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
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:

|Human|Woman|Mother|Wife|Friend| Photographer| Blogger|
|TV-Junkie|Photoshop-Beginner|Art-Lover|Cologne-based|Outlander-addict |Sherlockian |TWD-devoted

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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