Saturday, February 13, 2016

Claire's Wedding Ring

Valentines day to an Outlander fan conjures Jamie's ability to tell Claire his heart. There is no better expression of this, then her Wedding ring and the story in which Diana Gabaldon tells of how it came to be and its maybe the hottest part of Outlander.
We very well can't leave it there either. There is so much to the story of the ring, throughout the books.
From Hugh Munro's thoughful Catullus poem, to the beautiful realization in Dragonfly in Amber, that Jamie had the ring inscribed, and their rejoining in Voyager, where Jamie finds the ring, still on Claire's right hand ring finger.







Outlander:
Amorous kisses.
I had not seen Hugh Munro again, but I had wakened in darkness the night before to find Jamie gone from the blanket beside me. I tried to stay awake, waiting for him to return, but fell asleep as the moon began to sink. In the morning, he was sound asleep beside me, and on my blanket rested a small parcel, done up in a sheet of thin paper, fastened with the tail-feather of a woodpecker thrust through the sheet. Unfolding it carefully, I found a large chunk of rough amber. One face of the chunk had been smoothed off and polished, and in this window could be seen the delicate dark form of a tiny dragonfly, suspended in eternal flight. I smoothed out the wrapping. A message was incised on the grimy white surface, written in small and surprisingly elegant lettering. “What does it say?” I asked Jamie, squinting at the odd letters and marks. “I think it’s in Gaelic.” He raised up on one elbow squinting at the paper. “Not Gaelic. Latin. Munro was a schoolmaster once, before the Turks took him. It’s a bit from Catullus,” he said. … da mi basia mille, diende centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum … A faint blush pinkened his earlobes as he translated: Then let amorous kisses dwell On our lips, begin and tell A Thousand and a Hundred score A Hundred, and a Thousand more. “Well, that’s a bit more high-class than your usual fortune cookie,” I observed, amused. “What?” Jamie looked startled. “Never mind,” I said hastily.




Outlander:
Claire's wedding ring.
“And all I ever will have from the MacKenzies. Ye’ll have noticed Dougal’s a thrifty man, and Colum’s twice as tight-fisted wi’ his coin. But even the princely sum of twenty pound a quarter is hardly worth marrying to get, I should think,” he added sarcastically, eyeing me.
“I wouldna have asked for it straight away, at that, ”he added, bringing out a small paper-wrapped parcel, “but there was something I wanted to buy with it. That’s where my errand took me; meeting Laoghaire was an accident.” “And what did you want to buy so much? ”I asked suspiciously. He sighed and hesitated for a moment, then tossed the small package lightly into my lap. “A wedding ring, Sassenach, ”he said. “I got it from Ewen the armorer; he makes such things in his own time.” “Oh,”I said in a small voice. “Go ahead,” he said, a moment later. “Open it. It’s yours.” The outlines of the little package blurred under my fingers. I blinked and sniffed, but made no move to open it. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Well, so ye should be, Sassenach,” he said, but his voice was no longer angry. Reaching, he took the package from my lap and tore away the wrapping, revealing a wide silver band, decorated in the Highland interlace style, a small and delicate Jacobean thistle bloom carved in the center of each link. So much I saw, and then my eyes blurred again. I found a handkerchief thrust into my hand, and did my best to stanch the flow with it. “It’s …beautiful,” I said, clearing my throat and dabbling at my eyes. “Will ye wear it, Claire?” His voice was gentle now, and his use of my name, mostly reserved for occasions of formality or tenderness, nearly made me break down again. “You needna do so,” he said, looking at me seriously over his cupped palm. “The marriage contract between us is satisfied—it’s legal. You’re protected, safe from anything much save a warrant, and even from that, so long as you’re at Leoch. If ye wish, we may live apart—if that’s what ye were trying to say wi’ all yon rubbish about Laoghaire. You need have little more to do wi’ me, if that’s your honest choice.” He sat motionless, waiting, holding the tiny circlet near his heart. So he was giving me the choice I had started out to give him. Forced on me by circumstance, he would force himself on me no longer, if I chose to reject him. And there was the alternative, of course: to accept the ring, and all that went with it. The sun was setting. The last rays of light shone through a blue glass flagon that stood on the table, streaking the wall with a shaft of brilliant lapis. I felt as fragile and as brilliant as the glass, as though I would shatter with a touch, and fall in glittering fragments to the floor. If I had meant to spare either Jamie’s emotions or my own, it seemed I was very much too late. I couldn’t speak, but held out my right hand to him, fingers trembling. The ring slipped cool and bright over my knuckle and rested snug at the base of my finger—a good fit. Jamie held my hand a moment, looking at it, then suddenly pressed my knuckles hard against his mouth. He raised his head, and I saw his face for an instant, fierce and urgent, before he pulled me roughly onto his lap. He held me hard against him then, without speaking, and I could feel the pulsebeat in his throat, hammering like my own. His hands went to my bare shoulders, and he held me slightly away, so that I was looking upward into his face. His hands were large and very warm, and I felt slightly dizzy. “I want ye, Claire,” he said, sounding choked. He paused a moment, as though unsure what to say next. “I want ye so much—I can scarcely breathe. Will—” He swallowed, then cleared his throat. “Will ye have me?” By now I had found my voice. It squeaked and wobbled, but it worked. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I’ll have you.”





Dragonfly in Amber:
Return to the 20th century.
Frank looked uncertainly from the doctor to me. “Well, she certainly does seem upset. But I really want to find out … what’s this, Claire?” Stroking my hand, he had encountered the silver ring on my fourth finger, and now bent to examine it. It was the ring Jamie had given me for our marriage; a wide silver band in the Highland interlace pattern, the links engraved with tiny, stylized thistle blooms. “No!” I exclaimed, panicked, as Frank tried to twist it off my finger. I jerked my hand away and cradled it, fisted, beneath my bosom, cupped in my left hand, which still wore Frank’s gold wedding band. “No, you can’t take it, I won’t let you! That’s my wedding ring!”“Now, see here, Claire—” Frank’s words were interrupted by the doctor, who had crossed to Frank’s side of the bed, and was now bending down to murmur in his ear. I caught a few words—“ not trouble your wife just now. The shock”— and then Frank was on his feet once more, being firmly urged away by the doctor, who gave a nod to one of the nurses in passing. I barely felt the sting of the hypodermic needle, too engulfed in the fresh wave of grief to take notice of anything. I dimly heard Frank’s parting words, “All right— but Claire, I will know!” And then the blessed darkness came down, and I slept without dreaming, for a long, long time.








Dragonfly in Amber:
Claire realizes Jamie inscribed her wedding ring that she wore without removing, in the 20 years since he put it on her finger.
She glanced down at her hands, and spread the fingers of both, so the light gleamed from the two rings she wore, silver and gold. Roger was struck by a thought. “Your ring,” he said, coming to stand close by her again. “The silver one. Is there a maker’s mark in it? Some of the eighteenth-century Scottish silversmiths used them. It might not be proof positive, but it’s something.” Claire looked startled. Her left hand covered the right protectively, fingers rubbing the wide silver band with its pattern of Highland interlace and thistle blooms. “I don’t know,” she said. A faint blush rose in her cheeks. “I haven’t seen inside it. I’ve never taken it off.” She twisted the ring slowly over the joint of the knuckle; her fingers were slender, but from long wearing, the ring had left a groove in her flesh. She squinted at the inside of the ring, then rose and brought it to the table, where she stood next to Roger, tilting the silver circle to catch the light from the table lamp. “There are words in it,” she said wonderingly. “I never realized that he’d …Oh, dear God.”Her voice broke, and the ring slipped from her fingers, rattling on the table with a tiny metal chime. Roger hurriedly scooped it up, but she had turned away, fists held tight against her middle. He knew she didn’t want him to see her face; the control she had kept through the long hours of the day and the scene with Brianna had deserted her now. He stood for a minute, feeling unbearably awkward and out of place. With a terrible feeling that he was violating a privacy that ran deeper than anything he had ever known, but not knowing what else to do, he lifted the tiny metal circle to the light and read the words inside. “Da mi basia mille …”But it was Claire’s voice that spoke the words, not his. Her voice was shaky, and he could tell that she was crying, but it was coming back under her control. She couldn’t let go for long; the power of what she held leashed could so easily destroy her. “It’s Catullus. A bit of a love poem. Hugh.…Hugh Munro—he gave me the poem for a wedding present, wrapped around a bit of amber with a dragonfly inside it.”Her hands, still curled into fists, had now dropped to her sides. “I couldn’t say it all, still, but the one bit—I know that much.”Her voice was growing steadier as she spoke, but she kept her back turned to Roger. The small silver circle glowed in his palm, still warm with the heat of the finger it had left. “…da mi basia mille …”Still turned away, she went on, translating, “Then let amorous kisses dwell On our lips, begin and tell A Thousand and a Hundred score A Hundred, and a Thousand more.” When she had finished , she stood still a moment, then slowly turned to face him again. Her cheeks were flushed and wet, and her lashes clumped together, but she was superficially calm. “A hundred, and a thousand more,” she said, with a feeble attempt at a smile. “But no maker’s mark. So that isn’t proof, either.” “Yes, it is.” Roger found there seemed to be something sticking in his own throat, and hastily cleared it. “It’s absolute proof. To me.” Something lit in the depths of her eyes, and the smile grew real. Then the tears welled up and overflowed as she lost her grip once and for all. “I’m sorry,” she said at last. She was sitting on the sofa, elbows on her knees, face half-buried in one of the Reverend Mr. Wakefield’s huge white handkerchiefs.




Voyager
The reunion:
I stretched out a hand toward him, as much to stop as to welcome him. I wanted more than anything to touch him again, but was unaccountably shy. After so long, how were we to start again? He felt the constraint of mingled shyness and intimacy as well. Stopping a few inches from me, he took my hand. He hesitated for a moment, then bent his head over it, his lips barely brushing my knuckles. His fingers touched the silver ring and stopped there, holding the metal lightly between thumb and forefinger. “I never took it off,” I blurted. It seemed important he should know that. He squeezed my hand lightly, but didn’t let go. “I want—” He stopped and swallowed, still holding my hand. His fingers found and touched the silver ring once more. “I want verra much to kiss you,” he said softly. “May I do that?” The tears were barely dammed. Two more welled up and overflowed; I felt them, full and round, roll down my cheeks. “Yes,” I whispered. He drew me slowly close to him, holding our linked hands just under his breast. “I havena done this for a verra long time,” he said. I saw the hope and the fear dark in the blue of his eyes. I took the gift and gave it back to him. “Neither have I,” I said softly. His hands cupped my face with exquisite gentleness, and he set his mouth on mine. I didn’t know quite what I had been expecting. A reprise of the pounding fury that had accompanied our final parting? I had remembered that so often, lived it over in memory, helpless to change the outcome. The half-rough, timeless hours of mutual possession in the darkness of our marriage bed? I had longed for that, wakened often sweating and trembling from the memory of it. But we were strangers now, barely touching, each seeking the way toward joining, slowly, tentatively, seeking and giving unspoken permission with our silent lips. My eyes were closed, and I knew without looking that Jamie’s were, as well. We were, quite simply, afraid to look at each other. Without raising his head, he began to stroke me lightly, feeling my bones through my clothes, familiarizing himself again with the terrain of my body. At last his hand traveled down my arm and caught my right hand. His fingers traced my hand until they found the ring again, and circled it, feeling the interlaced silver of the Highland pattern, polished with long wear, but still distinct. His lips moved from mine, across my cheeks and eyes. I gently stroked his back, feeling through his shirt the marks I couldn’t see, the remnants of old scars, like my ring, worn but still distinct. “I’ve seen ye so many times,” he said, his voice whispering warm in my ear. “You’ve come to me so often. When I dreamed sometimes. When I lay in fever. When I was so afraid and so lonely I knew I must die. When I needed you, I would always see ye, smiling, with your hair curling up about your face. But ye never spoke. And ye never touched me.” “I can touch you now.” I reached up and drew my hand gently down his temple, his ear, the cheek and jaw that I could see. My hand went to the nape of his neck, under the clubbed bronze hair, and he raised his head at last, and cupped my face between his hands, love glowing strong in the dark blue eyes. “Dinna be afraid,”he said softly. “There’s the two of us now.”


Happy Valentine's day

4 comments:

  1. Wow! I love the way you put those together. I read them aloud to my husband, in the hopes that he will get a tad bit more romantic! Thank you!

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  2. I liked the ring, it is kind of unique to wear. But would definitely require the other accessories in the same color to match it.
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