Below is an excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, the ninth book in my OUTLANDER series.
Note that this excerpt may contain SPOILERS…
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The day was overcast, with a cold wind, and Brianna pulled her mother’s shawl closer round her shoulders as she came under the shadow of the trees that hid the smokehouse. The MacKenzie family had arrived with little more than the clothes they stood up in, and while she had insured that everyone had a good warm cloak, they would be perilously close to nakedness beneath, come laundry day.
Joyful as the reunion with her parents was, there was no escaping the fact that four more mouths to feed—and bodies to clothe—was going to be a severe stress on an already strained domestic economy. Her parents had returned to the Ridge only a few weeks before the advent of the MacKenzies; they hadn’t even a roof of their own over their heads yet. And as for food…
She unlatched the door and breathed deep; the smokeshed’s warmth enfolded her, the thick smell of curing meat cut with a tang of blood and vinegar. Something was cooking in the pit on the far side of the little shed; the haunch of venison her mother had mentioned—that would be for the [ ]. Small curls of gray hickory smoke seeped out and wavered into nothingness around her ankles. Beyond the invisibly cooking meat, though… there was precious little in the smokeshed, bar a string of sausages, a line of dried trout and a single ham hung from a hook—the goal of her journey—and several small kegs that stood to one side.
Going to inspect these, she discovered that, rather than labels, the kegs had pictures chalked onto their tops: a frolicsome fish, a cheerful pig, and a line of skittering quail. She smiled, wondering who had drawn them.
"Miss?" A voice behind her startled her and she turned round to see Fanny, the young girl her parents had somehow acquired in Georgia. The girl looked apprehensive, and Brianna smiled at her.
"Hello. You don’t need to call me ‘Miss,’ you know—my name’s Brianna."
"Yes, M—I mean… all right." Fanny bobbed her head and blushed slightly, but gave Brianna back a shy smile. "Mrs. Fraser sent me to tell you there’s company for supper and will you bring a dozen of the dried fish, and some cream from the spring house, a bit of butter, and an onion from the old root cellar, too." She lifted the empty basket over her arm. "She means to make a chowder, she says."
"Sure." She set the ham down on top of the keg of salted quails and took the basket. "Who’s the company?"
"Two men. One’s called Mr. [ ]; I didn’t hear the other’s name. I’d say they’re men of some thub—substance, though they’ve been traveling some time, from the dirt on them."
"Really? Does Da—my father—know them, do you think?" Fanny had flushed again at her stumble on the word "substance," and Bree thought that she looked like a little flower under her cap, the color just touching her cheek like the shadow inside a rose.
"I don’t know," Fanny said. "Mr. Frath—Fraser," she corrected herself, with a small frown, "isn’t home yet."
Bree nodded, counting fish as she detached them from the line strung across the joists [ck] of the ceiling. She hadn’t seen her father all day; he’d been gone when she’d shepherded Jem and Mandy up to the house-site. Hunting, she supposed, and felt a qualm of guilt over the abortive turkey hunt of the day before.
Return to the GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE webpage.
This excerpt was originally posted as one of Diana’s "Daily Lines" on August 20, 2016.
This page was last updated on Friday, August 26, 2016, by Diana’s Webmistress.