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928 pages, Paperback
First published December 30, 1996
"Do ye not understand?" he said, in near desperation. "I would lay the world at your feet, Claire--and I have nothing to give ye!"
He honestly thought it mattered.
I sat looking at him, searching for words. He was half turned away, shoulders slumped in despair.
Within an hour, I had gone from anguish at the thought of losing him in Scotland, to strong desire to bed him in the herbaceous borders, and from that to a pronounced urge to hit him on the head with an oar. Now I was back to tenderness.
At last I took one big, callused hand and slid forward so I knelt on the boards between his knees. I laid my head against his chest, and felt his breath stir my hair. I had no words, but I had made my choice.
"'Whither thou goest,'" I said, "'I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: they people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die and there will I be buried.'" Be it Scottish hill or southern forest. "You do what you have to; I'll be there."
She could scarcely breathe. His eyes were dark blue, soft with kindness. Her eyes fixed on the open collar of his shirt, where the curly hairs showed, bleached gold against his sunburnt skin.
"Are you--you're Jamie Fraser, aren't you?"
He glanced sharply at her face.
"I am," he said. the wariness had returned to his face; his eyes narrowed against the sun. He glanced quickly behind him, toward the tavern, but nothing stirred in the open doorway. He took a step closer to her.
"Who asks?" he said softly. "Have you a message for me lass?"
She felt an absurd desire to laugh welling up in her throat. Did she have a message?
"My name is Brianna, " she said. He frowned, uncertain, and something flickered in his eyes. He knew it! He'd heard the name and it meant something to him. She swallowed hard, feeling her cheeks blaze as though they'd been seared by a candle flame.
"I'm your daughter," she said, her voice sounding choked to her own ears. "Brianna."
"My God," he croaked. "You're huge."
Her own blush had subsided, but now came back with a vengeance.
"And whose fault is that, do you think?" she snapped. She drew herself up straight and squared her shoulders, glaring. So close, at her full height, she could look him right in the eye, and did.
And suddenly it as all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.
‘And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire – I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you.’
‘You are my courage, as I am your conscience,’ he whispered. ‘You are my heart – and I your compassion. We are neither of us whole, alone. Do ye not know that, Sassenach?’