Prisoners of Circumstance Ep 143

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 54-56

Week 28

“Prisoners of Circumstance”


Roger met a priest. His situation became direr as he was thrown into a hut with the man. The priest was on trial. The priest was tortured. Roger became more worried and comforted the man the best way he could. Brianna was trapped at River Run in a gilded cage. Jocasta was parading her to the eligible men in the area because she didn’t think Roger would return. Brianna found out she was now the heir to River Run. She didn’t want it for the same reasons Claire and Jamie hadn’t. The priest believed the Mohawk would kill him. Roger took his confession, but the priest sought no absolution. (1:35)

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 54 Captivity I

Roger tracked his time in the Mohawk village by tying knots in his string. Nearly three months had passed. When he arrived, he didn’t know what type of tribe they were. He was made to strip bare and endure a ceremonial, ritualistic trial.  He was hit, poked, and lashed. His body was punished until he reached the longhouse and stood before them. This brutal scene highlighted the depth of his strength. They barked and laughed at him but then gave him means to clean himself and food in the longhouse. He slept with his hand over the gems his breeches still hid.  He became the longhouse slave. If he ignored them, they beat him. It was an effective tool to gain his obedience. They did, however, feed him well and give him a comfortable place to sleep. Even though they didn’t speak to him often, he picked up pieces of the language by listening carefully. He practiced words on a young girl and her friends. They taught him the language over the weeks. He learned from them what tribe he was with, the Kahnyen ‘kehaka, also known as the Mohawk. They called him a not so endearing term that meant dog face because of his beard. His foot was tended to by one of the girl’s mother. The women began to talk to him when he brought them supplies. He wanted to escape but the timing was wrong, so he patiently waited. His nightly dreams were of Bree or at least the smell of her. (5:00)

Late in winter, a Jesuit priest was brought to the village by another group of Mohawk. The man’s robes were tattered, and though not appearing to be a prisoner, Roger believed he did not come on his own accord. The priest was taken into the longhouse where the sachem held council meetings. He went on a hunting trip to help carry the kill back and returned to find men waiting for him. He was grabbed and taken to the small hut where the Jesuit priest was being held. Roger learned the man’s name, Père Alexandre Ferigault. They exchanged basic information, and the priest invited Roger to eat with him. Roger didn’t know why he was brought to be with the priest. They discussed Roger’s situation (p866, Nook). The priest had only been in the hut a short time before Roger. This concerned Roger. The priest told Roger they were deciding whether he lives or dies. Later Mohawk men came into the tent and made the priest strip and tormented him with a hot brand before dragging him away. Roger tried to pray for the priest as he asked of him. He could only wonder if someone would pray for him when he was taken away. (6:29)

Roger slept by the fire. The priest returned or rather was returned to the hut. He was still naked and bleeding. The priest had been tortured but was alive. Roger tried to soothe him but was helpless (p890, Nook). Roger held the man and rubbed him to provide comfort. Roger couldn’t stop talking to the priest as a way to soothe himself, and thought not even a dog would be treated so harshly as the Mohawk had treated the priest. (9:30)

Roger must be in abject terror thinking they Mohawk are going to kill him too. How did he go from guest to prisoner? What changed? He is hopeless.

Chapter 55 Captivity II River Run, March 1770

Brianna was working on a painting when Jocasta and Ulysses came up behind her. She loved the company of Aunt Jo, but she didn’t want Ulysses sharing every detail of what she was doing to her aunt. She didn’t seem to like Ulysses very much as he was her aunt’s eyes. She didn’t like being watched and reported on. She took her sketchbook with her to avoid prying eyes looking through it. There was a visitor, and Aunt Jo wanted her to change for lunch. Bree did not appreciate the number of visitors and social obligation she had to see them at her aunt’s request. The most recent visitors were men. Phaedre told her there were minimal single women in the area, especially not younger women, and women set to inherit a plantation. Bree insisted Phaedre tell her all about the inheritance (p893, Nook). Once a MacKenzie, always a MacKenzie. Since Jamie left to live in the mountains eschewing Jocasta’s proposal, Brianna was it. Brianna was slow to realization. Jocasta was trying to pick a suitable husband for her (p894, Nook). It didn’t matter what Brianna wanted; it was all about Jocasta. (15:20)

Bree opened her sketchbook; she had drawn a picture in the profile of Roger. She could bring him near when she looked at the sketch. The sketches of her parents caused fear in her. Would they come back? Ulysses came into light the candles so Jocasta could orient herself in the room when she came in. Brianna watched him setting everything precisely, so Jocasta would know where it was.  She knew he placed furniture back in its proper location for Jocasta’s safety and movement through the house. His life was devoted fully to Jocasta (p896, Nook).  She blurted out a question to Ulysses, then was immediately embarrassed and apologized. Did he want to be free? He answered by telling her his life story. He was born free, but after his father died, his mother sold herself into slavery, and he with the money was given to a carpenter to become an apprentice later to learn a trade. When he came of age, the carpenter insisted he was the child of a slave, so he was a slave and refused to apprentice him. He was sold (p897, Nook). (20:00)

Chapter 56 Confessions of the Flesh

Roger woke without the priest near him. The priest was certain he would die soon. They would kill him. Roger didn’t believe it. Père Ferigualt asked Roger to hear his confession. He explained that in time of need any man could act as a priest. Roger agreed to hear the confession. The priest told Roger where he came from, and where his mission had been. He spent two years with the Huron. He met a chief and was invited to his village. Knowing the Mohawk resisted religious conversion he jumped at the opportunity. This was his first sin, pride. Many converted, including the chief, but the sachem disagreed with his influence. His second sin was falling in love with one of the converts. He lived with the woman for many months until one day he saw a vision while bathing in the stream. He immediately moved out of the longhouse and into the wilderness and had left her pregnant. This in itself was not an issue because the Mohawk viewed coupling differently than Christians (p901, Nook). The problem was that he refused to baptize his child because he was not in a state of grace. He offended the village chief. The village was torn by disagreement and the priest was brought to the village where Roger stayed so an impartial council could decide his fate. The priest was not seeking absolution from Roger, merely to tell his story. He believed he could not be returned to a state of grace because he refused to reject the sin of loving the woman. (27:10)

Roger taking the priest’s confession foreshadows matters of faith in the future. Roger is a man who is protective of others and wants to help whenever he can. He and Jamie are not very different, though the way they individually show this protectiveness and need to care for others differs. Both Roger and Brianna are stuck in a prison of sorts. She is no less free than he is, and as Roger faces uncertainty about the future, so does she. She could die because of childbirth, and the Mohawk could kill Roger. Why is the priest important? What is the message here? I am unsure. I love how Jocasta is patently a MacKenzie in all her manipulation and force of will to her ends. Roger is related to her. He doesn’t know the force of will he possesses. He is not done being tested. Remember Claire, Young Ian, and Jamie wait in the village while Roger is sharing the hut with the priest. The situation is about to reach the denouement. (36:10)

What’s Coming up? Chapters 57-58 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

How can you participate? Send your comments to or call the listener line at 719-425-9444 by Friday of each week. If you’re reading ahead, you can leave comments for any part of the book too. Comments or messages may be included in the podcast or a written post.

The Outlander book series is written by Diana Gabaldon. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook

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