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Sunday, February 28, 2016
DRAGONFLY IN AMBER summary & analysis by BOOK*SENSE Part 1 and 2..
This is part 1 and 2 of Book*Sense Dragonfly in Amber. Summary and Analysis.
Dragonfly in Amber part 3 and 4 can be found in the archive section.
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Dragonfly in Amber part 5, 6 and 7 can be found in the archive section
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With the long awaited return of OUTLANDER, SEASON TWO DRAGONFLY IN AMBER to the Starz original Series lineup still months away, there have been many outlets recaping chapters, podcast reviews and book clubs popping up about Diana Gabaldon's 2nd book. Certainly to entertain us until the spring when the show airs again.
Outlander Homepage has also tried to find interesting ways to recap each chapter of DIA, even doing our own written by Janis Hines. But the chapters are soooo long and complicated.
BOOK*SENSE summary & analysis "Dragonfly in Amber" has a thought provoking quick recap of the entire story and a breakdown of each chapter that we think Outlander Fans will enjoy!
We will continue to update this page weekly. If you are new to reading these recaps, we have left them in order so you can read all of the chapters, not just the most current one.
Dragonfly in Amber summary & analysis by BOOK*SENSE
INTRODUCTION The sweeping saga begun in Outlander continues in Diana Gabaldon’s 1992 Dragonfly in Amber. In it, the Frasers return from France to Scotland, only to be separated, and revelations of the strange relationships within families come to light— among many other events that are entertainingly and engagingly depicted in a solid, substantial piece of writing.
SETTING FOR THE STORY In such books as those of the Outlander series, both physical and temporal settings matter. In Dragonfly in Amber, much of the physical setting is in Scotland; Parts Two through Four are in Paris, France , but the remainder are in the northernmost British country. The two physical settings serve as counterpoints to one another, the urbanity of the French capital contrasting sharply with the ruggedly beautiful but rural Scotland. The commonality of action among the settings, however, underscores the fundamentally human nature of deceit and betrayal. The temporal setting in the frame is 1968, while that in the main narrative is 1745. Not much is made of the resonance of the late 1960s in the frame, but the significance of 1745 as the last gasp of the Stuart monarchy is much touted in the text. Because Gabaldon is an American author , and the events of the Jacobite Rising do not figure much into the prevailing American popular consciousness but the events of the 1960s do, it makes sense that the earlier events would be more thoroughly explicated than the latter. As the Frasers are much more significant in the earlier events, as well, the greater explication of them also seems sensible.
PROLOGUE A nameless character (likely Claire) remarks on waking thrice before dawn: once in sorrow, once in love and once in blankness. The speaker claims to be the only one who knows the purpose of the stone circle on Craigh na Dun.
PROLOGUE I woke three times in the dark predawn. First in sorrow, then in joy, and at the last, in solitude. The tears of a bone-deep loss woke me slowly, bathing my face like the comforting touch of a damp cloth in soothing hands. I turned my face to the wet pillow and sailed a salty river into the caverns of grief remembered, into the subterranean depths of sleep. I came awake then in fierce joy, body arched bowlike in the throes of physical joining, the touch of him fresh on my skin, dying along the paths of my nerves as the ripples of consummation spread from my center. I repelled consciousness, turning again, seeking the sharp, warm smell of a man’s satisfied desire, in the reassuring arms of my lover, sleep. The third time I woke alone, beyond the touch of love or grief. The sight of the stones was fresh in my mind. A small circle, standing stones on the crest of a steep green hill. The name of the hill is Craigh na Dun; the fairies’ hill. Some say the hill is enchanted, others say it is cursed. Both are right. But no one knows the function or the purpose of the stones. Except me.
Parts 1 & 2
Chapter 1: Mustering the Roll. Through a Looking Glass, Darkly , is set in Inverness in 1968. It begins with Roger sorting through the effects of his late great-uncle and adoptive father, Rev. Reginald Wakefield. The task is daunting, for the late Reverend was a collector of minutiae of the eighteenth century. Roger muses on his family history and his status as an orphan of the Second World War ; he is soon interrupted by the entrance of Claire, who recalls him from his childhood , and her daughter, Brianne. The three exchange pleasantries for a while before Claire charges Roger with finding the fates of a number of men on a list of combatants in the 1745 Battle of Culloden. The association of Fiona Graham with local neo-Druids is noted. So is a nearby stone circle, at which mention Claire grows upset. After, Claire mulls over matters and speaks with her daughter; Roger turns over events in his head. Claire considers her sleeping daughter and names from her past.
But under everything was the deep silence of a Highland night. I sat very still, reaching for it. It had been twenty years since I last felt it, but the soothing power of the dark was still there, cradled between the mountains. I reached into the pocket of my dressing gown and pulled out the folded paper— a copy of the list I had given Roger Wakefield. It was too dark to read by firelight, but I didn’t need to see the names. I unfolded the paper on my silk-clad knee and sat blindly staring at the lines of illegible type. I ran my finger slowly across each line, murmuring each man’s name to myself like a prayer. They belonged to the cold spring night, more than I did. But I kept looking into the flames, letting the dark outside come to fill the empty places inside me. And speaking their names as though to summon them, I began the first steps back, crossing the empty dark to where they waited.
Chapter 2: The Plot Thickens. Roger works on the task Claire set him and considers the difficult intricacies of documentary research. He also considers the oddness of Claire and the idea that she is keeping something from Brianne . The next day, Roger meets with Claire and Brianne again and reports on his results thus far. He also considers the women presently in his life: Claire, Brianne and Fiona, the last of which fairly smothers him with domestic attention. Roger invites Claire and Brianne along on his continuing research; Brianne agrees. Claire repeats bits of minutiae that seem out of place and asks Roger not to take Brianne to a stone circle or to mention Jaime Fraser to her. That night, Roger pores over his adoptive father’s notes; he is interrupted by Fiona’s ministrations, but stumbles upon an odd bit of news about Claire from the 1940s. The next morning, Roger continues to mull over events.
A good half of Charles Stuart’s army had been slaughtered at Culloden. And Lovat’s men had been in the thick of it, right in the center of the battle. It was inconceivable that a group of thirty men had survived in that position without one fatality. The Master of Lovat’s men had come late to the Rising; while desertion had been rife in other regiments, who had served long enough to have some idea what they were in for, the Frasers had been remarkably loyal— and suffered in consequence.
Claire to Roger:
“You were asking Bree if she’d go with you to do field research. I wanted to ask you … there’s a place I’d rather you didn’t take her, if you don’t mind.” Alarm bells went off at once in Roger’s head. Was he going to find out what the secret was about Broch Tuarach? “The circle of standing stones— they call it Craigh na Dun.” Claire’s face was earnest as she leaned slightly closer. “There’s an important reason, or I wouldn’t ask. I want to take Brianna to the circle myself, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you why, just now. I will, in time, but not quite yet. Will you promise me?” Thoughts were chasing themselves through Roger’s mind. So it hadn’t been Broch Tuarach she wanted to keep the girl away from, after all! One mystery was explained, only to deepen another. “If you like,” he said at last. “Of course.”
Chapter 3: Mothers and Daughters. Claire and Brianne shop in Inverness. Claire considers her daughter and telling her something. She also considers her motives for engaging Roger. Brianne asks after that engagement and finds herself sent off to select a gift for Roger; Claire uses the time to interview Fiona. The next day, Claire demurs as Brianne goes off with Roger.
Claire's thoughts to Brianna:
“Does it rain all the time here?”“Pretty much,” I said, peering up and down through the downpour for oncoming traffic. “Though I’ve always supposed Mr. Macintosh was rather a lily-livered sort; most Scots I’ve known were relatively impervious to rain.” I bit my lip suddenly, but Brianna hadn’t noticed the slip, minor as it was; she was eyeing the ankle-deep freshet running down the gutter. “Tell you what, Mama, maybe we’d better go up to the crossing. We aren’t going to make it jaywalking here.” Nodding assent, I followed her up the street, heart pounding with adrenaline under the clammy cover of my mac. When are you going to get it over with? my mind demanded. You can’t keep watching your words and swallowing half the things you start to say. Why not just tell her? Not yet, I thought to myself. I’m not a coward— or if I am, it doesn’t matter. But it isn’t quite time yet. I wanted her to see Scotland first. Not this lot— as we passed a shop offering a display of tartan baby booties—but the countryside. And Culloden. Most of all, I want to be able to tell her the end of the story. And for that, I need Roger Wakefield.
I had seen the place once, nearly thirty years before, when Frank had taken me there on our honeymoon . Now Frank was dead, too, and I had brought my daughter back to Scotland. I wanted Brianna to see Culloden, but no power on earth would make me set foot again on that deadly moor.
Chapter 4: Culloden. Bree and Roger find themselves at the Culloden Visitors Center, looking at materials concerning Charles Edward Stuart and the Battle of Culloden. Roger notes his MacKenzie ancestry and his enjoyment at performing the Scot for her. As they return, Brianne offers to help Roger further ; she does so the next day, and the two pore over old journals as Roger continues to play the Scot. They stumble upon a box marked “Randall” and investigate it, finding much interesting material within. Roger mulls over the Reverend’s journals and considers what they reveal about Claire. He invites Brianne to accompany him on further excursions, and Claire decides to accompany them. Claire dreams that night.
Brianna to Roger:
“Are you Scottish, Roger? Wakefield doesn’t sound like a Scottish name, but there’s something about the way you talk about the Duke of Cumberland …” There was the hint of a smile around her mouth, and he wasn’t sure whether he was being teased, but he answered her seriously enough. “Oh, aye.” He smiled as he said it. “I’m Scots. Wakefield’s not my own name, see; the Reverend gave it me when he adopted me. He was my mother’s uncle— when my parents were killed in the War, he took me to live with him. But my own name is MacKenzie. As for the Duke of Cumberland”— he nodded at the plate-glass window, through which the monuments of Culloden Field were plainly visible. “There’s a clan stone out there, with the name of MacKenzie carved on it, and a good many of my relatives under it.” He reached out and flicked a gold epaulet, leaving it swinging. “I don’t feel quite so personal about it as some, but I haven’t forgotten, either.”
Roger to Brianna at Culloden Moor:
“D’ye know why they called him ‘Prince Charlie’?” Roger asked. “English people always think it was a nickname, showing how much his men loved him.”“It wasn’t?” Roger shook his head. “No, indeed . His men called him Prince Tcharlach”—he spelled it carefully—“ which is the Gaelic for Charles. Tcharlach mac Seamus, ‘Charles, son of James.’ Very formal and respectful indeed. It’s only that Tcharlach in Gaelic sounds the hell of a lot like ‘Charlie’ in English.” Brianna grinned. “So he never was ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’?”
“Not then.” Roger shrugged. “Now he is, of course. One of those little historical mistakes that get passed on for fact. There are a lot of them.”“And you a historian!” Brianna said, teasing. Roger smiled wryly. “That’s how I know.”
Chapter 5: Beloved Wife. Claire, Brianne and Roger are at St. Kilda investigating. They come across the grave-marker of Jonathan Randall, and Claire has a fit. They see the grave marker for Jamie Fraser, and Claire has another. She recalls telling the late Frank Randall of her circumstances then begins to tell them to Brianne and Roger. Brianne reacts poorly.
Brianna, Claire and Roger at St Kilda:
“Mama! Come look at this!” Claire waved back, and made her way to where they stood beside the flat, square stone, stepping carefully across the crowded graves. “What is it?” she asked. “Find an interesting grave?”“I think so. Recognize this name?” Roger stepped back, so she could have a clear view. “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” Mildly startled, Roger glanced at Claire, and was alarmed to see how pale she was. She stared down at the weathered stone, and the muscles of her throat moved in a convulsive swallow. The plant she had pulled was crushed in her hand, unregarded. “Dr. Randall— Claire— are you all right?” The amber eyes were blank, and she appeared not to hear him for a moment. Then she blinked, and looked up. She was still pale, but seemed better now; back in control. “I’m fine,” she said, voice flat. She stooped, and ran her fingers over the letters of the stone as though reading them in Braille. “Jonathan Wolverton Randall,” she said softly, “1705– 1746. I told you, didn’t I? You bastard, I told you!” Her voice, so flat an instant before, was suddenly vibrant, filled with a restrained fury.
Claire to Brianna:
No one’s been buried here since the eighteenth century, he’d told Brianna. No one’s been buried here in two hundred years. Claire’s fingers brushed his own away, and touched the stone, caressing, as though touching flesh, gently tracing the letters, the grooves worn shallow, but still clear. “‘JAMES ALEXANDER MALCOLM MACKENZIE FRASER,’” she read aloud. “Yes, I know him.” Her hand dropped lower, brushing back the grass that grew thickly about the stone, obscuring the line of smaller letters at its base. “‘Beloved husband of Claire,’” she read. “Yes, I knew him,” she said again, so softly Roger could scarcely hear her. “I’m Claire. He was my husband.” She looked up then, into the face of her daughter , white and shocked above her. “And your father,” she said. Roger and Brianna stared down at her, and the kirkyard was silent, save for the rustle of the yews above.
Part two: This is where the book switches to Jamie and Claire already in France and back to the story Claire is trying to tell Brianna and Roger about Jamie. This starts off after the Abbey from the end of book one.
Chapter 6: Making Waves. The Pretenders opens in Le Harve, France, in 1744. It begins with a nauseously pregnant Claire asking for bread along the way. She and Jaime are traveling to Le Havre to call upon a wine-merchant kinsman of his. They make love in the morning and consider their circumstances and Jacobite history. Claire tends to necessary tasks through the day and to Jaime in the night. The next day, Jaime reports events with Jared during the day : liquor and wine tasting. Later , they meet Jared at the port as he is having liquor offloaded. Jared expresses a need to have Jaime handle his affairs for a time— a need which coincides with the Jacobite cause. Soon after, Claire diagnoses smallpox on a nearby ship, ensuring its destruction and the ire of the Comte St. Germain.
Claire to Jamie at an Inn in Le Harve upon their first morning:
“Come to bed with me?” I invited, softly. He hesitated. The strength of his desire was obvious through the fabric of his kilt, and his hands were warm on the cool flesh of my own, but he didn’t move to take me in his arms. “Well …” he said doubtfully. “You want to, don’t you?” I said, sliding a chilly hand under his kilt to make sure. “Oh! er … aye. Aye, I do.” The evidence at hand bore out this statement. He groaned faintly as I cupped my hand between his legs. “Oh, Lord. Don’t do that, Sassenach; I canna keep my hands from ye.” He did hug me then, wrapping long arms about me and pulling my face into the snowy tucks of his shirt, smelling faintly of the laundry starch Brother Alfonse used at the Abbey. “Why should you ?” I said, muffled in his linen. “You’ve a bit of time to spare, surely? It’s only a short ride to the docks.”“It isna that,” he said, smoothing my riotous hair. “Oh, I’m too fat?” In fact, my stomach was still nearly flat, and I was thinner than usual because of the sickness. “Or is it …?”“No,” he said, smiling. “Ye talk too much.” He bent and kissed me, then scooped me up and sat down on the bed, holding me on his lap. I lay down and pulled him determinedly down on top of me. “Claire, no!” he protested as I started unbuckling his kilt. I stared at him. “Whyever not?”“Well,” he said awkwardly, blushing a bit. “The child … I mean, I dinna want to hurt it.” I laughed. “Jamie, you can’t hurt it. It’s no bigger than the tip of my finger yet.” I held up a finger in illustration, then used it to trace the full, curving line of his lower lip. He seized my hand and bent to kiss me abruptly, as though to erase the tickle of my touch. “You’re sure?” he asked. “I mean … I keep thinking he wouldna like being jounced about …”“He’ll never notice,” I assured him, hands once more busy with the buckle of his kilt.
Jamie to Claire after meeting his cousin Jared:
“You’re right,” I said. “‘Drunk’ isn’t anywhere near sufficient to describe your current state. Jamie, you’re completely pissed.” His eyes traveled down the front of his kilt, across the floor, and up the front of my gown. “No, I’m not,” he said, with great dignity. “I did that outside.” He took a step toward me, glowing with ardor. “Come here to me, Sassenach; I’m ready.” I thought “ready” was a bit of an overstatement in one regard; he’d gotten his buttons half undone, and his shirt hung askew on his shoulders, but that was as far as he was likely to make it unaided. In other respects, though … the broad expanse of his chest was exposed, showing the small hollow in the center where I was accustomed to rest my chin, and the small curly hairs sprang up joyous around his nipples. He saw me looking at him, and reached for one of my hands, clasping it to his breast. He was startlingly warm, and I moved instinctively toward him. The other arm swept round me and he bent to kiss me. He made such a thorough job of it that I felt mildly intoxicated, merely from sharing his breath. “All right,” I said, laughing. “If you’re ready, so am I. Let me undress you first, though— I’ve had enough mending today.” He stood still as I stripped him, scarcely moving. He didn’t move, either, as I attended to my own clothes and turned down the bed. I climbed in and turned to look at him, ruddy and magnificent in the sunset glow. He was finely made as a Greek statue, long-nosed and high-cheeked as a profile on a Roman coin. The wide, soft mouth was set in a dreamy smile, and the slanted eyes looked far away. He was perfectly immobile. I viewed him with some concern. “Jamie,” I said, “how, exactly, do you decide whether you’re drunk?” Aroused by my voice, he swayed alarmingly to one side, but caught himself on the edge of the mantelpiece. His eyes drifted around the room, then fixed on my face. For an instant, they blazed clear and pellucid with intelligence.
“Och, easy, Sassenach. If ye can stand up, you’re not drunk.” He let go of the mantelpiece, took a step toward me, and crumpled slowly onto the hearth, eyes blank, and a wide, sweet smile on his dreaming face. “Oh,” I said.
Jamie to Claire:
I turned back to find him leaning forward, regarding me levelly over the rim of his cup. He looked at me thoughtfully for a minute before speaking. “D’ye think what we’ve set ourselves to do is important, Sassenach?” My hand dropped from the door handle. “Stopping the Stuarts from starting a rising in Scotland? Yes, of course I do. Why do you ask?” He nodded, patient as an instructor with a slow pupil. “Aye, well. If ye do, then you’ll come here, sit yourself down, and drink wine wi’ me until Jared comes back. And if ye don’t …” He paused and blew out a long breath that stirred the ruddy wave of hair above his forehead. “If ye don’t, then you’ll go down to a quay full of seamen and merchants who think women near ships are the height of ill luck , who are already spreading gossip that you’ve put a curse on St. Germain’s ship, and you’ll tell them what they must do. With luck, they’ll be too afraid of ye to rape you before they cut your throat and toss you in the harbor, and me after you. If St. Germain himself doesna strangle you first. Did ye no see the look on his face?” I came back to the table and sat down, a little abruptly. My knees were a trifle wobbly. “I saw it,” I said. “But could he … he wouldn’t …” Jamie raised his brows and pushed a cup of wine across the table to me. “He could, and he would if he thought it could be managed inconspicuously. For the Lord’s sake, Sassenach, you’ve cost the man close on a year’s income! And he doesna look the sort to take such a loss philosophically. Had ye not told the harbor master it was smallpox, out loud in front of witnesses, a few discreet bribes would have taken care of the matter. As it is, why do ye think Jared brought us up here so fast? For the quality of the drink?” My lips felt stiff , as though I’d actually drunk a good bit of the vitriol from the pitcher. “You mean … we’re in danger?” He sat back, nodding. “Now you’ve got it,” he said kindly.
Chapter 7: Royal Audience. Claire and Jaime take up residence with Jared in Paris and consider circumstances. The house staff are uneasy with Claire at first but soon adjust to her. Claire learns of the bad reputation of St. Germain. Jaime is invited to attend upon Charles Edward Stuart and is assigned to shepherd the prince along. Later, he discusses political and economic issues with Claire, and yet later, he meets with Stuart. A week later, Jaime is summoned to appear before the French king, attending on him during his toilet. He reports events to Claire.
Jamie to Claire, an audience with the king:
Assisted to a sitting position on the edge of his bed, the King had sat yawning and scratching his stubbled chin while his attendants pulled a silk robe, heavy with embroidery of silver and gold, over the royal shoulders, and knelt to strip off the heavy felt stockings in which the King slept , to be replaced with hose of lighter silk, and soft slippers lined with rabbit fur. One by one, the nobles of the court came to kneel at the feet of their sovereign, to greet him respectfully and ask how His Majesty had passed the night? “Not verra well, I should say,” Jamie broke off to observe here. “He looked like he’d slept little more than an hour or two, and bad dreams with it.” Despite bloodshot eyes and drooping jowls, His Majesty had nodded graciously to his courtiers, then risen slowly to his feet and bowed to those favored guests hovering in the back of the chamber. A dispirited wave of the hand summoned a gentleman of the bedchamber, who led His Majesty to the waiting chair, where he sat with closed eyes, enjoying the ministrations of his attendants, while the visitors were led forward one at a time by the Duc d’Orléans, to kneel before the King and offer a few words of greeting. Formal petitions would be offered a little later, when there was a chance of Louis being awake enough to hear them. “I wasna there for petitioning, but only as a mark of favor,” Jamie explained, “so I just knelt and said, ‘Good morning, Your Majesty,’ while the Duc told the King who I was.”“Did the King say anything to you?” I asked. Jamie grinned , hands linked behind his head as he stretched. “Oh, aye. He opened one eye and looked at me as though he didna believe it.” One eye still open, Louis had surveyed his visitor with a sort of dim interest, then remarked, “Big, aren’t you?”“I said, ‘Yes, Your Majesty,’” Jamie said. “Then he said, ‘Can you dance?’ and I said I could. Then he shut his eye again, and the Duc motioned me back.” Introductions complete, the gentlemen of the bedchamber, ceremoniously assisted by the chief nobles, had then proceeded to make the King’s toilette. As they did so, the various petitioners came forward at the beckoning of the Duc d’Orléans, to murmur into the King’s ear as he twisted his head to accommodate the razor, or bent his neck to have his wig adjusted. “Oh? And were you honored by being allowed to blow His Majesty’s nose for him?” I asked. Jamie grinned, stretching his linked hands until the knuckles cracked. “No, thank God.
Claire to Jamie:
“Jamie … whatever happens, whatever we’re able to do …” I stopped, looking for words. As so often before, the sheer enormity of the task we had taken on staggered me and left me speechless. Who were we, to alter the course of history, to change the course of events not for ourselves, but for princes and peasants , for the entire country of Scotland? Jamie laid his hand over mine and squeezed it reassuringly. “No one can ask more of us than our best, Sassenach. Nay, if there’s blood shed, it wilna lie on our hands at least, and pray God it may not come to that.” I thought of the lonely gray clanstones on Culloden Moor, and the Highland men who might lie under them, if we were unsuccessful. “Pray God,” I echoed.
Chapter 8: Unlaid Ghosts and Crocodiles. Claire remarks on the pattern of her days, including her interactions with the household staff. Jaime invites her to help him with household accounts, and they receive Hawkins. He broaches Jacobite topics with them and makes mention of his niece, Mary. Later, Jaime discusses social dynamics with Claire, and she realizes the descent of Hawkins in her own twentieth century husband. They discuss that descent, referring to Jack Randall in doing so and considering the effects of changing futures. Later, Jaime dreams of the horror and reports it to Claire. The next day, Claire seeks to replenish her herbal supplies and encounters Raymond. They talk for a time of herbs and their practices.
Suddenly I stiffened, pushing away from Jamie’s embrace. “What is it?” he looked alarmed. “Are ye ill, lass? You’ve gone all white!”
And little wonder if I had. For I had suddenly remembered where I had seen the name of Mary Hawkins. Jamie was wrong. This was my affair. For I had seen the name, written in a copperplate hand at the top of a genealogy chart, the ink old and faded by time to a sepia brown. Mary Hawkins was not meant to be the wife of the decrepit Vicomte Marigny. She was to marry Jonathan Randall, in the year of our Lord 1745. “Well, she can’t, can she?” Jamie said. “Jack Randall is dead.” He finished pouring the glass of brandy, and held it out to me. His hand was steady on the crystal stem, but the line of his mouth was set and his voice clipped the word “dead,” giving it a vicious finality.
Jamie dreaming badly:
“Jamie!” I said sharply. “Jamie, wake up!” He blinked then, and saw me, though his expression stayed fixed in the desperate lines of a hunted beast. “I’m all right,” he said. “I’m awake.” He spoke as though wanting to convince himself of the fact. “What is it? Did you have a nightmare?”“A dream. Aye. It was a dream.” I stepped forward and put a hand on his arm. “Tell me. It will go away if you tell me about it.” He grasped me hard by the forearms, as much to keep me from touching him as for support. The moon was full, and I could see that every muscle of his body was tensed , hard and motionless as stone, but pulsing with furious energy, ready to explode into action. “No,” he said, still sounding dazed. “Yes,” I said. “Jamie, talk to me. Tell me. Tell me what you see.”“I canna … see anything. Nothing. I can’t see.” I pulled, turning him from the shadows of the room to face the bright moonlight from the window. The light seemed to help, for his breathing slowed, and in halting, painful bits, the words came out. It was the stones of Wentworth Prison that he dreamed of. And as he spoke, the shape of Jonathan Randall walked the room. And lay naked in my bed, atop the woolen blanket.
Claire upon meeting Master Raymond:
So strong was the impression that I had stepped into an enchanter’s den that I would not have been surprised to hear a croak in reply. For Master Raymond resembled nothing so, much as a large, genial frog. A touch over four feet tall, barrel-chested and bandy-legged, he had the thick, clammy skin of a swamp dweller, and slightly bulbous, friendly black eyes. Aside from the minor fact that he wasn’t green, all he lacked was warts. “Madonna!” he said, beaming expansively.
Chapter 9: The Splendors of Versailles. Jaime and Claire attend a ball at Versailles, with Claire dressed provocatively. Along the way, they discuss events. At the ball, Jaime is embroiled in a series of chess games , and Claire is made the object of substantial flirtation and attempted seduction. They attract the attention of the King upon his entrance and later when Jaime dunks one of those who thought to flirt with Claire into a fountain. The next morning sees Claire subject to morning sickness again, after which she and Jaime receive an invitation to lunch with Louis. Jaime expresses concern about her association with Raymond. At lunch, Claire is made ill by the food. While she recovers from it, accompanied by Jaime, she thinks she sees Jack Randall— as does Jaime. She faints.
The Red Dress:
well, you’re my wife, Sassenach. I dinna want other men to look at you the way I’ve looked at those ladies.” I laughed and put my hands behind his neck, pulling him down to kiss me. He held me around the waist, his thumbs unconsciously stroking the softness of the red silk where it sheathed my torso. His touch traveled upward, sliding across the slipperiness of the fabric to the nape of my neck. His other hand grasped the soft roundness of my breast, swelling up above the tethering grip of the corsets, voluptuously free under a single layer of sheer silk. He let go at last and straightened up, shaking his head doubtfully. “I suppose ye’ll have to wear it, Sassenach, but for Christ’s sake be careful.”“Careful? Of what?” His mouth twisted in a rueful smile. “Lord, woman, have ye no notion what ye look like in that gown? It makes me want to commit rape on the spot. And these damned frog-eaters havena got my restraint.” He frowned slightly. “You couldna … cover it up at bit at the top?” He waved a large hand vaguely in the direction of his own lace jabot, secured with a ruby stickpin. “A … ruffle or something? A handkerchief?”“Men,” I told him , “have no notion of fashion. But not to worry. The seamstress says that’s what the fan is for.” I flipped the matching lace-trimmed fan open with a gesture that had taken fifteen minutes’ practice to perfect, and fluttered it enticingly over my bosom. Jamie blinked meditatively at this performance, then turned to take my cloak from the wardrobe. “Do me the one favor, Sassenach,” he said, draping the heavy velvet over my shoulders. “Take a larger fan.”
Jamie to Claire upon leaving her for a game of Chess:
“Have no fear for your lady”— she cast an appreciative glance at my gown—“ she won’t be alone long.”“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Jamie muttered under his breath. “All right, then, in a moment.” He disengaged himself momentarily from Annalise’s grasp and bent to whisper in my ear. “If I find ye in one of those alcoves, Sassenach, the man you’re with is dead. And as for you …” His hands twitched unconsciously in the direction of his swordbelt. “Oh no you don’t,” I said. “You swore on your dirk you’d never beat me again. What price the Holy Iron, eh?” A reluctant grin tugged at his mouth. “No, I wilna beat ye, much as I’d like to.”“Good. What do you mean to do, then?” I asked, teasing. “I’ll think of something,” he replied, with a certain grimness. “I dinna ken what, but ye wilna like it.” And with a final glare round and a proprietary squeeze of my shoulder, he allowed Annalise to lead him away, like a small but enthusiastic tug towing a reluctant barge.
“You know it’s not Frank ” as the muscles of my calves knotted. And then the lurch into panic and the clenching of hands and stomach, as the slower processes of logical thought came doggedly on the trail of instinct and knowledge, seeing the high brow and the arrogant tilt of the head , assuring me of the unthinkable . It could not be Frank . And if it were not, then it could only be …“Jack Randall.” It wasn’t my voice that spoke, but Jamie’s, sounding oddly calm and detached. Attention attracted by my peculiar behavior, he had looked where I was looking, and had seen what I had seen. He didn’t move. So far as I could tell through the increasing haze of panic, he didn’t breathe. I was dimly aware of a nearby servant peering curiously upward at the towering form of the frozen Scottish warrior next to me, silent as a statue of Mars. But all my concern was for Jamie. He was entirely still. Still as a lion is still, part of the grass of the plain, its stare hot and unblinking as the sun that burns the veldt. And I saw something move in the depths of his eyes. The telltale twitch of the stalking cat, the tiny jerk of the tuft at the end of the tail, precursor to carnage. To draw arms in the presence of the King was death. Murtagh was on the far side of the garden, much too far away to help. Two more paces would bring Randall within hearing distance. Within sword’s reach. I laid a hand on his arm. It was rigid as the steel of the swordhilt under his hand. The blood roared in my ears. “Jamie,” I said. “Jamie!” And fainted.
Chapter 10: A Lady, with Brown Hair Curling Luxuriantly. Claire is awakened by Jaime and the seeming face of Frank or Jack Randall. It is, in fact, Jack’s younger brother, Alex, an ordained minister in the employ of the Duke of Sandringham. Later, back at Jared’s, Jaime and Claire discuss events before resting. Claire recalls in dream Frank’s work as a historian and the distinctions of what is preserved in the historical record. When she wakes, she and Jaime discuss matters and their love.
I swam up out of a flickering yellow haze composed of sunlight, dust, and fragmented memories, feeling completely disoriented. Frank was leaning over me, face creased in concern. He was holding my hand, except that he wasn’t. The hand I held was much larger than Frank’s, and my fingers brushed the wiriness of coarse hairs on the wrist. Frank’s hands were smooth as a girl’s. “Are you all right?” The voice was Frank’s, low and cultured. “Claire!” That voice, deeper and rougher, wasn’t Frank’s at all. Neither was it cultured. It was full of fright and anguish. “Jamie.” I found the name at last to match the mental image for which I had been seeking. “Jamie! Don’t …” I sat bolt upright, staring wildly from one face to the other. I was surrounded by a circle of curious faces, courtiers two and three deep around me, with a small clear space left for His Majesty, who was leaning over, peering down at me with an expression of sympathetic interest. Two men knelt in the dust beside me. Jamie on the right, eyes wide and face pale as the hawthorn blossoms above him. And on my left …“Are you all right, Madame?” The light hazel eyes held only respectful concern, the fine dark brows arched over them in inquiry. It wasn’t Frank, of course. Neither was it Jonathan Randall. This man was younger than the Captain by a good ten years, perhaps close to my own age, his face pale and unlined by exposure to weather. His lips had the same chiseled lines, but lacked the marks of ruthlessness that bracketed the Captain’s mouth. “You.…” I croaked, leaning away from him. “You’re …”“Alexander Randall, Esquire, Madame ,” he answered quickly, making an abortive gesture toward his head, as though to doff a hat he wasn’t wearing. “I don’t believe we have met?” he said, with a hint of doubt.
Frank teaching a college class, in Claire's dream 1700's:
Here and there, one stands out.…” Hand hovering over the row, he selected another oval. “A Gentleman …” He held up the miniature, and Jamie’s blue eyes blazed out under the fiery thatch of his hair, combed for once, braided and ribboned into an unaccustomed formal order. The knife-edged nose was bold above the lace of his stock, and the long mouth seemed about to speak, half -curled at one corner. “But they were real people,” Frank’s voice insisted. “They did much the same things you do— give or take a few small details like going to the pictures or driving down the motorway”— there were appreciative titters amongst the class—“ but they cared about their children, they loved their husbands or wives … well, sometimes they did …” More laughter. “A Lady,” he said softly, cradling the last of the portraits in his palm, shielding it for the moment. “With brown hair curling luxuriantly to her shoulders, and a necklace of pearls. Undated. The artist unknown.” It was a mirror, not a miniature. My cheeks were flushed, and my lips trembled as Frank’s finger gently traced the edge of my jaw, the graceful line of my neck. The tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks as I heard his voice, still lecturing, as he laid down the miniature , and I stared upward at the timbered ceiling. “Undated. Unknown. But once … once, she was real.”
Chapter 11: Useful Occupations. Claire and Jaime attend a social function when they are accosted by a music master who is attempting to put together an impromptu performance. Claire is taken off to speak with Mary Hawkins; while she does so, court ladies advise her to be wary of St. Germain. Later, after the performance, Jaime reveals some of his earlier romantic entanglements. The next day, Claire purposes to begin work at a charity hospital, which Jaime opposes. He comments aspersively on interactions with Stuart. That evening, the two are interrupted form considering their child by the emergence of Stuart into their chambers from an assignation with Louise. The next day, after a day of events, Jaime betrays being allergic to hyacinth and the two discuss personal grooming.
“I can’t sing,” he protested. “Nonsense, nonsense. Of course you can. A nice, deep baritone , too,” the little man murmured approvingly. “Excellent. Just what we need. Here, a bit of help for you. Try to match this tone.” Deftly whipping a small tuning fork from his pocket, he struck it smartly against a pillar and held it next to Jamie’s left ear. Jamie rolled his eyes heavenward, but shrugged and obligingly sang a note. The little man jerked back as though he’d been shot. “No,” he said disbelievingly. “I’m afraid so,” I said sympathetically. “He’s right, you know. He really can’t sing.”
I felt him stiffen slightly beside me, and turned to see what—or whom— he was looking at. The woman who had just entered was tiny, scarcely as high as Jamie’s lowest rib, with hands and feet like a doll’s, and brows delicate as Chinese tracery, over eyes the deep black of sloes. She advanced with a step that mocked its own lightness, so she looked as though she were dancing just above the ground. “There’s Annalise de Marillac,” I said, admiring her. “Doesn’t she look lovely?”“Oh, aye.” Something in his voice made me glance sharply upward. A faint pink tinged the tips of his ears. “And here I thought you spent your years in France fighting, not making romantic conquests,” I said tartly. To my surprise, he laughed at this. Catching the sound, the woman turned toward us. A brilliant smile lit her face as she saw Jamie looming among the crowd. She turned as though to come in our direction, but was distracted by a gentleman, wigged and resplendent in lavender satin, who laid an importuning hand on her fragile arm. She flicked her fan charmingly at Jamie in a gesture of regretful coquetry before devoting her attention to her new companion. “What’s so funny?” I asked, seeing him still grinning broadly after the lady’s gently oscillating lace skirts. He snapped suddenly back to an awareness of my presence, and smiled down at me. “Oh, nothing, Sassenach. Only what ye said about fighting. I fought my first duel —well, the only one, in fact— over Annalise de Marillac. When I was eighteen.”
I heard a muffled shout, and then a scrabbling sound across the slates of the roof. Jamie leaned far out, rising on his toes to reach, then backed slowly into the room, rain-dampened and grunting with effort. He dragged with him, arms clasped about his neck, the form of a handsome boy in dark clothing, thoroughly soaked, with a bloodstained cloth wrapped around one hand. The visitor caught his foot on the sill and landed clumsily, sprawling on the floor. He scrambled up at once, though, and bowed to me, snatching off his slouch hat. “Madame,” he said, in thickly accented French. “I must beg your pardon, I arrive so without ceremony. I intrude, but it is of necessity that I call upon my friend James at such an unsocial hour.” He was a sturdy , good-looking lad, with thick, light-brown hair curling loose upon his shoulders, and a fair face, cheeks flushed red with cold and exertion. His nose was running slightly, and he wiped it with the back of his wrapped hand, wincing slightly as he did so. Jamie, both eyebrows raised, bowed politely to the visitor. “My house is at your service, Your Highness,” he said, with a glance that took in the general disorder of the visitor’s attire.
He drew in breath as though about to reply, then let it out again, shaking his head and muttering something to himself in Gaelic. He flung himself back into the chair and sat back, watching me through narrowed eyes, every now and then muttering to himself again. I decided not to ask for a translation. After most of my bath had been accomplished in what might best be described as a charged atmosphere, I decided to attempt conciliation. “It might have been worse, you know,” I said, sponging the inside of one thigh. “Louise had all her body hair removed.” That startled him back into English, at least temporarily. “What, she’s taken the hairs off her honeypot?” he said, horrified into uncharacteristic vulgarity. “Mm-hm,” I replied, pleased that this vision had at least distracted him from my own distressingly hairless condition. “Every hair. Madame Laserre plucked out the stray ones.”“Mary, Michael, and Bride!” He closed his eyes tightly, either in avoidance, or the better to contemplate the prospect I had described. Evidently the latter, for he opened his eyes again and glared at me, demanding, “She’s goin’ about now bare as a wee lassie?”“She says,” I replied delicately, “that men find it erotic.” His eyebrows nearly met his hairline, a neat trick for someone with such a classically high brow. “I do wish you would stop that muttering,” I remarked, hanging the cloth over a chairback to dry. “I can’t understand a word you say.”“On the whole, Sassenach,” he replied, “that’s as well.”
Chapter 12: L’Hôpital des Anges. Claire begins work at the charity hospital under the direction of Mother Hildegarde de Gascogne; she is joined by Mary Hawkins. There is a bit of a hazing process, and Claire proves herself able. She reports happily to Jaime afterwards and returns to the work thereafter. Hildegarde approves of her, and Claire integrates herself into the life of the hospital. Later, Claire returns home to find Jaime with Fergus; the man describes the boy’s circumstances and the reason to take him into employ— including an assassination attempt upon him.
Claire upon her visit at Le Hospital:
“Are you thirsty, Madame?” I asked the patient. I knew the answer before she spoke, seeing the empty carafe near her head. “Always, Madame,” she replied. “And always hungry, as well. Yet no flesh gathers on my bones, no matter how much I eat.” She raised a stick-thin arm, displaying a bony wrist, then let it fall as though the effort had exhausted her. I patted the skinny hand gently, and murmured something in farewell , my exhilaration at having made a correct diagnosis substantially quenched by the knowledge that there was no possible cure for diabetes mellitus in this day; the woman before me was doomed. In subdued spirits, I rose to follow Sister Angelique, who slowed her bustling steps to walk next to me. “Could you tell from what she suffers, Madame?” the nun asked curiously. “Only from the urine?”“Not only from that,” I answered. “But yes, I know. She has—” Drat. What would they have called it now? “She has … um, sugar sickness. She gets no nourishment from the food she eats, and has a tremendous thirst. Consequently, she produces large quantities of urine.” Sister Angelique was nodding, a look of intense curiosity stamped on her pudgy features. “And can you tell whether she will recover, Madame?”“No, she won’t,” I said bluntly. “She’s far gone already; she may not last out the month.”
Jaime about Claire meeting Fergus:
“Fergus?” I said, eyeing the boy, and trying to ignore the goings-on below. The lad was possibly nine or ten, but small for his age, and fine-boned as a ferret. Clad in clean, worn clothes several sizes too big for him, he was also as French as they come, with the pale, sallow skin and big, dark eyes of a Parisian street child. “Well, his name is really Claudel , but we decided that didna sound verra manly, so he’s to be called Fergus instead. A suitable warrior’s name, that.” Catching the sound of his name— or names— the boy glanced up and grinned shyly at me. “This is Madame,” Jamie explained to the boy, gesturing to me with his free hand. “You may call her milady. I dinna think he could manage ‘Broch Tuarach,’” he added to me, “or even Fraser, for that matter.”
Jamie explaining to Claire why he was in btothel, with a sauasge:
“There are no alleys off the Rue Pelletier. I needed at least to get to a place where I could draw my sword and have a wall at my back ,” Jamie explained. “So I pushed at the doors as I passed, ’til I hit one that opened.” Dashing into a gloomy hallway, past a startled porter, and through a hanging drape, he had shot into the center of a large, well-lighted room, and come to a screeching halt in the middle of one Madame Elise’s salon, the scent of perfume heavy in his nostrils. “I see,” I said, biting my lip. “I, um, trust you didn’t draw your sword in there?” Jamie narrowed his eyes at me, but didn’t deign to reply directly. “I’ll leave it to you, Sassenach,” he said dryly, “to imagine what it feels like to arrive unexpectedly in the midst of a brothel, in possession of a verra large sausage.”
Chapter 13: Deceptions. Claire concocts an abortifacient for Louise but convinces her to take another path. After, she and Jaime confer regarding letters Fergus pilfered. They also discuss the natures of virtue and trust, and they make love the next morning.
“Black hellebore,” she said, and shuddered. “The very name of it sounds evil!”“Well, it’s bloody nasty stuff,” I said bluntly. “It will make you feel as though your insides are coming out. But the baby may come, too. It doesn’t always work.” I remembered Master Raymond’s warning— It is dangerous to wait too long—and wondered how far gone she might be. Surely no more than six weeks or so; she had told me the instant she suspected. She glanced at me, startled, with red-rimmed eyes. “You have used it yourself?”“God, no!” I startled myself with the vehemence of my exclamation, and took a deep breath.
Fergus the good thief:
“What on earth is that?” I peered over his shoulder, and gasped when I saw the signature at the foot of the letter. James Stuart, by the grace of God King of England and Scotland. “Bloody Christ! It worked, then! ” Swinging around, I spotted Fergus, crouched on a stool in front of the fire, industriously stuffing pastries into his face. “Good lad,” I said, smiling at him. He grinned back at me, cheeks puffed like a chipmunk’s with chestnut tart. “We got it from the papal messenger,” Jamie explained, coming to the surface long enough to realize I was there. “Fergus took it from the bag while he was eating supper in a tavern. He’ll spend the night there, so we’ll have to put this back before morning. No difficulties there, Fergus?”
Jamie to Claire:
“Ah.”“Ah, yourself, then,” I answered softly, doing it some more. “Mmmm.” With a luxurious groan, he rolled to the side, wrapping his arms around me as I followed, enjoying the sudden contact of every inch of our naked skins, all down the front from head to toe. He was warm as a smothered fire, the heat of him safely banked for the night, to kindle again to a blaze in the black cold of dawn. His lips fastened gently on one nipple, and I groaned myself, arching slightly to encourage him to take it deeper into the warmth of his mouth. My breasts were growing fuller, and more sensitive by the day; my nipples ached and tingled sometimes under the tight binding of my gowns, wanting to be suckled. “Will ye let me do this later?” he murmured, with a soft bite. “When the child’s come, and your breasts fill wi’ milk? Will ye feed me, too, then, next to your heart?” I clasped his head and cradled it, fingers deep in the baby-soft hair that grew thick at the base of his skull. “Always,” I whispered.
Chapter 14: Meditations on the Flesh. Claire summarizes some time during which she and Jaime continue to review pilfered letters and she envies Louise’s easy pregnancy. Claire continues her work at the hospital, and Mary confides to her an infatuation with a “spiritual” man as well as ignorance of lovemaking. She also remarks upon the skills of Forez as she observes and assists with his work. He escorts her home afterwards, much to the annoyance of Fergus and Jaime.
The Stewart's mail:
Fergus was more than adept at his profession, and nearly every day brought in a new selection of His Highness’s correspondence; sometimes I was hard pressed to copy everything before Fergus’s next expedition, when he would replace the items abstracted, before stealing the new letters.
“Yes, I know,” I said, striving for patience. “So far as I know, they’re much like any other man’s. Englishmen and Scotsmen are quite similarly endowed.”“Yes, but they, they … p-p-put it between a lady’s l-l-legs! I mean, right up inside her!” This bit of stop-press news finally out, she took a deep breath, which seemed to steady her, for the violent crimson of her face receded slightly. “An Englishman, or even a Scot … oh, I didn’t m-mean it that way …” Her hand flew to her mouth in embarrassment. “But a decent man like your husband; surely he would n-never dream of forcing a wife to endure s-something like that!” I placed a hand on my slightly bloated stomach and regarded her thoughtfully. I began to see why spirituality ranked so highly in Mary Hawkins’s catalog of manly virtues. “Mary,” I said, “I think we must have a small talk.”
Fergus and his duties:
Monsieur Forez eyed my escort dubiously, then took me firmly by the elbow. “I will see you to your door , Madame,” he declared . “This section of the city is much too dangerous in the evening hours for you to be abroad with no more than a child for protection.” I could see Fergus swelling with indignation at being called a child, and hastened to protest that he was an excellent escort, always taking care to guide me by the safest streets. Monsieur Forez paid no attention to either of us, merely nodding in a stately manner to Sister Angelique as he steered me through the huge double doors of the Hôpital. Fergus trotted at my heels, plucking at my sleeve. “Madame!” he said in a urgent whisper. “Madame! I promised the master that I would see you safely home each day, that I would not allow you to associate with undesirable—”“Ah, here we are. Madame , you sit here; your boy may have the other seat.” Ignoring Fergus’s yapping, Monsieur Forez picked him up and tossed him casually into the waiting carriage.
Chapter 15: In which Music Plays a Part. Jaime and Claire review intelligence gathered from pilfered letters. It seems that the exiled James Stuart has given up on any attempt to reclaim the British monarchy. Thoughts of it distract Claire the next day, and she thinks to leave when Jaime arrives to confer with Hildegarde. She reveals herself to be a musician of no small caliber, and she and Claire decipher a message encoded in a piece of music. The next day sees Claire report the contents of the message— a Jacobite summons to Stuart— to Jaime, who posits that Stuart is acting outside his father’s wishes.
Jamie meets Bouton:
Jamie blinked, brought up short by the assault. Shading his eyes against the dazzle from the window, he peered down into the shadows. “Oh, hallo there, wee dog, ” he said politely, and took a step forward, knuckles stretched out. Bouton raised the growl a few decibels, and he took a step back. “Oh, like that, is it?” Jamie said. He eyed the dog narrowly. “Think it over, laddie,” he advised, squinting down his long, straight nose. “I’m a damn sight bigger than you. I wouldna undertake any rash ventures, if I were you.”
Bouton shifted his ground slightly, still making a noise like a distant Fokker. “Faster, too,” said Jamie, making a feint to one side. Bouton’s teeth snapped together a few inches from Jamie’s calf, and he stepped back hastily. Leaning back against the wall, he folded his arms and nodded down at the dog. “Well, you’ve a point there, I’ll admit. When it comes to teeth, ye’ve the edge on me, and no mistake.” Bouton cocked an ear suspiciously at this gracious speech, but went back to the low-pitched growl. Jamie hooked one foot over the other, like one prepared to pass the time of day indefinitely. The multicolored light from the window washed his face with blue, making him look like one of the chilly marble statues in the cathedral next door. “Surely you’ve better things to do than harry innocent visitors?” he asked, conversationally. “I’ve heard of you —you’re the famous fellow that sniffs out sickness, no? Weel, then, why are they wastin’ ye on silly things like door-guarding, when ye might be makin’ yourself useful smelling gouty toes and pustulant arseholes? Answer me that, if ye will!” A sharp bark in response to his uncrossing his feet was the only answer. There was a stir of robes behind me as Mother Hildegarde entered from the inner office. “What is it?” she asked, seeing me peering round the corner. “Have we visitors?”“Bouton seems to be having a difference of opinion with my husband,” I said. “I don’t have to put up wi’ this, ye ken,” Jamie was threatening. One hand was stealing toward the brooch that held his plaid at the shoulder . “One quick spring wi’ my plaid, and I’ll have ye trussed like a— oh, bonjourMadame!” he said, changing swiftly to French at sight of Mother Hildegarde.
The musical desipher:
“So it’s possible that Charles is acting on his own?” I said, horrified and intrigued by the possibility. “That James has set him up for a masquerade of pretending to start a restoration attempt, in order to keep Louis impressed with the Stuarts’ potential value, but—”“But Charles isn’t pretending?” Jamie interrupted. “Aye, that’s how it seems.
Chapter 16: The Nature of Sulfur. Claire again summarizes events. The Stuart restoration seems unimportant in the French courts, but one evening, she is awakened by sharp abdominal pain— one caused by an herbal concoction of Raymond’s. Claire confronts the frog-like man, and he reveals that he interdicted on her behalf. He also offers her a crystal that changes color in the presence of poison. Jaime reports that he has set Murtagh to follow St. Germain.
Claire is poisoned a Versailles:
“Rooks, eh?” I said, sliding into the bed and stretching out with a groan. “Are you going to dream about chess tonight?” Jamie nodded, with a jaw-cracking yawn that made his eyes water. “Aye, I’m sure I will. I hope it willna disturb ye, Sassenach, if I castle in my sleep.” My feet curled in the sheer joy of being unfettered and relieved of my increasing weight, and my lower spine sent out sharp jolts of a mildly pleasant pain as it readjusted to lying down. “You can stand on your head in your sleep if you want ,”I said, yawning myself. “Nothing will bother me tonight.” I have seldom been more wrong. I was dreaming of the baby. Grown almost to the birthing, it kicked and heaved in my swollen belly. My hands went to the mound, massaging the stretched skin, trying to quiet the turmoil within. But the squirming went on, and in the unexcited fashion of dreams, I realized that it was not a baby , but a snake that writhed in my belly. I doubled, drawing up my knees as I wrestled the serpent , my hands groping and pummeling, searching for the head of the beast that darted and thrust under my skin. My skin was hot to the touch , and my intestines coiled, turning into snakes themselves, biting and thrashing as they twined together. “Claire! Wake up, lass! What’s amiss?” The shaking and calling roused me at last to a fuzzy apprehension of my surroundings. I was in bed, and it was Jamie’s hand on my shoulder, and the linen sheets over me. But the snakes continued to writhe in my belly, and I moaned loudly, the sound alarming me almost as much as it did Jamie. He flung back the sheets and rolled me onto my back, trying to push my knees down. I stayed stubbornly rolled into a ball, clutching my stomach, trying to contain the pangs of sharp agony that stabbed through me. He yanked the quilt back over me and rushed out of the room, barely pausing to snatch his kilt from the stool. I had little attention to spare for anything other than my inner turmoil. My ears were ringing, and a cold sweat soaked my face. “Madame? Madame!” I opened my eyes enough to see the maid assigned to our appartement, eyes frantic and hair awry, bending over the bed. Jamie, half-naked and still more frantic, was behind her. I shut my eyes, groaning, but not before I saw him grab the maid by the shoulder, hard enough to shakeher curls loose from her nightcap. “Is she losing the child? Is she?” It seemed extremely likely. I twisted on the bed, grunting, and doubled tighter, as though to protect the burden of pain I contained. There was an increasing babble of voices in the room, mostly female, and a number of hands poked and prodded at me. I heard a male voice speaking amid the babble; not Jamie, someone French. At the voice’s direction, a number of hands fastened themselves to my ankles and shoulders and stretched me flat upon the bed.
“You! You bloody frog-faced little worm!”“Me, madonna? I have done you no harm, have I?”“Aside from causing me to have violent diarrhea in the presence of thirty-odd people, making me think I was having a miscarriage, and scaring my husband out of his skin, no harm at all!”“Oh, your husband was present?” Master Raymond looked uneasy. “He was,” I assured him. It was in fact with considerable difficulty that I had succeeded in preventing Jamie from coming up to the apothecary’s shop and extracting, by force, such information as Master Raymond possessed. I had finally persuaded him to wait with the coach outside, while I talked to the amphibious proprietor. “But you aren’t dead, madonna,” the little herbalist pointed out. He had no brows to speak of, but one side of his wide, heavy forehead crinkled upward. “You could have been, you know.” In the stress of the evening and the physical shakiness that followed, I had rather overlooked this fact. “So it wasn’t just a practical joke?” I said, a little weakly. “Someone really meant to poison me, and I’m not dead only because you have scruples?”“Perhaps my scruples are not entirely responsible for your survival, madonna; it is possible that it was a joke.
Murtagh the demon:
I remembered the Cabbalistic signs on Raymond’s cabinet, and a small shiver raised the hairs on my forearms. I remembered Marguerite’s gossip about the Comte St. Germain, and Madame de Ramage’s warning. I told Jamie about them, and what Raymond had said. “He may regard it as paint and window dressing,” I finished, “but plainly he knows people who don’t, or who is he looking to keep out of his cabinet?” Jamie nodded. “Aye. I’ve heard a bit— only a bit— about such goings -on around the Court. I paid no attention at the time, thinking it only silliness, but now I’ll find out a bit more.” He laughed, suddenly , and drew me close to his side. “I’ll set Murtagh to follow the Comte St. Germain . That’ll give the Comte a real demon to play with.”
Chapter 17: Possession. Claire wakes to find Jaime absent. After some panic about the matter, Jaime returns and accounts for his whereabouts; he has been in a whorehouse with Stuart and supporters, although he did not partake of the wares. Claire upbraids him nonetheless. In the aftermath, Jaime confesses his conflicted feelings for her, and Claire responds in kind. The next morning, Claire feels her child move within her.
Jamie in a brothel:
“What,” I demanded, “happened to you?” He opened one red-rimmed eye. “I need a bath,” he said, and closed it again.
“Jamie,” I said, tapping my foot in a marked manner, “where have you been all night?” He scooped up a handful of water from the basin and splashed it over his face, letting the rivulets run down among the dark red hairs on his chest. “Mm,” he said, blinking drops from his thick lashes, “well, let me see. First there was supper at a tavern. We met Glengarry and Millefleurs there.” Monsieur Millefleurs was a Parisian banker, while Glengarry was one of the younger Jacobites, chief of one sept of the MacDonell clan. A visitor in Paris, rather than a resident , he had been much in Charles’s company lately, by Jamie’s report. “And after supper, we went to the Duc di Castellotti’s, for cards.”“And then?” I asked. A tavern, apparently. And then another tavern. And then an establishment which appeared to share some of the characteristics of a tavern, but was embellished by the addition of several ladies of interesting appearance and even more interesting talents. “Talents, eh?” I said, with a glance at the marks on his leg. “God, they did it in public,” he said, with a reminiscent shudder. “Two of them, on the table. Right between the saddle of mutton and the boiled potatoes. With the quince jelly.”“Mon dieu,” said the newly returned maid, setting down the fresh bathcan long enough to cross herself. “You be quiet,” I said, scowling at her. I turned my attention back to my husband. “And then what?” Then, apparently, the action had become somewhat more general, though still accomplished in fairly public fashion. With due regard to Marguerite’s sensibilities , Jamie waited until she had left for another round of water before elaborating further. “… and then Castellotti took the fat one with red hair and the small blond one off to a corner, and—”“And what were you doing all this time?” I broke in on the fascinating recitative. “Watching,” he said, as though surprised. “It didna seem decent, but there wasna much choice about it, under the circumstances.” I had been groping in his sporran as he talked, and now fished out not only a small purse, but a wide metal ring, embellished with a coat of arms. I tried it curiously on a finger ; it was much larger than any normal ring, and hung like a quoit on a stick. “Whoever does this belong to?” I asked, holding it out. “It looks like the Duc di Castellotti’s coat of arms, but whoever it belongs to must have fingers like sausages.”
“What is it, Sassenach?” he asked, voice slow with drowsy contentment. “Not a thing,” I said, staring at the dark-red blotches on the side of his neck. The nurses in the quarters at Pembroke used to conceal them with jaunty scarves tied about their necks the morning after their dates with soldiers from the nearby base. I always thought the scarves were really meant as a means of advertisement, rather than concealment. “No, not a thing,” I said again, reaching for the ewer on the stand. Placed near the window, it was ice-cold to the touch. I stepped behind Jamie and upended it on his head. I lifted the silk skirts of my nightdress to avoid the sudden wave that spilled over the side of the bath. He was sputtering from the cold, but too shocked yet to form any of the words I could see gathering force on his lips. I beat him to it. “Just watched, did you?” I asked coldly. “I wouldn’t suppose you enjoyed it a bit, did you, poor thing?”
“What d’ye want me to say?” he demanded. “Did I want to rut with them? Aye, I did! Enough to make my balls ache with not doing it. And enough to make me feel sick wi’ the thought of touching one of the sluts.” He shoved the sopping mass of his hair out of his eyes, glaring at me. “Is that what ye wanted to know? Are ye satisfied now?”“Not really,” I said. My face was hot, and I pressed my cheek against the icy pane of the window, hands clenched on the sill. “Who looks on a woman with lust in his heart hath committed adultery with her already. Is that how ye see it?”“Is it how you see it?”“No,” he said shortly. “I don’t. And what would ye do if I had lain wi’ a whore, Sassenach? Slap my face? Order me out of your chamber? Keep yourself from my bed?” I turned and looked at him. “I’d kill you,” I said through my teeth. Both eyebrows shot up, and his mouth dropped slightly with incredulity. “Kill me? God, if I found you wi’ another man, I’d kill him.” He paused, and one corner of his mouth quirked wryly. “Mind ye,” he said, “I’d no be verra pleased wi’ you, either, but still, it’s him I’d kill.”“Typical man,” I said. “Always missing the point.” He snorted with a bitter humor. “Am I, then? So you dinna believe me. Want me to prove it to ye, Sassenach, that I’ve lain wi’ no one in the last few hours?” He stood up, water cascading down the stretches of his long legs. The light from the window highlighted the reddish-gold hairs of his body and the steam rose off his flesh in wisps. He looked like a figure of freshly molten gold. I glanced briefly down. “Ha,” I said, with the maximum of scorn it was possible to infuse into one syllable. “Hot water,” he said briefly, stepping out of the tub. “Dinna worry yourself, it won’t take long.”“That,” I said, with delicate precision, “is what you think.” His face flushed still more deeply , and his hands curled involuntarily into fists. “No reasoning wi’ you, is there?” he demanded. “God, I spend the night torn between disgust and agony, bein’ tormented by my companions for being unmanly , then come home to be tormented for being unchaste! Mallaichte bàs!
“Too close,” he repeated, moving back a bit. “It was too damn close, Sassenach, and it scared me.” I glanced down at the dirk, lying forgotten on the floor. “Scared? I’ve never seen anyone less scared in my life. You knew damned well I wouldn’t do it.”“Oh, that .” He grinned. “No, I didna think you’d kill me, much as ye might like to.” He sobered quickly. “No, it was … well, those women. What I felt like with them. I didna want them, truly not …”“Yes, I know,” I said, reaching for him, but he wasn’t stopping there. He held back from me, looking troubled. “But the … the lusting, I suppose ye’d call it … that was … too close to what I feel sometimes for you, and it … well, it doesna seem right to me.”
“I always thought it would be a simple matter to lie wi’ a woman ,” he said softly. “And yet … I want to fall on my face at your feet and worship you”— he dropped the towel and reached out, taking me by the shoulders—“ and still I want to force ye to your knees before me, and hold ye there wi’ my hands tangled in your hair, and your mouth at my service … and I want both things at the same time, Sassenach.” He ran his hands up under my hair and gripped my face between them, hard. “I dinna understand myself at all, Sassenach! Or maybe I do.” He released me and turned away. His face had long since dried, but he picked up the fallen towel and wiped the skin of his jaw with it, over and over. The stubble made a faint rasping sound against the fine linen. His voice was still quiet, barely audible from a few feet away. “Such things— the knowledge of them, I mean— it came to me soon after … after Wentworth.” Wentworth. Where he had given his soul to save my life, and suffered the tortures of the damned in retrieving it. “I thought at the first that Jack Randall had stolen a bit of my soul, and then I knew it was worse than that. All of it was my own, and had been all along; it was only he’d shown it to me, and made me know it for myself. That’s what he did that I canna forgive, and may his own soul rot for it!” He lowered the towel and looked at me, face worn with the strains of the night, but eyes bright with urgency. “Claire. To feel the small bones of your neck beneath my hands, and that fine, thin skin on your breasts and your arms … Lord, you are my wife, whom I cherish and I love wi’ all my life, and still I want to kiss ye hard enough to bruise your tender lips, and see the marks of my fingers on your skin.” He dropped the towel. He raised his hands and held them trembling in the air before his face, then very slowly brought them down to rest on my head as though in benediction. “I want to hold you like a kitten in my shirt, mo duinne, and still I want to spread your thighs and plow ye like a rutting bull.” His fingers tightened in my hair. “I dinna understand myself!” I pulled my head back, freeing myself, and took a half-step backward . The blood seemed all to be on the surface of my skin, and a chill ran down my body at the brief separation. “Do you think it’s different for me? Do you think I don’t feel the same?” I demanded. “That I don’t sometimes want to bite you hard enough to taste blood, or claw you ’til you cry out?”
Claire feels her baby:
There it was. There was no sense of him, or her, as I had thought there might be— but there was certainly a sense of Someone. I wondered whether perhaps babies had no gender— physical characteristics aside—until birth, when the act of exposure to the outside world set them forever as one or the other. “Jamie,” I said. He was tying back his hair, gathering it into a thick handful at the base of his neck and winding a leather lace about it. Head bent in the task, he looked up at me from under his brows and smiled. “Awake, are ye? It’s early yet, mo duinne. Go back to sleep for a bit.” I had been going to tell him, but something stopped me. He couldn’t feel it, of course , not yet. It wasn’t that I thought he wouldn’t care, but there was something about that first awareness that seemed suddenly private; the second shared secret between me and the child— the first being our knowledge of its existence, mine a conscious knowing, the embryo’s a simple being. The sharing of that knowledge linked us close as did the blood that passed through both of us.
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