Read Drums of Autumn Online

Authors: Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn

Contents

Title page

Dedication

Praise for Drums of Autumn

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Part Two

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Part Three

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Part Four

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Part Five

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Part Six

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Part Seven

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Part Eight

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Part Nine

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Part Ten

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Part Eleven

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Part Twelve

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Books by Diana Gabaldon

Excerpt from The Fiery Cross

Copyright Page

This book turned out to have a lot to do with fathers,
and so it’s for my own father, Tony Gabaldon, who also tells stories.

HIGH PRAISE FOR DIANA GABALDON’S

DRUMS OF AUTUMN

“EXTRAORDINARY.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“SIZZLING.”

—Rocky Mountain News

“DELICIOUS…A HARROWING, CONFRONTATIONAL QUEST THROUGH TIME AND SPACE,”

—Publishers Weekly

“[A] BLOCKBUSTER HIT.”

—The Wall Street Journal

“IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT DOWN.”

—Midwest Book Review

“MESMERIZING.”

—Affaire de Coeur

“THRILLING.”

—BookPage

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author’s grateful thanks to:

My editor, Jackie Cantor, who said, when informed that there was (ahem) actually another book in this series, “Why am I not surprised to hear this?”

Susan Schwartz and her loyal minions—the copyeditors, typesetters, and book designers—without whom this book would not exist; I hope they eventually recover from the experience.

My husband, Doug Watkins, who said, “I don’t know how you go on getting away with this; you don’t know
anything
about men!”

My daughter Laura, who generously allowed me to steal two lines of her eighth-grade essay for my Prologue; my son Samuel, who said, “Aren’t you
ever
going to finish writing that book?” and (without pausing for breath), “Since you’re still busy writing, can we have McDonald’s again?” and my daughter Jennifer, who said, “You
are
going to change clothes before you come talk to my class, aren’t you? Don’t worry, Mommy, I have an outfit all picked out for you.”

The anonymous sixth grader who handed back a sample chapter passed around during a talk at his school and said, “That was kind of gross, but really interesting. People don’t really
do
that, do they?”

Iain MacKinnon Taylor and his brother Hamish, for Gaelic translations, idioms, and colorful invective. Nancy Bushey, for Gaelic tapes. Karl Hagen, for general advice on Latin grammar. Susan Martin and Reid Snider, for Greek epigrams and rotting pythons. Sylvia Petter, Elise Skidmore, Janet Kieffer Kelly, and Karen Pershing for help with the French bits.

Janet MacConnaughey and Keith Sheppard, for Latin love poetry, macaronics, and the original lyrics of “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

Mary Campbell Toerner and Ruby Vincent, for the loan of an unpublished historical manuscript about the Highlanders of the Cape Fear. Claire Nelson for the loan of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1771 edition. Esther and Bill Schindler, for the loan of the books on Eastern forests.

Ron Wodaski, Karl Hagen, Bruce Woods, Rich Hamper, Eldon Garlock, Dean Quarrel, and several other gentlemen members of the CompuServe Writers Forum, for expert opinions on what it feels like to be kicked in the testicles.

Marte Brengle, for detailed descriptions of sweat lodge ceremonials and suggestions on sports cars. Merrill Cornish, for his stunning description of redbuds in bloom. Arlene and Joe McCrea, for saints’ names and descriptions of plowing with a mule. Ken Brown, for details of the Presbyterian Baptismal rite (much abridged in the text). David Stanley, Scotland’s next great writer, for advice on anoraks, jackets, and the difference between them.

Barbara Schnell, for German translations, error-checking, and sympathetic reading.

Dr. Ellen Mandell, for medical opinions, close reading, and useful suggestions for dealing with inguinal hernias, abortion, and other forms of harrowing bodily trauma.

Dr. Rosina Lippi-Green, for details of Mohawk life and customs, and notes on Scots linguistics and German grammar.

Mac Beckett, for his notion of new and ancient spirits.

Jack Whyte, for his memoirs of life as a Scottish folksinger, including the proper response to kilt jokes.

Susan Davis, for friendship, boundless enthusiasm, dozens of books, descriptions of pulling ticks off her kids—and the strawberries.

Walt Hawn and Gordon Fenwick, for telling me how long is a furlong. John Ravenscroft and miscellaneous members of the UKForum, for a riveting discussion of the RAF’s underpants, circa WWII. Eve Ackerman and helpful members of the CompuServe SFLIT Forum, for the publication dates of Conan the Barbarian.

Barbara Raisbeck and Mary M. Robbins, for their helpful references on herbs and early pharmacology.

My anonymous library friend, for the
reams
of useful references.

Arnold Wagner and Steven Lopata, for discussions of high and low explosives and general advice on how to blow things up.

Margaret Campbell and other online residents of North Carolina, for miscellaneous descriptions of their fair state.

John L. Myers, both for telling me about his ghosts, and for generously allowing me to incorporate certain elements of his physique and persona into the formidable John Quincy Myers, Mountain Man. The hernia is fictitious.

As always, thanks also to the many members of the CompuServe Literary Forum and Writers Forum whose names have escaped my memory, for their helpful suggestions and convivial conversation, and to the AOL folderfolk for their stimulating discussions.

A special thanks to Rosana Madrid Gatti, for her labor of love in constructing and maintaining the award-winning Official Diana Gabaldon Web Page (
http://www.dianagabaldon.com
).

And thanks to Lori Musser, Dawn Van Winkle, Kaera Hallahan, Virginia Clough, Elaine Faxon, Ellen Stanton, Elaine Smith, Cathy Kravitz, Hanneke (whose last name remains unfortunately illegible), Judith MacDonald, Susan Hunt and her sister Holly, the Boise gang, and many others, for their thoughtful gifts of wine, drawings, rosaries, chocolate, Celtic music, soap, statuary, pressed heather from Culloden, handkerchiefs with echidnas, Maori pens, English teas, garden trowels, and other miscellanea meant to boost my spirits and keep me writing far past the point of exhaustion. It worked.

And lastly to my mother, who touches me in passing.

Diana Gabaldon

[email protected]

[email protected]

[Section Leader, Research and the Craft of Writing, CompuServe Writers Forum]

PROLOGUE

I’ve never been afraid of ghosts. I live with them daily, after all. When I look in a mirror, my mother’s eyes look back at me; my mouth curls with the smile that lured my great-grandfather to the fate that was me.

No, how should I fear the touch of those vanished hands, laid on me in love unknowing? How could I be afraid of those that molded my flesh, leaving their remnants to live long past the grave?

Still less could I be afraid of those ghosts who touch my thoughts in passing. Any library is filled with them. I can take a book from dusty shelves, and be haunted by the thoughts of one long dead, still lively as ever in their winding sheet of words.

Of course it isn’t these homely and accustomed ghosts that trouble sleep and curdle wakefulness. Look back, hold a torch to light the recesses of the dark. Listen to the footsteps that echo behind, when you walk alone.

All the time the ghosts flit past and through us, hiding in the future. We look in the mirror and see the shades of other faces looking back through the years; we see the shape of memory, standing solid in an empty doorway. By blood and by choice, we make our ghosts; we haunt ourselves.

Each ghost comes unbidden from the misty grounds of dream and silence.

Our rational minds say, “No, it isn’t.”

But another part, an older part, echoes always softly in the dark, “Yes, but it
could
be.”

We come and go from mystery and, in between, we try to forget. But a breeze passing in a still room stirs my hair now and then in soft affection. I think it is my mother.

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