The whole Passage:
After a moment, there was a heavy, crunching noise on the ground in front of me. I cracked my eyes open, and saw that he had sat down, just as he was, on the wet gravel at my feet. He sat with bowed head, and the rain had left spangles in his damp-darkened hair.“Will ye make me beg?” he said.“It was a girl,” I said after a moment. My voice sounded funny; hoarse and husky. “Mother Hildegarde baptized her. Faith. Faith Fraser. Mother Hildegarde has a very odd sense of humor.”The bowed head didn’t move. After a moment, he said quietly, “Did you see the child?”My eyes were open all the way now. I stared at my knees, where blown drops of water from the vines behind me were making wet spots on the silk.“Yes. The mâitresse sage-femme said I ought, so they made me.” I could hear in memory the low, matter-of-fact tones of Madame Bonheur, most senior and respected of the midwives who gave of their time at L’Hôpital des Anges.“Give her the child; it’s always better if they see. Then they don’t imagine things.
”So I didn’t imagine. I remembered.“She was perfect,” I said softly, as though to myself. “So small. I could cup her head in the palm of my hand. Her ears stuck out just a little—I could see the light shine through them.The light had shone through her skin as well, glowing in the roundness of cheek and buttock with the light that pearls have; still and cool, with the strange touch of the water world still on them.“Mother Hildegarde wrapped her in a length of white satin,” I said, looking down at my fists, clenched in my lap. “Her eyes were closed. She hadn’t any lashes yet, but her eyes were slanted. I said they were like yours, but they said all babies’ eyes are like that.”Ten fingers, and ten toes. No nails, but the gleam of tiny joints, kneecaps and fingerbones like opals, like the jeweled bones of the earth itself. Remember man, that thou art dust.…I remembered the far-off clatter of the Hôpital, where life still went on, and the subdued murmur of Mother Hildegarde and Madame Bonheur, closer by, talking of the priest who would say a special Mass at Mother Hildegarde’s request. I remembered the look of calm appraisal in Madame Bonheur’s eyes as she turned to look me over, seeing my weakness. Perhaps she saw also the telltale brightness of the approaching fever; she had turned again to Mother Hildegarde and her voice had dropped further—perhaps suggesting that they wait; two funerals might be needed.And unto dust thou shalt return.But I had come back from the dead. Only Jamie’s hold on my body had been strong enough to pull me back from that final barrier, and Master Raymond had known it. I knew that only Jamie himself could pull me back the rest of the way, into the land of the living. That was why I had run from him, done all I could to keep him away, to make sure he would never come near me again. I had no wish to come back, no desire to feel again. I didn’t want to know love, only to have it ripped away once more.But it was too late. I knew that, even as I fought to hold the gray shroud around me. Fighting only hastened its dissolution; it was like grasping shreds of cloud, that vanished in cold mist between my fingers. I could feel the light coming, blinding and searing.He had risen, was standing over me. His shadow fell across my knees; surely that meant the cloud had broken; a shadow doesn’t fall without light.“Claire,” he whispered. “Please. Let me give ye comfort.”“Comfort?” I said. “And how will you do that? Can you give me back my child?”He sank to his knees before me, but I kept my head down, staring into my upturned hands, laid empty on my lap. I felt his movement as he reached to touch me, hesitated, drew back, reached again.“No,” he said, his voice scarcely audible. “No, I canna do that. But…with the grace of God…I might give ye another?”His hand hovered over mine, close enough that I felt the warmth of his skin. I felt other things as well: the grief that he held tight under rein, the anger and the fear that choked him, and the courage that made him speak in spite of it. I gathered my own courage around me, a flimsy substitute for the thick gray shroud. Then I took his hand and lifted my head, and looked full into the face of the sun.
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Quote and Excerpt by Diana Gabaldon from “DiA”
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