[Excerpts (3) from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2019 by Diana Gabaldon]
Ian had come in quietly—like an Indian, Rachel thought—sometime past midnight, crouching by the bed and blowing softly in her ear to rouse her, lest he startle her and wake Oggy. She’d hastily checked the latter, then swung her feet out of bed and rose to embrace her husband.
“Thee smells of blood,” she whispered. “What has thee killed?”
“A beast,” he whispered back, and cupped her cheek in his palm. “I had to, but I’m no sorry for it.”
She nodded, feeling a sharp stone forming in her throat.
“Will ye come out wi’ me, mo nighean donn? I need help.”
She nodded again, and turned to find the cloak she used for a bedgown. There was a sense of grimness about him, but something else as well, and she couldn’t tell what it was.
She was hoping that he hadn’t brought the body home with the expectation that she would help him bury or hide it, whatever—or whoever—it was, but he had just killed something he considered to be evil and perhaps felt himself pursued.
“What was it your Mam said to your Da about this expedition?” Roger rolled up his breeches to mid-thigh, eyeing the wagon-wheel whose rim protruded from the burbling middle of a small creek.
“It’s too deep,” Brianna said, frowning at the rushing brown water. “You’d better take your breeches off. And maybe your shirt, too.”
“That’s what she said? Though she’s likely right about it being too deep…”
Brianna made a small, amused snort. He’d taken off his shoes, stockings, coat, waistcoat and neck cloth, and looked like a man stripped to fight a serious duel.
“The good news is that with a current like that, you won’t get leeches. What she said—or what she quoted herself as having said, which isn’t necessarily the same thing—was:
‘You’re telling me that you mean to turn a perfectly respectable Presbyterian minister into a gun-runner—and send him in a wagon full of dodgy gold to buy a load of guns, in company with your eleven-year-old grandson?’”
“Aye, that’s the bit. I was expecting it to be more fun…” Reluctantly, he shucked his breeks, tossing them onto the shoes and stockings. “Maybe I shouldn’t have brought you and the kids. Germain and I would have had a great adventure by ourselves.”
I did wonder just how Roger proposed to follow Captain Cunningham’s act. The congregation had scattered under the trees to take refreshment, but every group I passed was discussing what the Captain had said, with great excitement and absorption—as well they might. The spell of his story remained with me—a sense of wonder and hope.
Bree seemed to be wondering, too; I saw her with Roger, in the shade of a big chinkapin oak, in close discussion. He shook his head, though, smiled, and tugged her cap straight. She’d dressed her part, as a modest minister’s wife, and smoothed her skirt and bodice.
“Two months, and she’ll be comin’ to kirk in buckskins,” Jamie said, following the direction of my gaze.
“What odds?” I inquired.
“Three to one. Ye want to wager, Sassenach?”
“Gambling on Sunday? You’re going straight to hell, Jamie Fraser.”
“I dinna mind. Ye’ll be there afore me. Askin’ me the odds, forbye… Besides, going to church three times in one day must at least get ye a few days off Purgatory.”
“Ready for Round Two?”
Roger kissed Brianna, and strode out of the shade into the sunlit day, tall, dark and handsome in his best black—well, his only black suit. He came toward us, Bree on his heels, and I saw several people in the nearby groups notice this, and begin to put away their bits of bread and cheese and beer, to retire behind bushes for a private moment, and to tidy up children who’d come undone.
I sketched a salute as Roger came up to us.
“Over the top?”
“Geronimo,” he replied briefly and with a visible squaring of the shoulders, turned to greet his flock and usher them inside.
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Many thanks to Elizabeth Lutz Kelly, who took the lovely bee photo, and to her mother Jan Lutz, who sent it to me.
These three excerpts are from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2019 by Diana Gabaldon, the ninth book in my Outlander series of novels. All rights reserved.
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These excerpts (or “Daily Lines”) were posted on my official Facebook page on October 17, 2019. This webpage was last updated on Thursday, October 17, 2019 2019 at 7:00 a.m. (Pacific Time).