N&S: Nurturing Love Ch. 13-18: Sunday Engagements and First Kiss, 3/26/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #155)

North & South:  Nurturing Love Ch. 13-18: Sunday Engagements and First Kiss, 3/26/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #155)
A Fan Fiction Adaptation Copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace;

No Copyright Infringement Intended.  All Rights Reserved.
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Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting:  John and Margaret spent so much time together on Friday with tea and such, that a growing bond of sympathy and understanding developed between them.   Love is flowering in both of their hearts–John is not the only one in love, as Margaret now realizes.   This Sunday morning after church, Margaret and her father Mr. Hale–her mother is home ill–will join John and his mother Mrs. Thornton for Sunday luncheon.  So Margaret walks with John and his mother back to Thornton Manor while Mr. Hale briefly goes home to check on Mrs. Hale before luncheon.

 “N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch.  13:  Returning from Church to the Thornton home

After church on Sunday, the three of them walking together arm in arm–Mrs. Thornton, John, and Margaret–take the short walk over the hill and back to Marlborough Mills and the Thornton mansion for Sunday Luncheon.  Once inside the Thornton home and the pleasantries of coats and hats being put away is done–with John now seeing and being mesmerized by Margaret [(2) right] in her lovely pink dress, since she had her coat on at church– the three of them find themselves alone in the Thornton’s spacious and beautiful parlor.  A slightly awkward silence passes between them before Mrs. Thornton breaks the slight tension.

Mrs. Thornton:  “Please be seated Miss Hale. “  She motions to a chair for Margaret, who nods and sits down.  Then, Mrs. Thornton sits on the large sette nearest her.  “John, come sit beside me.”  He does so, having to sit away from Margaret, with his Mother between them due to where his mother has placed herself on the sette.  “Well Miss Hale, I’m not one to beat about the bush.  I was surprised at Friday’s turn of events …”

Margaret blinks a bit astounded at the boldness of Mrs. Thornton’s remark.”  Although, Mrs. Thornton always acts as if she is in charge of every situation and every person in her presence.

John:  “Mother …”  John tries to interject so that Margaret doesn’t seem like she’s on the spot.   “Miss Hale …”

Margaret:  Margaret  deflects, and redirects Mrs. Thornton’s thinking with her own candor and directness.  “Yes, when Mr. Thornton, John …”  Margaret purposefully uses his Christian name in front of his mother—and John beams at Margaret for doing so.  “… shared his feelings, I, too, was surprised.”   Margaret smiles again at John and continues.  “But, in a good way.  I had no notion of John noticing me, let alone him thinking …”   She searches for the right word.   “… kindly of me.   But, …”

John:  “I do.”  John interjects himself into the conversation so that he stands, figuratively, and squarely on Margaret’s side—even though both of them are seated and across the room from each other.

Mrs. Thornton:  “You’ll have to forgive me if I seem a bit put off.  But, I love my son and don’t want to see him hurt.”

John is a bit taken aback by his mother’s talking about him thus—while he is in the room—especially since he is a grown man.  Then, John is heartened by Margaret’s reply.

Margaret:  “Nor do I.”  Margaret gazes at John warmly, and he gazes back and her.   “… want to see John hurt, that is.”

Mrs. Thornton:  “Well then, …”   Seeming at least initially satisfied with Margaret’s replies, Mrs. Thornton stands, and John stands as well, because he is a gentleman.   “… while we’re waiting for Mr. Hale to arrive, I will go see to our luncheon arrangements.”

John:  “Yes Mother.”   He nods warmly at his mother as she goes out of the parlor and down the hall to speak to her servants.

To be continued with Chapter 14


“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch.  14:  John and Margaret in the Thornton Parlor after Church, then luncheon

Alone again, and not knowing how for brief or long a time that might be, John turns and goes to sit back down on the sette, but this time on the end closest to Margaret.

John:  Exhaling and with a bit of humor.  “Whew!  Well, that went as well as can be expected.”

Margaret:  She also sighs in relief, now that the initial awkwardness is over.  “Hhhh! Yes, John.  I’ve been so nervous about being with your mother—and we both know that I tend to say the wrong thing when I’m nervous.”

John:  “Yes, Margaret, dear.”   John’s eyes twinkle as he uses her father’s endearment for Margaret again purposefully.  “You showed admirable restraint.”

John and Margaret:  They both let out small laughs of relief.  “Ha!”

Margaret:  “Shouldn’t father be here by now?  I’m getting a bit worried.  I hope mother is alright.”

John:  “I’m sure everything is fine.”   John realizes selfishly that he does not want Margaret to think about leaving to check on her mother.  But he appreciates that Margaret has reason to worry about her frail mother and suggests thoughtfully.   “But, if you are concerned, I could send a servant to go and check?”

Margaret:  “Thank you, John.  But, if Father doesn’t come soon, I feel that I must go home and check on her myself.”

John:  “You are right, Margaret.”  John sighs in understanding tinged with disappointment [(3) right].   But then courteously, John offers.  “And your father doesn’t arrive shortly, I will escort you home, Margaret.”

Margaret:  “Thank you, John.”  She smiles up at him gratefully.

Just then, Mr. Hale is ushered into the Hale parlor, arriving in a bit of a hurry.

John:  Standing up again, and saying genuinely to Mr. Hale.   “Mr. Hale, we’re so glad that you could join us.  We hope everything is alright with Mrs. Hale.”

Margaret:  “Yes Father, is Mother alright?”  She asks worriedly.

Mr. Hale:  “She’s fine, Margaret my dear.  I just wanted to stay with her a bit longer since she could not join us at the Thornton’s today.”   Then to John, Mr. Hale apologizes.   “John, I hope that your mother doesn’t feel that I’ve inconvenienced her.”

John:  “No, not at all.  She just left to check on the luncheon arrangements.  In fact, I will let her know that you’ve arrived.  If you’ll excuse me.”   John nods to both Margaret and Mr. Hale and leaves the room.

Mr. Hale:  “So, Margaret.  How did you fare with Mrs. Thornton when you all arrived?”  He raises a bemused eyebrow.

Margaret:  “Father?”  She looks at him quizzically.  “Did you stay away a bit longer on purpose?”   She motions for him to sit on the sette and she joins him.

Mr. Hale:  “I’m sorry Margaret, my dear.  But, you had to speak with Mrs. Thornton frankly … at some point.”

Margaret:  “Well, she did so.”   Margaret’s expression is a telling comment to Mr. Hale about Mrs. Thornton’s level of frankness.

Mr. Hale:   “And, I thought that you might as well get it out of the way as soon as possible.”

Margaret:  “I think that I answered her questions honestly.  But, I dare say that she’ll have more of them.”

Mr. Hale:   “You have to expect that.  John is her only son …”  He lingers on the word, son, because of the “loss” of his own son Frederick due to his troubles with the navy.

Margaret:  Touching his arm with both of her hands.   “Father, you’re thinking about Frederick, aren’t you?”

Mr. Hale:  “Yes, Margaret my dear. … The Thornton’s will have to know about Frederick sometime.  We can not keep it a secret from them for long–nor should we, if our families are to be connected to one another.  They deserve to know the facts.”

Margaret:  “I know father.  But, please let me tell John privately.  Then, if … if John’s knowing about Frederick causes him to think differently about me, I will have to accept that.”

Mr. Hale:  “Very well, my dear.”

Just then Mrs. Thornton and John return to the Parlor.  Mr. Hale rises to greet Mrs. Thornton, Margaret also rises.

Mr. Hale:  “Mrs. Thornton, I apologize for my delay.  But, Mrs. Hale wants me to send you her warmest regards.”

Mrs. Thornton:  A little miffed, but still playing the gracious hostess.  “Do not trouble yourself.  Well, shall we go in to luncheon?”  She asks John, and Mr. Hale and Margaret.

John escorts his Mother into their large formal dining room followed by Margaret and Mr. Hale.  Margaret and Mr. Hale had eaten dinner once before at the Thornton’s large dinner party.  But, this lunch is a small affair with just the four of them.  John sits on the end with his Mother and Mr. Hale on either side of him, and Margaret sitting next to her father.  The luncheon proceeds as most do– smoothly, because people are eating which prevents them from talking too much, a circumstance that Margaret and John appreciate given Mrs. Thornton’s earlier pointed questions.

To be continued with Chapter 15

“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch.  15: John and Margaret Stroll in the Thornton Garden after Sunday Luncheon

After luncheon at the Thornton’s, Mr. Hale makes his excuses and heads home to his wife, but he encourages Margaret to stay.   John renews his suggestion to Margaret to walk in the gardens together.  Though, it is starting to look a little cloudy and might rain, she agrees, happy to be alone with him again–as he is with her.  The Thornton garden [(4) right]  is a formal one, with different ‘rooms’ or sections of the garden, each with a different purpose—walking paths through lush flowers and bushes, short and tall hedges in decorative patterns that are ‘maze like’, and several areas for sitting and enjoying it all.

Mrs. Thornton watches John and Margaret briefly through her upstairs window in the small family parlor, before returning to her needlework.  John and Margaret are aware of Mrs. Thornton’s watchful eyes and so they walk apart for some time in the garden, not touching.  But, when they realize that they are now truly alone, they become more at ease with each other and sit on a bench [(5) right] facing toward each other a bit to enjoy the flowers and talk.  The bench is also behind a tall hedge so that if Mrs. Thornton returns to the window, their privacy will be preserved.

Margaret:  “John, …”  Margaret relishes using his Christian name again, now that they are alone again.  “… this is a lovely garden.  You must enjoy it so much.

John:  “Well actually, Margaret Darling …”  He says warmly, also using ‘her’ Christian name and his new endearment for her–and she blushes.  Then he continues.   “… I haven’t had much time, inclination, nor ‘reason’ …” He stresses that word.  “… to enjoy this garden.”

Margaret:  “But, it’s so beautiful!   …  Oh, I see.”    Then somewhat tentatively, she asks.  “John, do you mean that you’ve not been here before with …”  She doesn’t know quite how to end her sentence, but she is thinking of him not being here with another woman, as he is with her.

John:  But John finishes her thought for her. “… A woman that I was interested in and courting?  Yes Margaret, that is true.  I haven’t been here—or any where—with another woman.”   Though John feels that this revelation—considering he is a man of 30—might be a bit personal, he welcomes their sharing of confidences with one another.

Margaret smiles, as a girl of 20, she might have been expected to have at least a few beaus, but she hasn’t.  She, too, feels the comfortableness in sharing her feelings with John and risks a further confidence.

Margaret:  “John?”  She begins, not knowing if what she is about to say will shock, offend, or separate her from John forever.  But  she feels that she must be honest with him.  “I have something unpleasant to tell you… about our family, that may come as a surprise to you—it may even shock you.”

John:  Intrigued, John leans forward.  “Margaret, I doubt a clergyman’s–even a retired clergyman’s–family has any ‘surprises’   as you call it in them.”

Margaret:  “John, please let me get this out.  I feel that I owe it to you—before we go any further.”

John:  John tenses up with concern–feeling apprehension about what Margaret is about to say.  But wanting to put her at her ease  to tell him what she says she must, he offers.  “Margaret, I’m sure that anything you tell me I will  … accept.”

Margaret:  “You say that now, but  …”   Margaret is becoming more nervous as she gets closer to telling John the truth about Frederick, her brother.

John:  “I am sincere.  I care for you Margaret, come what may.”

Margaret:  Then she blurts out.  “I have a brother!”

John:  Sighing in relief, he says.  “Oh, is that all?”   But then wondering, he asks.  “But, why haven’t you or your father said something about him before?  Is he dead and it’s painful to talk about him?”

Margaret:  “No!”  Margaret looks at John fretfully.  “He is alive.  But, he can never be a part of our lives again—nor we his.”

John:  Concerned, he now seeks clarification.  “Margaret dear, what is it?”

Margaret:  “He was in the navy.  His captain was a brutal man who beat his crew—especially the cabin boys.”   She winces remembering how she and John first met–with John beating the worker who had been smoking in the mill.  John winces, too.  “Frederick, that’s my brother’s name, and some of the other junior officers had finally had enough and took over the ship.   They set the captain and his senior officers adrift in the middle of the ocean.  Frederick and his companions were called mutineers.  Some were caught and hanged.  Frederick escaped and lives abroad, though the continuing threat to his life is real.”   She had said everything so quickly and without stopping that she had forgotten to breathe and she does so deeply now, waiting for John’s response.

John:  “I see.”   He understands now while the Hales had kept this a secret.

Margaret:   “Do you!  We don’t talk about him with anyone.  Not because we’re ashamed of him—he was trying to help others—but, because the separation we have from him is too painful.”   Margaret watches John closely as she explains and wonders what his true feelings are.

John:  He is startled by this revelation, and is still getting used to it.  But he tries to be sympathetic.  “That must be difficult … to be apart.”

Margaret:  “And, since you are a Magistrate …”

John:   He interrupts her, somewhat miffed.   “Of course, I would not divulge your secret.”

Margaret:  “No, no, of course not.  It’s not that.  But, we didn’t want to … compromise you—to cause you any conflict of interest between your duties, your position, and your friendship with my father … and now, with me.”   Margaret waited for John to respond, worrying that he would find this secret too difficult to overcome.

John:  Feeling a bit more satisfied in her explanation of why they kept their secret, even from him, he says.  “I understand how you must feel about your brother.”

Margaret:  “Do you?”   She says wondering, hoping, that he does.

John:  “I, we, too have a family—well, not a secret, but a … sadness.  My Fa …”  He does not get a chance to finish before Margaret interrupts him.

Margaret:  “Your father?”  She says knowingly because her own father had explained what had happened.

John:  Wondering how much Margaret knows, he starts tentatively.   “Yes, my father.  I told you he had died, but I didn’t tell you … how.  He lost his business to some unscrupulous partners who swindled him.  He couldn’t bear the shame and …”   John can not say the words stating that his father committed suicide, so John says   “… he left us forever.”   John looks at Margaret to see her reaction.

Margaret:  “I know.”   She caresses his face tenderly and gazes at him–their eyes just inches apart.  She has not touched his face before, but she is so moved by John also sharing his family’s painful past that she can’t help herself.  “My father told us after you left that day telling us of your early struggles due to your father’s passing.”

John:  John feels that Margaret is being particularly compassionate with him, and it moves him deeply.  And, her tenderness only heightens his own tender feelings for her.  With restraint, because John wants to kiss Margaret so much that he can not think straight, he gently covers her hand on his face with his own hand and gazes lovingly back at her.  “So, you see, we each have secret and painful pasts.”   He then takes her hand from his face and kisses it.

Margaret:  “Oh John, I’m so sorry for adding to your pain with my own.”

John:  “Margaret Darling, maybe we can lean on and support one another so we can help each other through our sorrows?”   He continues to hold her hand that he has just kissed.

Margaret leans closer to John and runs her fingers through his hair with one hand, while John is still clasping her other hand.  This is yet a further tenderness and intimacy between them.  Neither of them can deny their deepening feelings for one another any longer.  Their eyes lock on each other in a mutually loving gaze, their breaths quickening.  They both know what is about to happen as they lean toward one another.  John’s hands gently encircles Margaret’s face and he gently pulls her toward him.  Margaret tentatively moves her hands to John’s elbows.  They move their faces closer to each other as they are about to kiss each other for the very first time—their first kiss for each of them.  Their eyes close and their lips meet so softly that this touch feels as delicate as a fragile flower petal [(6) right].  It is a sweetly hesitant kiss for both John and Margaret.  Their lips tingle with the newness of feeling their lips lightly pressed together as one.   But it is a kiss that holds the promise of further intimacy as their lips part from each other.

John’s hands around Margaret’s face are strong and tenderly caressing her–but not restraining her.  John allows Margaret to come to him.  Margaret finally abandons her hesitancy and stays close to John so that he can kiss her again, this time more strongly, again, and again, and again, and again [(7) right].  Margaret feels completely in love with John and wonders why she ever doubted her feelings—let alone why she didn’t like him at first.  She feels that she was so wrong to doubt John.   His kisses make her feel loved and cherished.   Margaret thinks upon John as strong and commanding, yet tender and gentle and she can not imagine her life without him now.  John’s lips can not get enough of Margaret’s lips as he seeks them out, wanting her, needing her, knowing that she is the only love his life will ever have.  She must be his and he must be hers forever.  John reluctantly pulls back from kissing Margaret, because he knows that he must not compromise her further–by continuing to kiss her—without offering her his heart and his life again.

John:  He whispers as he gently kisses her check, then her neck.  “Margaret, Darling?”

Margaret:  “Yes John?” She sighs, completely overcome with the emotion and pleasures of their intimacy.

John:   “I love you so much my darling Margaret.  Will you make me the happiest of men and marry me?”

Margaret:  She pauses and looks at him lovingly.  “Oh, Yes John.  I will marry you.  I love you, too, John.  Make me the happiest of women and marry me.”

John and Margaret celebrate their engagement as they kiss again, and again, and again, and again.  John wonders how in three days he could go from abject misery from her initial refusal of his proposal to ultimate happiness with her changed feelings and acceptance of his proposal.  But, he does not want to analyze it too much.  He is overwhelmed with feelings of joy and elation.  Margaret, too, wonders how her fate and that of John’s can have become so quickly, so inexplicably, and so sweetly intertwined in so short a time span.

John:  Pulling back from kissing her, but still holding her in his arms in a loving embrace–their now quickened breaths bring them even closer together—he says.   “Margaret Darling.”

Margaret:  “Yes John, Dearest?”   She says caressing his face with her small hand.

John:  “I know we told your father we would court—and I don’t really know how long he thinks that should be—but, may I go to him and ask for your hand in marriage?”  Never having been a suitor before, John is untutored in the etiquette of courting and becoming engaged.   All he knows is that he wants to become her husband more than he has wanted anything else in his life.

Margaret:  “Margaret looks at John lovingly and says.  “Yes, John Dearest.”  Margaret leans in and she kisses John now.  And they linger with that one kiss, their lips still touching.  Then she says.   “But, you’re right, father may think that we’ve moved too quickly to become engaged.  He may wonder if it ours is only an infatuation.”  She also wonders if that is the case—on either her or John’s part, or for both of them since her experience with true love is even less than John’s.

John:  “Well, actually, Margaret Darling, I’ve admired and grew to love you almost from the moment we met one year ago.  So, I know my feelings are not an infatuation.”   He realizes that they may have moved too quickly to this emotional attachment for Margaret.  She, too, wonders if her inexperience is causing her to let her heart rule over her head.

Margaret:  She sees his questioning look and says.  “John, I know what you’re thinking—that my feelings may not be as strong for you—and that I’m young.  But, in truth, I must admit that the first time I saw you, I thought  you were very handsome.” They smile at each other.   “And then …”   Remembering fully how they met, with John beating his worker for dangerously smoking in the mill.  And  John also thought back to that unfortunate meeting and he winces.  She touches his face again saying.  “But … I grew to understand you through your, my father’s, and even my friend Bessie and her father’s opinions being shared with me.  … Although, I can’t say that I began to realize fully my true feelings for you until I thought you were in danger at the mill riot,  … I think that my love and respect for you has been coming on for some time now.”

John:  “So what is your wish, my love?”  He asks hopefully in his deeply timberous velvety baritone voice.  Then knowingly, he pulls her even closer to him as he continues to kiss her cheeks and lips.

Margaret:  “You know, …  it is not only my father we have to discuss our engagement with. ….   Your mother, might also have concerns … about me.  Will she accept me, John?”

John:  “Margaret Darling.”  Leaning back a bit from her so that they can look at each other, he smiles lovingly at her.  “Mother wants me to be happy.  And for me, that can only happen with you as my wife.”

Margaret:  “Wife.”   She smiles thinking upon her future so lovingly stretching before her. “I could not have imagined that I could become so happy so quickly.  Oh John, Dearest and I can only be happy with you as my husband.”

They smile at each other and lightly kiss, with restraint–knowing that as husband and wife their kissing will not have to stop.  Margaret blushes at the thought of being husband and wife together with John, though not knowing quite what that intimacy will mean.  While John colors, also thinking of the lovely time when he and Margaret are husband and wife, because he does know what that intimacy will mean–though he has never experienced such intimacy himself.

John:  John holds Margaret’s small delicate hands in his large strong hands while gazing at her lovingly.  “Then, let us tell our parents together.  First your father, and then my mother.”

Margaret:  “Yes, John dearest.  Since I am not of age, I am only 20—did you know that?–my father will have to approve.  And, it doesn’t make sense to tell your mother, if …”  Could her father really deny them she wonders?  “… if he wants us to at least wait a little while—maybe until my mother is feeling better?”

John:  Standing up while still holding her hand, he feels emboldened to speak to her father right away.  “Margaret Darling.  Let me walk you home and then speak to your father—if that is your wish also?”  John is learning to compromise, to seek others–to seek her–input on decisions that will affect them both.

Margaret:  She nods and stands, too, still holding his hand.  “John Dearest, you know that is what I want.  …  But, should we give father more time to accept us as a couple?”   John is crestfallen and looks it.  Margaret sees John sadden and she minxishly lifts his spirits with a demurely coy smile.  “Or, at least … another hour …  while we continue to explore and enjoy your lovely garden?”

John:  “Oh, Margaret Darling, …”  He sighs in relief.  “… please don’t tease me so.  Of course, let us walk in the garden a bit longer.”   He leans in again and kisses her softly on her lips.   “And when we are married, it will be ‘our’ garden.”

Margaret:  Margaret blanches noticeably.  “Oh, John Dearest.  I hadn’t thought about where we would live.  Would we be living in your Mother’s house rather than having our own home and our privacy?”

John:  “Well Darling, this is my house, too.  I can’t exactly support two large homes.”   He is wealthy, but his frugality has kept him that way.

Margaret:  “John Dearest.  I’m not expecting a large home, just somewhere that we could be on our own, privately, finding our way as husband and wife, together, without …” Margaret doesn’t want to say ‘interference’, nor that Mrs. Thornton ‘scared’ her, but she is thinking it.

John:  Seeing her pensive brow, he compromises.   “Margaret Darling, I understand.”   Knowing his mother as he does, he can’t blame Margaret for not wanting to be under his mother’s roof.  “Now, for my work, it would be helpful for me to be as near to Marlborough Mills as possible.  …  But, maybe we can find ourselves a cozy cottage that can be just ours.  Hmmm?”    Of course, in John’s view a cottage would still be two stories, still have several bedrooms, and parlors, and servants, etc., their home would just not be the mansion that he lives in now.

Margaret:  Margaret impulsive leans in and embraces him girlishly.  “Oh John Dearest, thank you for understanding.    And you know, when we have children, …”  She blushes at the thought and smiles.   “… it would be so nice for them to know their grandparents.  So, I would like both of our parents to be involved in our lives—but maybe, just not on a daily basis.”

She smiles.  John smiles, too.  Then John and Margaret begin to walk around the garden arm in arm—easy in the silence and calm between them, a private reverie.  When John and Margaret reach the end of the garden path, they embrace and kiss once more in secret [(8) right]–no prying future mother-in-law eyes to see them.  Then John and Margaret turn around to make their way back… to John’s house, and then to Margaret’s house—and to her father.

To be continued with Chapter 16

“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch.  16:  The Thornton Foyer as John prepares to walk Margaret home

As John and Margaret walk into the Thornton home and retrieve her coat and hat, he calls out to his mother.

John:  “Mother, Margaret is going home and … she wants to say farewell.”  His mother slowly and gracefully walks out of the small parlor that they only use for family.

Mrs. Thornton:  “Well, Miss Hale, I trust you approve of our garden?”

Margaret:  “Oh yes, it is very beautiful.”   She says sincerely and her thoughts turn to the romantic interlude the garden witnessed.  Then, she says confidently.   “Thank you so much again for having myself and my father for luncheon.  It was very gracious of you.”

John:  Smiling at Margaret and still arm in arm with her, he offers.  “Margaret, Mother and I were also glad of your visiting us today.”

Mrs. Thornton:  “Yes, well, we were glad to have you.  Please give our regards to your parents.”  Then realizing that John also has his hat with him, she asks him.  “John, are you…?”

John:  “Yes, Mother, I am walking Margaret home.  I will be back later.”    Since it is still only mid afternoon, 3 or 4:00pm, Mrs. Thornton wonders how much ‘later’ he is referring to, but does not question him.

Margaret:  Warmly, Margaret bids her future Mother-in-law farewell.  “Thank you again, Mrs. Thornton”.  She waves to Mrs. Thornton as she and John depart and head out the Thornton’s front door—arm in arm together.

Mrs. Thornton watches her son, John, and the girl he has formed an attachment to, Margaret, leave arm in arm—knowing that they are truly a couple, and that a wedding is surely in their future.  She has yet to wrap her mind around John being married, but she knows that she has no choice.

To be continued with Chapter 17

“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch.  17: John and Margaret Return to the Hale Home on Sunday afternoon

The walk from Thornton Manor at Marlborough Mills to the Hale home in the city of Milton for Margaret and John is a brisk and happy one.  They both feel that they have their future together to look forward to.  And they each hope that Mr. Hale will not delay that future for too long.  As a Sunday afternoon, the streets were not as full of activity.  So, Margaret and John do not meet anyone they know walking on their way back to her house, arm in arm.  However, that is not to say that those whom they pass do not know who they are—and notice this new connection between them.

John knocks at the Hale’s front door, their servant Dixon answers.

Dixon:  “Oh, Mr. Thornton, Sir.  You weren’t expected.”  Dixon slightly annoying John again at her lack of welcoming him to the Hale home.  Then she sees Margaret.   “Oh, Miss Margaret!”

Margaret:  Margaret serenely walks through her front door with John.   “Yes, Dixon.  Mr. Thornton was kind enough to walk me home after luncheon and … enjoying a walk in their garden.”   Margaret, though growing up with Dixon all her life, still does not want to reveal to her servant the full extent of her and John’s relationship–not yet, anyway.

Dixon:  “Yes, Miss Margaret.”   Then realizing that Mr. Thornton isn’t turning around and leaving right away she asks.  “May I take your coat and hat, Miss?  And your hat, sir?”  Dixon smiles at Mr. Thornton.  He appreciates the gesture of hospitality on her part.

Margaret:  “Where is father?  Is he with mother?”   She asks with the poise and dignity as the young lady of her household.

Dixon:  “No Miss, he’s in his sitting room.  He said for you to go up when you return.”  Though, Dixon does not know if Mr. Hale expects that Mr. Thornton would be here as well.

Margaret:  “Thank you Dixon.  Mr. Thornton …”  She addresses him formally in front of her servant.  “… let me show you to the parlor and then I will tell father that you’re here.  I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you again since he had to leave right after the luncheon to check on Mother.”

Once John is seated in the parlor–giving Margaret a small smile in farewell–Margaret and Dixon leave the parlor.  Dixon goes to the kitchen.  And, Margaret heads up stairs to father’s sitting room, really his study.  John is left to think about his lovely afternoon with Margaret and the important discussion that he is soon to have with Mr. Hale about her.


Margaret climbs the stairs to her father’s sitting room, hoping, worrying about his response to her and John’s news of their engagement.

Mr. Hale:  “Margaret, my dear.  You’re back!  Did you have a nice visit with the Thornton’s?  I’m sorry that I couldn’t stay … your mother.”

Margaret:  “Yes of course, father.  Is Mother alright?”  She asks worriedly.

Mr. Hale:  “She’s fine, just a little tired.”   Their family phrase to dissemble about Mrs. Hale’s failing health.   “She is sleeping.  I’m sure you can speak to her later.”

Margaret:  “Yes, father.  Father?  I’m not alone.  That is, Mr. Thorn … John walked me home.”   Mr. Hale watches his daughter Margaret as she continues–knowing that she is his little girl she no more.  “We did have a very nice time.  They have a lovely garden.”  Though she doesn’t tell her father why she thinks that it is so lovely—given the romantic time she spent there.  “… But, as I said, John walked me back and he is in the parlor.  …  Will you come down to greet him, Father?  He wishes to speak with you.”  She blushed, knowing that John wants to ask her father for her hand in marriage.

Mr. Hale:  Giving her a knowing look, he says.  “Yes, Margaret dear.  While, John and I chat, why don’t you look in on your mother.”    Mr. Hale wants time to speak to John privately, something he suspects John also wants.  But, don’t wake her, let her sleep.  “Then, come down to join John and I in about 15 minutes.”

Margaret:  “Yes Father.”  She knows what her father wants her to do–give him time to talk to John alone.  She hopes that their talk will go well.  She smiles at her father and heads to her mother’s room.

To be continued with Chapter 18

“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch.  18:  John Speaks to Mr. Hale about he and Margaret Sunday afternoon

After watching his daughter Margaret walk into her sleeping mother’s room, Mr. Hale walks slowly down the stairs to the parlor.  He weighs in his mind what he will say to John—and his response depends upon what John says to him.   Since Margaret has inadvertently left the parlor door slightly open—and, indeed, because the Hale home is so small—John can hear Mr. Hale descending the stairs.  John knows that it is Mr. Hale—and only him—because the sound of Margaret’s footsteps are lighter than her father’s.  John smiles at the realization of this knowledge about his beloved.  His beloved, for Margaret truly is.  John also hopes that his chat with Mr. Hale goes well.  Mr. Hale walks into the parlor and shuts the door and John stands to greet him.  Mr. Hale crosses the room and they shake hands.

Mr. Hale:  “John, my boy.”   He says warmly, and a bit unintentionally condescending with the ‘my boy’ endearment, as he shakes John’s hand.  “It’s good to see you again so soon.  Please thank your mother again–for both Margaret and myself–for her most graciously having us to luncheon today.”

John:  “Thank you Mr. Hale.”   John ignores the ‘my boy’ endearment as being condescending.  “I’m sure that both my mother and I appreciated both of you joining us today.”    John pauses, wondering if he should make his request for Margaret’s hand in marriage.  But before he can decide, Mr. Hale speaks.

Mr. Hale:  “John, Margaret will be back down in a few minutes.  She is looking in on her mother who is sleeping. Maria, Mrs. Hale, was so sorry to not be able to attend the luncheon today.  But, her health …”   Mr. Hale’s voice trails off.  None of them–least of all her loving husband–want to admit out frail and precarious Mrs. Hale’s health is.

John:  He interjects.   “We understand, Mr. Hale.  We hope that she can join us in the future.  Ahem.  Mr. Hale, I hope to speak with you today about Margaret and I.”

Mr. Hale:  “You have something to tell me, John?  Perhaps to ask of me?”  Mr. Hale smiles knowingly, remembering his own days as a suitor for Mrs. Hale.

John:  “Yes, sir.”    John continues to use formal language with Mr. Hale.  And though, John does consider Mr. Hale a friend, John has never used the familiar mode of address with him, perhaps thinking of Mr. Hale more as a father figure.  “Ahem,  Mr. Hale?”

Mr. Hale:  “Yes, John?”   He has an inkling of what John plans to say.  Though Mr. Hale, has not entirely decided what he will say in response yet.

John:  “Mr. Hale, Margaret, Miss Hale and I, as you know, have come to an understanding with one another.”  Searching for the right words–never having been a suitor before–John is not sure of the appropriate form.   “We have formed an attachment with one another that … deepens each time we have been together.  And not just in the last few days …”  John says trying to show Mr. Hale that he/John and Margaret have long admired each other.   “… but, at least for my part, I have admired Margaret since almost my first meeting with her over a year ago.”    John pauses to gauge Mr. Hale’s reaction.  Mr. Hale remains silent, waiting for John to continue.  “And, Margaret has given me to understand, that she has also come to regard me with … growing sympathy.”   John is not sure if that is the right word, but he thinks it fits their situation.  “Especially today, since we have shared confidences about what might be considered … our respectively painful or sad pasts.”

Mr. Hale:  He perks up a bit and questions.   “Sad pasts?”

John:  “Yes sir.  Margaret told me about …”   John wants to put it as delicately as he can.  “… your son, Frederick.”   Mr. Hale gives a little intake of breath at the mention of his son, and John saying his son’s name.  John continues.    “I, too, shared with Margaret the sadness of my father’s passing.  Though, she gave me to understand that you had already shared some of the details with her.”   John says this not reproaching Mr. Hale for doing so, but John actually feels grateful to Mr. Hale having done so because it saved John from having to go into the details with Margaret, himself.

Mr. Hale:  Composing himself, Mr. Hale says.  “Yes, John.  I had shared with Margaret your sadness and early struggles to regain your family’s financial footing—and your overcoming those struggles, I might add.”

John:  “Yes, Sir.  Thank you.  Margaret and I …” John uses her Christian name more familiarly and intimately again purposely in front of Mr. Hale, to reinforce to Mr. Hale the loving bond between he and Margaret.   “…  we talked openly and honestly this afternoon in our garden.”    Though John does not want to reveal the full nature of his and Margaret’s intimacies of kissing and embracing—lest Mr. Hale think it was inappropriate—John wants Mr. Hale to understand that his and Margaret’s attachment for each other is deep and lasting.  So that is what he tells him.    “Margaret and I came to understand that we have a deep admiration and attachment for one another.  Sir, Margaret is the loveliest lady that I have ever known—the only lady that I have ever formed an attachment to.  Sir, we love each other, very deeply.  I asked her to marry me and she accepted.”

Mr. Hale is quite silent, not even his breath can be heard—nor John’s breath for that matter.  In fact, the room is so silent—there being no need for a fire today—that John begins to feel a bit uncomfortable with the silence.  And unbeknownst to both men, Margaret has once again snuck downstairs and is listening at the closed parlor door.  She is also holding her breath.

John:  “Sir.  Margaret and I respectfully wish to set a date for our wedding.”   John says boldly, assuming—hoping–that the news of an impending wedding will be received warmly.

Margaret gasps softly at John’s declaration while standing secretly outside of her parlor door.  She has not even hoped to be able to set a wedding date—she merely hopes that her father would agree to her and John’s engagement.  She wonders if John is moving too fast for her father—she hopes not and that her father will agree.

Mr. Hale:  Regaining his composure again, Mr. Hale responds slowly, and measures his words carefully.  “Well, John.  I appreciate the regard that you have for my daughter, Margaret.”   Not a good beginning, John thinks.   “I’m her father, so you can not praise her too highly to me.  And, of course, I think very highly of you John.  You’re a good and honorable man.”   However, John thinks Mr. Hale might be warming to him and his request.  “But, Margaret is very young.”   John now looks crestfallen at this turn in Mr. Hale’s response.  “And I want to make sure that she … knows her own mind.  So, let us bring her in here with us and I will talk with her.”

Mr. Hale doesn’t say that he would send for her to come down–because though John had not heard her, Mr. Hale had heard Margaret’s gasp at the parlor door.

Mr. Hale:  “Margaret, …”   Mr. Hale calls out looking at the parlor door.  “… you can come in now.”

Margaret slowly, and somewhat sheepishly, opens the parlor door.  Both men stand, as gentlemen do when a lady enters the room.  Margaret first sees her father and looks at him tentatively having overheard the last few minutes of her father and John’s conversation.  And then, opening the door further, she sees John and smiles at him, noticing his rather worried expression.

Margaret:  “Father…”  Then turning to her intended, she smiles.  “John.”  She’s not sure if she should go to her father, or to John.  But her father resolves that question for her.

Mr. Hale:  “Margaret, my dear.  Please come sit with me on the sette.”   He motions to her.  “John, please be seated in the chair by the fireplace.”   Mr. Hale motions for John to sit.  Mr. Hale purposely has them both, John and Margaret, sitting on the same ‘side’ of the room–such that with Margaret now facing her father on the sette, she can not see John at all.  John for his part, also can not see Margaret’s face, though he lovingly looks at how primly she sits next to her father, and her auburn curls and braids at the back of her head.

Margaret:  “Father?”   She knows that this is the most important conversation that she will have with her father.  It will change the course of her life–whether or not her father agrees to she and John’s engagement and wedding.

John sits very still, knowing that he has said all that he could to convince Mr. Hale of his and Margaret’s love for one another.  Now, it is up to Margaret to make their case.  John smiles and nods at Mr. Hale, acknowledging to him that he will be silent during Mr. Hale and Margaret’s conversation.

Mr. Hale:  “Margaret, my dear.  Mr. Thorn…  John has asked me to agree to setting a wedding date for the two of you.”   Margaret waits for her father to continue, smiling hopefully.   “You know that I had hoped that you might spend some time courting and getting to know each other better?  Marriage is a lifelong commitment whose bond cannot be broken.”

Margaret:  She speaks with a new confidence born about of her love for and with John.  “Yes, Father.  John and I are very much in love.   Though I didn’t realize it—or allow myself to admit to it until recently.”  She demures, not wanting to say two days ago.    “But, upon reflection, …”  Margaret is trying to sound logical and more mature than her tender 20 years.  “…  I know that my love and admiration for John has been growing for some time, many months, if not since last winter … some 6 months ago.”   John beams at her.  Though she can not see his gaze, she instinctively feels it.

Mr. Hale:  “I see.  Margaret hopes he does.

Margaret:  Now feeling more empowered to plead their case to her father, she says.  “Father, I thank you for wanting to give me time—were John and I to spend more time courting—to get to know each other.  But, really, we have been doing that all along—getting to know each other that is.”   She says quickly, not wanting her father to think that she and John have … been courting.  Well, at least not to the extent that they have done so today.

Mr. Hale:  “Well, Margaret …”  Then nodding at John.  “…  John …”  Mr. Hale warmly continues.  “…  if that is the case, then I give you my blessing.”

John:  John leaps to his feet and crosses the room to shake Mr. Hale’s hand.  Margaret stands to John’s side looking up at him lovingly.    “Thank you sir.  I promise to always take care of Margaret.  Her happiness is my fervent wish.”  Then turning to Margaret, John takes her hands in his and he gets down on one knee.  Though John has already proposed to her, he feels that he should do it again and have Margaret’s father see her acceptance.  Margaret sits down on the sette to lessen the distance between them.  “My Darling Margaret, I love you more than I can say.  Will you marry me?”

Margaret:  Forgetting that her father is still standing right next to them, she says lovingly.  “Oh, yes John Dearest.  I love you very much.”  John kisses each of her hands.   “I am so happy.” Her eyes tear up with joy.

Mr. Hale:  “Well, congratulations to both of you!”  John and Margaret stand.  Mr. Hale shakes John’s hand again and pats him on the shoulder. Then, Mr. Hale gives Margaret a hug.  “Margaret my dear, we will have a lot to tell your mother.”   Then looking at John, he says.  “John, I know that you want to set a date.  Did you have something in mind in terms of when you can get away from your business?”

John:  John hadn’t thought past asking to set a date, to what that date might be.   “Well sir, Margaret and I had not actually discussed a date.  And, I know that it takes time to plan a wedding—since we just had my sister’s.”

Margaret:  She interjects.   “John, I’m guessing that you might think it is expected of you to have a large wedding.  But, with Mother being so ill, … I’m not sure she could stand the stress and strain of a large wedding.”    Then she says in a softer voice.    “And, I do want my mother to be at my wedding …”  Her voice trails off in sadness.

John:  John looks at her sympathetically and knowingly as he pats her hand on his arm, then says.  “I understand.  So, might we be thinking about a few weeks, rather than a few months?”

Mr. Hale:  “Yes, that would be best.”  Mr. Hale agrees–thinking of his wife’s frail health.

Margaret:  Knowing that she wants to feel her best as well—since she was out of sorts this week, part of the reason she didn’t respond favorably to John’s first attempt at proposing to her—and next week, might not be much better.  So she suggests a date.  “Would two weeks from last Thursday—three days ago—be too soon?”  She doesn’t want to appear too eager, but the next dates that might work would be a month after that.

John:  Heartened by the prospect of having Margaret as his wife so soon excites John.  But he also doesn’t want to appear too eager and tries to appear merely agreeable.  So, he nods and says benignly.  “I think that will work.  Though, Margaret darling, I can’t be away from the Mill for more than a week’s honeymoon trip at this time.  I hope that won’t disappoint you.”

Margaret:  “Of course not, John.  I don’t need a month’s or more trip away.  Wherever you are, that will make me happy.   But, we will need to check with both of our mothers to make sure of the date.  Of course, I hope that my London cousins could come, but if our date doesn’t work for them, we shouldn’t change our date.  Mother being at our wedding is my priority.”

Mr. Hale:  “Margaret, dear, let me go up to see if your Mother is awake, and perhaps, we can share your news?”

Margaret:  “Yes Father, do.”

Mr. Hale goes upstairs to his wife, leaving the newly engaged John and Margaret [(9) right] alone together in the Hale parlor.

To be continued with Chapter 19


(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 Daniela 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)     Composite image of Margaret Hale’s head (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the North & South music soundtrack dvd cover found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-12.html; and a pink Victorian dress found at http://fripperiesandfobs.tumblr.com/post/12025132525/dress-ca-late-1830s-from-the-centre-de; photo manip done by Gratiana Lovelace, 3/25/12.

(3)     Cropped and masked image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage)  from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, Promo pix 17 was found at  http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-17.html

(4)     Victorian garden path image in Horticulture Magazine was found at http://www.hortmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Weg-Vic-gar.jpg

(5)     Alfords English garden image was found at bjwsblogspot at  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wc60R7Rb2Io/T25bai_c0JI/AAAAAAAA7lc/3PVLERI35vY/s1600/a%2BAlfords%2BEnglish%2BGardens.jpg

(6)     Image of John Thornton’s (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale’s (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe’s first kiss in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, episode 4 (Pix 338) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-338.html

(7)     Image of John Thornton’s (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale’s (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe’s followup kisses in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, episode 4 (Pix 340) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-340.html

(8)     Image of John Thornton’s (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale’s (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe’s kisses in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, episode 4 (Pix 370) (brightened) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-370.html

(9)      Cropped and masked image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage)  from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, Promo pix 17 was found at  http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-17.html; composited with Composite image of Margaret Hale’s head (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the North & South music soundtrack dvd cover found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-12.html; and a pink Victorian dress found at http://fripperiesandfobs.tumblr.com/post/12025132525/dress-ca-late-1830s-from-the-centre-de; photo manip done by Gratiana Lovelace, 3/25/12.


Previous Story Links for “North and South:  Nurturing Love” are found at

Ch. 5-12:  https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/ns-nurturing-love-ch-5-12-friday-tea-begins-a-weekend-of-engagements-32312-gratiana-lovelace-post-153/

Ch. 0 – 4:  https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/north-south-nurturing-love-ch-0-4-31912-gratiana-lovelace-post-151/

About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
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8 Responses to N&S: Nurturing Love Ch. 13-18: Sunday Engagements and First Kiss, 3/26/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #155)

  1. Fabi says:

    Good morning Grati,
    That is one thing I wish to happen in the film, Mr. Hale giving his blessing to them, after all he was very fond of John and would be happy to have him as son-in-law.
    Oh those kisses… the most beautiful on screen kisses ever, so delicate and absolutely sensuous. He was slowly, tentatively tasting her lips, almost reverently, like she was something so fragile, his most precious treasure. *sigh*
    Lovely! Thanks for sharing!


    • Good morning Fabi,
      I agree with you! First kisses are to be cherished and savored–they are but a hint of the joys of love that await John and Margaret.
      And Richard Armitage portraying JT kissed MH so tenderly that he made the world swoon. Sighhhhh! And we’re still swooning.
      Cheers! Grati ;->


  2. fitzg says:

    Ah, how nicely you have managed transitions. The delicacy of the courting. (I suspect not all Victorian courting was entirely withhout passion, but with understanding.) Just one detail – it requires three Sundays for banns to be called in the Anglican church. Of course, Mr. Hale is no longer a vicar, and Thornton is probably of one of the Dissenter communities. This wasn’t really fully described in the book or the film. Of course, the Anglican church would accede to a special license in the circumstances – I think!

    Now, work on a post-acopaliptic Lucas. :D


    • Hi Fitzg,
      Thanks for your nice note. Yes, I am Anglican myself–American Episcopal Church myself.
      And those banns in more modern times have to be read three times–though whether it is three consecutive Sundays, three holy days, or just three times is up for interpretation by each parish/diocese. I am going with the last choice for my story–writer’s perogative.
      And the reading of the banns can be dispensed with altogether as you suggest with special permission. Because, the banns are basically a canonical clerical requirement–Ha!–instituted by humans, and not by God.
      For anyone who wants to read more on the Banns of Marriage, here is a Wiki link for you:

      Cheers! Grati ;->

      P.S. I’m already about 15 pages in on my Lucas lives fan fic sequel. I hope to serialize it sometime this Summer. Some of my other stories are in my blog pipeline at the moment. Ha! ;->


  3. mariana says:

    Wonderful, wonderful N&S retold! I would like to see a movie with your story, of course with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby Ash. I can wait for the next chapter…


    • Hi Mariana,
      Thanks for your lovely note! I’m glad that you’re enjoying my N&S fan fiction. I enjoyed writing in and now sharing it with you. Get comfy, because my N&S story is 160 pages long. Ha! With Monday and Friday installments of 10 pages each, it should take me about 8 weeks to serialize it here on my blog.
      Cheers! Grati ;->
      P.S. I would love to see Richard and Daniella continue John and Margaret’s story as well. I think I read somewhere that Richard Armitage possibly said in an interview that he might be too old now to continue the N&S storytline. Although, all he has to do is smile and it take at least 5 years off his age. Besides, he doesn’t look 40 years old.


  4. Pingback: “N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 19 – 23: Wedding Planning Sunday and Monday, 3/30/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #157) | Something About Love (A)

  5. Pingback: “N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 24 – 28: John’s Surprise for Margaret and Their Engagement Announcement, 4/02/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #159) | Something About Love (A)

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