Mrs. Bug’s Cinnamon Toast from A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Mrs. Bug’s Cinnamon Toast from A Breath of Snow and Ashes

“DO YOU THINK he’ll come?”  Breakfast had been eaten, and no sign yet of Thomas Christie.  After a night of broken sleep, in which I dreamed repeatedly of ether masks and surgical disasters, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted him to come or not.

“Aye, he’ll come.”  Jamie was reading the North Carolina Gazette, four months out of date, while munching the last of Mrs. Bug’s cinnamon toast.  “Look, they’ve printed a letter from the Governor to Lord Dartmouth, saying what an unruly lot of seditious, conniving thieving bastards we all are, and asking General Gage to send him cannon to threaten us back into good behavior.  I wonder if MacDonald knows that’s public knowledge?”

“Did they really?” I said absently.  I rose, and picked up the ether mask I had been staring at all through breakfast.  “Well, if he does come, I suppose I’d best be ready.”

Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 23)

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Anything But Haggis For Robbie Burns Day

Anything But Haggis For Robbie Burns Day

“There’s more.  Internal evidence.” Roger’s voice betrayed his pride.  “See there? It’s an article against the Excise Act of 1764, advocating the repeal of the restrictions of export of liquor from the Scottish Highlands to England.  Here it is” — his racing finger stopped suddenly on a phrase — ‘ “for as has been known for ages past, “Freedom and Whisky gang tegither.” ‘  See how he’s put that Scottish dialect phrase in quotes?  He got it from somewhere else.”

“He got it from me,” I said softly.  “I told him that — when he was setting out to steal Prince Charles’s port.”

“I remembered.”  Roger nodded, eyes shining with excitement.  “But it’s a quote from Burns,” I said, frowning suddenly.  “Perhaps the writer got it there — wasn’t Burns alive then?”

“He was,” said Bree smugly, forestalling Roger.  “But Robert Burns was six years old in 1765.”

“And Jamie would be forty-four.”  Suddenly, it all seemed real.. He was alive — had been alive, I corrected myself, trying to keep my emotions in check.  I laid my fingers flat against the manuscript pages, trembling.

“And if — ” I said, and had to stop to swallow again.  “And if time goes on in parallel, as we think it does –” Roger stopped, too, looking at me.  Then his eyes shifted to Brianna.

She had gone quite pale, but both lips and eyes were steady, and her fingers were warm when she touched my hand.

“Then you can go back, Mama,” she said softly.  “You can find him.”

Diana Gabaldon, Voyager (Chapter 21)

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Honey-Buttermilk Oatbread at Madame Jeanne’s from Voyager

Honey-Buttermilk Oatbread at Madame Jeanne’s from Voyager

A knock at the door broke the tension.  It was a small serving maid, with a tray of supper.  She bobbed shyly to me, smiled at Jamie, and laid both supper — cold meat, hot broth and warm oatbread with butter — and the fire with a quick and practiced hand, then left us with a murmured “Good e’en to ye.”

We ate slowly, talking carefully only of neutral things; I told him how I had made my way from Craigh na Dun to Inverness, and made him laugh with stories of Mr. Graham and Master Georgie.  He in turn told me about Mr. Willoughby; how he had found the little Chinese, half-starved and dead drunk, lying behind a row of casks on the docks at Burntisland, one of the shipping ports near Edinburgh.

We said nothing much of ourselves, but as we ate, I became increasingly conscious of his body, watching his fine, long hands as he poured wine and cut meat, seeing the twist of his powerful torso under his shirt, and the graceful line of neck and shoulder as he stooped to retrieve a fallen napkin.  Once or twice, I thought I saw his gaze linger on me in the same way — a sort of hesitant avidity — but he quickly glanced away each time, hooding his eyes so that I could not tell what he saw or felt.

Diana Gabaldon, Voyager, (Chapter 25)

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Stephen Bonnet’s Salted Chocolate Pretzel Balls

Stephen Bonnet’s Salted Chocolate Pretzel Balls

“A bit more tea, Doctor Fentiman?” I urged a fresh cup upon him, willing him to stay awake. “Do tell me more about it. The surgery must have been quite delicate?”

In fact, men never like to hear that the removal of testicles is a simple matter, but it is. Though I would admit that the fact of the patient’s being conscious during the whole procedure had likely added to the difficulty.

Fentiman regained a bit of his animation, telling me about it.

“…and the ball had gone straight through the testicle; it had left the most perfect hole… . You could look quite through it, I assure you.” Plainly he regretted the loss of this interesting specimen, and it was with some difficulty that I got him to tell me what had become of the gentleman to whom it belonged.

“Well, that was odd. It was the horse, you see…” he said vaguely. “Lovely animal…long hair, like a woman’s, so unusual…”

Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 56)

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Hot Broth at Castle Leoch from Outlander

Hot Broth at Castle Leoch from Outlander

“I’m so sorry…that is, I mean, thank you for…but I…” I was babbling, backing away from him with my face flaming.  He was a bit flushed, too, but not disconcerted.  He reached for my hand and pulled me back.  Careful not to touch me otherwise, he put a hand under my chin and forced my head up to face him.

“Ye need not be scairt of me,” he said softly.  “Nor of anyone here, so long as I’m with ye.” He let go and turned to the fire.

“You need somethin’ hot, lass,” he said matter-of-factly, “and a bit to eat as well.  Something in your belly will help more than anything.”  I laughed shakily at his attempts to pour broth one-handed, and went to help.  He was right; food did help.  We sipped broth and ate bread in a companionable silence, sharing the growing comfort of warmth and fullness.

Finally, he stood up, picking up the fallen quilt from the floor.  He dropped it back on the bed, and motioned me toward it.  “Do ye sleep a bit, Claire.  You’re worn out, and likely someone will want to talk wi’ ye before too long.”

This was a sinister reminder of my precarious position, but I was too exhausted to care much.  I uttered no more than a pro forma protest at taking the bed; I had never seen anything so enticing.  Jamie assured me that he could find a bed elsewhere.  I fell headfirst into the pile of quilts and was asleep before he reached the door.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 4)

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