Maggie Wylie, a wife who knows well what every woman should know—that a wife is the moving force behind any successful husband. At twenty-seven years of age, she is the plain, unmarried sister of David and James Wylie. Neither her curls nor her soft Scottish voice quite compensate for her too-resolute manner. She is married to John Shand after a six-year wait, as the result of a bargain made by David, James, and their father. Maggie proves herself the mistress of her husband’s fate, even against the wiles and scheming of Lady Sybil Tenterden.
John Shand, a proud, defiant, and calculating young man of extraordinary promise. Caught by the Wylie men as he prowls their library looking for books, John agrees to marry Maggie in five years in exchange for three hundred pounds to finance his education. With Maggie unobtrusively behind him, he wins a seat in Parliament, boastful that he has not a soul to help him. He would leave Maggie, whom he respects, for Sybil, whom he thinks he loves, but no Scotsman will damage his career. He also has finally found out how he has come to be a success.
David Wylie, Maggie’s older brother. He is the moving force of the family, the head of Wylie and Sons, stonemasons. The 600-volume library is actually David’s; he has an unsatisfied hunger for education and a deep respect for the learned. He shrewdly sees in John Shand’s need for money a means of...
(The entire section is 620 words.)