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CHRONICLEOn the 15th of June, 1743 Lallybroch – Broch Tuarach, Broch Mordha
INTERVIEW with Ian Murray
For weeks, we’ve been asking Outlander Starz for a picture of Ian Murray in a kilt – a sneak peek of what’s to come. My friend, Covadonga Vega, has been leading the charge with her creative banners, calling – nay, begging for a picture. The artistic cause was joined by Isa and Riet with the help of some furry friends. Of course, the collection would not be complete without a scintillating piece from Ingrid. Here are all their lovely samples for your enjoyment.
While we wait for our first real look, I thought I might find a way to help pass the time. And so, with a brave step through the standing stones, I make my way back to 18th Century Scotland and am granted a one-on-one interview with the elusive man Himself.
Walking onto the Lallybroch farm is a literary fantasy come true. I can smell the hay in the fields and the manure from the barn. It’s intoxicating. Smoke rises from the chimney, and the smell of fresh-baked bread grows stronger as I approach the house.
The Landscape is at once different and the same – no cell phone towers, airplanes, or car engines. The air is fragrant and clean. As if special for my arrival, the sun is out and the sky is an azure blue not common in the 21stCentury. But I know you’re all dying to hear from someone else; therefore, without further adieu . . .
Twenty-three-year-old Ian Alastair Robert MacLeod Murray describes himself as a simple Man – husband, father, brother, farmer, ex-soldier. But we know, dear Readers, he is much more than that.
As I sit down with Mr. Murray to talk about the man during his time as a soldier in France, my first impression is that he’s a quiet yet strict Authoritarian. His nature is gentle but by no means soft. He’s fiercely protective of his family – having 100% Highlander blood running through his veins – and his loyalty to the tenants of Lallybroch is without reproach.
Physically, he has an unassuming charm behind a pair of warm, brown eyes. They look upon me with friendly and patient amusement which causes me to suppress a blush. He’s dressed in a work-shirt and standard kilt, and I force my eyes not to stare as I begin the interview by gathering my wits and clearing my throat to hide my nervousness.
Q: The first question on everyone’s mind is – how did you lose your leg?
Murray: (He scratches his head and wrinkles his nose as if knowing that would be my first question. Then he pats his hand on his knee above the stump.) Grape shot.
Q: (I wait for him to expand beyond his two-word explanation, but it’s obvious he requires prodding.) And, you were 20 . . . 21? (He nods. Moving on, I decide.) Where did it happen?
Murray: Daumier. I was fightin’ wi’ Fergus nic Leodhas and Jamie, there. He was barely past bein’ a wean. (He nods his head in his brother-in-law’s direction who is currently baling hay and shaking his red head at us. My eyes are locked on the tall form for a few moments, but I turn quickly back to the other attractive Highlander sitting beside me. I stay silent, hoping Murray will continue on his own. He smiles at me, either catching my distracted gaze or picking up on my “silent prodding.”) We were campaigning with the Prussian Army – good Fighters, well-equipped. (He crosses his arms and leans back on the stone wall where we’re sitting, his eyes looking beyond the horizon with stoic remembrance. He’s done talking about his soldiering days.)
Q: (Next question.) I understand your wife, Jenny, is a poet?
Murray: (He squirms a bit.) She likes to dally wi’ words.
Q: What about yourself? Do you have time for anything other than farm reports?
Murray: Oh, I dinna have the gift of prose beyond writin’ letters. I reckon I don’t write many of those either, seeing as everyone I know is within walkin’ distance o’ Lallybroch – except for Jamie, but we dinna know where he was. (I think he’s ready for the next question, but he surprises me with a confession.) I wrote Jenny a sonnet once . . . when she was carryin’ our first babe.
Q: (I decide not to pry.) How do you like being married?
Murray: (His high brows raise higher still on his forehead and his shoulders relax.) Oh, marriage suits me just fine. Are ye married, lass?
Q: (It’s my turn to raise my eyebrows and blush as I am unable to suppress it this time.) No, I’m not married.
Murray: (He nods his head with sympathetic, yet mistaken understanding.) Widow, are ye?
Q: (Okay, I know by 18th Century norms, I’m rather old not to be married, but still . . . Now he looks baffled. I wonder if I should take the opportunity to ask if he has a cousin or knows a nice, single Highlander. But now is not the proper time. I clear my throat again and shuffle through my notes.) No, I’m not a widow. How long have you been married?
Murray: (He grants me clemency but now has a wary look in his eye, as if trying to determine my faults.) Shy o’ 3 years.
Q: What’s your favorite part of being married? (I stare straight back at him.)
Murray: (He breaks out what can only be described as a devilish grin under one cocked eyebrow.) I’ll let you discover that for yourself, lass.
Q: What’s your favorite part of fatherhood? (I ask quickly before my face flames off.)
Murray: (His smirk turns into a laugh. It’s a deep, pleasant sound, and it prompts me to join him.) Weel, that’s my second favorite part of marriage. Ye’ll be wantin’ bairns of your own some day, aye?
Q: (I’m not quite sure how he keeps turning the interview back onto me, the cheeky devil. I adopt my best Scottish accent – which is not very good.) Weel, no bairns is my favorite part of bein’ single.
Murray: (A new smile lights up his face, and he squints his brown eyes at me.) Dinna be saying that. Ye find yourself a good husband, and you’ll be happy to have a babe or two. I know a few young lads . . . and a widower. (He adds that after another inspection of my face.) A brawny lad will do you just fine.
Q: (Brawny? Youngish and brawny? Or oldish and beefy?) When you say brawny –
Jenny: Ian, are ye still tellin’ your life story, man? (She comes up behind us, looking as beautiful as I’ve always imagined her – more so with the glow of pregnancy on her face. They make a fetching couple. I want to get back to the subject of the brawny lad, but I’ve missed my opportunity. Jenny nods at me as she puts one hand on her husband’s shoulder.) Mrs. Crook’s offered to mind the wee fiend for an hour . . .
Murray: (They are instantly of one mind. Murray swings both peg and leg agilely over the wall. He settles his weight over the wooden stump then stands and takes the basket his wife is holding in her other hand. He winks at me.) My favorite duty calls.
Q: I’ll just wait here. (I say this as they stroll off arm-in-arm.)
Oh well, at least I have a view to admire. Jamie is still working in the field in front of me. I sit quietly watching and enjoying the sights and sounds of 18th Century Scotland. It’s not so bad. Of course, there are no nasty Redcoats riding up to the farm at the moment.
My visit, so far, has been worth the trip through the stones. By the way, it really does hurt as much as Claire says. Speaking of our favorite heroine, here she comes with a bottle of something for her hard-working husband. They are too far away for me to listen in – not that I would ever eavesdrop! But I don’t have to hear to know what they’re saying to each other. I can see the look in the their eyes from where I sit. Now they are strolling off arm-in-arm – in search of a haystack no doubt.
There’s also no doubt that Lallybroch is a special place – full of history and prospects. The people who have lived here, do live here, and will live here feel its power. It’s a place worth living and dying for.
Ian Alastair Robert MacLeod Murray is just one of the many souls who will spend his life here and stay to rest. He is as much a part of this place as Jamie and Jenny. It was a privilege to meet him – if only I’d remembered to take a darn picture of him in his kilt!
I can’t say I’m ashamed to report that I couldn’t resist walking about the Lallybroch estate before returning to the 21stCentury. And as would happen, I was drawn to the same secluded spot where Ian Murray and his fine, young wife were having their romantic assignation away from the wee fiend and prying eyes – except for mine.
Imagine my excitement when I spotted a little something lying on the ground not far from where they were, er, standing. That’s right. It was Mr. Murray’s sonnet – obviously well-worn and much read by his Scottish love. But 18thCentury handwriting is a bit difficult to read, so I’ve included what I think is the correct transcription following the quickie photo I snapped. Out of respect for the amorous couple, I did not take an unauthorized picture of them.
Please, Outlander Starz, have a heart and put us out of our misery. Release a picture of Ian and his “Eternal Love” Jenny.
Mo Ghaol Bith-buan
Yer spirit lodged itself into my wame
Too long before t’was noble to confess.
Ye found me in the muck, a crippled dove;
Then kissed me soundly, now my life is blest.
Mo dhu, yer eyes of sky could be my death
Through drowning in fierce love you freely gift;
But knowing ye’ve become my very breath,
This heart, a hollow vessel, sails swift.
When gazing at ye ripened with our love,
Fresh need assails to harbor you, mo chridhe;
Before you no smile matched my vision of
A soul mate hewn to answer nightly pleas.
Ye’re poetry, a balm, in my arms; thus
Ye’ve healed my limb and soul, embroid’ring us.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Dàrsaidh for the lovely sonnet and for taking on the challenge of writing in Ian’s voice. And, of course, hugs and kisses for “Team Ian” for allowing me to use their wonderful art again (and again): Covadonga Vega, Isa, Riet, and Ingrid. Thanks also to Kath Powell for lending me your artistic mind.
BONUS: Here’s the “original” sonnet written in Ian’s own hand!