“It’s All in the Name”
There’s a stranger inquiring about Jamie’s whisky. Worry increased over Roger not showing up yet. The small distillery was Marsali’s responsibility. Wee Germaine is a full-throttle toddler. A mysterious button was found by way of choking. Brianna was a hot commodity. The winter preparations were underway. Lizzie saw a familiar man at the mill. Lizzie shared the misinterpreted event. Bree’s secret is revealed. Jamie and Young Ian went out to stop a visitor from reaching the Ridge.
Inside the Chapters:
Whisky in the Jar
Claire is most displeased with how Ronnie Sinclair was looking at Brianna. Claire is ordering casks. Ronnie tells Claire he’s hearing the word that someone is asking around about a Jamie Fraser. Brianna reacts sharply. It wasn’t Roger; it was Hodgepile. Jamie has already put the word out that they are looking for a Roger Wakefield. Being mid-October Brianna is growing worried and anxious. She saw him in a couple of months. This Hodgepile was asking after the whisky. Hodgepile was pretending to be a fur trader, but it was obvious to the man he was talking to this wasn’t the case. Claire told Sinclair she would tell Jamie one of Murchison’s men was asking after him.
Claire left with Brianna and hoped their remoteness would be the protection Jamie thought it would be. She could not imagine soldiers coming deep into the mountains to get one low output illegal distillery. Lizzie and Ian were outside collecting kindling from the trash. Lizzie surprised Claire by asking a question. The girl spoke sparingly. She asked if inquiries were being made after her father who should be a bondsman of someone in the southern colonies. Brianna rushed off to tell Sinclair about Lizzie’s father. When she returned she is upset, Young Ian is concerned Sinclair did something to her. It turns out he was drawing naked women on pieces of wood when Brianna interrupted him. Claire had a gentle response to the information because she understood loneliness (p741, Nook).
Claire’s mind wandered back to Brianna and what would happen to her if Roger didn’t return. Then horrified she wondered if Roger had chosen not to return. With Brianna refusing to talk about the argument she and Roger had, Claire, is worried about the months passing.
Jamie showed off his small whisky distillery to Brianna. It was placed near Fergus and Marsali, so she could oversee and work the operation. They had a bigger share than the other farmers who supplied the raw barley and helped with distribution. Meanwhile, young Germaine was trying to eat a cockroach to his mother’s dismay. Young Ian pipes in about eating them with the Indians and they’re not so bad, though smoked locusts are better. They finish spreading the unspoiled raw barley. Next thing Germaine is choking on something, Brianna did the Heimlich maneuver in the nick of time. Marsali takes him to their cabin for supper and bed. The offending item looked like a button, but they couldn’t figure out who’s button it was. On their way back to their cabin, they ask after the Lindsay’s to see if the button was from Kenny’s coat. His wife said it wasn’t. Mrs. Lindsay eyeing Brianna asked if they were going to the gathering this year. Seems everyone wants to make a match for Brianna since her intended had not returned. Jamie is concerned about the button because of the information they received from Sinclair. What if it was a stranger who knew about the illegal still? They walked back to their cabin as the sun went down. They approached Claire picking beans from the garden, hair golden bright from the descending sun (p748, Nook). Brianna’s heart squeezed knowing as Jamie watched Claire with bees returning around her.
Jamie, Lindsey, and Duncan were tasting the batch of whisky and settling on a price per cask. After performing an inventory in his head, Jamie agreed to send a dozen casks to the upcoming Gathering. In the book, Diana calls it Mount Helicon, in real life, the games are held at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. Duncan would take the casks to the Gathering to sell or trade for the many items Claire and Jamie could use. Brianna is concerned the alcohol will go to the Indians who are known for not being able to hold their drink. Claire explained to Brianna that alcoholism doesn’t exist at the time, the only weakness of character. Jamie asked Duncan to find out about Hodgepile at the Gathering. Brianna asked him to inquire about Roger Wakefield too. ARGH! Seriously she knew he was going by MacKenzie. This frustrates me to no end. Claire added Joseph Weymss, Lizzie’s father to the list too. Kenny Lindsey asked about the name Bree (p750, Nook).
With the shortage of eligible women, Brianna is a hot commodity, pregnant or not. It means she’s fertile and will make a good wife. There are the issues of Roger not returning, the mysterious Hodgepile asking after the whisky, and the whereabouts of Lizzie’s father. Lizzie and Young Ian seem to be getting cozy. We get to meet toddler Germaine in all his feistiness and learn Marsali is heading up the distillery. Ridge life doesn’t seem like a good fit for Fergus being a one-handed and a pickpocket by trade.
Jamie chopped wood while Young Ian went to the mill where there were three eligible Woolam daughters. Jamie thought to flirt with virtuous Quaker lassies a fair better than bold Indian lassies. It bothered Jamie knowing Indian women took men to bed at their choosing. He sent Lizzie along to the mill to get some color in her cheeks. As he stacked wood, he thought about how much he enjoyed chopping it. It was a satisfying pursuit one could quantify as the work went on. His mind wandered to Brianna and her keen sense of smell. She wrinkled her nose and said “phew” when he was sweating and fragrant. This expression and face was that of his own mother (p752, Nook). I have noticed these echoes of those who came before in my children.
He took off his shirt without a worry for who might see him and resumed chopping wood, His thoughts deepened. He loved the Murray kids, especially Young Ian. But, Brianna was his flesh and blood. The gift he and Claire had given each other. Like other times, Frank Randall came to mind (p753, Nook). Jamie gave Frank the respect he deserved. Even Jamie understood the importance of Frank. The sacrificial love he had to raise Brianna as his own and love her. To stay with Claire, who no longer loved him the way she did before meeting Jamie. Jamie had jealous and envious thoughts over Frank, but there were only respect and no hate.
By reflex, he let go of the ax into the clearing mid-swing to avoid hitting his foot as the handle broke. He crossed himself in thanksgiving as he reached for the ax head. He noticed the wilted plants because the rain lacked recently. The well was half dug, but firewood was more important to the wellbeing of the families just now. Claire and Brianna came out of the cabin with baskets in hands to go foraging. Jamie warned them about Indians hunting not too far from there. Claire assured him they wouldn’t go far. Though reluctant, Jamie thought the Indians were peacefully preparing for winter just as they were. There would be no concern if he knew which tribe the Indians came from since they were friends with Nacognaweto’s people.
Brianna looked at his bare chest for a moment and placed her hand on his bare shoulder as she kissed him goodbye. She gave no sign of recognition, question, or concern for the scars she saw or felt. Claire must have told her about Black Jack and the days before the Rising. Claire explained what food was available for snacking on and what was for dinner. He took Claire’s hand in his and kissed her knuckles before she kissed him goodbye on the mouth. Off they went as Jamie watched thankfully for their kisses on his face.
He sat on the wood stump and worked to repair the ax handle. He thought about the scent of food he smelled earlier coming from the Woolam’s cabin and of the winter to come. The Indians told him it would be harder than the last. How would hunting be during a heavy snow-laden winter? If he could kill another bear, they would eat the whole winter, and the skin would go to good use as well. He imagined Claire’s pale skin against the glossy black of the bearskin.
His mind circled back to earlier thoughts. What had Claire told Brianna? How much did she know? He and Brianna were not fully accustomed to each other and sometimes used Claire as a go-between. He thought how much he would like some privacy with Claire. It was growing tiresome and too cold for their romps in the wild, or the herb shed. If Young Ian got back soon, they could notch some of the logs. Brianna needed a cabin of her own to share with Lizzie.
Lizzie came up behind him, obviously, she had something to say, but her shyness around him made it difficult. Young Ian stood near her to offer support. It turned out she recognized a man at the mill, she’d seen him before with Brianna in Wilmington. Oh no. Here it goes. His name was MacKenzie she said. He seemed educated and maybe a Highlander. Jamie asked her questions (p758, Nook). So little miss Lizzie told what she knew, but she had it quite wrong. Jamie now thought it was rape by the MacKenzie man that not only took Brianna’s virginity but got her with a child. Jamie was angry and sick over it. He hadn’t known she was with child, but he ventured Claire had known. Lizzie told them Brianna had no cycle for two months. When she saw the man, she had to speak up in case he came to claim Brianna as his. Under the law, a man could claim a woman to be his wife under common law and use the pregnancy as evidence. Jamie’s parents had used this tactic to get married.
Lizzie and Young Ian had taken MacKenzie’s horse to prevent him from getting to the main part of the settlement quickly. Jamie and Young Ian talked about Brianna’s demeanor as of late (p761, Nook). This cannot be good. Jamie asked Young Ian to fetch his pistols and for Lizzie to lie to Claire about where they’ve gone. Lizzie watched Jamie, and Young Ian leave. Jamie had a serious menace about him (p761, Nook).
I could go on about how aggravated I am about this plot device. Of course, Lizzie would know him as MacKenzie because that’s the name he used when he found Brianna. Again, why oh why did Brianna use Wakefield to describe him? The situation is about to spiral out of control. A father’s rage. A cousin’s anger. It cannot possibly go well.
What’s Coming up? Chapters 45-46 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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