Those of you who've read Diana Gabaldon's latest novel, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, may remember Lord John's story about the white deer:
“In the evenings, quite often, deer come out of the forest to feed at the edges of the lawn. Now and then, though, I see a particular deer. It’s white, I suppose, but it looks as though it’s made of silver. I don’t know whether it comes only in the moonlight or whether it’s only that I cannot see it save by moonlight--but it is a sight of rare beauty.”
His eyes had softened, and I could see that he wasn’t looking at the plaster ceiling overhead but at the white deer, coat shining in the moonlight.
“It comes for two nights, three--rarely, four--and then it’s gone, and I don’t see it again for weeks, sometimes months. And then it comes again, and I am enchanted once more.”
(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 95 ("Numbness"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I didn't realize that white deer actually existed, until I saw this video, which shows several white deer in Wisconsin. They're really quite beautiful, mysterious and exotic-looking creatures.
Thanks to Electra on Compuserve for the link! If you want to join in the discussion on Compuserve, the thread is here.
I have wondered, reading this scene in ECHO, whether the white deer might be Lord John's "spirit animal", in much the same way that Ian's is the wolf or Jamie's is the bear. It's actually a pretty apt metaphor for how I feel about Lord John. When he's gone from the story, I don't really miss him -- being too caught up in the lives of the other characters -- but I always enjoy seeing him again.