Summary: Brianna susses out a truth about Lord John. She allows herself to feel close to Roger. She hatches a plan and proposes marriage to Lord John. She threatens him. She apologizes and explains. He explains why he cannot marry her. They become “engaged.” The priest prepares for death. Roger prays for him. The priest is taken from the tent. The drumming stops and all hell breaks loose. Roger escapes the tent but is knocked on the head. A familiar face is found in the longhouse. Claire and Young Ian are missing.
Inside the Chapters:
Chapter 59 Blackmail
Brianna wakes to relieve her bladder and notices the ominous thunderclouds. She worries about the weather in the mountains. Had her parents found Roger? Instead of going back to bed, Brianna dons her cloak. She finds it unacceptable to have a slave empty her chamber pot. She exits through the kitchen to rain striking her in the face. Brianna made it to the necessary (privy) to empty the chamber pot and used the rainwater to rinse it out. For a moment she stands in the rain, she wasn’t sure why she did it, but she purposely stood under the gutter spout allowing rainwater to pour over her. She notices a glimpse of light coming from the slave quarters. She does not want to explain herself or be seen. The lightning, however, shows her who was leaving the slave quarters. It was Lord John Grey. She runs after him to avoid being locked out. To his shock, she bounds through the door as he is closing it. She makes a comment and goes to her room; he doesn’t follow.
She slips back into bed naked after drying herself and leaving her clothing to dry in front of the fire. Her brain puzzles out what she saw and what she has experienced from Lord John. She hadn’t felt the primal sexual acknowledgment she was accustomed to feeling. There was indifference. His sexual bell was chiming as he left the servants’ quarters. There was no way her father knew and could be a friend to Lord John because of his past. For a fleeting moment, she could feel Roger about her feeling aroused, then the hands of Bonnet rose from memory. Anger and shame replaced arousal. Needing to move, she goes to the window and looks out into the rain. It was too late to go to Hispaniola and leave for the 20th century. Maybe if Roger was with her now, and they left to the island cave, but he was not there. Was Roger even alive? Her mother would return before the birth. She does her best not to think of Jamie or Bonnet because rage swells when she does.
The inaction and helplessness of the situation bother her. She recognizes she decided to keep her baby and live with whatever consequences there would be. She is on the hearthrug warming herself. She thinks of Roger and disallows any thought of Bonnet to encroach. The only night with Roger fills her mind evoking passion and arousal (p937, Nook). She allows the sensations to ebb before moving slowly to the bed experiencing hot and cold together. As she pulls the quilt over her bare body, she knows emotions must not lead; decisions need to be made.
For three days she makes a plan. She needs to get him alone. She finds Lord John in the library reading Marcus Aurelius (a favorite of Jamie’s). She asks him to walk with her. He agrees though it is warm and cozy inside. It is quite cold outside. As they walk in the garden, she proposes he marry her (p938, Nook). He thinks she is out of her mind from the pregnancy and wants to call upon Dr. Fentiman. Brianna vehemently disagrees with the doctor coming and ups the ante (p939, Nook). He forcefully takes her by the arm; she worries he might mean her harm. When they reach a private spot, he speaks to her (p940, Nook). She flushes and apologizes, assuring him she would not have said anything to anyone if he turned her down. She further explains, and they discuss the ins and outs of her plan (p941, Nook). Lord John explains why he cannot marry her (p943, Nook). Brianna is shocked to learn her father knows of Lord John’s sexual persuasion. They find a more sheltered spot to talk, he sneezes, and she hands him a handkerchief. He thinks it smells surprisingly of girl flesh. She asks what he meant about teaching her to play with fire (p945, Nook). Brianna tells him Claire thinks John might hurt Jamie. She asks if he has seen the scars on her father’s back. He shocks her by saying he did that to Jamie. John tells her about their relationship at the prison and Brianna thinks John flogged Jamie for not having sex with him. John is rightly affronted. John says Jamie did it to himself (p947, Nook). He does not accept her proposal, but in front of watching eyes, he puts a ring on her finger and kisses her. They are engaged to buy time and get her aunt off her back.
I have far too many thoughts about this chapter to type them all out. You’ll need to listen to the podcast to get them.
Chapter 60 Trial by Fire
Roger and the priest were alone without food or fire. The waiting was tormenting. Finally, men came in the late afternoon. The sachem did not speak to Fr. Alexandre; he simply painted his face black from forehead to chin. The men left, and the priest sat on the floor. The priest asks Roger to pray for him that he might die well without crying out. After dark, they heard the drums. Roger could feel the beat in his bones. The Mohawk men returned for the priest. He went with them without a word or looking back, wearing only his bare skin. Roger stood in the tent praying and listening. He knows what power a drum has. He was frightened. He sat without knowing for how long then the drumming stopped, and there was yelling. He made his way to the door, but the guard was still there. He stood frozen listening to the hellish noises and fighting. Something smashed into the panel of the tent and tore a hole in it. He only saw a small area of the clearing outside and figures fighting. Then he heard something terrifyingly familiar (p951, Nook). Roger was determined to get free and to the Scots. He pulled apart the bed cubicle to make a weapon from the splintered wood. Roger charged out of the tent narrowly missing being hit by a war club. He struck the Mohawk who smelled of whisky. He turned toward the fire (p952, Nook).
Roger was on the floor of the longhouse. There was someone with him. He got onto his hands and knees and squinted to see who the other person was (p953, Nook). Jamie was alive. Roger cleaned his face with his plaid until Jamie woke up, vomited, and stared at Roger with hand on his knife (p954, Nook). Jamie apologizes to Roger for doing him wrong (p954, Nook). With a truce, Roger asks what happened. Jamie didn’t know and was shocked to find out the burned man was a priest. Though the white people weren’t invited to the execution, they were not asked to leave either, so he and Claire stayed. Jamie explains to Roger what he saw and that he had tried to get Claire away for fear of being attacked next. Father Alexandre had died well. Roger was having a hard time believing the priest was dead. Pushing the thoughts away, he asks Jamie how many men he brought with him (p956, Nook). Roger gave Jamie water and sees how worried for Claire he is (p957, Nook). Jamie pressed back against the longhouse pushing Claire behind him. He was fighting then woke up in the longhouse with Roger and no notion of where Claire was.
Jamie’s arm might be broken by taking a hit from a war club. He hopes and believes Claire and Young Ian are safe. If the boy were dead, he would rather have his heart torn out and eaten than face his sister. Jamie looks for distraction from his thoughts. Jamie watches Roger (p960, Nook). Roger wants to know why Claire came with him but not Brianna. Jamie tells him Claire refused to be left. Roger doubted Brianna would be any easier to leave behind (p961, Nook).
Roger killed a man. The priest was executed. The priest’s love went into the flames to join him after handing her child to Claire. All hell broke loose. Roger and Jamie ended up in the same longhouse. In-law relations are not getting off to a good start.
What’s Coming up? Chapters 61-62 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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Photograph of Elk Knob peak, North Carolina. By James Lautzenhelser, 2011. From Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License CC BY-ND 2.0.
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