To understand James Douglas defiant behavior at Bonnybraes it is important to learn a little of his aunt and her unwitting pat therein.
Matilda Douglas was a proud and stubborn old woman who stood firm and unyielding on those matters where she held strong views. Indeed, Matilda held strong views on great many matters, but none with more determination and vigour than on her nephews obligation to remarry and produce an heir for the family estates. In fact, she saw it as her bounden duty to ensure his doing so.
To this end, Matilda had rounded up numerous eligible females, of suitable background and breeding of course, and these she trotted before James with increasing regularity. To her chagrin, the charms of these nubile maidens left her nephew quite unmoved, and seemingly content to remain a childless widower. Her constant harping and continued efforts in this area produced in James the opposite effect to that she desired, it inspired in him a grim determination and stubbornness to match her own. All her arguments, pleading and cajolery, fell on deaf ears.
The situation between them had reached a state that could best be termed stalemate, and could well have remained so indefinitely, but fate saw fit to take a hand in the game.
In the normal turn of events James would not have gone to Bonnybraes, but when his aunt intimated her intention of having several young ladies to visit over the following two days, he saw the business with Thomas Weir as a means of escape. The look in Matildas eye was warning enough for James; it heralded another attack on his solitary state.
To say Matilda was annoyed when he told her he would be absent would be an understatement; she was furious. After all, the whole point of the exercise was dependent on his being there.
The look of frustration on his aunts face gave James a feeling of jubilation, a glorious feeling of having triumphed over the old schemer. He had outflanked her, and with an added spring in his step, joyfully he took his leave. The mood stayed with him during the long ride to Bonnybraes and there can be little doubt that it had a great deal of bearing on his later actions.