An Auspicious Wedding

January 17, 2012
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Her name was Bran McKenzie. It was a Scottish boy’s name for one like a raven. Bran had been her name ever since the day she was six and had walked up to an incredibly handsome man at one of her mother’s many balls. Bran had thrust her hand into his and said proudly, “Sir, you and I are going to get married.” All the young, attractive women, who were standing around him, gasped after Bran’s proud pronouncement of their engagement. Nevertheless, she took no heed and proceeded to tell him of the plans for their wedding, whilst the beautiful women fanned themselves and tried not to giggle.
Before that day her name had been Bonnie, a Scottish girl’s name for beautiful. But alas, after she marked her love for the very handsome fellow, who just happened to be one of her older brother’s very good friends, she became Bran. Bran, the raven-haired girl who acted on impulse, and like the raven, was very sly and foolhardy. Thus, to everyone’s amusement (except her mother’s) from that day forth she took the liberty to act in whatever way she wanted.
However, on this day, she did not get what she wanted. She was the youngest of a large brood of hefty, strapping young gentleman, who all got what they wanted. Every single one of her seven brothers did as they pleased, whenever they pleased, and so had she until this day. Her father had died in a battle between their clan and the rivals McFarland’s before she was even born. So, ever since Bran could remember, her older brother Angus had been in charge of their family’s Highland estates, and she had loved every moment he was her guardian. Until this day. Now she hated him with an unbending passion.
Three months before this fateful day, he had pulled Bran into his dark green and brown tidy office, and announced quite unexpectedly that she was to quit her childish ways and get herself hitched to a man. An arranged marriage! Something Bran swore would never happen to her; if she married it would be for love and love only.
Now was the day of her wedding, and she sat uncomfortably in her chambers watching as the sun rose out and over the heather near the inlet waters of Loch Harport. It would only be a few more hours until the man she was supposed to wed herself to would come from the woods near their Scottish estates and claim her. Bran shuddered at that, although she was as free as her bothers, at least she used to be until this auspicious wedding day, she had never much visited other castles and manor houses. Thus, she was more nervous than she would like to admit, especially because the man she was to marry would be none other than a hated McFarland. It was a peace contract sent out between the two warring clans, and Bran was none too thrilled to be part of a treaty and not regarded as a person.
It was then, shaking and entirely fuming, that Bran heard her dreaded nurse, Athol, trooping up the stone steps to the room Bran had adopted as her own. Bran, completely unwilling to deal with the large and appalling woman, made the quick decision to sneak undetected from her rooms and go for a walk in the woods. One never knew, she thought, one may be able to use the dark highland woods for scaring one’s future husband. With an evil grin, Bran ran to an old tapestry, threw open the secret door -- used many a time -- and was trampling down the worn steps to the outside before Athol had even unfastened the chamber door.
Once outside amongst the sweet smelling heather, and misty morning dew, Bran scrambled for the cover of the woods. There was no doubt in her mind Athol was standing at her windows watching the young woman dressed in a man’s kilt and blouse scramble over rocks to reach the dark forest where she had spent much of her childhood.
His name was Alec McFarland. Alec, the defender of mankind, as his Celtic ancestors would have said his name meant. Today, Alec sighed to himself; he really did feel like the defender of mankind. Today he was giving up all his rights as a free lad, so his father could end the age-old feud between two clans. Duncan McFarland, Alec’s father, was not a proud man like most Scottish lairds, but a rich merchant who didn’t want to spend any of his money on a silly feud. Alec viewed him like a fat, richly-dressed toad who cared for no one but himself.
Watching his father ride in the small carriage over the bumpy highland road was, in all actuality, quite humorous. Duncan dressed in his fine splendor had his massive belly sitting upon his knees, and his sweaty toad-like face was rolling around in the open coach like a fat sack of cabbages. Alec himself was riding his proud warrior’s horse, dressed as a man should alongside his fighting clan men.
“Oh Alec,” Donald teased horribly, “She is an ugly lassie, ouch, but last time I saw the chit she was much like our blessed laird.” They all looked back at the man in the wagon and laughed hysterically, the laird was so busy trying to stay upright he didn’t hear a thing.
Alec glowered hatefully at his five men; they had been teasing him about the girl throughout the three day journey to the Isle of Skye where his wife-to-be dwelled. At Alec’s castle, the Clan McKenzie was the brunt of many a joke while Alec grew up and he could actually believe what his men said. Especially because they had come weeks before to the lassie’s castle to met with her and her brothers.
“Look ‘head Alec,” Aiden shouted his brogue very distinct, “There sits your wifey’s castle.” Alec didn’t want to look -- but he did -- and cringed, unknown to him that there was a figure in the trees doing the very same thing.
Bran hid amongst the high ferns watching the procession utterly horrified. It was no secret that the laird McFarland was a fat man lusty for riches, but his son as well! The laird had come three weeks ago to sign the marriage contract with Angus because he wasn’t going to be able to come to the wedding, and the men said he was completely awful. Bran had hid in her rooms the whole time, but was sought out by three of the McFarland’s men to meet her, which she admitted was not that bad. However, this was horrible! How could her brother marry her to this!? Bran was absolutely astonished; it was more likely the man was going to eat her for his first course at supper than to marry her. She made a vow right there in the ferns that she was never going to marry that fat Alec McFarland rolling around in the carriage.
Alec shuddered again as a very large woman came forth from the castle and bounced towards them a large grin splitting her face. He was frozen with fear, how could he wed this beast. It took nearly a moment before the realization that this woman was only a maid, who had a fancy for Donald, hit Alec and he could breathe again. Donald beamed down at the lass, and they were lead into the castle, after Donald pounded Alec on the back so he could move again. In the large foyer, Alec was greeted by seven very robust men, who all wanted to shake his hand until it about fell from its resting point on his wrist. Yet, there was no bride to be to meet him. Alec wasn’t sure whether he was happy about this or angered.
Alec, wanting to get the first encounter with the stout young woman ended, asked quite nervously, “Where is this sister of yours I am to wed?”
It was then his father, who had finally made it down from the carriage, thanks to his three valets help, wobbled through the door. All seven of the brothers became rather hushed, until Angus, the Laird McKenzie, solemnly came forth. There was still much hate between the two men. Angus had been the only child truly old enough to remember his father, and the hate was still there, but buried deep, peace paving a path into his heart. The Laird McFarland on the other hand, felt no hate or peace at the moment, just hunger.
“Duncan,” Angus said shocked, “I thought ye weren’ comin’.”
Angus waved his hand about, his mouth salivating, “How could I miss my only son’s wedding? Now,” he paused greedily rubbing his hands together, “is there any food in this castle?”
If Angus was shocked by Duncan’s question he didn’t show it, “Come Duncan, I will have the cooks make a brunch for ye.”
As Angus led the rolling Duncan from the hall, all talk started up again. “So,” one of the brothers asked with a mischievous grin, “Donald, have you told Alec here about my bountiful, bonnie little sister?”
Donald stifled a laugh, “Aye, I told him about all of her – err -- bounties.”
Alec couldn’t hold the moan in, thinking about the “bonnie” young lass, and the youngest looking brother piped up, “Aw, but ha’ ye tol’ him ‘bout her witchery?”
“Oh, nay, “Aiden crossed himself and mumbled something heavenward before he spoke again. “We didn’ want him to turn tail an’ run ‘fore he came here, so we saved that story for ye.”
Another brother pulled his small cap off a massive amount of black curls and mumbled something heavenward as well. “Well we better show her to ye then”
Alec crossed himself nervously and felt his eyes start to cross as well, as if he were about to fall unconscious like a little school girl. I am a warrior! He commanded himself to remember as the brothers and his own men led him from the hall toward his future wife.
Bran came into the hallway in time to see the enormous Alec, her future husband, being led from the hall by Angus. Ignoring her brothers and Alec’s men in the hall, she stealthily fallowed her eldest brother and her soon-to-be husband. It was only a short time until Alec was served his food and other business called Angus away. Bran saw her only chance. She slyly snuck behind the large man’s back and whispered into his ear, “Who do you think you are?”
The large man tried to whip around, frightened by the voice, but his girth wouldn’t allow it. Once he had a good eye on Bran she sneered at him, “I will never marry you!”
The man looked taken aback. He looks as if he has never once been disobeyed, Bran thought. She was utterly disgusted when he couldn’t even speak, just mumble over the large piece of roast in his open mouth. “You are a fat pig and I will never marry you!”
Finally, the man got his bearings about him and decided to spit out the roast. Bran was surprised he would waste what he probably considered very precious to him. The man tried to stand to look down at Bran, but he couldn’t manage it and fell back onto his rump trying to act as if he were her better. “Here now wench! Go on about your tasks ‘fore I have you whipped for your insolence!”
Bran sneered and was about to let out a bellow of laughter, but was stopped as a woman stomped into the hall screeching. “Bonny McKenzie! Get ye into yer rooms, you have to get ready! I’m so sorry Master McFarlane.”
Bran watched as Alec was yet again stopped completely as he was about to consume a potato and he spat it onto the ground, immediately looking down at the waste forlornly before yelling at Bran, “A McKenzie!” Bran grinned hatefully and ran off toward her rooms thinking of only revenge on both the over-voluptuous pig and Angus.
The real Alec McFarlane following Bonny’s older brother’s, was almost to the small chamber door, terrified to go inside, when the second eldest McKenzie and Donald pushed him through it unceremoniously, and then bustled their way inside, laughing. Alec was not amused by their play, and was even less amused when he stared directly into the gray eyes of a wretched woman. She was old, her brown hair unbrushed and tangled about her head in masses, her face sooty and age spotted. She smiled at Alec toothlessly and spoke in a grizzled voice, “What can I do ye for.”
Donald rushed forward putting his arm about her and patting her shoulder, “What bonny lassie have you grown blind? ‘Tis your future husband.”
Alec could have easily crossed his eyes and fallen to the floor, but fate wouldn’t have it be so and he stood stupidly staring at Bonny, his future wife.
The eldest brother rushed to the other side of the witch and she grinned stupidly at him with her two teeth protruding from her lower jaws, “Gavin, who are these men?”
Gavin laughed uproariously, “Why they are yer future husband’s men and this is Alec.” Gavin leaned towards the statue-like Alec, “Sorry Alec, she sometimes is forgetful.”
Alec, in a trance, grabbed the old and grizzled maid’s hand and brought it to his lips, mumbling over his words. “It is nice to meet you-- Bonny, I..I had assumed you were to be—well y..younger.”
The woman looked aghast and Alec was instantly sorry. Douglas took over the conversation, trying not to laugh, “Now Bonny, I think you need to be getting dressed.”
Gavin nodded his head, “Ye are absolutely right Douglas. Come Bonny I will take ye to yer room.”
They led the lady from the pit of disaster which held what, Alec assumed, were bottles upon bottles of concoctions and a large boiling pot over the fire. Alec then did something he never thought he would do; he fainted. It was then that the large, imposing, hard, resolute, and very handsome man, who had never lost a battle, fell right then and there onto the hard ground to later wake in his chamber to beautiful maid dressing him for his wedding.
Alec groaned and put his hand over his eyes, remembering Bonnie, whom he had to marry. What a horrid waste of life she was, a life that would be wasted on him. He looked at the young maid, who was trying to speak to him. “I har brough your wedding kilt her.” Alec could only stare at the bonny young maid as she helped him dress in the ancient McFarlane kilt. Why could he not marry this girl instead, he sighed and wiped at his face turning resolute in the marriage matter. He was to marry Bonny, and that he would do if only for his clan’s sake.
Bran donned the large wedding tartan with the Clan McKenzie colors before she walked toward the open doors that would take her to the slovenly McFarlane. She raised her chin, knowing she had to marry the man for her clan and family, and then walked the death march towards the door. Once inside, she only looked at her feet, too afraid to see the horrible man she had, only a little while before, accosted and now was to marry. However, Bran was not paying enough attention to her surroundings and didn’t see a fat foot slip out of the aisle and catch her dress. Bran went down with a thud and looked up angrily into the eyes of the McFarlane glaring at her.
Alec was in utter shock. Where was the witch he was to marry? Had she cast a spell upon herself so she was beautiful? Alec was so shocked he didn’t see his father put his foot out and trip the girl, all he saw was the beautiful lassie fall hard to the ground. He went to her in an instant, complete astonishment covering his face. She turned her confused eyes upon him, and he watched as they widened in comprehension.
Bran looked back and forth from man to man, and she understood. Embarrassment grew in pink roses on her cheeks and she looked toward the younger man in the laird’s marriage kilt. He was handsome, proud, and in no way slovenly.
Alec assessed the young woman as well. She was absolutely beautiful and he was going to murder his men for what they had done to him. It was awkwardly silent in the room, but Alec didn’t care, all he wanted was to stare at his future wife.
Her big green eyes were watching him, and laughter curved the sides of her mouth. Alec smiled a relieved and happy smile before he finally spoke, “I’m Alec McFarland.”
She burst into girlish giggles before she was able to answer, “And I am Bran McKenzie. Ye are the one I am to marry?”
Alec helped Bonny from the ground and led her towards Angus and the clergy, “Bran huh? Aye Bonny, I am the man ye are to marry.”
She smiled in relief and so did he, as they happily married and ended the long family feud.

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