[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE Copyright © 2020 by 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.
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