[Excerpt (aka “Daily Lines”) from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, copyright © 2019 by Diana Gabaldon. All Rights Reserved.]
“I need to meet wi’ a few men there,” Jamie had said, with a casual reserve that she knew was meant to protect her own feelings. She knew his business was that of war, and he knew how much that troubled her, but she knew how much it troubled him, and would not force him to say the things he was thinking, let alone the things he knew.
She’d spoken about it—the war—in general, in Meeting. Jamie nearly always came, but seldom spoke himself. He’d come in quietly, and sit on a back bench, head bowed, listening. Listening, as any Friend would, to the silence and his inner light. When people felt moved of the spirit to speak, he would listen courteously to them, too, but watching the remoteness of his face on these occasions, she thought his mind was still by itself, in quiet, persistent search.
“I dinna suppose Young Ian’s told ye much about Catholics,” he’d said to her once, when he’d paused after Meeting to give her a fleece he’d brought from Salem.
“Only when I ask him,” she said, with a smile. “And thee knows he’s no theologian. Roger Mac knows more, I think, regarding Catholic belief and practice. Does thee want to tell me something about Catholics? I know thee must feel seriously out-numbered every First Day.”
He’d smiled at that, and it made her heart glad to see it. He was so often troubled these days, and no wonder.
“Nay, lass, God and I get on well enough by ourselves. It’s only that when I come to your Meeting, sometimes it reminds me of a thing Catholics do now and then. It’s no a formal thing, at all—but a body will go and sit for an hour before the Sacrament. I’d do it now and then when I was a young man, in Paris. We call it Adoration.”
“What does thee do during that hour?” she’d asked, curious.
“Nothing in particular. Pray, for the most part. Read, maybe, the Bible or the writings of some saint. I’ve seen folk sing, sometimes. I remember once, goin’ into the chapel of Saint Sebastian in the wee hours of the morning, long before dawn—almost all the candles were burnt out—and hearin’ someone playing a guitar, singing. Very soft, not playing to be heard, ken. Just… singing before God.”
Something odd moved in his eyes at the recollection, but then he smiled at her again, a rueful smile.
“I think that may be the last music I remember really hearing.”
He touched the back of his head, briefly.
“I was struck in the heid wi’ an ax, many years gone. I lived, but I never heard music again. The pipes, fiddles, singin’… I ken it’s music, but to me, it’s nay more than noise. But that song… I dinna recall the song itself, but I know how I felt when I heard it.”
She’d never before seen a look on his face as she did when he called back that song for her, but quite suddenly she felt what he had felt in the depth of that distant night, and understood why he found peace in silent spaces.
Selected Social Media Comments:
Christina H. said: I really want all the short stories read by either Davina Porter or Geraldine James. It would be nice to have Lord John recorded by either too if you do another audio book deal.
Diana replied: All the Lord John books are available as audiobooks. They’re read by Jeff Woodman, who is also fabulous. Purely by coincidence, he also sounds exactly the way Lord John sounds in my head. <g>
Trina F. said: Was re-reading, (naturally) and was thinking about Jamie’s tone deafness and how that works exactly. Does that eliminate some sounds for him? In the books it only seems to affect his perception of music and song. What about being able to hear other tones such as birdsongs, cricket chirps, baby babble, etc. Does it affect listening in the woods for prey when hunting at a time that you have to hear everything?
Diana replied: No telling. He has residual brain damage from being brained with an axe, and it affected the area of his brain that perceives music. There’s nothing organically wrong with his hearing, as such, though, so I’d suppose he hears other sounds very well.
Kelly L. said: The Daily Lines always seem to find me when I need them most. I am amazed and in love with how easily I slip right back into the world you have created and how they make me slow down and smile. It’s the first breath I’ve taken all day, so thank you for that.
Sandy B. said: I do love this exploration of Contemplative Spirituality and the way you’ve woven the different traditions in. I shall look forward to reading when Jamie becomes a Friend… I don’t remember that? Do I need to re-read? As a Minister I have always loved Roger’s reflections about faith and his calling and vocation, they strike the right note. These do too.
Diana replied: Jamie isn’t a Friend. But there is no Catholic church/priest anywhere near Fraser’s Ridge, and he attends all the Protestant services, both out of politeness and because he wants to keep an eye on what’s going on in his community. He goes to Rachel’s Meeting to rest. <g>
Bruce J. said: This! This is why I love your writing so much. I can reach out and touch the depths of someone’s soul in a way that so very illuminating. Thank you!
Diana replied: Thank you, Bruce!
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This excerpt is Copyright © 2019 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved. This text is from the ninth book in my Outlander series of novels, from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE.
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This excerpt (or “Daily Lines”) was released on Thursday, August 1, 2019. This webpage was last updated on Thursday, September 26, 2019, 2019 at 5:05 a.m. (Pacific Time) by Diana Gabaldon or Diana’s Webmistress.