Jamie: March 1937
“Mam! Mam!” Jamie tore through the house with a letter in his hand. He finally found his parents in the parlor.
“Mam, Claire wants to know if you’ll perform with us for the holiday series.” He stood in front of her panting.
“What?” Ellen said laughingly.
“Here, read it for yerself.” Jamie handed her the letter.
She took the letter and read it. Inwardly she smiled. If Jamie was simply handing over his correspondence, he hadn’t quite realized what he felt for Claire. Her wee lad was still a bit immature in that area of life, though he was wiser than his years in most others.
“What does it say mo chride?” Brian asked her.
“Just as Jamie told us. Although it was one of several questions the lass asked. Are all of her letters this inquisitive?”
“Aye. Since we live so far apart, ‘tis the only way we can learn about each other ye ken.” Jamie didn’t understand what the big deal was. He asked Claire just as many questions.
‘see what?’ Mam was being odd.
“Nevermind. I’ll have to discuss it wit yer Da, but that may work. It would be lovely to spend time wit ye and Jenny and Ian during more of the season. We’ll have to come home for Christmas and Hogmanay of course.”
Jamie and Brian both nodded.
“Here lad, take yer letter. Let me and Da talk it over and I’ll gie ye an answer at supper so ye can reply.”
“Thank you Mam.” Jamie bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
March 12, 1937
Mam says she’d love to play with us during the holiday series. Da can’t leave Lallybroch for so long and we’ll have to come home for Christmas and Hogmanay of course.
I can sing the duet with you. Jenny is right, Ian and I do have a similar range, even though I’m so much taller. Mam says she doesn’t know why Willie and I are both tenors since Da is a bass. I told her that since she’s a coloratura Willie and I split the difference and are tenors. Since Jenny is a mezzo, that almost makes sense.
Donas is doing well, it’s very snowy here and I haven’t been able to exercise him as much outside. We make due with the indoor riding space, but neither of us like it much.
Yes. Third week in May. I take both my tests on May 5th.
How are things going with your manager? Jenny mentioned you were a bit vexed with him, was it a professional disagreement? You don’t have to tell me if that’s too personal a question.
I’m trying to learn a little about how the music world works before I come to London. Mam doesn’t have a manager, and Uncle Dougal never answers my questions, he thinks I’m too young to understand about the business side of things. I don’t think I am, I just don’t know enough to even know which questions to ask.
Oh! If you think of it, could you keep me in your prayers?
Some of the girls at school are really beginning to annoy me. The other boys not so much, I’m not really close to any of them. I’m not really close to the girls either, but that doesn’t keep them from stopping me in the halls and asking questions all the time about what I’m doing and where I’m going, and if I’ll be in town on Friday. I never go into town except to church on Sunday with Mam and Da. There are too many things to do at home when I’m done with schoolwork.
I’m trying very hard to keep my temper with them but I’m about to ask Mam to let me finish my studies with a tutor. I don’t want to do that, tutors are very expensive and with Willie in College I don’t want to put more on Da. Besides, it’s only another month and a half.
So if you could pray that a. I don’t lose my temper, and b. I finish my studies soon, I would be grateful.
“Did you know that some girls are bothering Jamie at school?”
“No, he did’na mention anything in his last letter. Why? Did he say something about it to you?”
“He did. He asked me to pray for him that he doesn’t lose his temper. You can read it yourself if you’d like.”
Claire handed Jenny the letter.
Jenny read it and pursed her lips. “I dinna think he’s told Mam or Da either. It sounds as though the besoms are throwing themselves at his head and the numpty does’na even ken it.” She laughed… “I’d gie anything to be a fly on the wall when he’s ignoring their flirting.”
“Do girls often flirt with him?” Claire asked curiously.
“Oh Aye. No that he ever notices. Our Jamie is a kindhearted lad and the lasses all sigh after him. They’ve been doing it ever since he was small.” Ian put in.
“He’s never mentioned that he has a girl.” Claire was trying for nonchalance. It wasn’t really her business, but she thought he would have told a friend, and her feelings were a bit hurt.
“He does’na have a girl. Truly Claire. Da trained he and Willie both from a young age to be careful wit how they spoke to a lass. He used to say, “a lass is more emotional than ye are and ye dinna want to say something that she’ll take as interest when it is’na.” O course he told all of us to be wary that someone was’na making up to us because of Da and Lallybroch.”
At Claire’s quizzical look Jenny elaborated. “Da is Laird Broch Tuaroch ye ken. Anyone attached to us might think it would gie them influence or prestige.”
Ian started laughing. “Well in your case, ye managed to scare off anyone like that fairly quickly. No sane man would take ye on, just on the chance of getting something from yer Da.”
Jenny looked offended. “So what does that make ye then?”
Ian kissed her soundly. “Crazy in love wit ye.” She looked mollified at that and he continued. “Besides. I already ken what I want to do wit me life. Hanging onto yer father’s coattails is’na it. I mean to make my own way.”
Claire watched all this fondly. “It’s so nice that you love each other so much. My parents loved each other like that.” After a pause she continued. “I hope someone loves me like that someday.”
Jenny smiled at her. “Someone will. I ken it.”
March 30th 1937
I will pray for you. I also asked Jenny about your difficulties and she explained why the girls bother you so much. I don’t really have any advice to give except maybe try and avoid talking to them. Between my uncles and Joe, I’ve never been bothered by boys or anyone else trying to make up to me for what I could give them.
Yes I did work things out with Mr. Randall. He’s a very good manager and not a bad person either, we just have different ideas about what to do for the concerts. Sometimes I let my temper get ahead of me and that’s what happened with Mr. Randall. I thought he was insulting Joe. Joe explained that he thought Joe had insulted him. A man thing Joe says. So maybe you’ll understand it. I think it’s silly, but I’m a girl so what do I know?
I need to finish this letter so I can send it off to the post. Please write back soon.
April 24th 1937
I did as ye suggested and avoided the lasses as much as I could. Thank you for suggesting it, it did help a little. Some of them were quite persistent and I ended up having to be quite rude to two of them. They started to cry and I got sent to the Head's office. Once I explained to her what had happened, she let me go back to class. She must have told Da though, because he and I had a talk about it that night. Da told me that some girls won’t respond to politeness and that I shouldn’t feel bad that they forced me to be rude. I still do though. I don’t like seeing girls cry, even if I am exasperated with them.
After that day it’s been a bit easier, and usually one of the teachers is in the hall now when I’m walking from class to class. I think Da asked for that and sometimes I feel like a bairn that must be looked after, but then I remember what it was like trying to handle them on my own and I don’t mind so much. I’ll be glad when I’m done though. Two weeks and I take my tests. After that I plan to stay home and not talk to anyone but Donas for a week!
I’m glad you worked things out with Mr. Randall. I asked Mam about it and she says that’s why she doesn’t have one anymore. The ones she knew all had different goals for her than she did for herself. Of course it’s different for you, she says a lot of people depend on you.
Da just called me, I’ll write again soon.
The Spring series was quite successful. All the performances sold out very quickly, a fact that Frank made sure to emphasize to Claire.
After the last concert in the series, Frank tried again to talk about moving venues. Claire again shot down the idea. Not to be deterred, the manager tried another angle.
“Alright, fine. If you don’t want to move venues then please consider coming to more of the receptions. I know you don’t care for them, but it’s getting more and more difficult to attract patrons. Without doing the larger venues we need someone to underwrite the cost of these concerts. I realize that you are wealthy enough to be indifferent about it, however, please consider that most of the people we work with depend on their salary to support their families. It would be a shame if they were all thrown out of work. Not many people are hiring musicians full time anymore.”
Claire didn’t know whether to believe Frank or not, so she told him that she’d consider it. Jamie had said something similar in his last letter, but she needed an opinion from someone who was here. As soon as she could, the young woman sought out Dougal to ask his opinion. Surprisingly he agreed with Frank.
“As much as I hate to say it, he’s right lass. One of the reasons we have so many people audition is because not many people are hiring. I’ve had any number of people try and get me to put in a word wit ye. I never tell ye because I dinna want to influence yer choice like that. I’ve also had some of the venue managers come to me concerned that we will’na use them for the next series.”
“I’ve already told Mr. Randall again that I’m not interested in moving venues. I like the places we perform now. Honestly I’d rather add performances next year than move.”
“I agree with ye. Will ye be able to add performances though? I ken that two of our major patrons pulled their support, and a third patron reduced his.”
“They did? I didn’t know that.”
“Aye. I ken that Frank has been trying to replace them without much success.”
“Hmmm. Do you think it would help if I went to more receptions? Mr. Randall has asked that I consider it.”
“I think it might. People with money like to be seen in public as being part of the performer’s circle. Truly I find the receptions tedious, but I go to all of them. It helps the group get sponsors and I’m responsible for my people.”
Claire nodded thoughtfully. “I understand. I’m finished with the formal estate lessons now and I suppose I could change my schedule a bit to allow for sleeping in more often. Thank you Mr. Mackenzie, I appreciate you taking the time to explain everything.”
“Anytime lass.” Dougal made a mental note to let Geillis know about this conversation. He didn’t trust Randall not to push the girl, and while her being more involved with the promotion side of things was good, it wouldn’t be helpful to push her so hard she broke under the strain of it.