It was a warm and sunny day in Morven. The heat from the sun-warmed the stone walls of the castle, a welcoming change from the coldness that the evening brought. It was the year 423, nineteen years after my birth. The celebration of my nineteenth birthday the night before could still be seen within the castle walls, down to the men asleep on the floor. The evening was quite fun, many laughs were had, and love had been shared. The only dark spot of the whole day was my conversation with my father at the end of the evening. The conversation still played in my mind.
The Previous Night
It was well into the evening when my father asked for my presence within his quarters. I did not overthink it; it was not the first time my father had requested to speak with me privately. I was not expecting to see he was there with another man, an older man that I had seen around the village, Mick Greum, the head of the Greum Clan. He was one of the first men my father had created a bond with when he first arrived in Morven. The Greum Clan had helped him to build this castle, Kinlochaline Castle. Our Clans were as close as family, and I knew it would remain that way throughout the generations.
“There she is, my beautiful daughter Elise.” My father said warmly.
I knew I was his pride and joy. I was an only child; my mother had experienced a traumatic pregnancy with me and, as a result, could no longer bear children. I was the only child my father would ever have, and I knew at some point there would need to be a conversation about the Clan’s future. I just did not expect it to happen today.
“Father,” I said warmly, moving to place a kiss to his cheek as I always did.
“My dear, you remember Mister Greum.”
“Of course, father. It is good to meet your acquaintance Mister Greum.” I said with a curtsy.
“A pleasure to officially meet you, Mistress MacInnes.”
Mick Greum was a large man. He had the red hair of most Scots and green eyes, but his eyes were far from warm. This is a man that had seen plenty of battles and was ready for more.
“Mister Greum has a son, Dougal, that needs a proper woman to make a wife. I told him you would be honored to be his son’s wife.” My father informed me.
I was shocked for a moment, uncertain of what to say. I knew it would be my duty to carry on the MacInnes’ name. My uncles had yet to have a child of their own; everything was riding on my shoulders. I was expected to find a proper man to be my husband. One that would be able to take over the Lordship when my father passed. I thought it would be more of my say though than my father’s. I certainly had no idea that he was already seeking for me to be wed. I was a woman today and no longer considered a lassie, but it seemed too quick. For me to marry a man that I did not know, had never laid eyes on. It seemed impossible and unjust. What if we hated each other? What if I did not find him attractive? What if he treated me poorly? There were too many unknowns, too many questions, and yet I was expected to make that decision right here, right now. A decision I knew that I would not have a say in, not honestly. My father was informing me in front of Mister Greum to ensure my silence.
“My son is set to take over the Greum Clan when my time comes. He needs a good strong woman that can support him in his duties. Your father has ensured me you have grown into a proper woman who understands the duty my son has to his Clan and our people.”
I knew I could not say no. This was my duty to the Clan. I was to be wed to a man that would help the future of our Clan. The blend of the MacInnes and Greum Clans would only strengthen the friendship and bond that has been created.
“It would be my honor to stand by your son Mister Greum and accept his hand in marriage,” I said with a warm smile.
It was all a lie. I had no interest in marrying a man that I did not know. I was not ready for marriage, nor was I looking for it. Being a woman in this time was not easy. Women were expected to answer to a man, any man, and they were never allowed to go against their husbands. Some husbands abuse that power, making their wives cater to their every whim, and if they don’t, they were beaten into submission. I was not a woman that would provide to her husband. I was not a woman that would blindly follow my husband’s orders simply because he said it. It was my life, my body, and I was going to do with it what I please. I may be arranged to be wed, but it would ultimately be my decision if the nuptials are spoken. I was not backing down on that.
“That is the most wonderful news, Mistress MacInnes. My son will be pleased. I shall speak with your father on the preparations.”
I could tell they were both pleased with themselves. My only hope now would be that my future husband was not a traditional man. If he were, this marriage would never commence. I just pray my father will be understanding.
I was still unsure about how I felt about last night’s events. They were not what I was expecting, nor do I know how to approach the situation. I was set to meet my prospective husband within two weeks. My fear was already building within my belly. This was not how I wanted my life to be, and it leaves me filled with uncertainty. For the first time in my life, I was on a shaky footing.