Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: The Christmas holidays were lovely for the extended Thornton and Hale families–especially with John and Margaret’s baby news–times two. And the Marlborough Mills workers’ families also enjoyed some time off with pay and bonuses. It is a treasured time of happiness in everyone’s lives.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 74: Celebrating Margaret’s 21st Birthday January 18th, 1852
John and Margaret have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But, they have another special event coming up in January—Margaret’s 21st birthday. John has already purchased her gift of pearl drop earrings matching her necklace before Christmas, but he has not given it to her yet. Since Margaret has been staying home and resting more due to her twins pregnancy, she has busied herself with making baby clothes and blankets. Though Margaret was never much of a needlepointer or crocheter and knitter in the past, she finds that it helps her pass the time.
But, tonight, January 18th—Margaret and John’s eight month wedding anniversary is also Margaret’s 21st birthday. So, John and Margaret invite their families over for dinner. John welcomes everyone as they arrive and ushers them into the parlor where Margaret is sitting on the sette.
John: “Margaret Darling, here is Mother and Fanny and Watson and your Father.”
Margaret: “Welcome Mother.” Margaret gives her mother-in-law a hug and kiss. “Fanny.” Margaret kisses and hugs her sister-in-law. “And Watson.” Shaking his hand. “It’s lovely to see you Father.” Margaret says giving him a lingering hug.
Mother Thornton: “Margaret Dear, you’re looking well.”
Margaret: “Thank you. And Fanny, you look well yourself. Has the morning sickness completely ended for you now?”
Fanny: “Yes, thankfully.” She sighs in much relief.
Watson: “My darling girl has had a rough time of it.” He says putting his arm around her shoulders and gently gives her a hug. “But, she has been so stoic and uncomplaining about it all. She’s been an absolute angel.”
The little family gathering is not only surprised that Watson has his arms tenderly around his wife, Fanny, but that he has just spoken lovingly of her disposition—and not even one mention of food was made.
John: “Well Fanny dear. Margaret and I are delighted for you. We know that you’ve had a trying time.” Then John puts his arm around Margaret.
Margaret: “Well Fanny, it looks like you have a good support and helpmate in Watson—as do I in John.” She looks up smiling lovingly at John. He leans down and gives her a sweet kiss on her lips.
Fanny: Looking up smiling at her husband, she says. “I do. Thank you Watson, dear.” Watson also leans down and gives his wife Fanny a sweet kiss on her lips.
Mr. Hale: “There’s a good girl.”
Mother Thornton: Thinking miracles do happen—with John and Margaret’s twins being on the way and Fanny and Watson seeming to find a tenderness toward each other at last—she says. “Well, shall we eat?”
Everyone laughs because it is usually Watson—or John—that leads the charge into the dining room. But they all proceed to have a lovely dinner.
Then, after dinner, they return to the parlor for Margaret to open her birthday gifts.
John: “Margaret Darling, since this is our 8 month anniversary as well as being your 21st birthday, I wanted to give you something extra special.” John hands Margaret the small wrapped square velvet covered jewelry box. She removes the wrapping and opens the jewelry box to find the beautiful and elegant pearl drop earrings [(2) right] that John had bought her to match the necklace he gave her at Christmastime.
Margaret: “Oh John Dearest, these are beautiful!” Margaret is wearing the necklace, but she had not put on earrings. So, she puts on the lovely gift from John and then she kisses him tenderly. “Thank you, my love.” John beams, pleased that Margaret likes her gift from him.
Fanny: “Oh, John, those earrings are beautiful and they look lovely on you Margaret.” John and Margaret smile their thanks for Fanny’s kind words. “Well Margaret, open our gift to you next.” Fanny says gleefully as she hands her a heavy twelve inch long rectangular box.
Margaret: “Hmmm. I wonder what it can be?” Margaret asks quizzically. She removes the wrapping. Then Margaret opens the box to see a beautiful brass edged beveled glass hand mirror. “Oh, Fanny and Watson. Thank you so much. This is such a thoughtful and beautiful gift. I will enjoy using it.”
Mother Thornton: “And here you go Margaret Dear, here is my gift for you.”
Margaret: She smiles at her and says. “Thank you Mother.” Margaret slowly unwraps the lightweight package to find a beautifully crocheted shawl. “Oh Mother, did you do this?” Mother Thornton nods. “This is so beautiful and it took you so long to do. What a loving gift that I will treasure always.” Margaret puts the shawl around her arms and Mother Thornton looks pleased that she likes it. John beams at his Mother’s thoughtful gift.
Then it comes time for Mr. Hale to give his gift to Margaret. He is not a man of means, nor does he have a talent for creating something with his hands. So, Mr. Hale has thought long and hard about what to give Margaret on her 21st birthday before deciding on what he feels is the perfect gift.
Mr. Hale: “Margaret, my dear. You’re mother and I had talked about your upcoming special birthday while she was still alert a few weeks before she passed away.” Margaret starts to tear up a bit. “So, this gift is really from both your Mother and I to you. We both hope that you know that you have been–and continue to be–the joy of our lives.”
Now everyone is tearing up at this tender family moment. Margaret slowly unwraps the large square package and she finds a scrapbook inside [(3) right]. She has never seen it before. Margaret opens the scrapbook and finds milestones in her own life carefully and lovingly recorded for her by her mother and father—all the way up to her wedding. As Margaret turns the pages, she is too overcome with emotion to speak herself, so John describes its contents for their little family group.
John: “‘Margaret Rachel Hale, born January 18th, 1831, 6 pounds 4 ounces and 19 inches long.’” There is a tiny faded drawing of Margaret as a newborn that her Mother had made. As Margaret turns the pages, John continues to read. “‘Little Margaret is now one year old.’ Oh, my darling, look at your one year old hand print—it’s so tiny.” Then, Margaret keeps flipping the pages and John describes the items. “There’s a lock of your hair and your first tooth in little envelopes.” Margaret flips to the end and finds her wedding mentioned with a notation in her mother’s handwriting. “Here’s our wedding announcement and our wedding picture. The captions reads, ‘Our dear little Margaret has fallen in love with and married a wonderful man, John Thornton—father’s best friend.’” Now John starts to tear up, but he continues reading. “‘We know that our Margaret will be safe and cared for and loved with John as her husband. And we can tell that they are deeply in love with each other. It is our fervent wish that their love sustains them throughout their life together—embracing them as they start their own loving family together and strengthening them when they face challenges. Their joy is our joy, forever. Love, Mother and Father Hale.’” John and Margaret are now holding hands, with tears in their eyes for this loving and tender family gift from Father Hale.
Mr. Hale: “You see Margaret, my dear, your Mother and I cherished your little life and recorded our favorite moments and milestones—many touching, such as your wedding to John, and some funny, such as when you were three years old and you thought the soup tureen was the chamber pot.”
Margaret: “Oh Father, please.” Margaret says in slight embarrassment. And everyone chuckles at Mr. Hale lightening the mood.
Mr. Hale: “So we hope that you enjoying reading through the scrapbook of our memories as you and John look forward to bringing your own little ones into the world.”
Margaret: “Thank you so much, Father. John and I will treasure this gift. And I cherish my life with you and Mother always.” Mr. Hale leans over and gives her a little peck on her check. Then Margaret turns and gives her thanks to everyone. “John, Fanny and Watson, Mother, and Father, you have all been very gracious to me for my 21st birthday and I feel very blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful and loving family.” Everyone is tearing up and they all come over and give Margaret a hug and kiss—since she is not supposed to do much standing either.
John: “Well now. I’d say that this celebration calls for some cake.”
Watson: “Here, here.”
Margaret and Fanny: Unintentionally in unison, they say to their husbands. “Oh your stomach.”
To be continued with Chapter 75
(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 mage representing Margaret Thornton’s gift of pearl drop earrings from her husband John on the occasion of her 21st birthday was found at MS Office Clip Art at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=pearl%20earrings&ctt=1#ai:MP900177793|mt:2|
(3) Image representing Margaret Thornton’s scrapbook from her parents for her 21st birthday was found at MS Office Clip Art at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=photo+album&ex=1&ctt=1#ai:MP900384829|
(4) Cropped image representing Margaret Thornton’s 21st birthday cake was found at MS Office Clip Art at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=birthday+cake&ex=1&ctt=1#ai:MP900202040|mt:2|
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at