In any case, welcome to this week’s chapter of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Here, we take a look at this best selling book and what makes it work.
Chapter 28: Kisses and Drawers
Summary: Claire soon finds a place and a rhythm at Lallybroch, helping Jennie, in the gardens, and making herself useful wherever else she can. The place practically feels like home. If only she didn’t have to leave it soon.
Jamie intends only a short stay at Lallybroch, enough to set things in order. Then he plans to take Claire to his grandfather in hopes of getting aid. If nothing else, perhaps they can escape to France. One way or another, he’s still outlawed and in danger.
One morning, Ian, Jenny’s husband, asks Jamie to go down to the millpond because something is causing the wheel to stick. Jamie agrees and asks Claire to accompany him. As they walk down to the mill together, Jamie and Claire share stories about their first kisses.
At the mill, Jamie is obligated to swim into the freezing water to figure out what’s blocking the wheel and fix it. He wears an ancient, worn, and patched pair of red flannel drawers that belonged to his father to do so.
While waiting, Claire gathers water plants in the giant basket she brought. An old woman named Granny MacNab sits beside her and offers advice on plants. She also advises Claire on how to get pregnant and entreats her for a favor, asking that her young grandson be taken as a stable hand to save him from his father’s beatings.
As they talk, a troop of redcoats marches in to buy meal. Just in time, Granny MacNab sits on Jamie’s clothes to hide them and signals Claire not to say a word and reveal her English accent. Claire merely hopes that Jamie isn’t spotted.
The soldiers’ commander, however, when he learns that the mill isn’t working, enthusiastically insists upon fixing it. Apparently, he knows the workings of such machines. No effort by Granny MacNab can dissuade him, and if the mill starts working while Jamie’s hiding near the wheel, it could be disastrous.
Then suddenly, the wheel begins to turn, and up with it comes Jamie’s patched, red flannel drawers. The redcoats retrieve them to inspect what was blocking the wheel. The commander takes them as a souvenir, and the troop heads off.
Just as they disappear over the hill, Jamie bursts up from the pond and wades toward shore, shivering and blue. Granny MacNab folds her hands in her lap and begins explaining the favor she’d come to ask. Jamie stops her and tell her that he’ll grant anything she wishes as long as she gives him back his clothes before he freezes.
Writer Comments: A close brush for Jamie. I wonder if this will hasten his parting from Lallybroch or at least make him much more cautious. In either case, I did love seeing how all his tenants immediately moved to protect him. Granny MacNab hid his clothes and helped Claire and he hide themselves, pretending Claire was her mute daughter-in-law. The miller pretended not to speak English.
That last is a significant, though subtle, element of this chapter. What supporting characters say and do around a main character indicates a lot about that main character. It also helps set the mood and tone. If minor characters hastily dive in to give aid or defend a main character, as happens in this chapter, it suggests good things about that character. This is a great tool for implying character traits to a reader without ever having to state them outright. It’s also more realistic to life. After all, the way others react to someone is a mojor indicator of that person’s character, no pun intended.