together, she worries she could meet someone else or he could. He wants to know if she loves him. She responds by opening his coat and putting her arms around him tightly. As Roger and Brianna kiss, the two women from Mass comment and walk by them. Roger tries to let go of Brianna, but he cannot (p352, Nook). He wants her body, mind, and spirit.
He gives her the present he bought. An engraved silver bracelet (p352, Nook).
Phew! That was uncomfortable and passionate. They needed to hammer it out. To get on the same page. Brianna is wise in not saying yes at this point. Her mother did break her vows to Frank even though she didn’t mean to do it. She did fall in love with someone else. Roger will wait the year out. They’re still working on communication and expectation. I wonder if being only children make it more difficult to speak up?
Part Seven: On the Mountain
Claire compares sleeping under the stars with a lover to sharing a cramped lean-to with a wet husband, a wet nephew, and a large wet dog. One is a bit more romantic than the other. Pungent male odor overpowers, and Claire needs air. She makes her way into the cold air. The rain stopped, but it was high humidity with everything covered in water. She is going to the creek to wash and fill the kettle. She describes the pre-dawn morning (p354, Nook). It sounds like one of two magical times of day, the other being twilight. At Jamie’s suggestion, they’d stayed on the mountain to take advantage of the decent weather. It would be snowing soon, and the two months would be enough time to get a small cabin built and dry meat they hunted. Claire is scared. She thought they’d return to Cross Creek for winter and come back in the spring. They are far away from any other settlers.It’s a dangerous prospect considering the lack of tools and supplies. Claire misses the safety and security River Run offers. Jamie is getting out from under Jocasta’s hospitality, and thumb is necessary to keep out of her Machiavellian web. Claire likens her to a blind spider. Diana Gabaldon uses this theme of spiders weaving and webs throughout the series. Being out of sight from Sergeant Murchison is also exceedingly wise. Given all of the reasons Claire can think of, she believes none of them, are the reason Jamie chose to stay. He needs the land to need him. A place to build and shape. He needs the burden and responsibility. He needs to lead something. He needs to have a mountain. Claire trusts him with her heart and life.
Myers went back to Cross Creek to give instructions to Duncan, assure Jocasta all is well, and gather all the stores the rest of their money would buy. He’d return before first snow if he could. Otherwise, he will come back in spring with the supplies. Young Ian is staying with Claire and Jamie. He’s needed to help build the shelter and with any other needed work. For now, they were managing on what Claire could gather. She splashes her face and swishes her mouth with the creek water (p358, Nook). Once the deer disappear, Claire sees a large cat. It gazes in her eyes after drinking its fill but leaves her alone after it cleans its ears. The cat is six feet long. Claire was terrified after the cat left. She shakes and can barely manage to fill the kettle. She trusts Jamie and this time stayed alive (p359, Nook). They are settling in the unspoiled wilds of North Carolina.
When Claire returns, Jamie is pacing out a shed. Young Ian had started a fire. The shed is going to be for curing and smoking meats as the Indians do. The second shed is for Claire’s herbs and plants. The first shed is built in two days, though the roof was crude, it is fit for sleeping the three of them and Rollo. As they lie together, Jamie critiques his workmanship. Claire tends to his splintered hands while he talks (p361, Nook). He turns his attention to telling her his plans for a big house on the hill where the strawberries grow. It will have a surgery for Claire and a library for Jamie. He only owns one book at present, “The Natural History of North Carolina.” It will be a grand house.
Myers returned within the month bringing three pack-mules with many necessary items, and Duncan Innes. They now had two sheds and a pen built for the animals they might acquire. Currently, they only have a small white piglet as their total stock of animals. She slept in the shed with them. Jamie shows Duncan the layout of the land and tells his plans. Jocasta sent a feather bed along with pens and paper. Claire is thrilled. Young Ian and Myers return from successfully hunting squirrel and a wild turkey. They will eat well over the next several days. This shows how fertile the land and offerings are.
Jamie needs to write the Governor to accept the offer and give the details of the land he chose. They eat a nice meal, but Claire hopes Myers will stay to help fill their meat shed, so they don’t need to eat dried fish all winter. After dinner, Jamie wants to walk with Duncan so he can choose his plot of land in exchange for acting as Jamie’s agent. Duncan is stunned. He’s been penniless since Culloden. Every emotion runs through him, and he accepts. He’s to oversee finding settlers, particularly to find those transported from Ardsmuir. The second job is to help his Aunt Jocasta run her plantation. He’s hesitant, but Jamie explains that Jocasta knows the business end, she simply needs a man to speak for her. Young Ian is going through the packs Myers brought; Aunt Jocasta sent a piece of iron as a hearth blessing. The gift moves Jamie. It’s rooted in pagan tradition. It’s a blessing for protection and prosperity to put the iron on the entry door, in this case under the hearth. It is also Jocasta saying she blesses and accepts the new venture while forgiving Jamie for not returning. Two days later they bless the hearth (p367, Nook). I would love to participate in such a blessing. Outside the cabin, Duncan offers a blessing of his own (p368, Nook). This brings tears to my eyes to have Duncan offer something so beautiful in prayer to their home. He’s a good man who has found a family with Mac Dubh. He’s not alone.
Myers and Duncan left to attend the large Scots gathering at Mount Helicon. Jocasta and Farquard Campbell would be there. It’s the best place to start searching for the transported Ardsmuir men. Scots came from other colonies to attend. Jamie wrote Jocasta a letter but gives a message to Duncan to pass on to her (p369, Nook). Claire feels a sense of loss with Duncan leaving. He feels like a link to civilization. They are not alone. Young Ian is still there will Rollo, the pig, three horses, and two mules. Claire feels better thinking of what they’ve done so far. As soon as Claire is feeling encouraged, Young Ian tells her the pig ate all the nutmeal. That act could be a foreshadowing of hard times to come, or simply the pig’s devil may care attitude.
What’s Coming up? Chapter 20 and 21 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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