“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 50 (PG-13): A Member of the Wedding, April 23, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #552)
[I will illustrate my story using my dream cast from the 2004 BBC production of “North & South” and other actors for additional characters: Richard Armitage for John Thornton, Daniela Denby-Ashe for Margaret Hale, Lesley Manville for Mrs. Maria Hale, Tim Pigott-Smith for Mr. Richard Hale, Sinead Cusack for Mrs. Hannah Thornton, Jo Joyner for Fanny Thornton, Brendan Coyle for Nicholas Higgins, Graham McTavish as Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, Holliday Grainger for Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh, Simon Woods for Baird Ogilvy, and Emma Ashton as Mrs. Dillard, John Light as Henry Lennox, Tim Faraday as Watson, Gillian Anderson at Carlotta Quint Watson, and Jeremy Northam as Dr. Miles Houghton, etc] [(1) story logo]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” is a story with mature themes of love and relationships set within a period drama of the 1850’s and beyond. As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions, including some violence (V)–and I will rate those chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous chapter: Baird almost ruined his chances with Fanny again by surprising her by joining her on her birthday and bringing his sister Angharad’s ball gown for her to wear for her wedding dress, but not showing Fanny the tiara he had brought for her to wear at their wedding this coming weekend. And Baird became upset that she wanted to wear a tiara. But he eventually apologized and she forgave him, and she agreed to marry him for a third time. Finally, after producing the tiara, Baird and Fanny’s fate is sealed. The will be wed this weekend. But first, there are a few wedding details to attend to.
Nota Bene: This chapter is dedicated to all the little girls (and little boys) who are different, unique, one of a kind, special, persevering, loving, funny, kind, joyful, shy, brave, compassionate, and plucky. You bless our lives, and we are proud to be in your lives. Hugs!
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 50 (PG-13): A Member of the Wedding
Lord James and Lady Thistle Ogilvy and their children arrive in Milton from Scotland three days before the wedding on Wednesday April 23rd, bringing with them the two options of wedding ring sets that Baird asked to have brought from the Airlie Castle Tower Jewelry Vault. They are accompanied by two Scottish Knights as both a security detail for them, as well as, their being bagpipe musicians for the wedding and reception, etc.
Jamie at thirty five years old is the older brother of Angus Ogilvy and he is the calm head of their branch of the Ogilvy family–unlike his younger and much more brash and uncouth brother Angus. Jamie’s quiet and gentlemanly behavior might seem to be at odds with his large and muscular frame looking intimidating to people who do not know him. But Jamie’s somewhat placid demeanor is due to a tragedy long ago. He had sustained a blow to the head in a fall from a tree as a very young boy, and that permanently affected his brain–in that he appears slow to understand new things sometimes. But he has a very good memory–and he is good with people and animals.
And Jamie is an unusually tall man at 6 ft 6 inches tall–and all muscle, which often means that he is the Ogilvy Team leader for Highland Clans Games competitions because he is the strongest and most athletic of the family group. Jamie’s team always wins. But Jamie is a gentle giant–without a mean bone in his body. He is careful and considerate and Jamie does not even squash spiders for his wife Thistle–spiders are her phobia–instead, he transports them outside. Jamie would never make a good soldier, but he makes a very fine Laird. However, Jamie does get frustrated at times with trying to grasp some high brow versus Highland language phrasing, or overly stilted and pompous etiquette. But his tempestuous and beautiful wife Thistle always has a gentle way of easing his mind–with her soothing voice and her caressing his cheeks. And when Jamie starts wrapping one of her long auburn curls around his finger, she knows that he is feeling better.
The thirty five year old Thistle MacLaren Ogilvy–whom Jamie has known and loved since they were children together–and Jamie have lovingly raised a nine year old son Hamish and a five year old daughter Blythe in their ten years of marriage thus far. Hamish takes after his father–athletic, kind, and a quiet leader, though with a mischievous side now and again.
Little Blythe is bonnie and sweet with softly wavy brown hair adorned with blue ribbons–her favorite color [(2) right]. But she is slightly shy due to some teasing she receives about her limp when she is around strangers. So Blythe tends to cling to her mother’s skirts when they are in new places or meeting new people.
Blythe was born with one leg two inches shorter than the other–a noticeable difference that would permanently alter anyone’s walking gait. Her parents had let an Edinburgh physician try to stretch her leg when Blythe was two with braces, but that proved too painful–and Jamie and Thistle could not stand to see her suffer. So they have opted for a special shoe with lifts in it that gives her a good support for walking and balances out the shorter leg to almost match the longer leg. Though with its three inch sole, the special shoe is too heavy and unwieldy for Blythe to run in when she plays outdoors. When she was a toddler of two and three, she was mostly around family or friends and they took no notice of her physical differences. Blythe wore a short skirted dress then that also showed her taller shoe. But as she grew older and her parents took her out beyond their snug and friendly community, other people’s children would point and stare. Blythe could not understand why other children were mean to her and cry her little eyes out. So it is understandable that Jamie and Thistle are very protective of her. And now, that she is a little older at five years old, Blythe’s longer skirts conceal the shoe differences. But Blythe is now also more aware that she is different from other little girls.
The train ride from near Angus, Scotland to Milton, England takes several hours the morning of April 23rd. But Jamie and Thistle help their children pass the time with tall tales off Scottish Knights derring do and fair ladies, and discussing what the industrial town of Milton might be like compared to the rolling countrysides of Southern Scotland that is their home. Hamish is eager to see Milton’s sights–the big smokestacks and the factories they serve. Blythe is more content to focus on her older and many times removed cousin Baird’s wedding. For Blythe is to be one of Baird’s and Fanny’s wedding flower girls–along with little Lissa Dillard. Blythe does not know what a wedding flower girl is–since she is too little to have attended a wedding before. But she likes flowers, so she hopes to get to see and to feel and to smell some pretty ones.
Hannah and Cameron host Jamie and Thistle and their children to tea Wednesday afternoon after they have settled in at their hotel and refreshed themselves. John and Margaret, and Fanny and Baird are also in attendance to choose which wedding ring set they want to wear. Jamie carries his daughter up the exterior steps and then the interior stairs to the private apartments of Hannah and Cameron–so that Blythe does not fall and injure herself on the unfamiliar stairs. Upon setting her down to stand on the floor, her brother Hamish assists Blythe to the sette since she had left her walking stick at the hotel by accident. After the introductions are made, the women sit on one side of the drawing room salon, and the men sit on the other.
John: “You have a fine son, Lord Ogilvy.” John smiles seeing the little boy being attentive to his younger sister, Blythe.
Jamie: “Aye. I thank ye, John. But please call me Jamie.” Jamie says warmly.
John: “Jamie.” John nods cordially.
Hamish walks over to the men’s side of the room since the ladies are all talking about the wedding–boring to a nine year old. Hamish looking around the elegant room and he asks politely and hopefully to his father.
Hamish: “Papa? May I ask cousin Camerrron if therrre is anything to play with in herrre?”
Jamie: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter and hugs his son to him. “John, you must forrrgive me boy. He loves the outdoorrrs as much as I do–and inside playing is rrrelegated to chess or drrrawing.”
Cameron: “I do na have any drrrawing pencils, but I do have a chess board.” He goes to fetch it.
John: “I love chess! Do you play, Jamie?”
Jamie: “Alas, no. Its rrrules escape me. I am forrreverrr moving bishops like knights and the rrreverrrse.” Jamie shakes his head sheepishly. He was not fond of chess before his accident, and never warmed to it as an adult. “Jamie plays with his Motherrr Thistle, and he is also teaching Blythe to play.”
Baird: Slapping Jamie on his shoulders, Baird says. “But Jamie, ye have otherrr skills. John, Jamie always leads our Clan Ogilvy Highland Games Team–and we usually win!” Baird’s eyes sparkle. “And Jamie is quite the farm land owner and manager of the tenants on his estates.”
Jamie: He shrugs his shoulders. “I like to work the land, and the people on my land like that I work along side them.” He leads by example.
John: “I also work in my mill, helping to fix broken machinery when needed.” John nods in respectful accord.
Cameron and Hamish set up a chess game on a table in the corner of the salone and they begin to play. Baird wanders over there to watch, leaving John and Jamie to converse. Jamie smiles at John pleasantly. He does not usually start conversations, but joins in. John can be taciturn himself now and again. But John makes an effort for their guest, Jamie Ogilvy.
John: Nodding his head over toward his very pregnant wife Margaret across the room, John sighs. “As you can see, we will soon welcome our own little one.”
Jamie: “I see. You have my verrry best wishes.” Jamies smiles sincerely. “And yourrr wife seems verrry calm, compared to my Thistle who felt most unwell when she was carrrrying each of our bairrrns.”
John: “Margaret felt unwell the first few months. But she feels fine now.”
Jamie: “Enjoy it while ye can.” Jamie says sagely. John looks at him quizzically. “I have learrrned that wives do na always tell you what they need. They expect us to puzzle it out.”
John: “Ha ha ha ha ha! That happens to us sometimes.”
Jamie: “Yes, but forrr me, puzzles arrre harrrd.” He grins sheepishly.
John: “Of course. I am so sorry. Baird had mentioned your injury as a child. But I must say that I quite forgot about it as we have talked.”
Jamie: “My Thistle says that though I might not say much when in big crowds, that she likes me much betterrr than me youngerrr brrrotherrrr Angus. He often talks when he should be quiet. Ha ha ha!”
John: “Ha ha ha! Indeed!” John looks over at the women again, noticing little Blythe leaning into her mother and shyly looking at the other ladies as they chat amongst themselves.
Jamie: Noticing John’s focus, Jamie asks. “I see you watching ourrr little Blythe?” He asks benignly.
John: “Oh! I am so sorry. I did not realize that I was staring.” John hurriedly looks away, chastising himself for wondering about her infirmity.
Jamie: “Tis alrrright.” Jamie says calmly. “Thistle and I feel that the morrre people take the time to get to know Blythe, that they will look past herrr leg prrroblem and see that she is a bonnie wee lassie. She just walks slowly and she must be extrrra carrreful on stairrrs–so that she does na fall and hurrrt herrrself more.”
John: John smiles cordially at Jamie. “You and Thistle sound like wonderful caring parents. I hope that Margaret and I will be good parents with our children. I worry sometimes that I won’t be as perfect a parent as I should be, as I want to be.”
Jamie: “Being perrrfect is not something parrrents orrr childrrren need to aspirrre to. When I had my accident as a child, I felt that I lost a parrrt of me–the parrrt of me that might have been. I was ten at the time–much older than Blythe is now–so I remembered how I used to be, quicker to think and to talk. It was harrrd forrr me to adjust at firrrst. The other childrrren would tease me. But Thistle always took my side against otherrrs who werrre mean to me.”
John: “That had to have been hard. I know something of having a difficult childhood.” John obliquely refers to his father’s death and being pulled out of school to work to feed his family.
Jamie: “But blessedly, Blythe has na known anything else but the way her leg is. She is used to how her right leg is shorter than the left leg. It is only now that she is older and joining us on trips like this one that she feels different.”
John: “I’m sorry to hear that, Jamie. Did something happen on your way here?”
Jamie: “Aye.” Jamie sighs. “We were leaving the train after we arrived at Milton Station and another child pointed at Blythe and said ‘Look at the girl with the big shoe.’ We can understand little childrrren not knowing better, but then the child’s parrents hurried him away–as if Blythe’s leg prrroblem was a disease that her child could catch.” Jamie shakes his head slowly.
John: “Poor Blythe.” John blanches.
Jamie: He nods his head. “Blythe was upset and crying. But we soothed herrr and calmed herrr down beforre we came to tea herrre. That is why she is a bit morrre quiet than when she is just around us. She does na know if ye will accept herrr.”
John: “Of course we accept her, Jamie.” John looks encouragingly at Jamie.
Jamie: “Thank ye.”
John: Then John thinks for a moment before speaking. “How can we make Blythe feel welcome and comfortable around us? Would she like it if we fussed over her to make her feel special? That always works with Fanny.” John grins sheepishly.
Jamie: “Nay, John. You do not need to make Blythe feel special. Just let her feel ordinarrry. That will be special to herrr.”
John: “You are a very wise man, Jamie.” John says in earnest.
Jamie: “Well! Therrre arrre many who would dispute that.” Jamie grins impishly and knocks on his head. “But I will accept yourrr kind worrrds anyway.”
John and Jamie continue to chat amiably and then wander over to watch the chess games in progress.
Across the room, the ladies are deep into wedding discussions. And little Blythe has nestled deeper into her Mother’s side as they sit on the sette. Then Blyth tugs at her Mother’s sleeve to get her attention.
Thistle: “Yes, Blythe Dearrr?” Thistle caresses her daughter’s cheek.
Blythe: “Mama, May I have a prrretty drrress like Fanny’s?” She whispers so only her mama can here. Fanny and Hannah look at them curiously..
Thistle: “Fanny, me daughterrr thinks that yourrr gown is verrry prrretty.” Thistle smiles down at her daughter who nods her head and smiles at Fanny.
Fanny: “Thank you, Blythe.” Fanny smiles that her pink and blue plaid dress with the lace collar is so admired.
Thistle: “Howeverrr sweethearrrt, I do na think they make tarrrtans in these colorrrs in Scotland.” Thistle raises one arched eyebrow. It is not that Thistle dislikes Fanny gown. It is just rather brightly colored for her tastes.
Hannah: “Well, if Blythe would like to have a dress made in this fabric, I think that I still have some fabric left on the bolt. There might not be enough for a long skirted gown, but certainly for a short girl-length gown.” Hannah smiles charitably at the little girl.
Blythe: “Oh! I have to have a long drrress.” Blythe fusses.
Fanny: “Why?” Fanny asks obtusely, her not focusing on Blythe’s shorter leg and shoe issue.
Blythe does not want to show them her leg, so she buries her face into her Mother’s bosom so she does not have to look at their questioning stares. But Thistle always tries to smooth over her daughter’s discomfiture and she hoists Blythe up onto her lap with Blthye’s legs pointing toward Fanny and her mother Hannah.
Thistle: Thistle leans in to Fanny and Hannah. “Everrr since Blythe has gotten a little olderrr, she has noticed that herrr shoes are differrrent than otherrr childrrrens’ shoes–with herrr having one shoe with a thickerrr sole than the otherrr to even herrr out. She walks betterrr now than when she did na have the special shoe. But she is self conscious about it.”
Hannah: “Of course.” Hannah smiles caringly.
Fanny: “Will Blythe be alright walking down the aisle as one of my flower girls?”
Blythe: “Oooh! Mama? Do I have ta walk to be a flowerrr gerrril?” Little Blythe bites her lower lip.
Fanny: “Yes Blythe, sweetheart. We’ll practice it tomorrow night at the church.”
Blythe: “I might need my walking stick, Mama.” Blythe holds her breath.
Thistle: “Blythe has a small cane, or walking stick, that helps her balance.” Thistle explains to Fanny, Angharad, and Hannah.
Fanny: Fanny thinks for a moment, then smiles. “Well Blythe, if you do decide to use your walking stick, we can always tie a few pretty pink ribbon bows on it.” Hannah smiles for the diplomatic solution Fanny came up with.
Blythe: “Alrrright.” Blythe agrees hesitantly.
At the next day’s Thursday evening wedding rehearsal, Fanny brought several pink ribbons with her and tied bows on little Blythe’s walking stick. Four year old Lissa Dillard is also present as the other flower girl and she and Blythe instantly bond since they are both shy girls, only one year apart in age, and about the same height. Baird’s sister Angharad and her husband Alistair and children have arrived–and are staying with Hannah and Cameron. So the extended Thornton-Ogilvy family is all together this evening.
The wedding rehearsal runs smoothly and Baird and Fanny smile gleefully at each other. They do not say their vows yet, for doing so would constitute their marriage–and they must wait two days for that.
Fanny’s friend Ann Lattimer is the third bridesmaid–with Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh being the second Matron of Honor,and Margaret Hale Thornton being the Matron of Honor. And owing to Margaret’s delicate condition–her being fully six months with child now–a chair is placed at the altar rail so that she may sit rather than stand throughout the ceremony.
After the wedding rehearsal is over, they all mingle about waiting for their carriages to take them to the hotel for a lite supper–the Oglivy’s (all of them), MacIntosh’s, the Thornton’s, and Ann Lattimer and Dr. Miles Houghton. And Ann is still a little miffed at not being the first or even the second bridesmaid.
Ann: Ann observes dryly. “You have rather a lot of children in your wedding, Fanny. Is that wise?”
Fanny: “I don’t know. But they are family, so they stay.” Fanny says firmly.
Ann: “Yes, but the Dillard girl is not family. And really, one child would be sufficient–the little Ogilvy boy as ring bearer seems to have good bearing.”
Fanny: “What do you mean?”
Ann: “Only that the little Ogilvy girl might get too tired walking the whole length of the aisle with her infirmity.”
And with that statement, like insect antennae attuned to something amiss, Blythe’s parents turn toward Ann facing Fanny, who has her back to them.
Fanny: “Blythe Ogilvy is sweet and delightful. And if she gets tired, she may always sit up front with Margaret.”
Ann: Ann wrinkles up her nose. “Then only half of the bride’s part will be standing–apart from you.”
Fanny: “What does that matter?”
Ann: “It matters, because it is not done.” Ann intones pompously.
Fanny: “Well, it is being done here on Saturday. And if you don’t like it then you don’t have to be one of my bridesmaids.” Where Fanny is getting the pluck to counter Ann Lattimer, banker’s daughter, is anyone’s guess.
Ann: “Fanny! You’re being unreasonable. I have to be one of your bridesmaids. It has been announced. And were I not to be an attendant, it would give rise to unpleasant talk.”
Fanny: “Oh? Are you going to start a rumour about yourself? That you’re vain, gossiping, and mean spirited?” Fanny adds with a flourish.
Ann: “Fanny! What has gotten in to you?”
Both Fanny and Ann suddenly realize that they have an audience as everyone has gathered around them.
Fanny: “I don’t know. Maybe it is me Scottish grrrandmotherrrr coming out in me.” Fanny attempts a Scottish accent. Baird chuckles.
Ann starts to reply, but then thinks better of it.
Hannah: Touching her daughter’s elbow, Hannah informs her. “Fanny Dear, we are leaving now for a light supper at the hotel.”
Fanny: “Yes, Mama. So Ann, will you promise to behave nicely and I will see you as one of my attendants on Saturday?”
All eyes turn to Ann.
Ann: She straightens up. “Of course, Fanny.”
Fanny: “Very well, I look forward to seeing you then.” Fanny smiles politely at Ann in dismissal–and Ann leaves.
Baird walks up behind Fanny and whispers in her ear.
Baird: “Brrravo, Fiona My Love.”
Fanny: She turns to Baird with a small smile and replies impishly. “Brrrava!”
After the rehearsal dinner at the Milton Mayfair Hotel where several of them are staying, the extended Thornton and Ogilvy and MacIntosh clans enjoy dessert and coffees in a small private drawing room before they head home for the evening. The lights are low with only a few candles about the elegant and comfortable room in addition to the crackling fire in the fireplace. They sit couples together on the sette’s–John an Margaret, Hannah and Cameron, and Baird and Fanny, Angharad and Alistair and their children, with Jamie and Thistle cradling their sleeping son and daughter on their laps.
Baird: Whispering into Fanny’s ear, Baird’s voice is a reverberating hush, smouldering with desire. “Trrradition dictates that we spend tomorrrow aparrrt. A pity.”
Fanny: “It will only be one more day, then we will be married on Saturday.” Fanny smiles gleefully. She is looking forward to being Baird’s wife and running her own home.
Baird: “Arrre ye disappointed that we can na take a prrroperrr wedding trrrip at this time?” He looks at her apologetically.
Fanny: “A little, Baird.” She smiles sheepishly. “But I know that you want to help free your client. And that is a noble thing. Besides, I will be with Angharad and the children during the day since we’ll be living with them while your townhouse is renovated.”
Baird: “Ourrr townhouse.” He winks at her.”
Fanny: “Our townhouse.” She smiles. “Or I’ll visit Edith some days. And you will be home with me in the evenings and we can do things together on the weekends.” She squeezes his arm that her hands are wrapped around and she lies her head on his shoulders.
Baird: “So, you won’t feel .. underrr obserrrvation as we begin ourrr marrried life togetherrr?” Baird feels a little shy about finding his way as a husband under his sister’s roof, so he reasons that Fanny might feel that way as well, as a wife.
And apart from a clandestine romantic interlude with Davina in her home’s linen closet when they were young, Baird has not made love when other people were present in a house.
Fanny: “Oh no! It is nice that Angharad and Alistair invited us to stay with them for a few weeks while our townhouse is being painted and such.” Fanny yawns and starts to sound sleepy as she closes her eyes to rest a bit.
Baird: Whispering huskily into her ear, Baird says slyly. “Fiona, If we werrre already marrried, I would lift ye up into me arrrms and carrry you to ourrr bed now.”
Fanny: “That would be very nice of you. And I’m so tired that I’m sure that I would fall asleep right away.”
Baird: “I’m cerrrtain I could perrrsuade ye to stay awake.” Baird reverently kisses Fanny’s forehead. He cannot kiss her more because they are surrounded by family and under watchful eyes.
Fanny: “Ha ha ha! Silly. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.”
And Baird has an unnerving thought as realization claims him. A little while later as they await their carriages to return to their homes–with Baird and his cousin Jamie’s family staying in the hotel, Baird pulls his father aside to express his unnerving thought.
Cameron: “Yes Bairrrd. Needing some advice upon enterrring the marrrried state my boy?”
Baird: “Not rrreally. But I think therrre is something that yet needs to be done to ensurrre that Fanny and my wedding is … happy.”
Cameron: “Oh? What is that?”
Baird: “I forrrmed the imprression this evening, that Fiona …” He pauses, how to put this delicately? Cameron stares at him. Baird’s eyes narrow as he winces. Then he blurts it out in a whisper. “Papa, I do na think that Fanny has been told about the wedding night.” Baird holds his breath.
Cameron’s eyes go wide at what his son is intimating–about Fanny’s possible lack of understanding about the intimacies she will share with her future husband Baird.
Cameron: “Hmmm.” Is all Cameron manages to utter.
Baird: “Papa? Can ye na ask Mama if she has talked to Fanny yet? I do na want Fanny to be afrrraid of me on ourrr wedding night. She must be told what will happen and that it is naturrral and good forrr a husband and wife to love each otherrr … in the physical sense.”
Cameron: “I will see what can be done.” Cameron nods.
Baird: “Thank ye, Papa!” Baird hugs his father gratefully.
Now nothing stands in the way of Baird and Fanny being married on Saturday.
To be continued with Chapter 51
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 50 References, April 23, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #552)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitageas John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the 2004 BBC period drama North & South, was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg ; For more information about this wonderful 2004 BBC miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s story North & South, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_&_South_%28TV_serial%29
2) Blythe Ogilvy image is Portrait of a Young Girl by Paul Emile Chabas found at http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/89623/portraitofayounggirl