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“Brave Men”

“You’re a very brave man,” I said quietly, and touched Denzell’s sleeve. “I saw that. When you played Jamie’s Deserter Game, at Saratoga.”

“It wasn’t courage, I assure thee,” he said, with a short, humorless laugh. “I didn’t seek to be brave; I only wanted to prove that I was.”

I made a rather disrespectful noise— I wasn’t in either Jamie’s or Ian’s class in terms of Scottish noises, but I _had_ picked up a few pointers— and he glanced at me in surprise.

“I do appreciate the distinction,” I told him. “But I’ve known a lot of brave men in my time.”

“But how can thee know what lies—“

“Be quiet.” I waved my fingers at him. “’Brave’ covers everything from complete insanity and bloody disregard of other people’s lives— generals tend to go in for that sort—to drunkenness, foolhardiness and outright idiocy— to the sort of thing that will make a man sweat and tremble and throw up… and go and do what he thinks he has to do _anyway_.”

“Which,” I said, pausing for breath and folding my hands neatly in my lap, “is exactly the sort of bravery you share with Jamie.”

“Thy husband does not sweat and tremble,” he said dryly. “I’ve seen him. Or rather, I have _not_ seen him do such things.”

“He does the sweating and trembling on the inside, mostly,” I replied. “Though he really does often vomit before—or during—a battle. It takes him in the wame, he says.”

This excerpt is from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD. Copyright © 2013 by Diana Gabaldon. It was posted on September 11, 2013.