But times were changing in the Highlands. The 48,000 Highlanders in the British Army who joined to fight Napoleon, of whom he had been one, fought courageously raising their esteem in the eyes of the crown. In fact, it was a Scotsman who captured the eagle of the 45th regiment of the French at the Battle of Waterloo. Still, it was what a Scotsman hated the verra most, to put his brogs on English soil almost as much as France's.
However, some landholders like himself were concerned for the newer policy of what some called The Clearing. The Countess of Scotland, with over a million acres, allowed her factor to burn the fields around her estate, causing thousands of people to be cleared out. As estates became more costly to hold, the rights of the tenants suffered as rents were raised to impossible levels as another means to run off those who long had depended upon their lairds for their homes and livelihoods. Many of these impoverished ones were fleeing to Ireland becoming "Scots-Irish."
As any good Scotsman would, William wore his kilt neatly plaited and fastened with a belt while the rest was worn over his shoulder fixed with the broach of his clan. He preferred to wear a Swallow-tailed jacket, but for a long ride on horseback, he'd chosen the short wool one over a vest. The sporran he wore bore the head of a fox. While riding he wore boots though normally he wore his low-cut brogs with silver buckles. Of course he had his claymore, a broadsword, his dirk, a pair of pistols--single-barreled muzzle loading--and a powder-horn.
"'pears to be a man left bloody by a pack of robbers, Archbishop, reverend, sir. Do you want me to stop?"
"No, hasten on. Looking through the slits of his eyes, he saw a man in black robes peering out safely from behind the carriage curtains probably an important churchman by the looks of him. William raised his hand, but dropped it as the driver cracked his whip to urge his team on. The Scotsman heaved a sigh, barely hanging onto hope.
"Whatever ye say, m'lady. I'll keep a close lookout with my pistol ready."
He had already written a his message to the palace, the one his countrymen sent him with, and explained his mishap. William had also written home to let them know what had transpired. He knew it would take much longer going home than it had coming here.
He was holding the horses by the leathers when she came back from the cemetery leaning on the innkeeper's wife's arm. William handed over the horses lead to the hostler while he assisted the lady up into her carriage. When she put her gloved hand in his, she turned her eyes upon him. A faint smile bloomed on her lips. "Thank you for stepping in during this crisis to help me, William Wallace Callander. What should I call you, sir?"
He couldn't help but grin, "While I am in your service, you may call me William." If he was on more equal footing with her, it would not have been appropriate for her to use his first name, but as far as she knew, he was of no higher rank than as her driver. He mounted the carriage's high seat and slapped the horses strong backs with the reigns urging them on. His own horse followed, tied to the back of the carriage. He saluted to the innkeeper as he drove out of the yard wondering at his glowing happiness rising filling hi chest. He chuckled at what he could only imagine his sister would say if she only knew how he had taken on the form of a servant.
Every ten miles or so, they came upon a place to rest and water the horses. Each time he assisted the lady down out of her carriage and each time, back in. Each time she looked up and smiled, never failing to say, "Thank you."
After the third such stop, she told him as he opened the carriage door for her, "It is not much farther, five miles or so. You'll know when the horses pick up their pace anxious to return to their stalls."
When they did arrive at dusk, hands appeared to let Lady Mary out of her carriage before he could jump down while others climbed up top to lift and carry in her luggage. Yet others led the horses to the stable. However, before disappearing into the house, she turned to her man and said, "I'm sorry to say that Jim died on the road when a horse kicked him fatally in the head. This is William Wallace Callander. He's my new driver. Please take care of him and show him to his room." Her eyes had been shining upon him as she spoke, but then the house swallowed her out of his sight.
William looked over to see a man sneering. She chose a Scotsman? Mustn't have been many to choose from, I'd wager. Well, so be it. We'll see if her brother allows you to stay on the morrow. Follow me."
He did while gritting his teeth. Centuries of distrust still linger between the English and the Scottish people. Knowing it went both ways, he prayed God would give him patience and an open mind and heart to be His instrument in His hand.
It was a room as small as his had been in the inn. He fingered the few items that her driver Jim had left, a razor and small mirror, a pair of worn boots, a change of clothes much too small to fit William, and a copy of Pilgrim's Progress. That encouraged him as to the condition of the man's soul when he met his Maker. William determined to find a moment to tell Lady Mary for it would be a word of encouragement for her as well.
He stayed busy helping the stable-master in the meanwhile grooming and exercising horses as well as the most menial of tasks, muck-raking out the horse stalls. He was only called upon once that first week to drive Sir Henry of Montrose into town for business. The man had shaken his hand and thanked him for stepping in to help his sister. At least the gentleman looked him in the eye and met him man to man instead of looking down on him as a servant, a servant in a kilt at that.
However, he did say, "We need to get you a livery. And lose the beard. We can't have you driving all over the countryside in your plaid." He grinned. "You are sure to be the talk of the town after today. While I am at my accountant's, high yourself over to the tailor's and tell him I sent you to take over Jim's place. He'll know what you need. That way you can save your kilt for the country dances and dazzle all the young ladies."
William took it as it was meant, a hearty jest. He would wear whatever the master of Montrose chose, as long as he could serve his lady a little longer. It was harder to give up his beard, but that too would be a small price to pay for her saving his life. He still had a debt of gratitude to pay. He grinned back and said, "I'll do as ye say, m'lord. Jest tell me when the country dance is, and I'll be there."
At that, Sir Henry threw back his head and laughed. "You'll do," he finally said and climbed in.
William was just about to shut the carriage door when he spied Lady Mary stepping lightly down the front steps wearing her bonnet and spencer. She looked up and said, "Good morning, William."
"Good morning to you, m'lady." He absorbed her smile like a sweet cookie dunked in milk. He was sopped. After he helped her in, he kept his smile in check doing his best not to grin too widely as her brother's hard stare was upon him.
William uncomfortably examined himself on the ride to town though careful to miss the worst of the ruts on the road so as not to jar the precious cargo inside. He had never had such a reaction to a lady back at home. It unsettled him. It was as if he was losing the grip on himself that had kept him disciplined in his responsibilities of his role back home. He whispered under his breath, "Pull yerself together, William. It's only a debt of gratitude ye be paying. That's all." Yet he could not shake whatever this new feeling was. He still pondered it though the puzzle was himself.
The tailor measured him from bow to stern, from top of his mast clear down to below deck, and ran the tape over the cross beam of his shoulders. It made him glad for the ease of a kilt. It would fit most men without alteration.
"Tell Sir Henry that I should have it done in a fortnight," he said winding his measuring tape back up. "There's no way you can fit in Jim's old clothes that's for sure." William was just glad he made no remark about his kilt as he wound it back over himself pleating it as he went.
He mounted the driver's seat and assessed the village from that height. It was almost as old as his own back home with cobblestone streets and thatched roofs. Flowers bloomed in window boxes and women dawdled around the well in the center of the town's square. He was being watched as much as he was observing them. One brazen lassie walked over and gave each of the horses an apple saying, "Good Day, sir. Are ye new up at the manor?"
He just nodded and looked away. He wanted no local entanglements here in England, none more than the one lady whom he served. He knew not how long he would stay, only trusting God to guide.
One surly man came out of the tavern and spit by the carriage. "Wadda they think they are doing with a Scotsman takin' ol'Jim's seat. There's plenty of good men here in town who could have done wha' he's done all these years for the master."
William ignored him and smiled up at the sunshine of a beautiful day. He watched as Lady Mary came out of the apothecary's and slipped into a small bookshop. She had glanced up at him once again, and a smile budded there almost unfurling its soft petals. One look was all it took to keep him staying in place. His time here was not finished. That much he knew.
It was a few weeks later, with few chances to see his lady's smile when he was told a house party was coming of Sir Henry's friends. The London season had ended the 12th of August and the time of shooting and fishing were to begin. It was the gentlemen's attraction to a country estate. He wondered if it would be a Driven Game shoot with beaters flushing the birds up in the air or if the gentlemen would settle for a regular shoot with their fowling pieces. He wondered if they would hunt more for ducks or pheasants. It made his fingers itch to get his gun back. He did love a good hunt."
Three carriages had arrived by nightfall, and he was kept busy tending to their teams of horses. A fourth carriage would arrive in the morning he was told. As it rumbled in the next day, he had just grabbed the horses leads when he heard his name called.
"William! I say, what are you doing here? And what is that you are wearing? I don't think I've ever seen you wear anything but a kilt!"
He broke into a big grin. It was his good friend from his university days at Edinburgh, Sir Edward Harper. "Come to try your hand at shooting, are ye? I just hope you do better than last season," William laughed.
"What's this? You two know each other?" Sir Henry asked. He paused on the stairs as he had come out to greet his guests.
William wiped his hand down his face and felt the stubble of where his beard once grew while Edward burst out, "Why, yes,we've been friends for years now. His estate is one of the best in the Highlands for hunting. Plenty of grouse and even stags some years if you're lucky."
Lady Mary's brother looked back and forth between them as William threw his shoulders back, held his head high and waited. His ruse was up.
"So I take it you are not a driver, are you?"
"No, your Sir Henry. I'm William Wallace Callander, the Scottish Marquis of Glamdemoor."
Sir Henry stared at him with his mouth open then snorted. Then he began chuckling until bent over in hearty laughter gasping for breath.
"Won't my sister be surprised! Her groom is a Marquis! This is rich, rich indeed!"
"What?" The other men wanted in on the secret that William, his friend Edward and Sir Henry so humorously shared. "Pray tell us what's so dastardly funny!"
Finally, Sir Henry stood up and said, "You best get out of your livery, Marquis, and put your kilt back on. Come in the house and join us!" He went back in slapping Edward on the back as they tried to explain as much as they could to the others.
After he had changed back into the Scotsman that he was more comfortable being, the butler let William in the door with a slight bow and a distrusting eye. It was indeed an old manor house, but not as ancient as his on the Glamdemoor estate. He saw a rich elegance, tastefully done. The group of men surrounded him in the drawing room wanting to hear the whole story again, letting him fill in the gaps that had not yet been told.
"And that is how I came to serve Lady Mary of Montrose," he finished. This gathering was no different than his own house parties as men jostled for chances to come to his hunting lodge. In fact, he and his brother were considering turning it into a financial endeavor since the number of fowl and game were decreasing. He'd heard that some lairds were selling chances to hunt by lottery. He hated to do it, but if it helped his estate be sustainable and better able to provide for his tenants, then he might try it. Perhaps he could talk with Sir Henry and get his perspective on it."
When the ladies joined them before supper, he saw Sir Henry go over and speak to his sister softly. She turned such a rosebud pink, that he had to look away as he heard her gasp raising a glove over her mouth. Soon, however, she graciously came over with a smile playing on her lips. "So, you tricked me, William Wallace Callander, Marquis of Glamdemoor. Why in heaven's name did you play the part as my driver, may I ask?"
"I wanted to serve you, m'lady. You saved my life. I wasn't able to return home as yet anyway, so I thought I would abide here a wee bit. It would be the right thing to do. I felt I had to at least try to pay the debt I owe," he answered looking into her wide eyes full of questions.
"I see. Still, I wish I had known all along. But then again, I'm only glad to have helped another, regardless of rank or country. So perhaps it was better that I didn't know," she sighed. "I'd like to think that I would have not done anything differently than what I did."
"You were an angel sent to me from God, Lady Mary," he said softly as she blushed again. "I will ever be at your service, even if I'm no longer your driver," he added grinning.
She hit him in the shoulder playfully with her closed fan. "I still can't believe it. At least you've been found out and can join us now to make a merrier party. We'll have you put in a guest room tonight and your things moved." She went over to speak to a maid who looked at him with a puzzled face.
The mornings were leisurely, but the afternoons were spent hunting until dusk. Then they came back to clean up for dinner joining the ladies. William saw her every evening. It was his honor to lead the group to the table with Lady Mary on his arm as he held the highest rank among them.
Later in the evening as one lady or other played the pianoforte, he sat by his friend Sir Edward and quizzed him on his knowledge of the house. "Are their parents still alive?" he asked quietly.
"Their father died unexpectedly of cholera during the last epidemic in London five years ago. Their mother still chooses to reside in their townhouse there and has a great distaste for traveling refusing to come back to the family's country estate. Lady Mary only goes in for part of the season choosing to stay here in the country the rest of the year. Her brother even more rarely goes to London as he hasn't found a factor he can fully trust yet to manage his estate. Personally, I think he likes it that way preferring to keep in touch with his tenants and run the estate as he wishes without interference. Eventually he will probably find a man and take it easier."
"I see. So he became an earl at a fairly young age," William mused.
"As you became a marquis before you were shaving. I guess you could say, you still aren't shaving by the looks of your beard though. I'm glad to see you're already growing it back out again. I hardly recognized you without it. Sir Henry told me how he had ordered you to shave your other one off. That must have been a sacrifice." They both chuckled.
"Verra true, my friend. Soon his eyes found their way back over to Lady Mary. "I'm surprised that she hasn't been snatched up by some swain by now," William said dropping his eyes to look down at his fingernails that still held some grime from the stable even though he had scrubbed them well.
"Perhaps she is waiting for a marquis to come along," his friend teased.
William glanced up sharply with a clutch in his chest. His eyes roved over the room and saw her perched on the pianoforte bench playing with a light touch one of Hayden's works. That was probably more her style than a heavy piece by Beethoven. He admired her loveliness from afar, but had not sought her out other than to make polite conversation around the dinning table. She looked up while playing as if she felt his eyes upon her and stumbled in her notes. Their eyes swiftly ricocheted away.
However, then his glance caught her brother's who had been watching. The Earl raised his eyebrows as if questioning his interest. William gave the slightest of nods. Of course he was interested. Who wouldn't be? However, he was a Scotsman from the Highlands. Though a marquis, he still would not be held in the highest esteem by all the peerage. Besides, his home was verra far away. It would be a rare lady who would choose to leave her family and go to live in his remote Highlands. He doubted the lovely Lady Mary would ever consider it.
He played cards, but only if no gambling occurred. William had no taste for it having seen what it had done to bring his uncles low. He folded his hand and walked away if someone suggested it. One time when this happened, the Earl caught his eye and nodded for him to follow him. He wondered what could be of such importance that he would need a private word.
Leading him into his study, Sir Henry shut the door behind them. The Earl leaned against his desk but did not sit down, so neither did William. The man picked up a dry quill and twirled it nervously in his fingers. But he looked at William carefully. "Am I correct or misguided in a notion that you might have a tendre for my sister?"
This slammed William in the chest, hard. He carefully considered his words. "I confess that I of course admire her above any other lady in my acquaintance. However, I am well aware that though a marquis, I am a Scotsman first, and not everyone can appreciate that. I hope I have not made her or you uncomfortable, because I can withdraw from your company if that is the case." He couldn't help but sigh and look down at his brogs.
"Actually, that is not the case, my Lord." The Earl of Montrose was laughing. "Indeed, quite the opposite."
William was startled into looking up and facing him like a man. "What is it you are saying?"
"My sister left London all of a sudden before I even knew she was traveling. You must realize that I would never have allowed her to come back alone unescorted. You yourself know how dangerous that road is." The Duke had eyes not quite dry as he took in a shaky breath. "She confessed that she had such a bad experience with one of the ton seeking to ill use her that she became so upset it caused her to leave suddenly, only leaving a note for our mother."
William's pulse was racing and his hands were fisted in anger. "If anyone touched her..."
"No, she was just made to feel fearful. I should have been there to protect her, but my mother's brother assured me that he would help oversee her this season with my mother. He became lax in keeping his word and spent his nights gambling, drinking too much instead of keeping an eye on her. Then it was revealed that someone bribed a servant to put laudanum in her drink for some nefarious purpose, I am afraid. Fortunately, her maid saw what was done and the servant was exposed and confessed but says she did not know who was behind it. She had only met the man in the dark of night to make the arrangements."
"If you need me to deal with the black-hearted scoundrel, just give me the word, ..." William growled with his hands still in fists.
"Thank you, my Lord. However, the bow-runners took that dastardly servant into custody and will be questioning her thoroughly as well as looking into it further to solve the crime. Sadly this was not the first time a young lady was injured. However, let me ask you again, more plainly. Do you have feelings for my sister?"
William ran his hand over his face until he tugged on his new growth of beard. "Yes, hopelessly so, I'm afraid."
He again stared directly at his host. "Explain yourself, sir. Please do not toy with me."
The Earl shrugged. "She had been totally afraid while in London and had not been sleeping." He chuckled. "It is no secret that she feels safe now with you here, in part because you are an honorable man as well as a Scotsman. You realize that Sir Walter Scott has totally romanticized your breed, you know," he said laughing at the way William rolled his eyes. "She made that judgment even before she knew of your position beyond that of her carriage driver. I am not looking for a title, nor wealth for her. I just want her to feel safe. It's obvious that she respects you. She will have enough of a dowry to keep that from causing you to doubt me. She prefers the rustic country life, if you must know."
William laughed under his breath. "Good because though my estate is solvent, I am hardly verra rich. It will be an uphill battle to keep it as such as such and provide for my tenants as well. I refuse to clear them off."
"Good for you," the Earl said smiling briefly before once again sighing. "But I never expected to have such a conversation asking someone to offer for my dear sister's hand. She refuses to go back for another season in London decrying all the puffed up roosters there, the fops. I had hoped by hosting a shooting party, someone among my friends might catch her eye."
"Well, has someone?" He asked his voice nearly cracking.
"Yes. It is you, my Lord."
William sucked in a sharp breath and looked out the window unseeing.
"Did you ask her?" William asked.
"I don't have to. I know my sister," Sir Henry grinned.
Does she know you are speaking with me?" William asked.
"Do you think she would be willing to be so far from her home and family?" he persisted.
"Well, I would expect to be invited to a shooting party at least once every year," the Duke laughed.
William continued thoughtfully, "I still can't help but believe she would refuse my offer."
"Perhaps, we should be more direct. Would you like me to ask her for you?" the Duke offered?
"No, I am man enough to offer for her myself," he said hoping it was true. "I've never thought of marriage before having been away at the university, then fighting with my Scottish regiment, and coming back trying to set my estate on solid footing again after having been gone so long. But I want you to know, I am an honorable man, a Christian and have tried to live a clean life before my Maker." It was important for him to let that be known. "I am not a member of the Church of England, however and never will be."
"Good. She would refuse to set foot in one anyway. She has a little independent streak that might surprise you," her brother smiled. "She's quite enthusiastic about Wilberforce's fight to abolish slavery too."
"And rightly so. I like her all the more for it," William grinned. "I didn't think she was one to only be able to drink tea with her baby finger crooked just so and put on airs."
"That's another thing. If she agrees to this match, it would perhaps be easier for you to be married in Scotland. She could circumvent our mother who has plans of her own for my sister, match my sister refuses. As the Earl of Montrose now, it is up to me to have the final say in who she chooses to marry. I, of course, would want to be there. Do I understand correctly that banns do not have to be read there prior to a ceremony, and a couple would only have to have two witnesses to be hand-fasted?"
"Oh, we'd do more than jump the broom, sir, as some are want to do in Scotland or to be proclaimed man and wife over the anvil in a blacksmith's shop," William chuckled. "She could still get married in a kirk if she would be happy with a wee wedding standing before a minister. I know a good man in Edinbrugh I highly esteem."
"Well, I am satisfied whatever your terms, if she is willing, that is. I am not the sort to make arrangements and force my sister to do anything against her will." He put the quill back down on his desk. "I will truly miss her." He heaved out a heavy breath.
"Perhaps it is time for you to search out a wife for yourself," William teased. Then more seriously, "To be truthful, I have never courted any young woman beyond a few innocent flirtations while at the university. Perhaps I will wait to press my suit until your other houseguests have left."
"I believe she might be more willing if she feels that you are saving her from the unwanted attentions of the other men now, which she abhors. You could make it clear that you are in serious pursuit, with my permission of course."
"I see." He did see. He knew the jealous feelings he had had when the other men had looked too long, some lustfully even, at Lady Mary. "I will seek her out tonight then." He put out his hand, and they shook on it, each with a strong grip.
Just as they walked back into the room, Mary had jumped up as one of the so-called gentlemen had tried to kiss her hand before she had time to put her gloves back on after playing the pianoforte. "Sir, you forget yourself!"
She said it quietly, but William was so tuned into her the instant he walked into the room that it was as if she had shouted it. He ground his teeth and strode over to stand beside her.
Mary glanced over at her brother and saw that he nodded and smiled.
William stared hard at the pansy until he wilted and got up and left her alone. Then he said, "Excuse me, Lady Mary. It is a lovely evening. Would you care for a walk in the garden?"
She glanced at her brother and saw that he was still smiling at her in a way she could not interpret. "Let me get my shawl," she finally answered.
He held the patio door open for her and walked her out in front of all the ladies and gents. If William could hear the whisperings behind their hands and fans before he could even shut the door behind them, then he was sure she could as well.
They walked silently for a time. Then he picked her a rose. William pulled off all the thorns before handing it to her. Have you ever heard Burn's poem, "A Rose-Bud By My Early Walk," m'lady? he asked.
"I believe I have, but can't quite remember all the words," she admitted.
He noticed her eyes looking luminous in the moonlight and almost forgot what he was saying.
"As any good Scotsman should, I can quote it in part," he smiled.
"I'm just a Scottish thistle here beside you, my rose. That is how I feel next to your loveliness, I must confess." William cleared his throat. He had no idea that he was going to say this.
Her laugh was so pleasant, that it made his nervousness vanish. "Do do you miss your home so much that you are thinking of the thistle, the symbol of Scotland?"
"I was thinking more fondly of the rose right now," he smiled at her blushing.
"Tell me about your home, Lord Callander."
"I thought we agreed that you could call me William," he said grinning.
She continued to blush prettily. "That was before I found out your identity. I hope you can forgive me."
William threw back his head and laughed. "I can't wait to tell my sister. She will tease me without end, but will love the tale."
"Your sister?" she asked.
"Indeed I have a younger brother at the University of Edinbrough as well as a sister back home. She is seventeen. I've been away so long that I was shocked to find that she had had the audacity to grow up while I was away at the University and in the war. Sadly both my mother and my father died before I returned."
"They did? You fought?" she covered her mouth as if shocked. "You could have been...have been..."
"I believe I was more gravely injured by robbers here in England than over in France, m'lady," he said still grinning.
She smiled, "Go on. You were telling me about your sister."
She has hair as black as me own. Wini is a wee bit taller than ye be and has more starch than the King's bedsheets."
Now he was blushing. "I'm sorry, m'lady, that was rude of me. I've been away with soldiers too long and have forgotten how to talk with a real lady."
She giggled and waved him on. "So you were saying that she has more starch than the Bishop's collar," she offered instead.
He threw back his head and laughed again. "Spoken like a true reformer. Anyway, her name is Winifred, but you will be her swore enemy until the day you die, if you should slip and call her that instead of Wini like everyone else."
"Oh, you should never have told me her full name. Now I will be petrified of her in case I would ever slip and call her by the one she was christened by."
"Yes, she would probably refuse to let you sneak down to the kitchen with her and eat cook's tarts if you did so. She can be fierce when protecting her tarts, at least from me, that is."
She laughed lightly. "She sounds like fun. I should like to meet her."
"I hope to have her meet you at the weddin'...." All of a sudden William turned as red as a beet and began coughing. Mary was concerned and began patting him hard on the back.
"Are you already, m'lord?" she asked worriedly.
He nodded. Truly he had choked when he tried to swallow back his words. He felt as foolish as a pea hen. "Excuse, me m'lady."
"As you were saying..." she prompted him but his eyes grew so large that she once again was worried. "You were saying you hoped to have her at the..."
Now Mary's eyes grew large and her lips made a perfect "O." "What were you trying to say, sir?"
He picked up her hand and gently rubbed his thumb over it almost becoming distracted as she still had not put her gloves back on and the feel of her soft skin under his was his undoing.
"I'm afraid I have botched this badly, m'lady. I had hoped to court you properly, and then I just let my words get ahead of themselves badly. I'm afraid I went into battle unarmed leaving my wits abandoned on the field. You have left me helpless at your feet, overwhelmed by your loveliness, in highest regard of your godliness, in awe of your strength of character. I am in humble adoration of you, Lady Mary of Montrose and have been since I first opened my eyes and saw you tending to my wounds. I thought you were an angel." In all this speech, his eyes had not left hers searching for a flame of understanding. "I am yours if you will have me, Mary."
She heaved a breath in and then out. "Oh my!" She swallowed hard, and William died a thousand deaths waiting for her answer. "I must tell you, sir, that I have admired you greatly e're since I saw the battle wounds you suffered and survived from. I knew you were meant for great things never dreaming that you would see something in me I am a mere whisper of what lies within you. I can hardly believe you desire to have me, William."
He leaned over and kissed her gently. When she grasped his shirt, he allowed himself to pour a little more desire into the kiss to prove that he that he meant every word. When they broke apart, she laughed a little hanging her head in an adorably embarrassed manner saying "That's it? So, we are engaged now? Are we off to Gretna Green?"
William threw back his head and laughed. "I'll take you to any kirk in Scotland other than Gretna Green, dear heart," he promised.
So the Marquis William Wallace Callander of Glamdemoor surrendered his heart to Lady Mary of Montrose in a garden, a Scottish thistle and a rose.