Muriel Hightower-Hardie
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Muriel Hightower is the eldest daughter of Dornie's veterinarian, Leonard Hightower, but she is better known for her job at the Rowntree Munitions Factory where she works as the clan's head accountant. Her responsibilities include managing the factory's funds, scheduling its imports and exports, and keeping its labour force — both willing and not — clothed and fed.

Info

Full Name: Muriel Hightower-Hardie
Age: 26
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

Status: Alive
Occupation: Bookkeeper
Origin: Dornie, Scotland
Allegiance: Clan Rowntree

First Seen:
Last Seen:

Description:

Family:

  • Samuel Hardie - husband
  • Leonard Hightower - father
  • Deirdre MacLean - mother
  • William “Rory” Hightower - brother
  • Dalton Hightower † - brother
  • Florence Hightower - sister
  • William Hightower - grandfather
  • Eirwen Hightower † - grandmother
  • Dylan Hightower - uncle
  • Richard Hightower - uncle
  • Amelia Hightower - aunt
  • Rhonwyn “Winnie” Hightower - aunt

Portrayed by: Kaya Scodelario


History

Muriel was born the second eldest of four children to Leonard Hightower and his wife, Diedre, and enjoyed the kind of comfortable childhood that comes from being part of a large, productive family with numerous connections and enough combined property and land that no one need worry about being left without support. Her grandfather, William, worked as Dornie's veterinarian until a tragedy and the sudden death of his wife at the hands of highwaymen left him unable to perform his responsibilities, and when Muriel was nine Leonard took over William's practice. Muriel enjoyed accompanying her father to the settlement's outlaying farms; like most small children, she enjoyed the company of animals and relished the opportunity to interact with Leonard's patients, whether they were Edmund Rowntree's horses, barnyard cats, or the scattered herds of Blackfaced Highland sheep that roaming the nearby moors.

She did not, however, seem poised to inherit the practice from Leonard; by the time she was thirteen, she had outgrown her love for animals and focused instead on her studies at the settlement's schoolhouse, where she discovered that she was as talented with numbers as her father was with livestock. She was offered a job working as a bookkeeper at the local brewery (owned by her Aunt Amelia's husband), when she was only sixteen, and by nineteen had identified several ways for the brewery to cut expenses and increase profits by more than 30% — accomplishments that her extended family bragged about to the point of attracting Marcus Rowntree's attention.

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Muriel during a walk through the wood.

Marcus approached Muriel and confided in her that he believed his head bookkeeper at the Rowntree Munitions Factory was misreporting profits and pocketing the difference — if Muriel could provide him with physical evidence of the bookkeeper's misdoings, the job would be hers. Not one to back down from a challenge, Muriel accepted the Rowntree patriarch's offer and took her leave of the brewery to work as an assistant bookkeeper at the factory. During the course of her investigation, she fell in love with a young man named Samuel Hardie who she had been acquainted with in her youth at the schoolhouse but now worked as a foreman at the factory. Initially, Muriel rebuffed Samuel's advances in spite of her feelings for him, believing that a romantic entanglement might jeopardize what she had set out to accomplish and used this obstacle as motivation to work doubly hard.

Her efforts paid off after a year of being in the Rowntree's employment. Muriel approached Marcus with the evidence he sought and was surprised when Marcus asked her what she thought a fitting punishment might be, to which Muriel, not wanting the blood of another human being, answered: "exile." Although Marcus assured her that he would take her request into consideration, the bookkeeper was imprisoned and hanged within a fortnight, and when Muriel mustered up the courage to confront Marcus about his decision, he told her that the bookkeeper's wife and children would be given a reprieve and banished from Dornie according to her request. Had she recommended execution for the bookkeeper, his entire family would have been hanged alongside him.

Thoroughly shaken by the experience, Muriel went to Samuel in search of comfort, and finally accepted his marriage proposal after a tearful night of lovemaking. At their wedding, Marcus was more than true to his word, and not only promoted Muriel to head bookkeeper, but gifted bride and groom with a fully furnished three-story home in the Northern Reach. That the home had belonged to the man whose position she usurped was also a message and it rang clear as a bell.

Muriel would not make the same mistakes as her predecessor.


Personality

Muriel has always been fiercely competitive, especially with her older brother, Rory; as children they were always trying to outdo one another in different pursuits, whether archery, horseback riding, or completing mathematical problems in the least amount of time with the most accuracy. As an adult, she has mellowed some, but has not changed much and is notoriously sensitive to criticism, especially when that criticism is directed at her work or her work ethic, which she takes so much pride in. She has not risen to such a prominent position at such a young age, either, by being prone to flights of fancy — Muriel is very much a no-nonsense sort of young lady who puts her family first, her career second, and everything else a distant third. Although she tries to be kind, she has a difficult time keeping the resentment and disdain from her voice when talking about people who she thinks are lazy or not living up to their full potential, and has been accused by those closest to her by being excessively judgmental toward other people.

Like most of the Hightower family, Muriel is averse to needless killing, but her position at the factory requires that she be more objective than her father, Leonard; she has convinced herself that what the Rowntrees do is a necessary evil and partakes in it for the survival of Dornie rather than any personal gain. Her vocal defense of her employer's practices often finds her butting heads with her husband, Samuel, who she chastises for being too emotional about his work — they do not, after all, live in a world where compassion supports survival. This same logical line of thinking caused her to side with her father during her parents' very public divorce after the death of her younger brother, Dalton, who contracted a rabies infection after being bitten by a dog that Leonard was treating. Muriel maintained that it was Dalton's own fault for getting too close to the animal, not their father's, and although she continues to communicate with and visit her mother regularly, they are not as close as they once were.