The whole Scene
I looked down to see Adso. I’d been looking for him most of yesterday; typical of him to show up at the last minute.
“So there you are,” I said, accusing. He looked at me with his huge calm eyes of celadon green, and licked a paw. On impulse, I scooped him up and held him against me, feeling the rumble of his purr and the soft, thick fur of his silvery belly.
He’d be all right; I knew that. The woods were his private game preserve, and Amy Higgins liked him and had promised me to see him right for milk and a warm spot by the fire in bad weather. I knew that.
“Go on, then,” I said, and set him on the ground. He stood for a moment, tail waving slowly, head raised in search of food or interesting smells, then stepped into the grass and vanished.
I bent, very slowly, arms crossed, and shook, weeping silently, violently.
I cried until my throat hurt and I couldn’t breathe, then sat in the grass, curled into myself like a dried leaf, tears that I couldn’t stop dropping on my knees like the first fat drops of a coming storm. Oh, God. It was only the beginning.
I rubbed my hands hard over my eyes, smearing the wetness, trying to scrub away grief. A soft cloth touched my face, and I looked up, sniffing, to find Jamie kneeling in front of me, handkerchief in hand.
“I’m sorry,” he said, very softly.
“It’s not—don’t worry, I’m … He’s only a cat,” I said, and a small fresh grief tightened like a band round my chest.
“Aye, I know.” He moved beside me and put an arm round my shoulders, pulling my head to his chest, while he gently wiped my face. “But ye couldna weep for the bairns. Or the house. Or your wee garden. Or the poor dead lass and her bairn. But if ye weep for your cheetie, ye know ye can stop.”
“How do you know that?” My voice was thick, but the band round my chest was not quite so tight.
He made a small, rueful sound.
“Because I canna weep for those things, either, Sassenach. And I havena got a cat.”
I sniffled, wiped my face one last time, and blew my nose before giving him back the handkerchief, which he stuffed into his sporran without grimace or thought.Lord, he’d said. Let me be enough. That prayer had lodged in my heart like an arrow when I’d heard it and thought he asked for help in doing what had to be done. But that wasn’t what he’d meant at all—and the realization of what he had meant split my heart in two.
I took his face between my hands, and wished so much that I had his own gift, the ability to say what lay in my heart, in such a way that he would know. But I hadn’t.
“Jamie,” I said at last. “Oh, Jamie. You’re … everything. Always.”
An hour later, we left the Ridge.