He’d last spoken Greek in Ardsmuir prison, trading bits of Aristophanes with Lord John over a makeshift supper of porridge and sliced ham, the rations being short even in the governor’s quarters, owing to a storm that had kept regular supplies from being delivered. There had been claret to wash it down with, though, and it had been a cordial evening. He’d taken care of the bits of business that needed to be done on behalf of the prisoners, and then they’d played chess, a long, drawn-out duel that had lasted nearly ’til dawn. Grey had won, at last, and had hesitated, glancing at the battered sofa in his office, clearly wondering whether he might offer Jamie the use of it, rather than send him back to the cells for an hour’s sleep before the prisoners rose.
Jamie had appreciated the thought, but it wouldn’t do, and he’d set his face impassively, bowed correctly, and bade Lord John good night, himself rapping on the doorframe to summon the dozing guard.
The Scottish Prisoner
During our 2013 boat trip exploring the Caledonian Canal from Inverness to Fort William, My Englishman and I ate this dish docked beside Invergarry Castle on Loch Oich, where it is said that Bonnie Prince Charles sheltered for a night after his defeat at Culloden.
In a large pot, over medium-high heat, heat the stock to simmering. In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms for 15 minutes in enough hot stock to cover. Scoop out the mushrooms with a fork and chop finely. Strain and pour the soaking liquid back into the hot stock.
In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and button mushrooms. Cook until soft and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the oats, garlic, and thyme, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped rehydrated mushrooms and deglaze the pan with the wine. Stir until almost dry. Add the stock, one or two ladlefuls at a time, stirring constantly. The stock should bubble gently around the oats. When the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add another ladleful or two. Continue cooking, stirring and adding stock, until the oats are tender but still al dente, about 25 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove the thyme sprig and stir in half of the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnishing with the remaining Parmesan and thyme leaves. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.