Home > Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(5)

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(5)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

“Aye. Where did ye get—” He ran a hand down the side of her hip; she was wearing a thick hunting shirt and loose breeches, much patched; he could feel the roughness of the stitching under his palm.

“They’re Da’s,” she said, and kissed him, the tinge of firelight glisking in her hair. “Go back to sleep. It won’t be dawn for another hour.”

He watched her step lightly through the bodies on the floor, boots in her hand, and a cold draft snaked through the room as the door opened and closed soundlessly behind her. Bobby Higgins said something in a sleep-slurred voice, and one of the little boys sat up, said “What?” in a clear, startled voice, and then flopped back into his quilt, dormant once more.

The fresh air vanished into the comfortable fug, and the cabin slept again. Roger didn’t. He lay on his back, feeling peace, relief, excitement, and trepidation in roughly equal proportions.

They really had made it.

All of them. He kept counting his family, compulsively. All four of them. Here, and safe.

Fragmented memories and sensations jostled through his mind; he let them flow through him, not trying to stay them or catch more than an image here and there: the weight of a small gold bar in his sweaty hand, the lurch of his stomach when he’d dropped it and seen it slide away across the tilting deck. The warm steam of parritch with whisky on it, fortification against a freezing Scottish morning. Brianna hopping carefully down a flight of stairs on one foot, the bandaged one lifted and the words of “My Dame Hath a Lame, Tame Crane” coming irresistibly to his mind.

The smell of Buck’s hair, acrid and unwashed, as they embraced each other on the edge of a dock and a final farewell. Cold, endless, indistinguishable days and nights in the lurching hold of the Constance on their way to Charles Town, the four of them huddled in a corner behind the cargo, deafened by the smash of water against the hull, too seasick to be hungry, too tired even to be terrified, hypnotized instead by the rising water in the hold, watching it inch higher, splashing them with each sickening roll, trying to share their pitiful store of body heat to keep the kids alive …

He let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, put his hands on the solid wooden floor to either side, closed his eyes, and let it all drain away.

No looking back. They’d made their decision, and they’d made it here. To sanctuary.

So now what?

He’d lived in this cabin once, for a long time. Now he supposed he’d build a new one; Jamie had told him last night that the land Governor Tryon had given him was still his, registered in his name.

A small thrill of anticipation rose in his heart. The day lay before him; the beginning of a new life. What should he do first?

“Daddy!” a voice with a lot of spit whispered loudly in his ear. “Daddy, I hafta go potty!”

He sat up smiling, pushing cloaks and shirts out of the way. Mandy was hopping from foot to foot in agitation, a small black bird, solid against the shadows.

“Aye, sweetheart,” he whispered back, and took her hand, warm and sticky. “I’ll take ye to the privy. Try not to step on anybody.”


MANDY HAD ENCOUNTERED quite a few privies by now, and wasn’t put off by this one. When Roger opened the door, though, a huge spider dropped suddenly from the lintel and hung swaying like a plumb bob, inches from his face. He and Mandy both screamed—well, she did; his own effort was no more than a croak, but a manly croak, at least.

There was no real light yet; the spider was a black blob with an impression of legs, but all the more alarming for that. Alarmed in turn by their cries, the spider hurried back up its thread into whatever invisible recess it normally occupied.

“Not going in dere!” Mandy said, backing up against his legs.

Roger shared her feelings, but taking her off the trail into the bushes in the dark held the threat not only of further (and possibly larger) spiders, or snakes and bats, but also of the things that hunted in the crepuscule. Panthers, for instance … Aidan McCallum had entertained them earlier with a story about meeting a painter on his way to the privy … this privy.

“It’s all right, honey.” He bent and picked her up. “It’s gone. It’s afraid of us, it won’t come back.”

“I scared!”

“I know, sweetie. Don’t worry; I don’t think it will come back, but I’ll kill it if it does.”

“Wif a gun?” she asked hopefully.

“Yes,” he said firmly, and clutching her to his chest he ducked under the lintel, remembering too late Claire’s own story about the enormous rattlesnake perched on the seat of their privy …

In the event, though, nothing untoward occurred, save his nearly losing Mandy down the hole when she let go her grip to try to wipe her bottom with a dried corncob.

Sweating slightly in spite of the chilly morning air, he made his way back to the cabin, to find that in his absence, the Higginses—and Jem and Germain—had risen en masse.

Amy Higgins blinked slightly when told that Brianna had gone a-hunting, but when Roger added that she had gone with her father, the look of surprise faded into a nod of acceptance that made Roger smile inwardly. He was glad to see that Himself’s personality still dominated the Ridge, despite his long absence; Claire had told him last night that they’d only come back from exile the month before.

“Are there many new folk come to settle since we were last here?” he asked Bobby, sitting down on the bench beside his host, bowl of porridge in his hand.

“A mort of ’em,” Bobby assured him. “Twenty families, at least. A bit of milk and honey, Preacher?” He pushed the honey pot companionably in Roger’s direction—being an Englishman, Bobby was allowed such frivolities with his breakfast, rather than the severe Scottish pinch of salt. “Oh, sorry—I should have asked, are you still a preacher?”

Claire had asked him that last night, but it still came as a surprise.

“I am, aye,” he said, and reached for the milk jug. In fact, both question and answer made his heart speed up.

He was a minister. He just wasn’t sure how official he was. Granted, he’d christened, married, and buried the people of the Ridge for a year or more, and preached to them, as well as doing the lesser offices of a minister, and they’d all thought of him as such; no doubt they still did. On the other hand, he was not formally ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Not quite.

“I’ll maybe call on the new folk,” he said casually. “Do ye ken whether they’re any of them Catholic, or otherwise?” This was a rhetorical question; everyone on the Ridge knew the nature of everyone else’s beliefs—and weren’t at all shy of discussing them, if not always to their faces.

Amy plunked a tin mug of chicory coffee by his bowl and sat down to her own salted porridge with a sigh of relief.

“Fifteen Catholic families,” she said. “Twelve Presbyterians and three Blue Light—Methodies, aye? Ye’ll want to watch out for thon folk, Preacher. Hmm … oh, and maybe twa Anglicans … Orrie!” She sprang up, just in time to interrupt six-year-old Orrie, who had been stealthily, if unsteadily, lifting the full chamber pot above his head with the clear intent of emptying it over Jem, who was sitting cross-legged by the fire, blinking sleepily at the shoe in his hand.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)