The whole Scene
The cottage had filled up with twenty or thirty men by midafternoon, and my two-woman staff was hopping. The house normally held a family of five or six, and the men able to stand were standing on the plaids of those lying down. In the distance across the small flat, I could see officers coming and going to the manse, the minister’s residence commandeered by the High Command. I kept an eye on the battered door, which hung constantly ajar, but didn’t see Jamie among those arriving to report casualties and receive congratulations.I batted away the recurrent small gnat of worry, telling myself that I didn’t see him among the wounded, either. I had not had time since early on to visit the small tent up the slope, where the dead of the battle were being laid out in orderly rows, as though awaiting a last inspection. But surely he could not be there.Surely not, I told myself.The door swung open and Jamie walked in.I felt my knees give slightly at sight of him, and put out a hand to steady myself on the cottage’s wooden chimney. He had been looking for me; his eyes darted around the room before they lighted on me, and a heart-stopping smile lit his face.He was filthy, grimed with black-powder smoke, splattered with blood, and barefoot, legs and feet caked with mud. But he was whole, and standing. I wasn’t inclined to quibble with the details.Cries of greeting from some of the wounded men on the floor dragged his gaze away from me. He glanced down, smiled at George McClure, grinning up at his commander despite an ear that hung from his head by a sliver of flesh, then looked quickly back at me.Thank God, his dark-blue eyes said, and Thank God, my own echoed back.There was no time for more; wounded men were still coming in, and every able-bodied nonmilitary person in the village had been pressed into service to care for them. Archie Cameron, Lochiel’s doctor brother, bustled back and forth among the cottages, nominally in charge, and actually doing some good here and there.