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“Did he speak?”


Whew… just back from a working cruise down the Danube (and getting up in the middle of each night on the river in order to write a script for the Prequel, needed in two weeks. Luckily, I made it. <g>). So—just in time for a brief excerpt in honor of Jamie’s birthday tomorrow (and a quick “Happy Birthday!” to Sam Heughan, whose birthday is/was today):

EXCERPT from BOOK TEN (UNTITLED), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon

[Jamie and Roger sitting outside the malting shed, discussing Jamie’s imminent departure to find Lord John.]

raven-copeterson“Are you afraid?” he said. Jamie gave Roger a sharp look, but shrugged and settled himself before replying.

“Does it show?”

“Not on you,” Roger reassured him. “On Claire.”

Jamie looked astonished, but after a moment’s contemplation, nodded slightly.

“Aye, I suppose it does. She sleeps wi’ me, ken?” Evidently Roger’s expression didn’t show complete comprehension, for Jamie sighed a little and leaned back against the wall of the malting shed.

“I dream,” he said simply. “I can mind my thoughts well enough whilst I’m awake, but… ken, the Indians say the dream world is as real as this one? Sometimes I think that’s true—but I often hope it’s not.”

“You tell Claire about your dreams?”

Jamie grimaced briefly.

“Sometimes. Some….. well, ye’ll maybe ken that sometimes it helps to open your mind to someone, when ye’re troubled, and some dreams are like that; just saying what happened lets ye step back from it. Ye ken it’s only a dream, as they say.”

“Only.” Roger said it softly, but Jamie nodded, his mouth relaxing a little.

“Aye.” They were silent for a few moments, and the sounds of the wind and the local birds kept them company.

“I’m afraid for William,” Jamie said abruptly. He hesitated, but added, in a low voice, “And I’m afraid for John. I dinna want to think of the things that might—might be done to him. Things I may not be able to save him from.”

Roger glanced at him, trying not to look startled. But then he realized that Jamie didn’t avoid things, nor the mention of them. He had simply accepted the fact that Roger knew the things that had been done to Jamie, and exactly why he might fear for his friend.

“I wish I could go with you,” he said. It was impulsive, but true, and a genuine smile lighted Jamie’s face in response.

“I do, too, a Smeoraich. But the folk here need ye—and they’ll need ye a good deal more, should I not come back.”

Roger found himself wishing that Jamie would avoid some things now and then, but reluctantly conceded that things must be said now, no matter how uncomfortable. So he answered the question Jamie hadn’t asked.

“Aye. I’ll mind them for ye. The family; the weans. And all your bloody tenants, too. I’m not milking your kine, though, nor yet looking after that damn sow and her offpsring.”

Jamie didn’t laugh, but the smile was still there.

“It’s a comfort to me, Roger Mac, to ken ye’ll be here, to deal wi’ whatever might happen. And things will.”

“Now I’m afraid,” Roger said, as lightly as he could.

“I know.” Luckily Jamie didn’t expand on this, but turned to practicalities.

An Deamhan Gael can mind herself,” he assured Roger, referring—Roger thought—to the White Sow. “And wee Frances will take care for the kine. Oh— as for Frances herself— ”

“I won’t let her marry anyone until you come back,” Roger assured him.

“Good.” Jamie let out his breath and his shoulders slumped. “ I think I will. But the dead ha’ been talking to me.” He caught Roger’s lifted eyebrow. “Not—well, not only—my own dead. That’s often a comfort to me, should my Da or Murtagh or Ian Mor come by. Once in a long while… my mother.” That made him shy; he looked away.

Roger made a small noncommittal sound and waited for a moment, then asked, “you said, not only your own dead…?”

“Ah.” Jamie straightened up and set his feet solidly in the dirt. “The others. Men I’ve killed. Sometimes killed for cause. Others—in battle. Strangers. Men who—” he broke off and Roger saw his whole body tighten. Jamie looked away, down the path that led to the lake, as though something might be coming. The feeling was so strong that Roger looked too, and was relieved to see no more than a small covey of quail dust-bathing under a bush.

“Jack Randall came to me, two nights ago.”

Roger’s stomach contracted so suddenly that he said “Oof!” out loud. Jamie stared at him, then laughed.

“Aye, that’s what I said, too,” he assured Roger. “A few other things, besides, but I wilna repeat them wi’ Jemmy in earshot.”

There was a long pause, filled with birdsong from the trees that shaded the malting shed, punctuated by the distant cries of ravens.

“I suppose,” Roger said at last, “that it doesn’t matter what you said to him—but what did he say to you? Did he speak?”

Jamie looked down at the ground, and Roger could see the pulse beating at the side of his neck.

“No. He just laughed.”

[end section]


Visit my official Book Ten (Untitled) webpage for more excerpts from this book.


And Many Thanks to CO Petersen, who made this photo of a flying raven and allowed it to be used under a Wikimedia Commons license!

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24 Responses »

  1. I always enjoy you excerpts and they leave me wanting for more. Can’t wait for the book to come out.

  2. Diana, I am worried about Young Ian at this point. Should I be?

  3. Diana,
    My daughter and I love your books and series. I just finished Bees and loved it. I actually can not pick a favorite as I love them all! I also hope the series goes on longer than originally anticipated. Thank you for your wonderful stories and oh goodness, the time it must take collecting the historical details! Thank you, Christiauna

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