By Margaret Wade Labarge
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Lady Agatha had refused, arguing that her daughter was only twelve, too refined for Scotland, and meant for a better royal match someday. Malcolm was nearly thirty, a brute of unimpressive lineage compared to the Saxons’, and he could find himself another wife. So Malcolm had married Lulach’s Norse widow, and King Edward had been pleased; Scotland’s peace with the Vikings would benefit England, too. Now the Saxons needed Malcolm’s help and the Norse queen was dead—and Margaret realized that her brother might try to bargain her away to Malcolm, especially since he had applied for her hand before.
Noticing that Annot and a few of the other women were barefoot despite standing on the wet, cold, stony beach, Margaret reached down and pulled off her red leather shoes, which Annot had cleaned and dried for her overnight. She handed them to the Scotswoman and tucked her stockinged feet under her skirts. ” Annot tried English, then switched to Gaelic, shaking her head as if to refuse. One of the fishermen, her husband, came close. “My wife says she cannot take these things from you, lady. ” “I want her to have them.
They will send word to the king’s men and we will shelter with the fishing families tonight. ” Shivering in her wet things, Margaret was so grateful to be heading toward blessed land that she almost did not care where it was. Tears stung her eyes as men lifted her from the boat and carried her ashore. Sinking to her knees on the pebbled beach beside her kinswomen and others giving thanks, she closed her eyes in silent prayer. Never again, she decided, did she want to travel by sea, never again did she care to feel the powerful surge of bottomless water beneath her.
A Medieval Miscellany by Margaret Wade Labarge