SPOILER ALERT: Dinna read unless you've gotten to chapter 84 in The Fiery Cross.
So Roger is alive and well. Well OK maybe not "well" per se... but he's alive, damnit. And once again - Jamie sent him off into the wilderness to go and do something he is relatively equipped to do: survey land. Because, you know, most British historians know how to trudge around their newly acquired 5,000 acres of mountainous Carolina brush and survey it. So off he goes... and that's pretty much when all hell breaks loose; again. Jamie and Claire decide to go help some Cherokee hunt and kill a white ghost bear, which they're not even sure exists... and of course Bree has to come because of her excellent marksmanship. And alas - she has to bring Jemmy - because it seems he'll be nursed until high school or the equivalent in the aforementioned mountainous Carolina brush. But of course, as usual, Jemmy is on the Pay No Mind list and is handed over to any number of Cherokee children to play with while his mother is off showing the rest of the tribe how to shoot.
What I found interesting about this stage of the book is that Claire stayed "home" with the Cherokee women and partook in needlework - or some such 18th century project given to the womenfolk - whilst the men were off being manly. Now... does that sound like Claire to you? Me, either. But in any regard, she got her honey traded for some lye soap - or something that will make soap smell better - it escapes my brain at the moment. And then comes the fire. LORD here COME the fire! In trying to smoke the bear out of his cave, they lit the entire forest on fire. And out of the brush gallops Bree and Jamie... and Jamie and Claire ride off into the forest, not really sure where Bree and Jemmy are; somewhere in front of them, they assume. But they know Bree is like a walking Britannica and will surely find her way home (blindfolded with one hand tied behind her back and the other hand offering a breast to Jemmy because that's all that poor child seems to do.) OK - SO - back to the meat of the story... Claire and Jamie get caught in this terrible rainstorm... and I was literally scared out of my damn mind. That's how Diana is - she knows how to tell a good story - and I was truly feeling the rain and the thunder. And the lightning, which they both happened to get slightly singed by... and which killed poor Gideon. Or was it Judas? Rats - there goes the old brain again...
So at the same time they're feeling the effects of this storm, Roger is fighting it as well, as he's still surveying and muttering to himself about what he's going to do with 5,000 acres of - you got it - mountainous Carolina brush. He ends up getting hit by lightning - getting saved by some escaped slaves who happen to be with - wait for it - MRS. BEARDSLEY! I'd know that broken-toothed lisp anywhere! So Roger has to work some serious Camp David-caliber negotiations with her and her ex-slave baby daddy - who then blindfold him and take him to safety. And Roger tells them about the baby and that it was a girl who will inherit all of that FREAK Beardsley's land.
Now - let me ask y'all a question... because it has been driving me nuts. Why on EARTH didn't that woman sit tight on her land after Jamie buried Mr. Beardsley?? She could have delivered in a warm bed - had her ex slave baby daddy live there with her (under the pretense of being her slave, maybe) and she could have said the baby was his with his dead wife or something...and that she had adopted her. And she'd have had plenty of shelter, food, etc. She could have had all the ex-slaves helping to work the land and living there with her and her ex-slave baby daddy - and life would be infinitely better for them than hiding in that ramshackle woods cabin that's falling down around them. And she could have kept her baby! I just don't get it. I suppose brainpower didn't really flourish back in 18th century mountainous Carolina brush. Must have been all the bannocks. One needs a little protein once in a while, do they not?