Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, the last book (10) excerpts

Excerpts


"William"

#DailyLines   #Book10  #ABombInTheHand  #dontbotheraskingwhenitwillbedone  #really  #dont  #youllfindoutwhenIdo  

[Excerpt from Book 10 [Untitled], Copyright 2022 Diana Gabaldon]

 “What are you thinking?”  I asked.  “I know it’s about William.”

 “Oh, aye?”  He glanced at me, mouth curled up at one side.  “And what do I look like if I’m thinking of William?”

 “Like someone’s handed you a wrapped package and you’re not sure whether it’s something wonderful, or a bomb.”

 That made him laugh, and he put an arm around me and pulled me in close, kissing my temple.  He smelled of day-old linen, ink and hay, and the dribble of honey that had dried down the front of his shirt, like tiny amber beads.

 “Aye, well, one look at the lad and ye ken he’ll explode before too long,” he said.  “I only hope he doesna damage himself doing it.”

 “Or you.” 

He shrugged comfortably

“I’m no very breakable, Sassenach.

“Says the man with four—no, five bullet holes in his hide, to say nothing of enough surgical stitching to make a whole crazy quilt.  And if we start counting the bones you’ve cracked or broken…

“Ach, away—I’ve never broken anything important; just the odd finger.  Maybe a rib, here or there.

“And your sternum and your left kneecap.

He made a dismissive Scottish noise, but didn’t argue

We stood for a bit, arms about each other, listening to the sounds outside.  The younger children had fallen asleep under bushes or in their parents’ wagons, their happy screeching replaced by music and the laughter of the dancers, the clapping and calls of those watching.

“He came to me,” Jamie said quietly.  He was trying to sound matter-of-fact, but he’d stopped trying to hide what he was feeling.

“He did,” I said softly, and squeezed his arm.

“I suppose there wasna really anyone else he could go to,” he said, off-handed.  “If he canna find his grace, I mean, and he couldna very well talk to anyone in the army, could he?  Given that….”  He stopped, a thought having struck him, and turned to me.

“D’ye think he knows, Sassenach?”

“Knows what?”

“About—what he said.  The…threat to Lord John.  I mean--”  he elaborated, seeing my blank look, “does he ken that it’s no just a canard.”

“A—oh.”  I stopped to consider for a moment, then shook my head with decision.  “No.  Almost certainly not.  You saw his face when he told us about what Richardson was threatening.   He’d still have been scared—maybe more scared—if he knew it wasn’t an empty threat—but he wouldn’t have looked the way he did.”

Anxious?  Angry?”

“Both.  But Anyone would be, wouldn’t they?  Under the circumstances.”

“They would.  And…determined, would ye say?”

 “Stubborn,” I said promptly, and he laughed.

 “A bomb for sure, then.”



William on the Ridge

#DailyLines   #UntitledBook10    #HappyEaster   #ChagPesachSameach    #or #DeliriousRitesofSpring  #YourPreference  #nospoilers

[Excerpt from (Untitled) Book Ten, Copyright 2022 Diana Gabaldon]

The room was large and dim; someone had tacked part of a burlap sack over the large window, but light filtered through.  So  did a breeze carrying the earthy smell of fresh potatoes through the burlap.  He picked loose a couple of tacks and the breeze, thus invited, cooled his face and rippled through his hair, like the touch of gentle fingers.

“Mother?” he said softly.

It hadn’t happened in some time.  When he was younger, he felt it often; the passing touch of a hand, stroking his head, touching his shoulder, vanished in a moment.  He’d never told anyone about it.

 Maybe she was here, because _he_ was here—Fraser?

Fraser had declined to tell him anything regarding his relations with Mother Geneva, and William was reluctantly obliged to admit that this was gentlemanly of him.

 “I still want to know, though.”

 “Know what?”

He swung round, startled, to find his sister standing in the doorway, her face full of joy and her arms full of quilts.

“I—nothing,” he said, and felt a sudden bounce in his heart.  “Sister.  I—it’s good to see you.”   The smile on her face was on his own, and she dropped the bedding and hugged him tight.  The smell of her was different from the last time he’d seen her.  The pungent scents of turpentine and linseed oil were gone, replaced by an oddly disorienting scent that he tentatively identified as milk and baby-shit.

 “You’ve had a child?” he blurted, letting go.  “Another, I mean?” It wasn’t surprise at the revelation, as much as the fact that the scents of motherhood were inextricably linked with Amaranthus in his mind.

 “You have a new nephew,” she said, laughing at him.  “Davy.  David William James Fraser MacKenzie, to be exact.”

 “William?”  He could feel his lips twitching, not sure whether he should assume that…

 “Yes, we named him for you,” she assured him.  “Partly.”

 “Well, I’m entirely grateful,” he said, smiling.  “And most sensible of the honor…sister.”

 “Brother,” she said softly, and reached out to touch his face.  “It’s good to see you.  Will you stay awhile?”



"Jamie's dream"

Aaaand....Happy Birthday to James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, born May 1st, 1721!

#DailyLines #UntitledBook10  

“Did your Mam ever tell ye of the dream I had? Soon after ye…went away.” He couldn’t help glancing over his shoulder, to be sure no one was in earshot.

“No.” She was looking at him with deep interest, a small line between her brows, and he couldn’t help smiling at her. “Was it a funny dream?” she asked.

“Och, no. I was only smiling because ye looked so much like Claire, there. When she’s trying to puzzle out what’s the matter with someone, I mean.”

She didn’t laugh, but the transitory dimple that sometimes appeared in her right cheek flashed for an instant.

“Nobody ever says I look like Mama,” she said. “They carry on all the time about how much like _you_ I look.”

“Oh, ye look like your mother often,” he assured her. “It’s just that it’s no a matter of hair or eyes or how tall ye are. It’s the look on your face when ye touch Jem or Mandy—or when ye’re talkin’ with Roger Mac in the evening on the porch, and the light of the moon in your eyes.”  

 His own voice had gown soft and husky, and he looked down at the ground, the plastering of layer upon layer of dead leaves, like dying stars beneath his boots.

“Ye look like your mother in love, is all I mean. Exactly like her.”



Sage, Rosemary and Thyme 

 “What are you thinking?”  I asked.  “I know it’s about William.”

 “Oh, aye?”  He glanced at me, mouth curled up at one side.  “And what do I look like if I’m thinking of William?”

 “Like someone’s handed you a wrapped package and you’re not sure whether it’s something wonderful, or a bomb.”

 That made him laugh, and he put an arm around me and pulled me in close, kissing my temple. He smelled of day-old linen, ink and hay, and the dribble of honey that had dried down the front of his shirt, like tiny amber beads.

 “Aye, well, one look at the lad and ye ken he’ll explode before too long,” he said.  “I only hope he doesna damage himself doing it.”

 “Or you.”  

He shrugged comfortably.

“I’m no very breakable, Sassenach.”

“Says the man with four—no, five bullet holes in his hide, to say nothing of enough surgical stitching to make a whole crazy quilt.  And if we start counting the bones you’ve cracked or broken…”

“Ach, away—I’ve never broken anything important; just the odd finger.  Maybe a rib, here or there.”

“And your sternum and your left kneecap.”

He made a dismissive Scottish noise, but didn’t argue.

We stood for a bit, arms about each other, listening to the sounds outside.  The younger children had fallen asleep under bushes or in their parents’ wagons, their happy screeching replaced by music and the laughter of the dancers, the clapping and calls of those watching.

 “He came to me,” Jamie said quietly.  He was trying to sound matter-of-fact, but he’d stopped trying to hide what he was feeling.

“He did,” I said softly, and squeezed his arm.

“I suppose there wasna really anyone else he could go to,” he said, off-handed.  “If he canna find his grace, I mean, and he couldna very well talk to anyone in the army, could he?  Given that….”  He stopped, a thought having struck him, and turned to me.

“D’ye think he knows, Sassenach?”

“Knows what?”

“About—what he said.  The…threat to Lord John.  I mean--”  he elaborated, seeing my blank look, “does he ken that it’s no just a canard.”

“A—oh.”  I stopped to consider for a moment, then shook my head with decision.  “No.  Almost certainly not.  You saw his face when he told us about what Richardson was threatening.   He’d still have been scared—maybe more scared, if he knew it wasn’t an empty threat—but he wouldn’t have looked the way he did.”

“Anxious?  Angry?”

“Both.  But anyone would be, wouldn’t they?  Under the circumstances.”

“They would.  And…determined, would ye say?”

“Stubborn,” I said promptly, and he laughed.

“A bomb for sure, then.”

The air had cooled with the setting of the sun.  Now it was full dark and the mountain breathed, a lithe sense of spring in an air filled with night-blooming flowers and the resins of resting trees.   It would be different on the coast.  Still fresh, but strong  with fish and seaweed, tar and wood and the tang of salt in everything.

I might have one more mountain night like this, maybe two or three, but likely not more.  I breathed deep, resolved to enjoy it.  

“When?” I asked.

“If it were up to William, we’d already be gone,” Jamie said, drawing me closer.  “I told him I must think, but meanwhile, preparations would be made; no time will be wasted. “  He glanced toward the window.   With luck, Brianna and Roger Mac will have him drunk by now; he’ll sleep sound.  He kens he’s safe,” he added, softly.  “Or I hope so, at least.”

 “I’m sure that he does,” I said, also softly, and rubbed his back, the scars invisible under his shirt.  His children, his grandchildren.  If only for a moment, here, together, in the place he had made.

 There was a break in the music, though the air was still full of talk and laughter.  That died down now, though, and there were a few moments of silence before the faint sounds of a guitar drifted up from the distant bonfire.  Then two voices, one rough and one smooth, weaving a song.

 Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

 Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…

 My heart squeezed tight and so did my throat.  I’d never heard Bree and Roger sing together.  They must have done this before, though, in private; perhaps as an exercise to strengthen Roger’s voice.

 We stood in silence ‘til the song was over, listening to magic.  I looked up at Jamie’s face, soft in the candlelight, his eyes far away.  He didn’t hear music, as such, but I knew he felt the song anyway.




William and Davy

A piercing scream stopped Brianna in mid-word.  At once, she detached the infant from her person and pushed him into William’s arms.

 “Here,” she said, and disappeared in a rustle of skirts.  He heard her footsteps, irregular thuds suggesting that she was taking the porch stairs two or three at a time, and then her distant voice inside the house, upraised in adjuration.  He looked down at the warm bundle, and carefully readjusted it so that the child rested—face up—in the crook of his elbow.

 The little boy was smacking his milky lips in a thoughtful sort of way, as though curious as to the sudden change in his circumstances, but didn’t seem to object to them.

 “Hullo,” he said, tentatively.  The infant’s round eyes narrowed suddenly.  The little body stiffened and a sharp smell of fresh pee made William hold the baby hastily out at arm’s length, then squat and lay David on the grass before anything else happened.  Something else promptly did, and the child turned purple and began shrieking.

 “Really?”  William said.  “Come now, we scarcely know one another.”  A quick glance at the house revealed a complete absence of Brianna or any other woman who might be helpful, and the muffled shouting inside suggested that no one was likely to appear very soon.  He rubbed a finger under his nose, then shrugged and set about gingerly removing the infant’s napkin, which was wet and filled with a sweetish smelling, mustard-like substance, sufficient in quantity as to have leaked down the baby’s legs.

 The blanket was wet in spots, but not filthy, and he used it to clean the tiny privates and legs.  The shirt had suffered somewhat in the eruption, and he managed to roll this up and edge it gingerly over the child’s head without getting too much shit on either of them.  David had quit yelling by this point, and kicked his little bandy legs with enthusiasm.

 “Better, yes?”  William asked, smiling down at him.  “Yes, I think so, too.  What the devil am I to put on you, though?”

 Davy—yes, that’s what his sister called the baby—was a good deal younger than Trevor had been the first time William had met him, but the sensation of something at once very fragile and yet amazingly solid—very male--brought back immediate memories of Amaranthus’s son—and Amaranthus.

William blew out his breath and drew it in again, slowly, trying to ease the sudden knot in the pit of his stomach.

 “Where are you?” he said softly to the mountain air.  “And what are you doing?”

 _What have you done_?  This thought came on the heels of the first, and he shook his head violently, in hopes of dislodging it.  Pressing his lips together, he pulled a large—and only slightly used—handkerchief from his pocket and shook it out.

 “Better than nothing,” he said to Davy.  “Must keep up appearances, mustn’t we?”


Excerpt Rachel's pregnant 

Rachel was sitting in a rocking-chair on the porch in her shift, when William stepped into the little aspen grove where the Murrays’ cabin stood. She heard his footsteps and looked up, her face lighting. Then she saw who it was, and while the light didn’t go from her eyes, her smile changed completely, and she reached for the shawl folded over the rocking-chair’s arm.
“William!” she said, and half-rose, the shawl held to her bosom. “Where on earth has thee come from?” The smile was warm and genuine—but he knew he wasn’t the man she had expected.
“Mrs. Murray,” he said, and bowed, smiling back. “Your servant, ma’am.”
She laughed.
“No man is servant to another, William, and I know thee is aware of that.”
“I’m aware that Friends believe that, yes. But surely you won’t deprive me of the pleasure of offering my meager services to you—_as_ a friend?” He glanced round for something to do; his heart had jumped when he saw her, and hadn’t quite returned to its business. A basket of freshly-picked green pea-pods stood by her rocking chair, along with a yellow pottery bowl, half-filled with shelled peas.
“Sit down,” he said. “I’ll do that.”
He sat down by her, legs dangling over the edge of the porch, and pulled the basket toward himself.
He was aware of a good many things at the moment, all of them concerning Rachel. Her dark hair was loose, somewhat disheveled, and her long legs bare and brown below the hem of her shift. She crossed her—very fine—ankles when she saw his glance, and he averted his gaze, not wanting to embarrass her, though he still wanted to look.
She was alone; the cabin’s door was open and there were no sounds of anyone inside.
On the long climb to the cabin, he hadn’t admitted to himself that he hoped to find her alone…but he had. The last time he’d met her, she’d slapped his face, kicked him in the shin and called him a rooster. She hadn’t meant any of it by way of compliment, and he hoped to make amends.
Still, that had been nearly three years ago, and she seemed well-enough disposed to him at the moment…and she was safely married now.
“My apologies,” he said. “I should have thought to bring you something from the feast—there’s a vast quantity of food; enough to keep the whole of the Ridge from starvation for three months, at least. Scores of fried chickens, pies of all descriptions, something I was told was corn fufu—and as it was my sister who told me, I’m inclined to believe her—sweet potatoes with apples and onions, and a monstrous great hog. They said it roasted underground for days, until the flesh began to drop from the bone—the smell of it covers the entire hillside and the remains of the carcass would feed—”
Rachel stood up suddenly, clutched the post that held up the roof of the cabin and vomited off the side of the porch.
“Miss Hunter! I mean…Mrs…Mrs…” In the stress of the moment, her married name had vanished. “Rachel!” He’d scrambled up when she rose, and now seized her elbow to save her falling off the porch.
She made an inarticulate sound, waving a hand to keep him off, and then threw up again, more profusely. She seemed very wobbly, even though she was clinging to the post with both hands now, and he put an arm about her waist to steady her.
“Oh, Jesus!” he said, at once relieved and appalled by the little round swelling that he’d touched beneath her shift. “You’re pregnant!”
Despite her clear disfirmity, she gave him a look that fortunately wasn’t translated into English.
“Forgive me, madam,” he said, gingerly removing his hand from her midriff.
She flapped a hand and stepped back, collapsing into the chair with a force that made it rock briefly to and fro. Her eyes were closed, her face shiny with sweat and she’d gone the color of curdled milk.
“Is there…anything…?” he said, though the situation seemed entirely beyond his capacities.
Her long, soft throat moved as she swallowed, and she grimaced.
“Pickle,” she said. “Pickles. Butter…milk.” She waved a limp hand toward the open door.
The suggestion of pickles with buttermilk made _him_ feel somewhat queasy, but he went immediately inside and rummaged the food-safe, which yielded a small crock of infant cucumbers that, from the smell, had been pickled in vinegar, dill, garlic and black pepper. They hardly seemed appropriate to someone with a deranged digestion, but Amaranthus had told him once the sorts of things she had found comestible while pregnant, all much worse than garlic-scented cucumbers. And dilled pickles _did_ work for sea-sickness…









Extended version
William shows up on the Ridge

Sometime in September (I think), I posted a short version of this excerpt. In early October, my beloved German translator, Barbara Schnell, asked me if I could give her something to post in honor of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser Grey Fraser’s 104th birthday. So I sent her the complete excerpt. (This is available in German on dianagabaldon.de, the website Baerbel maintains for me.)
So—a number of English-speaking fans, eager to see the whole thing, translated the German posting on dianagabaldon.de (which is a wonderful site—Baerbel has a number of entertaining innovations, like a complete timeline of all the major events in the books)—and you can translate the site from German to English) back into English. Except that it wasn’t, quite. Translations are seldom literal and the literal ones tend not to be very good. So we had a rash of English-speaking readers arguing about whether “ein prust” (in the German version) meant the Scottish noise that Jamie and William make now and then (but which is defined as the coughing growl tigers use to communicate with each other). Now I do value my fans’ sanity <g>, so decided to post the entire excerpt (called “Sir”, for convenience). Hope you enjoy it! SIR Half an hour later, the whisky bottle was empty, but all three of us were stone-cold sober, and there was a ball of cold dread in the pit of my stomach. According to William, Perseverance Wainwright was dead, and Lord John was missing—kidnapped by a man named Richardson. Or so Percy had said, before dying messily, poisoned on the hearth-rug in Lord John’s house. Jamie rubbed a hand hard over his face, opened his eyes and looked at me, one eyebrow raised. “Is it possible?” he said. William’s lips pressed tight together and he made a noise that might have been a stifled snort. “I shouldn’t be surprised that you think me a liar, sir. But ask yourself why I should tell you such a tale. Or why I should be here.” “I have been,” Jamie said frankly. “Askin’ myself, I mean. And now I’m asking my wife.” “Possible, yes,” I said, trying not to show just how disturbing that possibility was. “John’s brother—you know, the Duke-- sent me a note last year, asking me what herbs I’d recommend for the extermination of…um…pests. I wasn’t sure that he was serious—but I’ve never known Hal to make jokes.” Jamie made a noise that was definitely a snort. “Oh, his Grace has a sense o’ humor,” he said, very cynical. “But ye’re right, he doesna make jests or play wi’ words like his brother. So, did ye answer him?” “I did,” I said, exchanging stares with him. “On the basis of what I knew was growing in Savannah at the time, I told him that an alcoholic extract of foxglove would be poisonous, but he should take care in using it. I thought that he might be intending to use it on mice or rats,” I added defensively. “There are mice in most houses in Savannah—and cockroaches.” Both of them snorted. I ignored this. “But do you actually think Hal intended to—to poison someone, a person, I mean? Or Percy, specifically? Because your description of his symptoms sounds very much like foxglove poisoning—but from what you say, it sounds as though Percy got hold of a bottle of poisoned brandy entirely by accident, doesn’t it?” “God only knows.” William closed his eyes briefly, and I saw how tired he was, his young face lined and smeared with the grime of long riding. He summoned his strength, though, and straightened. “I don’t care how or why Percival—or Perseverance—Wainwright happened to die in Lord John’s house. He came to tell me where Lord John was, and—and why.” Why. Jamie glanced at me, then fixed his gaze on William. “So his lordship is—to the best o’ your knowledge—being held aboard a ship called Pallas, in the hands of a man called Richardson, whom ye ken yourself as a right bastard that’s tried to kill you more than once—and now he’s said he means to kill Lord John?” “Yes.” “But ye dinna ken why?” William rubbed his hands hard over his face and shook his head. “I told you what bloody Wainwright told me. How would I know whether it’s the truth? It sounds--” He flung out his hands in a violent, hopeless gesture. Jamie and I exchanged a quick glance. How, indeed? It sounded like insanity to William; it sounded much worse to me, and to Jamie. Jamie cleared his throat and set both hands on his desk. “I suppose that bit doesna really matter, aye? Whether we believe it or not, I mean. The only thing to do is to find where his lordship is, and get him back.” It was said so simply that I smiled, despite the situation, and William’s bunched shoulders dropped a little. “You make it sound so easy,” he said. His voice was dry, but the note of strain in it had gone. “Mmphm. How long have ye been on the road, lad?” “Don’t call me ‘lad’,” William said, automatically. “Three months, more or less. Looking for my fa—for Lord John, or for my uncle. I can’t find him, either.” “Aye. Well, twenty-four hours willna alter your prospects of findin’ either one. Eat, wash, and rest now. We’ll lay our plans tomorrow.” He turned his head to look out the window, then glanced thoughtfully back at William. It was nearly evening, but the yard and the nearby trees were still alive with people and I could tell what he was thinking. So could William. “Who do you mean to tell…them—” he nodded toward the window, “—that I am? A lot of them saw me. And Frances knows.” Jamie leaned back a little, looking at his son. _His son_, and I felt, rather than saw, the warmth that touched him at the thought. “Ye dinna have to say who ye are.” He caught William’s skeptical glance at his face. “We’ll say you’re--my cousin Murtagh’s lad, if ye like.” I swallowed a startled laugh that went down the wrong way, and two pairs of dark blue eyes looked austerely down two long, straight noses at me. “I’ve done with lies,” William said abruptly, and shut his mouth, hard. Jamie gave him a long, thoughtful look, and nodded. “There’s no way back from the truth, ken?” “I don’t have to speak Scotch, do I?” “I’d pay money to see ye try, but no.” He took a deep breath and glanced at me. “Just say your mother was English, and she’s dead, God rest her soul.” “If anyone asks,” I said, trying to be reassuring. Jamie made a brief Scottish noise. “They’re Scots, Sassenach,” he said. “Everyone will ask. They just may not ask us.” Music was beginning to gather, fiddlers and drummers and zitherers coming down from the woods; there would be dancing as soon as it grew dark. “Come with me, William,” I said. “I’ll find you some food.” He took a breath that went down to the soles of his boots and stood up. “Thank you, sir,” he said to Jamie, bowing slightly. “Surely you needn’t go on calling him ‘sir’,” I said, glancing from one man to the other. “I mean…not now.” “Aye, he does,” Jamie said dryly. “All the other things he might call me are things he can’t--or won’t. ‘Sir’ will do.” Flicking a hand in dismissal of the matter, he rose from his chair, grimacing slightly at the effort needed to do it without bracing himself with his hands. “You know,” William said, in a conversational tone, “there was a time when you called _me_ “sir”. He didn’t wait to see if there was a response to this, but went out and down the hall toward the kitchen, his steps light on the boards. “Why, you little _bastard_,” I said, though I was more amused than shocked, and so was Jamie, from the twitch at the corner of his mouth. “Fine thing to say to someone you’ve just asked for help!” “Aye, well, I suppose it depends who ye say it to.” Jamie lifted one shoulder and dropped it. “He was six, the last time I called him that.” [end section] [Excerpt from Untitled Book Ten, Copyright 2022 Diana Gabaldon]







Jenny and Jamie

Happy New Year!
Jamie met his sister, half a mile from the Murrays’ cabin and looking worried. Her brow lightened a bit when she saw him, and further when she spotted the dog. “There ye are, ye wee gomerel!” The puppy barked happily at sight of her and charged uphill. Jenny intercepted him before he could leap on her skirt with his muddy paws, and firmly shoved him down, grabbing his scruff and rubbing his ears while he squirmed with delight and tried to lick her hands. “What are ye doing wi’ _him_?” she asked the dog, waving a hand in Jamie’s direction. “And what have ye done wi’ your master, eh?” “His master? Young Ian, ye mean?” “I do.” She craned her neck to look round him, in obvious hope that Ian was behind him. “He hasna come home yet. Rachel’s heavin’ her guts out and Oggy wanted his wee _cu_, so I thought the hound must be wi’ Ian and best I come down and dig them out of wherever they’d slept last night.” Jamie felt a tickle of unease between his shoulders. “That’s what I was meaning to do, as well. I found the dog sleepin’ wi’ Meyers, but I havena seen hide nor hair of Young Ian.” Jenny raised one sleek black brow. “When did ye see him last?” Every woman he knew said this when something was lost. He gave Jenny a look meant to suggest that he didn’t think this any more helpful than the last thousand times he’d heard it. He answered, though. “Yesterday, after the wedding, dancin’ wi’ Silvia Hardman and Patience—Higgins, I mean. Maybe an hour before…” He stopped abruptly. He’d been about to say, “Before William”, but didn’t want to be side-tracked in to a discussion about William right now. Jenny, Rachel and Oggy had left the festivities early; Rachel was feeling peely-wally and his sister needed to milk her goats. Had the news reached them? _No_, he thought, keenly aware of his sister’s eyes, fixed with interest on his face. _If she kent about him, it’s the first thing she would ha’ said to me_. _And she’ll kill me if I dinna tell her about it now_, he concluded. “My son’s come,” he said abruptly. “William.” Her face went blank for a second, and then went through such a flurry of expressions that he couldn’t follow it all. The end of it was a look of pure joy, though, and his throat went thick at sight of it. She laughed out loud, and he smiled, shy about his own feelings. “Did he come armed?” she asked then, a slight tinge of doubt in her voice.







Claire making lists

I woke with a list in my head. This was by no means unusual, but this list came with a spurt of adrenaline attached. I had—at most—only today in which to prepare not only to leave the Ridge for an unknown stretch of time, but to prepare the Ridge for being left.

I swung my feet out of bed, heart already speeding up, and then sat for a moment, trying to focus on what had to be done first. Well, that was simple…I fished the chamberpot out from under the bed and saw that it was clean and dry. Which meant either that Jamie had risen early and considerately gone out to the privy, or that he’d got up in the night and pissed out the window. While I had personally never felt the lack of a penis, I did admit that it was a handy thing to have along on a picnic…

My own sanitary needs being accomplished, I was clear-headed enough to brush my teeth, splash water over my face and run my wet hands through my hair. The hair was unlikely to be improved by the experience, but my hands were dry enough to pull my stockings on.

List…

_Find something like coffee._

_Drink coffee-like substance._

_Eat whatever was left over from yesterday’s feast, while inspecting pantry, pie-safe, simples closet and large cauldron._ Compile mental sublist of things to be found, things needing to be collected or dug up, put in cauldron to begin cooking…

Sylvia and her daughters had ceremoniously removed to Bobby’s cabin last night. I was happy for them all, but it did leave me somewhat short-handed. So…summon Fanny, Joanie and Fizzy and give them my list to start working on. Find Bree and run through separate list of people who might give trouble—medical, political or otherwise—over the next…how long?

“God knows,” I muttered. William had been looking for Lord John for three months [ck time]; what if Richardson had decided to take him to London and denounce him to the House of Lords or something?

Find Roger….no, Jamie would already have found Roger and informed him that he was now, de facto, Himself for the foreseeable future.

Back to the list… By now, I was padding downstairs in my stocking-feet, shoes in hand.

Send Jem or Germain or the girls for Jenny and Rachel. Feed them first, my subconscious chimed in.

I inhaled hopefully. Yes, I could smell porridge and toast. And bacon? Yes, definitely bacon. Likely they were already eating, then. I was ravenous, in spite of everything I’d eaten yesterday.

Would Jenny and Rachel want to come down to the big house while Ian was gone with us? Company and help for Brianna…all those children…but then there were Jenny’s goats to be considered…

I emerged into the kitchen, to find William seated at the table, surrounded by children and closely attended by Fanny, armed with a platter of crispy bacon and a pot of peach jam.

“Mother Claire!” William half-rose to greet me, prevented from pushing back the bench to stand up by the weight of the children sharing said bench. “Er…how are you?”

“Somewhat better than you, probably,” I said, sitting down on a spare stool to put my shoes on. “Did you sleep at all last night?” He was very thin; his cheekbones showed like blades and his skin was an unhealthy sort of grayish-yellow under his tan. This looked still more disagreeable by contrast with his sprouting beard, which was red.

“I don’t remember sleeping,” he said, rubbing a hand over his stubble, “but I definitely woke up, so I must have. I feel much better,” he assured me, taking a handful of bacon from Fanny’s platter. “Or I will, as soon as I’ve eaten. Thank you, Frances.”

“You should have milk, too,” she informed him. “To coat the insides of your stomach, after everything you drank last night.”

“Everything I drank?” A look of amusement crossed his face, despite the signs of road-weariness and hangover. “Were you keeping count, Frances? How very thoughtful of you. You’ll make some lucky man an excellent wife one day.”

She blushed crimson, but he smiled at her, and she gulped air and managed a tiny simper in return before tottering off to fetch more toast.

“What _did_ I drink last night?” William asked me, lowering his voice. “I admit that I don’t recall very much about last night. I was…so very much relieved. To—to have…”

“Reached shelter?” I asked, sympathetically. “I imagine so. You’ve been alone for quite a while.”

He paused for moment, spreading jam on a slice of toast, then said quietly, “I have. Thank you. For--” he gestured briefly round the lively kitchen, then cleared his throat. “Do you think—er, that Mister Fraser will be...”

“Back soon? Yes.” He offered me the toast and I took it. I was starving and it was delicious, warm and crunchy and sweet. “Fanny?” I said, swallowing. “Has Mr. Fraser had any breakfast?”

“Yes’m,” she said. “He was just going out when I came down, but he had a piece of fried chicken in his hand.”

“Did he say where he was going?”

“No, ma’am. He wasn’t armed,” she added helpfully. “Except his knife.”

“His dirk, or the little knife?” Her smooth brow crinkled in concentration, then relaxed.

“Both.”

He was leaving the property, then, but not going far.






6 comments:

  1. I have just finished book 9 so these excerpts from book 10 are nice nuggets of what to expect.

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  2. Enchanting, engaging all the senses, like all of Ms. Gabaldon’s work. I don’t like the waiting but know it will be worth it!

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    1. When Claire received the duke's note and answered it she talked about it to Jamie and he read her answer, so he should be able to remember the occasion only a year later! Their dialogue abuot it sounds a bit surprising!

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  3. I’m so looking forward to book 10. I hope it doesn’t take as long as book 9 but whatever, I will devour it when it’s finished. J’ai tellement apprécié cette série! I wasn’t aware of Outlander until the tv show aired and I immediately purchased all eight that were available at the time. I read them one after the other and was transported to another time, that was so rich in detail I felt I could see it. Thank you !

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  4. Cannot wait for more😁👍

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  5. I hope I live long enough for Book 10. I am older and in failing health. I have read all 9 three times. I so love the relationships and their stories.

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