“Betrayal and Blame”
Roger found himself a prisoner. He was concussed and battered. He forcibly traveled with the Tuscarora for more than a week. He escaped hoping they would not pursue him. He found a stone circle. He was recaptured. Brianna was at River Run until her parents returned. She was angry and distant from Jamie. She fell into the rhythm of River Run, and Aunt Jocasta loved her company. She and Claire had a difficult goodbye. Jamie offered his promise before they left to find Roger. Claire was reunited with a familiar face. Young Ian had a heart to heart with Claire. The Tuscarora pointed them north to a Mohawk village. Jamie and Claire finally made peace with each other and themselves. They reached Snake-Town and hoped to find Roger and secure his release. (1:45)
Inside the Chapters:
Part Eleven: Pas du Tout (not at all)
Chapter 51 Betrayal October 1769
Roger woke with vomit in his hair, thinking he was on the Gloriana. He was tied up, in pain, and vomited again. He was on the back of a horse, lying across it on his belly. His captors took him off the horse, and he fell face first into the leaves. He grappled with memory to figure out where he was and what had happened. The pain in his head and his body was excruciating. Then he remembered. Indians. Where was he though? His memories swirled. He remembered the Gloriana and Bonnet, then Brianna and the handfasting. A face like Brianna’s came into his mind, but it was fleeting when one of the Indian men grabbed him. Roger thought the Indian meant him harm and he fought. The man had meant to loosen Roger’s hands not hurt him. He was in the mountains with four Indian men. He drank from a nearby brook. His teeth were loose; there were cuts in his mouth and upon his chapped lips. A jolt of memory, Claire, Brianna, and Jamie Fraser. He had been at Fraser’s Ridge. The face of Jamie seared in his mind. He remembered it now. The meeting, the fight, and how Jamie and the other man had meant to kill him. He thought they had given him to the Indians, but to what end? As he stood and relieved himself, he couldn’t look at the men around the fire because it filled him with rage (p854, Nook). (4:00)
As he shared dinner with the Tuscarora, he tried to speak with them in various languages, but they responded to none of them. When it was time to sleep, they tied him with a noose around neck and feet. He had a little room to move before he would choke himself. He slept restlessly as his dreams were filled with violence. The next morning, they left the camp. Roger walked with a noose around his neck and wrists tied to the horse’s harness. He thought they headed north and couldn’t have traveled very far from Fraser’s Ridge. He memorized landmarks so he could come back this way after he escaped. Days were passing as if in a trance, so Roger made a small knot in his coat for each day. He was going back to Fraser’s Ridge no matter what it took. (4:59)
He found his opportunity to escape on day 8. He cut his hands free and ran. They called after him, but he didn’t stop. He saw them and kept going. He was terrified when he found cover. He had no idea what direction he had come. His foot was bleeding from a gash in it. He made a makeshift bandage. He found a place to rest. He slept. When Roger woke, he was hungry and thirsty. Surely, they didn’t follow him? He picked a direction and went. He cautiously listened for pursuit. Roger scrabbled around a rock face and in the clearing in front of him was another set of standing stones. He couldn’t hear them and tried to remember what the date could be. As close as he could figure it had to be near to just past Samhain. He didn’t know if this circle worked on the same dates as Craigh na Dun. He had the gems in his pocket, and if they were open, he could escape. He struggled with the thought of abandoning Brianna. Could he leave her behind? He decided if he wasn’t going to step through the stones then he had to go back to hidden safety or climb the cliff face. When he looked up, a face was looking down and a noose settled around his neck again. (6:25)
Poor Roger. He has a concussion, loose teeth, cuts, bruises, scrapes, and was a prisoner of the Tuscarora. Even though he escaped, he gashed his foot and was caught again. Even though his attempt was foiled, he found a stone circle. That might serve for future purposes.
Chapter 52 Desertion River Run, December 1769
Brianna stood outside of Hector Cameron’s tomb. The inscription read Semper Fidelis. Had he been a faithful man and to whom? She and Jamie hadn’t spoken to each other since that terrible day. Brianna had screamed at him in her final words of rage, and he had left the cabin and not returned that night. She wanted to follow him and comfort him even in her anger, but she blamed him for that too. Brianna hadn’t slept that night after wrangling her emotions into a tightly sealed box inside of her. In the early morning, Jamie had returned and called for Claire to come out. They brought her to River Run to be safe as they planned on going after Roger. It was winter and not safe for her to travel to the mountains or to stay at the Ridge on her own. She thought she might have had a chance at getting her mother to agree, but not with HIS stubbornness supporting her. She replayed the fight in her mind, his reproach of her (p864, Nook). She missed Frank and thought if he hadn’t died none of this would have happened (p865, Nook). She had kissed her mother goodbye and vowed to wait in the garden until she knew they were gone. She DIDN’T want to see HIM. He found her regardless of her desire (p866, Nook). (11:40)
Brianna became accustomed to daily life at River Run. She even found ways to use her talents in drawing. It felt luxurious. A servant prepared the bath for her while she was still in bed. She should feel guilty about being waited on by slaves. She rolled over in bed and took inventory of her body to ensure she didn’t become a stranger to herself. The baby within her greeted her with a stretch and movement. She took off her flannel nightgown, feeling every part of her body. She lay back and heard the noises of the household waking up around her. The sound of Frank on the weekends or Jamie speaking outside the cabin to the horses used to make her feel safe and protected. She didn’t feel this way any longer. She was the protector now and didn’t need anyone to make her feel safe. It was her job. She stood by the window looking out and listening to her body. She could almost hear the baby’s heartbeat and feel it separate from hers. No matter what happened, she would never be alone. (13:40)
Brianna is a Fraser through and through. Stubborn. Ill-tempered. She can hold a grudge with the best of them. How do you think the word desertion applies to this chapter? I am unsure and have many thoughts running through my mind.
Chapter 53 Blame
They arrived at Tennago a Tuscaroran village. Jamie barely spoke since they left Fraser’s Ridge. She felt guilty, worried, and pained. The issue of blame was on her mind. She thought Jamie blamed her for not telling him the truth about Bonnet. Claire blamed herself for it. On the journey to the village, they slept separately when they camped at night. They had brought whisky with them. A king’s ransom Claire thought. It had to be enough to trade for one Scotsman. Claire hoped Roger had been taken here, but Jamie had told Young Ian to be sure Roger would never come back. Claire had brought the amulet and opal. The amulet to return to someone and the opal to supplement trade if needed. Jamie also brought along every small belonging he might use to up the trade except for this father’s ring. The ring had been left with Brianna in case they didn’t return. Having the ring gave Brianna a travel insurance policy of sorts. She could get back to her own time if needed. (16:00)
Claire replayed the last moments she’d had with Brianna at River Run. Brianna trusted Claire to find Roger but was unsure about Jamie’s intention. Claire knew Jamie would do anything to find Roger and bring him back to her. His honor wouldn’t allow otherwise. His honor. These words brought words from Brianna (p871, Nook). It was time to leave as Young Ian called for Claire. Claire and Brianna had an emotional goodbye (p871, Nook). Claire urged Jamie to talk to Brianna. He needed to say goodbye. Jamie went and returned within a few minutes. They were all mounted and left River Run. (18:10)
It was night and Jamie was still with Nacognaweto. Young Ian came in with someone behind him. He had brought Pollyanne the ex-slave woman they had freed and taken to the Indians to live. She had a child on her arm. Young Ian translated, and Claire learned the Tuscarora had taken her in as their own. She took a husband, and the baby was born a few months earlier. Pollyanne was free and happy. Claire wanted Young Ian to ask who she should give Nayawenne’s amulet. Pollyanne said no one would want it (p873, Nook). Pollyanne wasn’t frightened by the amulet and the ghost of Nayawenne because of her past spiritual beliefs before becoming an Indian. Claire was comforted by the idea of Nayawenne walking with her. They talked until Jamie’s return surprised them. Pollyanne said her goodbyes and said something to Young Ian in a parting word (p874, Nook). Jamie and Claire barely missed preventing the death of the young woman in the sawmill. Jamie touched Claire, and she took his hand. It had been almost a month since they touched purposely. Murchison had a wife in England, and a pregnant mistress would not have been desirable. Jamie thought he might visit the Sergeant alone when they returned to River Run. Claire had a sharp response (p874, Nook). Jamie went on to share what he had learned about Roger. He was given to the Mohawk and was far to the north. Young Ian’s friend Onakara would be their guide. Jamie went to their assigned cubicle in the longhouse. Claire went to go after him, but Young Ian stopped her (p875, Nook). Quite the eye-opening conversation and shows a level of maturity by Young Ian to speak up. (25:35)
On her way back to their cubicle Claire pondered what Young Ian said. He was right of course. Her guilt about the gold ring had kept her silent, not Brianna’s request (p877, Nook). I think Claire needs to apologize for her part in it. And yes, he could have come to her and sought her out. Once in their cubicle she defrocked and climbed in next to him asking him to warm her. I do this very thing if I have been the distant partner. She wanted to comfort him with her body and presence. She didn’t care about herself in the wordless dark but became as needful and desperate for him, and he was for her. They were alone in the darkness surrounded by others. She could hear things like the hum of bees. This small cubicle was their singular space. It was then they talked for the first time in almost a month. She apologized. He didn’t blame Bonnet. He felt a failure as a man. He was jealous of a dead man (p878, Nook). He wants to know if Brianna could forgive him if he brings Roger back to her? Claire says she will. Then it dawned on Claire, Brianna’s words meant for Claire to bring Jamie back and not Roger. What do you think? (31:30)
The traveling north was difficult, and some days it was impossible. They finally arrived at the Mohawk village of Snake-town in mid-February. Brianna would be six months pregnant by now. Claire hoped Roger was here and they could leave quickly after negotiating his release so they could be back well before Brianna was due to deliver. Claire worried he wasn’t here or was dead. Their guide refused to go into the village with them. Jamie paid him with a horse, a knife, and a flask of whisky. The rest of the whisky was buried for later retrieval. Claire asked if the Mohawk would understand what they wanted. Young Ian said the Tuscarora and the Mohawk languages were similar as were Spanish and Italian. They likely had a bit of English as well. Off they went into the village. (33:10)
What’s Coming up? Chapters 54-56 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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