Once again this theoretical synopsis covers a lot of the book Voyager. We are deep into the actual voyage here.
Episode 9 – O’er the Sea
Still on the cliffs above where Young Ian was abducted Jamie is guilt ridden. Is he being punished for his selfishness over wanting Claire and trying to rid himself of guilt over Laoghaire? He cannot face telling Jenny what has happened. Lost, he prays for guidance in the cold dark night. They cannot rest, too much is playing on their minds. They reaffirm their love for each other. Jamie and Claire cannot be still, they do not await daybreak, they leave the coast while darkness remains, heading to Paris… On a mission.
Cousin Jared, now showing signs of age, but still totally in charge, tells Jamie of a vessel he owns, a sloop, the Artemis. One suitable to make the crossing, albeit a little small to be at the mercy of the whims of the ocean so late in the season. Jared knows of Jamie’s Achilles heel, being rendered completely and utterly helpless from seasickness. No matter the personal consequences, Jamie puts on a brave face knowing he must go after the brigands who have kidnapped Young Ian.
Jared had informed them of the identity of the ship carrying Ian, the Bruja. The ship’s home port has been shown on official documents as Bridgetown, Barbados. Jamie and Claire now have a target destination. It will take a week to ready the ship, do the provisioning and load cargo. Claire is surprised by Jamie’s announcement he is to be the vessel’s Supercargo, whose role it is to take control of the cargo, its loading, unloading and sale. Following the vessels safe arrival in Barbados, Jared’s vessel will be loaded with a return cargo of rum produced by his own plantation. The return journey will need to be delayed until the weather is more certain, three months at least. During that time Jamie and Claire will have the vessel at their disposal to search for Ian.
The grey marbled Paris sky and rain squalls seem to foreshadow things to come as Claire reflects of the rapid changes in her life. From Boston doctor, to Edinburgh printers wife, to Lallybroch lady, to fugitive smuggler’s woman and now adventurous pursuer of kidnapping pirates. Freed of the ties that bound her for twenty years, Claire welcomes the challenge.
Jamie needs to face unenviable task of writing to tell Jenny about Young Ian. He also fears that Claire may not wish to accompany him. To Claire such a thought is unimaginable, they are together now.
Preparation for their voyage proceeds, Claire purchasing the herbal remedies she needs, and together they meet with a young man who looks like a poor peddler but is in fact, a Jewish coin dealer from Frankfurt. Wires have been crossed, the dealer thinks they want to purchase coins, however Jamie wants information on anyone who may have purchased particular coins in the past. The man has immaculate records of coin purchases for the last thirty years. Initially reluctant to release confidential details of the recorded transactions, the young man relents when he discovers the purchaser is now dead. That person was the Duke of Sandringham. Jamie pays the young man for his time and information. Claire asks about his name, a single name, Mayer. The man says they are not allowed another name, but their neighbors do call them by an old red shield outside their home. Jamie wishes Godspeed to young Mayer Red-Shield. Claire asks Jamie what Red Shield is in German. It is Rothschild, Claire comments that everyone must start somewhere.
Jamie and Claire speculate on who left the treasure on the silkies island, now knowing who owned the coins, and who was retrieving them.
Claire runs into the Reverend Campbell, whose sister she treated in Edinburgh. Mr Willoughby tells Claire he had seen the Reverend looking less that Reverential in the brothel.
Over dinner Jared and Jamie appear to be talking in code, about contacts to whom Jared is writing letters of introduction for Jamie. Claire is confused and asks what they’re saying. Jared has just confirmed that Jamie is a Freemason. This knowledge underscores the changes in Jamie’s life in the years of their separation. Claire is reassured, however, by the simple touch of Jamie’s foot beneath the table. She recalls their wedding, strangers held together by a contract and a promise.
“There are things ye maybe canna tell me, he had said. I willna ask ye, or force ye. But when ye do tell me something, let it be the truth. There is nothing between us now but respect, and respect has room for secrets, I think—but not for lies.”
There is much more than respect between them now…
There is one more thing for Claire to do before they sail. She goes to Hôpital des Anges to visit the grave of her beloved lost child Faith. Mother Hildegarde is still alive, much older and slightly shrunken, but still quick of wit and word. With her is Bouton version XVI. They talk of mothers and babies.
The ship Artemis departs Le Havre, but detours via Scotland to collect trusted men, Jamie’s smuggler crew, and Fergus. The men have arrived except for Fergus, the captain wants to leave and Jamie becomes increasingly anxious about Fergus. What business could delay him? Fergus eventually arrives, just as they set sail, however he is not alone. Marsali is with him, they defiantly declare they are married, handfast with witnesses. Jamie wants to put Marsali ashore, but she will not leave Fergus. Jamie relents, but tells them they cannot touch each other until he marriage is blessed by a priest.
Jamie looks longingly at the receding shoreline of his beloved Scotland, fearing he may never see it again. Claire tells him he will return. Jamie responds,
“You’ve seen my grave,” he said softly. “Haven’t ye?”
I hesitated, but he didn’t seem upset, and I nodded.
“It’s all right,” he said. He closed his eyes, breathing heavily. “Don’t…don’t tell me when, though, if ye dinna mind.”
“I can’t,” I said. “There weren’t any dates on it. Just your name and mine.”
Jamie is reassured, to him this means they must find Ian, as he will not set for back on Scottish soil without him.
The journey begins, Jamie is deathly ill with seasickness. Claire realises the unexpected consequence of Jamie’s ultimatum to Fergus and Marsali is the lack of cabin space means she must share with Marsali while Jamie share with Fergus. An uncomfortable situation for all concerned.
Jamie, too ill to speak of it, tells Claire to privately ask Fergus about several incidents, close calls where he could have been killed. Someone is stalking Jamie. They may have sailed with the traitor. Meanwhile Jamie is a wretched mess, fearing he will die from seasickness. Despite Claire’s and the cooks attempts to give him him broth and food to ease his sickness, nothing helps. Claire and Mr Willoughby talk about the dire consequences of prolonged retching, knowing Jamie can hear them. Jamie is treated by Mr Willoughby, using his knowledge of acupuncture to ease his seasickness. It works.
Life on board settles down, Claire acts a ships surgeon, Jamie doing little but helping with gunnery practice. This spare time allows them to talk, renewing their familiarity with each other, delighting in the beauty of the ocean and its creatures. While enjoying the vista of a moonrise Claire tells Jamie of men landing on the moon and that she has seen pictures of the surface. Reminded of the precious photographs, Jamie brings them out and looks at Brianna under the light of the moon. Jamie worries about Brianna being alone in what seems to him to be a time of questionable morals. Claire tries to explain how women do not need to have a man, but they can choose a man if they wish. Claire reminisces about her own mother and the letter she left Brianna.
Jamie regrets his rash pronouncement about separating Fergus and Marsali, the depth of his need to make love to Claire is obvious. He feels he is a fool, after years of wanting, he has created a situation where they cannot be together physically. He tells Claire that Fergus is also suffering.
The sailors make it known that Mr Willoughby is unwelcome, but since he is under Jamie’s protection they take no direct action. While talking on deck, there is a disruption in the galley. A cask of horse meat has gone bad, it is stinking rotten. The cask is tossed overboard and gathers a school of feasting sharks. The crew try to shoot the sharks. In the confusion Mr Willoughby jumps overboard and wrestles with a pelican. Jamie leaps into the sea to save him. A small boat brings a shark, Mr Willoughby and his pelican, plus Jamie back to the ship. Realising the action on deck has distracted everyone Jamie and Claire rush to his cabin, tearing at his wet clothes and taking the brief opportunity to make quick, hard love to each other.
Mr Willoughby reveals why he has brought the pelican onboard – he is training it to catch fish. Mr Willoughby tells his story, he was a scholar whose poetry had come to the attention of the Emperor’s second wife. He was to be honoured by admission to her household. However he loved women and not wanting to made a eunuch, he fled. Knowing he must leave the country or be killed he managed to hide in a ship bound for Edinburgh. Now he is permanently exiled from his homeland.
In other news, Marsali finally gives in and asks Claire for advice. There are a lot of things she doesn’t understand about sex and babies. I can’t do justice to her first words to Claire so here they are,
“I need to know something,” she said firmly. “I dinna like ye, and I reckon ye ken that, but Da says you’re a wisewoman, and I think you’re maybe an honest woman, even if ye are a whore, so you’ll maybe tell me.”
Somewhere in there is a rare compliment indeed. Marsali tells Claire of her mother’s obvious reluctance to have sex. She doesn’t know quite why as Jamie seemed kind to Laoghaire. She thinks it may be linked to having babies but is not sure why. She asks Claire how not to have babies and Claire begins to give her practical advice. Before she can complete her instruction the ship heels suddenly and shouts are heard.
A British Man-o-War, HMS Porpoise is bearing down on them, a cannon fired in warning. The British intend to board the Artemis. The Captain fears his crew will be pressed into the service of the British, a common practice. However, the young man who comes aboard seems harried and uncertain, dressed in clothing too big and dirty. The British have a health emergency onboard. They have lost crew and officers, including Captain and Surgeon to a deathly illness. They need help desperately. Claire cannot keep quiet. You know – big mouth and all that…
Her deep feeling of obligation to help the sick makes her say yes she will help in the very second Jamie says no. Jamie drags her below deck to talk. Claire repeats her physician’s oath to Jamie, she cannot decline to assist.
She tells Jamie she thinks the disease is typhoid against which she has been vaccinated. Jamie reluctantly acknowledges the weight of her oath and assurances that the vaccination will prevent her becoming ill. Claire is taken aboard the Porpoise. She examines the ill, gives directions on treating them. She calls out to Jamie that she needs two hours to get the job done. No sooner having done this she feels the ship move in a way signalling a change of course. Outraged, she challenges the young Captain who bravely tells her such is their desperation she must stay with them until they reach Jamaica. Jamie is left behind on the much slower Artemis as the Porpoise hoists all sails and powers away. Claire incurs two additional shocks at the vessel leaves the Artemis behind. A crew member begins to tell the Captain he recognised Jamie and Claire finds the Porpoise is carrying the next Governor of Jamaica.