September 18 is the 237th anniversary of a very tragic event in the OUTLANDER series.
* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *
If you haven't read Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (Book 8 of the OUTLANDER series), there are SPOILERS below!
Henri-Christian's death in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD was so sudden, and so unexpected, that even now, fifteen months after the book was published, I still can't quite believe it really happened.
Rather than dwelling on the circumstances of his death, or why Diana Gabaldon chose to write it this way, I would prefer to remember little Henri-Christian as he was in happier times. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
1) Remember our first introduction to wee Monsieur L'Oeuf?
[Marsali] leaned back a little and pushed a hand firmly into the side of her mound. Then she seized Germain's hand and put it on the spot. Even from where I stood, I could see the surge of flesh as the baby kicked vigorously in response to being poked.2) I have always found Jamie's unconditional acceptance of Henri-Christian very moving.
Germain jerked his hand away, startled, then put it back, looking fascinated, and pushed.
"Hello!" he said loudly, putting his face close to his mother's belly. "Comment ça va in there, Monsieur L'Oeuf?"
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Malting-Floor". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I’d told Marsali to bring the wee lad, and after we’d eaten, I took him on my knee, and had them all come and touch him, just to see.”3) Following in his father's footsteps, at four years old:
He smiled lopsidedly.
“One of the lads asked me was it true, what Mr. Roger said, about the wean belonging to the Lord? I told him I certainly wouldna argue with Mr. Roger about that--but whoever else he belonged to, Henri-Christian belongs to me, as well, and best they should remember it."
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 64, "I Am the Resurrection, Part 2". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Want to see a trick, Grandmère?" Henri-Christian croaked eagerly. Marsali was right; he did sound like a constipated bullfrog. I nodded, though, and, hopping off my lap, he pulled three small leather bags stuffed with bran out of his pocket and began at once to juggle them with amazing dexterity.4) This bit makes me laugh. God, I miss this kid!
"His da taught him," Marsali said, with a certain amount of pride.
"When I'm big like Germain, Da will teach me to pick pockets, too!"
Marsali gasped and clapped a hand over his mouth.
"Henri-Christian, we dinna ever speak o' that," she said sternly. "Not to anybody. D'ye hear?"
He glanced at me, bewildered, but nodded obediently.
(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 87, "Severance and Reunion". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"That'll do, Henri! A Dhia, the state of you! Go find one o' your sisters and tell her to wash your hands for ye, aye?"5) This next quote makes my heart ache so much for poor Germain! What a terrible burden of guilt for a ten-year-old boy to bear.
Henri looked at his hands, as though astonished to find them completely black.
"Oui, Maman," he said, and, cheerfully wiping them on his breeches, scampered out into the kitchen, bellowing, "Félicité! Come wash me!" at the top of his lungs.
(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "A Distant Massacre". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I promised Maman, when he was born, I said I would never leave him."6) I can't even imagine what it must feel like to lose a child.
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 68, "Savages". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The bench beside me creaked, and Jenny sat down. Wordless, she put her arm about my shoulder, and equally wordless, I bent my head to hers and we wept for a bit--not only for Henri-Christian but for the babies we each had lost, my stillborn Faith, her infant Caitlin. And for Marsali, now joining us in this sorrowful kinship.RIP, Henri-Christian Fraser! We miss you.
(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 121, "Walking on Coals". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)