“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 78 (PG-13): Chance Made us Sisters, August 30, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #626)
[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 Ogilvy, Jo Joyner for Fiona/Fanny Thornton Ogilvy, 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, Jeremy Northam as Dr. Miles Houghton, Gerard Butler as Lord Jamie Ogilvy, Juliette Lewis as Lady Thistle Ogilvy, and Helena Bonham Carter as Brigid Gordon, 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. As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions (D), 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: John and Margaret returned from Airlie Castle in Scotland with their two adopted children–baby Douglas and two year old Catriona–and their four year old Audrey Grace. Their Nanny Brigid is a great help in gently overseeing the children–including her own baby son Arthur. And with Parenting duties slightly lessened, John and Margaret are able to rekindle their romantic spark after children tending had put a damper on things. The girls–Audrey Grace and Caty–become especially close. But as with any sisters, difficulties will arise.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 78 (PG-13): Chance Made us Sisters
(This chapter is dedicated to Kitty–a sister friend in my heart.)
During the first week of her stay at Thornton Manor, Brigid enjoys eating below stairs with the other house servants- -and becoming fast friends with Head House Maid Sarah. Brigid welcomes finding a sisterly soul in Sarah since her own family is so small now–just she and her baby son Arthur. Brigid has living parents, but they are back in Scotland and advanced in years –and she is not likely to see them ever again. Brigid had hesitated briefly at the offer of the Thornton’s to join them in England. But her parents insisted that she take this chance to make a new life for herself and their grandson Arthur. And so Brigid is making a new home for herself and her baby son.
And Brigid notices off handedly, that the man Higgins seems to be a regular visitor to the Thornton home. However, Brigid is usually so engaged with the children–playing with them in the nursery when she is not nursing baby Douglas–that she does not have much time to think upon it. The children in her charge have also taken to familiarly calling her Nanny Brigid–rather than addressing her more formally as Nanny Gordon. And that is just as Brigid prefers.
And Audrey Grace is delighted to have not one, but two playmates in her newly adopted two year old sister Caty and Nanny Brigid’s seven month old son Arthur. Although, it is true that Arthur does not do much but sit and some crawling. Audrey Grace will have to wait a year before he might become more interesting. However, two year old Caty delights in playing dollies with Audrey Grace, and she with her–dollies being something that had been left behind when Catriona’s grandparents took her to the Airlie Castle Orphanage with her baby brother. Margaret enjoys watching the girls play as she sits with Brigid while she nurses baby Douglas. Then Margaret burps him to feel part of his feeding routine.
Brigid: Buttoning her blouse after feeding baby Douglas, Brigid observes. “Mrs. Marrrgarrret, If ye do na mind me saying so, the little gerrils arrre quite enamorrred of each otherrr already.” She raises her Scottish eyebrow in emphasis.
Margaret: “Yes, Audrey Grace and little Caty are getting along nicely.” Margaret smiles lovingly at her two daughters–the four year old Audrey Grace and the two year old Catriona “Caty”.
Brigid: “Yes.” Brigid draw out slowly–as if delaying her reply might soften it. “But ye should be watchful … forrrr jealousies and tantrrrums.”
Margaret: “Jealousies? Who would be jealous?” Margaret looks at her daughter Audrey Grace and sees only the picture off sweetness in her.
Brigid: “It is naturrral for olderrr childrrren to rrresent the youngerrr childrrren–because they rrreceive more attention, or get special treatment that they did not. Or the rrreverrrse–because the youngerrr one feels they are in her olderrr sibling’s shadow.”
Being the younger sister to her older brother whom Margaret doted on–and her cousin Edith who was like a sister, albeit a slightly whiney and selfish one–Margaret takes issues with that assessment.
Margaret: “Nonsense! Sisters and brothers always love each other. At least, that is my experience.” Margaret adds for emphasis, yet it points out that her statements might not be universally true–just true in her case.
Brigid treads carefully in her reply as she picks up her baby son Arthur and blows on a pinwheel for him as he claps his hands with glee.
Arthur: “Ah eee yah!” Brigid lovingly kisses her baby son’s forehead.
Brigid: “Mrs., I am glad that ye have had only good experiences. But life has taught me that people and places can be different than I expect.”
Brigid looks at the little girls as they seem to become more boisterous. But Margaret is not looking directly at them and does not notice.
Margaret: Inclining her head toward Brigid in interest, Margaret inquires as she pats baby Douglas’ back, trying to coax a burp out of him. “Oh? What have you found different?”
Brigid: “Well?” Brigid thinks for a moment–both to formalize her thoughts, and to try to frame them in a tactful way. “The Earrrl and his Countess arrre one example. They arrre our lorrrd and lady to whom we owe ourrr loyalty and ourrrr toil. Yet, they do na exploit us as otherrr masterrr’s have. They carrre about the people in the village and who worrrk on the Airrrlie Estate.”
Margaret: “They do.” Margaret nods. Then she thinks back to her Summer days in Helstone with her parents. “My Father was a minister, Vicar of the Parish of Helstone.” Margaret says pridefully and Brigid nods in respect. “Some ministers were only interested in their wealthy congregants. But Father always tended to the poor and sick of the parish. I would go with him and we would take a basket of food to those in need.”
Brigid: “That was rrright and fitting forrr ye to do.” Brigid acknowledges, the respectful tone in her voice is clearly evient.
Then little girlish voices playing become loud enough to intrude their mother Margaret’s conversation with their nanny.
Audrey Grace: “Caty, This dolly is mine. Her name is Susie. I gave you my other dolly. But I like this one best.” Audrey Grace is trying to reason with the two year old Catriona, even as Audrey Grace hugs her favorite dolly to her chest.
Catriona: Her little face becoming red as her lip trembles, Caty cries out. “But she is so prrretty.” Caty has never seen anything so beautiful in her life as Audrey Grace’s dolly–with its soft blond hair and real eyes in a pretty dress of blue silk, which Caty only knows is soft. Caty reaches for the dolly, but Audrey Grace turns away from Caty so that she can’t touch the dolly. Then Caty erupts in tears. “Waaaa! Waaa! Waaa!” Then Caty flops forward onto the floor and sobs uncontrollably.
Margaret instantly stands up and walks over to the two little girls–her still carrying baby Douglas.
Margaret: “Audrey Grace? What is wrong? Why did you make Caty cry? There there, Caty Dear.” Margaret kneels down , then sits on the floor and pulls Caty to her with her free arm. Caty cuddles next to her and continues to cry–touching her baby brother’s foot for comfort. He is her only connection to her past life–to her past family.
Catriona: “Hmmm. Waaa. Hmmm.” Caty sobs.
Audrey Grace: Audrey Grace looks up [(2) right] into her Mama’s accusative eyes. “But Mama, I didn’t make her cry. Caty wanted my favorite dolly Susie. She’s mine! I gave her my other dolly to play with.” Audrey Grace clutches her dolly to her and begins to cry–not out of fear of losing her dolly, though that is part of what is causing her distress, but Audrey Grace is worred that her Mama thinks she is being bad.
Brigid: “Ah me!” Brigid sighs and stands up, depositing Arthur in the floor play pen. Then she walks over to Margaret. “Mrs. I’ll take baby Douglas so ye can tend to the gerrrils.”
Margaret: Clutching baby Douglas to her breast, Margaret replies sharply. “No! He hasn’t burped for me yet.”
Margaret is fiercely protective of her motherly bond with Douglas. If she cannot breast feed him, at least she can burp him. Of course, the parallels to the little girls and their dollies, and Margaret and her baby, is only observed wryly by Brigid as the little girls continue to weep–though they have lessened to sniffles by this point.
Brigid: “Aye. Of courrrse, Madam.” Brigid says respectfully. Brigid understands that Margaret has a difficult task ahead of her–to learn how to lovingly parent three children equally.
Audrey Grace: “Mama, please do not be mad at me. It is just that you gave me my dolly Susie– and I do not want to give her away.” Audrey Grace’s little red rimmed eyes look pleadingly at her Mama.
Baby Douglas: “Errrrrp!” Baby Douglas finally burps.
Margaret: “Ahhh!” Margaret sighs, satisfied in having achieved one mothering accomplishment today. Then Margaret looks at the stoic Brigid standing politely and patiently a few feet away. Margaret kisses Baby Douglas and then hands him to Brigid. “Thank you, Brigid. Please check Douglas’ diaper then put him down for his nap.” Margaret smiles wincingly. Of course, Margaret did not need to tell Brigid how to tend to baby Douglas–she was simply asserting her place as his Mama.
Caty: “Duggles!” Caty whines not quite getting her baby brother’s new name right as she reaches out to him–but having her new mother Margaret clasp her hand as Brigid takes him away to check his diaper.
Margaret: “Now Caty. You can’t have every dolly, or baby, that you want.” Margaret rocks Caty in her arms.
Audrey Grace is not certain that she likes the sound of that–for she has all the dollies and toys that she could ever want.
Audrey Grace: “She can’t?” Chastened thinking that she also might be bound by her Mama’s new rule, a four year old Audrey Grace offers a compromise. “Mama? May I choose which of my dollies to give to Caty? And then she can decide which of those dollies she wants to keep?”
Nanny Brigid raises her eyebrow at little Audrey Grace’s plea, even as Brigid puts the now still dry Baby Douglas in his bassinette for a nap–then she picks up her son Arthur for a cuddle. You see, Margaret had haphazardly selected some of Audrey Grace’s things to give to Caty–without asking her daughter first, thinking that they were toys Audrey didn’t play with any more. Her mother-in-law Hannah had made the same mistake with Fanny’s dolly Betsy–giving the dolly to Lissa Dillard. However, the maturing twenty year old Fanny was able to sanguinely part with her favorite dolly–not so for the almost four year old Audrey Grace and her favorite dolly, Susie.
Margaret: Bringing Caty to sit on her lap and then drawing Audrey Grace in close to her embrace as well, Margaret asks. “Well Caty? Would that be fair? Then you may pick which dollies you want to keep for you.”
Audrey Grace: “Please Caty? I would like to share some of my toys with you.”
Margaret: “And …” Margaret smiles pleased with herself for navigating the breach between Audrey Grace and Caty–when it was actually Audrey Grace who did that. “We will go to Mr. Lindquist’s Children’s Emporium in Milton tomorrow. And I will let each of you pick out one new toy or dolly. Does that sound fun?” Margaret isn’t really trying to bribe the girls–not consciously, anyway.
Caty: “New, Mama?” Caty looks up at Margaret, uncertain about what new means. Though not dirt poor, Caty’s family did not have store bought toys for her to play with–let alone, something new. A wooden spoon with a flour sack string bow on its neck and eyes and a smile carved on its rounded scoop that Caty tapped on any surface she came across, had been little Catriona’s most frequent playtime toy–if one can call a repurposed kitchen utensil a toy.
Audrey Grace: “Yes please!” Audrey Grace claps her hands together. She likes getting new presents.
Caty: Caty shyly [(3) right] points to her brother sleeping in his bassinette. “Duggles?” Caty wants her baby brother to get something, too.
Audrey Grace: Audrey Grace also looks at the serene countenance of Nanny Brigid watching them as she hugs her baby son to her breast. So Audrey Grace leans into her Mama and asks sweetly.
Audrey Grace: “And for baby Arthur, too, Mama?”
Margaret: Smiling, Margaret squeezes both her daughters and kisses the tops of their heads. “Yes! All children under our roof will get new toys tomorrow.” Margaret takes out her linen hankie and wipes each of her daughter’s tears away.
Then Audrey Grace leans toward little Catriona and kisses her cheek. Caty looks shyly at her newish older sister Audrey Grace. Audrey Grace holds out her arms and little Caty climbs out of her Mama’s lap and into her sister Audrey Grace’s arms and they embrace lovingly, kissing each other’s cheeks and rocking back and forth–their hearts’ concerns mended for now.
And though Margaret is not overly fond of needlework–her not being as proficient at as her mother-in-law Hannah–she resolves to embroider two companion small heart shaped sachet pillow gifts for her daughters with the inscription: “Chance made us Sisters, Hearts made us Friends.” It is a favorite phrase of Margaret and her cousin Edith, whom she grew up with.
However what none of them realize now is that baby Douglas has a new family nickname, Duggles–courtesy of his sister Caty. The nickname will stick, much to Margaret’s amusement and to her husband John’s chagrin.
And Nanny Brigid Gordon and her baby son Arthur will continue to thrive in their new Thornton Manor home–as well as, she will provide a calming influence and helpful guidance as the Thornton Family faces its growing pains with now having three children. And in Brigid and her son’s near future, a chance encounter with a kind and humble man’s fortunate awareness will start them on a path that they could not have foreseen for themselves when they left Scotland.
To be continued with Chapter 79
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 78 References, August 30, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #626)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitage as 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) Audrey Grace Thornton almost four year old image is Tete d’Etude l’Oiseau by William Adolphe Bouguereau found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/William-Adolphe_Bouguereau#mediaviewer/File:William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_%281825-1905%29_-_T%C3%AAte_d%27Etude_l%27Oiseau_%281867%29.jpg
3) Catriona Thornton image illustration is an 1860s child painting found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1860s_in_Western_fashion#mediaviewer/File:Joseph_Nitschner_Portrait_Francisca_Keban.jpg