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

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

The echoes died away and the leaves of the trees settled back into their murmur. She looked at her cousin, who glanced at his bow, then across the open ground to where his arrow was sticking absurdly out from between two rocks. He looked at her, and they both burst into laughter.

“Aye, well,” he said philosophically. “That’s what we get for leavin’ Uncle Jamie to pick roses by himself.”


BRIANNA SWABBED THE barrel and rammed a wad of tow on a fresh round of buckshot. Hard, to stop her hand shaking.

“Sorry I missed,” she said.

“Why?” Ian looked at her, surprised. “When ye’re hunting, ye’re lucky to get one shot in ten. Ye ken that fine. Besides, I missed, too.”

“Only because a turkey fell on your head,” she said, but laughed. “Is your arrow ruined?”

“Aye,” he said, showing her the broken shaft he’d retrieved from the rocks. “The head’ll do, though.” He stripped the sharp iron head and put it in his sporran, tossed the shaft away, then stood up. “We’ll no get another shot at that lot, but—what’s amiss, lass?”

She’d tried to shove her ramrod into its pipe, but missed and sent it flying.

“What do they call it when you’re too excited to hit a deer—buck fever?” she said, making light of it as she went to fetch the rod. “Turkey fever, I suppose.”

“Oh, aye,” he said, and smiled, but his eyes were intent on her hands. “How long since ye’ve fired a gun, cousin?”

“Not that long,” she said tersely. She hadn’t expected it to come back. “Maybe six, seven months.”

“What were ye hunting then?” he asked, head on one side.

She glanced at him, made the decision, and, pushing the ramrod carefully home, turned to face him.

“A gang of men who were hiding in my house, waiting to kill me and take my kids,” she said. The words, bald as they were, sounded ridiculous, melodramatic.

Both his feathery brows went up.

“Did ye get them?” His tone was so interested that she laughed, in spite of the memories. He might have been asking if she’d caught a large fish.

“No, alas. I shot out the tire on their truck, and one of the windows in my own house. I didn’t get them. But then,” she added, with affected casualness, “they didn’t get me or the kids, either.”

Her knees felt suddenly weak, and she sat down carefully on a fallen log.

He nodded, accepting what she’d said with a matter-of-factness that would have astonished her—had it been any other man.

“That would be why ye’re here, aye?” He glanced around, quite unconsciously, as though scanning the forest for possible enemies, and she wondered suddenly what it would be like to live with Ian, never knowing whether you were talking to the Scot or the Mohawk—and now she was really curious about Rachel.

“Mostly, yes,” she answered. He picked up her tone and glanced sharply at her but nodded again.

“Will ye go back, then, to kill them?” This was said seriously, and it was with an effort that she tamped down the rage that seared through her when she thought of Rob Cameron and his bloody accomplices. It wasn’t fear or flashback that had made her hands shake now; it was the memory of the overwhelming urge to kill that had possessed her when she touched the trigger.

“I wish,” she said shortly. “We can’t. Physically, I mean.” She flapped a hand, pushing it all away. “I’ll tell it to you later; we haven’t even talked to Da and Mama about it yet. We only came last night.” As though reminded of the long, hard push upward through the mountain passes, she yawned suddenly, hugely.

Ian laughed, and she shook her head, blinking.

“Do I remember Da saying you have a baby?” she asked, firmly changing the subject.

The huge grin came back.

“I have,” he said, his face shining with such joy that she smiled, too. “I’ve got a wee son. He hasna got his real name yet, but we call him Oggy. For Oglethorpe,” he explained, seeing her smile widen at the name. “We were in Savannah when he started to show. I canna wait for ye to see him!”

“Neither can I,” she said, though the connection between Savannah and the name Oglethorpe escaped her. “Should we—”

A distant noise cut her short, and Ian was on his feet instantly, looking.

“Was that Da?” she asked.

“I think so.” Ian gave her a hand and hauled her to her feet, snatching up his bow almost in the same motion. “Come!”

She grabbed the newly loaded gun and ran, careless of brush, stones, tree branches, creeks, or anything else. Ian slithered through the wood like a fast-moving snake; she bulled her way through behind him, breaking branches and dashing her sleeve across her face to clear her eyes.

Twice Ian came to a sudden halt, grasping her arm as she hurtled toward him. Together they stood listening, trying to still pounding hearts and gasping breaths long enough to hear anything above the sough of the forest.

The first time, after what seemed like agonized minutes, they caught a sort of squalling noise above the wind, tailing off into grunts.

“Pig?” she asked, between gulps of air. Wild hogs could be big, and very dangerous.

Ian shook his head, swallowing.

“Bear,” he said, and, drawing a huge breath, seized her hand and pulled her into a run.

The second time they stopped for bearings, they heard nothing.

“Uncle Jamie!” Ian shouted, as soon as he had enough breath to do so. Nothing, and Brianna screamed, “Da!” as loud as she could—a pitifully small, futile sound in the immensity of the mountain. They waited, shouted, waited again—and after the final shout and silence, ran on again, Ian leading the way back toward the rose briers and the dead deer.

They came to a stumbling halt on the high ground above the hollow, chests heaving for air. Brianna seized Ian’s arm.

“There’s something down there!” The bushes were shaking. Not as they had during the deer’s death struggles, but definitely shaking, disturbed by the intermittent movements of something clearly bigger than Jamie Fraser. From here, she could clearly hear grunting, and the slobber of rending tendons, breaking bones … and chewing.

“Oh, Christ,” Ian said under his breath, but not far enough under, and terror sent a bolt of black dizziness through her chest. In spite of that, she gulped as much air as she could and screamed, “Daaaa!” once more.

“Och, now ye turn up,” said a deep, irascible Scottish voice from somewhere below their feet. “I hope ye’ve a turkey for the pot, lass, for we’ll no be having venison tonight.”

She flung herself flat on the ground, head hung over the edge of the cliff, dizzy with relief at seeing her father ten feet below, standing on the narrow ledge to which he’d led her earlier. His frown relaxed as he saw her above.

“All right, then, lass?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, “but no turkeys. What on earth happened to you?” He was disheveled and scratched, spots and rivulets of dried blood marking his arms and face, and a large rent in one sleeve. His right foot was bare, and his shin was heavily streaked with blood. He looked down from the ledge, and the glower returned.

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