I guess Jack was just not up to the task of facing another beautiful Witch that would likely turn on him… and, I must say, he was rather rude about the parting too! He mumbled something about if Dougal MacKenzie couldn’t handle her, he didn’t feel like trying it either? His last flippant comment was, “You’re on your own kid!”
Well, fine then… I will deal with it on my own, you coward!
Getting ready to face Geillis Duncan in her natural habitat, her Witchly lair at Cranesmuir…
Until Claire’s untimely arrival at Castle Leoch, Geillis was actually enjoying a fairly comfortable existence in the past. She had carved out a little niche for herself in more ways than one, and her plans seemed to be going rather well. She had a somewhat clueless and gullible husband of good standing and wealth- which she was quietly helping herself to and stashing it aside for the Cause. She put up the appearance of being a devoted, doting wife who saw to her husband’s every need and eased his many ailments and pains… most of which she caused herself by slowly poisoning him with Arsenic. Yes, things were going well for her… a slow dying husband whose death no one would suspect her of, a goodly secreted sum of money to contribute to the rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Ohhhh and let us not forget the lover on the side! She was the mistress of another wealthy and powerful man who shared her political views in supporting the Jacobite cause. That man was none other than one Dougal MacKenzie
Of course as with any sticky situation and spider web, there were a few slight glitches to her plan? There was the small problem of an unplanned pregnancy with Dougal being the Father. Though, in reality, was it really so unplanned? Geillis was a healer, she knew full well what to do to prevent such an occurrence and it was mentioned by another time traveling acquaintance and previous lover of hers, Dr. Hector McEwan that she was knowledgeable about abortions and had gotten rid of other unwanted fetuses. So, then, we must assume that her plan was to kill off her husband and line Dougal up as the next one. Naturally, she would be in a much better position on all fronts with Dougal and having his child. The fact that Dougal was already married would not have bothered her in the least…that situation could be easily remedied. And, even if he didn’t marry her, just the fact that she had his child would give her some added power and control over him.
The other glitch in her plans was of course, Claire! She had to determine whether Claire was indeed any sort of threat to her scheme. Please keep in mind that Geillis was not a random homicidal maniac. No, she usually killed for specific reasons known only to her warped mind. I believe that once she befriended Claire and probed her mind a bit, she was curious about Claire’s appearance but deemed her as not really a threat to her personal agenda. In fact doing away with her would increase suspicions on Geillis, so she kept her around for some much needed company.
After Arthur’s sudden and rather untimely death at Castle Leoch in the middle of dinner… how could anyone blame Geillis, they all saw his attack and watched him die? Claire was however, quite suspicious after trying to save the man and smelling/tasting the arsenic on him. She finally realized that maybe Geillis was not so innocent as she seemed? Hmmm maybe all of those people warning her had been right. Claire made every effort to distance herself from Geillis after that. Geillie’s plan was not going quite so well as she had intended though. Aside from Claire’s suspicions, she had another snag… Having quickly done away with husband number three, she told Dougal about her pregnancy, probably in the hopes of swaying him to her side forever more? Another odd death had recently taken place as well? Dougal’s wife had conveniently died, though Geillis insisted she had no hand in any of that, it was just a matter of sheer coincidence that should have worked in her favor. Dougal, being unsure of how to handle the whole mess went to Colum for some brotherly advice.
Well, this was when Geillie’s plans really went awry? Colum was having none of it, and was determined that Geillis Duncan and her evil bastard spawn were not going be any part of the MacKenzie Clan. He sets in motion the plan to have her tried and burned as a Witch. Claire’s involvement in the Witch trial was really no fault of Colum or Geillie for that matter. No, Claire’s ordeal was brought about by a jealous teenager by the name of laoghaire MacKenzie, who simply wanted Claire out of the way so she could have her heart’s desire, Jamie Fraser! No one at the Castle even realized that Claire had gone into the village until it was too late and she was already thrown into the thieve’s pit with Geillis.
Claire and Geillie spent a length of time together in this cold, dark hole and Geillie, obviously figuring at the time that she had little to lose, told Claire about her plans to support the Jacobites, about stealing the money from Arthur, and about her affair with Dougal. Eventually they were put to trial by water, which is essentially a lose/lose event… if you drown, you were innocent and God will open his doors for your soul, if you survive you’re a witch and they’ll burn you anyway! During this trial, Jamie did manage to save Claire and escape with her. But, at the last moment, Geillie showed her compassion for Claire as well? She pronounced herself a Witch and declared that Claire had nothing to do with it. In doing so, she stripped herself showing her advanced state of pregnancy along with her unusual small pox scar which Claire immediately recognized. This one act of compassion towards Claire goes along with the theory that Geillis was not an indiscriminate killer. In her mind, Claire had done nothing to warrant her death and had been friend to Geillis. Her last ditch effort did one other thing… it bought her some much needed time to re-think her plans and re-group so to speak? No one was going to kill an unborn child, so she was given some slight reprieve and would not be burned at the stake until after her child was born.
During this time, she used the baby to blackmail Dougal. Dougal may have been taken in by the witchly charms of Geillis Duncan, may have cursed the day he ever met her and may have been happy to see her burn in the flames of Hell, but he was in his own way an honorable man who would not wish harm upon his own child? Geillis used this as her bargaining chip… she agreed not to harm the child if Dougal would see that she was somehow rescued from this Witch burning. Now that all sounds well and good on the surface… Dougal receives the son, and places him with a family that has recently lost their infant. Alright, he has managed to secure the safety of his illegitimate son, now he could have easily went back on his word to Geillis and let her be burned at the stake anyway. But, he did not do that, no, he kept his word to Geillis. He found a way to help her escape to France and start a new life as Melisande Robicheaux. So, why did he save her? Was it because maybe he really did care about her? Did he envision some point in the future meeting his son and having to admit that he had a hand in killing his Mother, witch or not, that would be a difficult thing for a son to accept? One last detail of interest in this situation is that when he showed up in France later and helped Claire with her problem of the Comte St. Germaine, he knew of the man and his less than pristine morals and associations. He claimed that he heard talk of it in the taverns… but did he really know much more than he was admitting to? If he was still involved with Geillie. now Melisande in some way, he would have known something more about the man and the activities than he could say to anyone without implicating himself?
Luckily for Dougal MacKenzie, he did manage to escape the spider web of Geillis Duncan and her future embodiment of Melisande Robicheaux! While we’re on the subject of Geillis and her webs in which to catch unsuspecting husbands, let’s address the means by which she is most fond of in disposing of said husbands when they have outlasted their usefulness? She does seem to prefer poison as her method of doing away with them. Much less messy that way, and being an accomplished herbalist, she usually has the required ingredients on hand. When I look at Geillis, I keep getting the vague feeling that I’ve seen her somewhere before? Could she have done even more time traveling than any of us are aware of? I’m sure it’s possible… I have to wonder just where she learned her finely tuned arts of poisoning? Hmmmm there was another such woman in history who is said to have had a propensity for poison? Could it be possible that at one time or another, Geillis travelled further back in time and spent some time with this woman?
There are rumors and stories about a woman… I believe her name was Lucrezia? Lucrezia Borgia…Several rumours have persisted throughout the years, primarily speculating as to the nature of the extravagant parties thrown by the Borgia family. Many of these concern allegations of incest, poisoning, and murder on her part; however, no historical basis for these rumours has ever been brought forward beyond allegations made by rival parties. It is rumoured that Lucrezia was in possession of a hollow ring that she used frequently to poison drinks. Well, if these rumors have any shred of truth to them, it would certainly put her in a close running to Geillis? Now, I could be wrong but it seems to me that Geillis Duncan bears a striking resemblance to one Giulia Farnese of equally unstable Borgia family! Could Geillie have picked up her penchant for poisoning here?
House of Borgia
The ravishing temptress who came to the Pope seeking redemption and ended up in his bed, Giulia quickly uses her new elevated position to amass power and influence of her own. She befriends Lucrezia and ultimately even Vanozza. She uses these alliances to help establish and strengthen the church’s charitable works, a deed that will secure the Pope’s legacy.