Mairi's struggle is what strikes me. She struggles to make amends, to holds at bay her emotional burdens. She struggles to be the pleasing daughter who will obey her father. She holds herself together--too tightly.
The one who sees this about her is a lowlander, Duffy who has taken a year off from the Elliot clan trying to discover his true name and heritage. The silences about this are more telling than explanations. He is one of three from that clan who is on a quest. They were all to meet up at a certain time.
Duff saves Laird Alistair Gordon from ambush and the laird's daughter Mairi from a spooked horse. Mairi it seems has been given the chance by her father to choose her own husband--from three likely candidates. An unusual occurrence. Most daughters are married off for political reasons with no choice. Laird Gordon asks Duff to stay on to be Marie's protector. She is spending a day with each potential groomsman to aid in her choosing. There must be no hint of scandal. Duff decides he can afford three days before meeting up with his comrades.
The choosing is made the harder for Mairi. She finds herself thinking more and more about Duff. She is drawn to him. But she knows her duty, a duty heavily fuelled by guilt. A guilt that stops her from enjoying life.
Duff is finding it harder to hold himself apart. Honour demands he stay until Marie has set her course. And perhaps Duff will find a new heritage.
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