Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone.... dailylines of the 9th book (continuation) by Diana Gabaldon


This is a continuation of our original page for Dailylines....


To start where Diana originally posted, click here!
https://blog.outlanderhomepage.com/p/dgs-daily-lines.html






Excerpt "The Last Time"

#DailyLines #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE  #Book9  #Noitsnotdone #Ihaveabrokenshoulderandtypingleft-handedisprettyslow  #dontworry #Illtellyouwhenitsdone

[This is an excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon]

They passed a group of men, twenty or so, faceless under the dark brims of their hats, but the moon lit a pale cloud of the dust kicked up by their boots, so it seemed they walked knee-deep through a rising fog.  They were Scotch-Irish, talking loudly, noticeably drunk and arguing among themselves, and Jamie and Ian passed by unnoticed.  Francis Locke had said there were a number of militia companies in the town; these men had the look of new militia—self-important and unsure at the same time, and wanting to show that they weren’t.

They crossed through the Square and the streets behind it, and found silence again amid the calling of owls from the trees near Town Creek.  Ian broke it, talking low, halfway to himself and halfway not.

 “Last time I walked like this—at night, I mean, just walking, not huntin’—was just after Monmouth,” he said.  “I’d been in the British camp, wi’ his lordship, and he asked me to stay, because I’d an arrow in my arm—ye recall that, aye?  Ye broke the shaft for me, earlier that day.”

 “I’d forgot,” Jamie admitted.

 “Well, it was a long day.”

 “Aye.  I remember bits and pieces—I lost my horse when he went off a bridge into one of those hellish morasses, and I’m never going to forget the sound o’ that.”  A deep shudder curdled his wame, recalling the taste of his own vomit.  “And then I remember General Washington—were ye there, Ian, when he turned back the retreat after Lee made a collieshangie of it?”

“Aye,” Ian said, and laughed a little.  “Though I didna take much notice. I had my own bit o’ trouble to settle, with the Abenaki    And I did settle it, too,” he added, grimness coming into his voice.  “Your men got one o’ them, but I killed the other in the British camp that night, wi’ his own tomahawk.”

 “I hadna heard about that,” Jamie said, surprised.  “Ye did it in the British camp?   Ye never told me that.  How did ye come to be there, for that matter?   Last I saw ye was just before the battle, and the next I saw ye, your cousin William was bringin’ what I thought was your corpse into Freehold on a mule.”

 And the next time he’d seen William had been in Savannah, when his son had come to ask his help in saving Jane Pocock.  They’d been too late.  That failure had been neither of their faults, but his heart still hurt for the poor wee lassie…and for his poor lad.

 “I dinna mind most o’ that, myself,” Ian said.  “I came in wi’ Lord John—we got arrested together—but then I walked out o’ the camp, meanin’ to go find Rachel or you, but I was bad wi’ the fever, the night goin’ in and out around me like as if it was breathin’ and  I was walkin’ along through the stars wi’ my Da beside me, just talkin’ to him, as if….”

 “As if he was there,” Jamie finished, smiling.   “I expect he was.  I feel him beside me, now and then.”  He glanced automatically to his right as he said this, as though Ian Mhor might indeed be there now.

 “We were talkin’ o’ the Indian I’d just killed—and I said it put me in mind o’ that gobshite who tried to extort ye, uncle—the one I killed there by the fire.  I said something about how it seemed different, killing a man face to face, but I’d thought I ought to be used to such things by now, and I wasn’t.   And he said I maybe shouldn’t be,” Ian said thoughtfully.  “He said it couldna be good for my soul, bein’ used to things like that.”

 “Your Da’s a wise man.”





Excerpt "Jenny's got a gun"

#DailyLines   #Book9  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #NOitsnotfinished   #NOIdontknowwhenitwillbereleased  #YESprobablysometimeafterIfinishwritingit  #BUTwhenisuptothepublisher

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon.]

 “Here.”  Jamie pulled one of the pistols from his belt and handed it to his sister.  Who—to Rachel’s surprise—merely nodded and pointed it at a broken wagon-wheel left at the side of the road, checking the sight.

 “Powder?” Jenny asked, sliding the pistol into her belt.

 “Here.”  Jamie took a cartridge box off his neck and swung the strap of it carefully over Jenny’s white cap.  “Ye’ve enough powder and shot to kill a dozen men, and six fresh-made cartridges to give ye a head-start.” 

 Jenny caught sight of Rachel’s face at “kill a dozen men,” and smiled slightly.  Rachel wasn’t reassured.

 “Dinna fash, _a nighean_,” Jenny said, and patted her arm before settling the cartridge box into place.  “I willna shoot anyone unless they mean us harm.”

 “I—would greatly prefer that thee didn’t shoot anyone in _any_ circumstances,” Rachel said carefully.  She hadn’t eaten much for breakfast, but her stomach felt tight.  “Not on—on our behalf, certainly.”  But she’d cupped Oggy’s bonneted head at the thought, pressing him close.

 “Is it all right wi’ you if I shoot them on my own behalf?” Jenny asked, arching one black brow.  “Because I’m no standing for anyone molesting my grandson.”

 “Dinna be fratchetty, Mam,” Ian said tolerantly, before Rachel could reply to this.  “Ye ken if we meet any villains, Rachel will talk them into a stupor afore ye have to shoot one.”  He gave Rachel a private smile, and she breathed a little easier.

Jenny made a guttural sound that might have been agreement or mere politeness, but didn’t say more about shooting anyone.






Excerpt "fresh over old food" 

#DailyLines   #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #Book9  #Working   #Hauldyourwheesht  #YoullGetItWhenItsDone

          I drew breath and rubbed two fingers between my brows.

 “Have you a headache?” Fanny asked, brightening.  “There’s fresh willow bark; I could brew you some tea in a moment!”

 I smiled at her.  She was fascinated by herbs and adored all the grinding, boiling and steeping.

 “Thank you, sweetheart,” I said.  “I’m fine.  Just trying to think what the devil to eat with the quail.”

    Meals were the daily bane of my existence; not so much the constant work of picking, cleaning, chopping, cooking—though those activities were fairly baneful in themselves—but primarily, the never-ending chore of remembering what we had on hand, and balancing the effort required to make it edible against the knowledge of what might spoil if we didn’t eat it right away.  Bother nutrition; I crammed apples, raisins and nuts into people more or less constantly, and poked green stuff down their reluctant gullets whenever I got the chance, and no one had died of scurvy yet.





Excerpt  "Fearless Jenny"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #Book9
#NO #itsnotfinished #NO #Idontknowwhenitwillbepublished #NO #Idontsetthepubdate   #NO  #IdontcontrolwhattheTVPeopledowiththeshow
#NO #IcantmakethemshowEp508thisSunday
#ButIWILLTellYouWhenTheBookIsDone

“Thee would make a good Friend, thee knows,” Rachel remarked, holding back a laurel branch for her mother-in-law, who was burdened by a large basket of quilting.  Rachel herself was burdened with Oggy, who had fallen asleep in the sling she carried him in.

Janet Murray gave her a sharp look, and made what Claire had privately described to Rachel as a Scottish noise, this being a mingled snort and gargling sound that might indicate anything from mild amusement or approval to contempt, derision, or an indication of impending forcible action.  At the moment, Rachel thought her mother-in-law was amused, and smiled herself.

“Thee is forthright and direct,” she pointed out.  “And honest.  Or at least I suppose thee to be,” she added, slightly teasing.  “I can’t say I have ever caught thee in a lie.”

“Wait ‘til ye’ve kent me a bit longer, lass, before ye make judgements like that,” Jenny advised her.  “I’m a fine wee liar, when the need arises.  What else, though?” Her dark blue eyes creased a little—definitely amusement.  Rachel smiled back, and thought for a moment, threading her way over a steep patch of gravel where the trail had washed out, then reaching back to take the basket.

“Thee is compassionate.  Kind.  And fearless,” she said, watching Jenny come down, half-sliding and grabbing branches to keep erect.

Her mother-in-law’s head turned sharply, blue eyes wide.

“Fearless?” she said, incredulous.  “_Me_?”  She made a noise that Rachel would have spelled as “Psssht.”   “I’ve been scairt to the bone since I was ten years old, _a leannan_.  But ye get used to it, ken?”   She took back the basket, and Rachel hoisted Oggy, whose weight had doubled the moment he fell asleep, into a more secure position.

“What happened when thee was ten?” she asked, curious.

“My mither died,” Jenny answered.  Her expression and voice were both matter-of-fact, but Rachel could hear bereavement in it, plain as the high, thin call of a hermit thrush.

“Mine died when I was born,” Rachel said, after a long pause.  “I can’t say that I miss her, as I never knew her—though of course…”

“They say ye canna miss what ye never had, but they’re wrong about that one,” Jenny said, and touched Rachel’s cheek with the palm of her hand, small and warm.  “Watch where ye’re walkin’, lass.  It’s slick underfoot.”

“Yes.”  Rachel kept her eyes on the ground, striding wide to avoid a muddy patch where a tiny spring bubbled up.  “I dream, sometimes.  There’s a woman, but I don’t know who she is.  Perhaps it’s my mother.  She seems kind, but she doesn’t say much.  She just looks at me.”

“Does she look _like_ ye, lass?”

Rachel shrugged, balancing Oggy with a hand under his bottom.

“She has dark hair, but I can’t ever remember her face, when I wake up.”

“And ye wouldna ken what she looked like, alive.”  Jenny nodded, looking at something behind her own eyes.  “I kent mine—and if ye ever want to know what _she_ looked like, just go and have a keek at Brianna, for she’s Ellen MacKenzie Fraser to the life—though a wee bit bigger.”

“I’ll do that,” Rachel assured her.  She found her new cousin-in-law slightly intimidating, though Ian clearly loved her.  “Scared, though—and thee said thee has been frightened ever since?”  She didn’t think she’d ever met someone less frightened than Janet Murray, whom she’d seen only yesterday face down a huge raccoon on the cabin’s porch, driving it off with a broom and a Scottish execration, in spite of the animal’s enormous claws and menacing aspect.

Jenny glanced at her, surprised, and changed the heavy basket from one arm to the other with a small grunt as the trail narrowed.

“Oh, no scairt for myself, _a nighean_, I dinna think I’ve ever worrit about bein’ killed or the like.   No, scairt for _them_.  Scairt I wouldna be able to manage, to take care o’ them.”

“Them?”

“Jamie and Da,” Jenny said, frowning a little at the squashy ground under her feet.   It had rained hard the night before, and even the open ground was muddy. “I didna ken how to take care of them.  I kent well I couldna fill my mother’s place for either one.  See, I thought they’d die wi’out her.”

_And you’d be left entirely alone_, Rachel thought.  _Wanting to die, too, and not knowing how.  It does seem much easier for men; I wonder why? Do they not think anyone needs them?_

“Thee managed, though,” she said, and Jenny shrugged.

“I put on her apron and made their supper.  That was all I kent to do.  Feed them.”

“I’d suppose that was the most important thing.”  She bent her head and brushed the top of Oggy’s cap with her lips.  His mere presence made her breasts tingle and ache.  Jenny saw that, and smiled, in a rueful sort of way.

“Aye.  When ye ha’  bairns, there’s that wee time when ye really _are_ all they need.  And then they leave your arms and ye’re scairt all over again, because now ye ken all the things that could harm them, and you not able to keep them from it.”





Excerpt " Lord John letter"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLtheBEESThatIAmGONE   #NONONONONONONOitsnotdoneyet   #IllTELLyouwhenitis
#Meanwhilesomethingtobegoingonwith  #distraction

 I had made up my mind what to do about Denny within moments of shouting “Pig-headed Scot!” at Jamie, but the ensuing conversation with Fanny had momentarily driven the matter out of my mind, and what with one thing and another, it was late the next afternoon before I managed to find Brianna alone.

 Sean McHugh and his two biggest lads had come in the morning—with their hammers—to help with the framing of the second story; Jamie and Roger had been up there with them, and the effect of five large men armed with hammers was much like that of a platoon of overweight woodpeckers marching in close formation overhead.   They’d been at it all morning—causing everyone else to flee the house—but had broken for a late lunch down by the creek, and I’d seen Bree go back inside with Mandy.

I found her in my rudimentary surgery, sitting in the late sun that fell through the big window, the largest window in the New House.   There was no glass in it yet—there might not be glass before spring, if then—but the flood of unobstructed afternoon light was glorious, glowing from the new yellow-pine boards of the floor, the soft butternut of Bree’s homespun skirt and the fiery nimbus of her hair, half-bound in a long, loose plait.

She was drawing, and watching her absorbed in the paper pinned to her lapdesk, I felt a deep envy of her gift—not for the first time.  I would have given a lot to be able to capture what I saw now, Brianna, bronze and fire in the deep clear light, head bent as she watched Mandy on the floor, chanting to herself as she built an edifice of wooden blocks and the small, heavy glass bottles I used for tinctures and dried herbs.

 “What are you thinking, Mama?”

 “What did you say?”  I looked up at Bree, blinking, and her mouth curled up.

 “I said,” she repeated patiently, “what are you thinking?  You have that _look_.”

 “Which look is that?” I asked warily. It was an article of faith amongst the members of my family that I couldn’t keep secrets; that everything I thought was visible on my face.  They weren’t entirely right, but they weren’t completely wrong, either.  What never occurred to them was just how transparent they were to _me_.

 Brianna tilted her head to one side, eyes narrowed as she examined my face. I smiled pleasantly, putting out a hand to intercept Mandy as she hurtled past me, three medicine bottles in hand.

 “You can’t take Grannie’s bottles outside, sweetheart,” I said, removing them deftly from her chubby grasp.  “Grannie needs them to put medicine in.”

 “But I’m gonna catch leeches wif Jemmy and Aidan and Germain!”

 “You couldn’t get even one leech into a bottle that size,” I said, standing up and placing the bottles on a shelf out of reach.  I scanned the next shelf down and found a slightly chipped pottery bowl with a lid.

 “Here, take this.”  I wrapped a small linen towel around the bowl and tucked it into the pocket of her pinafore.   “Be sure to put in a little mud—a _little_ mud, all right?  No more than a pinch—and some of the waterweed you find the leeches in.   That will keep them happy.”

 I watched her trot out the door, black curls bouncing, then braced myself and turned back to Bree.

 “Well, if you must know, I was thinking how much I should tell you.”

 She laughed, though with sympathy.

 “That’s the look, all right.   You always look like a heron staring into the water when you have something you can’t quite decide whether to tell somebody.”

 “A heron?”

 “Beady-eyed and intent,” she explained.  “A contemplative killer. I’ll draw you doing it one of these days, so you can see.”

 “Contemplative…I’ll take your word for it.  I don’t think you’ve ever met Denzell Hunter, have you?”  She shook her head.

 “No.  Ian mentioned him once or twice, I think—a Quaker doctor?  Isn’t he Rachel’s brother?”

 “That’s him.   To keep it to the essentials for the moment, he’s a wonderful doctor, a good friend of mine, and besides being Rachel’s brother, he’s married to the daughter of the Duke of Pardloe—who happens to be Lord John Grey’s elder brother.”

 “Lord John?”  Her face, already glowing with light, broke into a brilliant smile.   “My favorite person—outside the family.  Have you heard from him?  How is he?”

 “Fine, to the best of my knowledge.  I saw him briefly in Savannah a few months ago—the British army is still there, so it’s likely he is, too.”   I’d thought out what to say, in hopes of avoiding anything awkward, but a script is not a conversation.  “I was thinking that you might write to him.”

 “I suppose I might,” she said, tilting her head and looking at me sideways, one red brow raised.  “Right this minute?”

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon]





Excerpt "Claire's Surgery"

#DailyLines #BookNine #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE #Clairessurgery #Handsonmedicine #itsgoingverywell #thankyou #noyoudonthaveanychoiceaboutwaitingforit #itllbedonewhenitsdone


It was early afternoon and there was a storm coming on; the sky was dark enough that I’d had to bring Jamie’s reading-globe to my surgery and light a candle in order to see what I was doing.


The only way I had of crudely calibrating the dosage of a liquid medication was by estimating the relative color and turbidity of a sample, matched against a set of reference samples that I’d tested on one or another family member, relentlessly questioning them at ten minute intervals through a headache, belly-ache, fever or freshly-bound up wound as a means of estimating the solution’s effectiveness. The main drawback to this method—other than the testy reactions of my subjects--was that I had to make fresh reference samples at least once or twice a month.


“Either that, or hit Jamie on the head every Tuesday with a mallet by way of standardization,” I muttered to myself, holding up a vial against the soft clear light that came through the water-filled globe.


White willow bark—the best for the purpose [ck availability], brewed up into a tea that ranged from bright gold to a vivid red, to a color that looked like drying blood, if you left it to steep for long enough. And the flavor ranged from a pleasant tang to something that had to be mixed with honey, whisky, or both, in order to be swallowed at all.


“Why are ye wanting to hit me on the heid, Sassenach?” Jamie inquired, manifesting himself in the doorway with a silent unexpectedness that made me yelp and hurl my pestle at him in reflex. He caught it, also by reflex.

“Oh, ye meant it,” he said, eyeing me warily. “What have I done?”


“God knows,” I said, coming to take the pestle from him. “But if you hurt yourself doing it, I need you to try out the latest batch of willow-bark tea.” He’d been hunting for the last two days with Ian and the Beardsley boys, and smelled of blood, animal hair, fresh leaves and his own musk.


He made a Scottish noise indicating polite revulsion and bent to kiss me on the forehead.


“It doesna have to be me, does it?”


“No. Why, does someone else have a gripe, headache or other painful complaint?”


The look of amusement on his face faded.


“Aye, that’s what I came to tell ye.”




Excerpt "Brees letter" 

DailyLines #GoTELLtheBEESThatIAmGONE #NONONONONONONOitsnotdoneyet #IllTELLyouwhenitis
#Meanwhilesomethingtobegoingonwith #distraction

I had made up my mind what to do about Denny within moments of shouting “Pig-headed Scot!” at Jamie, but the ensuing conversation with Fanny had momentarily driven the matter out of my mind, and what with one thing and another, it was late the next afternoon before I managed to find Brianna alone.

Sean McHugh and his two biggest lads had come in the morning—with their hammers—to help with the framing of the second story; Jamie and Roger had been up there with them, and the effect of five large men armed with hammers was much like that of a platoon of overweight woodpeckers marching in close formation overhead. They’d been at it all morning—causing everyone else to flee the house—but had broken for a late lunch down by the creek, and I’d seen Bree go back inside with Mandy.

I found her in my rudimentary surgery, sitting in the late sun that fell through the big window, the largest window in the New House. There was no glass in it yet—there might not be glass before spring, if then—but the flood of unobstructed afternoon light was glorious, glowing from the new yellow-pine boards of the floor, the soft butternut of Bree’s homespun skirt and the fiery nimbus of her hair, half-bound in a long, loose plait.

She was drawing, and watching her absorbed in the paper pinned to her lapdesk, I felt a deep envy of her gift—not for the first time. I would have given a lot to be able to capture what I saw now, Brianna, bronze and fire in the deep clear light, head bent as she watched Mandy on the floor, chanting to herself as she built an edifice of wooden blocks and the small, heavy glass bottles I used for tinctures and dried herbs.

“What are you thinking, Mama?”

“What did you say?” I looked up at Bree, blinking, and her mouth curled up.

“I said,” she repeated patiently, “what are you thinking? You have that _look_.”

“Which look is that?” I asked warily. It was an article of faith amongst the members of my family that I couldn’t keep secrets; that everything I thought was visible on my face. They weren’t entirely right, but they weren’t completely wrong, either. What never occurred to them was just how transparent they were to _me_.

Brianna tilted her head to one side, eyes narrowed as she examined my face. I smiled pleasantly, putting out a hand to intercept Mandy as she hurtled past me, three medicine bottles in hand.

“You can’t take Grannie’s bottles outside, sweetheart,” I said, removing them deftly from her chubby grasp. “Grannie needs them to put medicine in.”

“But I’m gonna catch leeches wif Jemmy and Aidan and Germain!”

“You couldn’t get even one leech into a bottle that size,” I said, standing up and placing the bottles on a shelf out of reach. I scanned the next shelf down and found a slightly chipped pottery bowl with a lid.

“Here, take this.” I wrapped a small linen towel around the bowl and tucked it into the pocket of her pinafore. “Be sure to put in a little mud—a _little_ mud, all right? No more than a pinch—and some of the waterweed you find the leeches in. That will keep them happy.”

I watched her trot out the door, black curls bouncing, then braced myself and turned back to Bree.

“Well, if you must know, I was thinking how much I should tell you.”

She laughed, though with sympathy.

“That’s the look, all right. You always look like a heron staring into the water when you have something you can’t quite decide whether to tell somebody.”

“A heron?”

“Beady-eyed and intent,” she explained. “A contemplative killer. I’ll draw you doing it one of these days, so you can see.”

“Contemplative…I’ll take your word for it. I don’t think you’ve ever met Denzell Hunter, have you?” She shook her head.

“No. Ian mentioned him once or twice, I think—a Quaker doctor? Isn’t he Rachel’s brother?”

“That’s him. To keep it to the essentials for the moment, he’s a wonderful doctor, a good friend of mine, and besides being Rachel’s brother, he’s married to the daughter of the Duke of Pardloe—who happens to be Lord John Grey’s elder brother.”

“Lord John?” Her face, already glowing with light, broke into a brilliant smile. “My favorite person—outside the family. Have you heard from him? How is he?”

“Fine, to the best of my knowledge. I saw him briefly in Savannah a few months ago—the British army is still there, so it’s likely he is, too.” I’d thought out what to say, in hopes of avoiding anything awkward, but a script is not a conversation. “I was thinking that you might write to him.”

“I suppose I might,” she said, tilting her head and looking at me sideways, one red brow raised. “Right this minute?”







Excerpt "Gun Runners"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #Book9   #gettingthere  #NOitsnotdoneyet  #Illtellyouwhenitis

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon]

 I found Young Ian, not in his upper field, but in the woods nearby, rifle in hand.

 “Don’t shoot!” I called, spotting him through the brush.  “It’s me!”

 “I couldna mistake ye for anything save a small bear or a large hog, auntie,” he assured me, as I pawed my way through a clump of dogwood toward him.  “And I dinna want either one of those today.”

 “Fine.  How about a nice, fat pair of gun-runners?”

 I explained as well as I could while jog-trotting along behind him as he detoured through the field in order to grab his scythe, which he thrust into my hands.

 “I dinna think ye’ll have to use it, auntie,” he said, grinning at the look on my face.  “But if ye stand there blocking the trail, it would be a desperate man would try to go through ye.”

 When we arrived, we discovered that the trail had already been effectively blocked by the first mule’s burden, which he had succeeded in shedding completely.   When Ian and I showed up a little way below the gun-runners, the first mule, enjoying his new lightness of spirit, was nimbly climbing over the pile of bags, boxes and wicker-work toward us, intent on joining his fellow, who was not letting his own pack stop him from browsing a large patch of blackberry brambles that edged the trail just there.

 Evidently, we had arrived almost at the same time as Jamie and Tom McLeod, for the two gun-runners had turned to gawk at me and Ian just as Jamie and Tom came into sight on the trail above them.

 “Who the devil are you?”  one of the men demanded, looking from me to Ian in bewilderment.   Ian had tied up his hair in a topknot to keep it out of the way while mowing, and without his shirt, deeply tanned and tattooed, looked very like the Mohawk he was.  I didn’t want to think what I must look like, comprehensively disheveled and with my hair full of leaves and coming down, but I gripped my scythe and gave them a stern look.

 “I’m Ian Õg Murray,” Ian said mildly, and nodded at me.  “And that’s my auntie.   Oops.”  The first mule was nosing his way determinedly between us, causing us both to step off the path.

 “I’m Ian Murray,” Ian repeated, stepping back and bringing his rifle back into a relaxed-but-definitely-ready position across his chest.

 “And I,” said a deep voice from above, “am Colonel James Fraser, of Fraser’s Ridge, and that’s my wife.”  He moved into sight, broad-shouldered and tall against the light, with Tom behind him, sunlight glinting off his rifle.

     “Catch that mule, will ye, Ian?   This is my land.  And who,
may I ask, are you gentlemen?”

 The men jerked in surprise and whirled to look upward—though one cast an apprehensive glance over his shoulder, to keep an eye on the threat to the rear.

 “Er…we’re…um…”  The young man—he couldn’t be much more than twenty—exchanged a panicked look with his older companion.  “I am Lieutenant Felix Summers, sir.   Of—of His Majesty’s ship, Revenge.”

 Tom made a noise that might have been either menace or amusement.

 “Who’s your friend, then?” he asked, nodding at the older gentleman, who might have been anything from a town vagrant to a backwoods hunter, but who looked somewhat the worse for drink, his nose and cheeks webbed with broken capillaries.

 “I—believe his name is Voules, sir,” the lieutenant said.  “He is not my friend.” His face had gone from a shocked white to a prim pink.  “I hired him in Salisbury, to assist with—with my baggage.”

 “I see,” Jamie said politely.  “Are ye perhaps…lost, lieutenant?  I believe the nearest ocean is roughly three hundred miles behind you.”

 “I am on leave from my ship,” the young man said, regaining his dignity.   “I have come to visit…someone.”

 “No prize for guessing who,” Tom said to Jamie, and lowered his rifle.  “What d’ye want to do with ‘em, Jamie?”

 “My wife and I will take the lieutenant and his…man…down to the house for some refreshment,” Jamie said, bowing graciously to Summers.  “Would ye maybe help Ian with—” he nodded toward the chaos scattered among the rocks, “—and Ian, once ye’ve got things in hand, go up and bring Captain Cunningham down to join us, will ye?”

 Summers picked up the subtle difference between “invite” and “bring” just as well as Ian did, and stiffened, but he had little choice.  He did have a pistol and an officer’s dirk in his belt, but I could see that the former wasn’t primed and therefore likely wasn’t loaded, either, and I doubted that he’d ever drawn his dirk with any motive beyond polishing it.  Jamie didn’t even glance at the weapons, let alone ask for their surrender.

 “I thank you, sir,” Summers said, turned on his heel, and shying only slightly as he passed me and my scythe, started down the trail, back stiff.





Excerpt "Claire breaks her metatarsal"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE  #Book9  #comingalongnicelythanks  #soismyshoulder  #Illtellyouwhenitsdone #meanwhilehaveaniceweekend

I was listening with half an ear to the singing in the kitchen as I pounded and ground sage, comfrey, and goldenseal into an oily dust in the surgery.  It was late afternoon and while the sun fell warm across the floorboards, the shadows held a chill.

 Lieutenant Bembridge was teaching Fanny the words to “Green Grow the Rushes, O”.   He had a true, clear tenor that made Bluebell yodel when he hit a high note, but I enjoyed it.  It reminded me of working in the canteen at Pembroke Hospital, rolling bandages and making up surgical kits with the other student nurses, hearing singing coming in with the yellow fog through the narrow open slit at the top of a window.  There was a courtyard down below, and the ambulatory patients would sit there in fine—or even not-so-fine—weather, smoking, talking and singing to pass the time.

 “Two, two, the lily-white boys,
 Clothed all in green, O—
 One is one and all alone
 And evermore shall be so!”

 In 1940, the fog-muffled song was often interrupted by coughing and hoarse curses, but someone could always carry it through to the end.

 Lieutenants Bembridge and Esterhazy were eighteen and nineteen, respectively, lusty and in good health, and with Bluebell’s joyous assistance, were making so much noise that I didn’t hear either the front door opening nor footsteps in the hallway, and was so startled to look up from my mortar and see Jamie in the doorway that I dropped the heavy stone pestle straight down onto my sandaled foot.

 “Ouch! Ow! Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!”  I hopped out from behind the table, and Jamie caught me by one arm.

 “Are ye all right, Sassenach?”

 “Do I sound like I’m all right?  I’ve broken a metatarsal.”

 “I’ll buy ye a new one next time I go into Salisbury,” he assured me, letting go of my elbow.  “Meanwhile, I’ve got everything on the list, except … Why are there Englishmen singing in my kitchen?”

 “Oh.  Ah.  Well…”  It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about what his response to two of His Majesty’s naval officers lending a hand to the domestic economy might be, but I’d thought I’d have time to explain before he actually encountered them.   I rested my bottom against the edge of the table, lifting my wounded foot off the floor.

 “They’re two young lieutenants who used to sail with Captain Cunningham.  They were cast ashore or marooned or something—anyway, they lost their ship and it’s so late in the year that they can’t find a ship to join until March or April, so they came to the Ridge to stay with the Captain.   Elspeth Cunningham lent them to me for chores, in payment for my reducing her dislocated shoulder.”

 “Elspeth, is it?”  Luckily, he seemed amused, rather than annoyed.   “Do we feed them?”

 “Well, I’ve been giving them lunch and a light supper.   But they’ve been going back up to the Captain’s cabin in the evening, and coming down mid-morning.  They’ve repaired the stable door,” I offered, in extenuation, “dug over my garden, chopped two cords of wood, carried all the stones you and Roger dug out of the upper field down to the springhouse, and—”

 He made a slight gesture indicating that he accepted my decision, and now would like to change the subject.  Which he did by kissing me and asking what was for supper.  He smelled of road dust, ale, and faintly of cinnamon.

 “I believe Fanny and Lieutenant Bembridge are making burgoo.  It has pork, venison and squirrel in it—apparently you must have at least three different meats for a proper burgoo—but I have no idea what else is in it.   It smells all right, though.”

 Jamie’s stomach rumbled.

 “Aye, it does,” he said thoughtfully.  “And what does Frances make o’ them?”

 “I think she’s somewhat smitten,” I said, lowering my voice and glancing toward the hall.  "Cyrus came to call yesterday while she was serving the lieutenants luncheon, and she asked him to stay, but he just drew himself up to about seven feet, glared at them, said something rude in Gaelic—I don’t think she understood it, but she wouldn’t need to—and left.  Fanny went pink in the face—with indignation—and gave them the dried-apple-and-raisin pie she’d meant for Cyrus.”

 “[Better a lobster than no husband,” – Gaelic] Jamie said, with a  philosophical shrug.  Better a lobster than no husband.

 “You don’t actually think that, do you?” I asked, curious.

 “In the case of most lassies, yes,” he said.  “But I want someone better for Frances, and I dinna think a British sailor will do.  Ye say they’re leaving in the spring, though?”

 “So I understand.  Oo!”  I tenderly massaged the throbbing bruise on my foot.  The pestle had struck smack at the base of my big toe and while the original pain had receded a bit, trying to put my weight on the foot and/or bend it resulted in a sensation like hot barbed wire being pulled between my toes.

 “Sit yourself down, a nighean,” he said, and pushed the big padded chair that Brianna had dubbed the Kibitzer’s Chair toward me.  “I brought a few bottles of good wine from Salisbury; I expect one o’ those would make your foot feel better.”

 It did.  It made Jamie feel better, too.  I could see that he’d come home carrying something, and I felt a small knot below my own heart.  He’d tell me when he was ready.

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE.  Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon.]







Excerpt "Roger at War"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #forMemorialDay  #forthemilitarychaplains  #whotendtheirflocks  #inpeaceandatwar  #thisonesnotforthesqueamish

 It wasn’t God he found with him, but the next best thing.  The memory of Major Gareth Everett, one of his father’s friends, an ex-military chaplain.  Everett was a tall, long-faced man who wore his graying hair parted down the middle in a way that made him look like an old hound dog, but he’d had a black sense of humor and he’d treated Roger, thirteen years old, as a man.

 “Did you ever kill anyone?” he’d asked the Major when they were sat around the table after dinner one night, the old men telling stories of the War.

 “Yes,” the Major replied without hesitation.  “I’d be no use to my men, dead.”

 “What did you do for them?” Roger had asked, curious.  “I mean—what does a chaplain do, in a battle?”

 Major Everett and the Reverend had exchanged a brief look, but the Reverend nodded and Everett leaned forward, arms folded on the table in front of him.  Roger saw the tattoo on his wrist, a bird of some kind, wings spread over a scroll with something written on it in Latin.

 “Be with them,” the Major said quietly, but his eyes held Roger’s, deeply serious.  “Reassure them.  Tell them God is with them.  That I’m with them.  That they aren’t alone.”

 “Help them when you can,” his father had said, softly, eyes on the worn gray oilcloth that covered the table.  “Hold their hands and pray, when you can’t.”

 He saw—actually saw—the blast of a cannon.  A brilliant red flowering spark the size of his head that blinked in the fog with a firework’s BOOM! and then vanished.  The fog blew back from the blast and he saw everything clearly for a second, no more—the black hulk of the gun, round mouth gaping, smoke thicker than the fog rolling over it, falling to the ground like water, steam rising from the hot metal to join the roiling fog, the artillerymen swarming over the gun, frenzied blue ants, swallowed up the next instant in swirling white.

 And then the world around him went mad.    The shouts of the officers had come with the cannon’s blast; he only knew it because he’d been standing close enough to the General to see his mouth open.  But now a general roar went up from the charging men in his column, running hell-bent for the dim shape of the redoubt before him. 

 The sword was in his hand, and he was running, yelling, wordless things.

 Torches glowed faintly in the fog—soldiers trying to re-fire the abatis, he thought dimly. There was a high-pitched yodeling of some sort that might be the general, but might not.

 The cannon—how many? He couldn’t tell, but more than two; the firing kept up at a tremendous rate, the crash of it shaking his bones every half-minute or so.

 He made himself stop, bent over, hands on his knees, gasping.  He thought he heard musket-fire, muffled, rhythmic crashes between the cannon blasts.  The British army’s disciplined volleys.

 “Load!”

 “Fire!”

 “Fall back!”   An officer’s shouts rang out sudden in the heartbeat of silence between one crash and the next.

 _You’re not a soldier.  If you get killed…nobody will be here to help them. Fall back, idiot._
.
 He’d been at the back of the rank.  But now he was surrounded by men, surging together, pushing, running in all directions.  Orders were being barked, and he thought some of the men were struggling to obey; he heard random shouts, saw a black boy who couldn’t be more than twelve struggling grimly to load a musket taller than he was.   He wore a dark blue uniform, and a bright yellow kerchief showed when the fog parted for an instant.

 He tripped over someone lying on the ground and landed on his knees, brackish water seeping through his breeches.   He’d landed with his hands on the fallen man, and the sudden warmth on his cold fingers was a shock that brought him back to himself.

 The man moaned and Roger jerked his hands away, then recovered himself and groped for the man’s hand.  It was gone, and his own hand was filled with a gush of hot blood that reeked like a slaughterhouse.

 “Jesus,” he said, and wiping  his hand on his breeches, grappled with the other in his bag, he had cloths…he yanked out something white and tried to tie it round…he felt frantically for a wrist, but that was gone, too.    He got a fragment of sleeve and felt his way up it as fast as he could, but he reached the still solid upper arm a moment after the man died—he could feel the sudden limpness of the body under his hand.

 He was still kneeling there with the unused cloth in his hand when someone tripped over him and fell headlong with a tremendous splash.   Roger got up onto his feet and duck-walked to the fallen man.

 “Are you all right?” he shouted, bending forward.   Something whistled over his head and he threw himself flat on top of the man.

 “Jesus Christ!” the man exclaimed, punching wildly at Roger.  “Get the devil off me, you bugger!”

 They wrestled in the mud and water for a moment, each trying to use the other for leverage to rise, and the cannon kept on firing.  Roger pushed the man away and managed to roll up onto his knees in the mud.  Cries for help were coming from behind him, and he turned in that direction.

 The fog was almost gone, driven off by explosions, but the gun-smoke drifted white and low across the uneven ground, showing him brief flashes of color and movement as it shredded.

 “Help, help me!”

He saw the man then, on hands and knees, dragging one leg, and splashed through the puddles to reach him.   Not much blood, but the leg was clearly wounded; he got a shoulder under the man’s arm and got him on his feet, hustled him as fast as possible away from the redoubt, out of range…

The air shattered again and the earth seemed to tilt under him, he was lying on the ground with the man he’d been helping on top of him, the man’s jaw knocked away and hot blood and chunks of teeth soaking into his chest.  Panicked, he struggled out from under the twitching body—Oh, God, oh, God, he was still alive—and then he was kneeling by the man, slipping in the mud, catching himself with a hand on the chest where he could feel the heart beating in time with the blood spurting, Oh, Jesus, help me!

He groped for words, frantic.  It was all gone.   All the comforting words he’d gleaned, all his stock in trade…

“You’re not alone,” he panted, pressing hard on the heaving chest, as though he could anchor the man to the earth he was dissolving into.   “I’m here.   I won’t leave you.  It’s gonna be all right.   You’re gonna be all right.”







Excerpt "William and Amaranthus"

#DailyLines  #BookNine  #NoItsNotFinished   #AllInGood Time  #DontHoldYourBreath  #WilliamAndAmaranthusAndTrevor

 Still, he took his hand off the latch and turned back.  He’d wait for a quarter of an hour, he decided.  If anything terrible was going to happen, it would likely be quick.  He couldn’t linger in the tiny front garden, let alone skulk about beneath the windows.  He skirted the yard and went down the side of the house, toward the back.

 The back garden was sizable, with a vegetable-patch, dug over for the winter, but still sporting a fringe of cabbages.  A small cook-shed stood at the end of the garden, and a pruned-back grape arbor at one side, with a bench inside it.  The bench was occupied by Amaranthus, who held little Trevor against her shoulder, patting his back in a business-like way.

 “Oh, hullo,” she said, spotting William.  “Where’s your friend?”

 “Inside,” he said.  “Talking to Lord John.  I thought I’d just wait for him—but I don’t wish to disturb you.”  He made to turn away, but she stopped him, raising her hand for a moment before resuming her patting.

 “Sit down,” she said, eyeing him with interest.  “So you’re the famous William.  Or ought I to call you Ellesmere?”

 “Indeed.   And no, you oughtn’t.”  He sat down cautiously beside her.  “How’s the little fellow?”

 “Extremely full,” she said, with a small grimace.  “Any minute—whoops, there he goes.”   Trevor had emitted a loud belch, this accompanied by a spew of watery milk  that ran over his mother’s shoulder.  Apparently such explosions were common; William saw that she had placed a napkin over her banyan to receive it, though the cloth seemed inadequate to the volume of Trevor’s production.

    “Hand me that, will you?” Amaranthus shifted the child expertly from one shoulder to the other and nodded toward another wadded cloth that lay on the ground near her feet.  William picked it up gingerly, but it proved to be clean—for the moment.

 “Hasn’t he got a nurse?” he asked, handing the cloth over.

 “He did have,” Amaranthus said, frowning slightly as she mopped the child’s face.  “I sacked her.”

 “Drunkenness?” he asked, recalling what Lord John had said about the cook. 

 “Among other things.  Drunk on occasion—too many of them--and dirty in her ways.”

 “Dirty as in filth, or…er…lacking fastidiousness in her relations with the opposite sex?”

 She laughed, despite the subject.

 “Both.  Did I not already know you to be Lord John’s son, that question would have made it clear.  Or, rather,” she amended, gathering the banyan more closely around her, “the phrasing of it, rather than the question itself.  All of the Greys—all those I’ve met so far—talk like that.”

 “I’m his lordship’s stepson,” he replied equably.  “Any resemblance of speech must therefore be a matter of exposure, rather than inheritance.”

 She made a small interested noise and looked at him, one fair brow raised.  Her eyes were that changeable color between gray and blue, he saw.  Just now, they matched the gray doves embroidered on her yellow banyan.

 “That’s possible,” she said.  “My father says that a kind of finch learns its songs from its parents; if you take an egg from one nest and put it into another some miles away, the nestling will learn the songs of the new parents, instead of the ones who laid the egg.”

 Courteously repressing the desire to ask why anyone should be concerned with finches in any way, he merely nodded.

 “Are you not cold, madam?” he asked.  They were sitting in the sun, and the wooden bench was warm under his legs, but the breeze playing on the back of his neck was chilly, and he knew she wasn’t wearing anything but a shift under her banyan.   The thought brought back a vivid recollection of his first sight of her, milky bosom and prominent nipples on display, and he looked away, trying to think instantly of something else.

 “What is your father’s profession?” he asked at random.

 “He’s a naturalist—when he can afford to be,” she replied.  “And no, I’m not cold.  It’s always much too hot in the house, and I don’t think the smoke from the hearth is good for Trevor; it makes him cough.”

 “Perhaps the chimney isn’t drawing properly.  You said, ‘when he can afford to be.’  What does your father do when he cannot afford to pursue his…er…particular interests?”

 “He’s a bookseller,” she said, with a slight tone of defiance.  “In [New York?  New Jersey?  Philadelphia?]  “That’s where I met Benjamin,” she added, with a slight catch in her voice.  “In my father’s shop.”   She turned her head slightly, watching to see what he made of this.  Would he disapprove of the connection, knowing her now for a tradesman’s daughter? _Not likely_, he thought wryly.  _Under the circumstances_.

 “You have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your husband, madam,” he said.  He wondered what she knew—had been told, rather—about Benjamin’s death, but it seemed indelicate to ask.   And he’d best find out just what Papa and Uncle Hal knew about it, before he went trampling into unknown territory.

 “Thank you.”  She looked away, her eyes lowered, but he saw her mouth—rather a nice mouth—compress in a way suggesting that her teeth were clenched.

 “Bloody Continentals!” she said, with sudden violence.  She lifted her head, and he saw that, far from being filled with tears, her eyes were sparking with rage.  “Damn them and their nitwit philosophy!  Of all the obstinate, muddle-headed, treasonous twaddle…I—“ She broke off suddenly, perceiving his startlement.

 “I beg your pardon, my lord,” she said stiffly.  “I…was overcome by my emotions.”

 “Very…suitable,” he said awkwardly.  “I mean—quite understandable, given the…um…circumstances.”  He glanced sideways at the house, but there was no sound of doors opening or voices raised in farewell.  “Do call me William, though—we are cousins, are we not?”

 She smiled fully at that.  She had a lovely smile.

 “So we are.   You must call me Cousin Amaranthus, then—it’s a plant,” she added, with the slightly resigned air of one frequently obliged to make this explanation. “_Amaranthus palmeri_.  Of the family Amaranthaceae.  Commonly known as pigweed.”





Excerpt "Jane"

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#HistoricalFriction

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon.]

“Historical friction,” she said.  “There are all kinds of things—ideas, machines, tools, whatever—that were—are, I mean—discovered more than once.  Mama said the hypodermic needle was independently invented by at least three different people, all around the same time, in different countries.  But other things are invented or discovered and they just…sit.  No one uses them.  Or they’re lost, and then found again.  For years—centuries, sometimes—until something happens, and suddenly it’s the right time, and whatever it is comes suddenly into its own, and spreads, and it’s common knowledge.

“Besides,” she added practically, nudging the bag with her foot, what harm could it do to loose a bastardized version of The Cat in the Hat on the eighteenth century?”

He laughed in spite of his uneasiness. 

“Nobody would print that one.  A story showing children being deliberately disobedient to their mother?  And not suffering Dire Consequences for doing it?”

“Like I said.   Not the right time for a book like that,” she said.   “It wouldn’t…stick.” She’d got over the emotional breakdown altogether now – or at least that’s what she looked like.  Long red hair spilling loose down her back, face animated but not troubled, her eyes on the road and the horses’ bobbing heads.

“And then I have Jane,” she said, nodding at the bag and lowering her voice. “Speaking of dire consequences, poor girl.”  

“Ja—oh, Fanny’s sister?”   He remembered the drawing, a hasty pencil sketch on rough paper.  

 “I  promised Fanny that I’d paint Jane,” Bree said, and frowned a little.  “Make her more permanent.   I couldn’t persuade Fanny to let me take her drawing, but she did let me copy it, so I’d have something to work from.”

“Poor girl.  Girls, I should say.”  Claire had told Brianna, after the uproar over Fanny’s getting her monthly, what had happened to Jane, and Bree had told him.

“Yes.  And poor Willie, too.  I don’t know if he was in love with Jane, or just felt responsible for her, but Mama said he showed up at her funeral, looking awful, with that huge horse.  He gave Da the horse, for Fanny—he’d already given Fanny to him, to take care of—and then he just…left.   They haven’t heard anything about him since.”

Roger nodded, but there wasn’t much to say.  He’d met William, ninth Earl of Ellesmere, once, several years before, for roughly three minutes, on a quay in Wilmington.   A teenager then, tall and thin as a rail—and with a striking resemblance to Bree, though he was dark-haired--but with a lot more confidence and bearing than he’d have expected from someone that age.  He supposed that was one of the perquisites of being born (at least theoretically) to the hereditary aristocracy.  You really did think the world—or a good part of it—belonged to you.

“Do you know where she was buried?  Jane?” he asked, but she shook her head.

“In a private cemetery outside the city, is all.  Why?”

He lifted one shoulder, briefly.

“I thought I’d maybe pay my respects.  So I could tell Fanny I’d gone and said a prayer for her sister.”

She glanced at him, soft-eyed.

“That’s a really good thought.  I tell you what; I’ll ask Lord John where it is—Mama said he arranged for Jane to be buried, so he’ll know where.   Then you and I can go together.  Do you think Fanny would like it if I made a sketch of the grave?  Or would that be too—upsetting?”

“I think she’d like it.”   He touched her shoulder, then smoothed the hair back from her face and bound it with his handkerchief.  “You wouldn’t have anything edible in that bag, would you?”






Excerpt "Jamie's father" 

#DailyLines   #BookNine  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #ForFathersDay   #notspoilers  #butnotNOTquitespoilerseither

 “Here,” Jamie said, turning away from the creek and pushing aside the branches of a red oak sapling.  Roger followed him up a small slope and onto a rocky shelf, where two or three more enterprising saplings had established themselves in crevices.   There was room enough to sit comfortably at the edge of the shelf, from whence Roger found that they could see the opposite bank and the tiny spring-house, and also a good bit of the trail leading up from the house-site.

 “We’ll see anyone coming,” Jamie said, settling himself cross-legged, with his back against one of the saplings.  “So, then. Ye’ve a thing or two to tell me.”

 “So, then.”  Roger sat down in a patch of shade, took off his shoes and stockings, and let his legs dangle in the cool draft at the edge of the shelf, in hopes that it would slow his heart.  There was no way to begin, except to start.

 “As I said, I went to Lallybroch in search of Jem—and of course he wasn’t there.  But Brian—your father—“

 “I ken his name,” Jamie said dryly.

 “Ever call him by it?”  Roger said, on impulse.

 “No,” Jamie said, surprised.   “Do men call their fathers by their Christian names in your time?”

 “No.”  Roger made a brief dismissive motion.  “It’s just—I shouldn’t have said that, it’s part of my story, not yours.”

 Jamie glanced at the sun, coming slowly down the sky, but still well above the mountain.

 “It’s a good while ‘til supper,” he said. “We’ve likely time for both.”

 “It’s a tale for another time,” Roger said, shrugging.  “But…the meat of it is that while I came in search of Jem, I found—well, my father, instead.   His name was Jeremiah, too—folk called him Jerry.”

 Jamie said something in Gaelic and crossed himself.

 “Aye,” Roger said briefly.  “As I said—another time.  The thing was—when I found him, he was only twenty-two.  I was the age I am now; I could have been his father, just.  So I called him Jerry; thought of him that way.  At the same time, I kent he was my…well. I couldn’t tell him who I was; there wasn’t time.”  He felt his throat grow tight again, and cleared it, with an effort.

 “Well, so.   It was before, that I met your father at Lallybroch.  I nearly fell over with the shock when he opened the door and told me his name.”  He smiled a little at the memory, rueful.  “He was about my own age, maybe a few years older. We met…as men.  Mr. MacKenzie.  Mr. Fraser.”

 Jamie gave a brief nod, his eyes curious.

 “And then your sister came in, and they made me welcome, fed me.  I told your father—well, not the whole of it, obviously—but that I was looking for my wee lad, who’d been kidnapped.”

 Brian had given Roger a bed, then taken him next morning to all the crofts nearby, asking after Jem and Rob Cameron, without result.  But the next day, he’d suggested riding all the way to Fort William, to make inquiries at the army garrison.

 Roger’s eyes were fixed on a patch of moss near his knee; it grew in rounded green clumps over the rocks, looking like the heads of young broccoli.  He could feel Jamie listening.  His father-in-law didn’t move at all, but Roger felt the slight tension in him at mention of Fort William. _ Or maybe it’s my own _…  He thrust his fingers into the cool, wet moss; to anchor himself, maybe.

 “The commander was an officer named Buncombe.  Your father called him, ‘a decent fellow for a Sassenach’—and he was.  Brian had brought two bottles of whisky—good stuff,” he added, glancing at Jamie, and saw the flicker of a returned smile at that.  “We drank with Buncombe, and he promised to have his soldiers make inquiries.  That made me feel…hopeful.  As though I might really have some chance of finding Jem.”

 He hesitated for a moment, trying to think how to say what he wanted to, but after all, Jamie _had _ known Brian himself.

 “It wasn’t so much Buncombe’s courtesy.  It was Brian Dhu,” he said, looking straight at Jamie.  “He was…kind, very kind, but it was more than that.”  He had a vivid memory of it, of Brian, riding in front of him up a hill, bonnet and broad shoulders dark with rain, his back straight and sure.  “You felt---_I _ felt—as though…if this man was on my side, then things would be all right.”

 “Everyone felt that about him,” Jamie said softly, looking down.

 Roger nodded, silent.  Jamie’s auburn head was bent, his gaze fixed on his knees—but Roger saw that head turn a fraction of an inch, and tilt as though in answer to a touch, and a tiny ripple of something between awe and simple acknowledgement stirred the hairs on his own scalp. 

 _There it is _, he thought, at once surprised and not surprised at all.  He’d seen it—or rather, felt it—before, but it had taken several repetitions before he’d realized fully what it was.  The summoning of the dead, when those who loved them spoke of them.  He could feel Brian Dhu, here beside this mountain creek, as surely as he had felt him that dreich day in the Highlands.  





Excerpt "Oggy likes to kill his food"

#DailyLines #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE  #Book9   #Itsgoingverywell  #yesmyshoulderisbetter #thanksforasking #NOitsnotdoneyet  #Illtellyouwhenitis

 Supper was simple, because there had been no one to stay at home and cook it during the day.   I’d made a huge kettle of milky corn chowder in the morning, with onions, bacon and sliced potatoes to fill it out, and after the usual obsessive checking of hearth and coals, had covered the cauldron and left it to simmer, along with a prayer that the house would not burn down in our absence.    There was bread from yesterday, and four cold apple pies for pudding, with a little cheese.

 “’Snot a pudding,” Mandy had said, frowning when she heard me say that.  “Issa pie!”

 “True, darling,” I said.  “It’s just an English manner of speech, to call all desserts ‘pudding’.”

 “Why?”

 “Because the English dinna ken any better,” Jamie told her.

 “Says the Scot who has ‘creamed crud’ for his dessert,” I replied, making Jem and Mandy roll on the floor with laughter, repeating “creamed crud” to each other whenever they paused for breath.

 Germain, who had been eating creamed curd for pudding since he was born, shook his head at them and sighed in a worldly fashion, glancing at Fanny to share his condescension.   Fanny, who had likely not encountered anything beyond pie in the dessert line, looked confused.

 “Regardless,” I said, ladling chowder into bowls.    “Get the bread, will you please, Jem?   Regardless,” I repeated, “it’s good to be able to sit down to supper, isn’t it?  It was rather a long day,” I added, smiling at Roger and then at Rachel.

 “Thee was wonderful, Roger,” Rachel said, smiling at him.  “I hadn’t heard of line-singing before.  Had thee, Ian?”

 “Oh, aye.  There was a wee Presbyterian kirk on Skye that I stopped by wi’ my Da once, when I went with him to buy a sheep.  There’s nothing else to do on Skye on Sunday,” he explained.

 “It seems familiar,” I remarked, shaking a large pat of cold butter out of its mold.  “That kind of singing, I mean, not Skye.  But I don’t know why it should.”

 Roger smiled faintly.  He couldn’t talk above a whisper, but happiness glowed in his eyes.

 “African slaves,” he said, barely audible.  “They do it.  Call and response, it’s called sometimes.  Did ye maybe…hear them at River Run?”

 “Oh.   Yes, perhaps,” I said, a little dubiously.  “But it seems more…recent?”   A lift of one dark eyebrow indicated that he took my meaning as to “recent.”

 “Aye.”  He took up his beer and took a deep swallow.  “Aye.  Black singers, then others…took it up.  It’s one of –” he glanced at Fanny and then Rachel.   “One of the roots you see, in, um, more modern music.”

 Rock ‘n roll, I supposed he meant, or possibly rhythm and blues—I was no kind of a music scholar.

 “Speaking of music, Rachel, you have a beautiful voice,” Bree said, leaning across the table to wave a bit of bread under Oggy’s nose.

 “I thank thee, Brianna,” Rachel said, and laughed.  “So does the dog.”  She took the bread and let Oggy squash it in his fist, he preferring to kill his food before eating it. “I was pleased that so many people chose to share our meeting—though I suppose it was mostly curiosity.  Now that they know the terrible truth about Friends, they likely won’t come again.”

 “What’s the terrible truth about Friends, Auntie Rachel?”  Germain asked, fascinated.

 “That we’re boring,” Rachel told him.  “Did thee not notice?”





Excerpt  "The Virtue of Bacon"

#DailyLines   #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #Book9   #thevirtuesofbacon  #nodefinitelynotdoneyet   #goingwellthough   #thisonehasaspoiler  #ifyouhaventereadECHO   #YouHaveBeenWarned  #DontPeek

 A small cough from behind me distracted me from the mental list of synonyms for “bloody Scot!” I was compiling.  I turned round to find Fanny standing there, her apron bulging with dirt-covered turnips and her sweet face fixed in a troubled frown, this directed at Jamie, who was vanishing into the trees by the creek.

 “What has Will-iam done, Mrs. Fraser?” she asked, glancing up at me from under her cap.  I smiled, in spite of the recent upheaval.   Her speech was very fluent now, save when she was upset, but she often still had that slight hesitation between the syllables of William’s name.

 “William hasn’t done anything amiss,” I assured her.  “Not that I know of.   We haven’t seen him since…er…”  I broke off an instant too late.

 “Jane’s funeral,” she said soberly, and looked down into the purple and white mass of turnips.  “I thought….maybe Mr. Fraser had had a letter.  From William.  Or maybe about him,” she added, the frown returning.  She nodded toward the trees. “He’s angry.”

 “He’s Scottish,” I amended, with a sigh.   “Which means stubborn.  Also unreasonable, intolerant, contumelious, froward, pig-headed and a few other objectionable things.   But don’t worry; it really isn’t anything to do with William.  Here, let’s put the turnips in the tub there and cover them with water.  That will keep the tops from wilting.  Amy’s making bashed neeps for supper, but I want to cook the tops with bacon grease and serve them alongside.  If anything will make Highlanders eat a leafy green vegetable, bacon ought to do it.” 

She nodded as though this made sense and let down her apron slowly, so the turnips rolled out into the tub in a tumbling cascade, dark green tops waving like pom-poms.

 “You probably shouldn’t have told him.”  Fanny spoke with an almost clinical detachment.

 “Told who what?” I said, picking up a water bucket and sloshing it over the muddy turnips.  “Get another bucket, will you?”

 She did, heaved the water into the tub, then set down the bucket, looked up at me and said seriously, “I know what ‘swived’ means.” 

 I felt as though she’d just kicked me sharply in the shin. 

 “Do you, indeed?” I managed, picking up my working knife.  “I, um…suppose you would.”   She’d spent half her short life in a brothel in a Philadelphia; she probably knew a lot of other words not in the vocabulary of the average twelve-year old.

 “It’s too bad,” she said, turning to fetch another bucket; the small boys had filled all of them this morning; there were six left.  “I like his lordship a lot.  He wath—_was_ so good to me and—and Jane.  I like Mr. Fraser too,” she added, though with a certain reserve.

 “I’m sure he appreciates your good opinion,” I said gravely, wondering what the hell?  “And yes, his lordship is a very good man.  He’s always been a good friend to us.”  I put a bit of emphasis on the “us,” and saw that register.

 “Oh.” A small frown disturbed the perfect skin of her forehead.  “I thup-suppose that makes it worse.   That you went to bed with him,” she explained, lest I have missed her point.  “Men don’t like to share a woman.   Unless it’s an ambsace.”

 “An ambsace?”  I was beginning to wonder how I might extricate myself from this conversation with any sort of dignity.  I was also beginning to feel rather alarmed.  

 “That’s just what Madge called it.  When two men want to do things to a girl at the same time.  It costs more than it would to have two girls, because they often damage her.  Mostly just bruises,” she added fairly.  “But still.”





Excerpt "Moran Taing"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE   #noitdoesnthaveasadending  #dinnafash  #noitisntfinished  #soon  #inthemeantime  #abriefGaeliclesson

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2020 Diana Gabaldon]

 Jamie woke the next morning to an empty bed, sighed, stretched and rolled out of it.  He’d dreamed, rather pleasantly, about Achilles’s ships, and would have liked to tell Claire about it.   He shook off the remnants of sleep and went to wash, making a mental note of some of the things he’d dreamt, so as not to forget them.   With luck, she’d be home before supper.

 “Mr. Fraser?”  A delicate rap on the door, Frances’s voice.  “Your daughter says breakfast is ready.”

 “Aye?”  He wasn’t smelling anything of a savory nature, but “ready” was a relative term.  “I’m coming, lass.  Taing.”

 “Tang?” she said, sounding startled.  He smiled, pulled a clean shirt over his head and opened the door.  She was standing there like a field daisy, delicate but upright on her stem, and he bowed to her.

 “Taing,” he said, pronouncing it as carefully as he could.  “It means ‘thanks’ in the Gaelic.”

 “Are you sure?” she said, frowning slightly.

 “I am,” he assured her.  “Moran taing means ‘thank you very much,’ should ye want something stronger.”

 A faint flush rose in her cheeks.

 “I’m sorry—I didn’t really mean are you th-sure.  Of course you are.  It’s only that Germain told me ‘thank you’ is ‘tabag leet’.  Is that wrong?  He might have been practicing on me, but I didn’t think so.”

 “Tapadh leat,” he said, restraining the urge to laugh.  “No, that’s right; it’s only that Moran taing is…casual, ye might say.  The other’s when ye want to be formal.  If someone’s saved your life or paid your debts, say, ye’d say “Tapadh leat,” where if they passed ye the bread at table, ye’d say ‘Taing,’ aye?”

 “Aye,” she said automatically, and flushed deeper when he smiled.  She smiled back, though, and he followed her down the stairs, thinking how oddly engaging she was; she was reticent, but not shy at all.  He supposed one couldn’t be shy, if raised with the expectation of becoming a whore.



Excerpt "Lighting in Art"

#DailyLines  #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE  #BookNINE   #noitsnotfinished #noIdontknowwhen  #whenitsdoneOK   #forCarolSuzanne  #distraction

 Bree drew a deep breath, savoring the momentary solitude.  There was a strong touch of fall in the air, though the sun was bright through the window, and a single late bumblebee hummed slowly in, circled the disappointing wax flowers and bumbled out again.

 It would be winter soon, in the mountains.   She felt a pang of longing for the high rocks and the clean scent of balsam fir, snow and mud, the close warm smell of sheltered animals.  Much more, for her parents, for the sense of her family all about her.  Moved by impulse, she turned the page of her sketchbook and tried to capture a glimpse of her father’s face—just a line or two in profile, the straight long nose and the strong brow.  And the small curved line that suggested his smile, hidden in the corner of his mouth.

 That was enough for now.  With the comforting sense of his presence near her, she opened the box where she kept the small lead tubes and the little pots of hand-ground pigment, and made up her simple palette.   White, a touch of lamp black, and a dab of rose madder.   A moment’s hesitation, and she added a thin line of lemon yellow, and a spot of cobalt.

 With the color of shadows in her mind, she went across to the small collection of canvases leaning against the wall, and uncovering the unfinished portrait of [   ], set it on the table, where it would catch the morning light.

 “That’s the trouble,” she murmured.  “Maybe…”   The light.   She’d done it with an imagined light source, falling from the right, so as to throw the delicate jawline into relief.  But what she hadn’t thought to imagine was what kind of light it was.  The shadows cast by a morning light sometimes had a faint green tinge, while those of mid-day were dusky, a slight browning of the natural skin tones, and evening shadows were blue and gray and sometimes a deep lavender.   But what time of day suited the mysterious [   ]?

 Her ruminations were interrupted by the sound of Angelina’s laughter and footsteps in the hallway.  A man’s voice, amused—Mr. Brumby, on his way out.

 “Ah, Mrs. MacKenzie.   A very good morning to you, ma’am.”  Alfred Brumby paused in the doorway, smiling in at her.  Angelina clung to his arm, beaming up at him and shedding white powder on the sleeve of his bottle-green suit, but he didn’t appear to notice.  “And how is the work proceeding, might I ask?”

 He was courteous enough to make it sound as though he really was asking permission to inquire, rather than demanding a progress report.

 “Very well, sir,” Bree said, and stepped back, gesturing, so he could come in and see the head sketches that she’d done so far, arranged in fans on the table: Angelina’s complete head and neck from multiple angles,  close view of hairline, side and front, assorted small details of ringlets, waves and brilliants.

 “Beautiful, beautiful!” he exclaimed.  He bent over them, taking a quizzing glass from his pocket and using it to examine the drawings.  “She’s captured you exactly, my dear—a thing I shouldn’t have thought possible without the use of leg-irons, I confess.”

1 comment:

  1. I wish Claire was in our time to help with Diana Gabaldon's broken shoulder!

    ReplyDelete