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"A Fugitive Green" is a novella by Diana Gabaldon. It follows the exploits of Minnie Rennie, a 17-year-old apprentice dealer in rare books sent from Paris to England by her father to obtain incunabula and medieval books of devotion—and whatever secrets of political intrigue or finance may come to hand in the process. In the course of her business, though, Minnie meets Harold Grey, the newly-widowed Duke of Pardloe, and their interests become entangled.

Plot

In June 1744, 17-year-old Minerva "Minnie" Wattiswade is living with her father Raphael in Paris under the names Wilhelmina and Andrew Rennie. Her father is a rare bookseller and seller of information. At the start of the story, Minnie has received a letter with information on her biological mother. The note contains the address: "Mrs. Simpson, Chapel House, Parson’s Green, Peterborough Road, London." While Minnie is still pondering the meaning of the letter, Jamie Fraser arrives at the shop to speak to her father.

Meanwhile in London, Harold Grey is despondent over the death of first wife, Esmé Grey a month prior. Harry Quarry arrives and tells him that he will not be tried for killing Nathaniel Twelvetrees, Esmé's lover, in a duel. The shock of the death sent the pregnant Esmé into premature labor and she died on the same day.

Newly arrived in London, Minnie is surprised to find that Raphael has asked her new chaperone Lady Buford to find Minnie a husband. Minnie surmises that this is partially a ruse for Minnie to get closer to the intended targets, as well as a sincere attempt to see Minnie married to an Englishman. Her days quickly become social engagements with wealthy men arranged by Lady Buford and covert errands on behalf of her father's clients.

Harry Quarry arrives at Minnie's rooms and asks her to find out if anyone else in society knows about the affair between Esmé and Nathaniel. Harry hopes to discreetly exonerate Hal without putting the latter through further grief.

Later that day, Minnie is taken by coach to meet the Mrs. Simpson mentioned in the letter. She learns that Mrs. Simpson is her aunt, and that her mother, Soeur Emmanuelle née Hélène, is a former nun who fell in love with Minnie's father. Upon getting pregnant, Soeur Emmanuelle was expelled from the order and put in an insane asylum, where she "lost her reason entirely." Since Minnie's birth, Soeur Emmanuelle has been living as a virtual hermit, constantly engaged in familiar religious rituals and barely speaking. When Minnie arrives at the cottage, her mother asks if she's an angel and appears to somewhat recognize her. However, her mother then becomes distressed. Minnie prays with her before leaving.

Minnie meets with Harry again and tells him that most people believe Hal had "a fit of madness." She suggests stealing the letters so that they can be used as proof of an affair, but Harry is highly reluctant. However, he does tell her where the letters are and to whom evidence should be sent before departing.

A few weeks later, both Minnie and Hal attend a garden party thrown by the Princess of Wales. Hal is hoping to speak to the Prince (later George II) about his regiment, while Minnie is there to pass on information to a client.

Minnie and Hal encounter one another and chat for a few minutes before Hal has an asthma attack. Minnie uses smelling salts to revive him, and Hal confides in her about the death of his father three years prior. The pair are highly attracted to one another.

Edward Twelvetrees visits Minnie a few days later and tells her that he believes Hal has love letters between Esmé and Nathaniel, and asks Minnie to steal them on his behalf. Minnie hedges her answer to Twelvetrees and inwardly distrusts his intentions.

Knowing that several parties are after the letters and seeking to protect Hal, Minnie elects to steal the letters herself. Her bodyguards, Rafe and Mick O'Higgins, disguise themselves and steal the letters from Hal's study. Minnie reads them and feels sympathetic toward Hal. She also notes that the letters are actually drafts, and concludes that Esmé deliberately preserved them in the hopes of inciting jealousy in Hal. Not wanting to violate Hal's privacy by revealing the letters, she instead alters one of Nathaniel's poems by adding a title and inscription that hints at an affair between Esmé and Nathaniel.

Hoping that her forged evidence will be enough, Minnie attempts to put the letters back in Hal's desk drawer but is caught in the act by Hal. She lies and claims Edward Twelvetrees stole the letters, and she was merely returning them. When asked why she did not do so anonymously, Minnie truthfully tells Hal that she didn't want him to be hurt or embarrassed by the knowledge that someone else had seen the letters. She kisses him by way of apology, and the two have sex on the hearth rug.

Afterward, Hal promises to call on Minnie the next day. However, he's dismayed to find that she gave him a false address and appears to have disappeared from London entirely. A few weeks later, Harry confesses to asking Minnie to dig into the affair, and Hal realizes that Minnie was the one who provided evidence that both exonerated Hal and saved him from having the full contents of the letters revealed. His resolve to find Minnie is redoubled.

Meanwhile, a now six months pregnant Minnie has gone to Amsterdam with her father. Hal arrives at their house and immediately takes Minnie to a local pub to be married, telling her, "I married a lady and she became a whore. I cannot complain if it should be the other way about this time."

Characters

Covers

Trivia

  • Working titles for the novella include "Patterns of Survival" and simply "Survival".

Excerpts

From Diana Gabaldon's official webpage and facebook.

References

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