“North & South: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 24 – 28: John’s Surprise for Margaret and Their Engagement Announcement, 4/02/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #159)
Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: Over the past weekend, John Thornton and Margaret Hale have not only become happily engaged, but they are planning a wedding in two weeks time due to Mrs. Hale’s frail health. There is much to be done and this Monday after their families speaking with the vicar Monday morning about their initial wedding planning thoughts. And John has a lovely surprise for Margaret as they walk together to Thornton Manor for luncheon.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 24: about 11:15am Monday as John and Margaret take a Detour Walking to Thornton Manor
After seeing their families off in the Thornton carriage–to pick up Mrs. Hale on the way to Thornton Manor for luncheon–John and Margaret walk by themselves back to Thornton Manor. John looks forward to this chance to have Margaret to himself again on their walk to his home–and John has a little surprise for Margaret. He especially wants to show her a ‘cottage’ that is one of his properties for her to see if she might like it for their first home. John and Margaret walk through the church grounds and up the hill [(2) right] toward Marlborough Mills and the Thornton mansion. Then John urges Margaret to take a diverging path at the crest of the hill.
John: Pulling her arm a bit, he says. “Let us go this way, Margaret Darling. It’s a shortcut.” John winks at Margaret and squeezes her arm around his arm.
Margaret: “Oh? I thought that I knew all the ways to walk to the Mill. But alright, if you wish, John Dearest.” She looks at him a bit quizzically, but all he does is smile mischievously under the brim of his tall hat. He can’t wait for her to see his surprise–and he hopes that she likes it.
After walking a little further, John and Margaret come upon a ‘small’ rose covered cottage [(3) right] on the hill just before the formal Marlborough Mills property, but set back in a woodsy area such that Margaret had never seen it before. Of, course, the stone and stucco cottage is two stories with an attic above that. It is vine and rose covered with a small—albeit untended–garden in the back.
John: “Well, what do you think of this?” John says sweeping his hand in front of the cottage.
Margaret: Sincerely liking what she sees, she says. “John Dearest, It’s charming. Who lives there?” She asks, still not picking up on John’s hints.
John: “Well Margaret Darling … we will once we’re married if you like it. This is a property that I’ve owned and rented out for some time–and it’s now vacant.” He smiles lovingly at Margaret and she begins to understand.
Margaret: “Do you mean, it is ours?” Margaret asks in wonderment. John beams at her obvious approval.
John: “Yes, Margaret Darling. I asked the caretaker to meet us here around 11:15am so we could have a tour. Would you like that?”
Margaret: Now realizing that this could be her and John’s first home as a married couple, Margaret shines with joy and she squeezes his arm that she’s been holding on to on their walk. “Oh, John Dearest. How exciting!” She is really pleased to think that she will have her own home—apart from Mrs. Thornton, but near enough to John’s work.
John: “Let’s take a look inside, shall we?” Margaret nods her head and joins him at the front door. They are met by the caretaker of the cottage—a much older woman than Margaret who is named Thompson, but younger than Dixon, so that Thompson still has energy to help with running a home.
Thompson: “Hello Mr. Thornton, Sir, and Miss.”
John: “Miss Hale, this is Thompson the caretaker of the place. Thompson, this is my fiancé, Miss Hale.” Margaret and Thompson nod at each other.
Thompson: “Sir and Miss, I’ve opened up and aired out the rooms for you so you can take a look around. It might need some updating of the decorations, but I’m sure that the Miss here will have some ideas in that regard.” Margaret blushes at the thought of being mistress in her own home and decorating it as she wishes.
John: “Thank you Thompson. Miss Hale and I will look around down here on the first floor for a few moments by ourselves, then we’ll ask you to show us upstairs.” Of course, John doesn’t really need Thompson to show them the upstairs. But John is mindful of the proprieties and appearances and not wanting to be alone with Margaret in a home—even if it is their future home—without a chaperone. “Now Margaret, you’ll see as you enter the house, this a spacious foyer with both a large parlor to the left and a large dining room to the right of the stair case that leads to the second floor.” [(4) right] Margaret looks on appreciatively at the room layouts as they peek into each room. The parlor and the dining room each have fireplaces and are spacious enough to accommodate having several guests—at least 12 to dinner. She hopes to have enough room for both of their families to visit at the same time for holidays and special family gatherings.
Margaret: “John, This is so lovely and the proportions are just right.” Then she walks to the back of the foyer hall—with John trailing after her–to see a closet under the stairs for coats. There is attention to detail and comfort everywhere in this home, thinks Margaret.
John: Motioning for Margaret to continue heading toward the back of the house, he says “Now Margaret Darling,” John feels that he can use this endearment for Margaret with some privacy since Thompson has walked into another room and they are alone. “… to the back of the first floor is the kitchen behind the staircase and a breakfast room and a small sitting room behind the formal parlor—and with a butler’s pantry behind the dining room.” The kitchen is larger than the Hale’s kitchen and adjoins what will be the family breakfast nook in the large bay window that has a smaller sitting room with its own fireplace on the other side of the room.
Margaret: “Oh John, Dearest. This is so charming.” She says sincerely.
John: “Now, I know that this house can use a coat of paint—and maybe that can be accomplished this week. But, our longer term decorating with wall paper and furnishings might take some time as we live here and we decide what we want and like.” John thinks, this is really happening. In just a few short days, he and Margaret became engaged and have set a wedding date.
Margaret: She nods in agreement. “That sounds wonderful, John. I had not hoped for such a grand home. But, it will also be cozy and inviting once we put our own personal decorating touches on it.” John is pleased that Margaret is pleased. To make a home, a family, and a life with his beloved Margaret is what he has wished and hoped for.
John: “Oh and Margaret Darling, I think that we can get it ready in time for our wedding day—not fully furnished, but enough for us to start living here.” He smiles down at her lovingly as she looks up at him a bit quizzically. John blushes, then continues in his deeply timberous baritone voice tinged with love and passion for his Margaret. “And if you prefer, we can even spend our wedding night here—all by ourselves.”
Margaret: Margaret blushes, but welcomes the idea of being on their own and not under his mother’s roof for their wedding night. She gazes at him lovingly. “Oh John Dearest, I think that will be wonderful. You have thought of everything!”
They embrace quickly, knowing that Thompson is just around the corner. But John kisses Margaret’s forehead and she welcomes his tenderness for her.
John: Then continuing the first floor tour, he says. “And, then, the back door from the small sitting room leads to the back yard garden. It’s overgrown and will need our attention.” They look through the breakfast room’s bay window to see the currently untended garden–but they can see the possibilities. “There is also a carriage shed out back with rooms above for some servant quarters. Shall we tour the upstairs?” Margaret nods. As John and Margaret walk toward the front hall staircase, John calls out to the caretaker. “Thompson?”
Thompson: She appears after staying discreetly out of the way as good house servants do. “Yes Sir. Will you be wanting to see the upstairs now?”
John: Nodding. “Yes.”
Thompson leads the way up the foyer staircase–and John and Margaret follow her upstairs. Margaret is in complete wonderment to see what will be her new home with her new husband. And she blushes and smiles with girlish delight.
Thompson: “There are four bedrooms and a family sitting room area up here.” She motions as she shows them around. [(5) right] “These smaller bedrooms are good for children or guests—the two bedrooms over here share a fireplace. And the third bedroom there shares a fireplace with the bathroom.”
John: He interjects. “And, this house has an additional feature that you’ll like—as with the kitchen downstairs, earlier I had plumbing installed upstairs so that we have running water for washing—with a separate waste water spout for the tub and sink. It’s a great convenience not having to carry water up and down stairs.”
Margaret: In wonderment she says. “It’s a marvel, Joh … Mr. Thornton! (Catching herself, Margaret amends how she addresses her intended because they are in the presence of the servant, Thompson.
Thompson: “Then, Sir and Miss, this larger bedroom with its adjoining sitting area is a very nice master bedroom.” John nods and Margaret blushes. “There is lots of closet space for clothes and such.” Thompson says not very grammatically, but helpfully.
John: “Yes, thank you Thompson. This room is very spacious. What do you think?” He says to Margaret. It is not as large a home has Thornton Manor, but it he feels that it is serviceable enough to meet their needs–it is a two story stone home with four bedrooms and all of the modern conveniences. Indeed!
Margaret: Blushing again, thinking that this will be their bedroom, she tries to make an off hand comment about the bedroom. “I like the location of the fireplace, it should keep the room warm.”
John: “Yes,” John smiles lovingly at Margaret, then says in his deeply timberous baritone voice. “Indeed.” Though John thinks that it is he who will be keeping her warm at night–and he blushes. Then to Margaret he says smilingly. “So, Margaret Darling, does the house suit you?”
Margaret: “Oh, Yes. John Dearest, this is perfect.” Not worrying about addressing John informally now.
John: “Well then, I will set the workman to it tomorrow to make it livable. Thompson, please be here at 8:00am to let them in for painting.” Then to Margaret. “We will want the painting done first so that the fumes will have dissipated before we move in. Do you have any thoughts to colors?”
Margaret: “Well, I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment. May we discuss the colors after your Mother’s luncheon today?”
John: “Certainly. I have a rough layout sketch of the floor plan at home. Perhaps when I take you home later today, we can stop and pick out the paint colors specifically. If we get enough men in here to paint, it should only take them a few days.” John as Master of Marlborough Mills is a consummate organizer of workers. So, Margaret knows that all he is promising will be done as he says. “Thank you Thompson. We’ve seen enough. Miss Hale and I will head to the Mill and home for now.”
Thompson: “Yes Sir, and Miss. And may I wish you my warmest congratulations?”
John: “Thank you Thompson.” He nods at her cordially.
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Thompson. And thank you for the tour.”
To be continued with Chapter 25
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 25: John and Margaret walking to Thornton Manor for Luncheon after seeing their future Home
John and Margaret walk toward the mill and Thornton Manor—what will become only his Mother’s home. As they walk briskly–since they lingered over exploring what will become their new home–they discuss what basic furnishings they’ll need to start out with.
Margaret: “Well John, we will need a table and chairs for the breakfast nook—we can eat in there for now—and perhaps some chairs and a small sette for the small sitting room adjoining it. The rest of the first floor furniture can come later.”
John: “Yes, we might have some furnishings at the manor that might work. Also, …” Trying to put it delicately to her, because it is a delicate matter, he says. “… for our bedroom …” Margaret blushes. “… I already have a custom made double bed to accommodate my tall frame. So, if you do not object, I will have my bedroom furniture brought over the day before our wedding.” Margaret nods, blushing again. “If you don’t like the furniture’s style or wood color, we can always have a different set made for us—that also fits my tall frame. Though, I’m afraid that we will have to get some new bed sheets made—mine are quite thread bare.” He smiles sheepishly at Margaret. “Well, I am a bachelor and I haven’t really paid attention to those details before.”
Margaret: She smiles, thinking of the sheets of the bed that she and John will share. She blushes again, then says lightly–with a poise belying her flushed state. “Well, that is a sewing detail. So, if you give me the dimensions of the mattress, I can see if we can get some sheets and blankets made if need be—or add some length to a regular sized set.” John smiles that Margaret is already making plans to make their future home cozy and inviting.
Before they know it, John and Margaret reach Marlborough Mills and Thornton Manor beyond it. Waiting for them are Mrs. Thornton and her daughter, Fanny and Fanny’s husband Watson, both of the Hales, and the Vicar.
Mrs. Thornton: “Well John, does she like the house?” Mrs. Thornton asks in a manner assuming that Margaret will, of course, like the house.
Margaret: Rushing to respond. “Oh, Mrs. Thornton, Rose Cottage is so lovely.”
John: He beams. “As you can see Mother, Margaret is really taken with the house. Mr. and Mrs. Hale, Fanny and Watson, and Vicar Broom, I own a two story stone cottage on the other side of the hill, just past the mill property. The caretaker, Thompson, gave Margaret and I a tour of it just now as we were walking home.”
Margaret: “The rooms are well proportioned and flow beautifully.”
John: “The rooms just need some coats of paint. Margaret and I will make some initial color choices today and the painters will start tomorrow—that way the fumes will have dissipated by the time we move in.”
Margaret: “Oh, but John Dearest, you’re forgetting the most wonderful part.” Everyone is waiting to hear what Margaret thinks is the most wonderful part. “John has plumbing for running water upstairs and downstairs and an upstairs tub and sink with a waste water pipe to the outside. It’s a technological marvel.”
John: He beams at Margaret’s description, then says modestly. “Yes, it is very convenient.” Then turning to his mother he says. “And, though we will wait to choose wall paper and most of the furnishings, we will need some basics to start with. So, if there is a small table and chairs we can borrow for the breakfast nook and some chairs and a settee for the small sitting room off of it, that should get us started.” Everyone looks at each other, sure that John is forgetting something as they look at him with slightly amused faces and raised eyebrows. Then, he realizes this and offers. “Oh, and since I’m so tall, I will bring my custom sized bed and bedroom furniture over from there for us to start with.” Margaret blushes at the mention of what will be “their” bed in front of the families, but they did ask.
Mrs. Thornton: I’m sure we can manage to loan you some furniture to get you started.
Mrs. Hale: Silent until now, Mrs. Hale was taking it all in. “That sounds lovely dear. And remember when choosing paint colors, neutral colors work best to accommodate different decorating tastes—depending on your and John’s preferences.” As they sit together in the lovely Thornton Manor parlor, Mr. and Mrs. Hale are the picture of genteel parenting–their lifelong attachment to each other evident and a wonderful model for John and Margaret to follow [(6) right].
Mr. Hale: “Well, you ladies—Margaret, Maria, Mrs. Thornton, oh and Mrs. Watson—will make good decorating decisions, I’m sure.”
Margaret: “I think that John and I will live in our new home for a while and decide what decorating we will do gradually.” She pauses, then continues. “We, of course, welcome any suggestions you might have.”
John: “Yes, we’ll have to see what we like.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, shall we go into luncheon? Vicar, you’re looking particularly needing of a good meal.” He looks rather pallid and thin—as most vicar’s do.
Vicar: Laughing. “Well thank you Mrs. Thornton, I am rather hungry.”
The families and the Vicar walk into the Thornton’s dining room for luncheon—John and Margaret walk in arm in arm and sit together. It is a lovely luncheon for all concerned.
To be continued with Chapter 26
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 26: After Monday’s Luncheon at the Thornton’s, John and Margaret pick out furniture to borrow
After luncheon, Mr. and Mrs. Hale, Fanny and her husband Watson, and the Vicar are returned to their homes via the Thornton carriage. After their goodbyes to them, John and Margaret walk with Mrs. Thornton around the Thornton home as she suggests some furniture that they might borrow for their new home.
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, this extra table and chairs from our small sitting room might work for your breakfast nook. And, I’m sure we can pick out some sitting room chairs for you as well.”
John: “Thank you Mother.” Of course this is his home, too, and John bought these furnishings. But, his mother has done the decorating, so John views these furnishings as belonging first, to her.
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Mrs. Thornton. It is very gracious of you to loan us some items to use for our home.” Our home, Margaret feels a calm contentment contemplating her future life with John—creating a home that will be all their own.
John: “Oh, and Mother, remember, since I’m so tall and there is no time to get a bed that fits me, I plan to take my bedroom furniture to our new home.”
Mrs. Thornton: “And, how soon did you need to furnish it?”
John: Hoping that his mother will understand that he and Margaret will not be under her roof at all, he says slowly. “Well, I told Margaret that I thought the house could be livable by our wedding day.” He pauses waiting for his mother to react. She stiffens a bit, but says nothing. So he continues quickly. “So, I plan to move my bedroom set to our home the day before our wedding and we will spend our wedding night there.”
Margaret: “Yes, we may start out a bit rustic, but we will gradually make it a home. Thank you so much for letting us borrow some of your furniture in the meantime.” Margaret also waits for Mrs. Thornton’s reaction.
Mrs. Thornton: Now finding her voice, but saying in an understanding tone that John and Margaret had not really expected from her. “That sounds like a good plan. I understand, my dears, that you want to start out on your own. John, your father and I did the same thing.” Her eyes moisten as she recalls her own early marriage days. Then back to her practical bent, she says to Margaret warmly. “Well, my dear you will be wanting to see John’s bedroom furniture to see what might fit in your new rooms.” Margaret blushes. “Oh, and you’ll have to get new bedding made. John’s bedding is so worn, but he has never let me replace it.”
John: Smiling a bit sheepishly. “Yes, Mother, I mentioned to Margaret that we’ll have to get new bedding.”
Margaret: “Yes, …” Trying to stem her blushes—caused by them talking about what will be her and John’s bed–by focusing on the practical she says to Mrs. Thornton. “We will need to take the dimensions of the mattress in order to see what bedding can be made—or adapted to fit—since John said the bed is longer to fit his tall frame.”
Mrs. Thornton motions to the two of them and they walk to the second floor of the Thornton home. John is a little discomfited–hoping the maid has picked up his room for him. Margaret is breathing quickly, not only from walking up the stairs, but since she is soon to see John’s bedroom—where he sleeps, and the bed that she will soon be sleeping in with him. To the left of the stairs, they reach John’s bedroom door. John blocks the door initially.
John: “Mother, Margaret, let me take a peek first to see if the room is tidy. I left rather quickly this morning and I don’t know if the maid has had time to come in yet.” He peeks inside and sighs gratefully, seeing that the room is tidy. So, he opens the door. First his Mother strides in, then Margaret walks in a bit more slowly—walking into her beloved’s bedroom causes her to blush again, but she tries to look around with a pragmatic interest.
Margaret: “This is a very nice room, good solid furniture.” The wood is a bit lighter than she would like, but that can easily be changed with paint or varnish.
John: He goes to his desk and takes out some papers. “Oh, and here are the layout sketches of our new home for us to use to think about decorating—and paint color ideas.” John lays out the sketches on a nearby table and Margaret sits down at the chair next to the table to look at them.
Margaret: Poring over their home’s layout sketches she says. “These will be very helpful. As to paint colors, I’m partial to lighter wall colors in rooms that don’t get much light in order to take advantage of reflecting light.”
Mrs. Thornton: Nodding approvingly. “Very sensible, my dear.” John beams at Margaret receiving his mother’s stamp of approval and he also nods his agreement.
Margaret: “I also have some bedroom furniture that my parents might let me bring with me—especially a dressing table and mirror that I’m very fond of. Though they’re in a different style and a darker color than John’s furnishings, I’m sure we can make it work together.”
John: Interjecting and smiling. “After all, marriage is compromise as the Vicar said.”
Margaret: “Yes John Dearest.” She smiles at him. “Well, if you could give me the measurements of the mattress for the bedding, we can look into that in town later today.” Margaret does not want to be the one to actually measure the bed herself. She is still a bit self conscious and nervous being in John’s bedroom—even though his mother is with them.
John: “Well, I’m 6 foot 2 inches in height—so the mattress is about 7 feet long. But, the mattress is not that wide—about 6 feet.”
Margaret: “Alright, that should do it.” Margaret writes down the measurements on a small notepad that she carries in her reticule. “Now, to colors. I’m partial to cream and bone colors for the kitchen and breakfast nook and the small sitting area.” John nods. “But, we might choose a pale blue for the dining room—I’m partial to indigo blue and white china—and a pale green for the parlor?” John nods his assent again.
John: “What about upstairs?”
Margaret: “Well, …” Blushing again. “… not knowing if our future children will be boys or girls, or a combination, perhaps we should just choose one pink, one blue, and one cream paint color for each of the three bed rooms.” She sees John’s expression at her mention of pink. “Oh, John Dearest, don’t worry, we don’t have to paint our bedroom pink.” She laughs and so does he.
John: “Well Margaret Darling, I’m glad.” He smiles at her warmly.
Margaret: “Though a pale pink is one of my favorite colors. But maybe we can have its color cousin, a light burgundy?” John nods. Neither of them have noticed until now that Mrs. Thornton hasn’t offered a suggestion. So, Margaret turns to her and asks. “What do you think, Mrs. Thornton?”
Mrs. Thornton: “My dears, you should make color selections that you feel comfortable with.” Margaret wonders if that means she approves of their choices. “And, so far, you seem to have made some lovely choices.”
John: “Margaret, when I walk you home this afternoon, we can stop in the village to pick out the actual paint colors and I will notify the painters that I had earlier contacted.” Then turning to his Mother he says. “I thought that the Hales could join us for the music concert this evening, Mother—sort of Margaret and my ‘announcement’ of our engagement to the community.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Aye, that sounds fine. Well you’ll be wanting to get about your business then–picking paint colors and then giving Margaret time to go home and change for the concert.”
John: “Yes, thank you Mother.”
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Mrs. Thornton.”
All three of them then exit John’s bedroom and walk downstairs. At the bottom of the steps, John remembers a promise that he made to Margaret.
John: “Margaret, I almost forgot with all of the wedding details, that I promised you another walk in the garden.” Of course, he would not forget it really since a private stroll through the garden is the only chance they will have for privacy. John’s passion for his future bride Margaret is becoming keener as their wedding plans, and new home planning have gotten underway today.
Margaret: “Yes, I would like that.” She smiles at him–also knowing that they will have some privacy in the garden.
Mrs. Thornton: “Well, then, you’d best be getting to it and I will see you later my dears.” She says nodding at Margaret and then John.
John: “Yes Mother.”
To be continued with Chapter 27
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 27: John and Margaret stroll in the Thornton Garden, on afternoon Monday
John and Margaret walk into the Thornton garden, both admiring its beauty—and counting the steps until they know they will be out of view of Mrs. Thornton who is standing at the back parlor window on the second floor. They reach the bench behind the hedge [(7) right] that they had sat together on yesterday, Sunday, afternoon and they sit together again.
Margaret: “Oh John Dearest, it’s such a lovely day—in every way. Things seem to be turning out just right for us.”
John: He smiles. “Yes, Margaret Darling.” He takes her hands in his and he kisses the soft skin of the backs of her hands. Then as before, John turns her hands over to kiss the inside of each of her wrists. Margaret sighs with John’s every touch. Then looking into Margaret’s eyes, John says. “You know, I’ve wanted to give you something all day, but we didn’t have a chance to be alone until now.” He smiles and hands her a pink rose that he had secreted in his vest pocket earlier.”
Margaret: “John Dearest it’s lovely.” She sniffs its fragrance. “Did it come from our house?”
John: Smiling at her use of ‘our’ house, he says. “Yes, but if you look closely at its center, you’ll find something special there.” He says trying to guide her to his ‘other surprise’ for her today.
Margaret: She lifts out a small, but lovely ring—an engagement ring. “Oh John, it’s beautiful!” John takes it from her hand and slips it onto her ring finger. Then he kisses her left hand again. Margaret stares down at the ring on her finger and says. “In all of the excitement, I had quite forgotten about a ring—not to mention our wedding rings.”
John: He interjects, finishing her sentence as they are beginning to do with each other. “Then, it’s a good thing I remembered.” John says smiling broadly. “I’m so glad that you like your engagement ring, it had been my late grandmother’s and it was given to me by my parents many years ago for my future bride. However, we can change the stone if you like.”
Margaret: “Oh no John Dearest, it’s perfect—and very special to me since it is a family heirloom.” Margaret caresses John’s face with her hand. They gaze at each other and instinctively lean toward each. John puts his arms around Margaret’s waist and she then rests her arms on his shoulders and they lean in to kiss each other. [(8) right] As their lips touch, at first gently, sweetly, and then with more passion they both realize again how much in love they really are with each other.
John: “Hmmm.” John sighs in his deeply timberous voice, almost a passionate growl.
Margaret: “Huhh.” Margaret sighs in a maidenly girlish tone, but yet still conveying to John that she welcomes his loving attentions.
Now brushing her cheek with his lips–having pulled away from kissing her after a few moments because he must show restraint until they are married—but John cannot resist completely and his kisses move down the side of her face and he gently nuzzles her neck. Margaret sighs, so in love with John that she does not even realize that she is running her fingers through his hair as she had done yesterday. But it is now she who must show restraint, and says, moving her hand to his face again, which also has the effect of pulling them a little bit apart, and she says a bit breathlessly.
Margaret: “John Dearest, although I would stay with you in this garden forever, …” John smiles at her, thinking about that lovely thought. “… I think we must finish our errands today if the painters are to begin their work tomorrow.”
John: John nods his head. “You are right Margaret Darling. We still have some color selections to be made before we attend tonight’s concert.”
So, both John and Margaret rise from the bench, clasping their hands together, fingers intertwined, and walk back to the Thornton home. Since the time is now moving into the later afternoon—and John’s carriage has returned from dropping off the Hales, the Vicar and Fanny and her husband at their homes, John suggests that they avail themselves of it.
John: Margaret, Let us take the carriage back into town together. It is quicker.”
Margaret: “Won’t that cause people to wonder about us?”
John: “Well Margaret Darling, they will find out soon enough this evening at the concert that we are a couple. So, I don’t see any need to be secretive about it.”
Margaret: “Of course, John Dearest. But, can we drive past our new home, just to see it once more?”
John: “Certainly my dear, but we won’t have time to get out and look around again.”
John and Margaret take the carriage into town. They head to the decorators and pick out paint colors, then John drops Margaret off at her home, kissing her hand again and saying farewell until they see each other again that evening.
To be continued with Chapter 28
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 28: Monday evening, 7:30pm, the Thornton carriage arrives at the Music Concert with John and Margaret announcing their engagement
John and Mrs. Thornton are seated opposite each other in the open carriage as they arrive at the Hale home. John gets out to collect Margaret and her parents, but in the end, Mrs. Hale feels too tired to attend so that it is just Mr. Hale and Margaret joining them. John sits with his Mother and Margaret sits with her father. John and Margaret look at each other longingly. They make the obligatory small talk as they pull up to the concert hall a few streets over. John exits the carriage, then assists his Mother out of the carriage. Several friends and acquaintances are milling about the entrance and wave hello to them. Then John offers his hand to Margaret as she steps out of the carriage, then she takes his arm. Mr. Hale follows behind–the four of them completing this new family scene. Margaret and John are each a little nervous about being out in public for the first time together—John because he has never even courted a woman before Margaret, and Margaret because she so wants everything to go well tonight. Inevitably, her father’s friend and John’s Marlborough Mills landlord Mr. Bell walks forward to greet them warmly, and mischievously.
Mr. Bell: “Well, don’t you all look cozy together.” He flashes a look at Mr. Hale who responds before Mr. Bell can make another of his sometimes snide comments.
Mr. Hale: “Yes, and let me be the first to tell you that I have the great pleasure in being able to welcome John as my son-in-law very soon.” Mr. Hale’s honesty has the effect that he wants—knocking the sails out from under his old friend, Mr. Bell.
Mr. Bell: “Thornton, is this true? Are you really engaged to my god daughter Miss Hale?”
John: “Yes, I am.” Beaming and then smiling down at Margaret. “Margaret has made me the happiest of men and agreed to be my wife.” Margaret doesn’t say anything, but she does offer Mr. Bell her ring hand showing him her engagement ring. Since Margaret has been wearing gloves up to now, Mrs. Thornton had not seen that John had given her the ring from her Mother yet and she says.
Mrs. Thornton: “Yes, John gave Margaret my Mother’s ring. We have saved it for him years ago to give to his future bride.” Margaret blushes.
Mr. Bell: “Well, Margaret, my dear …” Using Mr. Hale’s endearment. “… you haven’t said anything yet. When is the happy day to occur.” Of course Mr. Bell is thinking that the wedding is far in their future, and everyone knows that.
Margaret: “Well, Mr. Bell, as you know Mother is not with us tonight because she became over tired—we had an earlier church meeting and then luncheon at the Thornton’s …” Her voice trails off in sadness, thinking about her mother’s ill health.
John: Stepping in to finish her thought. “We so hope that Mrs. Hale will be able to enjoy our wedding before the heat of the Summer, so we have planned a Spring wedding.”
Mr. Bell: “What, this Spring?” He is a little flabbergasted at the speed of this turn of events.
Margaret: “Well actually, in about two weeks, on Thursday, May 18th.” She continues quickly before Mr. Bell can say anything else. “But, due to mother’s frail health, we will be having a small, intimate wedding with just close family and friends.” Then she looks at Mr. Bell warmly and says. “Of course, we will be including you among our guests.”
Mr. Bell: Nodding. “I understand, my dear. Knowing all too well the state of Mrs. Hale’s frail health. Then changing to a more cordial tone, and smiling broadly, Bell says to John and Margaret. “Well! May I wish you both every happiness!” Then turning to John he shakes his hand several times, and Mr. Bell gives Margaret a little hug.”
Mr. Hale: “Thank you for your congratulations. Mrs. Hale and I are very pleased. We have the highest regard for John—my having gotten to know him better as we read the classics together.” Alluding to his lessons with John. “And we are most delighted!”
Mrs. Thornton: Weighing in without having to be bidden, she says. “And, of course, our family is very pleased as well. Margaret is a lovely girl and I know they will make each other happy.”
John: John beams at his mother, then kisses her cheek and says. “Thank you Mother and Mr. Hale.”
Margaret: “Yes, Thank you Mrs. Thornton.” Margaret leans in and also gives Mrs. Thornton a kiss on her cheek. Mrs. Thornton is a little startled at Margaret’s gesture, but then smiles pleasantly.
John: “Well, we had better get inside and enjoy the concert.” Taking Margaret by the arm, John leads her up the concert hall’s outer steps. Mr. Hale offers his arm to Mrs. Thornton, who takes it, and Mr. Bell follows behind them.
John and Margaret encounter more friends and acquaintances inside the concert hall—Fanny and her husband Watson who congratulate them warmly again. Then, the Banker Lattimer and his family–with their daughter Ann looking a bit disappointed at the happy news. The Vicar and his wife and a few others also greet John and Margaret and wish them well. For Margaret, it seems that the past few days have been a romantic and social whirl of events—but, happily so. They all head to the Thornton’s box and enjoy the concert. At intermission, they greet more of their acquaintances and share their happy news. Everyone is cordial and congratulates them warmly.
As they end the evening by heading home in the Thornton carriage, John helps Margaret out of the carriage and walks she and Mr. Hale to their front door—which is quickly opened by Dixon, who has also now heard the engagement news through the servant grapevine, and then confirmed it with Mrs. Hale, so Dixon is all smiles as she greets them warmly. John kisses Margaret’s hand and waves goodbye as they close their front door and John returns to the carriage where his Mother awaits. John feels a pang of regret every time that he must part with Margaret. But soon, they will not have to be parted from one another ever again.
Mrs. Thornton and John haven’t had as much time to talk privately, as they usually do daily, due to the flurry of engagement events. But Mrs. Thornton pats her son’s arm as he sits down beside her on the carriage seat and gives him a warm and loving look that says to John that his mother is glad for him in his choice of wife—which makes him glad as well. Though they do not speak on their carriage ride home–with them both being tired from their long day–the loving relationship that this mother and son have sometimes does not need words. Sometimes what and how one feels can not be shared with mere words–they can only be felt, as in the steadfast love of this mother for her son, and the grateful love of a son for his mother whose sure guidance and support have sustained him during their many years of trial as they rebuilt their family fortune and social standing. Though John will soon be getting married and cleaving unto Margaret, this is a happiness that Mrs. Thornton has always wished for her wonderful son. So, she does not begrudge him leaving her to begin his new life as a husband and family man. Yes, their ride home is quiet, but filled with the love and understanding that this mother and son share. The Thornton’s arrive home weary from their long day and head straight to bed and to sleep. Mother and son need their rest so that they can be prepared to arrange more wedding details in the morning and in the days to come.
To be continued with Chapter 29
(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 three images to create the scene of John and Margaret walking up to Thornton Manor: the image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) masked from; http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-180.html; 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; and the image of the hill background with titles and John Thornton sampled out from http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-017.html
(3) Image representing Rose Cottage, John and Margaret Thornton’s home, is a composite of two images: the home was found at
http://wac.2a97.edgecastcdn.net/802A97/verticals.news-record.com/files/imagecache/zoom_view/Images/TH_Kemp01_022612.jpg; and the roses that I masked and sampled them onto the home were from MS Office Clip Art found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=roses&ctt=1#ai:MP900145125|mt:2|
(4) Image of Rose Cottage First Floor Layout designed by Gratiana Lovelace.
(5) Image of Rose Cottage Second Floor Layout designed by Gratiana Lovelace.
(6) Image of Mr. and Mrs. Hale (as portrayed by Tim Piggot-Smith and Lesley Manville) was found at http://www.panhistoria.com/Stacks/Novels/Character_Homes/homedirs/19705images/mrandmrshale.jpg
(7) Alfords English Garden image of a secluded bench was found at bjwsblogspot at http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wc60R7Rb2Io/T25bai_c0JI/AAAAAAAA7lc/3PVLERI35vY/s1600/a%2BAlfords%2BEnglish%2BGardens.jpg
(8) 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 http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-340.html
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at