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In January 1777, Mrs. Bug comes to the ruins of the Big House at night to retrieve the gold that is hidden underneath it. Jamie thinks that it is her husband, Arch Bug, and calls him. However, Mrs. Bug turns round and shoots Jamie in the leg – only then he realizes that it is in fact her, as Arch wouldn't be able to hold a pistol in his right hand. Ian sees his uncle fall, and although Jamie tries to warn him as to the identity of the shooter, he kills Mrs. Bug with an arrow to the throat. Ian is stricken with guilt and feels the weight of his mistake – Mrs. Bug was a grandmother figure to him. Mrs. Bug's funeral is held a few days later, and Arch Bug is in attendance. Ian faces him and admits that he is responsible for his wife's death, and Arch tells him he will see Ian again when Ian has something worth taking – a wife of his own – and then have his vengeance.

Jamie decides that it is time to go to Scotland to retrieve his printing press, and also to keep his word that he would one day bring Young Ian back to his parents. He also hopes that visiting Lallybroch might make his nephew feel better. Jamie, Claire, Ian and Rollo leave the Fraser's Ridge in March and make some stops in New Bern and Wilmington. In mid-May, they leave North Carolina aboard Tranquil Teal. A few days later, the Teal is approached by British naval cutter Pitt, and Ian and Jamie are to be pressed into service by Pitt's captain. However, they fight back and find themselves in control of the cutter, with Rollo left behind aboard the Teal. Several hours later, the Pitt is attacked by a privateer and the Frasers and Young Ian come aboard it, and another sea battle between the privateer and the Teal occurs the same afternoon. Ian and Rollo are reunited. Following the events at sea, Jamie is forced to take a short-term contract with militia and they find themselves at Fort Ticonderoga in late May/early June.

One day, Ian discusses with Claire possible reasons for his and his Indian ex-wife Emily's problems with having children, and she suspects that Emily might be Rh-negative and Ian Rh-positive, which would lead to Rh disease. Ian says he couldn't take a wife if he knew that he would be unable to give her live children, but Claire reassures him that he shouldn't have that problem with another (Rh-positive) woman. The next day, Ian leaves Ticonderoga.

In June,[1] Ian and Rollo walk through the Great Dismal and encounter William Ransom who is running from two Indians. Ian dismisses the Indians, who intended to sell William into slavery, and removes a splinter from William's arm. He reminds William that they met several years earlier at Fraser's Ridge and they camp together. Later in the night, they are joined by a group of Mohawk hunters and Ian introduces William to them as his kinsman. William's arm is infected and he develops a fever. Alarmed by his condition, Ian and three Mohawk take him ten miles to a small Quaker settlement Oak Grove to seek medical help, where they leave him in the care of Dr. Denzell Hunter and his sister Rachel. Some days later, Ian visits the Hunters to inquire about William's health, but refuses to come inside the house. However, he leaves a horse for William, along with a short note in which he wishes William luck in his ventures, and a package containing some money and a bear claw necklace – a gift from a friend called "Bear-Killer".

Ian then goes to Unadilla in the colony of New York, where he knows that his ex-wife Emily and her second husband Sun Elk currently are. Wishing to have some closure, he apologizes to Emily that he wasn't able to give her children and says that he is glad that she has them. He meets Emily's son, nick-named Digger, who appears to be about five years old. When Emily leaves the room, the boy says that Tewaktenyonh told him that he was the son of Ian's spirit, which shocks Ian. Emily then returns with her youngest daughter and asks Ian to choose a name for the girl, but he decides to name her son instead, saying that the boy is his to name. He gives him the name "Swiftest of Lizards".

Ian returns to Fort Ticonderoga on July 7, after the siege, and finds it occupied by the British army. He then joins Jamie and Claire in the woods. Claire is taken prisoner by the British, but several hours later Ian comes to rescue her – they are interrupted by Lieutenant William Ransom, and Ian calls upon William's debt to him as justification for letting them leave. The next morning, Ian, Jamie and Claire meet a militia unit, and reunite with Denzell and Rachel Hunter a few days later. Several weeks later, Denzell is captured by the British, and Jamie and Ian go to rescue him from hanging. Ian extracts Denzell with help from William. In mid-September, Ian walks into the British camp in order to spy and William notices him. Ian tries to escape, but eventually William catches up with him and asks him for a word. William doesn't ask what Ian was doing in the camp, thanks him for the horse and money, and says that his debt is now fully paid. He also asks Ian to give his regards to Rachel Hunter, and Ian realizes that he and William both have feelings for her. At this point he also knows that William is Jamie's son, but feels that acknowledging that to himself would be dangerous, in case it somehow shown on his face.

Ian's feelings for Rachel grow stronger. In October, he delivers a tin of goose grease for Denzell to her tent, and kisses her. Rachel hits him, but after the initial shock passes, allows him to hold her hand for a moment. She says that "they mustn't", and Ian leaves, feeling that he might not be able to control himself if she touches him again. He wants to marry her, but is aware of the possible difficulties – Rachel is a Quaker, and he is a man of violence; he is also afraid that she might be killed by Arch Bug because of Ian's love for her. Nevertheless, he asks Jamie and Claire to talk to Denzell about his intentions, as Dr. Hunter holds the Frasers in great respect. However, before they can do it, a mysterious man comes to Jamie to blackmail him, and Ian kills him. Forced to run, Ian leaves wounded Rollo with Rachel.

Ian, Jamie and Claire sail to Scotland in early November. In January 1778, they bury a distant cousin in Balnain, and then go to Lallybroch. Young Ian spends a few weeks with his dying father and bids him farewell. In early March, he sails with Claire to America, eager to find Rachel Hunter as soon as possible.

Upon arrival in America in April, Ian looks for the Hunters in Continental army's camps and eventually learns that they are in Philadelphia, tending to a private patient. Ian reaches the city and buys food on the street when Rollo knocks him down, happy at the sight of its master. In late May/early June, Ian comes to Fergus's printshop and finds Arch Bug holding Rachel and waiting for him. Ian and Rollo fight Mr. Bug and Ian is wounded in the process. Eventually, William Ransom arrives and shoots Mr. Bug. On June 18, Ian and Rachel watch the British army leaving Philadelphia. Ian tells her that he would turn Quaker for her, but it would be against his nature. Rachel replies that she knows he is a wolf, but he is her wolf, and if he hunts at night, he will come home to her.


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