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by Diana Gabaldon
p.-1 People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.
Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never heard from again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars.
Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
p.4-5 "Where are you going?" I asked, as Frank swung his feet out of bed.
"I'd hate the dear old thing to be disappointed in us," he answered. Sitting up on the side of the ancient bed, he bounced gently up and down, creating a piercing rhythmic squeak. The Hoovering in the hall stopped abruptly. After a minute or two of bouncing, he gave a loud, theatrical groan and collapsed backward with a twang of protesting springs. I giggled helplessly into a pillow, so as not to disturb the breathless silence outside.
Frank waggled his eyebrows at me. "You're supposed to moan ecstatically, not giggle," he admonished in a whisper. "She'll think I'm not a good lover."
"You'll have to keep it up for longer than that, if you expect ecstatic moans," I answered. "Two minutes doesn't deserve any more than a giggle."
"Inconsiderate little wench. I came here for a rest, remember?"
"Lazybones. You'll never manage the next branch on your family tree unless you show a bit more industry than that."
p.12 "The story goes that by order of the house's owner, one wall was built up first, then a stone block was dropped down from the top of it onto one of the workmen--presumably a dislikable fellow was chosen for the sacrifice--and he was buried then in the cellar and the rest of the house built up over him. He haunts the cellar where he was killed, except on the anniversary of his death and the four Old Days."
"The ancient feasts," he explained, still lost in his mental notes. "Hogmanay, that's New Year's, Midsummer Day, Beltane, and All Hallows'. Druids, Beaker Folk, early Picts, everybody kept the sun feasts and the fire feasts, so far as we know. Anyway, ghosts are freed on the holy days, and can wander about as will, to do harm or good as they please." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "It's getting on for Beltane--close to the spring equinox. Best keep an eye out, next time you pass the kirkyard."
p.p.12-13 Harking to the call of a kindred spirit, Frank at once settled down to the mating dance of the academe, and they were soon neck-deep in archetypes and the parallels between ancient superstitions and modern religions. I shrugged and made my own way through the crowd to the bar and back, a large brandy-and-splash in each hand.
Knowing from experience how difficult it was to distract Frank's attention from this sort of discussion, I simply picked up his hand, wrapped his fingers about the stem of the glass, and left him to his own devices.
p.15-16 At first, everything had gone quite well on our visit to Mr. Bainbridge's home the afternoon before. I had been demure, genteel, intelligent but self-effacing, well groomed, and quietly dressed--everything the Perfect Don's Wife should be. Until the tea was served.
I now turned my right hand over, ruefully examining the large blister that ran across the bases of all four fingers. After all, it was not my fault that Mr. Bainbridge, a widower, made do with a cheap tin teapot instead of a proper crockery one. Nor that the solicitor, seeking to be polite, had asked me to pour out. Nor that the potholder he provided had a worn patch that allowed the red-hot handle of the teapot to come into direct contact with my hand when I picked it up.
No, I decided. Dropping the teapot was a perfectly normal reaction. Dropping it into Mr. Bainbridge's lap was merely an accident of placement; I had to drop it somewhere. It was my exclaiming "Bloody fucking hell!" in a voice that topped Mr. Bainbridge's heartcry that had made Frank glare at me across the scones.
Once he recovered from the shock, Mr. Bainbridge had been quite gallant, fussing about my hand and ignoring Frank's attempts to excuse my languaged on the grounds that I had been stationed in a field hospital for the better part of two years. "I'm afraid my wife picked up a number of, er, colorful expressions from the Yanks and such," Frank offered, with a nervous smile.
"True," I said, gritting my teeth as I wrapped a water-soaked napkin about my hand. "Men tend to be very 'colorful' when you're picking shrapnel out of them."
Mr. Bainbridge had tactfully tried to distract the conversation onto neutral historical ground by saying that he had always been interested in the variations of what was considered profane speech throughout the ages. There was "Gorblimey," for example, a recent corruption of the oath "God blind me."
"Yes, of course," said Frank, gracefully accepting the diversion. "No sugar, thank you, Claire. What about 'Gadzooks'? The 'Gad' part is quite dear, of course, but the 'zook'...."
"Well, you know," the solicitor interjected, "I've sometimes thought it might be a corruption of an old Scots word, in fact--'yeuk.' Means 'itch.' That would make sense, wouldn't it?"
Frank nodded, letting his unscholarly forelock fall across his forehead. He pushed it back automatically. "Interesting," he said, "the whole evolution of profanity."
p.20 "The wind was cutting up like billy-o"
p.21 "We had one--rather a crusty old thing really, a piper from the Third Seaforths--who couldn't stand being stuck, especially not in the hip. He'd go for hours in the most awful discomfort before he'd let anyone near him with a needle, and even then he'd try to give us the injection in the arm, though it's supposed to be intramuscular." I laughed at the memory of Corporal Chrisholm. "He told me, 'If I'm goin' to lie on my face wi' my buttocks bared, I want the lass under me, not behind me wi' a hatpin!'"
p.25 He had brought a motorcycle of his own approximate vintage, on which to transport us to the countryside.
p.26 Life among academics had taught me that a well-expressed opinion is usually better than a badly expressed fact, so far as professional advancement goes.
p.35 "Why don't you come to the study and have another cup of tea with me and your husband, Mrs. Randall? We've made the most gratifying discovery."
I could see that in spite of outward composure, he was bursting with the glee of whatever they had found, like a small boy with a toad in his pocket. Plainly I was going to have to go and read Captain Jonathan Randall's laundry bill, his receipt for boot repairs, or some document of similar fascination.
p.36 "The Duke of... Sandringham, is it?" I asked, peering at the crest, with its faded leopard couchant, and the printing below, more legible than the handwriting.
"Yes, indeed," the vicar said, beaming even more. "An extinct title now, you know."
I didn't, but nodded intelligently, being no strangers to historians in the manic grip of discovery. It was seldom necessary to do more than nod periodically, saying "Oh, really?" or "How perfectly fascinating!" at appropriate intervals.
p.50 I could say that my field of vision contracted to a single dark spot, then disappeared altogether, leaving not darkness, but a bright void. I could say that I felt as though I were spinning, or as th ough I were being pulled inside out. All these things are true, yet none of them conveys the sense I had of complete disruption, of being slammed very hard against something that wasn't there.
p.56 I was resolutely repressing the feelings of fear and disorientation that were flapping under my ribs like a panicked flock of hens.
p.67 I didn't know where I was, who my companions were, or why we were leaving with such urgency, or where we were going, but I lacked any reasonable alternatives to going with them.
p.80 The rest of the journey passed uneventfully, if you consider it uneventful to ride fifteen miles on horseback through rough country at night, frequently without benefit of roads, in company with kilted men armed to the teeth, and sharing a horse with a wounded man. At least we were not set upon by highwaymen, we encountered no wild beasts, and it didn't rain. By the standards I was becoming used to, it was quite dull.
p.88 Randall had stopped the fight by the simple expedient of holding a pistol to Jenny's head. Forced to surrender, Jamie had quickly been seized and bound by the two soldiers. Randall had smiled charmingly at his captive and said, "Well, well. Two spitfire scratchcats here, have we? A taste of hard labor'll cure your temper, I trow, and if it doesn't, well, there's another cat you'll meet, name of nine-tails. But there's other cures for other cats aren't there, my sweet pussy?"
Jamie stopped for a moment, jaw working. "He was holdin' Jenny's arm behind her back, but he let go then, to bring his hand round and put it down her dress, round her breast, like." Remembering the scene, he smiled unexpectedly. "So," he resumed, "Jenny stamped down on his foot and gave him her elbow deep in the belly. And as he was bent over choking, she whirled round and gave him a good root in the stones wi' her knee." He snorted briefly with amusement.
p.91-92 The firelight glinted on my gold wedding band, and I began to sniffle in earnest.
"Oh, I'll... I'll be all right, it's all right, really, it's... just my... my husband... I don't--"
"Ah lass, are ye widowed, then?" His voice was so full of sympathetic concern that I lost control entirely.
"No... yes... I mean, I don't... yes, I suppose I am!" Overcome with emotion and tiredness, I collapsed against him, sobbing hysterically.
The lad had nice feelings. Instead of calling for help or retreating in confusion, he sat down, gathered me firmly onto his lap with his good arm and sat rocking me gently, muttering soft Gaelic in my ear and smoothing my hair with one hand. I wept bitterly, surrendering momentarily to my fear and heartbroken confusion, but slowly I began to quiet a bit, as Jamie stroked my neck and back, offering me the comfort of his broad, warm chest. My sobs lessened and I began to calm myself, leaning tiredly into the curve of his shoulder. No wonder he was so good with horses, I thought blearily, feeling his fingers rubbing gently behind my ears, listening to the soothing, incomprehensible speech. If I were a horse, I'd let him ride me anywhere.
This absurd thought coincided unfortunately with my dawning realization that the young man was not completely exhausted after all. In fact, it was becoming embarrassingly obvious to both of us. I coughed and cleared my throat, wiping my eyes with my sleeves as I slid off his lap.
p.117 The smell of steaming food was almost strong enough to lean against.
p.136 Jamie replied with what I had come to think of as a "Scottish noise," that indeterminate sound made low in the throat that can be interpreted to mean almost anything. This particular noise seemed to indicate some doubt as to the likelihood of such a desirable outcome.
p.149 And Jamie launched into into what appeared to be a verbatim recitation of the song, translated into English. It was an old ballad, apparently, about a young man who loved a young woman (what else?), but feeling unworthy of her because he was poor, went off to make his fortune at sea. The young man was shipwrecked, met sea serpents who menaced him and mermaids who entranced him, had adventures, found treasure, and came home at last only to find his young woman wed to his best friend, who, if somewhat poorer, also apparently had better sense.
"And which would you do?" I asked, teasing a bit. "Would you be the young man who wouldn't marry without money, or would you take the girl and let the money go hang?" This question seemed to interest Laoghaire as well, who cocked her head to hear the answer, meanwhile pretending great attention to air on the flute that Gwyllyn had begun.
"Me?" Jamie seemed entertained by the question. "Well, as I've no money to start with, and precious little chance of ever getting any, I suppose I'd count myself lucky to find a lass would wed me without." He shook his head, grinning. "I've no stomach for sea serpents."
p.213 "And whatever 'King George's health' may be in Gaelic, I doubt very much that it sounds like 'Bragh Stuart.'"
He tossed back his head and laughed. "That it doesna," he agreed. "I'd tell ye the proper Gaelic for your liege lord and ruler, but it isna a word suitable for the lips of a lady, Sassenach or no."
p.214 While my pallet seemed vastly preferable to the single bedstead in which the entire family of six was sleeping, I rather envied the men their open-air sleeping arrangements. The fire was not put out, only damped for the night, and the air in the cottage was stifling with warmth and the scents and sounds of the tossing, turning, groaning, snoring, farting inhabitants.
p.258-259 "Come along then, me love," she said. "We must get ye ready now." She put a hefty forearm behind my shoulders and levered me into a sitting position. I clutched my head with one hand, my stomach with the other.
"Ready?" I said, through a mouth filled with decayed moss.
The woman began briskly washing my face. "Och, aye," she said. "Ye didna want to miss your own wedding, now, do you?"
"Yes," I said, but was ignored as she unceremoniously stripped off my shift and stood me in the middle of the floor for further intimate attentions.
p.261 It was a "warm" Scottish day, meaning that the mist wasn't quite heavy enough to qualify as a drizzle, but not far off, either.
p.264 Jamie and Dougal walked close on either side of me, preventing escape. Their looming plaid presences were unnerving, and I felt a mounting sense of hysteria. Two hundred years ahead, more or less, I had married in this chapel, charmed then by its ancient picturesqueness. The chapel now was creaking with newness, its boards not yet settled into charm, and I was about to marry a twenty-three-year-old Scottish Catholic virgin with a price on his head, whose--
p.267 "A blood vow? What do the words mean?"
Jamie took my right hand and gently tucked in the last end of the makeshift bandage.
"It rhymes, more or less, when ye say it in English. It says:
'Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone,
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, 'til our Life shall be Done.'"
p.315 Without troubling to lift his head, he opened the front of his shirt and spread the cloth aside, laying his chest bare to the waist. He drew the dirk from its sheath and tossed it towards me. It thunked on the boards at my feet.
He put his arm back over his eyes and stretched his head back, showing the place where the dark stubble of his sprouting beard stopped abruptly, just below the jaw.
"Straight up, just under the breastbone," he advised. "Quick and neat, though it takes a bit of strength. The throat-cutting's easier, but it's verra messy."
I bent to pick up the dirk.
"Serve you right if I did," I remarked. "Cocky bastard."
The grin visible beneath the crook of his arm widened still further.
I stopped, dirk still in my hand.
"I'll die a happy man."
p.319 "Plovers have the souls of young mothers dead in childbirth," he said. He glanced aside at me, shyly. "The story goes that they cry and run about their nests because they canna believe the young are safe hatched; they're mourning always for the lost one--or looking for a child left behind."
p.321 He reached out and touched my lower lip, barely brushing the edge. "It starts out the same, but then, after a moment," he said, speaking softly, "suddenly it's as though I've a living flame in my arms." His touch grew firmer, outlining my lips and caressing the line of my jaw. "And I want only to throw myself into it and be consumed."
I thought of telling him that his own touch seared my skin and filled my veins with fire. But when I was already alight and glowing like a brand. I closed my eyes and felt the kindling touch move to cheek and temple, ear and neck, and shuddered as his hands dropped to my waist and drew me close.
p.342 By good luck, one tavern owner had chosen to remit his rent to this quarter in the form of a small keg of whisky, and it came in quite handily. I used it to disinfect some of the open wounds, and then let my patients self-medicate as they liked. I even accepted a cupful myself, at the conclusion of the doctoring.
p.343 While my mind might object to being taken on a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body plainly considered itself the spoils of war and was eager to complete the formalities of surrender.
p.347-348 "All right," I said through my teeth, gingerly flexing my tingling right hand. "What do you do when you hit a bone and lose your knife? Is there a standard operating procedure for that?"
"Oh, aye," said Rupert, grinning. "Draw your pistol wi' the left hand and shoo the bastard dead."
p.357-358 "See that wee glade down below there?"
"Yes." It was a small green patchwork of pines, oaks, and aspens, set back some distance from the road.
"There's a spring with a pool there, under the trees, and smooth grass. A very bonny place."
I looked over at him quizzically.
"A little early for lunch, isn't it?"
"That's not precisely what I had in mind." Jamie, I had found out by accident a few days previously, had never mastered the art of winking one eye. Instead, he blinked solemnly, like a large red owl.
"And just what did you have in mind?" I inquired. My suspicious look met an innocent, childlike gaze of blue.
"I was just wondering what you'd look like... on the grass... under the trees... by the water... with your skirts up around your ears."
p.365 I had always been an enthusiastic amateur birder. If I were marooned here 'til it suited my overbearing, pig-headed jackass of a husband to finish risking his stupid neck, I'd use the time to see what I could spot.
p.400 "Once I told him him I thought beating your own son was a most uncivilized method of getting your own way. He said I'd about as much sense as the post I was standing next to, if as much. He said respect for your elders was one of the cornerstones of civilized behavior, and until I learned that, I'd better get used to looking at my toes while one of my barbaric elders thrashed my arse off."
p.401 "I didna like being beaten at all, of course, but if I had a choice, I'd rather my da than the schoolmaster. We'd mostly get it across the palm of the hand with a tawse, in the schoolhouse, instead of on the backside. Father said if he whipped me on the hand, I'd not be able to do any work, whereas if he whipped my arse, I'd at least not be tempted to sit down and be idle."
p.406 He looked up at the sky, to gauge the time. Blacker still, now that the moon had gone down. I recognized Orion floating near the horizon, and was strangely comforted by the familiar sight.
p.409 "So you married me," I teased, "to avoid the occasion of sin!"
"Aye. That's what marriage is for; it makes a sacrament out of things ye'd otherwise have to confess."
p.418 "I swear on the cross of my Lord Jesus, and by the holy iron which I hold, that I give ye my fealty and pledge ye my loyalty. If ever my hand is raised against you in rebellion or in anger, then I ask that this holy iron may pierce my heart." He kissed the dirk at the juncture of haft and tang, and handed it back to me.
"I don't make idle threats, Sassenach," he said, raising one brow, "and I don't make frivolous vows. Now, can we go to bed?"
p.423 "Why, what's the matter wi' the poor child?" she demanded of Jamie. "Has she had an accident o' some sort?"
"No, it's only she married me," he said, "though if ye care to tall it an accident, ye may."
p.469 "Rheumatism, isn't it?" I asked with sympathy, as he subsided stiffly into my single chair with a stifled groan.
"Aye. The damp settles in my bones," he said. "Aught to be done about it?" He laid his huge, gnarled hands on the table, letting the fingers relax. The hands opened slowly, like a night-blooming flower, to show the callused palms within. I picked up one of the knotted appendages and turned it to and fro, stretching the fingers and massaging the horny palm. The seamed old face above the hand contorted for a moment as I did it, but then relaxed as the first twinges passed.
"Like wood," I said. "A good slug of whisky and a deep massage is the best I can recommend. Tansy tea will only do so much."
He laughed, shawls slipping off his shoulder.
"Whisky, eh? I had my doubts, lassie, but I see ye've the makings of a fine physician."
p.533 With a bow to the judges and another, no less formal, to myself, Mr. Gowan drew himself still straighter than his normal upright posture, braced both thumbs in the waist of breeks, and prepared with all the romanticism of his aged, gallant heart to do battle, fighting with the law's chosen weapon of excruciating boredom.
Boring he most certainly was. With the deadly precision of an automated mincing machine, he arranged each charge of the dittay on the slab of his scrutiny and diced it ruthlessly into shreds with the blade of statute and the cleaver of precedent.
It was a noble performance. He talked. And he talked. And he talked some more, seeming occasionally to pause respectfully from the bench, but in fact only drawing breath for another onslaught of verbiage.
With my life hanging in the balance, and my future entirely dependence on the eloquence of this skinny little man, I should have hung rapt on his every word. Instead, I found myself yawning appallingly, unable to cover my gaping mouth, and shifting from foot to aching foot, wishing fervently that they would burn me at once and end this torture.
The crowd appeared to feel much the same, and as the high excitement of the morning faded into ennui, Mr. Gowan's small, tidy voice went on and on. People began to drift away, suddenly mindful of beasts that needed milking and floors that wanted sweeping, secure in the surety that nothing of any interest could possibly happen while that deadly voice droned on.
When Ned Gowan finally finished his initial defense, evening had set in; and the squatty judge I had named Jeff announced that the court would reconvene in the morning.
p.595 "Were you very fond of him?" I asked softly, laying a hand on his arm. He nodded, looking away into the flames on the hearth.
"Oh, aye," he said with a faint smile. "He was five years older than I, and I thought he was God, or at least Christ. Used to follow him everywhere; or everywhere he'd let me, at least."
p.624-625 "What are we going to do if we ever have children--reason with them, or beat them?" My heart raced a little at the thought, though there was no sign that this would ever be more than an academic question. His hand trapped mine, holding it still over his belly.
"That's simple. You reason with them, and when you're through, I'll take them out and thrash them."
"I thought you liked children."
"I do. My father liked me, when I wasna being an idiot."
p.637 He wore the customary expression of a man doing battle with a mortal enemy, common to all men adjusting their neckwear, but he unclamped his lips to grin at me.
p.660 "Perhaps it's as well," Jamie said slowly, as though to himself.
"What's as well?"
"That you're barren." He couldn't see my face, buried in his chest, but he must have felt me stiffen.
"Aye, I knew that long ago. Geillis Duncan told me, soon after we wed. He stroked my back gently. "I regretted it a bit at first, but then I began to think that it was as well; living as we must, it would be verra difficult if you were to get with child. And now"--he shivered slightly--"now I think I am glad of it; I wouldna want you to suffer that way."
"I wouldn't mind," I said, after a long while, thinking of t he rounded, fuzzy head and tiny fingers.
"I would." He kissed the top of my head. "I saw Ian's face; it was like his own flesh was being torn, each time Jenny screamed." My arms were around him, stroking the ridged scars on his back. "I can bear pain, myself," he said softly, "but I canna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have."
p.756 Jamie was not my first hero. The men moved too quickly through the field hospital, as a rule, for the nurses to become well acquainted with them, but now and again you would see a man who talked too little or joked too much, who held himself more stiffly than the pain and loneliness would account for.
And I knew, roughly, what could be done for them. If there was time, and if they were the kind who talked to keep the dark at bay, you sat with them and listened. If they were silent, you would touch them often in passing, and watched for the unguarded movement, when you might draw then outside of themselves and hold them while they exorcised their demons. If there was time. And if there wasn't, then you jabbed them with morphine, and hoped they would manage to find someone else to listen, while you passed on to a man whose wounds were visible.
p.757-758 There was a pause, which grew slightly awkward. There were things I should ask, necessary from the medical point of view, but rather touchy from the personal aspect. Finally, I settled for "How do you feel?"
His eyes were closed, shadowed and sunken in the candlelight, but the lines of the broad back were tense under the bandages. The wide, bruised mouth twitched, somewhere between a smile and a grimace.
"I don't know, Sassenach. I've never felt like this. I seem to want to do a number of things, all at once, but my mind's at war wi' me, and my body's turned traitor. I want to get out of here at once, and run as fast and as far as I can. I want to hit someone. God, I want to hit someone! I want to burn Wentworth Prison to the ground. I want to sleep."
"Stone doesn't burn," I said practically. "Maybe you'd better sleep, instead."
His good hand groped for mine and found it, and the mouth relaxed somewhat, though his eyes stayed closed.
I want to hold you hard to me and kiss you, and never let you go. I want to take you to my bed and use you like a whore, 'til I forget that I exist. And I want to put my head in your lap and weep like a child."
p.774 "Murtagh said that you are an accomplished physician yourself."
"I am," I said bluntly.
This provoked a real smile. "I see that you do not suffer from the sin of false modesty," he observed.
"I have others," I said, smiling back.
p.829 I reigned up and stared at him for a moment, leaning on the pommel. "Your nose is blue," I remarked conversationally. I glanced downward. "And so are your feet."
He grinned and wiped his nose on the back of his hand.
"So are my balls. Want to warm them for me?"