“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 19 – 23: Wedding Planning Sunday and Monday, 3/30/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #157)
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Authors Story Recap from the previous posting: John and Margaret each realized their love for one another , shared their first kisses, and became engaged with each other on Sunday afternoon.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 19: John and Margaret discuss some wedding plans after they become formally engaged
Mr. Hale leaves the parlor and heads upstairs to Mrs. Hale’s bedroom. Now alone, again, Margaret and John sit together on the sette. She in her lovely pink satin dress, and he in his manly black suit [(2) right].
John: “Margaret? Is it feasible to arrange our wedding in two weeks? I wasn’t involved in planning Fanny’s wedding—well, other than to pay for it.”
Margaret: “Well, I always said that I just wanted to wake up on a warm and sunny day, put on my favorite dress and walk to the church for my wedding.” She gives a small laugh. “Though, I think that we can manage a bit more than that. But, you realize that my family can’t afford to spend a lot of money?”
John: “I understand… Perhaps, if your parents would pay for your wedding gown and flowers, I could pay for the church and reception? And, of course, our honeymoon trip.” He says this word—honeymoon–warmly and in a deep voice as he gazes at her lovingly. Margaret blushes.
Margaret: “Thank you John. I think that that will be perfect. But, of course, I will check with father.”
John: “Well, Margaret Darling. Naturally, you will have your father walk you down the aisle. But, we will also need to think about our attendants—the best man and the maid/matron of honor.”
Margaret: “My cousin Edith is like a sister to me. So, she would be my first choice. If she were not available, I would be happy to choose your sister Fanny.” John smiles at her thoughtful and inclusive suggestion. “Who would be your best man?”
John: “Well, I have several business associates and acquaintances, but no one that I consider a close friend—well, other than your father. Do, you think that your father would…?”
Margaret: “Oh, John Dearest. I think that he will be honored to be your best man.” John beams.
John and Margaret squeeze their clasped hands and lean forward. But they don’t kiss because they don’t know when Mr. Hale will return. So, they smile and gaze at each other lovingly.
John: “Of course, my mother might have some suggestions.” Margaret gives him a knowing glance. “She organized Fanny’s wedding as if it were a military campaign.” Margaret lets out a little laugh and John does, too.
Margaret: Graciously. “I’m sure that we will welcome your mother’s kind advice.”
John: “Margaret, darling?” He kisses her hand.
Margaret: “Yes, John?” She sighs, at his kiss, but she doesn’t know what he is going to ask her.
John: He continues, slightly smiling and in a deeper voice. “We will have to discuss where we want to go for our honeymoon.” John colors.
Margaret: She gasps a little and blushes. “John Dearest I’m sure I will like wherever you want to go.” Now she doesn’t want to appear too eager.
John: “Would you want to return to Helstone for our honeymoon?”
Margaret: “Oh no!” Abruptly.
John: He laughs and says a bit mischievously. “Well, you said no to Helstone quite decidedly.”
Margaret: “Helstone was a lovely place to grow up, but it’s in my past. And you and Milton and the North are my future.” John beams again. “Is there someplace around here? Maybe we could find a quaint little cottage in a small village?”
John: “I perfectly understand. However, if we were to find a cottage to ourselves, we might not have servants to tend to our needs.”
Margaret: “Well you know, John …” Being quite proud of herself and her independence. “… I’ve become quite knowledgeable about running a household and what it entails from running our home here. All we really need is a place with running water and a fireplace. But, it might be nice to have servants during the daytime—just not overnight.” She blushes again at her wish for… privacy with John, at night.
John: “I will look into some possibilities and let you know what I find out.” They nod in agreement.
Then, Mr. Hale returns to the parlor as John and Margaret are discussing their honeymoon. To think that his little girl is old enough to be married. But, she is 20 after all. And his wife, Maria, was just 18—and he 25—when they married. That is another reason why Mr. Hale is favorable for John as his daughter’s future husband. John is ten years older than Margaret—a few years older than Mr. Hale was with Mrs. Hale. Mr. Hale feels that John’s maturity will help guide his daughter through her remaining young adult years.
Mr. Hale: “John, Margaret …” Turning to each and smiling. “I was able to chat with Maria, Mrs. Hale, about your news. She is delighted and asks if Margaret will come up to help her dress for tea—and then she invites you, John, to stay for tea.”
John: “Of course sir, I will be happy to stay for tea.” John welcomes becoming a part of the Hale family. And, he welcomes Mr. Hale becoming his father-in-law–after so many years without a father figure in his life.
Margaret: “That’s wonderful father. I’ll ask Dixon to prepare tea with some small sandwiches along with some cake, and then I’ll go up to Mother and we’ll be back down for tea.” She smiles at John and leaves the parlor for the kitchen and then upstairs to her mother. John smiles wanly back, sad to see her go from his and Mr. Hale’s presence [(3) right].
Mr. Hale: Sitting down in a chair by the fireplace, Mr. Hale motions for John to join in him the opposing chair. “John, I hope you won’t find it off-putting for me to say that it has been a busy and slightly overwhelming few days.” He scratches his head and smiles in amusement.
John: With a little laugh, John says. “Yes sir. Actually, I think that is an understatement!” Both men smile and laugh.
Mr. Hale: “Well, we have a lot to think about and do in two weeks.”
John: “Yes sir. Margaret and talked and feel that a smaller close family and friends wedding might be less stressful for Mrs. Hale.” Mr. Hale nods. “Sir, if you and Mrs. Hale could organize Margaret’s wedding gown and flowers, then my mother and I will arrange the church, reception, and I will arrange our honeymoon trip. I think that it will be a very lovely wedding surrounded by our closest family and friends.”
Mr. Hale: “Yes. I suppose that Margaret will be wanting her cousin Edith as her matron of honor. But, have you decided who your Best Man is.”
John: Somewhat awkwardly, John begins. “Well Sir, though I have several acquaintances and business associates, I only have one person that I feel closest to.” John looks at Mr. Hale hopefully. “Sir, that is you.” Then he continues with a bit of trepidation. “Will you be my best man?”
Mr. Hale: “John, my boy. I am so honored to be your choice. Of course.” He smiles and warmly shakes John’s hand. John gives a small sigh of relief.
John: Warmly, and somewhat relieved, John exhales loudly–not realizing that he had been holding his breath awaiting Mr. Hale’s answer. “Thank you, Sir.”
Mr. Hale: Mr. Hale gives a small laugh before continuing. “Well, in all my years as a clergyman, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the father of the bride also serving as a best man. I guess I’m blazing a new trail.” He smiles again.
John: “Yes Sir.” John smiles at Mr. Hale.
To be continued with Chapter 20
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 20: Sunday Afternoon Tea at the Hale’s Celebrating John and Margaret’s Engagement
After a few moments, Margaret and Mrs. Hale join John and Mr. Hale in the parlor. Mrs. Hale is frail and moves slowly to sit in the closest chair by the warm fireplace. Mr. Hale helps her sit down and then he sits opposite her. Margaret and John sit down on the sette together. If Mr. Bell were here, he would once again say—very domestic.
Mrs. Hale: Breaking the ice, as the socially adept former Miss Beresford, Mrs. Hale says. “Well, my dears—Margaret and John—let me begin by congratulating you on your upcoming marriage. Mr. Hale, and now Margaret have filled me in a little bit. I hope that you, two, will be very happy together. In fact, I am sure of it.” She smiles at her daughter and future son-in-law. Seeing Margaret so happily engaged and in love has been Mrs. Hale’s fervent hope.
John: “Yes, Maam, thank you. I love your daughter, Margaret, very much.” He gently takes Margaret’s hand in his and looks at her lovingly. “I hope to make her happy, as she is making me in becoming my bride.”
Margaret: “Yes, Mother.” Gazing at John lovingly. “And, I love John very much.” Then looking back at her mother, she says. “Our happiness is bound up in each other.” She smiles warmly at John and then at her mother again.
Mr. Hale: “And, there is even more special news …” He smiles gleefully.
Mrs. Hale: “More?” She coughs lightly. “I couldn’t think that there could be any other… surprises.”
Mr. Hale: “Well, there is my dear–and it’s a good one. John has asked me to be his best man.” Mr. Hale beams.
John: “Yes, Mrs. Hale. I feel closest to Mr. Hale among my friends and acquaintances and I am thrilled that he accepted.”
Mrs. Hale: “That’s lovely Richard dear. She smiles at her husband, Mr. Hale. Then to John, she smiles and says. “That’s very sweet of you John.” John Beams.
Margaret: “And, I hope to have Edith as my Matron of Honor. Though, if she is not available to join us on our wedding day, I would welcome John’s sister, Fanny, serving as my attendant.”
Mrs. Hale: “Well, it seems like everything has been decided.” She says feeling a little left out. And her disappointment shows on her face.
Margaret: Recognizing her mother’s mood, Margaret says. “Mother, I do need your advice on my wedding gown and the flowers.” Mrs. Hale perks up and smiles. “We will have to talk about it tomorrow. John and his mother will arrange the church and the reception—and John, our honeymoon trip.”
Just then Dixon comes into the room with the tea tray and cakes and sandwiches. She sets them down and leaves the room. She thinks that it is curious that Mr. Thornton has been for tea twice in the last three days. But, Margaret and her parents haven’t told her the news, yet.
Margaret: “Well, shall I pour?” Mrs. Hale nods–she is too frail to lift the teapot. Margaret pours everyone’s tea, remembering how John takes his tea—with one sugar—and offers him a sandwich and some white cake, which he takes and bites into appreciatively.
John: He thinks that getting engaged has made him hungry and laughs. “It’s very tasty, Margaret. Thank you. Now, don’t forget to pour yourself a cup.” She does so and sits back down on the sette, next to John. Very domestic.
Mr. Hale: He’s been quiet up until now, allowing his wife to participate more in the conversation since she had missed out on it earlier while she was resting. But, he offers. “Yes Maria Dear, John and Margaret have made a good start to planning their big day.”
Margaret: “And, of course. We will be including Mrs. Thornton in our planning, too.” John beams at her pointedly including his mother.
Mrs. Hale: “Margaret, my dear. Have you and John thought what time of day you wanted to wed?”
Margaret: “No, I, we, haven’t.” Margaret looks over at John and they both shrug their shoulders cutely at one another. “I suppose it will depend upon when the church is available and if we have to travel that day for our honeymoon.” She blushes again at her mention of their honeymoon.
John: “Well, Margaret Darling, …” John uses this endearment in front of Mr. and Mrs. Hale for the first time, though he is trying to sound logical, and not an eager husband to be, he says. “… judging from Fanny’s wedding day, it can be tiring. So, we might not want to add travel on top of that.” John looks at Margaret, and she nods in agreement, so he continues. “Perhaps, we might consider having a one o’clock wedding service—allowing time for any of your London relatives to arrive by train—and then with a reception from two to four o’clock that would still allow time for your London relatives to take a return train back to London if they do not wish to stay overnight. Then, you and I could …” John colors as he continues. “… spend our wedding night at our home, Thornton Manor, at the mill, before traveling on to our destination the following day.” John realizes that he has made a lot of statements about his opinions and he now seeks Margaret’s input–as a man in love wanting to be inclusive of his future wife is. “Margaret, how does that sound? What do you think?”
Margaret: Blushing smilingly at John’s mention of their wedding night and then smiling at her parents, she says slowly. “I think that sounds fine. We’ll, of course have to check with the church—and your mother on the reception arrangements.”
John: “Of course.”
Mr. Hale: “There is one thing that both of you have yet to mention.” He says this a bit portentously, leaving his statement hanging in the air. Both Margaret and John wonder what they could have missed. Then Mr. Hale continues very pleased with himself. “Our families will need to announce your engagement and wedding!”
Margaret and John sigh in relief. Both had secretly wondered if Mr. Hale was going to put an obstacle in their way.
John: “Sir, you are right. Normally, we would use a community event to ‘come out’ as a couple and then share our news. And, of course, the banns will have to be said.”
Mr. Hale: Yes, being a retired clergyman, I’m acquainted with saying the banns. And with a two week timeframe, we will have to obtain an exception.” John nods. Mr. Hale smiles knowingly at his obviously in love daughter Margaret and her eager fiancé John.
John: “Well, there is a musical performance at the auditorium tomorrow night, Monday evening. Margaret, might you accompany my mother and I? We have boxed seats. That should give us enough time to meet with the Vicar tomorrow morning to confirm the church date and time.
Margaret: Looking at her father, who nods at her, then, turns and smiles saying to John. “Yes, John Dearest. I would like that.”
John: “Mr. and Mrs. Hale, would like you to join us as well?”
Mrs. Hale: “John, that’s very kind. But, I am afraid that I won’t be able to join you—the cool nights …” She coughs. “kkh … affect me so.” Winter has not completely given way to Spring yet in Milton. “But, Richard …” Mr. Hale’s first name. “… you could go with them for our family .”
Mr. Hale: “Are you sure my dear?” She nods “Very well.” Then laughing, he says. “Well, I hope your engagement ‘news’ doesn’t take away from the music.” Then motioning to John and Margaret. “I imagine that you’ll be inundated with questions at intermission. So, you’ll have to be ready for them …” Then he continues pensively. “… and why you’re marrying … so… quickly.”
John: “Sir, I take your meaning. But, with …” Trying to phrase it sympathetically for Mrs. Hale. “… wanting to have Mrs. Hale be able to enjoy the wedding … before it gets too warm … I think that should satisfy people’s …” John pauses searching for the right word. “…curiosity, if they have it about our chosen date.”
Mrs. Hale: “Yes, thank you John and Margaret. I was so hoping to be at Margaret’s wedding someday … and this date should allow me to be there.” Everyone smiles, but there is a sadness, too, because they know that Mrs. Hale’s health is so frail.
Margaret: “Oh Mother. I think it will be a lovely wedding day—with our closest family and friends. What more could we ask for?” She goes to her mother, kneels by her side, and embraces her. The room is silent as everyone appreciates the tenderness of this moment.
Mrs. Hale: Rousing herself, she says. “Well, if I’m not mistaken, there might be one other detail that you’re missing.” She says a bit mischievously. Again John and Margaret wonder what that could be, then Mrs. Hale continues. “Although Margaret will have to wait to tell her cousin Edith about her nuptials in a letter, the two of you …” Mrs. Hale motions to John and Margaret. “… will have to talk to John’s sister Fanny and her husband—not to mention Mrs. Thornton—before anything is made ‘public’ tomorrow evening. You don’t want Fanny to feel left out.”
John: “Mrs. Hale, …” Saying sincerely. “… thank you again for your thoughtful suggestion, Mrs. Hale. I will tell my Mother this evening. But, you’re right about Fanny. Margaret and I will have to tell her ourselves tomorrow sometime between making church arrangements and such.”
Margaret: “Well, we might even want to see Fanny before we make the church arrangements with your Mother—so that others don’t speed the news back to Fanny before we have a chance to talk to her.”
John: “You’re right, Margaret.” With a small laugh, he observes. “I can see that this wedding—or at least tomorrow’s part of the planning—will also have to be planned with military precision.” Now everyone laughs. “So, after breakfast tomorrow, I will have Mother send a note to Fanny saying that we would like to see her around 10:00am at the church. Then, Margaret and Mr. Hale, if you could meet us there about the same time, we could all go into the church and tell her the news. She can’t make a fuss if we’re in the church. Ha!”
Mr. Hale: Now John, you don’t think that she’ll make a fuss do you?” Mr. Hale blanches–knowing what John’s sister Fanny is like. Margaret also wonders about Fanny.
John: “Well, I love my sister, but Fanny being the ‘baby’ in the family, she has been a bit spoiled—and I take part of the blame for that. And, I think her husband now also spoils her.
Margaret: “Then John, dear. If we’re meeting Fanny at the church and since she lives in town, perhaps it will be easier—and she might feel more kindly toward us—if I were to go ahead and ask her to be my attendant.”
John: “Only if that is what you truly wish. That is thoughtful of you Margaret darling—you seem to take after your mother in that regard very sweetly.” Mrs. Hale beams at John’s indirect compliment to herself.
Margaret: “It is my wish.” She smiles sweetly at coming up with a diplomatic solution.
John: “So, I will also send a note to the Vicar asking him to meet us at the church at 10:00am on Monday morning. Then, we’ll—that is Mother and I—will have everyone in our families back to our home for luncheon on Monday.” Then looking at Mrs. Hale. “We hope that you will be able to join us for luncheon at 12noon as well. I will send our carriage for you.”
Mrs. Hale: “Thank you John, that is most kind. I will try.”
Margaret: “Well, John. I hope that your Mother won’t feel imposed upon with another luncheon.”
John: Laughing. “Ha! Certainly not. My mother lives to entertain. Besides, your family has entertained me to tea twice in the last three days, yourselves.
Mr. Hale: “True.” He grins. “But, we’re letting our tea get cold and our sandwiches uneaten.” Everyone sips and takes a bite of their food.
John: Then saying appreciatively to all of them. “Yes, I do feel quite ravenous.” Then smiling at Margaret mischievously, he continues. “It must be from getting engaged and planning a wedding all in one lovely weekend.”
Margaret: Blushing and laughing. “Ha! I’ll guess that once we’re married, I’ll have to make sure that we have plenty of food on hand for tea and meals.”
Mrs. Hale: “Oh, my dears, I am so happy for you. But, if tomorrow is going to be another busy day, then I should probably rest a bit.” Her strength and energy fails her more and more and she can not deny it. Mrs. Hale knows that she must ‘pace’ herself if she is to be able to attend Margaret’s wedding and enjoy the day with her.
Mr. Hale: “Come my dear, I will take you upstairs to give John and Margaret time to finish their tea and then say their goodbyes.” John stands also when Mrs. Hale stands. Mr. Hale starts walking Mrs. Hale out of the parlor, then stops and says over his shoulder. “Margaret, later on, when John has gone home, come on up and chat—we’ll be waiting for you.” Margaret knows that her father is letting her know that she and John will have some private time in the Hale parlor before he goes and she welcomes that. “John, we look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the church.”
Margaret: “Yes, Father, I will. Get some rest Mother dear.” Both Mr. and Mrs. Hale close the parlor door as they leave and head upstairs.
To be continued with Chapter 21
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 21: John and Margaret Alone in the Hale’s Parlor after Tea Sunday Afternoon
John and Margaret are alone again at the Hale home—but this time not in the unromantic kitchen, but in the cozy parlor. Though Dixon is still in the house, she is in the kitchen. And the parlor door is shut. So John and Margaret are well aware of their privacy.
John: Returning to sit with Margaret on the sette, and taking her hands in his he says. “Margaret, darling, you have made me the happiest of men.” John kisses both of Margaret’s hands, then turning them over, he kisses the inside of each of her wrists. She gives a little sigh. Though John has never been a ‘suitor’ before, his loving thoughts and actions toward Margaret seem to come naturally to him. They both seem to be in sympathy toward one another in that regard.
Margaret: Sighing again. “Oh John, I do love you so. You have made me so happy.”
Margaret brings her hand up to caress John’s face and run her fingers through his hair. Margaret delights in this small intimate gesture–not realizing the effect that her charming tenderness has upon John. John’s hands move to encircle her waist. Margaret rests her arms on his strong and broad shoulders as John gently pulls her close to him. Their lips kiss, first gently, then tenderly, then passionately, again, and again, and again, and again. John revels in the feel of Margaret’s soft lips on his lips [(4) right]. Margaret so willingly receives his loving attentions that John’s anticipation for their wedding night is quite overcoming his rational senses. To be at one with Margaret as her husband will be a bliss that his mind has imagined only faintly–up til now. John drinks in the scent of Margaret, but he realizes that he must control himself and treat Margaret gently and tenderly–despite how inflamed his passions are for her at this moment.
John: Through sheer force of will, John restrains himself after a few more moments of passionate kissing and he pulls back from their embrace. John kisses her cheek and neck again, as he had before in the Thornton’s garden earlier that afternoon. “Margaret Darling?”
Margaret: She too is swept up in the emotion of their passion, though her ladylike upbringing causes her to blush and also restrains herself. “Yes, John Dearest?”
John: “Margaret, I know that I must leave you soon once again to return home. But, in a very short two weeks, we will not have to be parted ever again. I look forward to our lives starting together–as husband and wife.” Margaret blushes knowing that she, too, looks forward to her wedding day. “Margaret Darling, let us cherish the time we have together until our wedding day, and not get too caught up in wedding details and the practicalities that ensue.”
Margaret: “I know what you mean, John.” She returns to caressing John’s cheek and running her fingers through his hair. “We have a lot to arrange in two weeks. But, hopefully, our wedding will be simple enough to allow for ease in planning and us to be together at times without having to focus on the wedding planning details. I’m sure your mother will have the reception well in hand. So, Mother and I just need to figure out my wedding gown and the flowers—and, of course, you and I will have to come up with a short guest list.”
John: “So, Margaret Darling, …” Speaking in his loving and deeply timberous bariton tone voice and smiling he says. “Tomorrow after luncheon, we will have to stroll in the garden again.”
Margaret: “Yes, John Dearest.” She sighs
Now feeling a bit bold, Margaret initiates their tenderness toward one another as she leans in toward John and she kisses his lips ever so gently and he returns her soft kiss. Margaret looks at John, then she lays her head on his shoulder, his arms encircle her and they sit like this on the sette for a few precious moments nestled gently against one another, enjoying the closeness of their bodies as they hold hands. But until their wedding, they must part from each other in the evening–as they must do now.
John: “Margaret Darling, I fear that I must say goodnight to you again.” He says kissing her forehead, then gazing into her eyes.
Margaret: “Yes John, Dearest, I know.” They both know that in less than a fortnight, they will not have to part to say goodnight ever again.
John: Taking her hands in his, he stands. Then Margaret stands. “I will stop at the vicarage on my way home to arrange tomorrow morning’s 10:00am meeting with the Vicar for our families.” John and Margaret open the parlor door and head to the front door. Margaret hands John his hat. John bends down to kiss her hand again and says. “Farewell my Darling Margaret until tomorrow morning at 10:00am.”
Margaret: Waving goodbye to him, she says. “Until tomorrow morning, John Dearest.” She watches him walk away, he turns as he had before and waves to him before he walks out of sight and she waves back. Then she closes the Hale’s front door. Margaret knows that she will have happy dreams tonight—that is if she is able to drift off to sleep given the excitement of the day’s and weekend’s events. Margaret heads upstairs to wish her parents goodnight and then go to sleep herself.
To be continued with Chapter 22
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 22: The following Day, Monday morning around 10:00am
Both the Hales and the Thornton’s have busy mornings with breakfasts, sending notes to Fanny about the 10:00am meeting at the church by Mrs. Thornton–and Margaret sending notes to her Aunt and cousin Edith about the upcoming nuptials. Margaret, again, takes particular attention to her dress and wears the light blue day dress that is one of her favorites—it matches the color of her eyes her father has told her. She wonders if John will think the same. For his part, John, is also eager to meet and see everyone. He has to do some work at the mill first and then he and his mother start riding toward the church in their carriage around 9:30am—stopping only to pick up Fanny. Mr. Hale and Margaret also leave for the church—but around 9:45am since it is a closer walk for them. It is a sunny day as both families converge on the church and they are greeted at the sanctuary door by the vicar welcoming them inside.
Vicar: “Well, Mr. Thornton, Mrs. Thornton, Mrs. Watson (Fanny’s married name) and Mr. Hale and Miss Hale, please all of you come in.”
Fanny is still in the dark about this meeting. And not one to be shy to ask questions, she does so.
Fanny: “Mother, John?” Fanny looks from one to the other and then to the Hale’s and asks. “Why are we here at church with the Hale’s?” Fanny says this somewhat disdainfully, since she feels that the Hale’s are beneath her in rank and wealth—she is right, at least, to the latter.
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, Fanny, we can always trust you to get to the heart of the matter.” She turns to John. “John, this is your news to tell.”
John: Taking Margaret’s arm in his, he says to his sister, and then turns to the Vicar. “Fanny, Vicar, Miss Hale, Margaret, is making me the happiest of men by agreeing to become my wife.” John and Margaret smile at each other and then look back at Fanny—knowing that her reaction will have the most surprise in it, between she and the Vicar.
Fanny: With no guile–and no courtesy one might add–Fanny being spoilt and pampered as a child she never really learned to think of the feelings of others before speaking, she says. “You’re joking!” Her face clearly shows a look of horror on it.
John: Knowing Fanny would have a discourteous reaction, John seeks to smooth things over by laughing and saying. “Ah Fanny dear, I’m sure you thought that I would never marry.” He says trying to shift the attention from Margaret to himself. “But Margaret and I have fallen deeply in love. She has shown me that I can have a life beyond just business—which was rather a lonely lot. And, we hope that you will share our joy.”
Mrs. Thornton: Also weighing in, to reign in her daughter Fanny, she says. “Yes, Fanny dear, we are all pleased with this news and want you to be the first to know among the family.” Mrs. Thornton smiles encouragingly at Margaret.
Margaret: Grateful for Mrs. Thornton’s help she says. “Thank you for your kind words Mrs. Thornton. Mrs. Watson, Fanny, my mother wishes that she could be here to join us as well, but her health prevents her. However, she knows that it was… it is my hope to ask you to be my matron of honor. Will you do me that service?”
Fanny: Fanny is clearly non-plussed with this turn of events–but she regains her composure and says. “Ah, Miss Hale—Margaret—I see that I’m quite outnumbered. Ha!” Fanny laughs, then uncharacteristically turns gracious—perhaps, something that she’s learned in the short time that she has become a wife herself. “May I congratulate you and John. I’m sorry for my surprise earlier, please be assured that it was not on your account. And, I appreciate your thoughtfulness in including me in the wedding party. I will be delighted.”
John: John gives Fanny a big hug, lifting her in the air—something he has not done since they were children. “Thank you, Fanny dear.”
Margaret: “Yes, Fanny, Thank you.”
Mr. Hale: “That’s a good girl.” Referring to Fanny a bit condescendingly, but that might be allowed for someone of his age.
Mrs. Thornton: “Thank goodness.” She says with relief. “Now we have some arrangements to plan and then back to the house for luncheon—to which you are also invited, Vicar.”
Vicar: Quite silent until now, content to let the family events unfold naturally he says. “May I also give you Mr. Thornton and Miss Hale, my heartiest congratulations!”
John and Margaret: Unplanned, but in unison. “Thank you. Ha!” They both let out a small laugh at their speaking at the same time; then everyone laughs.
John: Speaking to the Vicar. “Though Mrs. Hale could not be here at the church she will be joining us for lunch. Speaking frankly, Mrs. Hale’s frail health has lead both Margaret and I to decide on a small and intimate, less stressful, wedding of just family and close friends—and also a wedding that will occur in less than two weeks time. We are hoping to be married on May 18th, that’s a Thursday. Might you and the church be available around 1pm that day?”
Vicar: He says sympathetically. “I understand. Let me check my calendar.” Opening his datebook, he sees that he was to still be visiting his brother’s family, but he will return earlier. He does not tell those assembled that he is changing his plans for them. “That should work out just fine. Now, if I may speak with Mr. Thornton and Miss Hale privately up front for a few minutes, then we can all discuss the general arrangements.” The Vicar nods to everyone and motions John and Margaret to join him at the front of the church with inviting the others to sit in the pews at the back of the church. These back pews are unfamiliar territory for the Thornton’s, but they all sit down to wait for the Vicar, John, and Margaret to return.
To be continued with Chapter 23
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 23: The Vicar Counsels John and Margaret about their upcoming marriage
After walking to the front pews, the Vicar motions for John and Margaret to sit down while he chats with them.
Vicar: “Let me first put you at your ease.” A welcome beginning John thinks. “I have no obstacles to put in your path and we can easily have the banns read three times within the next two weeks. However, I did want to speak privately to you—as I do with all young couples—about the journey that you are embarking on together.”
John: “Thank you Vicar.”
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Vicar.” As a vicar’s daughter–albeit a former vicar–Margaret is quite schooled on ministers ways.
Vicar: “First, to speak plainly to you. Though I had not realized that you two had formed an attachment for one another—I’m often in the dark on these things—I dare say that your wedding news might take some of the townspeople by surprise also. Have you thought of how to handle that?”
John: “Well Vicar, …” Skipping answering directly the Rector’s implied question of how long he and Margaret had been courting privately, he says. “… though our families have been connected since the Hale’s joined our community over a year ago–our primary concern is Mrs. Hale and her frail health. That is why we do not wish to wait to marry.” John looks at Margaret who solemnly nods her head in agreement. “As you can imagine, Mrs. Hale’s frail health is a sensitive family matter. So, if this could be put delicately in the right circles—perhaps that could help us avoid any unfortunate implications otherwise.” Margaret blushes at what John—and the Vicar—had been implying.
Vicar: “Of course. But, Miss Hale, I would also like to hear from you.” John realizes that once again, he must be silent while Margaret must take the lead to plead their case for marriage. Then to Margaret, the Vicar says. “You are young, I imagine? Pardon me for asking her this Mr. Thornton, …” The Vicar says nodding to John. “… but Miss Hale, do you feel ready to take on the …” He searches for the right word. “… the responsibilities of marriage?”
Margaret: “Thank you Vicar for your thoughtfulness toward me. However, I am 20 years old.” Still young thinks the Vicar. “And, my Mother’s health has made me become the Mistress of our household already. So, I do feel ready to begin a new life with John—while still tending to my Mother as much as I can.”
Vicar: “And you realize that with marriage, often comes children?” The Vicar is trying to put it as delicately as he could. But if she were his daughter, he would want her to wait at least another year—until she was at least 21 years of age.
Margaret: Blushing a bit. “Yes, Vicar. John and I are hoping for children of our own someday.” She smiles at John and John smiles back at her. She hopes that she has—as delicately as possible—calmed the Vicar’s concerns about her youth.
John: He beams. “At least a boy and a girl.”
Margaret: “Though not having had a sister—and I would have liked one–it might be nice to have two girls, and perhaps two boys. Then they each have playmates.” Margaret and John have not discussed family matters so concretely until now.
John: “You’re right Margaret, my Dear.” John, too, realizes that he and Margaret had not discussed their family plans until now. “Having sibling playmates would be fun. I would have liked it myself growing up–having a brother, that is.”
Vicar: “Well, I can see from you two talking just now that you seem to have an easy give and take with regard to discussing family matters and reaching decisions. That is a good foundation for marriage. And, as you shared with all of us earlier—and I can see for myself—you are deeply in love.” Both John and Margaret smile at each other and then the Vicar, who pauses then says. “So, I also give you my blessing and look forward to discussing your wedding arrangements in greater detail in the coming days.”
John: “Thank you Vicar.” John smiles warmly as he shakes the Vicar’s hand.
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Vicar.” She smiles politely and nods her head.
Both John and Margaret are glad to have this final hurdle—getting the Vicar on their side—past them. Now, they just have to make the wedding arrangements and look forward to their wedding day.
Vicar: “So, you two. Shall I assume that you want the traditional vows—love, honor, and obey?”
John: John smiles mischievously at Margaret. “Well, I’m not sure about the ‘obey’ part for Margaret.” He nudges her arm affectionately.”
Margaret: “Oh, John Dearest.” She says a bit petulantly. I am happy to use the traditional vows—I’ve grown up with them all of my life and I think that they’re very beautiful. I would also like to include a scripture reading about love—the one that goes ‘love is patient, love is kind’.”
Rector: “Oh, of course, I know the one you mean, it’s in 1st Corinthians. Yes, it is a spiritually meaningful admonition to young couples.”
John: “That sounds like a lovely choice, Margaret Darling.”
Vicar: “Well, then, I think all we have to do is pick out some hymns and the service will be organized. I’ll send you home with some suggestions and you can let me know later. In the meantime, I’ll check with our organist about your date and time.”
Margaret: “John, I wonder… since Fanny is so musical, might we …”
John: Laughing. “Ha ha ha! Oh, please Margaret don’t ask her to sing. Don’t tell her I said this, but she can’t hold a tune.”
Margaret: Laughing as well. “Ha ha ha! Oh John Dearest. No, what I was going to say is, since her own wedding music was so lovely, perhaps she can help us select ours—another way to help her feel involved.”
John: “That is very thoughtful of you Margaret. I think she will like that.”
Vicar: “Alright, well, let’s rejoin your families and then I guess we’re heading to your Mother’s, Mr. Thornton, for lunch. While we’re there, we can discuss a bit more and also pick a date for the wedding rehearsal, etc.”
John: “That sounds fine, Vicar. Thank you.”
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Vicar.”
John and Margaret walk to the back of the church arm in arm–down the aisle, behind the Rector. Both John and Margaret realize that in less than two weeks they will be walking down this very aisle after being married. They squeeze each others’ arms and smile at each other. They know that it will be a lovely day.
Vicar: To the assembled Thornton and Hale families. “Well, I’ve had a nice chat with Mr. Thornton and Miss Hale—even starting to discuss some wedding arrangements, the vows. So, we just need to pick some hymns and arrange for a rehearsal date and time.”
John: “Fanny Dear, …” John looks at his sister, then to Margaret. “Margaret has something to ask of you.”
Margaret: “Yes, John, thank you. John and I were wondering since your wedding music was so lovely, if you would help us with the selection of our music.”
Mrs. Thornton smiles at her son’s and Miss Hale’s thoughtfulness toward Fanny—and, gratefully, not asking Fanny to sing.
Fanny: Obviously pleased. “Certainly. I will be happy to.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, if we’re all set for now, let us all go back to our house for luncheon—you, too, Vicar.”
Vicar: “Thank you Mrs. Thornton.” The Vicar is pleased to be included in the invitation since he had only been hosted by the Thornton’s one other time—for Fanny’s wedding. “I have a few things to tell my secretary to arrange the wedding date. So, I’ll be along in a few minutes.”
John: “Let us head toward the house.” Then giving directions. “Mother, if you and Mr. Hale and Fanny would take the carriage and stop at the Hale home to pick up Mrs. Hale, Margaret and I will walk home.” Everyone departs as directed. John and Margaret also leave the church [(5) right] and take a leisurely stroll to Thornton Manor up at Marlbourough Mills.
To be continued with Chapter 24
(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) 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 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-12.html; and a pink
(3) Image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Mr. Hale (as portrayed by Tim Piggot Smith) in the 2004 BBC production of North & South episode 1 (pix 42) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/slides/ns1-042.html
(4) Image(cropped) 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
(5) Composite of two images: the image of Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) masked from http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-065.html; with 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 Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at