Knight in Highland Armor

By: Amy Jarecki



Mmm. ’Tis said clothes maketh the man.

He bent down and retrieved her basket. “I believe this is yours.”

“Thank you.” Margaret spotted apples and pears scattered everywhere. “But I’m afraid the fruit I’ve purchased is ruined.”

He frowned and stroked his bold chin. “Most unfortunate. Please allow me to replace it.”

“That should not be necessary. I only wished to help a poor man feed his family.”

“Most charitable of you, m’lady.” He offered a polite bow. “If you no longer require my assistance, I shall be on my way.”

“Very well. Should I fall again, I shall simply find another gallant knight to keep me from dousing myself in the mud.”

“A lucky man indeed to rescue a lady as bonny as you.” He bowed again and tapped his fingers to his hat. “Good day, m’lady.”

Margaret swooned, watching him walk away. Broad shoulders supported by a sturdy waist. To her delight, the knight’s doublet was short enough to give her a peek at his muscular buttocks. With a sigh, she smacked her lips while the crowd swallowed up the magnificent warrior’s form. If only her betrothed could be half as handsome.

“Margaret,” Mother called from across the aisle. “Come, I have something to show you.”

This time, she looked for racing horses before she set out. God forbid she fall into another knight. And heaven help her. On the morrow, she’d have to look upon such magnificent specimens with disinterested eyes. How on earth would she do that?





Chapter Four





Stirling Palace, 7th October, 1455

Returning from the stables, Colin found Argyll on his way to the castle. “Have you seen her?”

The younger man shook his head. “Nay. I could only come up with a sentry who confirmed she’d arrived with her parents. I’ll wager they’re keeping her hidden.”

“Blast.” Though Colin fully intended to go through with the wedding, he would have preferred a report on Margaret’s looks from a disinterested party. Nonetheless, on the morrow, he would wed a plain woman who undoubtedly had matronly, child-bearing hips. Duncan would love a mother be her comely or nay.

Argyll regarded Colin’s casual dress. “Will you be attending the feast in the great hall?”

“I’d prefer to take my meal in my rooms. Though it would be acceptable for you to make acquaintance with Margaret Robinson, I fear it would be awkward to meet her the night before our wedding.”

“Aye.” Argyll slapped his back. “Her feet might grow cold and she could request a reprieve.”

Colin cringed. “That too—at least I shan’t give her the opportunity.”

A pair of giggling lassies walked past, batting their eyelashes. A muscle in Colin’s jaw twitched. Beautiful women seemed to be everywhere at Stirling. He wanted none of it. Soon he’d head home to Kilchurn with his portly wife, and all the sweet-fragranced lasses who flitted their wares around court would be left to their own tantalizing devices.

Argyll headed in the direction of the giggles. “I’ll see you on the morrow, then?”

“On the morrow.”

***

The following morning, Margaret stood in the center of her chamber holding her arms out to her sides. She’d been in that position so long, she could have sworn the tailor hung two stone weights from her wrists. From the glimpses she could steal in the looking glass across the room, the gown was everything her mother had hoped it would be.

But to Margaret, it was like being outfitted in chains to be paraded in front of the gentry.

The overdress, made of red velvet, had gold thread woven in a pattern that reminded her of icy snowflakes. Fashioned in a V with narrow strips of sealskin, the collar tapered down to the high waistline, also cinched with sealskin. White silk gathered like lace between the gaping V covering her breasts—at least, for the most part. Following the latest fashion, wooden slats had been sewn into the tight bodice. Margaret found them incredibly uncomfortable and stifling, though they made her waist appear a tad smaller.

While she stood being trussed like a peacock, a chambermaid braided her long tresses. She rolled them on each side and secured them with a caul atop Margaret’s ears, where they would form a part of her headdress. Mother had ordered a double hennin in the same fabric as her gown, covered with a sheer red-tinted veil. Margaret eyed the hat on the sideboard. It was a garish headpiece, embellished with gold cording and reinforced on the inside with wire. Margaret would have preferred a simple veil or French hood, but Mother would be disappointed if she said otherwise. Besides, what did it matter? Perhaps Black Colin liked outlandish hennins.

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