Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: John and Margaret cut short their honeymoon in Scotland by a few hours so they can return home to Milton and share their first Sunday church serves as husband and wife with their families. Later on Sunday afternoon, John and Margaret share some time with their families at luncheon and tea before returning home for a loving Sunday evening.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 52: Monday is still a Honeymoon Day for John and Margaret (PG-13)
Though they had wakened each night just after midnight and made love on their honeymoon, this night they sleep through to early morning—perhaps because of their travels, or perhaps because of their passionate frequent lovemaking is tiring them out. Now it is early morning, the birds are chirping sweetly and soft light is shining through their bedroom windows in their home, Rose Cottage [(2) right]. John and Margaret stir awake and look at each other lovingly as they lay naked in each other’s arms. They kiss and cuddle a bit–not wanting to part from each other just yet. Their loving bond is strong–made more so by their happiness in their joy in being together as loving help mates and lovers.
Eventually, John and Margaret rise to take care of their early morning routines—washing their faces, brushing their teeth and such, including shaving for John. This morning, Margaret sits rapt with attention on the edge of the bathtub as she watches her husband shave. Such domesticity is still new and exciting to both John and Margaret. She had only occasionally seen her father shave–him preferring to let his sideburns grow long and unruly–and her brother Fred not at all, since he didn’t have much to shave. But John’s facial stubble is scratchy in the evening and even more so in the morning. So, John takes care to shave his face smooth [(3) right] so that Margaret’s face is not irritated when they kiss. Because John plans to kiss his lovely wife very thoroughly this morning. So John and Margaret return to bed to cuddle and caress, kissing each other passionately until their desires are spent again in their passionate lovemaking–a lovely way to start their mornings, indeed.
Margaret and John had asked their servant Thompson to arrive at 7:30am on weekday mornings to prepare them breakfast before John walks to the Mill for work each day. And even though they are still on their honeymoon today, John makes a quick trip to the Mill just to check on a few things. While John is at the Mill, Margaret finishes getting dressed with Thompson’s help. But since John and Margaret are still on their honeymoon–John returns home quickly after attending to a few Mill details to collect Margaret so they can go into Milton to visit craftsmen about furnishings for their home and such. They also bring the gift that they had bought for Bessie and visit her. Since Bessie has been more ill of late, she has not been at her job at the Mill, so they know that she will be home. Margaret chose her gift carefully for Bessie—something that she could use now, but also something that Bessie might want for herself. And indeed, Bessie greatly appreciates the crocheted shawl that they give her. Bessie has never had anything ‘so grand’, she says. John and Margaret can tell that she really likes it. And Bessie is pleased that they have thoughtfully remembered her. But, they do not stay long—both to give Bessie her rest and to continue with their appointments.
Walking a few blocks to the center of the craftsmen district in Milton, John and Maragert stop in at Windsor’s—an aptly named shop that does indeed sell Windsor chairs, as well as other styles of furniture. Since John’s and Margaret’s dining room table is on order and the wallpapers are to be installed this week, John and Margaret turn their attention to furnishing their larger parlor. They want to have couches and chairs in different seating groups, as well as desks for she and John. John had brought over his desk from his mother’s house. So, it is left to them to find a suitable desk for Margaret to use for her correspondence, and household management oversight—as well as the other items.
John: “Margaret Darling, let us go inside Windsor’s for our 10:00am appointment to look at Parlor furniture. I think that you will like their selection.”
Margaret: “Oh yes, John Dearest.” Margaret had passed by Windsor’s establishment before she was married, but she had never gone in. Her parents already had furniture and the shop’s prices were beyond their means anyway.
Windsor: The shop’s proprietor greets them warmly since he hopes to obtain their business. “Well, Mr. and Mrs. Thornton, it’s nice to see you today.”
John: “Yes, Thank you Windsor.” Then taking charge as the adept businessman he is, John says. “We’re looking for a desk for Mrs. Thornton.” John says gesturing proudly to Margaret, who nods in agreement.
Windsor: “Well, Madam. Do you have a style that you’ll be wanting to choose?”
Margaret: She thinks for a moment, as her lips purse–very cutely, thinks her husband. “I guess that apart from my hoping that the desk will have plenty of drawer storage, as well as, a small shelf with additional compartments, I am partial to furniture with rounded corners or scrollwork—but not too much ornamentation. Also, I would like the furniture not to be too light in its finish.
Windsor: “Well, then Madam, perhaps a nice maple or walnut would suit you such as the ones we have over here.” He gestures to the corner of the room and they follow.
Margaret does find these choices agreeable and she asks about their prices before pronouncing her choice.
Margaret: “I’ll select the dark walnut finish of the Georgian styled desk you have here.”
John beams at her selection—not because it was the less expensive choice, but because it contains her design feature requirements. John feels that his own frugality and common sense in these matters are amply complemented by Margaret’s own tastes and wishes. Then they move on to looking at sofas and chairs and Margaret and John select a large walnut framed sofa that will be upholstered with pale green moiré fabric. Then they choose two matching chairs and a sette for either side of the fireplace, and finally they select two end tables, and a round table with two additional wing chairs matching those by the fireplace. They want to be able to seat all of their family and close friends at tea when they have their official housewarming party in a few months.
Margaret looks at John a little worried with all of the money that they are spending—another 100 pounds total—and he calms her concerns in private as the proprietor checks on a fabric swatch. John has set aside 500 pounds for them to furnish their home and they have furnished the two rooms that would have taken up most of that money—the dining room and the parlor–for less than half that amount. They do not need to replace the breakfast nook and the small sitting room furniture since Mother Thornton has decided to give these pieces to them as part of her wedding present—which they gratefully accept. Since Margaret’s double bed from the Hales is now in the smaller pink bedroom, it can serve as their guest room for now. That just leaves them to furnish the other two bedrooms. Although, Margaret would like to leave the smallest cream bedroom next to the bathroom unfurnished for now because it will be an ideal nursery for their future babies—and she doesn’t want to get ahead of herself in that regard. And, she also wants to leave the blue bedroom unfurnished for now in case they want to make different decorating choices when they have a child to fill it. They both decide that John’s bed, their bed, is just right and that they also do not need to replace their other master bedroom furniture.
But, all of this domestic shopping and planning makes John hungry since he’s not used to worrying about such matters himself—his mother always did it. But John enjoys being able to give some input on his new home’s furnishings—rather than only being asked to pay for them. Margaret suggests that they pop into a little bakery shop to select some pastries for tea later today—and John has a roll to tide him over until they reach home for lunch. She had earlier asked Thompson to do some food shopping for dinner when they were waiting for John to return from the Mill. John and Margaret also stop at the stationer’s to pick up their newly printed stationery. They have a lot of thank you notes to write—which will mostly fall to Margaret–and she wants to get started this afternoon. Lastly, they stop in at her parents briefly to invite them to tea that afternoon—saying that they will send the carriage back for them.
To be continued with Chapter 53
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 53: Back at John and Margaret’s home for Monday lunch and gift unwrapping
After storing the receipts from the morning’s furniture transactions in John’s desk—and Margaret putting away the pastries for tea in the kitchen icebox—Margaret and John slip into the kitchen and eat a quick bite for lunch. Thompson had prepared a hot vegetable soup and sandwiches that John and Margaret eat appreciatively. While they had been out this morning, some packages had arrived for them—wedding presents. So, John and Margaret sit in the small sitting room opening their gifts from their friends and family. From the Hale’s, John and Margaret receive a china tea set with a tea pot and cups and saucers, etc. [(4) right]—perfect for them to use this very afternoon when the Hale’s visit for tea. From Fanny and Watson, they receive a lovely round tablecloth that will work on the small round sitting room breakfast table. From the Higgins family—whose means are sparse and they had not expected anything—John and Margaret are delighted to find two lovely curving candlesticks that will soon grace one of their tables.
As John and Margaret turn their attention to look at the largest package from Mother Thornton, they wonder what it could be. They carefully unwrap each item and set it on the kitchen table. After several minutes, they realize that Mother Thornton has given them a china dinner service for twelve that has been a precious part of the Thornton family’s heirlooms. And, they look at the last box and find that it contains a matching sterling silver flatware service for twelve and two silver candlestick holders—another precious part of the Thornton family’s heirlooms. John is especially moved by his Mother’s kindness because he had thought that she had given the china to Fanny when she married. John and Margaret put these loving gifts in the butler’s pantry—until their glass china cabinet arrives and they can be displayed in the dining room.
When, Margaret starts to sit down to write their thank you notes that they will have their servant deliver the following day, they notice that there is one final gift–an oblong brown paper package [(5) right] that they think looks like another tablecloth. But when they pick it up, they realize that it crinkles like paper. They can’t imagine what it can be. As they undo the package’s outer layers, it reveals a large envelope underneath the wrapping. John opens the envelope and pulls out a large sheath of papers. He opens the papers slowly, trembling–John having seen these papers before. The papers are from Mr. Bell, John’s mill landlord and the Hale’s longtime family friend. To John’s and Margaret’s astonishment, Mr. Bell has deeded the Mill building and its surrounding property–including Thornton Manor–over to John and Margaret, his business associate and John’s wife, Mr. Bell’s god daughter. They both stare in shock at Mr. Bell’s extremely generous gift—worth over $40,000 pounds at least, $4 million dollars in today’s money.
John: At first, John says to Margaret. “We they can’t accept such an extraordinarily generous gift.” John says this haltingly with emotion in his voice because he is a proud, self built businessman. But, Margaret gently lays her hand on her husband’s arm and tells him.
Margaret: “John Dearest, Father told me that Mr. Bell is ill and that he will soon be leaving for South America for his last days. He has no children himself. Perhaps this very generous gift from Mr. Bell is his way of reaching closure with his life in England. He has been your long time business associate, and he is my father’s lifelong friend, and my god father. Let us graciously accept his generous gift to fulfill his last wishes.”
John: Nodding his head, still in disbelief. “You are right, Margaret my love. I just can’t believe it. The strike has made business tight—especially since not all of my customers have paid their bills.” The worry that John has been hiding from Margaret, now clearly shows on his face. Then realizing his burden has lightened, his countenance also eases from worry to relief. “I have always cringed at Mr. Bell’s teasing, … I never knew that he had such generosity in him to do this for us.” Without having to pay his lease costs to Mr. Bell anymore, John will be able to repay his bank loan and wait it out until his customers pay him.
Margaret: Leaning against John’s arm and shoulder, she rubs the side of his face. “John Dearest, Mr. Bell—despite his prickly ways–is an honorable man–as are you, an honorable man. It makes sense that he wants to give his property to you–who will use it for a good purpose.”
John: “But, how do we thank him for such an amazing gift?”
Margaret: “By using it wisely, John Dearest—and not only for ourselves. This gift can be used to facilitate continuing your honorable business practices and fair treatment of your employees as a model for others.” Pausing, an idea comes to her mind. “One thing that I would be very interested in is possibly starting a school for the mill children. Since Mr. Bell was an Oxford academic, maybe we could name the school after him—the Bell Grammar School of Marlborough Mills. What do you think?”
John: “Margaret Darling, that’s a fine idea. I think that we have a building on the property that can be used to serve as the grammar school. And, educating the mill children will help them become better employees and citizens. Let’s invite Mr. Bell to tea this afternoon with our family and talk to him about it then.”
Margaret: “Yes, lets. I’ll write a note of invitation to Mr. Bell to join us for tea that the carriage driver can take to the hotel on his way to picking up mother and father. And we can also invite your Mother and sister, Fanny.” And she does so.
Then, because tea is not until 4:00pm–and it is only 2:00pm now–John and Margaret head upstairs to their bedroom to make love with each other, sweetly, tenderly, passionately, joyfully and with loving abandon like the newlywed lovers they are.”
To be continued with Chapter 54
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 54: 4:00pm Monday, Tea at John’s and Margaret’s home
In addition to their families—the Hales, Mother Thornton, Fanny, and her husband Watson—John and Margaret invite Mr. Bell to also join them for tea this afternoon. John and Margaret want to thank their families for their wedding and the wedding gifts, and especially thank Mr. Bell for his generous gift of the deed to the Mill and its property. Everyone arrives punctually, and John and Margaret greet them and show them around the downstairs—indicating what they hope to achieve in each room and then bringing them back to the small sitting room and breakfast nook off of the kitchen—the only place in their home that has furniture at the moment, other than their bedroom and the guest room with Margaret’s bedroom furniture from her parents’ home. As the new bride and mistress of the house, Margaret pours tea for everyone as John assists her in passing out the cups and saucers and offering plates of treats. Then, they begin their thank you’s.
Margaret: “John and I want to especially than all of you for your kindness to us in helping with our wedding and the thoughtful wedding gifts that you have given us.”
John: “Yes, Fanny and Watson gave us this lovely tablecloth here.” He says pointing to the round breakfast nook table.
Margaret: “And, Mother and Father gave us this tea service. Mother Thornton also gave us china and silver to get us started in our dining room, some of which we are also using today.”
John: “And, the candles you see there were a gift from the Higgins family.”
Everyone smiles in appreciation at the lovely things.
Margaret: “These gifts mean so much more to us because you gave them to us. And whenever we use them, we will think of you fondly.” Pausing. “There is one gift that we haven’t mentioned yet, …” Then turning to look at Mr. Bell, she says. “… from my god parent …”
John: Interjecting. “… and my business associate, Mr. Bell.” Both John’s and Margaret’s faces look at Mr. Bell with such sincere appreciation, that they are almost tearing up. “Mr. Bell, has most generously deeded over the Mill and its surrounding property to Margaret and I.” A hush comes over the gathering and John and Margaret both move to stand on either side of Mr. Bell and each of them takes one of his hands in their hands.
Bell: “Oh, now, you two. No need to make a fuss.” But, he is clearly touched by their sincere appreciation. “I know that you will be good caretakers of the place. I leave for South America soon and since I have no children of my own, it made sense for me to give it to my god daughter and her husband, my business associate.
John: “How can one say merely thank you for such a generous gift?”
Margaret: “Our thanks to you is without measure.”
John: Then standing with his arms around Margaret, he says. “But, Margaret has an idea that we hope, in some small way, lets you know the depth of our gratitude.”
Margaret: “Yes, John and I have decided to use your gift, not only for ourselves, but for others. With your permission—and in your honor as an academic—we would like to establish the Bell Grammar School of Marlborough Mills for the children of our workers and the children who work here already.”
Bell: “Margaret Dear, John, I’m deeply touched and honored by your suggestion. Thank you.” He says smiling warmly at John and Margaret.
Then they all spend a lovely afternoon having tea together.
To be continued with Chapter 55
(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) 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|
(3) Image representing John Thornton shaving is of Richard Armitage portraying Percy Courtney in Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen of the Music Hall (2007), pix 14 and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/marielloyd/album/slides/ML-14.html
(4) Image representing John’s and Margaret’s china gift from her parents is that of Margaret giving John tea in North & South episode 1 (pix 96) and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/slides/ns1-096.html
(5) Image representing the package from Mr. Bell was found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=package&ctt=1#ai:MP900313853|mt:2|
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at