“N&S: Nurturing Love,” Ch. 5-12–Friday Tea Begins a Weekend of Engagements, 3/23/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #153)
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Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: After John’s fitful attempt at proposing to Margaret–with her initially rejecting him, but then explaining her reticence–they reach an agreement to begin again as friends. And Margaret is beginning to awaken to her caring feelings for John as they spend more time with each other during Friday afternoon tea. After an initial round of tea sipping and cake eating–when John’s new status of being Margaret’s “friend” as well as her father’s friend is revealed to Mr. Bell and her mother–John and Margaret return to the Hale Kitchen to make another pot of tea.
[The link for the previous chapters posting is found after the image references.]
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 5: John and Margaret back in the Hale Kitchen getting more tea
Meanwhile in the small Hale kitchen, John and Margaret talk while they’re waiting for the water to heat up for their second pot of tea they are making for themselves, her parents and Mr. Bell. John hands Margaret the pot holder from behind her—without needing to be asked–so that she doesn’t burn her hand. He notices her creamy complexion at the nape of her neck below her upswept hair–becoming mesmerized by the wisps of tendril curls there.
Margaret: “Thank you John.” She takes the offered pot holder from John, as he hands it to her from around her back. Though John’s arms are long, she realizes that he must be standing very close to her and her pulse quickens at the thought. Then with her back still turned to him she says amusingly and with a smile–she seems to be doing a lot of smiling around John today—and a little humorously to keep the mood light. “Well, you seem to know your way around a kitchen.”
John: “Yes Margaret, I do.” He relishes the newness of addressing her by her Christian name, and smiles also at their being alone in private conversation. As John speaks, Margaret thinks that she can feel his breath on the soft curls of her head because he is standing so close to her, but yet they are not touching. “When I was a little boy, I would watch my mother and the servants we had then in the kitchen—before …” John [(2) right] does not finish and turns his back to Margaret, uncharacteristically choking back tears.
Margaret: Margaret senses John’s change of mood. And Margaret turns around, reaches up, and touches her hand to the back of his shoulder on his heavy wool suit coat. His shoulder has broad and hard to her touch–only partially due to the tailoring of his coat. This is the first time she has touched him without it being a response to his touch. She continues for him, saying softly. “… before your father died?”
John: “Yes.” John is grateful that she remembers his early struggles that he had told she and Mr. Hale about soon after they first met. The softness of her touch—even through the heavy fabric of his clothes—is comforting to him.
John turns around slowly and he and Margaret are now facing each other again. Margaret’s hand slides from his shoulder to his arm as he turns, and then down to clasp his hand. The small kitchen does not leave much room for them to stand in. And as a result, their proximity to one another is closer than propriety considers appropriate. To John and Margaret, this physical closeness seems to mirror their own growing bond of emotional closeness.
Margaret: Margaret smiles compassionately at John, then moves her gaze to the thick fabric on the arm of his suit coat and takes his arm in hers as if they were walking along somewhere. John welcomes Margaret’s touch and he leans in toward her. “I guess Mr. Bell is right. We do seem to have an …ease and comfortableness… with each other—’domestically’, as he put it—despite how fitfully we started out today. Don’t you think, John?”
John: John gazes lovingly at Margaret’s auburn curls framing her face. “Yes Margaret, I do.” John notices again the small recurring pattern on the shoulder of her dress and the lace circling her neck–and his gaze lingers there.
Margaret lifts up her face to gaze at John’s face just as he gazes down at her. Their eyes lock, and for a moment Margaret thinks that John might be going to kiss her, on her lips. That thought is also going through John’s mind. She has never been kissed before by a man, let alone, standing so close to a man whom she realizes that she likes more and more—maybe whom she even loves. John gazes at Margaret’s sweet face and her lovely pink lips—longing to kiss them, to kiss her. Margaret gasps a bit because they are not formally engaged—no where near it, despite John’s proposal earlier today that she refused–but that does not seem to be stopping her in responding to him.
But the the steaming water kettle on the stove whistles and breaks their reverie. Margaret moves the kettle off the burner to stop its whistling. Both John and Margaret laugh softly—a little in relief with the intensity of the moment being lightened a bit. Then John takes Margaret’s hand again—as he had at the door when he had left earlier—and brings it to his lips for a kiss. She sighs. Then, Margaret and John clasp their hands together, bent above their waists, intertwining their fingers gently together–his left hand to her right hand, her left hand to his right hand—almost as if they are going to dance, though they have never danced together before either. Today seems to herald several firsts for both John and Margaret, since both of them have lived sheltered lives—each in their own way.
Margaret: “Oh, John, …” She sighs again and shares a further confidence with him—realizing her own developing feelings for John—and forgetting entirely about making tea. She says to him with sincere honesty as she looks up at him and gazes into his eyes. “I believe I ‘do’ care for you.”
John: John brims with pride and love for Margaret, and leans toward her; still clasping their hands together, but that is their only touch. “Margaret, … and I care for you, … very deeply.” They gaze at each other, lovingly. Though neither speaks, much is shared with each other in their loving gazes. John perceives that each time they have been alone today, his and Margaret’s bond has grown stronger. For her part, Margaret also feels that their private time together has been almost magical in developing their relationship. Then John realizes how long they have tarried in the kitchen again, alone. “But, before we run away with our feelings, we need to take more tea to the thirsty people waiting for us in the parlor.” John smiles teasingly at Margaret.
Margaret: She smiles, too and laughs a little. Yes, John Dear.” She says, emphasizing the domestic. They unclasp their hands slowly, reluctantly, for now.
Then, Margaret and John refill ‘their’ teapot and head back to the parlor where Mr. & Mrs. Hale and Mr. Bell are waiting.
To be continued with Chapter 6
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 6: John and Margaret return to the Hale Parlor with more Tea
Margaret’s parents and Mr. Bell talk about the weather and other nondescript topics to distract them from the topic they are most interested in—John and Margaret—and they all look up when John and Margaret reenter the parlor.
Mr. Hale: “Just in time to fill up my cup.”
Mrs. Hale: Chiming in cheerfully, but weakly. “Mine, too.”
Margaret pours as John sits and watches her. After she has poured for everyone else and comes around to John and pours more tea for him, he stands up and offers her his chair.
John: “Margaret, we’re remiss in not letting you enjoy the tea and cake yourself. Let me pour you a cup.”
Margaret sits down with a small smile and accepts the tea cup and saucer John offers her. Margaret smiles bemusedly at how John somehow minimizes his strong hands and long fingers to fit the handle on the small teapot. The teapot has always been poured by she or her mother–feminine hands, small hands. Margaret likens herself to the teapot–untouched by man. And she blushes at her brazen thoughts as she remembers John’s strong hands gently clasping her small hands a few moments ago in the kitchen.
Margaret: “Thank you, John. That’s very thoughtful of you.” She manages in a poised and lady like tone, belying her romantic musings.
Mr. Bell: Under his breath. “Very domestic.” Then out loud for all to hear, he says. “Well Thornton, Hale, ladies, I’m afraid that I must leave you for another engagement. It has been a most ‘enjoyable’ afternoon.” Then teasingly to John and Margaret who are standing and sitting next to each other, respectively, he says. “Oh, and Thornton, you and Margaret will have to let me know how the cake recipe exchange plan works out.”
Mr. Hale walks Mr. Bell to the front door and shows him out.
When, Mr. Hale returns to the parlor, he notices that his wife, Maria is looking tired.
Mr. Hale: “Maria my dear, how are you feeling?”
Mrs. Hale: “Well, I am a little tired, Richard Dear. Perhaps Margaret would help me upstairs?” Then turning to John, she says. “It was very nice to see you John and we hope you can come again. Margaret will be back down after she sees me settled in.”
Margaret smiles at John and then she helps her mother upstairs.
To be continued with Chapter 7
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 7: Mr. Hale and John Talking in the Parlor after Tea
Richard Hale regards the man who is to be “friends” with his daughter, Margaret. Mr. Hale is pleased with this development since he holds John Thornton, the Master of Marlborough Mills, Magistrate, and his willing pupil, in high esteem.
Mr. Hale: After Mr. Hale is certain Margaret and her mother are out of ear shot as Margaret helps her mother upstairs after tea, he entreats John. “John, come sit with me by the fire.” It is a small fireplace and mantel, not letting out much heat. But, serviceable enough for the Hale’s small parlor.
John is uncertain if Mr. Hale welcomes his attentions to Margaret, or wants to wave him off. He and Mr. Hale have had most cordial discussions when he has come to the Hale home on earlier occasions for his lessons. But this discussion is altogether different.
John: Nervously. “Mr. Hale.” John nods his head respectfully and joins Mr. Hale in sitting in opposite chairs by the fireplace.
Mr. Hale: “John, you know that Margaret is my only daughter and her future happiness is my main concern.”
John: Nodding, and a little uncertain why Mr. Hale did not refer to Margaret as his ‘only child’, John says. “Yes, sir.” John feels that he needs to be more formal for the conversation that he thinks might be about to happen.
Mr. Hale: “And you John, I hope that you won’t think it condescending of me to say that I think of you like …” He pauses, thinking of his own son Frederick who is lost to them forever. “… a son. So, your happiness is also in my thoughts.”
John: “Yes sir. Thank you.” John appreciates Mr. Hale’s regard. Listening intently to Mr. Hale’s words, John [(3) right] feels almost paralyzed, never having been in this situation before–with regard to being a suitor. Having spent much of his youth and early adult hood earning a living and growing his business, it left no time for John to think of himself in that way—as a suitor–and now speaking with his intended’s father.
Mr. Hale: “John, I have noticed the … marked attention, that you’ve shown to Margaret–especially today. … And that she seems to be receiving that attention … well, warmly, shall we say?” Mr. Hale remarks with his usual slight question in his voice. It is, perhaps, the teacher in him.
John nods, still not really knowing what Mr. Hale is about to say–but John is hopeful. Though, the men can not hear her, Margaret has come downstairs and walks toward the parlor door. She stops before entering—secretly listening at the door–also uncertain as to what her father might say to John.
Mr. Hale: “Well, John, you’ve made a good beginning.” Johns sighs a bit in relief. Margaret sighs, too.
John: “Hhhh! Yes sir… Margaret and I hope to be …friends to one another.”
Margaret knocks and enters the parlor. Both men stand out of courtesy. Margaret crosses the room to John and they clasp hands and smile at one another–theirs is already more than a friendship. Then they turn to face her father.
Mr. Hale: Mr. Hale looks at them both knowingly. “Ah Margaret my Dear, I’m glad that you joined us. I was just about to tell John that your mother Maria and I started our life in friendship–that … blossomed into love.” Pausing, Mr. Hale looks at them both knowingly and with a slight smile. “And we have gone on to spend a lifetime together, raising a family, and sharing our lives together. Friendship is an auspicious beginning.”
Margaret blushes at the speed with which she has rejected, warmed to, and now seems completely taken with John. She instinctively squeezes John’s hand that she is still holding. John gently squeezes Margaret’s hand as well.
John: “Sir, then, do I have your permission to court Margaret?” Margaret turns to gaze at John, then lowers her head blushing again and smiling at John’s request to her father. Pausing, then slowly John says. “I have come to care for Margaret very much—and I hope that, one day, she might care for me.” John says discreetly, not wanting to betray to her father Margaret’s recent revelation to him that she does care for him. John squeezes Margaret’s hand and she looks up at him.
Mr. Hale: “If that is what my daughter Margaret wishes, I have no objections. Margaret?”
Margaret: She looks up at her father, then she squeezes John’s hand. “Yes, Father?” She asks somewhat distractedly, since she is still thinking about John asking her father if he may court her–and the implications of this new phase in their relationship.
Mr. Hale: “Well? Do you agree to John courting you?” John is also expectantly waiting for Margaret’s reply, not breathing as he awaits her answer.
Margaret: In somewhat of gush, she says. “Oh, yes, Father.” Then a bit more measured, she says. “John and I have agreed to start out as friends and then get to know each other better. And, … I have realized that I, too, have come to care for John.”
John’s smile broadens and he squeezes Margaret’s hand in his again at her sharing her feelings for him with her father. John and Margaret gaze at each others’ faces sweetly and then they look at Mr. Hale again.
Mr. Hale: “Well then, Margaret my dear and John, you have my blessing to court and to get to know each other better.”
Mr. Hale crosses the room and kisses Margaret’s forehead. Then he pats John on the shoulder—as he would of a son. John blushes and smiles.
Mr. Hale: As he turns and heads for the parlor door, he says. “I will leave you two to say your good byes for the evening while I go up to see your Mother. Margaret, when John has gone home, please join your Mother and I in her room. We shouldn’t keep her in suspense.”
Margaret: “In suspense?” Mr. Hale smiles at Margaret, and then at John.
Mr. Hale: “I imagine John will also be talking with his mother.”
John: “Yes sir.” Still using the formal mode. “Mr. Hale, thank you.”
Mr. Hale: “And thank you John, for the discreet way that you have handled your attachment to my daughter. … But for now–while you two are developing your friendship and learning whether this is a long lasting attachment–let us keep this news to only our families. The last thing you want as a couple is to be watched by everyone and not feel that you can act naturally, as yourselves, with one another. Margaret my dear, your mother and I had a little of that unwanted attention just before we announced our engagement, and it was a bit nerve wracking to say the least.”
Margaret: Gazing at John and blushing again–she seems to be doing a lot of that today—she says like the dutiful daughter she is. “Yes Father, thank you.”
John: “Yes Sir. I will do as you request.”
Mr. Hale leaves the parlor and goes upstairs to speak to Mrs. Hale.
To be continued with Chapter 8
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 8: John and Margaret alone again in the Hale’s Parlor
Alone again–but now in the more romantic parlor setting–Margaret and John move to sit on the small sette again, closer than before, but still not touching out of propriety.
John: Not hiding his ardor anymore, John leans forward and takes Margaret’s hand in his again. Since holding hands is the most that propriety will allow them, they welcome each other’s touch. Then gazing deeply into her eyes, John asks longingly. “Margaret, when may I see you again?”
Margaret: She smiles and gazes up at him. “Well, John, … I tend to spend tomorrow, Saturdays that is, with a full day of helping Mother and doing other things around the house—getting ready for Sunday.” Margaret is a bit sheepish that she does so much housework for a lady of her station and she does not want to reveal that to John.
John: Recognizing her discomfiture, he says. “Saturdays when I was growing up were always ‘chore’ days, too. … I’m sorry that you have so much of that to do my Darling.” John wants to caress her cheek, but he resists. Margaret blushes at this new endearment, ‘my darling’. John wants to tell her that when she is his wife, she will not have to do any housework, but he refrains from leaping to the conclusion of marriage when they have agreed to court one another first. Of course, courting usually leads to marriage.
Margaret: She brightens with a suggestion of their next meeting. “Well, I will be at church on Sunday, I will see you there. Though, we will be surrounded by others.”
John: “Yes Margaret, I will be at church, with Mother.” He realizes that he now has two strong women in his life. “I will also talk to Mother—about us …” He says using ‘us’ pointedly again. “… and we will invite you and your parents for luncheon on Sunday. We will send you the invitation tomorrow. Perhaps, if the weather is nice on Sunday, you and I can take a stroll in the garden together afterward.” John knows that he and Margaret will have a chance to be alone again in the garden. “Would you like that?”
Margaret: “Yes John, thank you.” Margaret realizes that John’s luncheon invitation is his first ‘personal’ invitation to her–and that the two families will be meeting under different circumstances due to she and John’s growing understanding between one another.
John: John rises from the sette, still holding Margaret’s hand. “Though, I hate to part from you, it is getting late–the sun is starting to set–and I promised Mother that I would be back home … at some point.” He emphasizes this last phrase, because, after all, he is a grown man, and he doesn’t have to follow a schedule dictated by someone else, let alone his mother. Margaret then stands also, still holding on to John’s hand. “I have to fill her in on our ‘developments’ and … well, you have to talk to your own mother as well.”
Margaret: “Yes John. I’m sorry that you have to go, too.” And Margaret is sorry to part with John this evening. Margaret realizes that she has completely changed her view of John in a single day, a wonderful day. And that if their feelings for one another continue to deepen, then one day, they will never have to part again. Margaret sighs and blushes a little at this thought, then she says. “This day seemed to stretch so long before us this morning and now it has quickened to its end–before we knew it.”
John and Margaret smile knowingly at each other [(4) right]. Then they walk through the parlor door to the entry way hall arm in arm to the front door.
John: “Margaret, …” John now touches Margaret’s cheek–even though he refrained from doing so earlier–and she blushes at this new intimacy. “I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.” He lifts her hand up to his mouth and kisses her hand for the third time today.
Margaret: And, Margaret sighs. “Hhhh! I will see you on Sunday then.” She says, gazing at him lovingly.
John opens the front door to the Hale home and she watches him leave, silhouetted in the twilight of the setting sun. Still, just before John goes out of sight, he turns the corner and he looks back at the Hale home and sees Margaret still watching him leave. He smiles and tips his hat, and then he waves at Margaret. Margaret waves back at her final glimpse of him for today.
Margaret smiles and closes the front door. Then, she heads upstairs to speak to her Mother.
To be continued with Chapter 9
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 9: Margaret Speaking with her Mother Friday Night
Mrs. Hale is already prepared for and in bed resting when Margaret comes enters her mother’s bedroom. Mrs. Hale’s eyes are closed and she is breathing faintly.
Margaret: “Mother are you awake?” Margaret whispers, so as not to waken her mother if she is asleep already.
Mrs. Hale: “Yes dear. I was just resting my eyes, it has been a long day.”
Margaret: Looking around, she asks. “Where is father?”
Mrs. Hale: “He was here, but he left to go to his study when he heard you coming up the stairs–to give us some privacy. … Come Margaret Dear, sit beside me where I can see you.” Margaret does so and she gently clasps her mother’s frail hand in hers.
Margaret: “Mother, how are you feeling? Really?”
Mrs. Hale: “Oh, I’m as well as can be expected. Hhhhh!” She says with a sigh. “But, my dear, we should talk about you. … Your father said that you had something to tell me.” Mrs. Hale smiles brightly at her daughter Margaret.
Margaret: Shyly, Margaret begins. “Yes Mother. … You know that Mr. Thornton, John, was here for much of the day?”
Mrs. Hale: “Yes Margaret, Dear.” Then she says with a wry smile. “But if you tarry too long before you get to what you want to tell me, I will be asleep.”
Margaret: “… Well Mother, John and I have come to feel … a friendship for one another … a friendship that ‘might’ be something more.”
Mrs. Hale: “Do you … care for John, Margaret dear?” She asks getting right to the point. Even sickly mothers are attuned to their daughters’ feelings.
Margaret: “I do. I didn’t realize it at first. I had not even thought that he noticed me other than as father’s daughter. And, I viewed him as father’s friend—or so I thought. But, then John told me that he cared for me and was kind to me and said that he would like to be my friend if I needed one—when I told him about my concerns for…. Bessie.” Margaret does not want to admit to her mother that she is also concerned for her. “I realized that I could lean on him for support as a friend. And, then as the day went on and we continued to be in each others’ company in different situations, like tea…”
Mrs. Hale: “Yes, Margaret dear, I noticed the marked regard that he showed you today—and that you returned for him.”
Margaret: “I must thank you Mother for helping to smooth over the teasing by Mr. Bell about us—and his comment that we seemed ‘domestic’.”
Mrs. Hale: “Yes, Margaret dear. Mr. Bell is a good friend of your father’s, but he can sometimes intrude where he is not wanted.”
Margaret: “John asked father if he could court me and father gave us his blessing.”
Mrs. Hale: “I suspected as much, Margaret dear. You know, in my day, I was the most sought after belle in our county. So, I have a little bit of understanding about these things. … Margaret, I’m sorry for not having brought you up to understand it more yourself.”
Margaret: “Mother, don’t reproach yourself. We have a wonderful life.”
Mrs. Hale: She smiles) Yet, soon, you might be getting married yourself. And I fear kkh kkh …” She has a fit of coughing. “Kkh, I fear, that I might not be here to guide you about love, and marriage, and children.”
Margaret: Choking back tears at her mother’s mention of our impending death, Margaret assures her. “Mother, you are now and you will always be with me.” Margaret tenderly embraces her mother for a few moments–almost as when she was a child, wanting her mother to take the hurt away. But now it is Margaret who is the strong one, but she can not take the hurt away of her mother’s failing health.
Mrs. Hale: “Margaret, love in marriage is God’s greatest gift. It has been mine with your father. Cherish that love with the one you choose for your husband. And if it is to be John—make sure that you love each other completely. Hhhhh.” Mrs. Hale sighs in fatigue. But she continues her advice to her daughter, Margaret. “There will always be small and large difficulties and challenges, but you get through them together …and it makes you stronger as a couple. I love your father more than I did when we first wed—and I feel that he loves me more, too.”
Margaret: “Mother, You’re getting so tired.” Margaret appreciates what her mother is saying, but doesn’t want her mother to tire herself out unduly.
Mrs. Hale: Struggling, she continues. “No Margaret, let me finish. On your wedding night, …” Margaret blushes to think about her wedding night–with John. “… you and your husband’s love for each other will join you to each other. Do not be afraid or nervous about the relations between husband and wife. This intimacy is God’s gift to strengthen your marriage bond–and God willing, also blesses you with children as I have been blessed. My greatest wish is for you to find happiness in marriage and family.” Mrs. Hale collapses back onto her pillow in fatigue.
Margaret: “Mother, thank you for your guidance and wisdom.” Margaret kisses her mother’s forehead as her mother drifts off to restful sleep. “Now, sleep, rest.”
Margaret ponders what her mother has said to her and hopes that her own marriage—if it is to be with John—will also be so blessed with long lasting love.
To be continued with Chapter 10
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 10: The Thornton’s parlor Friday evening as John tells his Mother more about his day with Margaret
John briskly walks home in the gathering dark after spending most of his Friday with the Hales–and with Margaret. Yet, when he reaches the steps of his own home–Thornton Manor–his pace slows. He knows that he will have to face more of his mother’s intrusive questions. John is a grown man, and he does not have to justify his actions to anyone. But his mother has been his strongest supporter since his father died. And he knows that he is her whole world. So, John must tread delicately with his mother if his new life with Margaret is to have a chance at succeeding. But he still dreads his mother’s inevitable disdain for Margaret–or anyone whom he would choose. Upon entering his home, he removes his hat and notices a candle flickering in the parlor.
John: “Mother?” John is surprised to see her still waiting up for him. “I wasn’t sure if you would still be up. I’m sorry to have stayed so long in town …at the Hale’s.” John [(5) right] says removing his cravat, lessening the stiffness and stricture it had insured.
Mrs. Thornton: “I was beginning to wonder. Have you had your supper?”
John: “No, Mother. I’ll just make a sandwich from the kitchen.” And he starts to walk in that direction.
Mrs. Thornton: Following John to the kitchen Mrs. Thornton says. “So…. tell me…of you and Miss Hale.”
John: “Margaret?” John reminds his mother of his now more familiar relationship with Margaret.
Mrs. Thornton: “Yes, …Margaret.”
John: “Well, our understanding is what I told you earlier. She and I will start out as friends and see where that leads us.”
Mrs. Thornton: “But John, can that be enough for you?” John is uncomfortable with his mother asking him so personal a question. “Why must you wait and dance attendance on her?” With the “her” said pointedly. Mrs. Thornton is jealous of Margaret—though she does not readily admit it to herself– because she knows that she will take her son away from her affections.
John: “Mother. I respect Margaret’s wishes to start slowly. She gave me to understand that as a clergyman’s daughter she has not socialized with others much.” He means with men. “So, this is all very new to her.”
Mrs. Thornton: “You would think that a girl of her age would already have had a few beaus. Why, look at your sister Fanny, engaged and then wed and younger than Miss…Margaret.”
John: “Yes, Mother. But we must allow that not everyone is the same, nor are their experiences and upbringing.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Who is she to dictate to you how you should act or feel toward her?”
John: “Mother, I appreciate your concern. But it is not she who is doing the “dictating”.” Johns says thinking pointedly about how his Mother is behaving now. “Rather, she shared her thoughts and feelings with me, and I with her, and we reached an understanding.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Feelings?” Quizzically.
John: “Yes, Mother. Margaret… warmed to me–perhaps felt more comfortable around me—as the day went on. And she, …she shared that she realizes that she is beginning to care for me.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Hh!” Mrs. Thornton gives an impatient sigh.
John: “Mother,” Johns straightens up and is less apologetic. “As a gentleman, I cannot pressure her to feel more than she does—despite how deeply I already care for her.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, she is a very lucky girl to have you show so much patience and forbearance.”
John: “Thank you Mother. Oh and …” Remembering his and Margaret’s next meeting, he says. “Margaret will be busy helping her Mother tomorrow on Saturday, but we will see each other at church on Sunday. … I invited she and her parents for luncheon with us on Sunday—I hope that’s alright.” John says this somewhat apologetically since his Mother usually issues the invitations to their home.
Mrs. Thornton: “I suppose.”
John: “Thank you Mother. If you write the invitation out, we can have one of the servants take it to them on Saturday.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Eager, aren’t you? I wonder that you’re not taking the invitation to them yourself.”
John: “I would, very much, like to see Margaret on Saturday. But, she indicated that she will be helping her mother and probably doing some …” He lets the sentence speak for itself–not wanting to say that Margaret will be doing household chores that his Mother has her servants do. “Well, she is busy.”
Mrs. Thornton: “So, you’ll have to wait until church on Sunday and then luncheon. Tell me, are the Hale’s to sit with us in our pew?” Where one sits in church is very much decided by rank and precedence. Were the Hale’s to sit with the Thornton’s in their pew, it would signal to the congregation a connection between the two families that went beyond mere cordiality.
John: No, Mother. That reminds me. Mr. Hale, very thoughtfully—for both Margaret and my sake—wants Margaret and I to keep our ‘friendship’ understanding private—as I court her.” John says this knowingly since John knows that he and Margaret care for each other more than that, or at least he feels, knows in his heart, that she is beginning to. “Mr. Hale prefers that we not act too familiarly around each other in the presence of other than our families for now—until we see if our attachment leads us to marriage.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Are they too proud to be connected to us? A fallen clergyman, his frail wife, and their mercurial daughter?”
John: “Hhh. Mother, it is not like that. And, please don’t think, or speak, of the Hale’s that way. Mr. Hale chose to … ‘retire’ from being a clergyman to pursue his interest in teaching. His wife and daughter, to their credit, followed him in this change of life and lifestyle—though it uprooted them all. We have to respect his decision and his family’s support of him. After all, he is just thinking of Margaret and my welfare.”
Mrs. Thornton: “John, you’re not making excuses for them, are you?”
John: “No, Mother. Now if you don’t mind, I will eat my sandwich and go to bed. It’s been a long day. If you will leave the invitation to Sunday luncheon with us for the Hales’ on the hall table, I think that I will take it myself on Saturday to drop off for them. Though, I might not see Margaret, at least I will know that they received our invitation.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Yes, John I will. You get some rest after you finish your meal.”
Mrs. Thornton goes to her parlor and as Mrs. Thornton sits at her table, writing the invitation, she wonders about the day’s events. First, her encouragement of and worry for John in his plan to propose to Miss Hale. And then, the somewhat strange turn of events—not a rejection of her son by Miss Hale, but certainly not an outright acceptance of John. She worries, as any mother would, that her son, John, might be setting himself up for disappointment. As she finishes her note, she hears John heading up the stairs to bed. She wonders how much longer she will be a part of his life—with John courting and possibly marrying in the future. She has known that this day would come sometime, him marrying. But John has been ‘hers’ for so long—and she especially leans on him since her husband’s death—that she has put thoughts of John marrying out of her mind. Now his attachment for Miss Hale, Margaret, brings a pang of regret and worry for herself and her son, respectively. She places the invitation on the hall table for John to find in the morning and goes to bed herself.
To be continued with Chapter 11
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 11: On Saturday, the day is sunny and warm, but with a cooling breeze
John awakens Saturday morning thinking of he and Margaret. He quickly washes and dresses himself, then goes down for a quick bite of breakfast alone—an egg, a piece of toast and jam, and tea, just enough to quell his hunger– before taking the invitation that his mother had written to the Hales. He walks hopefully toward the Hale’s home–hoping to catch a glimpse of Margaret. He reaches their door and knocks. The servant answers and opens the door.
Dixon: “Ah Mr. Thornton, Sir. Are you expected?” She asks quizzically, because she knows that the house will soon be busy with the weekend chores and not ready to receive guests.
John: Disappointed that Margaret was not the one to answer the door, he says. “Well, not really. But, Mr. Hale and his family are expecting this note. Would you please see that they receive it?”
Dixon: “Yes Sir, I will.” Before John can ask about Margaret or her father, she says. “You’ll excuse me sir, but we have a lot of work to do today. So, I’ll be begging your pardon for getting to it.” Dixon says brazenly. But then she’s been with Mrs. Hale and the family for 30 years. So she sometimes takes her place in the household a bit more familiarly than she should.
John is a little put out at being so summarily dismissed from the Hale home–and from a servant. But then, he wasn’t expected. Just as he looks up at the second story window, he spies Margaret looking down at him. She smiles warmly and he returns her smile. He waves as he returns home.
Despite the fact that they did not get a chance to talk, Margaret was excited to see John again so soon. After he leaves–for home, she presumes–Margaret rushes downstairs to find the invitation. Dixon notices Miss Margaret’s keen interest and looks at her wondering if something has changed—though Dixon does not quite know what that change might be.
Margaret: After taking the invitation to her bedroom, Margaret reads the note out loud to herself. “‘Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hale, and Miss Hale, My son John and I would be pleased if you will join us for Sunday luncheon after church tomorrow. Sincerely, Hannah Thornton’”
It is a somewhat short note, but it has all of the requisite details. Though Margaret might have thought that Mrs. Thornton’s tone might have been a bit more congenial given Margaret and John’s recent ‘understanding’. Margaret worries that Mrs. Thornton does not approve of her and hopes that the luncheon goes well. Margaret hurries to take the invitation to her mother and father. Then, she spends the rest of the day doing chores, thinking about John, and thinking about their first meeting of the families—as she realizes that is what is occurring on Sunday. Later that evening, as Margaret goes to bed and drifts off to sleep, she hopes that the luncheon at the Thornton’s goes well—and she wonders if John is thinking the same. For his part, John, too, is eager to see Margaret again—hoping that their day together on Friday wasn’t a dream, that she really is starting to care for him. John drifts off to sleep thinking of Margaret and hoping for their future life together.
To be continued with Chapter 12
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 12: Sunday Morning Church Services
Margaret takes a long time in getting ready this Sunday morning. She wants to look especially nice for John and his mother. She is wearing her best dress—it is pale pink with ribbon rose accents and a gauze and lacy vee necked collar. Her dress’ collar is a bit more revealing of her neck and the skin below it, but she feels pretty in it and hopes that John will think she is, too. Parish church members are heading into the church and sitting in their pews. Though pews are not ‘assigned per se’, everyone knows their place. The Thornton’s being one of the ‘first families’ of Milton due to their status with Marlborough Mills, they sit toward the front. The Hale’s, being new to the area—and despite Mr. Hale’s former status as a clergyman himself, or perhaps, because of it—they sit toward the back of the church. Unfortunately, Margaret’s mother is not feeling well enough to attend church so Dixon stays behind with her at the Hale home and Margaret and Mr. Hale are the only ones sitting in their pew.
The service goes along as it usually does for about an hour. To Margaret, it seems like an eternity and that she is only going through the motions as if by rote. She sees John and his Mother up front in their pew—her eyes gaze longingly at the back of his head and shoulders. And if she could read his thoughts, she would find that John also can’t wait until church services end. John knows that Margaret is sitting behind them several rows back and he longs to turn around to look at her. But, he does not want to draw any undue attention to he and Margaret—per Mr. Hale’s wishes. As they all file out of the church after services–and after greeting the Vicar and speaking cordially to others–John and his Mother greet Mr. Hale and Margaret warmly, at least in John’s case.
John: “Mr. Hale, Miss Hale.” John smiles while returning the formal mode of address since they are around others. “It is good to see you again.” Though John wants to reach out and have Margaret take his arm, he knows that Mr. Hale does not want such a familiarity shared with others beyond their families—at least, not yet. The fact that they are even talking to each other after church is enough of a different behavior that a few people have discretely noticed the marked difference in attention that the Thornton’s are paying to the Hale’s.
Mr. Hale: “John, Mrs. Thornton,” He smiles tipping his hat. “It is good to see you. Unfortunately, my wife, Mrs. Hale, is feeling unwell and is not able to join us today.”
Mrs. Thornton: “I’m sorry to hear that she’s feeling unwell. You’ll be sure to remember her to us when you go home?”
Mr. Hale: “Yes, of course.” Mr. Hale isn’t sure if he and Margaret are to join the Thornton’s now and walk home with them, or go a bit later for the luncheon.
Mrs. Thornton: Addressing Margaret who had up to now been silent, a little fearful of Mrs. Thornton. “I trust that you are well?” She says inquiring after Margaret since it had been only a few days since the riot when Margaret was struck on the head.
Margaret: “Mrs. Thornton, Thank you. Yes, I am.” There is a somewhat awkward pause before Margaret continues, trying to think of a safe’ topic of conversation. “Did you enjoy the services today?”
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, I’m not sure one is supposed to ‘enjoy’ church services.” Mrs. Thornton says quizzically.
Margaret: “No, of course not.” Margaret feels a bit flustered, and she looks to John for support.
John: John who also has not addressed Margaret directly at church now says. “Now Mother, Miss Hale has perhaps a different perspective about church services–being the daughter of a clergyman. Isn’t that right Mr. Hale?” Now John [(6) right] realizes, belatedly, that he might have broached a sore subject and he feels a bit flustered—because, of course, Mr. Hale gave up being a clergyman.
Mr. Hale: Sanguine, because he has long since resigned himself to his decision and its consequences—with regard to their ‘lowered’ social status. “Yes John, you’re quite right. I had always hoped that I was, well, that I was … getting through to people? Helping them in my way if I could.”
Margaret: Now taking her father’s arm and smiling at him. “Of course, Father. You always looked after your parishioners.”
John is pleased that Margaret smoothed over the awkward moment for him.
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, we had best be getting home, John.” The four adults look at each other a bit awkwardly.
John: First turning to Mr. Hale, he asks. “Mr. Hale, do you wish to go home to check on your wife first before you and Miss Hale join us for luncheon?”
Mr. Hale: “Yes, John, I do. But Margaret can go with you now, if that’s alright.”
Margaret: “But Father, I want to stay with you and see how Mother is doing.” She’s a little fearful of being alone Mrs. Thornton, even though John will be there, too.
John: Disappointed that Margaret doesn’t want to take her father’s suggestion and join him right away, John says a bit shortly to Margaret. “Of course, Miss Hale, if you want to check on Mrs. Hale first, that is what you should do.”
Margaret notices John’s change in tone and she wants to let him know that she wants to go with him, but there are too many people around for her to express herself comfortably.
Mr. Hale: “Margaret, my dear. I’m sure that your Mother will be just fine and you should go with the Thornton’s now. I will join you in no more than a half hour.”
Margaret: “Very well, father as you wish.” Margaret smiles at her father, and then she smiles at John to let him know that she ‘wants’ to be with him now. John smiles back at Margaret, realizing that he should not have over reacted to her wish to see that her mother is well.
Mr. Hale nods goodbye to Mrs. Thornton and John. They return the nods and watch Mr. Hale walk to his home.
John now finds himself in a bit of a quandary. Does he have his mother take his arm as usual as they walk home, or does he have Margaret take his arm? The three of them stand there for a moment, realizing that they are all thinking the same thing. Most of the other church goers have long since headed home themselves and the rector is closing the church door. With few people around them, John feels that he now can offer his arms to both his Mother and Margaret without drawing excessive notice of his attentions to Miss Hale, Margaret.
John: “Mother.” He sticks out an arm and his mother takes it. “Miss Hale.” He says more warmly, and he sticks out his other arm and Margaret takes it. Then they proceed to walk toward Marlborough Mills and Thornton Manor for Sunday luncheon.
To be continued with Chapter 13
(1) The “North & South: Nurturing Love” story logo is a composite of three images, with text that I added:
(a) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) having just kissed his love Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniella Denby-Ashe) and them gazing lovingly at each other in the North & South (BBC 2004), episode 4 (pix 346) train station kissing scene; the image was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-346.html;
(b) a cropped image of the brambled tree branches in the Milton cemetery as John Thornton walks through it in North & South, episode 3 (pix 15); the image was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-015.html;
(c) a masked image of the yellow rose John Thornton picked in Helstone in North & South, episode 4 (pix 271); the image was found at
(2) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) in North and South (BBC 2004), episode 3 (pix 26); the image (cropped, brightened, color corrected, and flipped) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-026.html
(3) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) in North and South (BBC 2004), episode 3 (pix 172); the image (cropped, brightened, masked, color corrected, and flipped) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-172.html
(4) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniella Denby-Ashe) in the Hale parlor in North and South (BBC 2004), episode 1 (pix 126); the image (cropped, brightened, and color corrected) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/slides/ns1-126.html
(5) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) in the Thornton parlor in North and South (BBC 2004), episode 2 (pix 213); the image (cropped, brightened, and color corrected) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/slides/ns2-212.html
(6) Composite of two images: the image of Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniella Denby-Ashe) masked from http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-065.html; and the image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and background masked from http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-180.html
Previous Story Link for “North and South: Nurturing Love” is found at