As he joined his daughter, Balian was smiling almost as broadly as his son, and he gladly gave Meg his arm. Now that her mother was not around, Meg leaned her head on her father’s upper arm. “Daddy?”
“I know Helvis is very happy, but . . . ”
“But what?” Balian was already frowning slightly, afraid of what was to come.
“Well, we’re different.”
“You think I haven’t noticed?”
“No, I just mean . . . ”
“Well, when you start looking for a husband for me . . . ”
“I really do like Walter of Caesarea the younger.”
“Hmm. Aiming high.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s heir to Caesarea. The lordship includes the port of the same name, which used to be very prosperous before Hattin. Although it hasn’t recovered fully by any means, there’s no reason to think it won’t. It once owed one hundred knights to the feudal levee—compared to ten for Ibelin or a mere six for Caymont. In short, you’d better lower your expectations, child.” The use of the word ‘child’ said it all. He was not taking her seriously.
Meg tightened her jaw (much as her brother and father did) and considered her answer carefully. At last she settled for, “Well, will you promise me my husband won’t be as old as Reggie?”
“No. I won’t promise you anything, dove. Marriage is politics and very rarely takes affection or attraction into account; it’s about land and alliances. So don’t wish for it too soon. Enjoy your freedom instead.”
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