Wee Present

the who­le sce­ne from DoA Chap­ter 8-MAN OF WORTH

What’s this?” I ran my hand curious­ly over the box.“Oh, only a wee pre­sent.” He didn’t look at me, but the tips of his ears were pink. “Open it, hm?”It was a hea­vy box, both wide and deep. Car­ved of a den­se, fine-grai­ned dark wood, it bore the marks of hea­vy use — nicks and dents that had sea­so­ned but not impai­red its polished beau­ty. It was has­ped for a lock, but the­re was none; the lid rose easi­ly on oiled brass hin­ges, and a whiff of cam­phor floated out, vapo­rous as a jinn.The instru­ments glea­med under the smo­ky sun, bright despi­te a hazing of disu­se. Each had its own pocket, care­ful­ly fit­ted and lined in green velvet.A small, hea­vy-toot­hed saw; scis­sors, three scal­pels — round-bla­ded, strai­ght-bla­ded, scoop-bla­ded; the sil­ver bla­de of a tongue depres­sor, a tenaculum…“Jamie!” Delight­ed, I lifted out a short ebo­ny rod, to the end of which was affi­xed a ball of worsted, wrap­ped in rather moth-eaten vel­vet. I’d seen one befo­re, at Ver­sailles; the eigh­te­enth-cen­tu­ry ver­si­on of a reflex ham­mer. “Oh, Jamie! How wonderful!”He wigg­led his feet, pleased.“Oh, ye like it?”“I love it! Oh, look — there’s more in the lid, under this flap — ” I sta­red for a moment at the dis­join­ted tubes, screws, plat­forms and mir­rors, until my mind’s eye shuf­fled them and pre­sen­ted me with the neat­ly assem­bled visi­on. “A micro­scope!” I touched it rever­ent­ly. “My God, a microscope.”“There’s more,” he poin­ted out, eager to show me. “The front opens and the­re are wee dra­wers inside.”There were — con­tai­ning, among other things, a minia­tu­re balan­ce and set of brass weights, a tile for rol­ling pills, and a stai­ned marb­le mor­tar, its pest­le wrap­ped in cloth to pre­vent its being cra­cked in tran­sit. Insi­de the front, above the dra­wers, were row upon row of small, cor­ked bott­les made of stone or glass.“Oh, they’re beau­ti­ful!” I said, hand­ling the small scal­pel with rever­ence. The polished wood of the hand­le fit my hand as though it had been made for me, the bla­de weight­ed to an exqui­si­te balan­ce. “Oh, Jamie, thank you!”“Ye like them, then?” His ears had gone bright red with plea­su­re. “I thought they’d may­be do. I’ve no noti­on what they’re meant for, but I could see they were finely made.”I had no noti­on what some of the pie­ces were meant for, but all of them were beau­ti­ful in them­sel­ves; made by or for a man who loved his tools and what they did.“Who did they belong to, I won­der?” I bre­a­thed hea­vi­ly on the roun­ded sur­face of a len­ti­cu­lar and brought it to a soft gleam with a fold of my skirt.“The woman who sold it to me did­na ken; he left behind his doctor’s book, though, and I took that, as well — perhaps it will give his name.”Lifting the top tray of instru­ments, he revea­led ano­t­her, shal­lo­wer tray, from which he drew out a fat squa­re-bound book, some eight inches wide, cove­r­ed in scuf­fed black leather.“I thought ye might be wan­ting a book, too, like the one ye kept in Fran­ce,” he exp­lai­ned. “The one whe­re ye kept the pic­tures and the notes of the peop­le ye saw at L’Hôpital. He’s writ­ten a bit in this one, but there’s a deal of blank pages left at the back.”Perhaps a quar­ter of the book had been used; the pages were cove­r­ed with a clo­se­ly writ­ten, fine black script, inter­sper­sed with drawings that took my eye with their cli­ni­cal fami­lia­ri­ty: an ulce­ra­ted toe, a shat­te­red knee­cap, the skin neat­ly pee­led asi­de; the gro­tes­que swel­ling of advan­ced goi­ter, and a dis­sec­tion of the calf mus­cles, each neat­ly labeled.I tur­ned back to the insi­de cover; sure enough, his name was writ­ten on the first page, ador­ned with a small, gen­tlem­an­ly flou­rish: Dr. Dani­el Raw­lings, Esq.“What hap­pen­ed to Dr. Raw­lings, I won­der? Did the woman who had the box say?”Jamie nod­ded, his brow slight­ly creased.“The Doc­tor lod­ged with her for a night. He said he’d come from Vir­gi­nia, whe­re his home was, bound upon some errand, and his case with him. He was loo­king for a man named Gar­ver — she thought that was the name, at least. But that night after sup­per he went out — and never came back.”I sta­red at him.“Never came back? Did she find out what hap­pen­ed to him?”Jamie shook his head, bat­ting away a small cloud of mid­ges. The sun was sin­king, pain­ting the sur­face of the water gold and oran­ge, and bugs were begin­ning to gather as the after­noon coo­led into evening.“No. She went to the she­riff, and to the jus­ti­ce, and the cons­ta­ble sear­ched high and low — but the­re was nay sign of the man. They loo­ked for a week, and then gave up. He had never told his land­la­dy which town it was in Vir­gi­nia, so they could­na trace him further.”“How very odd.” I wiped a drop­let of mois­tu­re off my chin. “When did the Doc­tor disappear?”“A year past, she said.” He loo­ked at me, a litt­le anxious. “Ye din­na mind? Using his things, I mean?”“No.” I clo­sed the lid and stro­ked it gent­ly, the dark wood warm and smooth under my fin­gers. “If it were me — I’d want someo­ne to use them.”I remem­be­red vivid­ly the feel of my own doctor’s bag — cordovan lea­ther, with my initi­als stam­ped in gilt on the hand­le. Ori­gi­nal­ly stam­ped in gilt on the hand­le, that is; they had long sin­ce worn off, the lea­ther gone smooth and shiny, rich with hand­ling. Frank had given me the bag when I gra­dua­ted from medi­cal school; I had given it to my fri­end Joe Aber­nathy, wan­ting it to be used by someo­ne who would trea­su­re it as I had.He saw the shadow drift across my face — I saw the reflec­tion of it dar­ken his — but I took his hand and smi­led as I squee­zed it.“It’s a won­der­ful gift. Howe­ver did you find it?”He smi­led then, in return. The sun bla­zed low, a bril­li­ant oran­ge ball glim­psed brief­ly through dark treetops.“I’d seen the box when I went to the goldsmith’s shop — it was the goldsmith’s wife who’d kept it. Then I went back yes­ter­day, mea­ning to buy ye a bit of jewel­ry — may­be a brooch — and whilst the good­wi­fe was sho­wing me the gauds, we hap­pen­ed to speak of this and that, and she told me of the Doc­tor, and — ” He shrugged.“Why did you want to buy me jewel­ry?” I loo­ked at him, puz­zled. The sale of the ruby had left us with a bit of money, but extra­va­gan­ce was not at all like him, and under the cir­cum­s­tan­ces — “Oh! To make up for sen­ding all that money to Lao­g­hai­re? I didn’t mind; I said I didn’t.”He had — with some reluc­tan­ce — arran­ged to send the bulk of the pro­ceeds from the sale of the stone to Scot­land, in payment of a pro­mi­se made to Lao­g­hai­re MacKen­zie — damn her eyes — Fra­ser, whom he had mar­ried at his sister’s per­sua­si­on while under the rather logi­cal impres­si­on that if I was not dead, I was at least not com­ing back. My appa­rent resur­rec­tion from the dead had cau­sed any amount of com­pli­ca­ti­ons, Lao­g­hai­re not least among them.“Aye, ye said so,” he said, open­ly cynical.“I meant it — more or less,” I said, and laug­hed. “You couldn’t very well let the beast­ly woman star­ve to death, appe­aling as the idea is.”He smi­led, faintly.“No. I should­na like to have that on my con­sci­ence; there’s enough without. But that’s not why I wis­hed to buy ye a present.”“Why, then?” The box was hea­vy; a gra­cious, sub­stan­ti­al, satis­fy­ing weight across my legs, its wood a delight under my hands. He tur­ned his head to look full at me, then, his hair fire-struck with the set­ting sun, face dark in silhouette.“Twenty-four years ago today, I mar­ried ye, Sas­se­nach,” he said soft­ly. “I hope ye will­na have cau­se yet to reg­ret it.”

All rights for the Pic­ture go to the right­ful owner Entertainment Weekly
Quo­te and Excerpt by Diana Gabaldon from “DoA”
I own not­hing but the editing
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

One Comment

  1. Birgit Fecht
    August 25

    Excel­lent as always Hei­ke❤

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