Below is an excerpt from Book Nine of the OUTLANDER novels. Note that there are SPOILERS…
There was not only a quarter of an apple pie and cream to go on it, but a heel of sharp cheese, cold potato pancakes, salt in a twist of paper, and a dish containing the last of the pickled herrings he’d brought from Salem two weeks ago. And a jug of milk. And one of small-beer. And two cups, a knife for the cheese, and a pair of spoons. And an old dish-cloth, in case of spills. I sat down on the bed beside him and spread this tidily over my knees before picking up my own spoon.
"Shall I poke up the fire?" I asked. It was a bit chilly in the room, but Jamie was radiating a sleepy warmth, and I liked the irregular glimmer from the smoored hearth; it gave me a pleasantly dream-like feeling, a sense of midnight secrecy.
"No on my account, Sassenach. I’ll likely be asleep again, directly I’ve finished my supper." He gave a sudden huge involuntary yawn, then shook his head as though driving off an imminent threat of sleep.
"Do you know a General Lincoln?" I asked. "Benjamin, I think his first name is."
He paused, a bite of cheese halfway to his mouth and blinked once or twice.
"I wouldna say he’s a personal friend, but I’ve heard the name, aye. He’s commander of the Southern Army." He ate the cheese slowly, swallowed, and added, "Why?"
"Denzell Hunter told me that the General suffers from narcolepsy. Your yawning just reminded me of it."
He shot me a mildly suspicious look, and reached for a pickled herring.
"Do I want to know what that is?"
"Probably not. But on the off-chance that you ever meet General Lincoln, it might be helpful to know. It’s a rather fascinating condition wherein the patient falls quite suddenly asleep, no matter what he’s doing."
That interested him; he ate the bit of herring but didn’t reach for another.
"No matter what? Even if he should be eating? Or in battle? That might be just a wee bit awkward, aye?"
"That appeared to be the possibility that was occupying Denny’s mind, yes."
He yawned again, without warning.
"Does it come on suddenly? Or is it contagious? I think I may have caught it. Oh, God." He yawned again and blinked, eyes watering slightly.
"I doubt narcolepsy is catching, but yawning is," I said, smothering an involuntary gape. "Will you stop doing that?"
He let his head fall back, eyes closed, and gave a faint groan, then straightened up again and reached for the last of the pie.
I wasn’t surprised. He’d left at dawn, going after a hog that had been making repeated nightly efforts to root up my garden fence and devour the last of the neeps and yams. He’d tracked the beast for more than two miles before finding and killing it—and had then dragged it back, single-handed. Even gralloched, the thing weighed more than I did, but there were wolves about and he’d been unwilling to leave the carcass long enough to come home and fetch help. He and the hog had finally arrived, dead-tired and dead, respectively, just after nightfall.
I’d been of two minds about waking him—but he’d been too tired to eat much supper. And then again, it was apple pie. We finished the meal in a companionable silence, and after rinsing his mouth with water and spitting out the window, Jamie came back to bed like a heavy-eyed homing pigeon.
"I think I’ll work for a bit in the surgery," I said, drawing the quilts up under his chin. His eyes were already half-shut. "I’ll be up in an hour or so."
"Dinna hurry yourself on my account, Sassenach." He snaked an arm out from under the covers and drew me down, giving me a sweet, pie-scented kiss with undertones of herring. "I willna be much good to ye in bed for another fortnight or so."
"That a promise, is it?" I kissed him gently back. "I’ll circle the date on my calendar."
Back to the Book Nine webpage.
This excerpt was posted by Diana (as one of her "Daily Lines") on her Facebook Page on February 10, 2015.
This page was last updated on Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 10:18 p.m. (PT) by Diana’s Webmistress.