LJ2018: BOTB: Chapter 28: Huckelsmay

LJ2018: BOTB: Chapter 28: Huckelsmay

DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

May 15th, 2018, 3:42 am #1

LORD JOHN READALONG SPOILER POLICY: Please limit discussion to the events of the Lord John books/stories up to this point (Hellfire, Private Matter, Succubus, BotB) and the novels that precede/coincide with LJ (Outlander, Dragonfly, Voyager). To discuss LJ in the context of events from later in the series, please see the spoiler thread, here.


Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Section 4: The Regiment Rises
Chapter 28: Huckelsmay
 
 
John is acutely aware of occasions when he had been reckless and only his luck had saved him from discovery, and he is feeling wretched.

The army is now in Crefeld (having left Percy behind in jail), and Grey moves among the companies chatting and assessing the mood of the soldiers. His aide, Tarleton, thinks they will meet the French within a day, which John agrees with. When his other aide, Brett, makes a lewd comment about John’s horse, John reflects he should warn his men against consorting with the local whores, then he realises his men were making jokes about Percy. He sends Brett on a long, unnecessary errand to deliver messages and sends Tarleton to the top of a church spire to survey the land.

John re-reads a note he is carrying which tells him Custis is dead, leaving John the only eyewitness to Percy’s crime. Hal had researched the punishment for sodomy, and it seemed that the court would be unlikely to accept anything less than an eyewitness account. John grapples with whether he could swear to tell the truth and then lie, which would save Percy but ruin his military career, or tell the truth and see Percy hanged or imprisoned. He briefly considers freeing Percy and escaping with him to live a life together elsewhere, but then he realises that it would be a pointless existence with a man he could not trust, and he curses Percy, wishing they had never met. Then he thinks that while he does wish he had never met James Fraser, he does not regret meeting Percy as he does love him.

Then John thinks of Hal and how Hal would likely shoot him rather than let John perjure himself over Percy, or more likely kidnap John and send him somewhere far away, just like he did when John was ten, and John is overcome with a feeling of affection for his brother. John is aware that Percy could threaten to reveal his own inclinations and hopes that this will not come to pass.

Grey returns to his billet at a large farmhouse, and while sitting alone in a corner, he is approached by a young girl wanting help with her homework, so he blissfully loses himself in describing the foreign country of Scotland and its incessant rain.
 
 
Thoughts:
 
John is a good leader, dealing effectively with Brett’s and Tarleton’s gossip.
 
I had forgotten that John admits to himself that he loves Percy. It is sad to think that he wishes he had never met James Fraser, but I think maybe this feeling changes over time.
 
I love the scene of the young girl asking for help with her homework.
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Joined: January 31st, 2017, 11:53 pm

May 15th, 2018, 12:34 pm #2

Thanks, DLT for your summary and thoughts.  I agree that John is a good leader.  The incident with Tarleton and Brett reminded me of something that happened with Jamie in Outlander.  When young Hamish leaves the stable door ajar and one of the horses ends up in the loch, Jamie has to retrieve him, thus missing his supper. When Claire asks Jamie what he is planning to do with Hamish, he replies, "Dinna worry.  I'm going to row him out on the loch just before supper tomorrow and toss him in .  By the time he makes it to shore and dries off, supper will be over...Let him go to bed wet and hungry and see how he likes it."  I know it's a stretch, but John devises a similar punishment for Brett after hearing him gossip about Percy. Lord John sends the youth on an  unnecessary errand and riding back through the camps would occupy Brett for the next couple of hours and cause him to miss his own supper.  Both Jamie and John were able to effectively make their point.

I had forgotten that John admits to himself that he loves Percy. It is sad to think that he wishes he had never met James Fraser, but I think maybe this feeling changes over time.
Again, Jamie is all over this scene without being present.  It's hard for John to think of loving anyone without Jamie coming into his consciousness.  And, how sad for this lovable man, to never find the love he deserves. 

 I love the scene of the young girl asking for help with her homework.  Of course the country John describes is Scotland.  He could have told her about Germany or France but no.  Jamie is present once again as John falls asleep to the memory of Carryarick Pass. And, I love the humor: "Is it cold there?" the girl inquired, writing carefully.
"Very cold.  And it rains incessantly.  Let me spell 'incessantly' for you..."
Lord John is one of my favorite of Diana's characters.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

May 15th, 2018, 1:11 pm #3

Starting with the end - I always look in my book to see what the last sentence or two of a chapter are so I know when to stop while listening (which is fine since I've read this several times before and there won't be any spoilers).  When I saw the name Agnes and mention of Scotland, I thought of Nessie and couldn't figure out how John would be talking to Nessie since he's currently in Germany.  LOL

I enjoyed that scene too.  But, susanruth, John didn't choose to talk about Scotland because he was thinking of Jamie.  Agnes-Maria said someone had told her he knew all about Scotland, so it was her choice of country, not his.

I agree that John is a good leader and got his point across to his ensigns with their assignments.  And, I had also forgotten that John admitted to himself that he loved Percy - though I still don't think it reached the level of feeling he had for Jamie or Hector (probably at least in part because of his still current feelings for Jamie).  And, even if some of that love lingers, his recognition that he can never trust Percy makes a future for them impossible.

I also thought it was good that he could appreciate now why Hal sent him away to Aberdeen.  He had seemed so mad about that earlier and understanding now, as an adult, why he did that will only be good for their already significant brotherly affection.  Hal can be pretty ruthless and John is mostly comfortable with that, but it's good for him to understand and appreciate his reasons.
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Joined: October 7th, 2017, 11:10 pm

May 15th, 2018, 1:14 pm #4

Thank you, DLT, for such a straight forward summary.  The scene with the little girl doing her homework was indeed touching.

Could history have given Diana G. a place any more appropriate for John to be dealing with his dilemma than Crefeld, Crowfield.  Again, the crow is symbolically meaningful on many levels, so Diana was vvery sage in choosing this setting.
The crow as a spirit symbol for John would signify his sometimes brutal honesty.  It is interesting to note that John has led his life by always telling the truth while holding back specific endangering details.  He did have this trait in common with Percy.
The crow also denotes "power, intelligence, creativity, courage, determination, enchantment, broad mindeness, playfulness, mystery ...."  It "helps one go beyond superficial thinking and develop a realistic approach."  Are these not some of the characteristics that make John so appealing.
A crow can also be a sign of death (Custis' and probably Percy's),  and change.
The presence of 8  or many crows denotes sorrow and grief.  John is feeling lonely and grieving for the loss of Percy in his life.

John is facing a terrible dilemma. He's the only witness still available.  Should he tell the truth and condemn Percy to the gallows or can he lie, save Percy and destroy his own career, life, and place in society.  God help him, he still loves Percy.  Yet, John has also become acutely aware of how much his brother(and by association, his mother) loves him.  Could he turn his back on them.  His thoughts bring him to tears.

Now, onto more symbolism.  As John seeks a place to relieve his bladder he finds that he is close to a small religious  shrine commemorating the Second Station of the Cross, Jesus takes up his cross.  Well, John must now take up his cross even as he wishes that this cup will pass him by.  As he visually surveys the field he sees the fires of all the company stations he has passed through that day.
John also notes that he has dislodged some white and yellow flowers left to honor the shrine.  Yellow is symbolic of intellect, caution, friendship, and positivity.  Characteristics of John and his hopes to somehow come up with a positive outcome.  White symbolizes hope and truth.  John wants to grasp both.

Diana's ability to take an actual historical battle site and incorporate into the story in such a symbolically meaningful way is mind boggling.

Susanruth, great catch in seeing the similarities in how John and Jamie deal with discipline.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

May 15th, 2018, 1:27 pm #5

A couple of other quick things that I forgot to include earlier.  Hauptmann is gone away to Bavaria.  Could he not be brought back to testify?  Is John really the only possible witness for a trial?  John thinks Hal would ship him off to China and declare him lost at sea, but being in Bavaria doesn't seem quite as unreachable as that. ;-)

And, he considers whether Percy might out him as homosexual and how that would make things difficult for him.  But, earlier when he met with Bates, they talked about how Bates and the others in that group wouldn't be believed if they accused others because they are sodomites (even though they weren't, or at least Bates wasn't).  Given that, why would Percy be believed?  Especially with John as the only easy-to-reach witness at this point.  Wouldn't people assume he was saying that to discredit John's testimony against him?  I assume it's just a matter of any rumors of the sort causing talk and damage to one's reputation, and I can see why John wouldn't want there to be any.  But, I don't really think people would accept Percy's word at this point.
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

May 15th, 2018, 2:30 pm #6

Great summary, DLT (and thanks for being such a hero and doing Middlemarch and LJ chapters the same week!) 

I agree that it's unlikely that if Percy accused John, he'd be believed -- but the scandal already affects the Grey family, and further rumors, even if not credible, could still tarnish the family and the regiment. It's sad that John realizes his love for Percy too late. If he'd been able to admit this to himself and to Percy earlier, could Percy have felt more secure in coming to John when he was being blackmailed? 

When John thinks that he wishes he'd never met Jamie, I don't think he means it literally. It's just that Jamie now overshadows every other thing in his life, constantly in his thoughts, and a comparison for him for every other relationship he's in. Without Jamie in his heart, could John have allowed Percy in more? It is sad that such a lovely man, John, faces a lifetime in which he believes that no one will ever live up to the man he can't have.
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

May 16th, 2018, 2:10 am #7

Thank you DLT for another wonderful summary.  

Vita, lovely post on symbolism.  Great observations. 

Susanruth, nice observation about Jamie being ever present for John.  Even the universe is conspiring against him.  Of all countries, the little girl asks about Scotland.  It rains incessantly.  Could that be symbolic of John's own feelings of sorrow of never having Jamie?  Now Percy is lost to him too.  

I too had forgotten that John came to realize that he loved Percy.  Too little too late, unfortunately.  Love takes time. I can't help but wonder why Percy didn't wait for John.  It was so soon in their relationship to declare love.  A man truly in love would have waited for a beloved.  What a tangle.  I think that if Percy had loved John, truly loved John, he would have refused Weber--he would have put Weber off, made excuses.  

What a cautionary tale for John as he reflects on how he too had had close calls.  He can't condemn a man for what he too has done; it could have been he in that bed being discovered.  There is no telling what Percy will do.  Do you think Percy would out John out of spite?  He did take Weber, imo, somewhat out of spite--or it appeared to be part of the reason.

I love reading about John's feelings for Hal.  He knows that Hal would do anything for him.  Any mother would be proud of these two sons.   

The last scene with the girl was sweet.  John is so patient as he spells the word incessantly.  He seems a bit emphatic in making sure that she does spell it right, as if spelling were for his own benefit.  Perhaps it might have been John's hidden declaration of how he would forever continue loving Jamie, without stopping--not ever stop wanting him or  thinking of him, his thoughts flooded by Jamie's presence.  
John does react strongly, but he is angered by the idea that his unrequited love for Jamie has become a hindrance to his own progress with Percy.  I agree that John really doesn't mean that he wishes he'd never seen him.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Joined: August 7th, 2017, 4:50 am

May 17th, 2018, 3:38 am #8

Thank you, DLT, for summarizing this chapter and offering your thoughts about various sections of it.

I loved the chapter’s opening paragraph, where John acknowledges it was only luck that had saved him from Percy’s fate.  I would love to read more about the occasion where only a few seconds made the difference between ending up like Percy, and about John in his late teens/early 20s right after Culloden when he was going around with George Everett.  And the second paragraph was really well written — it gave me a vivid picture of how how John felt.

I didn’t get the impression that the two ensigns were always referring to Percy with their comments but that they eventually wound up talking about him, and then realized John had overheard.  I thought John was being overly strict with his punishments of his ensigns, who are only 15 and 18 years old.  I felt like John was talking out his anger at Percy and his feelings of wretchedness on the ensigns when he gave them their totally unnecessary assignments.

John’s thoughts about what to do if there were a trial were enjoyable to read.  It was interesting to see John refer to his his brother as “ruthless,” which confirms that his actions in the previous chapter — wanting John to take the gun to Percy so Percy can kill himself — were not out of character.  It was also interesting, though not really surprising, for me to see that John put his family and his honor above that of his personal feelings.  

I thought the reason he wished he’d never seen Jamie Fraser was due to the fact that now, having met him, John can’t get Jamie out of his mind and it’s preventing him from moving on to other relationships that would be more productive.  Which is why he eventually realizes that he did indeed love Percy.  Perhaps, maybe even probably, if Jamie had never entered John’s life, John would have been perfectly happy with Percy, could have said yes he loved him when Percy asked, and then all this trouble would never have happened and John wouldn’t be in the fix he’s currently in.

I like the insight we get into Hal when John thinks about him vis-a-vis the court martial — that Hal may or may not know about John’s sexual preference and that his ruthlessness would appear again to deal with John.  I wonder what John has ever pictured what Hal might do or say if he knew John was gay.  John has a vivid imagination, picturing what Hal might do if he, John, told his brother he was going to perjure himself and in so doing finally realizes how much Hal loves him.  It’s kind of sad that it took this disaster to make John understand why his brother had shipped him off to Aberdeen.

John knows that Percy can blackmail him into helping him but appreciates that so far Percy hasn’t raised the possibility.  I think that shows that Percy has his own sense of honor.  Though it could also be that he is hoping that John has enough kindness left in him to make the threat unnecessary.  Either way, I like Percy for not immediately resorting to the threat.

I had to look up the reference to Gethsemane and the “Let this cup pass away” phrase.  Interesting that this is how John views his plight.

The scene with the little girl offered a bit of levity to end on: I particularly liked John sort of but not outright admitting he was “a great lord” (P. 383 Bantam pb) when Agnes-Maria asked him.  This scene also reinforces the idea that John is good with children.  

But then the chapter ends with John dreaming about his first encounter with Jamie Fraser.  Even when he doesn’t want to, John can’t avoid thinking about him.  Poor John!  I wonder if he’ll ever be able to move beyond Jamie; if he doesn’t, I don’t see how John can ever have a satisfying relationship with another man.

Question: Did anyone else think it was kind of odd when, on P. 382, the text said John “looked across the fields toward Hückelsmay,” and then the next paragraph said he was quartered “in a place called Hückelsmay,” as if readers had never heard the name before?

I'm going to put a comment in the Spoiler Thread about something else in this chapter.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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Joined: August 7th, 2017, 4:50 am

May 17th, 2018, 4:17 am #9


My comments in response to your thoughts:



Susanruth: Great comparison of how Jamie punishes Hamish and John punishes his ensigns.

Vita21: Thanks for explaining all the symbolism.  That greatly adds to my appreciation of this chapter.

audiobooklover wrote: Hal can be pretty ruthless and John is mostly comfortable with that, but it's good for him to understand and appreciate his reasons.

John is the kind of person who needs to understand the rationale for things.  That's what makes him such a good detective -- he can figure out people's motives when they aren't always obvious.
audiobooklover wrote: Hauptmann is gone away to Bavaria.  Could he not be brought back to testify?  Is John really the only possible witness for a trial?  John thinks Hal would ship him off to China and declare him lost at sea, but being in Bavaria doesn't seem quite as unreachable as that. ;-)

Yes, I wondered about that, too.  :-)
Lisa SF wrote: It's sad that John realizes his love for Percy too late. If he'd been able to admit this to himself and to Percy earlier, could Percy have felt more secure in coming to John when he was being blackmailed? 

That's the $100,000 question!  I think, if John had been able to tell Percy that he loved him, when Percy asked, then it's more likely than not that Percy would have confided in him.  I say that because if John gave Percy his love in the same way that Percy gave his love to John, then because that's what Percy was looking for, he would have wanted to maintain those feelings and continue and maybe even deepen their relationship.  To do that, Percy would have to completely break with his past.  If Percy were confident that he and John would be spending their future together, then I think Percy would have felt comfortable confiding in John.  Percy, whether he realized it or not, was testing John and John, unfortunately, failed the test.


Without Jamie in his heart, could John have allowed Percy in more? It is sad that such a lovely man, John, faces a lifetime in which he believes that no one will ever live up to the man he can't have.

I absolutely believe the answer is yes.  You expressed the situation so nicely in your last sentence and I agree, it really is very sad.
NigheanDubh wrote: Of all countries, the little girl asks about Scotland.  It rains incessantly.  Could that be symbolic of John's own feelings of sorrow of never having Jamie?  Now Percy is lost to him too.  

I like that idea about incessant tears!


I can't help but wonder why Percy didn't wait for John.  It was so soon in their relationship to declare love.  A man truly in love would have waited for a beloved.  What a tangle.  I think that if Percy had loved John, truly loved John, he would have refused Weber--he would have put Weber off, made excuses.  

Well, I think Percy is reckless.  Look at the flogging scene and how at other times, Percy kisses John where they could be discovered.  Also, considering Percy's childhood and how he had to scramble, and probably fight, for food and other things to survive, I suspect Percy is used to grabbing what he can when he can, for fear it might not last or be there later.  So I'm not surprised that early in their relationship, Percy wants to know where he stands with John.  It goes to his insecurity and maybe he even feels he isn't worthy of being loved by John.  Unfortunately, John only confirms Percy's thought that his feelings aren't reciprocated.


 
The last scene with the girl was sweet.  John is so patient as he spells the word incessantly.  <snip>  Perhaps it might have been John's hidden declaration of how he would forever continue loving Jamie, without stopping--not ever stop wanting him or thinking of him, his thoughts flooded by Jamie's presence.  

Another nice interpretation.


John does react strongly, but he is angered by the idea that his unrequited love for Jamie has become a hindrance to his own progress with Percy.

I didn't get the impression that John was angry.  Was there something in particular that made you think that?
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
~~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>
'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: January 31st, 2017, 11:53 pm

May 17th, 2018, 1:34 pm #10

In response to your question LisaEmrys:  Did anyone else think it was kind of odd when, on P. 382, the text said John “looked across the fields toward Hückelsmay,” and then the next paragraph said he was quartered “in a place called Hückelsmay,” as if readers had never heard the name before?  It hadn't occurred to me until you mentioned it.  But, yes it does seem oddly worded.  

I, too, had to look up the reference to Gethsemane.  I find the religious symbolism adds depth to the work.  I remember studying To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies, and learning about the religious symbolism in those, as well.  It makes the literature so much more meaningful and rich. 
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Joined: September 30th, 2016, 8:02 pm

June 1st, 2018, 7:23 pm #11

DLT wrote: LORD JOHN READALONG SPOILER POLICY: Please limit discussion to the events of the Lord John books/stories up to this point (Hellfire, Private Matter, Succubus, BotB) and the novels that precede/coincide with LJ (Outlander, Dragonfly, Voyager). To discuss LJ in the context of events from later in the series, please see the spoiler thread, here.


Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Section 4: The Regiment Rises
Chapter 28: Huckelsmay
 
 
John is acutely aware of occasions when he had been reckless and only his luck had saved him from discovery, and he is feeling wretched.

The army is now in Crefeld (having left Percy behind in jail), and Grey moves among the companies chatting and assessing the mood of the soldiers. His aide, Tarleton, thinks they will meet the French within a day, which John agrees with. When his other aide, Brett, makes a lewd comment about John’s horse, John reflects he should warn his men against consorting with the local whores, then he realises his men were making jokes about Percy. He sends Brett on a long, unnecessary errand to deliver messages and sends Tarleton to the top of a church spire to survey the land.

John re-reads a note he is carrying which tells him Custis is dead, leaving John the only eyewitness to Percy’s crime. Hal had researched the punishment for sodomy, and it seemed that the court would be unlikely to accept anything less than an eyewitness account. John grapples with whether he could swear to tell the truth and then lie, which would save Percy but ruin his military career, or tell the truth and see Percy hanged or imprisoned. He briefly considers freeing Percy and escaping with him to live a life together elsewhere, but then he realises that it would be a pointless existence with a man he could not trust, and he curses Percy, wishing they had never met. Then he thinks that while he does wish he had never met James Fraser, he does not regret meeting Percy as he does love him.

Then John thinks of Hal and how Hal would likely shoot him rather than let John perjure himself over Percy, or more likely kidnap John and send him somewhere far away, just like he did when John was ten, and John is overcome with a feeling of affection for his brother. John is aware that Percy could threaten to reveal his own inclinations and hopes that this will not come to pass.

Grey returns to his billet at a large farmhouse, and while sitting alone in a corner, he is approached by a young girl wanting help with her homework, so he blissfully loses himself in describing the foreign country of Scotland and its incessant rain.
 
 
Thoughts:
 
John is a good leader, dealing effectively with Brett’s and Tarleton’s gossip.
 
I had forgotten that John admits to himself that he loves Percy. It is sad to think that he wishes he had never met James Fraser, but I think maybe this feeling changes over time.
 
I love the scene of the young girl asking for help with her homework.
Thanks for the great summary, DLT!

I liked John's punishment for the soldiers. It kept them busy, got them out of his hair and his line of fire, and at the same time, was of use to the regiment. 
Love hearing John's inner monologue, thinking of Percy and all the options, none of which were really options.
He is so good with kids... I liked hearing him think fondly of Scotland, even though he always professed to have hated it (at least in earlier books).

Vita21, thanks for the insight into the symbolism of crows and the Stations of the Cross. 

Anyone know if there is an English translation for Huckelsmay? I didn't find anything with a quick google search. 
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