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“Dear M”

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2019-06-15-cornishbee-crop“Have you decided to write to Minnie, then?” John’s voice was casual, but the question wasn’t.

“I haven’t.”

“But you—oh. I see, you mean you haven’t quite decided, which is why you were hovering over that sheet of paper like a vulture waiting for something to die.”

Hal opened his eyes and sat up straight, fixing John with the sort of look meant to shut him up like a portmanteau. John, though, picked up the brandy bottle and refilled Hal’s cup.

“I know,” he said simply. “I wouldn’t want to, either. But you think Ben’s really dead, then?”

“No, I bloody don’t.” The cup tilted in Hal’s hand. He saved it with no more than a splash of brandy landing on his waistcoat, which he ignored.

John watched this, his own expression deliberately blank.

“It’s only that I’ve never seen you begin any letter, to anyone, with the salutation, “Dear”.”

“I don’t need to,” Hal said irritably. “Beasley does all that nonsense when it’s official, and if it’s not, whoever I’m writing to already knows who they are and what I think of them, for God’s sake. Pointless affectation. I do sign them,” he added, after a brief pause.

John took a somewhat more reserved mouthful, thinking of Stephen von Namtzen, who wrote now and then, always addressing him with German formality as “My Esteemed and Noble Friend,” though the letters themselves tended to be much less formal…. Jamie Fraser’s salutations ranged from the casual “Dear John” to the slightly warmer “My dear friend,” and depending upon the state of their relations, “Dear Sir” or a coldly abrupt “My Lord,” in the other direction.

Possibly Hal was right. People he wrote to never were in any doubt about what he thought of them, and the same was true of Jamie. Perhaps it was good of Jamie to give fair warning, so you could open a bottle before reading on…

The brandy was good, dark and very strong. He ought to have watered it, but given the rigidity of Hal’s body, thought that it was just as well that he hadn’t.

Dear M. It was true that Hal had always addressed letters to him merely as “J”. Just as well that Mr. Beasley, Hal’s clerk, did tidy up Hal’s correspondence, or the King might well have found himself addressed curtly as “G”. Or would it be “R,” for “Rex”?

Click to visit my only official webpage for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, which lists and provides access to the more than fifty excerpts (“Daily Lines”) from this book that I have released so far.

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2019 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved. You are welcome to copy and share the URL to this excerpt with others:


but please DO NOT copy the text yourself and paste it on webpages, social media, or anywhere else, since it is my copyrighted materail. Thank you.]

[Thank you to Julie Angell for the lovely Cornish bee!]

Note from Diana’s Webmistress: The flower in the photo is probably a sea fig, or Carpobrotus chilensis, which grows in sandy soils, such as on beaches, and it is a hardy species that can be invasive. It can be eaten and also has medicinal properties.

This excerpt was released on June 15, 2019. This webpage was last updated on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at 4:20 a.m. (Pacific Time) by Diana Gabaldon or Diana’s Webmistress.