“N&S: Nurturing Love, Ch. 68-69: Family, 4/30/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #175)
Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: After beginning to heal from the miscarriage of their first child only two months into her pregnancy, John and Margaret renew their romantic spark for each other as they look forward to their future. Their love for each other is a blessing that nurtures their hopes for a family sometime in their future. However, Mrs. Hale’s frail and deteriorating health is a continuing concern for them.
Author’s Mature Content Note: This is a love story and it contains both the joys and sorrows that love and life can bring to us. If you are unable or unwilling to read about sorrow, then please do not read the chapter labeled as such. This is my disclaimer.
Episode/Part 4–John and Margaret Create a Family Together
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 68: Fall leaves start to change as do the lives of the Hale’s and the Thornton’s (Sorrow)
For John and Margaret and the Hales, the mid August tea party was the last one they were to share as a whole family–and they cherish its memory. Mrs. Hale died a month later with her husband and her daughter by her side. The funeral was small and intimate. Margaret was indeed sad and heartbroken at her Mother’s passing as was John [(2) right]—even though with Mrs. Hale’s frail health they all knew that she would not be with them long. As a young woman of not quite twenty one—even though she is now a married lady—Margaret still needs her mother.
Margaret’s one comfort is that she was able to share with her mother something that she has not even told John—that she and John are expecting a baby again. Margaret has been helping out tending the mill families’ little ones two hours each morning—and that has also helped to ease her earlier sorrow. Though a woman of Margaret’s station would not normally do this, her background as a clergyman’s daughter set her on the path to helping others early in her life. John is pleased with Margaret’s time with the Marlborough Mills children and he knows that this is helping her regain her spirits. John has been heartened the last few weeks that Margaret seems to be more cheerful and full of life—though, she has not shared with him why her spirits have truly brightened. Margaret wants to wait until she is further along in her pregnancy this time before she and John share their news with others. However, with tonight being her and John’s 5th month anniversary on Friday, October 18th, Margaret has a special dinner planned—just for the two of them—to share her lovely news with John. As John arrives home from work—with a bouquet of flowers for his Margaret on their anniversary—Margaret greets John at their front door with smiles and kisses.
John: Handing Margaret the flowers from behind his back, he says. Happy Anniversary to you my love.” [(3)right]
Margaret: “Oh, they’re so beautiful! Thank you John Dearest.”
John and Margaret kiss and embrace lovingly and with abandon. They have already released their servants for the evening and won’t see them until Saturday for lunch. So, their home is all theirs to have a lovely and loving anniversary celebration. John and Margaret walk back to the kitchen and breakfast nook, arm in arm. Margaret puts the flowers in a lovely vase and places them on the sitting room’s coffee table where they can enjoy them. Margaret has already prepared their plates of food–and she and John take them out of the oven where they were staying warm and they sit down at the small breakfast nook table to enjoy their food. When they eat just by themselves, they never use their formal dining room.
Margaret: “Are you hungry my love? I know that you’ve had a long day at the mill.”
John: “Well, yes I am.” He says laughing. “And this delicious meal hits the spots, Margaret Darling.” Margaret smiles. “How was your day?”
Margaret: “I had Fanny and Mother over for tea today.” John beams with pride and love for Margaret referring to his mother as Mother. Margaret stopped saying ‘Mother Thornton’ after her kindness to Margaret after the miscarriage. “Fanny is looking well, despite having severe morning sickness with her pregnancy.” It turns out that Fanny and Margaret are both almost two months along in their pregnancies. Though this time around, Margaret seems to have an easier time with morning sickness by avoiding certain foods.
John: “An immaculate conception no doubt.” John says mischievously.
Margaret: “Now John, though Fanny and Watson don’t seem to be as loving as we are when we’re around them, we don’t know how they are with each other in private. Obviously, they have their loving moments—or she wouldn’t be with child.” She says logically, but still blushingly.
John: Sheepishly feeling somewhat chastised, he says. “You’re right, my Darling. And Fanny does seem to be a bit softer these days as she awaits the birth of their baby.” Then he turns contemplative and says. “We will be an aunt and uncle. Their baby will be Mother’s first grandchild.” He says this thinking of their own baby who was lost in the miscarriage.
Margaret: Sensing John’s somber mood and wanting to help him brighten his spirits she says somewhat coyly as she smiles at him. “Yes, that’s possible.”
John: At first, John thinks Margaret is referring to Fanny’s temperament. “Well, Fanny’s lighter spirits during her pregnancy are a welcome change for everyone—especially Fanny’s husband Watson.” Then both laugh.
Margaret: “Yes, John dear. Being more cheerful does seem to come with being pregnant—despite the morning sickness the one has in the early months.”
John: Now listening more closely to what Margaret is saying, John gazes at Margaret with love and hope in his eyes and asks. “Margaret?”
Margaret: “Well, and it will be nice that Fanny’s and Watson’s child–and our child–will each have a playmate.” Margaret beams at John waiting for their baby news to sink in.
John: “Margaret Darling, do you mean…?” He holds her hand in his, waiting for her reply.
Margaret: With tears in her eyes she says. “Yes, John Dearest. We are also having a baby.”
John stands up and he pulls Margaret to him in a loving embrace and they kiss passionately for several minutes. Again, John has completely forgotten about the hunger in his stomach as his mind and heart are lost within the joy of being with his beloved Margaret.
John: “Oh my Darling Love. I’m so happy. But, are you well, have you seen the doctor?” John is thinking about their sorrow last July after losing the baby after her being only two months along—and the toll it took on Margaret physically and emotionally—as well as the toll it took on him emotionally.
Margaret: “Yes, John Dearest. I am well. The doctor assures me that I’m fine. But, he does want me to take it easy, just in case, and do less walking. Walking to the mill is fine since it is close. But we’ll need to take the carriage to church and the village from now on.”
John: “How far along are you?” He asks as he kisses her lips and cheek and neck.
Margaret: “Well, actually, Fanny and I might be at about the same month—almost two months. So, who knows which of us will have the first Thornton grandchild.” She says this last bit of news a little triumphantly—and she can be forgiven this due to their earlier loss of their first baby and then losing her own Mother in September. “We must have conceived this baby almost as soon as we …” She blushes then continues. “… lay with each other again making love.”
John sits back down in his chair so that Margaret can easily reach him as she leans in to kiss him and they embrace and just hold each other—with Margaret running her fingers through John’s hair as he strokes her back.
John: “Margaret darling, I’m so happy.” John kisses her tenderly. [(4) right]
Margaret: “I know John my love. I am, too. But, I think that we should wait to tell anyone until I’m further along—maybe into my fourth month—when we’re sure that …” Her voice trails off, not wanting to think about the awful possibility of losing another baby.
John: “You’re right, my Darling. I’m just sorry that this news comes after your Mother passed away.”
Margaret: “Oh but John Dearest, I did have an inkling then and I whispered it to her as she lay resting one day toward the end. And, I think that she heard me because she smiled.”
John: “Oh, Margaret my love, I’m sure that she heard you.” John and Margaret rock back and forth comfortingly thinking of their new baby joy—and hoping that this time it won’t end in sorrow.
John and Margaret go on to share a lovely and loving five month anniversary evening together—feeling blessed with the knowledge that they are hoping to have an expanded family in the Spring—since her due date is likely to be some time around their first year wedding anniversary.
To be continued with Chapter 69
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 69: Later Fall and the Holidays brings renewed hope for John and Margaret about their baby
As the days and weeks go by, John and Margaret feel more confident that this baby will not miscarry. However, they are both being extra careful by making sure that Margaret does not over tire herself. By the time Margaret is four months along—around Friday, December 18th, their seventh month anniversary—she is starting to show and they cannot keep their secret any longer. And since she is so far along, John and Margaret feel safe in announcing the impending birth of their baby at a family gathering for dinner in their home. It is the week before Christmas—because Christmas will be spent at Mother Thornton’s has usual—and John and Margaret host their families for their seventh month anniversary celebration. John greets everyone warmly and ushers them into their parlor that is festively decorated for the holidays—Mr. Hale, Fanny and Watson, and Mother Thornton.
However, in making this baby announcement, John and Margaret do not want to repeat how they shared their news last time—a little superstition on their part. So, they’ve decided to share their news gradually tonight, when the moment presents itself. Fanny, of course, has been receiving all of the attention for her baby news the last few months and Fanny’s pregnancy is also beginning to show a little. So, it is when the two of them—Margaret and Fanny—happen to be standing side by side that their baby news comes out.
Mother Thornton: “Thank you dears for having us all for dinner tonight. We’re looking forward to it.”
Mr. Hale: “Oh my yes, the Christmas season is always a lovely time of year.”
Watson: “And, the special foods are always tasty.” Fanny grimaces at her husband standing next to her making a remark about food—as he usually does.
John: Echoing his brother-in-law’s remarks, as he stands next to his wife, Margaret, John says. “Yes, Margaret has the cook making all kinds of delicious foods for us to enjoy tonight.”
Watson: “Well John, the two of us couples look like bookends standing here with our plump ladies.” Fanny grimaces again, at being referred to as plump. But, unknowingly, Watson has pointed out the similarity between Fanny and Margaret—both of them being plump.
Fanny: “Well, I have a good reason why I’m plump as you call it.” She says patting her pregnant tummy. “No offense Margaret dear.”
Margaret: “Oh Fanny dear, none taken … because I also have a good reason for being plump myself.” Now Margaret pats her pregnant tummy as John gives her a warm embrace and a tender kiss.
John: Not being able to keep it in any longer, John announces excitedly [(5) right]. “Margaret is with child! Margaret is about as far along as Fanny. We didn’t tell you earlier because we just wanted to make sure that …” His voice trails away because they all know of his and Margaret’s miscarriage sadness last Summer. But, John brightens and says happily. “But now, Margaret is past her fourth month.” Margaret glows.
Mother Thornton: “Oh, my dears, I am so happy for you.” She gives John and Margaret each a hug and a kiss. Mother Thornton has warmed up considerably with the prospect of grandchildren in her future.
Mr. Hale: Kissing his daughter, he says. “Margaret Dear and John, …” Shaking his hand. “… this is wonderful news.” Then turning contemplative he says. “If only your mother were here.”
Margaret: Seeking to soothe him she says. “Father, I had an inkling I was pregnant before Mother passed away and I shared our news with her. So, she does know.” She says, speaking of her mother in the present tense. Because as a clergyman’s daughter, she believes in eternal life.
Fanny: “Yes, congratulations.” At first, Fanny seems a little miffed at not being the only one to receive attention about being pregnant. But, she also tries to think of the bright side and says. “Well, our children will be cousins who can be playmates for one another!”
Margaret: “Yes, it will be wonderful!” Margaret gives Fanny a sisterly hug—not something that Fanny is used to, but she receives it warmly.
Watson: “Well, I’ll be …” Watson does not finish his sentence, but he smiles and nods warmly at both John and Margaret.
Their extended family enjoys a loving and collegial dinner followed by cards and singing Christmas Carols. Since Fanny always thinks herself so musical, she plays the tunes while others sing—to John’s great and humorous relief. Then, it is time for the family members to part until they gather again on Christmas Day at Mother Thornton’s. John and Margaret say good bye to their guests, then head upstairs for a restful and loving evening together.
Having joyously shared their baby news at last with their family at dinner this Mid December evening of their anniversary, John and Margaret walk upstairs to their bedroom. It has been a long day for each of them and they are a little tired—but not that tired. However, they are keenly aware that the servants are still downstairs cleaning up after their dinner party and that they are not completely alone in their home as they usually are when they go to bed. So, they change into their nightclothes—with John helping Margaret out of her modified corset, which is now a less rigid affair due to her expanding tummy. As they cuddle in front of the fireplace on the settee, they think about their evening with family and the months ahead as they await the birth of their first child. Margaret is nestled in the crook of John’s arm as they watch the flickering flames and chat.
John: “ Darling, dinner was delicious and everything looked lovely tonight. You really outdid yourself, my dear.” He gives her a quick hug and a lingering kiss.
Margaret: “Hmmm. Thank you John Dearest. Yes, it was a fun evening.” Then she says humorously. “And who would have thought that Watson would help us share our baby news?”
John: Rocking his head back in laughter, he says. “Yes, well he may not be the most talkative of fellows …”
Margaret: Interjecting. “…and when he does say something, it’s usually related to food.” They both laugh.
John: Smiling at her now. “But, he guessed the truth even before Mother or Fanny or your Father did.”
Margaret: “Yes, well, now that I am getting plump, I’ll have to start wearing looser dresses.”
John: “And, my love, you’re not walking anywhere—not in the snow and ice—you’ll take the carriage. Hmmm?”
Margaret: “Alright John Dearest.” She smiles at John’s caring concern and pampering of her. “And you know, I’m really looking forward to the Mill Christmas Party next week on Wednesday afternoon as the Mill shuts down for two days to celebrate the holidays.”
John: “Yes, Margaret Darling, this will be a wonderful new tradition to usher in with our Mill workers. It was caring of you to think of it.”
Margaret: “Thank you, my love. But you are implementing it—and the bonus pay that each worker will receive of one day’s extra pay for each year that they’ve worked at the Mill is very generous of you, too.”
John: “Yes, the workers’ bonuses won’t come cheap, I’m afraid, my darling. But, the loyalty and service that Marlborough Mill workers provide helps our business to thrive. So, I feel it is right to share a little extra with them at the holidays—when they might appreciate it most as they celebrate the holidays with their own families.”
John and Margaret kiss each other lovingly and in the shared knowledge that they are using Mr. Bell’s gift of the Mill and its property wisely—and not only for themselves–as they promised when they accepted his gift. Just then, Thompson knocks at their bedroom door as she had said she would do when the servants were done cleaning up and ready to leave.
John: “Yes, Thompson?” He says turning his head toward their closed bedroom door.
Thompson: Speaking through the closed door she says. “Sir and Mrs., we’re all done cleaning up and we’re leaving now.”
Margaret: “Thank you Thompson.”
Thompson: “Oh and Mrs. and Sir, I and the other servants couldn’t help but overhear your baby news and we wanted to give you our warmest congratulations.” Although, of course, as their cook and Margaret’s ladies maid, Thompson was aware that Margaret was not having her monthly cycles–not to mention her expanding waistline. But good servants don’t ‘notice’ on such changes until they are invited to.
John and Margaret: “Thank you. We’ll see you around 11:00am tomorrow morning. Good evening.”
Thompson: “Have a good evening.” And she leaves for her room in the carriage house.
It is now 11:00pm and John and Margaret have a whole 12 hours together all by themselves in their home and they revel in their privacy. Though some households are accustomed to servants being around all of the time, John and Margaret enjoy their private time alone in their home. And by extension, their wish for privacy gives their few household servants quite a bit of time off compared to other households—most evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoon’s as well as Sunday mornings which were already earmarked for church. Although, some chores like mending can be done during those times in their servants’ quarters.
John: After a few more minutes, hearing the kitchen door to the back yard close as the servants leave, John whispers to Margaret. “Ah, alone at last.” And John gives Margaret a little kiss.
But John realizes to his loving chagrin, that his oh so pregnant wife Margaret has fallen fast asleep [(6) right] in his arms after her long day. And she only stirs a little bit but she does not awaken when he kisses her. Ah well, John thinks, there is always tomorrow to celebrate their anniversary. John gazes at Margaret lovingly. Then he gingerly picks up his sleeping wife and carries her to their bed—gently laying her on the sheets and covering her with the sheet and blanket. Then, John goes around to his side of the bed, removes his robe and slides into bed next to Margaret. And as they do so many nights in recent months as they drift off to sleep, John slides his left arm under Margaret’s neck cradling her in his arms as his right hand lays on her tummy—where their baby sleeps. Very soon, John drifts off to sleep as well—full of love for and contentment with his wife Margaret and their growing family.
To be continued with Chapter 70
(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 John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) mourning Mrs. Hale’s passing was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-198.html
(3) RedRoseBouquetApr3012MSOfcCliplArt was found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?ex=2&qu=bouquet#ai:MP900313820|mt:2|
(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) Image representing John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) happy about his wife’s pregnancy is from the Party scene in North & South, Episode 2 (pix122) and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/slides/ns2-122.html
(6) Image representing Margaret Thornton falling fast asleep on her 7th month anniversary is that of Margaret (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) napping on the grass was found at http://www3.images.coolspotters.com/photos/311112/margaret-hale-and-north-and-south-gallery.jpg
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at