“Oh Snowy Night”
Summary: The small cabin is completed. Visitors come bearing gifts. Claire makes a friend and receives a prophecy. Young Ian is on a hunting trip. Jamie goes to check the traps. Claire tends to the business of home. Jamie doesn’t return. Claire tracks him in the snow. Jamie has injured his back. Claire stays with him. They see a band of Mohawk. Young Ian and friends rescue Claire and Jamie. Back home they are safe and sound. Jamie has a vision.
(For the record, I realize I said the incorrect episode number and week.)
Inside the Chapters:
The White Raven
This chapter opens with Jamie and Young Ian building the cabin together. Jamie is reciting the translated version of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Once they get to a difficult log placement, Jamie can no longer continue his recitation. Jamie wants Young Ian to be educated. Rollo alerts them to a visitor. It’s Nacognaweto, a friend of Young Ian’s, with three women in tow. They are dressed for visiting and were bearing gifts. Jamie declares it’s an ambassage and wants Claire in her finest (p372, Nook). The formal greeting ritual is performed by the men. Once it concludes the second woman acknowledges Claire (p373, Nook). Gabrielle is Nacognaweto’s wife. The elder woman, Nayawenne, is his grandmother. Claire looks her over, noticing the leather pouch hung around her neck. The younger of the three women is Berthe, Gabrielle’s daughter not by her husband it seems. The girl has the look of an American Indian and European. The introductions are complete; the girl opens the bundle she carried. There’s a variety of foods; Claire makes an exclamation about the return of Squanto. It’s about two months’ worth of food. The bear meat was received well in the village; this is a small gift in return. The women giggle at Claire having heard the full exploits of the bear attack including Claire hitting Jamie with a fish. The old woman moves closer to Claire. She pats her all over talking to herself during the proceedings. Her reaction to Claire’s hair is pure sweetness (p375, Nook).
Jamie shows Nacognaweto the construction. The women chat. Claire learns Gabrielle is Nacognaweto’s second wife and him her second husband. Her first husband was a Frenchman and died ten years earlier. They live in a village called Anna Ooka, two days northwest of Fraser’s Ridge. Claire and Nayawenne are having a conversation without words. Claire felt the unspoken conversation, though the woman said nothing to her. Across the clearing she sees Jamie offer a gift of brandy to Nacognaweto. It’s time to offer gifts. Claire gives an item to two of the women but has something different in mind for Nayawenne. She gives her four large ginseng roots. The old woman hands Claire a small bag from her waist; it’s ginseng roots. This confirms she and Claire speak the same language. It takes a healer to know one. Claire asks about the amulet Nayawenne wears (p378, Nook). The woman hands Claire her amulet; the bag feels heavy and almost alive. Nayawenne offers to show Claire plants for use in the area. Claire’s impressed by the old woman’s spryness. The two younger women followed behind interpreting as needed. The old woman tells Gabrielle something astonishing about Claire (p377, Nook). The old woman is a shaman. She needed to meet Claire and give her the message. I wonder how long it will be for Claire to be in her full power. She’s almost 51. What do you think of the prophecy of illness to come that’s not Claire’s fault? I wonder what else Nayawenne knows.
Night on a Snowy Mountain
It’s been a couple of months since the Indians visited Jamie and Claire. The snow arrived at the end of November. Life on the Ridge takes on the rhythms of winter (p379, Nook). They had few animals to care for and no sheep to have wool to spin and no cloth to weave or dye. Myer’s had brought a small bag of useful tools. Jamie and Young Ian had gotten a roof on the cabin before the first snow. Young Ian and Jamie spent time carving wood. He already had made a stool. Myer’s had also brought a bag of woman’s tools for sewing and mending clothing. Claire’s not a fan of sewing, but Jamie and Young Ian’s clothes are in constant need of repair. Jamie sits bolt upright in bed when a drop of water hits him in the ear. There’s a leak in the roof. Jamie refuses to wait until daylight to fix the shingle (p381, Nook). With Young Ian’s help on the inside, Jamie replaces the split shingle on the outside (p382, Nook).
Claire reflects on their meager but successful existence. They have enough food to last until spring. They spend time talking, telling stories, and Jamie even carved dishes and a chess set. Young Ian and Rollo spent time going to Anna Ooka and going on hunting trips with the men. Young Ian learned to speak the Indian language. Claire is happy Young Ian goes on the trips. Threes a crowd when you ache for a feather bed, a fire, and a lover without an audience. When alone Claire and Jamie could continue deepening their relationship and knowledge of each other (p382, Nook). Jamie often asks about Brianna. Claire shares a story about visiting Brianna’s school on Career Day (p383, Nook). It turns out her school visit became quite a scene (p383, Nook). It turns out Claire had taken the job the boy’s father desired. That’s our Claire, always making friends and influencing people. Brianna has the fire of the Frasers in her.
Interested in Brianna’s career path Jamie asks about her plans. He’s surprised to find out children in the future often change their minds many times before settling on a vocation (p384, Nook). Claire goes over a litany of 20th-century occupations. Jamie’s nipple distracts her from the telling. Claire thinks Brianna chose history for the love of Frank and after he died, she stayed in the program. She has no idea she changed her major after she left for the 18th century. Jamie says she loyal. He wonders if she sticks with history if she finds them in her research. Claire doesn’t think so. They’d have to do something worthy of widespread news. And Brianna would have to be looking for them. Jamie points out something else about loyalty (p385, Nook). Then they turned to the language of their bodies intertwined. A slow, peaceful, “knife and sheath together.” The last thing Jamie says before they drift to sleep, “She’ll look.”
A couple of days later, Jamie takes advantage of the improved weather to hunt. Claire is worried about him going, but they do need meat. Claire tends to the cauldron on the fire. They have an ingenious way of using the boiling water (p386, Nook). She sits down to reads Daniel Rawling’s casebook and mends stockings. I would find it scary having Jamie go out alone in inclement weather. As time goes on and Jamie hasn’t returned, she openly worries. The daylight is dimming, and she’s on high alert. She goes about her work but is increasingly concerned. She now takes on a more clinical view of her tasks. The way she gets the firewood and plans every step of use until morning. She’s frightened now (p387, Nook). The dinner stew is ready to eat, and the cabin has an inviting aroma. Claire’s without appetite. It’s now dark. She forces herself to eat, she smoored the fire and tries to rest. Her mind is reeling. She worries he’s injured. She also knows he can live outdoors quite capable, and yet… (p389, Nook). She cannot stop thinking of the what if’s out there in the dark. She longed for him (pp389, Nook). That sums it up right there. He’s her world. Her everything.
She gets up, dresses, and prepares to go out searching for him. She knew the general direction he’d been planning to go. She hears him in her head reminding her how to track. She finds the snares and follows his footprints from one snare to the next. The fourth snare wasn’t empty, so he hadn’t gotten that far. She thinks he must be between snare three and four. Claire calls for him. Picks a direction and promptly loses her footing sliding down a hill. She finds him partially covered in leaves on his belly. She throws herself on him.
He groans loudly from pain. First, she assesses him for damage and injury. He tells her “back,” but she thinks he’s been shot. She looks for a wound (p393, Nook). He’s injured his back, it’s out, and he cannot move because of the pain. It should take only a couple of days to mend itself. Ahem. He’s lying face down on the frozen ground, and it’s snowing. Claire can’t think of what she can do to remedy the situation given the location Jamie crawled and ended up. She stops trying to figure out how to get him back to the cabin and alarms with a fresh concern. Hypothermia might already be setting in. Jamie could freeze to death. Claire goes into doctor mode alpha. She makes him stay awake and move whatever body parts he can. She has him moving and in a bad temper (p395, Nook). I’d say Claire’s in a bit of a bad temper too.
He tells her to cut hemlock branches to cover them. He’s warm, so she goes off to cut the branches. The task is difficult with her cold hands and the branches being fresh and spongy. Claire completes the job and snuggles in behind him. It’s her turn to shiver from “relief and fear.” As Jamie does, he tries to reassure Claire and tells her what happened (p397, Nook). She finds the area of pain. It runs from his back down his leg. She thinks it’s severe muscle spasms. She has none of the things to treat it. She offers acupuncture, but he declines (p398, Nook). To some people cooking is love, to Claire clinical care is love. Well, and sex is love (p399, Nook).
They lie together in quiet Claire asks what time it is. It’s just past solstice, so it’s one of the longest nights. It’s very late in the middle of the night. He explains to her they can sleep and be okay. The snow is insulative like a blanket. They have a serious and humor-filled moment during the discussion (p400, Nook). She tells him a Christmas story revolving around a tradition she, Frank and Briana had with A Christmas Carol. During one Christmas the three of them were traveling to a relative’s home. They skidded off the road. They were holed up in the car until morning when they could be rescued. Frank told A Christmas Carol from memory until Brianna had fallen asleep. He and Claire finished the story while holding hands beneath the blankets. Frank had always loved her hands. Claire came to the last words of the story (p402, Nook). Claire isn’t cold-hearted. She loved Frank and still has a place of mourning for him. Jamie invites her to place her hands underneath his shirt and assures her he won’t let her freeze. The difference between Frank and Jamie is Jamie can hear of Frank and be okay. He can even be appreciative even when jealousy might rise for the time he did without Claire and Brianna. He understands Claire is made up of her experiences, including Frank. I think Frank wanted Jamie banished and refused to let him into their marriage. Claire doesn’t have to apologize for Frank or her life; she can simply be who she is with Jamie.
Claire and Jamie sleep until dawn nears. They hear voices. The men are speaking an Indian tongue, but it isn’t Tuscarora. Are these men safe or raiders? The situation could be dangerous. Their hiding place becomes less secure as snow melts and falls away. Jamie grips Claire hard. The Indians are across the grove. The men come closer to their shelter. Claire’s fear rises. There are several armed men in the party. Jamie and Claire are sweating with worry. They are upwind from the men, so their adrenaline scented sweat is not going to be detected. As the last man comes through the grove, another large chunk of snow falls from their makeshift shelter. The last man is a Jesuit priest. Claire thinks it’s safe to call them men as they are Christian. Jamie doesn’t believe these Indians are safe. The men pass without incident, but Jamie and Claire receive no help.
After the danger passes, Claire inquires about Jamie’s back. It’s not in good shape, and he has no idea how to get down the mountain. Then the matter of hungry bellies makes their needs known. He wants Claire to go to the cabin; there’s the small issue of Claire not knowing how to get back (p405, Nook). It turns out Jamie had shot an elk before hurting his back. He thinks anything dangerous is eating the elk. Claire thinks it’s crazy to leave him here on his own. She insists she’ll get supplies and return. She’s not leaving him alone. He agrees for her to come back if she returns with whisky.
She snuggles up to him kissing the hollow of his throat (p.406, Nook). He tries nibbling on her to see what will happen (p407, Nook). Then she goes into an explanation about vampires and their seductive qualities. He finds it completely disgusting. Claire wants him to nibble some more. Jamie changes his mind and would like her in the flesh, cold or not. In the process of getting busy, Claire gets the sense of being watched. She looks out of the shelter. He doesn’t want her to stop, but now she hears something (p408, Nook). Hallelujah, they’re rescued by Young Ian and some Tuscarora.
They come across the dead elk. The sight of its frozen form assures Claire she’d done the right thing going out in the night to find Jamie (p408, Nook). The Tuscarora would help Jamie get back to the cabin for a share of elk meat. After the animal is properly prepared, they set out with Jamie is dragged on a travois. Claire asks Young Ian about the other band of Indians who had a priest along. He and the Tuscarora were following them when they found Jamie and Claire. The Indians were Mohawk from the north. The young Mohawk men were looking for wives (p409, Nook). Jamie wants to know why Young Ian and the others were following them (p409, Nook). Nacognaweto is a smart man.
They return to the cabin by sunset and are joyously greeted by Clarence, the mule. He’s a very social creature. Everything looks normal. Claire wants to get into the cabin. They invite the Tuscarora men to stay, but they decline (p410, nook). It’s Christmas evening, and after a few drams of whisky, Claire and Jamie lay in their own bed listening to Young Ian snore (p410, Nook). So, it seems Jamie travels in his dreams. I think he astral projects. This is important to note. Tuck it in your cap or pin it in your mind.
This section tells us again of the very real dangers Claire and Jamie face settling in the mountains. This chapter is filled with figurative language, rising action, conflict, and resolution. Diana Gabaldon’s use of bantering humor bring their relationship off the page into reality.
What’s Coming up? Chapter 22 and 23 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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