This is Gaudete Sunday—Rejoicing Sunday, because now we’re close enough to Christmas to pause in our preparations (both physical and spiritual) and look forward to the fulfillment of promised Joy.
We normally light the pink candle in our Advent wreath for Gaudete Sunday, and if I were at home, I’d take a picture of mine for you. As I’m in a hotel room, I can’t, so will give you this one of my nightly work candle; I light it every night when I come up to work, with a short “work” prayer: “Lord, let me see what I need to see; let me do what has to be done.”
[The following excerpt is from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, which will be published June 10th, 2014. Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon.]
I became aware of Germain hovering by my elbow, staring interestedly at the duke, who was now sufficiently himself as to lift an eyebrow in the boy’s direction, though still unable to speak.
“Mm?” I said, before resuming my now-automatic counting of breaths.
“I’m only thinking, _Grand-mere_, as how himself there—“ Germain nodded at Pardloe, “—might be missed. Had I maybe best carry a message to someone, so as they aren’t sending out soldiers after him? The chairmen will talk, will they not?”
“Ah.” That was a thought, all right. General Clinton, for one, certainly knew that Pardloe was in my company when last seen. I had no idea who Pardloe might be traveling with, or whether he was in command of his regiment. If he _was_, people would be looking for him right now; an officer couldn’t be gone from his place for long without someone noticing.
And Germain—an observant lad, if ever there was one—was right about the chairmen. Their numbers meant they were registered with the central chairmen’s agency in Philadelphia; it would be the work of a moment for the general’s staff to locate numbers Thirty-Nine and Forty and find out where they’d delivered the duke of Pardloe.
Jenny, who had been tending the array of tea-cups, stepped in now with the third and knelt next to Pardloe, nodding to me that she would see to his breathing while I talked to Germain.
“He told the chairmen to take me to the King’s Arms,” I said to Germain, taking him out onto the porch where we could confer unheard. “And I met him at General Clinton’s office in the—“
“I ken where it is, _Grand-mere_.”
“I daresay you do. Have you something in mind?”
“Well, I’m thinkin’—“ he glanced back into the house, then back at me, eyes narrowed in thought. “How long d’ye mean to keep him prisoner, _Grand-mere_?”
So my motives hadn’t escaped Germain. I wasn’t surprised; he undoubtedly had heard all about the morning’s excitements from Mrs. Figg—and knowing as he did who Jamie was, had probably deduced even more. I wondered if he’d seen William? If so, he likely knew everything. If he didn’t, though, there was no need to reveal _that_ little complication until it was necessary.
“Until your grandfather comes back,” I said. “Or possibly Lord John,” I added as an afterthought. I hoped with all my being that Jamie would come back shortly. But it might be that he would find it necessary to stay outside the city and send John in to bring me news. “The minute I let the duke go, he’ll be turning the city upside down in search of his brother. Always assuming for the sake of argument that he doesn’t drop dead in the process.” And the very last thing I wanted was to instigate a dragnet in which Jamie might be snared.
Germain rubbed his chin thoughtfully–a peculiar gesture in a child too young for whiskers, but his father to the life, and I smiled.
“That’s maybe not too long,” he said. “_Grand-pere_ will come back directly; he was wild to see ye last night.” He grinned at me, then looked back through the open doorway, pursing his lips.
“As to himself, ye canna hide where he is,” he said. “But if ye were to send a note to the General, and maybe another to the King’s Arms, saying as how his grace was staying with Lord John, they wouldna start looking for him right away. And even if someone was to come here later and inquire, I suppose ye might give him a wee dram that would keep him quiet so ye could tell them he was gone? Or maybe lock him in a closet? Tied up wi’ a gag if it should be he’s got his voice back by then,” he added. Germain was a very logical, thorough-minded sort of person; he got it from Marsali.
“Excellent thought,” I said, forbearing to comment on the relative merits of the options for keeping Pardloe incommunicado. “Let me do that now.”
Pausing for a quick look at Pardloe, who was doing better, though still wheezing strongly, I whipped upstairs and flipped open John’s writing-desk. It was the work of a moment to mix the ink-powder and write the notes. I hesitated for a moment over the signature, but then caught sight of John’s signet on the dressing-table; he hadn’t had time to put it on this morning.
The thought gave me a slight pang; in the overwhelming joy of seeing Jamie alive, and then the shock of William’s advent, Jamie’s taking John hostage, and the violence of William’s exit—dear Lord, where was William now?—I had pushed John himself to the back of my mind.
Still, I told myself, he was quite safe. Jamie wouldn’t let any harm come to him, and directly he came back into Philadelphia…the chiming of the carriage clock on the mantelpiece interrupted me, and I glanced at it: three o’clock.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” I murmured to myself, and scribbling a reasonable facsimile of John’s signature, I lit the candle from the embers in the hearth, dripped wax on the folded notes, and stamped them with the smiling half-moon ring. Maybe John would be back before the notes were even delivered. And Jamie, surely, would be with me as soon as darkness made it safe.