الثلاثاء، 1 مايو 2018

About Jamie's status at Fort William

"You've seen Jamie's back, " he said suddenly."I could hardly help doing so, " I said a little coldly. I had given up wondering what he was up to with these disconnected questions. Presumably he would tell me when he was ready.

"You mean did I know Randall did it, then? Or did you know that yourself ?"
"Aye, I kent it well enough, " he answered, calmly appraising me, "but I wasna aware that you did. " I shrugged, implying that what I knew and what I didn't were hardly his concern.

"I was there, ye ken, " he said, casually.

"Where?"
"At Fort William. I had a bit of business there, with the garrison. The clerk there knew Jamie was some kin to me, and sent me word when they arrested him. So I went along to see could aught be done for him. "
"Apparently you weren't very successful, " I said, with an edge. Dougal shrugged. "Unfortunately not. Had it been the regular sergeant-major in charge, I might ha' saved Jamie at least the second go-round, but as it was, Randall was new in command. He didna know me, and was indisposed to listen much to what I said. I thought at the time, it was only he meant to make an example of Jamie, to show everyone at the start that there'd be no softness from him. " He tapped the short sword he wore at his belt.
"It's a sound enough principle, when you're in command of men. Earn their respect before ye do aught else. And if you canna do that, earn their fear. " I remembered the expression on the face of Randall's corporal, and thought I knew which route the captain had taken.
Dougal's deep-set eyes were on my face, interested."You knew it was Randall. Did Jamie tell ye about it?"
"A bit, " I said cautiously.
He must think well of ye, " he said musingly. "He doesna generally speak of it to anyone. ""I can't imagine why not, " I said, provoked. I still held my breath each time we came to a new tavern or inn, until it was clear that the company had settled for an evening of drinking and gossip by the fire. Dougal smiled sardonically, clearly knowing what was in my mind.
"Well, it wasna necessary to tell me, was it? Since I kent it already. " He swished a hand idly through the strange dark water, stirring up brimstone fumes.
"I'd not know how it goes in Oxfordshire, " he said, with a sarcastic emphasis that made me squirm slightly, "but here abouts, ladies are generally not exposed to such sights as floggings. Have ye ever seen one?"
"No, nor do I much want to, " I responded sharply. "I can imagine what it would take to make marks like the ones on Jamie's back, though. "
Dougal shook his head, flipping water out of the pool at a curious jay that ventured close.
Now, there you're wrong, lass, and you'll pardon my saying so. Imagination is all verra well, but it isna equal to the sight of a man having his back laid open. A verra nasty thingit's meant to break a man, and most often it succeeds. "
"Not with Jamie. " I spoke rather more sharply than I had intended. Jamie was my patient, and to some extent, my friend as well.

I had no wish to discuss his personal history with Dougal, though I would, if pressed, admit to a certain morbid curiosity. I had never met anyone more open and at the same time more mysterious than the tall young MacTavish.

Dougal laughed shortly and wiped his wet hand through his hair, pasting back the strands that had escaped during our flight for so I thought of it from the tavern..

"Weel, Jamie's as stub born as the rest of his family like rocks, the lot of them, and he's the worst. " But there was a definite tone of respect in his voice, grudging though it was.

"Jamie told ye he was flogged for escape?"

"Yes. "

"Aye, he went over the wall of the camp just after dark, same day as the dragoons brought him in. That was a fairly frequent occurrence there, the prisoners' accommodations not bein' as secure as might be wished, so the English ran patrols near the walls every night.

The garrison clerk told me Jamie put up a good fight, from the look of him when he came back, but it was six against one, and the six all wi' muskets, so it didna last long.

Jamie spent the night in chains, and went to the whipping post first thing in the morning. " He paused, checking me for signs of faintness or nausea, I supposed.

"Floggings were done right after assembly, so as to start everyone off in the proper frame of mind for the day. There were three to be flogged that day, and Jamie was the last of them. "

"You actually saw it?"

"Oh, aye. And I'll tell ye, lass, watch in' men bein' flogged is not pleasant. I've had the good fortune never to experience it, but I expect bein' flogged is not verra pleasant, either. Watching it happen to someone else while waitin' for it yourself is probably least pleasant of all. "

"I don't doubt it, " I murmured.

Dougal nodded. "Jamie looked grim enough, but he didna turn a hair, even listening to the screams and the other noises did ye know ye can hear the flesh being torn?"

"Ugh!"

"So I thought myself, lass, " he said, grimacing in memory of it. "To say nothing of the blood and bruises. Ech!" He spat, carefully avoiding the pool and its coping. " Turned my stomach to see, and I'm no a squeamish man by any means. "

Dougal went on with his ghastly story.

"Come Jamie's turn, he walks up to the post some men have to be dragged, but not him and holds out his hands so the corporal can unlock the manacles he's wearing. The corporal goes to pull his arm, like, to haul him into place, but Jamie shakes him off and steps back a pace.

I was half expect in' him to make a dash for it, but instead he just pulls off his shirt. It's torn here and there and filthy as a clout, but he folds it up careful like it was his Sunday best, and lays it on the ground. Then he walks over to the post steady as a soldier and puts his hands up to be bound. "

Dougal shook his head, marveling. The sunlight filtering through the rowan leaves dappled him with lacy shadows, so he looked like a man seen through a doily. I smiled at the thought, and he nodded approvingly at me, thinking my response due to his story.

"Aye, lass, courage like that is uncommon rare. It wasna ignorance, mind; he'd just seen two men flogged and he knew the same was coming to him. It's just he had made up his mind there was no help for it. Boldness in battle is nothing out of the way for a Scotsman, ye ken, but to face down fear in cold blood is rare in any man. He was but nineteen at the time, " Dougal added as an afterthought.

"Must have been rather gruesome to watch, " I said ironically. "I wonder you weren't sick. " Dougal saw the irony, and let it lie.

"I nearly was, lass, " he said, lifting his dark brows. "The first lash drew blood, and the lad's back was half red and half blue within a minute. He didna scream, though, or beg for mercy, or twist round to try and save himself. He just set his forehead hard against the post and stood there. He flinched when the lash hit, of course, but nothin' more. I doubt I could do that, " he admitted, "nor are there many that could. He fainted half through it, and they roused him wi' water from a jug and finished it. "

"Very nasty indeed, " I observed. "Why are you telling me about it?"


"His mouth tightened up and he says, 'I thought this was the young man who only a week past was shouting that he wasn't afraid to die. Surely a man who's not afraid to die isn't afraid of a few lashes?' and he gives Jamie a poke in the belly wi' the handle of the whip.

"I havena finished telling ye about it. " Dougal pulled the dirk from his belt and began to clean his fingernails with the point. He was a fastidious man, in spite of the difficulties of keeping clean on the road.

"Jamie was slumped in the ropes, with the blood running down and staining his kilt. I dinna think he'd fainted, he was just too wambly to stand for the moment. But just then Captain Randall came down into the yard. I don't know why he'd not been there to begin with; had business that delayed him, perhaps. Anyway, Jamie saw him coming, and had the presence o' mind left to close his eyes and let his head flop, like as if he were unconscious. "

Dougal knitted his brows, concentrating fiercely on a recalcitrant hangnail.

"The Captain was fair put out that they'd flogged Jamie already; seems that was a pleasure he'd meant to have for himself. Still, not much to be done about it at the moment. But then he thought to make inquiries about how Jamie came to escape in the first place. "

He held up the dirk, examining it for nicks, then began to sharpen the edge against the stone he sat on.

"Had several soldiers shaking in their boots before he was donethe man's a way wi' words, I'll say that for him. "

"That he has, " I said dryly.

The dirk scraped rhythmically against the stone. Every so often, a faint spark leapt from the metal as it struck a rough patch in the rock.. 

"Weel, in the course of this inquiry, it came out that Jamie'd had the heel of a loaf and a bit of cheese with him when they caught him taken it along when he went over the wall. Whereupon the Captain thinks for a moment, then smiles a smile I should hate to see on my grandmother's face. He declares that theft bein' a serious offense, the penalty should be commensurate, and sentences Jamie on the spot to another hundred lashes. "

I flinched in spite of myself. "That would kill him!"

Dougal nodded. "Aye, that's what the garrison doctor said. He said as he'd permit no such thing; in good conscience, the prisoner must be allowed a week to heal before receiving the second flogging. "

"Well, how humanitarian of him, " I said. "Good conscience, my aunt Fanny! And what did Captain Randall think of this?"

"He was none too pleased at first, but he reconciled himself. Once he did, the sergeant-major, who knew a real faint when he saw one, had Jamie untied. The lad staggered a bit, but he kept to his feet, and a few of the men there cheered, which didna go ower a treat wi' the Captain.

 He wasna best pleased when the sergeant picked up Jamie's shirt and handed it back to the lad, either, though it was quite a popular move with the men. "

Dougal twisted the blade back and forth, examining it critically. Then he laid it across his knee and gave me a direct look.

"Ye know, lass, it's fairly easy to be brave, sittin' in a warm tavern ower a glass of ale. 'Tis not so easy, squatting in a cold field, wi' musket balls going past your head and heather ticklin' your arse. And it's still less easy when you're standing face to face wi' your enemy, wi' your own blood running down your legs. "

"I wouldn't suppose so, " I said. I did feel a little faint, in spite of everything. I plunged both hands into the water, letting the dark liquid chill my wrists.

"I did go back to see Randall, later in the week, " Dougal said defensively, as though he felt some need to justify the action. "We talked a good bit, and I even offered him compensation"

"Oh, I am impressed, " I murmured, but desisted in the face of his glare. "No, I mean it. It was kind of you. I gather Randall declined your offer, though?""

"Aye, he did. And I still dinna ken why, for I've not found English officers on the whole to be ower-scrupulous when it comes to their purses, and clothes such as the Captain's come a bit dear. "

"Perhaps he hasother sources of income, " I suggested.

"He does, for a fact, " Dougal confirmed, but with a sharp glance at me. "Still" he hesitated, then proceeded, more slowly.

"I went back, then, to be there for Jamie when he came up again, though there wasna much I could do for him at that point, poor lad. "

The second time, Jamie had been the only prisoner up for flogging. The guards had removed his shirt before bringing him out, just after sunup on a cold October morning..

"I could see the lad was dead scairt, " said Dougal, "though he was walking by himself and wouldna let the guard touch him. I could see him shaking, as much wi' the cold as wi' nerves, and the gooseflesh thick on his arms and chest, but the sweat was standing on his face as well. " A few minutes later, Randall came out, the whip tucked under his arm, and the lead plummets at the tips of the lashes clicking softly together as he walked. He had surveyed Jamie coolly, then motioned to the sergeant-major to turn the prisoner around to show his back.

Dougal grimaced. "A pitiful sight, it was, too still raw, no more than half-healed, wi' the weals turned black and the rest yellow wi' bruises.

The thought of a whip comin' down on that soreness was enough to make me blench, along wi' most of those watching. "

Randall then turned to the sergeant-major and said, "A pretty job, Sergeant Wilkes. I must see if I can do as well. " With considerable punctilio, he then called for the garrison doctor, and had him certify officially that Jamie was fit enough to be flogged.

"You've seen a cat play wi' a wee mousie?" Dougal asked. " 'Twas like that. Randall strolled round the lad, making one kind of remark and another, none of them what ye'd call pleasant...

And Jamie stood there like an oak tree, sayin' nothing and keeping his eyes fixed on the post , not lookin' at Randall at all. I could see the lad was hugging his elbows to try to stop the shivering, and ye could tell Randall saw it too.

"His mouth tightened up and he says, 'I thought this was the young man who only a week past was shouting that he wasn't afraid to die. Surely a man who's not afraid to die isn't afraid of a few lashes?' and he gives Jamie a poke in the belly wi' the handle of the whip.

"Jamie met Randall's eye straight on then, and said, 'No, but I'm afraid I'll freeze stiff before ye're done talking. ' "

Dougal sighed. "Well. It was a brawl speech, but damn reckless, for a' that. Now, scourging a man is never a pretty business, but there's ways to make it worse than it might be; strikin' sideways to cut deep, or steppin' in wi' a hard blow ower the kidneys, for instance. " He shook his head. "Verra ugly" He frowned, choosing his words slowly.

"Randall's face wasintent, I suppose ye'd sayand sort o' lighted up, like when a man is lookin' at a lass he's soft on, if ye know what I mean. 'Twas as though he were doin' somethin' much worse to Jamie than just skinning him alive. The blood was running down the lad's legs by the fifteenth stroke, and the tears running down his face wi' the sweat. "

I swayed a little, and put out a hand to the stone of the coping.

"Well, " he said abruptly, catching sight of my expression, "I'll say no more except that he lived through it.

When the corporal untied his hands, he nearly fell, but the corporal and sergeant-major each caught him by an arm and kind o' steadied him 'til he could keep his feet. He was shakin' worse than ever from shock and cold, but his head was up and his eyes blazin' I could see it from twenty feet away.

He keeps his eyes fixed on Randall while they help him off the platform, leavin' bloody foot printsit's like watchin' Randall is the only thing keeping him on his feet.

Randall's face was almost as white as Jamie's, and his eyes were locked wi' the lad's as though either of them would fall if he took his eyes away. " Dougal's own eyes were fixed, still seeing the eerie scene.


Everything was quiet in the small glade except for the faint rush of wind through the leaves of the rowan tree. I closed my eyes and listened to it for some time.

"Why?" I asked finally, eyes still closed. "Why did you tell me?" Dougal was watching me intently when I opened my eyes. I dipped a hand in the spring again, and applied the cool water to my temples.

"I thought it might serve as what ye may call a character illustration, " he said.

"Of Randall ?" I uttered a short, mirthless laugh. "I don't need any further evidence as to his character, thank you. "

" Of Randall, " he agreed, "and Jamie too. "

I looked at him, suddenly ill at ease.

"Ye see, I have orders, " he emphasized the word sarcastically, "from the good captain. "

"Orders to do what?" I asked, the agitated feeling increasing.

"To produce the person of an English subject, one Claire Beauchamp by name, at Fort William on Monday, the 18th of June. 

Quote from 
A Marriage Is Announced
Outlander book _ by


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