Home > Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(3)

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

Jamie was still holding the chisel in his hand; eyes fixed on his daughter’s disappearing back, he raised it and kissed it, as he’d once kissed the haft of his dirk before me, and I knew this, too, was a sacred promise.

He put the chisel away in his sporran and took me in his arms, my back to him, so we could both watch them out of sight. He rested his chin on top of my head.

“What are ye thinking, Sassenach?” he said softly. “I saw your eyes; there are clouds in them.”

I settled against him, feeling his warmth a bulwark at my back.

“The children,” I said, hesitant. “They—I mean, it’s wonderful that they’re here. To think we’d never see them again, and suddenly …” I swallowed, overcome by the dizzying joy of finding myself—finding us—once again and so unexpectedly part of that remarkable thing, a family. “To be able to see Jem and Mandy grow up … to have Bree and Roger again …”

“Aye,” he said, a smile in his voice. “But?”

It took a moment, both to gather my thoughts and to put them into words.

“Roger said that something bad had happened, in their own time. And you know it must have been something truly terrible.”

“Aye,” he said, his voice hardening a little. “Brianna said the same. But ken, a nighean, they’ve lived in this time before. They do know, I mean—what it’s like, what it will be like.”

The ongoing war, he meant, and I squeezed his hands, clasped about my middle.

“I don’t think they do,” I said softly, looking down across the broad cove. They had vanished into the darkness. “Nobody knows who hasn’t been there.” To war.

“Aye,” he said, and held me, silent, his hand resting on my side, over the scar of the wound made by a musket ball at Monmouth.

“Aye,” he said again after a long moment. “I ken what ye’re saying, Sassenach. I thought my heart would burst when I saw Brianna and kent it was really her, and the bairns … but for all the joy of it … see, I missed them cruelly, but I could take comfort in thinking they were safe. Now—”

He stopped and I felt his heart beating against me, slow and steady. He took a deep breath, and the fire popped suddenly, a pocket of pitch exploding in sparks that disappeared into the night. A small reminder of the war that was rising, slowly, all around us.

“I look at them,” he said, “and my heart is suddenly filled with …”

“Terror,” I whispered, holding tight to him. “Sheer terror.”

“Aye,” he said. “That.”


WE STOOD FOR a bit, watching the darkness below, letting joy return. The window of the Higgins cabin still glowed softly on the far side of the clearing below.

“Nine people in that cabin,” I said. I took a deep breath of the cool, spruce-scented night, envisioning the fug and humid warmth of nine sleeping bodies, occupying every horizontal inch of the place, with a cauldron and kettle steaming on the hearth.

The second window bloomed into brightness.

“Four of them ours,” Jamie said, and laughed softly.

“I hope the place doesn’t burn down.” Someone had put fresh wood on the fire, and sparks were beginning to dance above the chimney.

“It willna burn down.” He turned me round to face him. “I want ye, a nighean,” he said softly. “Will ye lie wi’ me? It may be the last time we have any privacy for some while.”

I opened my mouth to say, “Of course!” and instead yawned hugely.

I clapped a hand to my mouth, removing it to say, “Oh, dear. I really didn’t mean that.”

He was laughing, almost soundlessly. Shaking his head, he straightened out the rumpled quilt I’d been sitting on, knelt on it, and stretched up a hand to me.

“Come lie wi’ me and watch the stars for a bit, Sassenach. If ye’re still awake in five minutes, I’ll take your clothes off and have ye naked in the moonlight.”

“And if I’m asleep in five minutes?” I kicked off my shoes and took his hand.

“Then I won’t bother takin’ your clothes off.”

The fire was burning lower but still steadily; I could feel the warm breeze of it touch my face and lift the hair at my temples. The stars were thick and bright as diamonds spilled in some celestial burglary. I shared this observation with Jamie, who made a very derogatory Scottish noise in response, but then lay back beside me, sighing in pleasure at the view.

“Aye, they’re bonnie. Ken Cassiopeia there?”

I looked at the approximate portion of the sky indicated by his nod, but shook my head. “I’m complete rubbish at constellations. I can see the Big Dipper, and I usually recognize Orion’s Belt, but damned if I see it at the moment. And the Pleiades are up there somewhere, aren’t they?”

“They’re part of Taurus—just there by the hunter.” He stretched out an arm, pointing. “And that’s Camelopardalis.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. There isn’t a giraffe constellation, I would have heard of that.”

“Well, it’s no really in the sky just now, but there is one. And come to think, is it any more ridiculous than what’s happened today?”

“No,” I said softly. “No, it’s not.” He put an arm around me and I rolled over to lay my cheek on his chest, and we watched the stars in silence, listening to the wind in the trees and the slow beat of our hearts.

It seemed a long time later when Jamie stirred and sighed.

“I dinna think I’ve ever seen such stars, not since the night we made Faith.”

I lifted my head in surprise. We seldom mentioned Faith—stillborn, but embedded in our hearts—to each other, though each of us knew the other’s feelings.

“You know when she was conceived? I don’t know that.”

He ran his hand slowly down my back, fingers pausing to rub circles in the small of it. If I’d been a cat, I would have waved my tail gently under his nose.

“Aye, well, I suppose I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought it was the night I went to your bed at the abbey. There was a tall window at the end o’ the hall, and I saw the stars as I came to ye. I thought it might be a sign to me—to see my way clear.”

For a moment, I groped among my memories. That time at the Abbey of Ste. Anne, when he’d come so close to a self-chosen death, was one I seldom revisited. It had been a terrifying time. Days full of fear and confusion running from one into the next, nights black with despair and desperation. And yet when I did look back, I found a handful of vivid images, standing out like the illuminated letters on a page of ancient Latin.

Father Anselm’s face, pale in candlelight, his eyes warm with compassion and then the growing glow of wonder as he heard my confession. The abbot’s hands, touching Jamie’s forehead, eyes, lips, and palms, delicate as a hummingbird’s touch, anointing his dying nephew with the holy chrism of Extreme Unction. The quiet of the darkened chapel where I had prayed for his life, and heard my prayer answered.

And among these moments was the night when I woke from sleep to find him standing, a pale wraith by my bed, naked and freezing, so weak he could barely walk, but filled once more with life and a stubborn determination that would never leave him.

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