Claire settles into a routine over the next few days at the castle. People are accepting her, and everyone is abuzz about the Gathering; Claire wonders if she can escape during the festivities.
One day, Claire is out picking fruit when she meets Geillis Duncan, the fiscal's wife and village of Cranesmuir's medicine woman.
She's friendly and knowledgeable, but a little crass for Claire's tastes.
She's a gossip, too, and she suggests that Hamish isn't Colum's son. This isn't new gossip, but what Geillis adds is a scandalous suggestion: Hamish is Jamie's son.
Dougal lets Claire ride down to Cranesmuir later to get some supplies from Geillis.
While there, Claire hears about a village boy who is about to be punished by having an ear or hand cut off.
Claire convinces Geillis to convince her husband to lessen the boy's punishment. She does, so now the lucky kid will only have his ear nailed to the pillory for an hour. Little victories, we suppose.
Jamie later comes to collect Claire, and Geillis gives him a sealed letter to give to Dougal and Dougal only,saying that it's the bill and Dougal is the only one who will pay it. We guess collection agencies haven't yet been invented in 18th-century Scotland.
The boy is still nailed to the pillory when Claire leaves, and Jamie tells her that he has to yank his own ear free.
Claire asks Jamie to help him, and Jamie agrees, but only if Claire will create a diversion.
She approaches the boy, pretends to be squeamish, and faints into the crowd. While everyone's distracted by Claire, Jamie frees the boy, then they ride back to the castle together.