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, 2017

    Excel­lent as always Heike❤

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