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Planning for The Future

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July 1949

Frank had stayed at Reg’s manor for another week. After the first day, he hadn’t read anything in depth. Not the journals and not the letters. He’d skimmed but not researched.

Most of those days were spent talking with Fiona and Reg about his plans.

After further discussion with Ellen Menzies Fraser, Frank decided to keep the bulk of the journals at Lallybroch.

Frank planned to reclaim and keep the box of James’ and Claire’s journals in his possession, but didn’t tell anyone, not even Reg. Publicly everything was returned to Lallybroch except the letters directly addressed to Frank. The estate already had a safe secure storage, which helped Frank sleep better. Theft of original documents wasn’t unheard of. The journals would all stay there. At least until his plans were complete and he was in Scotland permanently.

With Fiona’s help, Frank rented a flat in Broch Morda. He could buy a house later. For now, he needed to find a job.

After settling into the flat, Frank made an appointment with the Chair of the History Department at Aberdeen.


Tammis Innes had lived his entire life in Scotland. Had gone to school in Edinburgh and then returned home to teach at the University of Aberdeen. His area of study was the history of the monetary system in Scotland. There were other professors with other areas of study. He had asked the youngest faculty member to join him for today’s meeting.

Sandy Travers was an American, who had grown up listening to her father and his friends lament over lost Scotland. Sandy had been intrigued by the romance of it all, and when she went to university had majored in history. When it came time to work on her Doctoral degree, Sandy had chosen Aberdeen. Her area of study was the Jacobite movement and the rising of ‘45.

Since Aberdeen did not at that time have a professor of Highland studies, Sandy currently taught those classes for the undergraduates. The professor overseeing her doctoral program had retired suddenly for health reasons at the beginning of last term. Tammis was hoping that Dr. Randall would be able to take his place. Sandy was too. Until Aberdeen hired someone to replace the retired Dr. Cameron, her candidacy was in limbo.


The plan was simple. If he could convince Aberdeen to hire him, Frank would go back to Oxford and resign. Sell his flat, pack his things and move to Scotland. Most of the resources that he needed to confirm the journal accounts were in Scotland anyway.

Upon entering the office, Frank noticed a young woman there. Perhaps a secretary to take notes?

“Good to meet you Dr. Randall. I’m Dr. Tammis Innes, head of the history department and this is Professor Sandra Travers, Doctoral candidate. I asked Sandy to sit in on this meeting as the 45 rising is her area of study.”

Frank was a little surprised though he didn't show it.  A woman Doctoral Candidate was rare.

Frank shook Dr. Innes hand and then Sandy’s.

“Have a seat and tell me why you want to leave Oxford to come to Aberdeen.”

“Thank you Dr. Innes. My area of study as I said in my letter, is the Scottish Highlands and specifically Highland culture before and after the last Jacobite uprising.

I’ve very recently gained access to a rather large collection of private journals belonging to a Highland family. The owner and I agree that’s it’s best if the collection remains here in Scotland.”

Frank paused for a moment.

“I could research here and then publish through Oxford. I believe however, that it would be more appropriate for a Scottish University to receive any benefit from my research rather than an English University. If it had been left up to the English, Highland culture would have completely disappeared. As it is, the English forced that culture underground for a long time. Although I am an Englishman, I find it deplorable that the Scottish people were subjugated in that manner. I certainly don’t wish to steal their history from them as well.”

Tammis sat with raised eyebrow and skeptical expression to Frank’s pitch. “How large a collection of journals?”

“Slightly more than a thousand. Some journals are thicker than others, but they date from 1746 to the present.”

Sandy gasped. “You’re talking about the Fraser collection.”

“Yes. I am.”

Dr. Innes shook his head. “Pardon me for saying this, but I find that very hard to believe. Hardly anyone outside Scotland even knows the Collection exists. The University is only aware because a member of the Fraser family was a student here in the mid 1850’s and mentioned it in one of his papers.

The history department has been trying to get access to the Fraser collection ever since. We could never get the family to allow it.”

“I know. Ellen told me, when I asked her to certify that I do in fact have permission to access the original journals.”

Tammis’ eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. “You mean to tell me that she gave you permission to study the originals? The university can’t even get permission to study the copies!”

“Yes.” “I do have the notarized certification letter if you’d like to see it.”

“I would, yes.” Frank pulled it from his briefcase and handed it to Dr. Innes.

Tammis read the letter and sat back in his chair, mind racing. The Fraser Collection. This would bring the University so much benefit he couldn’t even begin to calculate it.

“Why? You’re not even a Scot. Why would Ellen give you the Fraser Collection.”

Frank smiled wryly. Having done his homework Frank knew that Tammis wasn’t anti-English, so he didn’t take offense at the question. It was odd after all. Fortunately Claire had thought of that too.

He passed over a letter from Claire. The paper was quite old but had been preserved very carefully in the same way the journals had been.

 

August 15th, 1746

Dear Dr. Randall,

If you read this, then my dream was no dream but a vision of the future. My name is Claire Fraser, Lady Broch Tuarach. I have dreams sometimes, of future events. I do not know why or from whom they come.

This particular dream left me with a set of instructions. Write everything down. The battle of Culloden Moor. Our lives after. Ask my husband, my good sister, brother, and all of our descendants to do the same.

Keep the journals safe and protected until a man named Franklin Alexander Randall comes to ask after them, sometime after a great war engulfs the known world. He will be an Englishman. He will do our story justice.

As my dreams before have come to pass, I believe this one will too. I will follow the instructions and advise my children to do the same.

With thanks,

Claire Fraser, Lady Broch Tuarach

“This was folded into the first journal of James Fraser, the Laird when the journals begin.”

Tammis didn’t know what to think. He was a Scot, but also an educated man. He wasn’t sure he believed in ‘the sight’ or visions of the future. He looked at the paper. It seemed authentic, although many tests would have to be done on the paper and ink to prove it.

Sandy was nodding. “It was said that Lady Claire Fraser had ‘the sight’. I know she was credited with miracles throughout the highlands in her lifetime and even after her death. Now I don’t know about visions, but I do believe in God and I do believe in prophetic dreams. It’s possible Lady Fraser had one. She was by all accounts a very devout Catholic. Her jet rosary is on display at the Fraser museum.”

Frank snorted inwardly. The Claire he knew had been far from devout. Of course, she may have changed, he silently acknowledged.

Tammis finally spoke. “I’ll need to meet with Lady Fraser and authenticate this you understand?”

Frank nodded. “I expected as much.”

“How did you even find out about the collection?”

Frank and Fiona had thought about this part of the story most carefully. He had known Reg and therefore Fiona for a number of years after all.

“A rather odd series of coincidences actually. I’m friends with a Reginald Wakefield, he’s a Presbyterian minister in Glasgow. His housekeeper is a woman named Fiona Graham. Her maiden name was Murray. I’ve known them both for years. Fiona never mentioned The Fraser Collection. Even though I am an historian, it didn’t occur to her. Randall is a common English surname.

We were recently talking over dinner, and middle names came up. I was teasing Reg for having two, I just had the one, Alexander. When Fiona heard that my full name is Franklin Alexander Randall, she connected the dots. She thought I might be the Frank Randall in the stories she heard as a child. After asking me some questions about my ancestors, Fiona told me about the Collection and asked if I wanted to meet with Lady Fraser.

Of course I said yes. If it turned out that I was the Frank Randall they were saving the journals for, then I would have access to an extraordinary resource in my area of study. After doing some additional checking into my family tree, the Lady Fraser determined that I was the right Frank Randall and gave me access to the collection.”

‘It is a very good thing I worked in intelligence during the war’. Frank thought to himself. Or coming up with something plausible would be much more difficult.

Telling the entire truth wasn’t even an option unless he wanted to out Claire as a time traveler, which no one would believe. He’d be thought a lunatic.

Tammis was nodding by the end of the story. “Alright, I guess that’s reasonable. What do you plan to do if we don’t offer you a post?”

“I’ll most likely stay in Scotland anyway. I have a year’s sabbatical from Oxford. With a find of this size and scope, I’m sure Oxford would extend the time in order to benefit from my work when I publish.” Frank wanted this to stay in Scotland, but he wouldn’t beg for a job.

Tammis was relieved rather than offended. Desperate men were not the best employees.

“Good. I intend to offer you a position, I just don’t like to see anyone put all their eggs into one basket. Now. Given the extent of the collection, I want to give you plenty of time for research. Here is my proposal.

You join the faculty and teach the graduate level classes. Sandy can continue to teach the undergraduate level, and you see her through the rest of her doctoral program. In return Sandy becomes your research assistant. It is her field of study also, after all.”

Frank thought about that for a minute. He’d have to read everything first and filter it before showing anything to Miss Travers, but having an assistant would be very helpful. “I can agree to that. The originals will be kept at the Lallybroch storage facility, for security more than anything. I do have authorization to copy things though. If Miss Travers would assist in writing out my research for publication, I would greatly appreciate the help.”

“I look forward to it. Just to see copies of The Fraser Collection is more access than I ever dreamed of.” Said Sandy.

Frank went on. “I just rented a flat in Broch Morda so as to have closer access to the Broch Tuarach estate and surrounding area. Being in the geographic area the journals were written will help with putting it all into context. I do plan to go back to Oxford to resign and sell my flat there. I should be back before the beginning of the Fall term.

Broch Morda is over two hours from Aberdeen by auto. I am happy to teach, I do request that my classes all be schedule into a couple of days, so I can spend the other days researching without the additional four hour drive.” Frank concluded.

“That’s doable. If we were to schedule your classes for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with office hours Tuesday evenings, you could stay overnight in one of the faculty flats on campus.” Tammis was quite used to history professors wanting to lump class schedules so they could research. The more they published the better for the University. Tammis accommodated them as much as possible.

Tammis stood up holding out his hand. “Well then. Welcome to University of Aberdeen.”

Frank stood also and shook the offered hand. “Thank you. I look forward to being here.”

Turning to Sandy and shaking her hand also, “Miss Travers, I look forward to working with you.”

“Thank you Dr. Randall. I’m looking forward to it as well.”

“I’ll have the employment contract drawn up. It should be ready for signing in a few days. If you leave your contact information with my secretary, she can let you know when it’s ready to be signed.”

Frank nodded and saying his goodbyes, left the office.

Tammis looked at Sandy. “The Fraser Collection. I’ll be damned.”