Home > Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8)(7)

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8)(7)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

“He’s a soldier,” the man repeated. “I saw him in Philadelphia, sittin’ on the porch of a house on Chestnut Street in his uniform, large as life. He’s an officer,” he added unnecessarily.

“He is not a soldier,” Fraser said, and turned his head to fix the spectacled man with a firm eye.

“Saw him,” muttered the man. “Plain as day. Had gold braid,” he murmured almost inaudibly, dropping his eyes.

“Huh.” Jethro Woodbine approached Grey, examining him carefully. “Well, you got anything to say for yourself, Lord Grey?”

“Lord John,” Grey said crossly, and brushed a fragment of crushed leaf off his tongue. “I am not a peer; my elder brother is. Grey is my family name. As for being a soldier, I have been. I still bear rank within my regiment, but my commission is not active. Is that sufficient, or do you want to know what I had for breakfast this morning?”

He was purposely antagonizing them, some part of him having decided that he would rather go with Woodbine and bear the inspection of the Continentals than remain here to face the further inspections of Jamie Fraser. Fraser was regarding him through narrowed eyes. He fought the urge to look away.

It’s the truth, he thought defiantly. What I told you is the truth. And now you know it.

Yes, said Fraser’s black gaze. You think I will live quietly with it?

“He is not a soldier,” Fraser repeated, turning his back deliberately on Grey, switching his attention to Woodbine. “He is my prisoner because I wished to question him.”

“About what?”

“That is not your concern, Mr. Woodbine,” Jamie said, deep voice soft but edged with steel. Jethro Woodbine, though, was nobody’s fool and meant to make that clear.

“I’ll be judge of what’s my business. Sir,” he added, with a notable pause. “How do we know you’re who you say you are, eh? You aren’t in uniform. Any of you fellows know this man?”

The fellows, thus addressed, looked surprised. They looked uncertainly at one another; one or two heads shook in the negative.

“Well, then,” said Woodbine, emboldened. “If you can’t prove who you are, then I think we’ll take this man back to camp for questioning.” He smiled unpleasantly, another thought having evidently occurred to him. “Think we ought to take you, too?”

Fraser stood quite still for a moment, breathing slowly and regarding Woodbine as a tiger might regard a hedgehog: yes, he could eat it, but would the inconvenience of swallowing be worth it?

“Take him, then,” he said abruptly, stepping back from Grey. “I have business elsewhere.”

Woodbine had been expecting argument; he blinked, disconcerted, and half-raised his stick, but said nothing as Fraser stalked toward the far edge of the clearing. Just under the trees, Fraser turned and gave Grey a flat, dark look.

“We are not finished, sir,” he said.

Grey pulled himself upright, disregarding both the pain in his liver and the tears leaking from his damaged eye.

“At your service, sir,” he snapped. Fraser glared at him and moved into the flickering green shadows, completely ignoring Woodbine and his men. One or two of them glanced at the corporal, whose face showed his indecision. Grey didn’t share it. Just before Fraser’s tall silhouette vanished for good, he cupped his hands to his mouth.

“I’m not bloody sorry!” he bellowed.


WHILE FASCINATED to hear about William and the dramatic circumstances under which he had just discovered his paternity, Jenny’s true concern was for another young man.

“D’ye ken where Young Ian is?” she asked eagerly. “And did he find his young woman, the Quaker lassie he told his da about?”

I relaxed a little at this; Young Ian and Rachel Hunter were—thank God—not on the list of fraught situations. At least not for the moment.

“He did,” I said, smiling. “As for where he is . . . I haven’t seen him for several days, but he’s often gone for longer. He scouts for the Continental army now and then, though since they’ve been in their winter quarters at Valley Forge for so long, there’s been less need for scouting. He spends quite a bit of time there, though, because Rachel does.”

Jenny blinked at that.

“She does? Why? Do Quakers not mislike wars and such?”

“Well, more or less. But her brother, Denzell, is an army surgeon—though he’s a real physician, not the usual horse-leech or quack-salver the army usually gets—and he’s been at Valley Forge since last November. Rachel comes and goes to Philadelphia—she can pass through the pickets, so she carries back food and supplies—but she works with Denny, so she’s out there, helping with patients, much more often than she is here.”

“Tell me about her,” Jenny said, leaning forward intently. “Is she a good lass? And d’ye think she loves Young Ian? From what Ian told me, the lad’s desperate in love with her but hadn’t spoken to her yet, not knowing how she’d take it—he wasna sure she could deal with him being . . . what he is.” Her quick gesture encompassed Young Ian’s history and character, from Highland lad to Mohawk warrior. “God kens weel he’ll never make a decent Quaker, and I expect Young Ian kens that, too.”

I laughed at the thought, though in fact the issue might be serious; I didn’t know what a Quaker meeting might think of such a match, but I rather thought they might view the prospect with alarm. I knew nothing about Quaker marriage, though.

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