This post will focus mainly on the events of both Chapters 15 and 16. In my last post, I discussed Geneva in detail. I pointed out some of her good attributes. However, her choice of having a child with Jamie has put her family in jeopardy. The Earl of Ellesmere is not responding well to Geneva’s actions and alcohol consumption has emphasized his violent nature. One wonders whether he has ever been a good candidate for Geneva or any other lady (most likely not). Geneva’s decision of not having sex with him and being not happy about marrying him is fair to a certain degree. The Earl of Ellesmere during his argument with Lord Dunsany starts questioning whether Geneva is legitimate. His comments are offensive and provoking.
“Oh, your grandson, is it?” Ellesmere’s voice was slurred and sneering. “You seem damned sure of your daughter’s ‘purity.’ Sure the brat isn’t yours? She said – ” (ch. 15)
Of note is the feelings that Lady Dunsany (Geneva’s mother) holds for Jamie. She mentions to him she is grateful for saving his grandson from the Earl of Ellesmere. She reveals that she was aware that he was a Jacobite prisoner. Initially, she was probably not fond of the idea of having one in her premises. She lost her only son at Prestonpans. It seems that Lady Dunsany no longer perceives him as a barbarian but as a noble. In my last post, I speculated that Geneva probably noticed Jamie’s refined background. I wonder whether she told her mother about it. Of course, the main question is whether Geneva revealed to her mother that Jamie is her son’s father. There is evidence that points toward that. First, Lady Dunsany asks Jamie whether MacKenzie is his real name (Geneva knew it was not). Furthermore, she is offering him the opportunity to go back to Scotland (this offer is also associated with gratitude). Of course, there is no resemblance between her newborn grandson and Jamie at this stage, but it is a good idea to send the father away to avoid anybody questioning about Willie’s legitimacy. Of course, she is not putting any pressure, but she makes it clear that he can leave anytime.
The conversation between Jamie and Lady Dunsany reveals the fact that Lord John placed him there in Helwater, where he could be with horses and be happy, instead of being sent away as an indentured servant to the American continent. That knowledge made Jamie interact with Lord John again. Lady Dunsany mentions that Lord John comes from an influential family. In fact, it will be because of Lord John’s connections that Jamie will be released eventually. She also reveals that reason why Geneva was sold to the Earl of Ellesmere.
“We are not rich – you will have gathered that from Ellesmere’s remarks,” Lady Dunsany went on. “Helwater is rather heavily in debt. My grandson, however, is now the possessor of one of the largest fortunes in the county” (Ch. 15).
The fact that their fortunes in terms of wealth have changed is another reason for being thankful for having Jamie around regardless of William being legitimate or not.
As readers, we do not witness much interaction between Jamie and his son in Voyager. Most of it takes place behind the scenes. However, Chapter 16 emphasizes the strong “blood” bond between them. When Willie learns that MacKenzie is leaving, he agitates the horses even though Jamie tells him not to do it. His father is upset, and he snaps the truth.
“Well, I’m no verra fond of you either, ye little bastard!” Jamie snapped.
Willie drew himself up, fists clenched, purple in the face.
“I’m not a bastard!” he shrieked. “I’m not, I’m not! Take it back! Nobody can say that to me! Take it back, I said!”
Jamie stared at the boy in shock. There had been talk, then, and Willie had heard it. He had delayed his going too long. (Ch. 16)
This dialogue brings to mind the conflict that William will have to deal with in later books, the revelation that he is indeed a bastard. It seems that many at Helwater are aware that Jamie is also the father. One wonders whether this information eventually leaks out to others who would like to hurt the Greys.
After this incident, Jamie feels like embracing his son to comfort him, but he could not do it. It is something unacceptable between a servant and an earl. At the same time, Willie is trying to avoid crying which is also not acceptable. They embrace when Jamie offers to wipe his tears. They are both careless of what people might think or say. The only reason for this connection is the blood relationship between them. Jamie transmitted fatherly love to his son every time they were together to the point that the boy started to love and even respect him (father figure). The fact that William decided to be a Papist and be baptized by Jamie reveals how he feels about his father.
Finally, I would like to include a quote that is insignificant to the rest of this post. Chapter 15 starts with Jamie reading a descriptive sex scene from a book. This scene brings to mind the several sexual intercourses between Jamie and Claire in book 1: ” . . . or wait the slower progress of his maiden bashfulness, I stole my hand upon his thighs, . . .”
Gabaldon, Diana. Voyager. 1994. New York: Bantam Dell. 2002. Print.