William had fallen asleep on the ride home, his head heavy as a cannonball in its woolen cap against Jamie’s chest. Jamie had dismounted carefully, holding the child in one arm, but Willie had wakened, blinked groggily at Jamie, and said, “WEN-sess-loss,” clear as a bell, then fallen promptly back asleep. He’d waked properly by the time he was handed over to Nanny Elspeth, though, and as Jamie walked away, he had heard Willie, as he walked away, telling Nanny, “I a bonnie lad!”

But those words came out of his dreams from somewhere else, and long ago. Had his own father said that to him once?

He thought so, and for an instant—just an instant—was with his father and his brother, Willie, excited beyond bearing, holding the first fish he’d ever caught by himself, slimy and flapping, both of them laughing at him, with him in joy. “Bonnie lad!”

Willie. God, Willie. I’m so glad they gave him your name. He seldom thought of his brother, but every now and then, he could feel Willie with him; sometimes his mother or his father. More often, Claire.

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William had fallen asleep on the ride home, his head heavy as a cannonball in its woolen cap against Jamie’s chest. Jamie had dismounted carefully, holding the child in one arm, but Willie had wakened, blinked groggily at Jamie, and said, “WEN-sess-loss,” clear as a bell, then fallen promptly back asleep. He’d waked properly by the time he was handed over to Nanny Elspeth, though, and as Jamie walked away, he had heard Willie, as he walked away, telling Nanny, “I a bonnie lad!”

But those words came out of his dreams from somewhere else, and long ago. Had his own father said that to him once?

He thought so, and for an instant—just an instant—was with his father and his brother, Willie, excited beyond bearing, holding the first fish he’d ever caught by himself, slimy and flapping, both of them laughing at him, with him in joy. “Bonnie lad!”

Willie. God, Willie. I’m so glad they gave him your name. He seldom thought of his brother, but every now and then, he could feel Willie with him; sometimes his mother or his father. More often, Claire.

I wish ye could see him, Sassenach, he thought. He’s a bonnie lad. Loud and obnoxious, he added with honesty, but bonnie.

What would his own parents think of William? They had neither of them lived to see any of their children’s children.

He lay for some time, his throat aching, listening to the dark, hearing the voices of his dead pass by in the wind. His thoughts grew vague and his grief eased, comforted by the knowledge of love, still alive in the world. Sleep came near again.

He touched the rough crucifix that lay against his chest and whispered to the moving air, “Lord, that she might be safe, she and my children.”

Then turned his cheek to her reaching hand and touched her through the veils of time.


Tags: Diana Gabaldon Lord John Grey Suspense
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