LJ 2018 -The Scottish Prisoner - Chapter 14 - Fridstool

audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: 10:09 PM - Jul 19, 2010

12:32 PM - Sep 11, 2018 #1

LORD JOHN READALONG SPOILER POLICY: Please limit discussion to the events of the Lord John books/stories up to this point (Hellfire, Private Matter, Succubus, BotB, Haunted Soldier, Custom of the Army, The Scottish Prisoner) and the novels that precede/coincide with LJ (Outlander, Dragonfly, Voyager). To discuss LJ in the context of events from later in the series, please see the spoiler thread, here.

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
Section 2 - Force Majeure
Chapter 14 - Fridstool

Summary originally posted February 2012 by Janet23. To read original discussion threads, view the forum here.

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Janet23 wrote:Chapter 14 opens with Jamie feeling a strong need of solitude. The house has servants everywhere. He can find no peace  with out an interruption. Jamie thinks the household is worse than Versailles.Every time he turns around he is tripping on someone trying to do something for him. He is confused with the events of the day  and needs to sort out what what he thinks and what he knows of the events that have brought him to London.

Jamie decides what he needs is a fridstool. Since the essence of a fridstool is solitude, Jamie rules out the park and heads to the garden. Jamie remembers meeting a elderly nun at Helwater who was recuperating from dropsical dispersion. He muses for a bit with thoughts of Claire and what she would have said about the nuns condition. One day he saw the nun leaning against a fence. When he approached, the nun lost her grip and started to fall. Jamie catches her and carries her to her destination; a secluded summer arbor. The nun teases him about finding herself in the arms of a young man and Jamie asures her that he is of no danger to her. The nun explains that this place is her fridstool. It is a place that she can go to think in solicitude. Jamie is nervous about her condition but agrees to leave her there if she will allow him to return to take her back to the house. Jamie does but is reluctant to leave her unattended.

Jamie finds himself a space between the shed and the garden wall. There is just enough room for him to sit down on a bucket. Jamie spends a moment thinking of the nun and wonders if he should pray to her to keep an eye on William. He takes comfort in knowing that someone else, besides himself will know about William and watch over him. It dawns on him that the only thing that really matters to him is that he gets back to William. This adventure is just an inconvenience, the only worry to Jamie is that he might not get back to William. These thoughts calm him down and he begins to unravel what he knows of the situation. 

Why do the Gray's want of Siverly?  Was is because John felt a debt of honor to his friend? Could it be just the Gray's sense of family honor? Maybe, Jamie notes that the Gray's sense of honor is why Hal saved him after the battle.

 What is Pardloe about? Is he simply supporting his brother: or is it his sense of outrage at Siverly's behavior? Hal seems to have high standards as to the behavior of an officer.

Why him? Could they not have found someone else to translate the letters? Was it a matter of trust or just because the brothers could control Jamie?

 Since John was a competent soldier, why did they need Jamie to go to Ireland with John? What use could he be? Suddenly Jamie realizes that possibly they want him to go because they want him to kill Siverly. Jamie is then disposable he could simply disappear into a bog or worse they could try him in a court of law for the killing. No one will miss a prisoner of war. His family could be told that he died of a sickness and they would never know the truth. Jamie is so deep in these thoughts that he is startled by the appearance of John, standing in front of him. Jamie jumps up and grabs John by the shirt. 

"What the bloody hell are you doing here?' John replies. "You are with out a doubt the touchiest son of a bitch I have ever encountered! Can you not behave like a civil being for more than ten minutes together?"

Jamie insults John and his honor. He asks him why john and his brother are using him as a Cats-paw. John holds his temper and remains cool and asks Jamie to come with him. Jamie realizes that John has taken a strong hod on his temper. He leads Jamie into the green house where they can talk. John says they have time to be alone because Minnie is with Ben who is reading is latin. John quotes a bit of what ben is studying and Jamie translates it to mean,"Men always believe what they choose to believe." John then asks Jamie to explain himself and Jamie tells John what he is thinking. Jamie explains his conclusions and John curses Hal. 
John then proceeds in a very logical manner. He asks Jamie is he believes that John had nothing to do with his abduction. Jamie replies that he does. He asks Jamie if he understands that John is keeping his promise to his friend he by bringing Siverly to justice. 
Jamie says he does. He assures Jamie that Hal is not a murder and wishes him no harm. In fact, it may be that Jamie will find is situation improved. Jamie upon hearing this makes a rude sound of disbelief. John says that Jamie must either take him at his word or not. At this point, Jamie notices that John has lost a bit of his cool. He sees a look in Johns eye and remembers the last time they met in the stable at Helwater. He is referring of course to the terrible fight they had when John told Jamie that he could take him to bed and make him scream. Jamie nearly killed John, but fortunately his swing missed. Jamie admits to himself that his anger had more to do with remembering his treatment at the hands of Randel. John and Jamie try to stare each other down.

Jamie asks John why he followed him to the garden and John tells him that he did not. He was only looking for a place of solitude. Jamie gives in and tells John he will take him at his word.

That evening, John is headed to diner when he meets Hal on the stairs. They laugh over a book of poems that Hal is reading. The book is written by Quarry and is full of dubious verse. Jamie joins in the conversation and the three of them have an enjoyable diner together. John is relieved that Jamie appears to have taken him at his word. He begins to look forward to their adventure.
                                                                      *

Wow! Lots happens in the chapter. What is the importance of this chapter to the relationship between John and Jamie?

Jamie comes to some pretty desperate conclusions on his own concerning the Grays. Do you think John as really convinced him otherwise?

What about the reference to their last meeting. This is the first time the the was a chance for Jamie to question John on his behavior. Jamie does not. All of his thoughts are in his head. Do you think he will eventually speak allowed? Or has he let it go? Do you think Jamie feels less about the situation than John?

What is the significance of the verse in latin that John quotes. Did he have a reason to choose that verse?

How does the relationship between John and Jamie change after their chat?

What are your feelings about this chapter?
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: 10:09 PM - Jul 19, 2010

7:48 PM - Sep 11, 2018 #2

OK.  I'm going to be terribly lazy and just repost what I said in the earlier group read.  I was sitting here trying to figure out what I wanted to say and I don't think I can do any better, so here goes.
audiobooklover wrote: Great summary Janet!  :-)

I thought it was kind of amusing that both Jamie and John went looking for a place to be alone and ended up behind the shed where there's basically just trash.  Of course, they both had good reasons to need some quite time to think things through, so it's understandable.  And, I enjoyed the flashback with Jamie and the nun.  Not sure what purpose it served other than to introduce the concept of a fridstool (which presumably could have been briefer), but it was a sweet interlude.

I looked up cat's paw because although I got the gist from context, I didn't know the reference.  It's from a poem called The Monkey and the Cat and there's some info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey_and_the_Cat.

I think after their discussion, Jamie believed what John told him.  He saw surprise in John's face at least a couple of times that he seemed sure was genuine, so he believed that John had not intentionally followed him to the shed, nor did John make the plans for bringing Jamie to London or have him assist in Ireland.  He also knows John to be an honorable man (they originally met when John thought he was rescuing Claire, after all), so I think this conversation cleared the air somewhat.  And, their mutual annoyance at Hal for his manipulations gives them something else in common.  ;)

I don't think Jamie and John will ever specifically discuss the scene at the Helwater stables.  Too awkward.  Though, clearly, they both remember it, but I think they are now past that.  And, it was nice to hear Jamie's thoughts about his anger being due to what Randall did and not really about John.

And, I loved the scene at the end with Harry's poetry book and the conversation between the three of them. :bigsmile: Definitely breaks up some of the tension and I think all three really do like one another despite some awkward circumstances, so it's nice that they had a pleasant dinner with some humor and fellowship (since friendship may be pushing it a bit far).
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: 3:16 AM - Sep 17, 2009

11:17 PM - Sep 11, 2018 #3

Thank you Janet 23 for the summary and questions.  Thank you for posting, Lisa.  


Like then, when I had first responded to this chapter, I thought that it was interesting how John and Jamie picked the same spot.  They both needed peace and quiet from the hubbub of the household.  
The fridstool had been suggested by the nun living at Helwater.  

Jamie prays that someone will look after William and John arrives moments later.  I liked what I had written six years ago.  

NigheanDubh wrote: Here is Jamie's prayer; it is so sweet:

"Would it be all right, he wondered suddenly, to ask her to look after Willie while he was gone from Helwater? It seemed a mildly heretical thought. And yet the thought felt answered at once; it gave him a feeling of...what? Trust? Confidence? Relief at the sharing of his burden?"(177) Something has clicked with the simple request and Jamie feels like things will be resolved. He will share the burden. Someone will carry him like he carried the nun--a friend...
Sister Eudoxia might not look after the wee one herself, but she will put someone in charge who will be right for the undertaking.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: 11:43 PM - Aug 02, 2011

2:14 PM - Sep 12, 2018 #4

Posting thanks to audiobooklover!! :) 

Interesting chapter. John and Jamie seem to have come to a new understanding of sorts, even if it's just a recognition of each other's honor. I wonder if this really resolves the question for Jamie about why he was brought to London. How much can he rely on John's word about Hal's intentions, when Hal didn't include John in the decision-making in the first place? (For what it's worth, I believe Hal to be utterly honorable, but Jamie doesn't have particular reason to trust him at this point.)
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

Just another reader with a blog... check it out here.
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Joined: 11:53 PM - Jan 31, 2017

10:04 PM - Sep 12, 2018 #5

Thanks Janet 23 for your summary and questions and ABL for re-posting.  I like this chapter.  The fact that both Jamie and John are looking for sanctuary and time to think is poignant.  We see that both of them are feeling confused and conflicted and hopefully, the divide between these 'once friends' is shrinking.  
The Latin phrase that Minnie's son can repeat without a problem is a comment what Jamie is thinking.  "Men always believe what thy wish to believe."  Jamie came out of his contemplation believing Hal and John were out to set him up for murder.  And when he last met John in Helwater, he believed that John was a pedophile.  So, just a Benjamin keeps repeating the lesson until he gets it right, Jamie is finding himself interacting with John and adjusting his perspective of his former friend.  John is finally looking forward to the trip to Ireland and hopefully, Jamie will be less anxious about the trip as well.  
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Joined: 11:10 PM - Oct 07, 2017

9:58 PM - Sep 13, 2018 #6

Thank you Janet23 for the detailed summary and the excellent questions to get us focused.  Thank you also to LisaSF for posting.

The opening descriptions of servants and their activity made me think and chuckle.  If Diana is being accurate (which she usually is) and we take into account what we know is the general truth about personal cleanliness at the time, we can only come to one conclusion.  The houses of the upper classes were way cleaner than than the upper class people themselves.  Please excuse my sense of humor.

I enjoyed the story of Sister Eudoxia and her fridstool, they are indeed useful things to be had.  Jaime's musings on his fridstool went in many directions and he laid out all the worst case scenarios he could come up with.  He got himself worked up and into quite a stew.  Thus, when John shows up he is ready to go on the attack.  Luckily, John, in spite of being tired and in need of peace himself, responded more with rationality and calmness than with emotion. 
I thought it was interesting that John showed up as he did.  We must remember, that even though Hal and Minnie live in Argus House, it was previously the home of Hal and John's parents.  John grew up in this house,  This spot behind the shed had probably been his private space for years.  It probably was where he usually went to get away from Hal's domineering ways.  (At least until he was 15 and tried to take Hal on in a physical fight.)  This is another instance that shows some strong similarities between Jaime and John's personalities.  John in this chapter makes it clear again that he is as frustrated as Jaime is  with Hal and Hal's refusal to change course once he sets on a path.  Hal is who Hal is and is going to do whatever he has to do to accomplish his goals.  They just have to accept that and also believe that Hal has no corrupt intents.
NigheanDubh, loved your thoughts on John's appearance foreshadowing Eudoxia's answer to Jaime's prayer.  Wow!  Hits home with me.

In regards to Bejamin's Latin recitation and his difficulty getting beyond the phrasing for, "Men always believe what they want to believe", John is seems to be pointing out that Jaime is going to believe what he wants to.  John has no control over what Jaime will choose to believe.  He can only state what he knows to have occurred what he perceives to be Hal's reasoning and intentions.  He can only ask Jaime to take him at his word.  My thinking is in line with ABL's on this topic.  It is good to know that Jaime realizes John words in the Hellwater barn were not meant to refer to torture and that John is indeed not a pedophile.

The book discussion and the gossip about Harry at the end of the chapter set the stage for a pleasant evening of camaraderie and allowed Jaime to see Hal, Harry, and John in a better light.
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: 11:43 PM - Aug 02, 2011

10:37 PM - Sep 13, 2018 #7

I'd remembered seeing Diana post a picture of herself with a fridstool a while back -- here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDianaGab ... 50811591:0
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

Just another reader with a blog... check it out here.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: 3:16 AM - Sep 17, 2009

1:05 AM - Sep 14, 2018 #8

Vita21 wrote:  The book discussion and the gossip about Harry at the end of the chapter set the stage for a pleasant evening of camaraderie and allowed Jaime to see Hal, Harry, and John in a better light.
I always love that Jamie is quite at ease discussing upscale subjects, and some not so lofty.  The Greys laugh and seem to almost forget Jamie's status.  There is fellowship, as Audiobooklover put it.  (Well put, Audiobooklover!)   The discussion of Harry's book was hilarious and Jamie was able to verify Harry's reference to some very odd acrobatic accomplishments.  --eeww...  Who'd have thought he saw such a thing?  I don't recall Jamie mentioning that one to Claire. 

Thanks for the link, Lisa. 
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: 7:06 AM - May 26, 2012

6:01 AM - Sep 16, 2018 #9

Thanks to Janet 23 for the original summary and to audiobooklover for reposting it here. I thought it was funny that John and Jamie are both looking for somewhere quiet to think and end up in the same place. I liked the way that they both ended up being frustrated with Hal, but on better terms with each other.
The scene where the three of them go down to dinner is interesting because Jamie and Hal descend together with John a step behind them. While he is pleased that Hal and Jamie seems to be getting along, I always feel a bit sorry for John in this scene, relegated to follow after the two men he admires while they become better acquainted. It's as if he has been overlooked. Poor John.
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

11:45 PM - Oct 04, 2018 #10

I can easily understand how, suddenly torn from the environment he'd gotten used to, where he had a lot of solitude and time on his own, and now set down in a new place and constantly surrounded by strangers who were controlling his every move, Jamie would feel overwhelmed and his thoughts would stray into negative territory because that's the only escape he could find.  So his wild conclusions about what the Grey brothers intended to do with him make sense in that respect.

I think the story about the fridstool and what follows shows just how much Jamie and John have in common.  Both of them searching for and finding the same place for contemplation is yet another way of revealing that they are alike in many ways.  But just as John will never discuss his sexual preference with Hal, so will Jamie never discuss what Randall did to him with John.  Both men also have secrets that are too sensitive to share.

I was curious about the choice of Eudoxia for the name of the nun so I looked it up and found it "originally meant 'good deeds' or 'she whose deeds are good' in Greek."  (Wikipedia)  That makes a lot of sense, considering that Jamie decides to ask her to look after Willie for him and that her explanation about a fridstool helps Jamie.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
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'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: 8:02 PM - Sep 30, 2016

9:07 PM - Oct 11, 2018 #11

audiobooklover wrote:
Janet23 wrote:                   
Thank you Janet23 for the summary and everyone for their great thoughts. 

I empathize with Jamie. I often find myself looking for a Fridstool, what with a husband, four kids, and a smallish apartment. I used to go sit in the laundry room, in my old building, but now I don't even have that option. Vita21 had an interesting thought about how maybe that place had been John's own fridstool for many years and I think that's very possible. 

I loved the tense conversation between Jamie and John that gradually mellowed as they talk, and I love that John isn't afraid to show Jamie how irritated he is at Hal. 

I never heard the expression Cat's Paw nor Stalking Horse, looked them up. Thanks for the link ABL, that was really interesting!

The bit on the stairs - a little confusing becasue I thought at this point the three of them had already discussed Harry's poetry, so it seemed odd Jamie was surprised about it. Or maybe he was just surprised about the content in that particular poem ("D'ye mean to say that he composed that remarkable bit o'verse?")
On this subject... Jamie mentions seeing the contortionists on Paris... NigheanDubh asks  "Who'd have thought he saw such a thing?  I don't recall Jamie mentioning that one to Claire."  the thing is, I can swear he  did mention this to Claire - or to someone, anyway. I remember a conversation about French contortionists doing... things... but I can't remember exactly where.  Then again - it may have been Fergus talking to Marsali. (ANYONE remember this?)  I love how Jamie mentions the Duc Di Castellotti in this conversation, I seem to remember he was one of the brothel-goers in DiA when Jamie got into (literal) hot water with Claire.


Anyway... I really love the rapport developing between these three. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised; John and Jamie had many a civil conversation over dinner at Ardsmuir before everything went bad. I am currently also reading MOHB but really hadn't taken this relationship into consideration in their interactions there.  

DLT, I too noted how Hal and Jamie descended the stairs together, leaving John behind. Then again, maybe John enjoyed his vantage point (sorry, couldn't resist). 

I also really liked Nighean Dubh's observations about the similarities between J&J, and John being the answer to Jamie's prayer, as well as Susanruth's comment that "just a Benjamin keeps repeating the lesson until he gets it right, Jamie is finding himself interacting with John and adjusting his perspective of his former friend."

LisaSF, thanks for the Facebook link to DG's personal fridstool.

So many interesting thoughts -- I love these group reads!
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Joined: 4:50 AM - Aug 07, 2017

2:52 AM - Oct 13, 2018 #12

CorrieO wrote: The bit on the stairs - a little confusing becasue I thought at this point the three of them had already discussed Harry's poetry, so it seemed odd Jamie was surprised about it. Or maybe he was just surprised about the content in that particular poem ("D'ye mean to say that he composed that remarkable bit o'verse?")

On this subject... Jamie mentions seeing the contortionists on Paris... NigheanDubh asks  "Who'd have thought he saw such a thing?  I don't recall Jamie mentioning that one to Claire."  the thing is, I can swear he  did mention this to Claire - or to someone, anyway. I remember a conversation about French contortionists doing... things... but I can't remember exactly where.  Then again - it may have been Fergus talking to Marsali. (ANYONE remember this?)  I love how Jamie mentions the Duc Di Castellotti in this conversation, I seem to remember he was one of the brothel-goers in DiA when Jamie got into (literal) hot water with Claire.
I'm enjoying reading your comments, CorrieO, and wanted to take a stab at answering your question here.  I don't recall if Harry's poetry was ever discussed in a previous book but I looked through this one and found two instances:
* John and Harry discuss it in Chapter 9 (Eros Rising), but Hal wasn't present at that time, and then later at dinner with Stephan and another man poetry is discussed in general terms. 
* In Chapter 12 (The Belly of a Flea), John, Tom, and Jamie discuss Harry's desire to rhyme pucelle with something and Jamie admits that he knew in Ardsmuir that Harry wrote poetry.  But John concludes that Jamie isn't aware of the nature of Harry's poetry because of his lack of emotion when he (Jamie) made his comment.  (P. 151, Bantam pb)  Hal wasn't present in that scene, either.

Upon reading Jamie's comment again in this chapter, I understand your confusion.  I think Jamie was responding to Hal's question about the amount of experience Harry has.  But if Jamie didn't know what kind of poetry Harry wrote, which is what John thought in the earlier scene, then it makes sense to me that Jamie could ask if it was indeed Harry who composed the lines about satisfying an unseemly itch.

But as to your question about a prior conversation somewhere about French contortionists, I have no idea where/when that occurred, though I assume it would've been in DiA at some point.
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. ~ Oscar Wilde
~~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>
'I noticed you capped all my best quotations,' said Lymond absently. ~ The Ringed Castle
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Joined: 8:02 PM - Sep 30, 2016

1:39 PM - Yesterday #13

LeslieEmrys wrote: I'm enjoying reading your comments, CorrieO, and wanted to take a stab at answering your question here.  I don't recall if Harry's poetry was ever discussed in a previous book but I looked through this one and found two instances:
* John and Harry discuss it in Chapter 9 (Eros Rising), but Hal wasn't present at that time, and then later at dinner with Stephan and another man poetry is discussed in general terms. 
* In Chapter 12 (The Belly of a Flea), John, Tom, and Jamie discuss Harry's desire to rhyme pucelle with something and Jamie admits that he knew in Ardsmuir that Harry wrote poetry.  But John concludes that Jamie isn't aware of the nature of Harry's poetry because of his lack of emotion when he (Jamie) made his comment.  (P. 151, Bantam pb)  Hal wasn't present in that scene, either.

Upon reading Jamie's comment again in this chapter, I understand your confusion.  I think Jamie was responding to Hal's question about the amount of experience Harry has.  But if Jamie didn't know what kind of poetry Harry wrote, which is what John thought in the earlier scene, then it makes sense to me that Jamie could ask if it was indeed Harry who composed the lines about satisfying an unseemly itch.

But as to your question about a prior conversation somewhere about French contortionists, I have no idea where/when that occurred, though I assume it would've been in DiA at some point.
Thank you, LeslieEmrys, for finding those quotes and the explanation about the poetry. I appreciate it and it makes a lot of sense. I was recalling the rhyming/pucelle thing but not the exact context (doing audio this time so it's harder to look back)!
I have to figure out the other thing (the contortionists) as it's driving me a little nuts. 
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