“Do you want her?”

the whole Scene from The Fiery Cross

“Do you want her?” I asked. I wasn’t sure whether I was hope­ful of his answer, or fear­ful of it. The answer was a slight shrug.
“It’s a big house, Sasse­nach,” he said. “Big enough.”
“Hmm,” I said. Not a resound­ing declaration—and yet I knew it was com­mit­ment, no mat­ter how casu­al­ly expressed. He had acquired Fer­gus in a Paris broth­el, on the basis of three min­utes’ acquain­tance, as a hired pick­pock­et. If he took this child, he would treat her as a daugh­ter. Love her? No one could guar­an­tee love—not he … and not I.
He had picked up my dubi­ous tone of voice.
“I saw ye with the wean, Sasse­nach, rid­ing. Ye’ve a great ten­der­ness about ye always—but when I saw ye so, wi’ the bairn tum­bling about beneath your cloak, it—I remem­bered, how it was, how ye looked, when ye car­ried Faith.”
I caught my breath. To hear him speak the name of our first daugh­ter like that, so mat­ter-of-fact­ly, was star­tling. We spoke of her sel­dom; her death was so long in the past that some­times it seemed unre­al, and yet the wound of her loss had scarred both of us bad­ly.
Faith her­self was not unre­al at all, though.
She was near me, when­ev­er I touched a baby. And this child, this name­less orphan, so small and frail, with skin so translu­cent that the blue threads of her veins showed clear beneath—yes, the echoes of Faith were strong. Still, she wasn’t my child. Though she could be; that was what Jamie was say­ing.
Was she per­haps a gift to us? Or at least our respon­si­bil­i­ty?
“Do you think we ought to take her?” I asked cau­tious­ly. “I mean—what might hap­pen to her if we don’t?”

Jamie snort­ed faint­ly, drop­ping his arm, and leaned back against the wall of the house. He wiped his nose, and tilt­ed his head toward the faint rum­ble of voic­es that came through the chinked logs.
“She’d be well cared for, Sasse­nach. She’s in the way of being an heiress, ken.”
That aspect of the mat­ter hadn’t occurred to me at all.
“Are you sure?” I said dubi­ous­ly. “I mean, the Beard­s­leys are both gone, but as she’s ille­git­i­mate—”
He shook his head, inter­rupt­ing me.
“Nay, she’s legitimate.”

“But she can’t be. No one real­izes it yet except you and me, but her father—”
“Her father was Aaron Beard­s­ley, so far as the law is con­cerned,” he informed me. “By Eng­lish law, a child born in wed­lock is the legal child—and heir—of the husband—even if it’s known for a fact that the moth­er com­mit­ted adul­tery. And yon woman did say that Beard­s­ley mar­ried her, no?”
It struck me that he was remark­ably pos­i­tive about this par­tic­u­lar pro­vi­sion of Eng­lish law. It also struck me—in time, thank God, before I said anything—exactly why he was pos­i­tive.
William. His son, con­ceived in Eng­land, and so far as any­one in Eng­land knew—with the excep­tion of Lord John Grey—presumably the ninth Earl of Ellesmere. Evi­dent­ly, he legal­ly was the ninth Earl, accord­ing to what Jamie was telling me, whether the eighth Earl had been his father or not. The law real­ly was an ass, I thought.
“I see,” I said slow­ly. “So lit­tle Name­less will inher­it all Beardsley’s prop­er­ty, even after they dis­cov­er that he can’t have been her father. That’s … reas­sur­ing.”
His eyes met mine for a moment, then dropped.
“Aye,” he said qui­et­ly. “Reas­sur­ing.” There might have been a hint of bit­ter­ness in his voice, but if there was, it van­ished with­out trace as he coughed and cleared his throat.
“So ye see,” he went on, mat­ter-of-fact­ly, “she’s in no dan­ger of neglect. An Orphan Court would give Beardsley’s property—goats and all”—he added, with a faint grin—“to whomev­er is her guardian, to be used for her wel­fare.”
“And her guardians’,” I said, sud­den­ly recall­ing the look Richard Brown had exchanged with his broth­er, when telling his wife the child would be “well cared for.” I rubbed my nose, which had gone numb at the tip.
“So the Browns would take her will­ing­ly, then.”
“Oh, aye,” he agreed. “They kent Beard­s­ley; they’ll ken well enough how valu­able she is. It would be a del­i­cate mat­ter to get her away from them, in fact—but if ye want the child, Sasse­nach, then ye’ll have her. I promise ye that.”
The whole dis­cus­sion was giv­ing me a very queer feel­ing. Some­thing almost like pan­ic, as though I were being pushed by some unseen hand toward the edge of a precipice. Whether that was a dan­ger­ous cliff or mere­ly a foothold for a larg­er view remained to be seen.
I saw in mem­o­ry the gen­tle curve of the baby’s skull, and the tis­sue-paper ears, small and per­fect as shells, their soft pink whorls fad­ing into an oth­er­world­ly tinge of blue.

All rights for the Pic­ture from Out­lander go to the right­ful own­er Starz/Sony
Quote and Excerpt by Diana Gabal­don from “The Fiery Cross”
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

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