“Of Partial Truths, Protection, and Forgiveness”
****Warning: disturbing content and discussion of rape****
Summary: Jamie needed doctoring upon his return. Brianna told her news. Jamie and Brianna bonded. Claire and Jamie walked and talked. Claire kept the rapist’s identity secret. Jamie lied and kept his secret about the man MacKenzie. A ghost from the past rose. Claire left to attend a birth. Jamie and Brianna attended a delivery in the stable. Brianna feared the future. Brianna asked difficult questions. Jamie showed her a valuable lesson. Jamie couldn’t make Brianna fully understand. Jamie surrendered and forgave. (2:00)
Inside the Chapters:
A Father’s Song
Claire is aggravated waiting for Jamie to return. She and Brianna were waiting to tell him Brianna is pregnant and maybe by a rapist. Claire had been pondering Jamie’s possible reactions since learning of the pregnancy and how it may have come to be. Though controlled at the moment, Brianna could let loose the Fraser temper when pushed too far. Up until then, Jamie and Brianna had been delicate with the other as they built a relationship, but this news needed to be dealt with head-on. When Jamie came in it was clear he had washed at the creek. This always seems to be the remedy in the books for returning home with something serious going on. Being clean may take the sting out of it. Jamie lied to Claire when she asked why he was out so late. He needed her to mend his hand that he damaged by dropping a stone on it. That fourth finger needed examining. Claire closed her eyes so she could see the finger in her mind through her hands and experience. She found the fracture. Master Raymond teaching her how to still and see the inner workings of the body has proved to be a useful gift. It is an awareness that can be learned. I do this when I examine a baby at full term or during labor. What is the baby telling me? What is going on? What is her body telling me? It is part intuition and part sight. Jamie likens Claire looking like a priest seeing past the bread to the body of Christ. It was only a minor fracture. Claire thought Jamie was giving off an odd vibe. She knew he was hiding something. (4:05)
Brianna wondered if she should tell him or not. Claire told her she needed to tell him tonight. Claire splinted his finger and Brianna placed ointment on the abrasions. She is mending him after he pummeled the hell out of Roger. Jamie spoke to Brianna in Gaelic. He’d been giving her lessons. He asked her if she was pregnant, not having enough Gaelic she answered in English. She apologized and didn’t think it could ever be okay (p789, Nook). Brianna sobbed into Jamie’s shoulder. Claire went out to get milk from the shed into the quiet, cold darkness. She sent a question into the dark and heard back they had each other to get through the situation. Claire gathered everything for dinner as Jamie and Brianna sat together in front of the fire. She thought about some wise advice a monk had given her about the helpfulness of a meal. She heard Jamie talking to Brianna (p791, Nook). What a beautiful moment to hold close between father and daughter. Brianna informed him that he could not sing, but she didn’t want him to stop. He then told her she weighed as much as a full-grown deer, but he didn’t want her to get up. As they nuzzled close, Claire was thankful they were both hers. (9:20)
Brianna slept after dinner, but Claire felt terrible and out of sorts and didn’t want to deal with any other the things that had to be managed. She longed for peace. She longed to bed down with Jamie, but trouble was in the air with no peace to be had. Jamie acted like a caged animal while Claire cleaned up the dinner dishes. She wanted to talk to him but had promised Brianna she wouldn’t tell about Bonnet. Both restless, he asked Claire to walk with him. She felt his tension, the anger below the surface, and finally asked what he had done to his hands (p795, Nook). They talked without giving detail. Then Claire asked what he was thinking (p796, Nook). He kissed her hard then but couldn’t be with her. He couldn’t be with her after rehashing what transpired between him and Black Jack. She understood (p798, Nook). A gentle kiss and utter stillness enveloped them. Claire thought for a while and spoke again. Jamie asked if Roger would accept Brianna and the baby. Claire hoped so. She had liked him when she knew him from the twentieth century. She asked Jamie if he would accept the situation if it was her (p799, Nook). They went back to the house as Jamie hoped Roger was a better man than him or Frank. Then Jamie said if he weren’t he would beat him. Well then, there is that. Claire asked Jamie if he knew she loved him since she didn’t say it often (p802, Nook). (23:20)
What a complicated chapter. It is difficult to unpack and process. Jamie is not divulging what he had done. Brianna is not saying who raped her. Claire is not sharing Bonnet’s name, or the ring Brianna had reclaimed.
Away in a Manger
Brianna and Jamie were in the stable. I love the description of the stable being a refuge, the scents, a safe enclosure. There was a cow in labor. She had found Jamie laying down in the straw. Claire was at a birth and hadn’t returned, so Brianna brought dinner to Jamie. He shared the food with her, though she had already eaten. She remarked on the amount of pregnant or newly birthed animals in the stable and called it a maternity ward. She explained what it was to Jamie (p805, Nook). Then she thought about all the complications that could befall a woman in the 18th century while birthing and postpartum. Jamie assured her that Claire’s stubbornness wouldn’t allow any harm to come to her. There were definite risks to women in childbirth, from what I can find the stats due to difficult deliveries, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhage, and postpartum infection made up 4 or 5 out of 1,000 births (which is a staggering number) with upwards of 24 out of 100.000 women die today from childbirth-related complications (this is considered very high for the westernized world). I don’t know where Claire got her 50% rate stats from but given she knew how to decrease infection risk and how to control hemorrhage better than most, her patients were in excellent hands. (29:25)
Brianna asked after the laboring cow, Jamie thought she would be okay, but the cow may have been too young to breed yet. The white sow had many piglets feeding on her. Brianna felt reassured by the confidence the sow displayed (p807, Nook). Brianna worried for the cow, but of course, she was thinking about her predicament of being a first-time mother just like the cow. She couldn’t understand how Jamie could whisper sweet somethings to the cow knowing if things went wrong he’d have to butcher her after trying to save the calf. Brianna had something to ask Jamie, so she stayed at the stable instead of going back to the cabin. She asked if he killed Black Jack Randall. Startled Jamie asked where she heard that name. She said Claire told her about Wentworth. Had Claire betrayed him by telling her? She tried to explain that Claire didn’t think Brianna would ever meet Jamie. What did she want to know? Did killing his rapist make it better for him? She wanted to kill her rapist. Had she killed a man before, Jamie asked. Her anger flared. She could kill him; she knew she could. She struggled with wanting to kill him and being haunted by the rape regardless of him being alive or dead. Jamie answered (p810, Nook). The problem was Jamie didn’t know whether he killed Black Jack Randall or not. He couldn’t remember. It was true he came to consciousness with Randall, dead, on top of him after the battle of Culloden. He showed her the scar on his thigh. He recounted the aftermath of Culloden and not caring about vengeance having looked upon the field of dead men. He believed he would die within hours of the wound he sustained. Purposeful forgetting or not, he didn’t know. He assured Brianna not many die from rape, he didn’t, and she wouldn’t either. But the nagging horrors Claire had spoken of clouded her mind. Jamie again told Brianna she would handle childbirth fine. She commented on her likeness to Jamie’s mother. Ellen died in childbirth. Brianna was certain she would die when she gave birth, and nothing could be done without hospital and drugs except try and save the baby. (34:20)
She blamed herself for the rape. She should have fought harder. She wasn’t brave enough. She had been scared and was more scared now. Maybe if she killed the man, she could forget. She wouldn’t forget Jamie said, but it would be okay. He would find her a husband, so the child has a name. Or perhaps she would marry the man who got her pregnant (p813, Nook). Jamie incited Brianna to fight with him, saying terrible things about her lying about the rape. She fought and struggled against Jamie as he held her wrists and dug a thumb in between her ribs. He taunted her into lashing out at him. He finally had her in a painful position on her knees. He told her he could break her neck and kill her if he wanted. He had her at his behest (p815, Nook). The whole point of this horrific exercise was to prove to her no amount of fighting would’ve stopped the man from raping her and using her as he wanted. He had tried to tell her it wasn’t her fault, so he showed her it wasn’t her fault. Then she believed him. She realized Jamie didn’t fight back either. He did it for her mother’s life without regret. Would she never forget? Never, but it would change over time. He told her she was strong and explained it through Jenny becoming the woman of the house when their mother died. The laboring cow caught Jamie’s attention. Brianna saw how alike Jamie and Claire were in one way, compassionate and ruthless at the same time. Claire knew how to balance living after holding life or death in her hands. Jamie was more brutal to himself than anyone else could be. Jamie stripped down as he awaited the delivery and prepared to assist if needed. It comforted Brianna knowing he was there to offer the good fight of protection. (39:50)
After the calving, Jamie carried a sleeping Brianna back to the cabin. He ached and was bruised from their fighting. He found pride in her strength. Even so, he wrestled with the old hurts. He had to face the ghosts to lay them back to rest. The voice took a while to return, but then it did (p819, Nook). Jamie surrendered and let go over and over and over. He recited the Lord’s Prayer. He surrendered and let go again and again (p820, Nook). The sounds of the night returned to him. He wished he could make Brianna understand that to forget is an act of forgiveness that must happen many times over. It was a matter of conscious constancy of practice. Maybe Roger could be her refuge as Claire had been his. If Wakefield didn’t return, he would find another way to protect Brianna and the child. He wrestled with what he did to MacKenzie. He believed he did it to protect his daughter. That was that, and down the hill, he went. (42:55)
What’s Coming up? Chapters 49-50 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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