Lallybroch Ep 132

Drums of Autumn

Chapter 34

Week 18



Brianna did it. She went through the stones. She arrives at Lallybroch. She meets the Murrays to their surprise and happiness. She also meets a vengeful woman and her brother. Brianna stands up for herself and her mother. A lengthy letter makes it wild and worth the trip. She bonds with her Uncle. She clears the air of her intention. She connects with this place so a part of her though she’s never been. To the Colonies, she will go.

Inside the Chapter:

Chapter 34 Lallybroch

Scotland, June 1769

Brianna is on horseback. Brutus is his name. He flawlessly, if not swiftly has carried her on General Wade’s old military roads, the bad roads, and the red deer track trails on her way to Lallybroch. She looks out over the valley below and sees Lallybroch. It matches the description her mother told her, down to the kailyard. Rising smoke from the chimney indicates someone is home. She is nervous and excited. Who would she meet first? Will they believe her story of who she was and why she had come? Her story was based on as much truth as possible. She brought evidence with her. They would have to believe her. Could her parents be there right now?

A horse carrying a tall brown-haired man approaches her from behind. He was wary of her until he got close enough to realize she was a woman. She’s a big woman and looks like a man from a distance. This is to her advantage when traveling alone. She tells the man her name, he’s puzzled and shares his with her, Jamie Fraser Murray of Broch Tuarach (p576, Nook). His reaction is perfect. Jenny is going to birth some form of an animal to be sure. 

Brianna notices the carved lintel over the door, Fraser, 1716 it said. Brianna instinctively ducks while going through the door (p576, Nook). She thinks how little family she has in the twentieth century, one distant cousin of her dad Frank. Here she will have a large family connection to her. Jamie’s son Matthew goes running past being chased by his sister Janet. Matthew comments on Brianna’s choice of clothing (p578, Nook). Matthew discloses Jenny and Ian are in the back parlor with a man and a woman who are eating a large amount of food. Jamie sends the boy to get his granny, Jenny.

By Kim Traynor – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Jamie tries to get Janet to guess who Brianna is related to. She figures it out with great surprise. Enter Jenny Murray (p579, Nook). Just as Young Jamie is introducing Brianna, the woman from the parlor joins the group (p579, Nook). Jenny admonishes Laoghaire for her foolishness and tells her this is a lass, not a man. Laoghaire looks at Brianna for the first time (p580, Nook). The realization Jamie Fraser could have married again chills Brianna to the bone.  She thinks of her mother and is horrified she could have found Jamie with another wife when she went through the stones. She wants to run out of the house and keep on running. She is like her mother in some ways. Young Jamie steers her to a place to sit. In the room she sees two men, one asks her name. It’s Ian Murray, her uncle. She feels safer in his presence until Laoghaire comes in havering up to high heaven (p581, Nook). I need a dram or two after this scene.

Brianna asks after her mother, Ian assures Brianna that Claire is with Jamie. Laoghaire cannot help herself. She says the pearls are hers by right (p583, Nook). Brianna snatches the pearls off the table and holds them tightly.  Brianna addresses Laoghaire without success. Laoghaire calls Jamie a bastard and says he married her under pretenses four years earlier. Laoghaire explains that Jamie left her (p584, Nook). As if insulting Jamie and her mother wasn’t enough, she insults Brianna, calling her a witch’s child (p585, Nook). The Fraser anger rises in Brianna, and she lets Laoghaire have it (p585, Nook). Hobart leads a stunned Laoghaire out of the room to take her home. Laoghaire must have the last words and leaves Brianna with a parting twist of the tongue (p586, Nook). I am in love with Brianna here. She is coming into her own as a confident woman, as a Fraser daughter.

They finish dinner with the joy of Brianna, the joy that Jamie has his child. She’s thankful that Laoghaire’s accusations of Jamie were untrue. He was the man her mother said he was. Brianna asks if they know where her mother and Jamie are. They basically do, and Ian offers to show her a letter from her parents. Following Jenny, Brianna stops and notices a portrait on the wall with her father as a child in it. Jenny shows her a painting of her mother, Ellen. Brianna gasped when she saw it. Brianna looks remarkably like Ellen MacKenzie. The painting will hang in the National Portrait Gallery in two hundred years. Ellen painted the portrait herself. Brianna’s talent for drawing and painting comes from her grandmother. Jenny explains how she came into possession of the painting. Ned Gowan brought it to her from Leoch. Brianna feels a stab of grief for those lost. We learn that Jenny never saw Leoch for herself and now it’s gone.

Brianna follows Jenny into the bedroom. Jenny finds the letter and explains they live in the Colony of North Carolina but not near any towns. She explains it’s difficult for him to write since his hand was broken “that time.” Brianna knows the whole story behind the broken hand; Jenny does not. Brianna recognizes the writing. The letter is from the prior September. Young Ian sent a porpentine (porcupine) skull for Young Jamie’s boys. Jamie included a gift for Jenny. He explains Claire’s manner of communicating with the elderly Indian woman who made it (p591, Nook). He goes on to document his homesteading work and the local bear population. Fergus acquired a new large kettle, and a hearty stew was made in it (p592, Nook). Tomatoes have an interesting and rich history. The white sow is close to birth, so he placed her in the pantry. This does not please the sow or Claire. Tuscarora hunters came looking to hunt the bear. Young Ian and Rollo accompanied them on their journey. There was quite an adventure in the night of the 22nd (p593, Nook). Jenny interrupts Brianna’s reading to ask if she still plans on going to such a wild place and to show her the leather bag that Jamie sent. She is relieved Brianna is not afraid to go to the Colonies and on to Fraser’s Ridge, but she wants her to stay for a couple of days.

Now alone Brianna rereads the letter slowly, and she can almost see the man in the letter in front of her. She gets to the part she was interrupted by Jenny (p595, Nook). There were still two more pages to go. By now it was mid-October. Jamie and Ian wrote (p597, Nook). Young Ian told of his measles illness and his restored health. Brianna thought Lallybroch to be primitive, but the Colonies were indeed a more wild and dangerous place.

Ian takes Brianna on a tour of the farm and the property. She sees all is in good condition and the animals healthy. Ian was sporting his kilt to the surprise of Jenny and Young Jamie (p599, Nook). Brianna thinks about how the kilt, swords, pistols, and bagpipes were hidden away after Culloden. At first, she thinks of the items as symbols of pride conquered, but that wasn’t quite right (p599, Nook). Ian was pleased Brianna asked to see the property. She’d be leaving in a week’s time to board a ship to the Colonies. She thought it was a beautiful place. Brianna thinks she sees a cairn (p600, Nook). They walk a long way and up to the top of a hill. They can see the whole valley. Ian pulls out a stone bottle and remarks it was Claire’s doing he has teeth (p601, Nook). Ian thinks Claire knew what she was about seeing how braw Brianna is.

By Anne Burgess, CC BY-SA 2.0

Ian wishes he could see Jamie’s face when he meets Brianna. She is so much like him. Ian explains there wasn’t much time during his last visit with Claire to Lallybroch to tell them about her and there was a great moil. He lets her know why Jenny is anxious for her to leave (p602, Nook). Brianna asks what Jenny had to do with Laoghaire. Oh, GIRL, your hair is going to curl when you hear what she had to do with it. Ian is surprised at how much knowledge Brianna has of Jamie’s history. He goes on to explain Jamie’s countenance when he returned from England after being in Ardsmuir and the contrast to him after Culloden (p602, Nook). They climbed up to where Jamie had lived as Dunbonnet. Brianna entered the cave and immediately felt entombed. She had no idea how Jamie lived there for seven years but thinks maybe she could if she had to. She was a Fraser after all. She sat outside the cave becoming part of the nature surrounding it. This is something her mother and father do. She connects to it and thinks she understands why Jamie could tolerate his time in the cave. One word explained it, solitude (p604, Nook). She leaves a small memory offering before heading down to Ian.

She asks Ian about the legality of wearing his kilt. Soldiers hadn’t come in a long time. There was nothing left of value to the soldiers; only the land was left. Ian asks Brianna to have a question answered by Jamie when she finds him (p605, Nook). Brianna assures him Jame wouldn’t want to change who has Lallybroch and Brianna doesn’t want it. Ian thinks she knows an awful lot about what Jamie will do even though she hasn’t met him. Of course, Claire would have told her all about Jamie (p605, Nook). Claire was indeed special.

Brianna asks about something Laoghaire said. She had used the word fetch when going on about Brianna’s mother Claire interfering with her marriage to Jamie (p606, Nook). Getting back to why Jamie married her, Ian tells her Jamie was like a ghost with no spark in him (p606, Nook). Jenny made the match with the intention of helping Jamie (p606, Nook). Brianna is relieved at hearing the tale of Laoghaire and Jamie’s response to Claire’s return.

There’s much to unpack in this chapter. First, Jamie has a child, and his family is shocked. Second, the Laoghaire incident. Brianna was brilliant! Third, the worry over Jamie wanting Brianna to have the property. Four, Brianna finding her connection and realizing she’s no longer alone. She has a huge family. Five, the letter from The Ridge and the realization it is a dangerous and precarious place she will be going. Six, Jamie and Claire are together and happy. Seven, Jenny has guilt, and she’s terrible at direct communication when it counts. Thankfully Ian is excellent at deciphering and communicating what is necessary. Eight, Jenny Murray is a sensitive person underneath her steel. Nine, Brianna has come into her own as a woman. She has matured and has the combined strength of her mother and her fathers. There are so many literary elements at play and excellent depth of character development as we see through Brianna’s eyes the family she’s only heard of and her realizing her mother did an excellent job in relaying who they are.  I think Claire prepared Brianna extraordinarily well without meaning to for her journey back in time. We cannot forget about Frank being an expert on this time in history. Brianna certainly would have read his works.

What’s Coming up? Chapters 35-36 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

All images are Wiki Commons. Click on picture for attribution link. Featured image: By Camer01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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Wouldn’t You? Ep 131

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 30-33

Week 17

“Wouldn’t you?”


Roger overstays his Oxford term. Brianna isn’t coming to visit as planned. A mysterious crate arrives. Roger confers with Joe Abernathy. JHRC on toast did she do it? Yes, oh yes she did. A grimoire is revealed. Roger and Fiona make a plan. Midsummer’s Eve means time to travel.

Inside the Chapters:

Part 8 Beaucoup

Chapter 30:

Into Thin Air Oxford, April 1971

The Dean talks Roger into staying in Oxford an extra week to do a conference for some Americans even though he’s due to be in Scotland. The money is a good incentive, so Roger agrees. Roger has a disconcerting letter from Brianna in his hand (p547, Nook). She was supposed to be visiting him in July. Now she’s not coming. He thinks she’s lying (a lying bitch wee in fact) and has found someone else. He’s trying to be mad. He feels empty.

May 1971

Some boxes arrive for Roger on the last day of the conference. Remember he’s not supposed to be at Oxford right now. He’s mystified. He opens the attached envelope (p548, Nook). He takes the crate into his sitting room and looks for a tool to open it. He wonders if she would send him her history if she meant to break up with him. Good thinking Rog. She packed it with museum quality. He finds a variety of things. Photos and a large portrait of Claire, her Raggedy Ann doll, other memorabilia, silver dinner service with the history typed on each. It’s the family silver passed down from 1842; it was a wedding present to Frank and Claire. Roger places the items on the floor next to him growing ever puzzled. She sent her entire history to him. He realizes she sent it there on purpose knowing he was supposed to be in Scotland when it arrived. Last, he unpacks a jewelry box; it’s filled with brooches and earrings. He notices two items are missing, the silver bracelet he’d given her and her grandmother’s pearls (p550, Nook). Yes, she could have Roger.

He’s beside himself over Brianna possibly traveling through the stones without telling him. Where had she gone? He phones Joe Abernathy, Brianna’s only other connection in the twentieth century. Joe thinks she’s with Roger. Joe explains the last time he saw Brianna (p551, Nook).  She left on April 27th for Scotland. Roger is panicked. Joe explains she planned to go to Inverness from Edinburgh. She would have arrived in Inverness for Beltane when the Stones would be open. Now Joe is worried too. Roger asks Joe a simple question (p552, Nook).

“Wouldn’t you?” Those two words asked by Joe Abernathy haunt Roger. He and Joe had discussed the finer points of why Brianna would have gone. She found her father and was curious. Yes, Joe did know the way of the traveling, Claire had told him (p552, Nook). Roger tells Joe he does know what the stones are like, but not everyone hears them and reflects on Claire going through at Craigh na Dun on Samhain two and a half years before. Remember Claire accidentally went through at Beltane the first time and returned to the twentieth century near Beltane on the eve of Culloden. Roger hates thinking about the sounds and the feelings at Craigh na Dun. Joe is curious (p553, Nook). He doesn’t want to go into the things he knows about Claire with Joe and explains unless someone did something BIG it wouldn’t make the historical news. Roger asks Joe if he knows how dangerous the eighteenth century is? He doesn’t but (p554, Nook).

Roger drives toward Inverness with “Wouldn’t you?” continuing its chime in his head.  He likely would (p554, Nook).

Lack of communication or purposeful miscommunication has Roger all riled up. Why not a note to say this is why I went, and this is why I need you to wait for me in the twentieth? This is a mess in the making. What would you do? I would go like Brianna, but I wouldn’t omit the lack to Roger. I wouldn’t lie. Argh, for as smart as Brianna is sometimes her common sense goes out the window and did she not think Roger would figure it out? Uncle Joe is such a good guy. I’m glad he’s a touchstone for Brianna and Roger in the twentieth.

Chapter 31:

Return to Inverness

Fiona has turned the old manse into a bed and breakfast establishment. Fiona is excited to see Roger though her betrothed Ernie is less enthused. Roger becomes a detective to track Brianna’s steps. He finds it fairly easy since there aren’t many 6-foot-tall red-haired women from America around Inverness.  Roger ponders when he should go after Brianna through the stones (p556, Nook). He must choose one of the feast days to most safely pass. Roger keeps himself busy while he quietly prepares for his departure. Some nights he even slept.

Roger and Fiona have a chat. She wants to know why he has a photo of Gillian Edgars (Geillis Duncan Abernathy) and why he’s been up to Craigh na Dun. She is not having his joke of an answer (p558, Nook). Fiona knows something about Gillian and the stones. Roger means to find out what it is. He tries to bargain with her, but she runs off saying she needs to think. His mind is racing, and he thinks of Brianna. his stomach flips and flops. He thinks of Fiona’s words, “She’s dead. Isn’t she?” She was alive when Claire went back the first time. Is she alive in the past now? The timey-wimey reality hurts Roger’s head.

Fiona is back at the sink. She’s not supposed to tell, but she’s going to tell him because she must. Roger remembers Claire telling about her and Frank seeing the dancers at the circle one Beltane morning and Mrs. Graham was one of the dancers. Fiona goes on to explain that grannie (Mrs. Graham) was the caller (p560, Nook). Fiona knows all the words; she’s the caller now. Fiona met Gillian because she had been one of the dancers. Roger asks her to go on. She asks Roger if he knows where Brianna’s gone. Roger is disquieted (p561, Nook). He tells her he must go after Brianna. Fiona is unsure if men can go through. She’s only heard of women who do. Then she discloses a bomb. She has Gillian’s grimoire. She meant to give it to the police after she’d disappeared, but after reading it didn’t think it would help them.

Chapter 32:


This is the grimoire of the witch, Geillis (p562, Nook). Roger thinks she’s a nutcase and a poor writer. He thumbs through the sections and notices each of the sun and fire feasts has notes and crosses. He reads the notes under Samhain (p564, Nook). She had also logged what she called case studies of dead people who were found at various stone circles in Scotland, northern England, and Brittany. There were twenty-two persons listed. Some may have known what they were doing, while others were unsuspecting. It chilled Roger to his core. Claire was right; it was no revolving door. The disappearances near the circles were also notated. The crosses signified those who disappeared near each feast. One entry, in particular, caused Roger to stop (p566, Nook). Claire was part of Gillian’s information for her casebook. Gillian did not have any record of Claire’s return three years later.  The book felt like a bomb in his hands. The last section of the book is called “techniques and preparations” (p566, Nook). He understands why the book upset Fiona when she read it. He walked toward the river but couldn’t get the last words from his mind, “Shall I kiss you, child, shall I kiss you, man? Feel the teeth behind my lips when I do. I could kill you, as easily as I embrace you. The taste of my power is the taste of blood-iron in my mouth, iron in my hand. Sacrifice is required.”

That is some CRAZY and eye-opening information right there. We know blood isn’t needed, but does it help steer?

Chapter 33:

Midsummer’s Eve

June 20, 1971

We’re getting a micro view of Roger from April to June. We haven’t seen Brianna in 18 months except for what is disclosed through Roger’s point of view. It’s Midsummer’s Eve in Scotland (p567, Nook). The description gets to me every time. I have been in Scotland during Beltane as the days were beginning to stretch. I can imagine what the Summer Equinox would be like to witness.  The stones buzzed and hummed before Roger could see them. On prior visits, the stones felt odd, but they were silent. Claire hears them all the time I think. He and Fiona stopped thirty feet from the circle. He thinks Fiona is afraid for herself, but it’s for him she scared.

Roger is dressed in eighteenth-century clothing. He suddenly feels like he’s playing dress up.

Fiona goes into the circle without him to perform her ceremonial ritual in privacy. The humming from the stones got into Roger’s body, bones, and blood. It almost felt like he had an itch to scratch within. He hears her sing with words he cannot understand. Can he make it through? Claire and Brianna both had. Geillis is his ancestor, so yes, he should be able. He likens the feeling from the Stones to being eaten by ants. He’s restless and cannot ease the feeling. Fiona’s singing was making the sensations worse. She finally came to get him, and he cannot hear her for the noise in his head. Before he enters the circle, he stops and kisses her full on the mouth requesting she not tell Ernie.

Roger smells something burning. He feels bodiless. He also smells coffee. The feeling of wrong came over him. His body hurts. What he thought was stars above him is Fiona yelling his name (p570, Nook). They try to figure out why he disappeared and came back (p570, Nook). Roger had to gather himself, so he can tell Fiona what happened. Roger had thought of his father, and he must have crossed his timeline when he saw his father.  He thanks Fiona for not letting him burn. They talk about the gemstones in his mother’s locket likely keeping him alive in the crossing. Roger realizes thinking of his dad was the problem. He decides to go again to Fiona’s horror and objection. He explains how he knows it will be okay (p573, Nook). She understands.

She places her engagement ring in his hand. It has a small diamond in the setting. She’ll tell Ernie she lost it. It’s insured after all. He’s ready to go again (pp573, Nook). Fiona waited for a long time to be sure Roger doesn’t return. She bids him well (p573, Nook).

What’s Coming up? Chapters 34-35 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

Any images are Wiki Commons. Click on picture for attribution link. Featured Image  Forastera Outlander Wiki. Credit Starz

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Friend or Foe Ep 130

Drums of Autumn

Chapters 28-29

Week 16

“Friend or Foe”

Listen to the podcast!


Claire tends to the ill men. She tells the stories of their Jamaican adventure. Jamie and William are to be away for a few more days. She and Lord John make conversation. They slowly engage and begin to bond. John is on a personal mission. A visitor brings alarming news. John serves as a protector. They wish Jamie were there. Claire returns to the chores of the Ridge. John and Claire deepen their connection. Another visitor, maybe friend or foe arrives. A terrible and painful discovery is made. The village is burned. Jamie cautiously investigates. The survivors move north. Jamie makes his way back to the hiding boy.

Inside the Chapters:

Chapter 28:

Heated Conversation

Claire diagnoses Young Ian with the measles. To more easily care for him and the still-ailing Lord John, she tucks him into the trundle bed in the cabin. Claire gives a strong cup of willow bark brew to Young Ian to help ease his headache, fever, and general pain. Lord John offers to help Claire, but he is still too unwell to do anything of need, like empty a chamber pot. Claire massages Young Ian’s head in the manner Yi Tien Cho taught her (p514, Nook). Claire is glad he was never caught and prosecuted for the murder on Jamaica. Young Ian insists on hearing the story, and Lord John wants to know who the murderer is. Claire is apprehensive to tell the story, but all the players are dead or missing. She also worries for Ian since Geillis had abused him. Nonetheless, Claire couldn’t keep the information to herself with the desire in the two male’s eyes for the story.

Claire proceeds to tell the story of Rose Hall, the witch called Geillis Abernathy, Reverend Campbell, his sister Margaret, the Edinburgh Fiend, Fraser’s Prophecy, the crocodile, and the slave rebellion. Ian is stunned by the telling of the crocodile (p516, Nook). There could never be a dull life for the Frasers? Certainly not. They are locked and loaded for adventure at every turn. Claire scans the room for weapons and to ensure the door is locked. She’s on high alert caring for two sick men and Jamie away with William.

Claire is concerned over the severity of Ian’s headache. Could it be something more dangerous like meningitis or encephalitis? Ian tells Claire how Geillis used stones for different treatments (p517, Nook). Lord John doesn’t know what Geillis did to Ian. Claire offers Ian watered down wine instead of ground amethyst. He gratefully takes it. Ian explains further what Geillis wanted from the young boys. If a boy were a virgin, then a proper stone would grow in his intestines or stomach. Ian never learned what she’d wanted it for.

There’s an unexpected knock at the door. She and Lord John each grab a pistol. It turns out it’s Ian’s dog, Rollo at the door. He enters the cabin with great joy (p519, Nook). The dog dismisses Lord John at Ian’s urging. Rollo snuggles up to Ian. Claire bids them a good night. Claire moves about the cabin tidying up from the day’s work. She must be exhausted by the number of tasks she has going at once. She finally sits by the fire with her wool basket.

It’s only been two days since Jamie and William left. If nothing hinders them, they’ll be back in four days. She notes the marked contrast between the wool Jocasta spun and the wool she had spun. She reflects on Jamie’s shock over her lack of knitting abilities (p520, Nook). She is, in turn, shocked herself to find that Jamie knows how to knit (p521, Nook). Claire knows the basics now but it’s not her favored task, and it is in no way soothing like Jamie and Ian claim it to be. She decides to roll up balls of yarn. An easy enough and mindless task.

The smell of the newly dyed yarn mingling with the scents and bodies in the room is overwhelming to her. She wants nothing more than a sponge bath and bed. There’s an Englishman in her bed and a sick Ian with Rollo in the other. She gets a pallet of quilts and such to sleep on if doctoring Ian doesn’t take her attention in the night. Claire suddenly feels pity for all the work she’s putting in caring for the ill men and taking care of the Ridge on her own. Then just as suddenly she looks at Lord John, and her ill mood fades.

She sees grief and pain on his face. After he recovers, and Jamie returns with William, they will leave. Life on the Ridge will go back to normal. John and William’s life will not. His wife is dead. Claire’s ashamed of the unkind thoughts she had had toward him. She offers him tea. They sipped silently for a while. Claire breaks the silence offering condolences on the loss of his wife. He says he was thinking of her then. Claire finds satisfaction in being able to read John’s thoughts.

John is grappling with his feelings for his dead wife. It’s why he came to the Ridge. Claire doesn’t understand. John thinks Claire is good with children and asks if she has any of her own (p524, Nook). It’s getting real up in here. John sincerely tells her his motive was not to put the boy in her face to make her jealous. She believes him, but why then did he come? John is taken with Claire (p525, Nook). They seem to have personality in common.

When the conversation lulls for a moment, she makes an infusion of valerian (for sleep), catmint, and wild ginger. It’s the same infusion she’d made for John four days earlier. He discloses they heard of Claire’s doctoring as they traveled away from Wilmington. Apparently, she’s quite well known (p525, Nook). John asks if Jamie and William will be safe (p525, Nook). Now we’re getting deep, deep. Claire thinks John is brave for having sent the boy with Jamie (p526, Nook). Jamie has known John’s secret about his sexuality for years. That’s how he has held his life in his hands.  They sit in silence while the infusion steeps. Claire winds more yarn balls.

John breaks the silence speaking of his feelings for his wife (p526, Nook). John believes his wife was content and happy in the life she had led. He further explains or tries to their lack of children wasn’t his fault (p527, Nook). The claws are out. It’s a catfight. Claire allows him to see everything she is thinking with a bold look. When his wife Isobel died, he felt nothing. They had shared a bed, a life, many years together and yet? (p527, Nook). Can he still feel? That’s powerful. Without the aid of a telephone or other means of communication, seeing Jamie would tell him if his heart still lived. She tends to a restless Ian then hands John a cup of the freshly brewed infusion. Claire wants to know now that he’s seen Jamie, does he still have feelings. He does, God help him. This admission of John’s, his need to know if he is still alive, touches me in such a personal way. I had to go through this type of exercise when I was going through a difficult divorce a lifetime ago.

Claire’s fitful sleep is interrupted by a noisy Clarence the Mule (p528, Nook). John is sitting in his shirt at the table and has a startled look in his eye when he sees Claire get up. It isn’t Jamie and Willie returning; it’s Pastor Gottfried from Salem. This must be an emergency visit since it is a two-day ride for the pastor to reach the Ridge. He asks for Jamie. He becomes more upset and starts rattling off German phrases Claire doesn’t understand. Lord John jumps in asking questions of the pastor in German. Claire is thankful he put his pants on for the conversation. The pastor is scandalized by a man being in the house. Lord John quick fires many things to the pastor. The pastor, in turn, apologizes to Claire.

John translates the Mueller baby and daughter are dead from the measles. Claire is sad and upset. The pastor wants Jamie to reason with Gerhard Mueller. Claire explains Jamie and Gerhard aren’t friends (p530, Nook). After a lengthy back and forth in German with the pastor, Lord John can translate the outbreak also entered the backcountry, Indians showed up asking for a drink and kindness. Mueller gruffly sent them away. The Indians obliged but seemed to have hexed the house on their way off the premises. Mueller believes it is the fault of the Indians measles showed up the day after their visit. When Petronella and the baby died, Mueller vowed revenge. He and his sons went looking for the Indians and brought back scalps which he hung from, his barn door. Mueller intends to come to the Ridge next.

Claire is horrified by this knowledge and becomes as pale as the pastor. After more translation, the pastor has no idea why Mueller would want to see Claire. The pastor set out after Mueller and found him by the road passed out from drink and no food. Instead of rousing Mueller, the pastor flew like the wind to Fraser’s Ridge to warn Claire and Jamie. He’s a hero this pastor. Seeing Jamie gone, the pastor is worried for Claire. The pastor urges Claire to leave right away, but she cannot because of Lord John and Young Ian. To make it worse, the pastor hasn’t had measles and is in danger if he enters the cabin. Claire thinks about the scalps on Mueller’s barn door, and her hair actually stands on end. Claire’s scalp is rippling with horror. Lord John assures the pastor he has been a soldier and will take care of Claire. The pastor will not leave without John’s assurances. The pastor blesses them as he rides away.

Claire pauses to notice the autumn morning and what nature has to offer. Who did Mueller exact his revenge against? Did he go into an Indian village? Likely those he murdered would have family who would want revenge in return. Those who might seek out the killers may only know white men were responsible. Fraser’s Ridge is between the Indian villages and the Mueller’s farm. Claire utters aloud a thought (p534, Nook). Looking at John, she orders him back to bed. He is still weak and not ready to be up and about. John doesn’t protest. Claire tends to Young Ian and listens for another announcement more company has arrived.

Claire is paranoid at every sound, but eventually, she gets into her normal routine on top of taking care of Young Ian. Lord John helps with shelling beans. Claire would like to simply walk into the woods to be surrounded by nature within its confines. She could recharge and be unafraid. She doesn’t give in to temptation as the sun sets on the Ridge with no signs of Mueller.

John asks for details about Mueller as he eats a meal, though refusing the greens. Remember Jamie pulling greens in Voyager while at Ardsmuir and John being baffled?  Claire explains Mueller’s physical and personality dispositions. She likens the man to a mule (p536, Nook). Though Claire hadn’t been present for the altercation at the mill, Young Ian had described to her what happened in detail. He had insisted Felicia Woolam, one of the daughters of the mill owner, shorted him on flour.  Young Ian unable to dissuade the man fetched Jamie to help. Jamie tried to reason with him to no avail. Jamie resorted to physical violence to stop him (pp536, Nook). After dragging Mueller outside to one of his waiting sons, Jamie spoke to him while Woolam rebagged the flour into five sacks.

Claire doesn’t believe Mueller held any ill will and was kind to her when she attended Petronella’s labor and birth. She nearly chokes on her food remembering Petronella and the baby are gone. John gives her ale to drink. She counts her blessings from the small pleasures around her, the warmth of the sun, the smell in the fresh air, and the reality these things were abruptly taken from others who barely knew them. She opens her eyes and thanks John. He looks at her with sympathy. She thinks she shouldn’t be so shocked at how precarious life is there for the young especially. She finds herself with a tear rolling down her cheek. John gives her a used handkerchief to blot it away with, but she doesn’t care. John makes a statement to Claire (p537, Nook). I hope beyond hope this is shown unfettered on screen.

The rest of the day wore on without incident. Young Ian is in full rash with a lessening fever. Claire is reminded its milking time. Up she gets and opens the door and steps right in front of Gerhard Mueller.

Mueller is looking at Claire with great intensity. He looks shrunken, older, and weary. He appears without horse or mule and standing up takes effort. They greet each other. He sounds desperate. Mueller says, “they are dead,” with tears welling in his eyes. Claire wants to reach out and comfort him. Leading her to the bench near the door, they sit. John has come out to see what is going on, pistol in hand. He hugs Claire, weeping silently into her. Claire puts her arms around him. She notices the varying stench on his person. All she can do is hold onto him even though she is repulsed. When Mueller let’s go of Claire, he starts at the sight of John.

The rash on John’s skin is what causes the alarm. Mueller frantically checks Claire’s skin. He thanks God her skin is clear. John further translates the words (pp539, Nook). Babbling in the German tongue, he places the item on her lap. John continues to translate. Mueller thinks Claire a fine woman and like a daughter-in-law. John’s voice trails off as the item is fully unwrapped. Claire shudders and cannot make a sound (p539, Nook). Claire can only hear Nayawenne’s translated words in her ears (p539, Nook).

Claire has spent the last days caring for John, Yong Ian, and the entire homestead alone. A possibly firm foundation is built between John and Claire. They now have something outside of Jamie that is solely theirs. The alarming appearance and news from the pastor further bind them together. She needs John’s translation and protection regardless of how weak he still is. When Mueller shows up broken, in sorrow, and with a gift of protection, the outcome is an utter surprise. Claire not only mourns the death of Petronella and the baby but her Tuscarora friends, especially Nayawenne. Her heart must be breaking into many pieces. The final reminder of the old woman’s prophecy rings in Claire’s head.

Chapter 29:

Charnel Houses

The smell of smoke hits Jamie before the Indian village comes into sight. He sends William to hide off the path with the horses, so he can investigate what is happening. Jamie instructs William with directions to leave if he is not back by dark. He further instructs William to leave toward the Ridge if he doesn’t meet him up in that spot by morning. William is scared but only listens. Jamie sends him on his way.

The smell of fire is something out of the norm. Jamie cautiously investigates. He sees the remnants of the village with smoke still rising from the leftover buildings (p541, Nook). His heart sinks. Who could do such a thing? The winds shift pushing the smell of burned flesh into his face. He vomits. This smell and scene are too familiar to Jamie. A known dog comes from the distance. Jamie asks him where the people are. The dog’s owner Onakara walks toward Jamie.

The man doesn’t answer Jamie, rather has him follow into the forest where survivors are a half-hour walk away. Some faces are familiar, others are not, and far too many were missing from this camp. Their faces remind him of the Highlands during the cleansing (p542, Nook). The difference is this had been an orderly exodus from Anna Ooka. Jamie finds Nacognaweto. After composing himself the old man asks after Gabrielle and Nayawenne in a descriptive manner rather than name. Jamie shakes his head. They share a strong drink. Jamie understands the customs of conversation, nevertheless, asks what happened.

The village had succumbed to the measles. Nayawenne tried to stop it and went into the woods looking for a charm or plant. Berthe and Gabrielle went with her, and none of them returned. There had been a search for the women with no results. Nacognaweto believes they are cursed. He explains the burning of the bodies and buildings. The tribe will now go north to become part of another group. Jamie leaves with grief in his heart and thankfulness his family is safe. He walks quickly to cover the distance back to William as the dark comes.

Jamie is grieving and in shock like Claire though he knows not the extent of the situation. He is lucky to have hearth and home intact. He has lost a friend in Nacognaweto as the Tuscarora move north to a new home. I wonder how he will respond when he learns the whole story from Claire and JohnThese chapters show the value of openness of heart and mind. The value of friendship and family. How grief touches us on the periphery and up close. They highlight how we cannot outrun the inevitable too. Nayawenne knew her time of death and illness were coming.

What’s Coming up? Chapters 30-33 Drums of Autumn (DOA).

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

Any images are Wiki Commons. Click on picture for attribution link. Featured Image By Ken Thomas – website of photographer), Public Domain,

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