By the Pricking of My Thumbs opens with Jamie giving Claire a tongue lashing, in a manner of speaking. Jamie is quickly interrupted by a pounding on their chamber door but is reluctant to answer the door. However, Jamie does answer the door after kindly giving Claire the prize at the end of that adventure.
Murtagh enters their chamber asking Jamie if his husbandly duties are making him sluggish when Murtagh looks to the bed to find a well sated Claire. Murtagh is clearly uncomfortable but proceeds to tell Jamie about the Duke of Sandringham’s arrival in the vicinity. Jamie and Murtagh discuss persuading the Duke to help Jamie clear his name. Claire tells Jamie not to trust the Duke but Jamie thinks she means the Duke’s fondness for other men. Jamie tells her the Duke was very attentive to him when he was sixteen but that nothing happened. Claire didn’t know about the Duke’s preferences but instead warns Jamie the Duke is an ally of Black Jack Randall to which Murtagh wonders how she knows such a thing. Jamie assures Claire that neither Murtagh nor he will ask her about anything she wishes not to share. Murtagh and Jamie make the decision to consult Ned Gowan before the petition the Duke. Jamie is eager to get his named Claire so they can return to Lallybroch where they can be happy.
Ned tells Jamie that despite the Duke’s backing, it is likely nothing will come of the petition for pardon. Ned instead suggests they inform the Duke of Randall’s recent activities against Claire in hopes of getting the Duke to end his friendship with Randall. If Randall’s activities are punished he could be courtmarshalled or sent abroad some place like India. Ned believes with Randall’s disgrace he can convince the courts of Jamie’s innocence.
Claire finds Laoghaire and Mrs. Fitz in the kitchen where Laoghaire has given her grandmother a new apron. Claire asks Mrs. Fitz to excuse them as she has a matter to discuss with Laoghaire. Mrs. Fitz shoos the other women out of the kitchen and Claire confronts Laoghaire about the ill wish. Claire tells Laoghaire that she can understand Laoghaire position but assures her she did not set out to take Jamie. Claire also says that Jamie wasn’t actually Laoghaire’s. Laoghaire tells Claire she’s lying that Jamie was and is hers. Laoghaire accuses Claire of stealing Jamie from her and then proceeds to say they have a loveless marriage and Jamie must have to get himself drunk to bed her. Claire rightfully slaps Laoghaire and then apologizes saying she shouldn’t have done such a thing. Laoghaire confesses to the ill wish saying she hopes Jamie will hate her as much as she does. She then reveals that Geillis Duncan sold her the ill wish.
At the Duncan’s, Arthur is suffering and Geillis is nowhere to be found. Claire finds some fennel and gives it to the maid for Arthur. The maid then directs Claire to the woods where Geillis appears to be performing a druid/pagan ritual. Claire notices the similarities to the dancers at the stones. Claire watches on as Geillis dances noticing Geillis is pregnant. When Geillis finish’s her ritual she calls for Claire to come out. Claire confronts Geillis about the pregnancy. Geillis tells Claire not even Arthur knows and when Claire asks how that is possible Geillis tells her Arthur hasn’t seen her out of her cloths. Geillis confesses that Dougal is her love and the child is his. Geillis tells Claire her ritual or summoning is to ask for Dougal and her freedom from their respective marriages.
Claire and Geillis head home and Geillis assures Claire that she would have never sold the ill wish to Laoghaire if she’d known it was meant for her. Claire now has the power to hurt Geillis more with the information she knows. Claire assures her she wishes her no harm that she thinks of Geillis as her friend to which Geillis feels the same.
Geillis tells Claire that the Duke of Sandringham is friendly with Dougal and gave Dougal a token who then gave it to Geillis. We also learn Dougal is married and his wife is on Dougal’s estate. Claire, along with us, is confused as to why an English Duke would be friends with Captain Randall and Dougal MacKenzie. She then remembers Rev. Wakefield and Frank’s conversation about Black Jack’s wealth benefactor and that Sandringham was a suspected Jacobite.
A cry rings out in the woods and Claire asks about it. Geillis tells Claire it is a changeling child. She says you know it is one of the Faery’s children because the child doesn’t thrive or grow. Claire finds this ridiculous and goes to find the child. Geillis tells Claire that if you leave the changeling child out in the night the Faery will come and return your own child. Claire tells her it isn’t true that it is just a sick child and being left outside at night would just kill it.
Geillis leaves Claire to find the child on her own. When Claire comes upon the baby it has already died. She holds the baby and mourns the loss until Jamie finds her. He puts the baby back where Claire found it and takes her back to Leoch Jamie tells Claire that he meet Geillis on the road and she told him where she was. Jamie explains that the parents of the baby are comforted thinking their child is with the Fae happy and healthy.
Back at Leoch, Jamie explains the document Ned has drawn up and Claire seems reluctant to sign it. Jamie tells Claire despite her misgivings about the Duke; he must try to clear his name for them and for Lallybroch. Claire signs the document.
Next we see Claire in a fine house with the Duke of Sandringham; he is unwilling to entertain a petition of complaint against Randall. Claire tells Sandringham Jamie doesn’t know she is there and he would not approve if he did. The Duke refuses the request and Claire assures him the idea of turning your back on a friend is a hard one. The Duke seems surprised but then says there is nothing wrong with him befriending one of the Kings English officers. The Duke expresses his apologies and tells her he doesn’t have the times for petitions. Claire asks The Duke how much Jacobite gold Dougal gave to him? The Duke is shocked and Claire essentially threatens to reveal that he is a Jacobite and traitor to the crown. The Duke comments that Claire’s neck is so lovely and wishes not to see her head parted from it. The Duke then assures Claire he looks forward to helping Jamie restore his good name.
Rupert runs out to Claire and tells her the Laird is looking for her because Dougal is out of his mind with the death of his wife who was taken suddenly by and illness. In the Hall, Dougal is destroying everything and threatening to kill others while he raves about the death of his wife being his fault. Angus fetches some drink and Claire pours a sleeping potion into it. Angus then suggests a toast to Moira, Dougal’s wife. Dougal grieves and then accepts by taking the drink and drowning his sorrow. Moments later he collapses and several men, including Angus and Rupert, carry him off.
In the market area, Geillis calls out to Claire asking if she’s heard the news. Claire says she has though she’s not as happy about it as Geillis. Geillis just says she is happy her prayers have been answered. Claire doesn’t believe that Geillis summoning had anything to do with Moira’s death but Geillis says that she doesn’t knows that it did or did not. Geillis is convinced Dougal and she can now be together but Claire thinks her husband might have something to say about it. Geillis doesn’t look like she’s worried.
At the Duke’s, Jamie and Murtagh arrive and witness the MacDonald’s leaving the Duke’s residence. We then see the Duke reading Jamie’s petition and the Duke seems appalled. The Duke says that shielding Randall from his misdeeds seems like a full time job, one he seems sick of. He assures Jamie he can help but wants something in return. The Duke says the MacDonald’s challenged him to a duel but it isn’t to draw blood. The Duke asks that Jamie acts as his second.
Murtagh thinks Jamie should stay out of the matter with the MacDonald and the Duke but Jamie thinks it his best chance which is why Murtagh urged him to talk to the Duke in the first place. Murtagh says there will be other chances but Jamie asks him if he can swear to it which he cannot. Jamie is willing to take the risk.
In the Hall a dinner in honor of the Duke of Sandringham commences with the Duke cutting into a large dish with a peacock on top of it. Colum makes a toast welcoming the Duke. Jamie and Claire approach the Duke who pretends not to know Claire. Jamie introduces them and Claire asks Jamie to get her a drink while she gets to know the Duke. Claire then proceeds to call the man a bastard for roping Jamie into the duel with the MacDonald’s. The Duke explains it is a quid pro quo and Claire explains that should anything to happen to Jamie she will also quid pro quo by making good on her threat. The Duke assures her he is the one who will be shot at and nothing will happen to Jamie and should anything happen to the Duke himself then Jamie’s petition will never make it to London.
Across the room, Arthur Duncan stands up from the table coughing and then collapses. Claire intervenes thinking Arthur is chocking but they are unable to save him. Claire looks up to find Geillis looking at Dougal who looks pleased. Geillis then cries out and falls over Arthur but Claire tells us she smelled the scent of bitter almonds which is a tell-tale sign of cyanide.
Back at the Duke’s current residence Jamie and the MacDonald’s second are counting off paces for the duel. The Duke and MacDonald take their places and then at the dropping of the handkerchief they fire towards each other intentionally missing. It is a symbolic act of honor. After the duel, the mediator asks the Duke if he offers his apology for the non-payment of debt to which the Duke replies he does and MacDonald likewise accepts the apology. However, the other MacDonald’s are not so inclined to leave it at that and mock the Duke with crude remarks about his sexuality. The MacDonald’s make a remark about the Duke and Jamie going into the wood to have sex and Jamie quips back that the MacDonald’s learn about love with rutting with their mother. The Duke finds this hilarious but the MacDonald’s take offense coming at Jamie.
Jamie takes them on, besting them, but gets a good slash to the ribs for his trouble. The Duke is upset and tells Jamie it is just a scratch and to tell Claire it wasn’t his fault. He then tells Jamie he’s not up for common brawls but takes Jamie’s petition saying he’ll honor his side of the bargain.
Back at Leoch, Claire is stitching up Jamie who is giving him the silent treatment because she’s angry about the brawl. Ned comes down to tell Jamie that Colum is asking for him.
Jamie enters Colum’s office to find Colum sending Dougal to his estates and away from Geillis Duncan. Dougal tells Colum he’s in love with Geillis and he won’t spurn her. Dougal also tells Colum she’s carrying his child. But Colum tells him by the law Geillis’s child is Arthur Duncan’s as Hamish is his. Colum again orders Dougal to leave and when Jamie tries to speak up Colum tells him to speak when he is spoken too. Dougal reluctantly agrees to Colum’s orders.
Colum then turns his ire on Jamie about the MacDonald brawl. Jamie tries to explain why he was there by Colum doesn’t want to hear about it. Jamie tells him in time he’ll be able to leave if Colum isn’t happy with him and Colum tells him he won’t leave until he’s given permission. Colum then orders Jamie to watch Dougal and take him to his lands. To make sure Jamie’s mind is on Colum’s orders he’s also to leave Claire behind. When Jamie tries to protest Colum threatens to cut out his tongue. Jamie wisely nods. Colum then dismisses them but Jamie has to get Dougal moving.
Claire and Jamie say their goodbyes though Claire is not happy about not being with Jamie while he’s wounded. Jamie warns Claire to stay clear of Geillis Duncan because Colum’s wrath will likely be aimed in her direction next. Jamie tells her now that Arthur Duncan is dead there is no one to protect Geillis from her reputation as a witch and Claire points out that is especially true with Dougal being sent away. Jamie tells her to stay away from Geillis and to be careful and she tells him she will. They then kiss goodbye rather passionately which ignores the brokenhearted Dougal. Claire watches as Jamie and Dougal ride off.
In the kitchen, Claire is tending to one of Mrs. Fitz’s many burns from the ovens and Mrs. Fitz notices that Claire is upset about Jamie being gone. She assures him Jamie will make amends with Colum and be back in her arms soon. Mrs. Fitz’s nephew Tammas comes in with a note for Claire which is from Geillis telling her to “come quick.”
Claire rides to Geillis home in concern but finds a puzzled Geillis as to why Claire is there. Claire shows Geillis the letter and Geillis tells her someone is playing prank on her. Claire tries to warn Geillis about the upcoming danger and that she and others know Geillis poisoned Arthur. Geillis says Claire’s concern touches her heart but it is misplaced. The warden pounds on the front door and Claire tells Geillis to flee but she says she won’t. Geillis is confident Dougal will let nothing happen to her as she pours out the poison she used on Arthur. Geillis tells Claire that Dougal loves her to death.
The warden’s burst into the room and arrest Geillis for witchcraft and when Claire asks on whose orders she is taken up as well. The wardens tell them it is the thieves hole for the both of them. They are dragged outside and put into a transport carriage. Claire looks out from the bars and sees a satisfied Laoghaire looking on.