#DailyLines #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGone #BookNine #PubDateNOVEMBER23rd #HappyWORLDBEEDAY !!!

Jamie sighed, tucked the letter into his pocket, and unable to sit still with his thoughts, walked up the hill to Claire's garden, not meaning to tell her about the letter and his thoughts--just wanting the momentary comfort of her presence.

She wasn't there, and he hesitated inside the gate, but then closed it after him and walked slowly toward the row of hives. He'd built a long bench for her, and there were nine hives now on it, humming peacefully in the autumn sun. Some of them were the coiled-straw skeps, but Brianna had built three boxes, too, with wooden frames inside and a sort of drain to make harvesting the honey easier.

Something was in the back of his mind, a poem Claire had told him once, about nines and bees. Only a bit of it had stuck: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, and live alone in the bee-loud glade. The number nine always made him wary, owing to a strange encounter with an old Parisian fortune-teller.

“You’ll die nine times before your death,” she’d told him. Claire had tried, now and then, to reckon the times he should have died, but hadn’t. He never did, having a superstitious fear about attracting misfortune by dwelling on it.

The bees were about their business. The air was full of them, the late sun catching their wings and making them glisk like sparks among the green of the garden. There were some tattered sunflowers along one wall, their seeds like gray pebbles, sedum and pink cosmos. Purple gentians—he recognized those, because Claire made an ointment out of them that she'd used on him more than once—and had brought some back from Wilmington and coddled it here in a sandy spot she’d made for it. He’d dug and carried the sand for her, and smiled at the pale splotch of soil among the darker loam. The bees seemed to be liking the goldenrod--but Claire said they were hunting mostly in the woods and meadows now.

He came slowly to the bench and put out a hand toward the hives, but didn't touch one until two or three bees had landed lightly on his hand, their feet tickling his skin. “So they won't think you're a bear,” Claire had said, laughing. He smiled at the memory and put his hand on the sun-warmed straw and just stood there for a bit, letting go of his troublesome thoughts, little by little.

“Ye'll take care of her, aye?” he said at last, speaking soft to the bees. “If she comes to you and says I'm gone, ye'll feed her and take heed for her?” He stood a moment longer, listening to the ceaseless hum.

“I trust ye with her,” he said at last, and turned to go, his heart easier in his chest. It wasn't until he'd shut the gate behind him and started down toward the house that another bit of the poem came to him. “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow...”

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2021 Diana Gabaldon. And thank you to Elena Vialykh, both for the lovely bee photos, and for reminding me about World Bee Day!]

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