Home > Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(2)

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(2)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

“Dinna be daft, lass. If it’s our house, it’s yours, and ye ken that well enough.” He raised a brow at her. “And the more hands there are to help with the building of it, the better. D’ye want to see the shape of it?”

Not waiting for an answer, he disentangled Jem from his plaid, eased him down on the ground beside me, and stood up. He pulled one of the burning branches from the fire and jerked his head in invitation toward the invisible rectangle of the new foundation.

Bree was still drowsy, but game; she smiled at me and shook her head good-naturedly, then hunched her cloak over her shoulders and got up.

“Coming?” she said to Roger.

He smiled up at her and waved a hand, shooing her along. “I’m too knackered to see straight, love. I’ll wait ’til the morning.”

Bree touched his shoulder lightly and set off after the light of Jamie’s torch, muttering something under her breath as she stumbled over a rock in the grass, and I laid a fold of my cloak over Jem, who hadn’t stirred.

Roger and I sat quiet, listening to their voices move away into the dark—and then sat quiet for a few moments longer, listening to the fire and the night, and each other’s thoughts.

For them to have risked the dangers of the travel, let alone the dangers of this time and this place … whatever had happened in their own time …

He gazed into my eyes, saw what I was thinking, and sighed.

“Aye, it was bad. Bad enough,” he said quietly. “Even so—we might have gone back to deal with it. I wanted to. But we were afraid there wasn’t anyone there Mandy could feel strongly enough.”

“Mandy?” I looked down at the solid little body, limp in sleep. “Feel whom? And what do you mean, ‘gone back’?” Wait—” I lifted a hand in apology. “No, don’t try to tell me now; you’re worn out, and there’s time enough.” I paused to clear my throat. “And it’s enough that you’re here.”

He smiled then, a real smile, though with the weariness of miles and years and terrible things behind it.

“Aye,” he said. “It is.”

We were silent for a time, and Roger’s head nodded; I thought he was nearly asleep, and was gathering my legs under me to rise and collect everyone for bed when he lifted his head again.

“One thing …”


“Have you met a man—ever—named William Buccleigh MacKenzie? Or maybe Buck MacKenzie?”

“I recall the name,” I said slowly. “But—”

Roger rubbed a hand over his face and slowly down his throat, to the white scar left by a rope.

“Well … he’s the man who got me hanged, to begin with. But he’s also my four-times great-grandfather. Neither one of us knew that at the time he got me hanged,” he said, almost apologetically.

“Jesus H …. Oh, I beg your pardon. Are you still a sort of minister?”

He smiled at that, though the marks of exhaustion carved runnels in his face.

“I don’t think it wears off,” he said. “But if ye were about to say ‘Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,’ I wouldn’t mind it. Appropriate to the situation, ye might say.”

And in a few words, he told me how Buck MacKenzie had ended in Scotland in 1980, only to travel back with Roger in an effort to find Jem.

“There’s a great deal more to it than that,” he assured me. “But the end of it—for now—is that we left him in Scotland. In 1739. With … erm … his mother.”

“With Geillis?” My voice rose involuntarily, and Mandy twitched and made small cranky noises. I patted her hastily and shifted her to a more comfortable position. “Did you meet her?”

“Yes. Ehm … interesting woman.” There was a mug on the ground beside him, still half full of beer; I could smell the yeast and bitter hops. He picked it up and seemed to be debating whether to drink it or pour it over his head, but in the event took a gulp and set it down.

“I—we—wanted him to come with us. Of course there was the risk, but we’d managed to find enough gemstones, I thought we could make it, all together. And … his wife is here.” He waved vaguely toward the distant forest. “In America, I mean. Now.”

“I … dimly recall that, from your genealogy.” Though experience had taught me the limits of belief in anything recorded on paper.

Roger nodded, drank more beer, and cleared his throat, hard. His voice was hoarse and cracking from tiredness.

“I take it you forgave him for—” I gestured briefly at my own throat. I could see the line of the rope and the shadow of the small scar I’d left on his when I did the emergency tracheotomy with a penknife and the amber mouthpiece of a pipe.

“I loved him,” he said simply. A faint smile showed through the black stubble and the veil of tiredness. “How often do you get the chance to love someone who gave ye their blood, their life, and them never knowing who ye might be, or even if ye’d exist at all?”

“Well, you do take chances when you have children,” I said, and laid a hand gently on Jem’s head. It was warm, the hair unwashed but soft under my fingers. He and Mandy smelled like puppies, a sweet, thick animal scent, rich with innocence.

“Yes,” Roger said softly. “You do.”

Rustling grass and voices behind us heralded the return of the engineers—they were deep in a discussion of indoor plumbing.

“Aye, maybe,” Jamie was saying, dubious. “But I dinna ken if we can get all the things ye’ll need for it before the cold weather comes. I’ve just started digging a new privy, though; that’ll see us through for the time being. Then in the spring …”

Brianna said something in reply that I didn’t catch, and then they were there, caught in the fire’s halo, so alike to look at with the light glimmering on their long-nosed faces and ruddy hair. Roger stirred, getting his feet under him, and I stood up carefully, Mandy limp as her rag doll, Esmeralda.

“It’s wonderful, Mama,” Bree said, and hugged me to her, her body strong and straight and softly powerful, encompassing me, Mandy between us. She held me tight for a moment, then bent her head and kissed my forehead.

“I love you,” she said, her voice soft and husky.

“I love you, too, darling,” I said around the lump in my throat, and touched her face, so tired and radiant.

She stepped back then and took Mandy from me, swinging her up against a shoulder with practiced ease.

“Come on, pal,” she said to Jem, gently nudging him with the toe of her boot. “It’s time for bed.” He made a sleepy, interrogative noise and half-lifted his head, then collapsed again, soundly asleep.

“Dinna fash, I’ll get him.” Roger waved Jamie away and, stooping, rolled Jem into his arms and stood up with a grunt. “D’ye mean to go down, too?” he asked. “I can come back and take care of the fire, as soon as I’ve put Jem down.”

Jamie shook his head and put an arm around me.

“Nay, dinna trouble yourself. We’ll maybe sit awhile and see the fire out.”

They moved off slowly down the hill, shambling like cattle, to the accompaniment of clanking noises from Brianna’s bag. The Higgins cabin, where they’d spend the night, showed as a tiny glimmer in the dark; Amy must have lit a lamp and pulled back the hide that covered the window.

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