The Fiery Cross

By: Diana Gabaldon

This book is for my Sister, Theresa Gabaldon,

with whom I told the first Stories.

I have lived through war, and lost much. I know what’s worth the fight, and what is not.

Honor and courage are matters of the bone, and what a man will kill for, he will sometimes die for, too.

And that, O kinsman, is why a woman has broad hips; that bony basin will harbor a man and his child alike. A man’s life springs from his woman’s bones, and in her blood is his honor christened.

For the sake of love alone, would I walk through fire again.


The author’s profound thanks to . . .

. . . my editor, Jackie Cantor, always the book’s champion above all.

. . . my agent, Russ Galen, who’s always on my side, with shield and lance.

. . . Stacey Sakal, Tom Leddy, and the other wonderful Production people who have sacrificed their time, talent, and mental health to the production of this book.

. . . Kathy Lord, that rarest and most delightful of creatures, an excellent copy editor.

. . . Virginia Norey, the book’s designer (aka Book Goddess), who somehow managed to fit the Whole Thing between two covers and make it look great.

. . . Irwyn Applebaum and Nita Taublib, publisher and deputy publisher, who came to the party, and brought their stuff.

. . . Rob Hunter and Rosemary Tolman, for unpublished information on the War of the Regulation and their very colorful and interesting ancestors, James Hunter and Hermon Husband. (No, I don’t make all these people up; just some of them.)

. . . Beth and Matthew Shope, and Liz Gaspar, for information on North Carolina Quaker history and beliefs. (And we do note as a matter of strict accuracy that Hermon Husband was not technically a Quaker at the time of this story, having been put out of the local Meeting for being too inflammatory.)

. . . Bev LaFlamme, Carol Krenz, and their (respectively) French and French-Canadian husbands (who no doubt wonder just what sort of friends their wives have, anyway), for expert opinions on the subtleties of French bowel movements, and help with Very Picturesque French idioms.

. . . Julie Giroux, for Roger’s music, and the marvelous “Culloden Symphony.” Roy Williamson for “The Flower of Scotland” (words and music) copyright © The Corries (music) Ltd.

. . . Roger H.P. Coleman, R.W. Odlin, Ron Parker, Ann Chapman, Dick Lodge, Olan Watkins, and many members of the Compuserve Masonic Forum for information on Freemasonry and Irregular Lodges, circa 1755 (which was a good bit prior to the establishment of the Scottish Rite, so let’s not bother writing me about that, shall we?)

. . . Karen Watson and Ron Parker, for advice on WWII London Tube Stations—with which I proceeded to take minor technical liberties.

. . . Steven Lopata, Hall Elliott, Arnold Wagner, R.G. Schmidt, and Mike Jones, honorable warriors all, for useful discussions of how men think and behave, before, during, and after battle.

. . . R.G. Schmidt and several other nice persons whose names I unfortunately forgot to write down, who contributed bits and pieces of helpful information regarding Cherokee belief, language, and custom. (The bear-hunting chant ending with “Yoho!” is a matter of historical record. There are lots of things I couldn’t make up if I tried.)

. . . the Chemodurow family, for generously allowing me to take liberties with their personae, in portraying them as Russian swineherds. (Russian boars really were imported into North Carolina for hunting in the18th century. This may have something to do with the popularity of barbecue in the South.)

. . . Laura Bailey, for invaluable advice and commentary on 18th century costume and customs—most of which I paid careful attention to.

. . . Susan Martin, Beth Shope, and Margaret Campbell, for expert opinions on the flora, fauna, geography, weather, and mental climate of North Carolina (and all of whom wish to note that only a barbarian would put tomatoes in barbecue sauce). Aberrations in these aspects of the story are a result of inadvertence, literary license, and/or pigheadedness on the part of the author.

. . . Janet McConnaughey, Varda Amir-Orrel, Kim Laird, Elise Skidmore, Bill Williams, Arlene McCrea, Lynne Sears Williams, Babs Whelton, Joyce McGowan, and the dozens of other kind and helpful people of the Compuserve Writers Forum, who will answer any silly question at the drop of a hat, especially if it has anything to do with maiming, murder, disease, quilting, or sex.

. . . Dr. Ellen Mandell, for technical advice on how to hang someone, then cut his throat, and not kill him in the process. Any errors in the execution of this advice are mine.

. . . Piper Fahrney, for his excellent descriptions of what it feels like to be taught to fight with a sword.

. . . David Cheifetz, for dragon-slaying.

. . . Iain MacKinnon Taylor, for his invaluable help with Gaelic translations, and his lovely suggestions for Jamie’s bonfire speech.

. . . Karl Hagen, for advice on Latin grammar, and to Barbara Schnell, for Latin and German bits, to say nothing of her stunning translations of the novels into German.

. . . Julie Weathers, my late father-in-law, Max Watkins, and Lucas, for help with the horses.

. . . the Ladies of Lallybroch, for their enthusiastic and continuing moral support, including the thoughtful international assortment of toilet paper.

. . . the several hundred people who have kindly and voluntarily sent me interesting information on everything from the development and uses of penicillin to the playing of bodhrans, the distribution of red spruce, and the way possum tastes (I’m told it’s greasy, in case you were wondering).

. . . and to my husband, Doug Watkins, for the last line of the book.

—Diana Gabaldon


In Medias Res




Mount Helicon

The Royal Colony of North Carolina

Late October, 1770

I WOKE TO THE PATTER OF RAIN on canvas, with the feel of my first husband’s kiss on my lips. I blinked, disoriented, and by reflex put my fingers to my mouth. To keep the feeling, or to hide it? I wondered, even as I did so.

Jamie stirred and murmured in his sleep next to me, his movement rousing a fresh wave of scent from the cedar branches under our bottom quilt. Perhaps the ghost’s passing had disturbed him. I frowned at the empty air outside our lean-to.

Go away, Frank, I thought sternly.

It was still dark outside, but the mist that rose from the damp earth was a pearly gray; dawn wasn’t far off. Nothing stirred, inside or out, but I had the distinct sense of an ironic amusement that lay on my skin like the lightest of touches.

Shouldn’t I come to see her married?

I couldn’t tell whether the words had formed themselves in my thoughts, or whether they—and that kiss—were merely the product of my own subconscious. I had fallen asleep with my mind still busy with wedding preparations; little wonder that I should wake from dreams of weddings. And wedding nights.

I smoothed the rumpled muslin of my shift, uneasily aware that it was rucked up around my waist and that my skin was flushed with more than sleep. I didn’t remember anything concrete about the dream that had wakened me; only a confused jumble of image and sensation. I thought perhaps that was a good thing.

I turned over on the rustling branches, nudging close to Jamie. He was warm and smelled pleasantly of woodsmoke and whisky, with a faint tang of sleepy maleness under it, like the deep note of a lingering chord. I stretched myself, very slowly, arching my back so that my pelvis nudged his hip. If he were sound asleep or disinclined, the gesture was slight enough to pass unnoticed; if he were not . . .

He wasn’t. He smiled faintly, eyes still closed, and a big hand ran slowly down my back, settling with a firm grip on my bottom.

“Mmm?” he said. “Hmmmm.” He sighed, and relaxed back into sleep, holding on.

I nestled close, reassured. The immediate physicality of Jamie was more than enough to banish the touch of lingering dreams. And Frank—if that was Frank—was right, so far as that went. I was sure that if such a thing were possible, Bree would want both her fathers at her wedding.

I was wide awake now, but much too comfortable to move. It was raining outside; a light rain, but the air was cold and damp enough to make the cozy nest of quilts more inviting than the distant prospect of hot coffee. Particularly since the getting of coffee would involve a trip to the stream for water, making up the campfire—oh, God, the wood would be damp, even if the fire hadn’t gone completely out—grinding the coffee in a stone quern and brewing it, while wet leaves blew round my ankles and drips from overhanging tree branches slithered down my neck.

Shivering at the thought, I pulled the top quilt up over my bare shoulder and instead resumed the mental catalogue of preparations with which I had fallen asleep.

Food, drink . . . luckily I needn’t trouble about that. Jamie’s aunt Jocasta would deal with the arrangements; or rather, her black butler, Ulysses, would. Wedding guests—no difficulties there. We were in the middle of the largest Gathering of Scottish Highlanders in the Colonies, and food and drink were being provided. Engraved invitations would not be necessary.

Bree would have a new dress, at least; Jocasta’s gift as well. Dark blue wool—silk was both too expensive and too impractical for life in the backwoods. It was a far cry from the white satin and orange blossom I had once envisioned her wearing to be married in—but then, this was scarcely the marriage anyone might have imagined in the 1960s.

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