“At the Abyss”
Summary: Jamie surveys the land. Claire follows behind. They hike for miles until Jamie finds a suitable spot. Wild strawberries fill their bellies. They christen the land. Claire speaks her fears. Jamie’s confused then hears her heart. They are each the half to their whole. Their love is the first law of thermodynamics. A decision is made. Brianna joins Roger for Christmas. He’s about to lose his home forever. She soon will too. Brianna is conflicted. The past is a frightening place to search. Everyone needs a history. The fire burns between Roger and Brianna. He wants it all from her. He has a plan. So does Brianna.
Inside the Chapters:
Chapter 16: The First Law of Thermodynamics
Claire wakes to a large grey jay pulling hairs from her head presumably to make a nest. As a point of reference, gray jays are not found in the southern US. They are largely found in the northwest US and western Canada due to their like of spruce trees. Claire finds this apropos since she thinks her hair looks like a bird’s nest when she wakes. Except for some soreness, she is unharmed by the pulled hairs. The Indians are gone, as is the bear’s head. She looks upon sleeping Jamie, and he seems like Adam, though a rather battered Adam well after the Fall (p308, Nook). She combs meditatively through her hair. There’s no place to be, no one to care for; it’s slow. Simply time and the nature surrounding her. There lacks confinement in this place of wild. She thinks it odd she felt at home in the hospital, and she is ls at home here in nature. Her duality. The hospital was a place of control and regimented precision. A place solely for her to practice healing. Nature takes its path, but it is a place of life incarnate, a place she draws her healing from and through it. She finds herself chilled, nipples standing at attention. She is naked but hadn’t taken her clothes off before retiring. She’d encountered Jamie in the night, like a dream event (p309, Nook). The post-battle arousal had hit Jamie. Claire took the brunt of it and had enjoyed it from what she remembers. (7:20)
The Indians left a portion of bear meat for their later use. They eat breakfast and quickly bathe in the creek before planning their travel direction for the day. Jamie points out the treaty line in the mountainscape ahead of them. Before leaving Wilmington, Jamie made certain he knew which lands were available for settling. He also confirmed his information with the Tuscarora they had met and dined with the night before. Together they ride. Jamie is shirtless with his torn shirt drying behind him on his saddle. Claire notices the scratches are not inflamed nor causing him any problems. He seems less troubled, lighter in the mood than when they started the journey. Their encounter with the Tuscarora hunters had been civil and comforting. One piece of the unknown has become a known entity. She thinks the trees and landscape play a part in his mood change. This is his place, unlike the coastal plain of River Run. When the forest becomes too dense to ride, they hobble the horses and climb on foot. This is untouched land (p311, Nook). They reach a ridge, Jamie walks with ease, she follows behind gathering interesting plants along the way. She doesn’t know what he wants in the land to settle upon. They walk, turn back when they cannot go further, and find a way down. The description is enthralling. I want to hike here. It’s seductive in texture, sound, and color. Claire calls it enchanting (p312, Nook). (11:05)
She catches a glimpse of white streak above one of Jamie’s temple. It brings her back to the cave, Abandawe where he was shot by Geillis. It’s a place she cannot forget. They continue to climb. She’s overwhelmed by the beauty (p313, Nook). When they stop for a rest by a spring, she finds wild strawberries. She gathers handfuls into her cloak. The strawberry juice stains went together with pine pitch, soot, leaf smudges, and dirt. She gorges herself on the tart berries. Jamie asks if she likes this place (p314, Nook). He’s thinking of taking the Governor’s offer. He thinks the strawberries are a sign this is the place they are to settle (p314, Nook). The Frasers were also farmers. Culloden killed the clans. Any survivors fragmented. Jamie stood tall, warrior and farmer both (p315, Nook). He explains how strawberries are a rare plant (p315, Nook). Though I cannot find the definition Jamie gives, there are several ways the strawberry is considered important religiously and otherwise. Lastly, the fruit is shaped like a heart. Claire tears up. He wipes it away then drops his plaid and breeks. They are alone. They had been under threat the past days; now together, they are alone without the need to hold the wilderness away. Jamie claims this is the old way to give fertility to the fields. Claire sees no fields, yet, but she strips down to her nakedness too. They managed the fertility rites, blessing the land in his joy. (19:15)
Claire sees Jamie clearly for who he is. It terrifies her. She tries to keep it to herself, but he hears her thoughts as if she has spoken them aloud (p317, Nook). She must tell him the truth of her fear. Clinging to him, she speaks. He reminds her of his promise (p317, Nook). Her fear is he’ll die. She’s uncertain if she can survive without him again. He makes a joke. She hits him angrily. He doesn’t understand what she’s on about (p318, Nook). She stomps away. She steps on cockleburs. Limping carefully back to her clothing, she dresses. She fusses about, making nonsensical comments. Finally, she speaks up (p320, Nook). He understands her worry about him going to Scotland, but not why she thinks he’ll be going there. She’s exasperated explains that where he’ll get the settlers for the land. He returns the exasperation. He has no money to travel, the gems are gone, and the money he does have is borrowed (p320, Nook). He thinks of her words. He walks. He has a solution for the settlers he needs. The men he was in prison with were transported to the Colonies. Claire thinks if he can find them they won’t want to pick up and follow him. He reminds her she did this very thing. Claire relaxes, her fear easing, then she thinks of the huge task of tracking the men down. She asks after Aunt Jocasta’s offer. He explains why his answer is no (p321, Nook). She needs to know he won’t die and leave her (p321, Nook). “We are neither of us whole, alone. Do ye not know that Sassenach?” This line is why I believe this is a book about them as a couple more than the ultimate telling of his story, even though they end up in his time and we learn more about his history than hers. After she left him at Culloden, he was dead. She was in the future 200 years. Claire remembers the vast despairing pit she had to climb from after her return to the 20th century. They loved each other even while dead to the other during their separation (p322, Nook). This is the love I think we all strive for. This is unending devotion of the heart and spirit. Take a moment to breathe in the beauty of those words. People wonder why Outlander readers hold the books and characters so dear. If the naysayers would only read them, they would know we are not crazy. We are merely in love. “Nothing is lost, Sassenach; only changed.” “That’s the first law of thermodynamics.” “No, that’s faith.” (26:40)
Part Six: Je T’aime
Chapter 17: Home for the Holidays
Inverness, Scotland, December 23, 1969
Roger frets while waiting for Brianna to arrive. He wished Mrs. Graham and the Reverend could be here. He thinks of their advice when he thought he was in love as a teenager (p324, Nook).
December 24, 1969
Fiona is there giving him last minute reminders of the meal she prepared. She asks if he’s sure they don’t want to come along to Ernie’s mother’s house. Roger assures her they’ll be fine and to enjoy their holiday. She turns and kisses Roger right on the lips. Then wishes him a Happy Christmas before leaving with Ernie. Somehow Brianna and Roger make lunch without blowing up the manse. The house is nearly cleared out. Roger is relieved. There is a stack of books on the table. They’re Frank Randall’s books. All autographed. She takes the books and places them in a box for herself. Roger is going to miss the place. He grew up here. The church owns the manse. His dad lived there for more than fifty years. The new minister has his own home, so Ernie and Fiona are going to live there after the wedding. Brianna is concerned Roger’s home will be gone. Brianna is in a similar situation. She plans on putting her parent’s house on the market in the summer. Roger clues into her emotions surrounding packing up and losing her house for good. The house is too big for her to keep. He suggests she might get married. Maybe she thinks she’d live in the manse with him. There’s something for frankness. He blurts out asking if she wants children. She does. He does too. He wants to practice making babies with her just now. They kiss (p329, Nook). The nosy postman breaks the moment. It’s a letter for Brianna. The postman is snooping instead of putting the letter in the slot. He meddlingly wants to know if they’re alone. Well, a fictitious Uncle Angus is napping upstairs. Uncle Angus is a stuffed Scottie. They finally get the postman to leave. The letter is from the library at her university. A book she wants is not available. Roger says he could help her look for “him.” She knows how to research. She used to help Frank. Roger insists she needs tea even though she hates it. She also really hates whisky too. He doesn’t want to drink alone and wants her to join him. When she gets up to pour the hot water in the teapot, he tells her she has a right to know who Jamie Fraser was. He’s her father. To Brianna Frank Randall, daddy was her father (p332, Nook). Roger knows what it means to miss a father. He needed to make him real when he was young. He made stories up about him. The Reverend understood and started to tell him the real stories of his dad, Jerry MacKenzie. He told the little things. He made him real for Roger. Even though it made Roger miss him more, he was glad to know.
She lets him splash some whisky in her teacup. She asks after his mother (p333, Nook). Roger’s correct, everybody needs a history. She drank and held her cup out for more. She’s afraid to look for Jamie and her mother (p334, Nook). She wants to find her and them but worries Claire didn’t make it or died along the way, or any number of things. More whisky is poured into her cup. She felt guilty when she saw Frank’s signature in the books. Is it wrong for her to look? He thinks she should look, and he’ll help her, but she needs a nap just now. She makes it upstairs only to vomit in the bathroom. The whisky was a bit much. She sleeps. Roger works, checks on the soup, and cleans up from their tea. (36:20)
Roger is sad his home will be gone for good. That’s why it’s taken him so long to go through the Reverend’s things. The reason it’s getting done now is that Fiona plans to move in. He unpins the paper from the cork board. It’s his genealogy written in the Reverend’s hand. The generations of MacKenzies listed. He thinks he may change his name back to MacKenzie. The Reverend hadn’t known the story of the woman Roger gets his green eyes from. She’s nowhere on the list. William Buccleigh MacKenzie, the changeling, given to foster parents to raise is on the list. He was the illegitimate child of Dougal MacKenzie, Clan War Chief, and the witch, Geillis Duncan (Gillian Edgars, Geillis Abernathy). Geillis wasn’t a witch, but a dangerous woman. Did he inherit the ability to travel through the stones? He knows the fine line between curiosity and ambivalence in searching for those in the past. That’s the last box. The room now stands empty. (37:45)
He stops at the stairs. Brianna had bathed. She was in the hall in nothing but a towel. She didn’t see him. His heart thuds and hands sweat (p338, Nook). He’s mesmerized by her. She looks him straight in the eyes. He knows what she’ll feel like, what she’ll smell like. The towel falls from her hair (p38, Nook). They kiss. She presses against him; he can imagine how her breasts look by how they feel about him. Becoming off balance, they tumble to the floor (p339, Nook). He yearns to touch her. She urges him on, but he doesn’t want to bed her like this. He wants it to be good their first time. Better than this. The burning soup is the distraction they need. He runs to get it; she goes to get dressed.
In the kitchen, his guilt rises. He shouldn’t have acted how he did toward her. He’s concerned she’ll think he took advantage. She had wanted him to (p340, Nook). The soup is ruined. They’ll eat in a pub before church services; then she’ll say yes. When they come back to the manse, love will be a sacrament (p340, Nook). Roger is a traditionalist, a romantic, he’s a good man. He’s quite like Jamie. We haven’t seen his strength and grit yet, but I have no doubt we will. (43:15)
Jamie has made his decision. Claire is on board though concerned. Roger is hopefully in love with Brianna. She seems to share his feeling, but we don’t see her internal dialogue, only his. We cannot be sure of what is going on inside her head and heart. She’s torn about looking into the past. What if she finds her mother and its bad news? What about her love and devotion to Frank? What is Roger planning after the evening mass?
What’s Coming up? Chapter 18 and 19 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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