[This is an excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2020 Diana Gabaldon.]
Jamie had little business left to conduct in Salisbury; he’d got what he came for and learned what he needed to. Still, Salisbury was a large town, with merchants and shops, and Claire had given him a list. He felt his side pocket, and was reassured to feel the crinkle of paper; he hadn’t lost it. With a brief sigh, he pulled the list out, unfolded it and read,
Two pounds alum (it’s cheap)
Jesuit bark, if anyone has it (take all of it, or as much as we can afford)
1/2 lb. plaster of Gilead (ask at apothecary, otherwise surgeon)
2 pts. Sweet oil—make sure they seal with wax!
2 g. each of belladonna, [ ] [ ] [ ], [ ], [ ], and [ ]
Bolt of fine linen (underclothes for me and Fanny, shirt for you)
Two bolts sturdy broadcloth (one blue, one brown)
Three oz. steel pins (yes, we need that many)
Thread (for sewing clothes, not sails or flesh) — ten balls of white, four blue, six black.
A dozen needles, mostly small, but two very large ones, please. The length of your middle finger will do.
As for food—
Two loaves sugar
Ten pounds flour (or we can get it from Woolam’s Mill, if too expensive in Salisbury.)
A pound of salt
Ten pounds dry beans
Twenty pounds rice
Spice! (If any and you can afford it. Pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg…?)
Jamie shook his head as he strolled down the street, mentally adding
2 casks gun-powder
1/2 pig of lead
Decent skinning knife … Someone had taken his and snapped the tip off it, and he strongly suspected Amanda, she being the only one of the children who could lie convincingly.
Aye, well, he had Clarence and Abednego to carry it all home. And enough in miscellaneous forms of money and trade to pay for it. He wouldn”t dream of showing gold in a place like this; ne’er-do-wells and chancers would be following him back to the Ridge like Claire’s bees after sunflowers. Warehouse certificates and whisky would cause much less comment.
Making calculations in his head, he nearly walked straight into Constable Jones, coming out of an ordinary with a half-eaten roll in his hand.
“Your pardon, sir,” they both said at once, and bowed in reflex.
“Heading back to the mountains, then, Mr. Fraser?” Jones asked courteously.
“Once I’ve done my wife’s shopping, aye.” Jamie had the list still in hand, and gestured with it before folding it back into his pocket.
The sight of it, though, had brought something to the Constable’s mind, for his eyes fixed on the paper.
The Constable looked him over carefully, but nodded, apparently thinking him respectable enough to question.
“The dead man ye came to look at last night. Would ye say he was a Jew?”
“A Jew,” Jones repeated patiently.
Jamie looked hard at the man. He was disheveled and still unshaven, but there was no smell of drink about him, and his eyes were clear, if baggy.
“How would I ken that?” he asked. “And why would ye think so?” A belated thought occurred to him. “Oh—did ye look at his prick?”
“What?” Jones stared at him.
“D’ye not ken Jews are circumcised, then?” Jamie asked, careful not to look as though he thought Jones should know that.
“Ehm….” Two ladies, followed by a maid minding three small children and a lad with a small wagon for parcels, were coming toward them, skirts held gingerly above the mud of the street. Jamie bowed to them, then jerked his head at Jones to follow him round the corner of the ordinary into an alley, where he enlightened the Constable.
“Jesus Christ!” Jones exclaimed, bug-eyed. “What the devil do they do that for?”
“God told them to,” Jamie said, with a shrug. “Your dead man, though. Is he….”
“I didn’t look,” Jones said, giving him a glance of horrified revulsion.
“Then why d’ye think he might be a Jew?” Jamie asked, patient.
“Oh. Well…this.” Jones groped in his clothes and eventually came out with a grubby much-folded slip of paper, handing it to Jamie. “It was in his pocket.”
Unfolded, it had eight lines of writing, done carefully with a good quill, so each character stood clear.
“We couldn’t make out what the devil it was,” Jones said, squinting at the paper as though that might help in comprehension. “But I was a-showin’ of it to the Colonel in the tavern this morning, and we was studyin’ on it and gettin’ nowhere. But Mr. Appleford happened to be there—he’s an educated gentleman—and he said as how he thought it might be Hebrew, though he’d forgot so much since he learnt it, he couldn’t make out what it said.”
Jamie could make it out fine, though knowing what it said made little difference.
Selected Social Media Comments
Deb C. commented: I can’t wait. Will you be having an event with The Poisoned Pen for release?
Diana replied: Yes!
Webmistress’s note: Details of a BEES event featuring Diana in the Phoenix, Arizona area (organized by The Poisoned Pen bookstore will be posted on this website when known. Stay tuned! And the Pen will be selling copies of BEES signed by Diana both at the event, and on their web store, and the Pen ships anywhere in the world.
Elizabeth T. commented: Thank you Diana, so glad to read a piece in Salisbury where I lived for several years and where I started reading Outlander. At one time, the library had a wonderful pre revolutionary exhibit—Salisbury was loyalist!
Diana replied: Yes, they were. But at the same time, Salisbury was the center of the Rowan County Regiment of Militias (which is why Jamie is there just now…). These militias were patriots (or rebels, depending on your viewpoint) and Francis Locke, the regimental commander, let them to a decisive victory at Ramseur’s Mill, an important point in the Revolution.
Carolyn C.G. commented: Good morning… regarding good books… have you read the wonderful series by Donati? Very much in line with the Outlander series. I believe she is Diana’s sister.
Diana replied: No, definitely not. My sister’s name is Theresa Gabaldon, and she’s a much-respected law professor at George Washington University.
Cheryl K. commented: Diana, thank you for sharing the daily lines with your devoted fans. February 22nd was my 70th birthday and I can&rsuquo;t think of a better gift than book 9 being finished shortly.
Diana responded: Happy (slightly late) birthday!
Bia H.K. commented: Interesting about the paper in Hebrew. A mezuza maybe? Placed on the doorpost of one’s home?
Diana replied; Interesting thought!
Jo Anne M. commented: Wow! You put Salisbury, NC in your book! That’s awesome! Although it’s not where I’m originally from, it’s where I live now! It’s now considered a small town but very old with quite a bit of history! This is, one of many, notable landmarks here in Salisbury, the downtown mural.
Diana replied: Very cool! At the time Jamie’s doing his shopping there, the town is only 25 years old, but it’s the biggest town for quite some ways around—and it was where the Great Wagon Road headed north.
Barbara W. commented: Wonderful! Are we going to get another OUTLANDISH COMPANION any time soon? Maybe with Lord John books added for good measure?
Andrea N. commented: Diana! Would we get to know a little more about Claire’s parents?
Diana replied: I don’t see any good reason why.
Dawn F. commented: Ohhhh…. Thank you Diana!! I love all the little extra detailed instructions that Claire writes on the note for Jamie!! I’m home recovering from a nasty concussion, and just (laboriously, I might add…. with no autocorrect using pen & paper) finished a similar grocery list for my husband. Your daily lines today gave me a much needed laugh!!
Diana replied: Ouch! I’m sorry to hear about your concusssion—very nasty! Hope you’re feeling better soon!
Marcia L. commented: Love the shopping list! Considering what medicinal herbs Claire would have a hard time growing in her North Carolina garden… sarsparilla, willow bark, chamomile, mustard, ginger, juniper berry, and horseradish come to mind.
Diana replied: I think she can get juniper berry and willow bark fairly easily by foraging—maybe sarsaparilla, as well. Definitely mustard, ginger and horseradish, though!
Jennifer F. commented: So…. yeah…. everyone’s going on about the sweet shopping list and my mind is thinking…. “I never really thought about who was and wasn’t circumcised back in that time period.” lol … I mean I know it is debated now if it is the right thing to do to boys in today’s society but I never thought about it while reading the books and all the births that Claire attended.
Diana replied: Well, Claire certainly wasn’t circumcising them…
Barbara S.D. commented: How to write a shopping list for your husband!! Hasn’t changed for centuries!
It’s Weeks Until I Finish WRITING The Book…
Whoa, guys and gals! My social media hashtags (above) for this excerpt state that I will finish writing BEES soon, not that it will be published in a few weeks! It has to go through the publication process. As to what happens after I finish writing BEES (book nine), see:
A Brief Explanation of How Publishing Works, my blog post from January 5, 2020.
What “Finished” Means To An Author, my blog post from August 3, 2015.
Wanetta K. commented: Thank you for these snippets, patiently waiting for the release of the book. Have you started the next one yet?
Diana replied: No. I“m still writing this one. Did you not read the hashtags?
Heather B. commented: Diana, you’re such a TEASE! and weeks you say WEEKS!!!! can I hope for a birthday gift??
Diana replied: Weeks until I finish WRITING it. After that, the publisher needs to do a number of things, and they’ll announce their choice of pub date.
Sandra W. commented: Weeks not months! The book famine is almost over. Thank you Diana.
Diana replied: That’s weeks until I finish WRITING the book….
Cathy C.L. commented: Can not wait! Wonder if the Audible version will be available that soon as well…
Diana replied: I’ll finish writing the book in the next weeks. It won’t be out until all the production work—editorial comments, revisions (as needed; usually not much), copy-editing and reply (horrendously tedious and time-consuming), proofreading, galleys, etc. On the other hand, this means they’re usually able to produce the audiobook version at the same time as the hardcover.
Sharon M.O. commented: Oh dear, “weeks, not months”. I’d better get crackin’! On my second read of the series, halfway through ABOSAA, need to finish and get through the last two to refresh my mind before Bees comes out.
Diana replied: I’ll finish it in weeks. There’s a ton of production stuff—copy-editing, proof-reading, editorial suggestions, revisions (usually minor, but there always are some), galleys, etc.
Return to my official webpage for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE for links to information and more Daily Lines (excerpts).
Many thanks to Eva Noveczyk for the lovely bee photo!
You may share the link to this excerpt, but please do not copy and paste the entire text and post it elsewhere. Thank you. -Diana
This excerpt (“Daily Lines”) was also posted on my official Facebook page on February 25, 2020.