Study Guide

Outlander Chapter 24

By Diana Gabaldon

Chapter 24

By the Pricking of My Thumbs

  • We've made it to Part 4: A Whiff of Brimstone.
  • At a feast, everyone finds out that Dougal's wife has died. No one really seems to care all that much, though.
  • Later, in the stables, Jamie teaches Colum's son, Hamish, to ride a stronger horse; Claire still wonders if Hamish is Jamie's son, as Geillis Duncan says he is. 
  • Jamie also teaches Hamish how to ride a woman, in a little birds-and-bees lesson.
  • That night, Claire finds an "ill-wish" (24.167) under her pillow: a bundle of plants that pricks her thumb. She doesn't know who left it. 
  • The next day, Jamie needs tending because he's been thrown off Donas, a rowdy horse.
  • While he's healing, they hang out on the roof of the castle and Claire asks Jamie point-blank if Hamish is his son. 
  • He's not. Whew.
  • That afternoon, in the garden, Claire encounters Father Bain, who was attacked by a dog.
  • She tells him that he needs to let her cleanse his wounds or they'll get infected, but he just stomps off, offended.
  • While Claire is in the surgery, Alec, the stableman, comes to Claire for help with his rheumatism.
  • She massages him, and he tells her about Jamie's mother.
  • Unable to sleep, Claire heads to Colum's library to borrow a book, and ends up eavesdropping on a conversation between Colum and Dougal.
  • She discerns that Dougal has gotten Laoghaire pregnant.
  • Speak of the devil, but here comes Laoghaire, approaching the room with a tray. When she hears Claire, who is hiding behind a curtain, she drops the tray and runs.
  • Claire takes it inside, and Dougal leaves her alone with Colum. They watch Hamish outside, who is riding a horse; when he falls off, Colum panics. 
  • Claire comforts him, letting him know that Hamish is okay. Then she adds, "You care for him as though he were your own, don't you?" (24.383).
  • He says he does. 
  • At dinner, Claire finds out why Jamie is wary of the Duke of Sandringham… and why he left Leoch in the first place: the Duke came onto him. (Seems like British men in power love Jamie, huh?)
  • The next day, Claire has to deliver an animal in the stables. It's a lot like this, but with a horse.
  • As if this chapter weren't eventful enough, Claire goes out herb hunting with Geillis Duncan and comes upon a baby abandoned in the woods.
  • Geillis says it's a changeling, abandoned by faeries, and makes Claire leave it.
  • She goes back for it, but finds Jamie instead. He tells her the baby is dead, and that the Duke of Sandringham is waiting.
  • Claire kind of likes the Duke, a "blufy, hearty, red-faced sportsman" (24.586). So what if he has the hots for her husband?
  • Geillis Duncan offered to help Claire find out who left the ill-wish, so Claire travels down there on Thursday to find out. 
  • She performs a summoning spell, but it brainwashes Claire more than it reveals answers.
  • Against her will, Claire answers her questions—Geillis is trying to find out who Claire really is and where she came from.
  • Before Geillis can find out, though, her husband interrupts them, breaking the spell. 
  • At dinner that night, her husband, Arthur, chokes and dies.
  • The next day, Jamie has to leave on a hunt with the Duke; he warns Claire to stay away from Geillis.
  • The warning doesn't stick. Two weeks later, Laoghaire gives Claire a message: Geillis is ill and wants Claire to come take care of her.
  • Claire goes to the village, only to find out that not only did Geillis not send for her—she's not even sick. 
  • A rumbling draws near…