Denglish

For Cook­ie !

Warn­ing !
Hold no hot
Teacups in your Hands !
I apol­o­gize in advance,
Diana Gabal­don, for this
mis­er­able inter­pre­ta­tion

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Chap­ter 1
A NEW BEGINNING

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It wasn’t a very like­ly place for dis­ap­pear­ances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird’s was like a thou­sand oth­er High­land bed-and-break­fast estab­lish­ments in 1945; clean and qui­et, with fad­ing flo­ral wall­pa­per, gleam­ing floors, and a coin-oper­at­ed hot-water geyser in the lava­to­ry. Mrs. Baird her­self was squat and easy­go­ing, and made no objec­tion to Frank lin­ing her tiny rose-sprigged par­lor with the dozens of books and papers with which he always trav­eled.
I met Mrs. Baird in the front hall on my way out. She stopped me with a pudgy hand on my arm and pat­ted at my hair.
“Dear me, Mrs. Ran­dall, ye can­na go out like that! Here, just let me tuck that bit in for ye. There! That’s bet­ter. Ye know, my cousin was tellin’ me about a new perm she tried, comes out beau­ti­ful and holds like a dream; per­haps ye should try that kind next time.”
I hadn’t the heart to tell her that the way­ward­ness of my light brown curls was strict­ly the fault of nature, and not due to any dere­lic­tion on the part of the per­ma­nent-wave man­u­fac­tur­ers. Her own tight­ly marceled waves suf­fered from no such perversity.“Yes, I’ll do that, Mrs. Baird,” I lied. “I’m just going down to the vil­lage to meet Frank. We’ll be back for tea.” I ducked out the door and down the path before she could detect any fur­ther defects in my undis­ci­plined appear­ance. After four years as a Roy­al Army nurse, I was enjoy­ing the escape from uni­forms and rationing by indulging in bright­ly print­ed light cot­ton dress­es, total­ly unsuit­ed for rough walk­ing through the heather.
Not that I had orig­i­nal­ly planned to do a lot of that; my thoughts ran more on the lines of sleep­ing late in the morn­ings, and long, lazy after­noons in bed with Frank, not sleep­ing. How­ev­er, it was dif­fi­cult to main­tain the prop­er mood of lan­guorous romance with Mrs. Baird indus­tri­ous­ly Hoover­ing away out­side our door.
“That must be the dirt­i­est bit of car­pet in the entire Scot­tish High­lands,” Frank had observed that morn­ing as we lay in bed lis­ten­ing to the fero­cious roar of the vac­u­um in the hall­way.
“Near­ly as dirty as our landlady’s mind,” I agreed. “Per­haps we should have gone to Brighton after all.” We had cho­sen the High­lands as a place to hol­i­day before Frank took up his appoint­ment as a his­to­ry pro­fes­sor at Oxford, on the grounds that Scot­land had been some­what less touched by the phys­i­cal hor­rors of war than the rest of Britain, and was less sus­cep­ti­ble to the fre­net­ic post­war gai­ety that infect­ed more pop­u­lar vaca­tion spots.
And with­out dis­cussing it, I think we both felt that it was a sym­bol­ic place to reestab­lish our mar­riage; we had been mar­ried and spent a two-day hon­ey­moon in the High­lands, short­ly before the out­break of war sev­en years before. A peace­ful refuge in which to redis­cov­er each oth­er, we thought, not real­iz­ing that, while golf and fish­ing are Scotland’s most pop­u­lar out­door sports, gos­sip is the most pop­u­lar indoor sport. And when it rains as much as it does in Scot­land, peo­ple spend a lot of time indoors.
“Where are you going?” I asked, as Frank swung his feet out of bed.
“I’d hate the dear old thing to be dis­ap­point­ed in us,” he answered. Sit­ting up on the side of the ancient bed, he bounced­gent­ly up and down, cre­at­ing a pierc­ing rhyth­mic squeak. The Hoover­ing in the hall stopped abrupt­ly. After a minute or two of bounc­ing, he gave a loud, the­atri­cal groan and col­lapsed back­ward with a twang of protest­ing springs. I gig­gled help­less­ly into a pil­low, so as not to dis­turb the breath­less silence out­side.
Frank wag­gled his eye­brows at me. “You’re sup­posed to moan ecsta­t­i­cal­ly, not gig­gle,” he admon­ished in a whis­per. “She’ll think I’m not a good lover.”
“You’ll have to keep it up for longer than that, if you expect ecsta­t­ic moans,” I answered. “Two min­utes doesn’t deserve any more than a gig­gle.”
“Incon­sid­er­ate lit­tle wench. I came here for a rest, remem­ber?”
“Lazy­bones. You’ll nev­er man­age the next branch on your fam­i­ly tree unless you show a bit more indus­try than that.”
Frank’s pas­sion for geneal­o­gy was yet anoth­er rea­son for choos­ing the High­lands. Accord­ing to one of the filthy scraps of paper he lugged to and fro, some tire­some ances­tor of his had had some­thing to do with some­thing or oth­er in this region back in the mid­dle of the eighteenth—or was it seventeenth?—century.
“If I end as a child­less stub on my fam­i­ly tree, it will undoubt­ed­ly be the fault of our untir­ing host­ess out there. After all, we’ve been mar­ried almost eight years. Lit­tle Frank Jr. will be quite legit­i­mate with­out being con­ceived in the pres­ence of a wit­ness.”
“If he’s con­ceived at all,” I said pes­simisti­cal­ly. We had been dis­ap­point­ed yet again the week before leav­ing for our High­land retreat.
“With all this brac­ing fresh air and healthy diet? How could we help but man­age here?” Din­ner the night before had been her­ring, fried. Lunch had been her­ring, pick­led. And the pun­gent scent now waft­ing up the stair­well strong­ly inti­mat­ed that break­fast was to be her­ring, kip­pered.
“Unless you’re con­tem­plat­ing an encore per­for­mance for the edi­fi­ca­tion of Mrs. Baird,” I sug­gest­ed, “you’d bet­ter get dressed. Aren’t you meet­ing that par­son at ten?” The Rev. Dr. Regi­nald Wake­field, vic­ar of the local parish, was to pro­vide some riv­et­ing­ly fas­ci­nat­ing bap­tismal reg­is­ters for Frank’s inspec­tion, not to men­tion the glit­ter­ing prospect that he might have unearthed some molder­ing army despatch­es or some­such that men­tioned the noto­ri­ous ances­tor.
“What’s the name of that great-great-great-great-grand­fa­ther of yours again?” I asked. “The one that mucked about here dur­ing one of the Ris­ings? I can’t remem­ber if it was Willy or Wal­ter.”
“Actu­al­ly, it was Jonathan.” Frank took my com­plete dis­in­ter­est in fam­i­ly his­to­ry placid­ly, but remained always on guard, ready to seize the slight­est expres­sion of inquis­i­tive­ness as an excuse for telling me all facts known to date about the ear­ly Ran­dalls and their con­nec­tions. His eyes assumed the fer­vid gleam of the fanat­ic lec­tur­er as he but­toned his shirt.
“Jonathan Wolver­ton Randall—Wolverton for his mother’s uncle, a minor knight from Sus­sex. He was, how­ev­er, known by the rather dash­ing nick­name of ‘Black Jack,’ some­thing he acquired in the army, prob­a­bly dur­ing the time he was sta­tioned here.” I flopped face­down on the bed and affect­ed to snore. Ignor­ing me, Frank went on with his schol­ar­ly exe­ge­sis.
“He bought his com­mis­sion in the mid-thirties—1730s, that is—and served as a cap­tain of dra­goons. Accord­ing to those old let­ters Cousin May sent me, he did quite well in the army. Good choice for a sec­ond son, you know; his younger broth­er fol­lowed tra­di­tion as well by becom­ing a curate, but I haven’t found out much about him yet. Any­way, Jack Ran­dall was high­ly com­mend­ed by the Duke of San­dring­ham for his activ­i­ties before and dur­ing the ’45—the second—Jacobite Ris­ing, you know,” he ampli­fied for the ben­e­fit of the igno­rant amongst his audi­ence, name­ly me. “You know, Bon­nie Prince Char­lie and that lot?”“I’m not entire­ly sure the Scots real­ize they lost that one,” I inter­rupt­ed, sit­ting up and try­ing to sub­due my hair. “I dis­tinct­ly heard the bar­man at that pub last night refer to us as Sasse­nachs.”
“Well, why not?” said Frank equably. “It only means ‘Eng­lish­man,’ after all, or at worst, ‘out­lander,’ and we’re all of that.”
“I know what it means. It was the tone I object­ed to.”
Frank searched through the bureau draw­er for a belt. “He was just annoyed because I told him the ale was weak. I told him the true High­land brew requires an old boot to be added to the vat, and the final prod­uct to be strained through a well-worn under­gar­ment.”

All rights for the Pic­ture from Outlander go to the right­ful owner Starz/Sony
Excerpt by Diana Gabaldon
Heike Ginger Ba Written by:

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2 Comments

  1. Jan Moutz
    November 8
    Reply

    A most enjoy­able read! Brings back mem­o­ries of read­ing it that first time in 1991! It didn’t much to hook me! I hat­ed loved Out­lander from the begin­ning!

    • Heike Ginger Ba
      November 12
      Reply

      Hi Jan..

      it was just for fun…smile…my eng­lish is tru­ly not the best…

      Kiss­es Heike

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