“Tell me, does it ever occur to you that taking Claire to wife might not have been the wisest thing you ever did?”
You can hardly blame Murtagh for asking such a question of Jamie, especially given that the pair are crouched in the dark of the Scottish countryside, eyeing horses to purloin in order to rescue said wife. But Jamie has clearly never had such a thought. After all, he’s risked as much for Claire as she’s risked for him — and “Vengeance Is Mine” is a perfect example of that give and take.
The hour opens with the Jacobite army encamped in Northern England, having taken the garrison at Carlisle and occupied Manchester. London is just a five-days’ march away, and Bonnie Prince Charlie is practically salivating.
“All we have to do is reach out and take it,” he tells his commanders. They’re dubious. Jamie — hoping he can change the history books by convincing the Prince to indeed march on London — stands by the exiled monarch.
“If we turn back now all hope that currently resides in the hearts of our supporters will be full of doubt and fear,” he tells the assembled. And, yet, no one joins his cause.
Dejected, he returns to Claire outside, who’s created a makeshift dental office to administer to the cavities of soldiers and their families. Jamie promises his men he’ll see them home safely to Lallybroch. Is this an empty promise, or will his words ring true? Regardless, he offers Claire a special pledge — he’ll get her home safe no matter what happens. But which home?
The next day, the couple get an unexpected visitor: Dougal! He’s come with orders from the Prince’s generals that Jamie and his men are to ride ahead to Inverness. (Translation: Dougal and Jamie are both being exiled now thanks to Jamie’s sway over Charles.) And seeing as the Prince has already left (with Jamie’s horse!), the Scot can’t even plead his case. So they take their marching orders and…march. But while on the road resting, the group is set upon by British soldiers firing their muskets. They narrowly escape — though not unscathed. Rupert takes a bullet to the eye. (This guy really can’t catch a break, can he?) They find shelter in a church so Claire can dislodge the metal from his eye before it shifts into his brain. Claire’s surgery is successful, but it’s not long before the British Army tracks them down, commanding them out or else they’ll set the thatched roof on fire and smoke them out. But our heroine has a (familiar) plan: She pretends to be the men’s hostage, screaming for help. (The soldiers would never harm an Englishwoman.)
Dougal plays negotiator: He goes out to meet the Red Coats, offering them Claire and the laying down of their weapons in exchange for their safe departure. The soldier in charge agrees. Now, given that Jamie is a wanted man who probably shouldn’t be seen by anyone in the King’s army, Dougal is the one left to a carry a swooning Claire out to the waiting troops. But before crossing the threshold, the men make plans to rendezvous with Claire later at the Hazelmere garrison, as that’s where the British will likely drop her off (since it’s the closest army outpost). Seeing as it’s late, though, the Red Coats pull over at a pub for the night. Outside, Claire sees a familiar face: the beggar Hugh Munro.
That happenstance comes in handy the following day when Claire learns she is being taken to Belmont — not Hazelmere like they’d predicted. She smartly (sneakily) passes the message on to Hugh so he can pass it on to Jamie.
NEXT: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary