John Day Monday: “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 1, October 14, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #457)
John Thornton in the BBC’s 2004 production of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South is one of my favorites of Richard Armitage’s many character portrayals. John Thornton is strong, yet vulnerable. What follows is a reimagined encounter between John & Margaret as their lives take a new path toward love.
Have a gReAt day! Cheers! Grati ;->
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons,”Ch. 1, October 14, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (An original fan fiction by Gratiana Lovelace; All rights reserved;
Based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, North & South;
No copyright infringement intended)
[I will illustrate my story using my dream cast from the 2004 BBC production of “North & South”: Richard Armitage for John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe for Margaret Hale] [(1) story logo image]
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons,” Prologue
John Thornton has an eager mind, starved for intellectual stimulation–him having to quit his formal studies and leave school to support his family at the tender age of sixteen after his father died. And just such development of his intelligence was what John had in mind when he began studying the classics with retired vicar Mr. Richard Hale–who had recently moved North with his wife and daughter. But what John could not have foreseen was that just as his mind needs nourishment, so does his heart. And Mr. Hale’s proud, beautiful, kind, stubborn, and compassionate daughter Miss Margaret Hale will bring John Thornton’s untutored heart to full and vibrant life.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons,” Ch. 1: Timing is Everything
Mr. John Thornton is running late–not usual for him at all, most uncharacteristic. It perturbs him when others are late for his meetings and so his lateness for his weekly Saturday afternoon classics lesson with Mr. Hale seems to doubly distress John this afternoon. He eschewed using his carriage to reach his destination as it would hinder him navigating the narrow streets of Crampton with any alacrity. To anyone watching him darting behind and around other carriages, John looks like a gazelle–fleet of foot, agile, graceful, and athletic. That he is winded from his exertions and almost drops his clutch of books and a fruit basket gift for the ailing Mrs. Hale escapes other pedestrians’ notice.
Dashing up the Hale home’s front steps two at a time, John Thornton looks at his pocket watch and groans inwardly–twelve minutes late! Unforgivable! He raps his knuckles upon the Hale’s front door urgently and then he waits impatiently for it to open–his mind already forming the words of apology that he will offer to Mr. Hale. So John [(2) right] is unprepared for the sight that greets him when Mr. Hale’s daughter Miss Margaret Hale opens the door to admit him–and he quickly doffs his top hat out of respect for her. He is certain that his face betrays the growing interest in this young lady that he is feign to admit.
John: “Oh! Miss Hale.” His voice strangles with pent up emotions. He has had little social life due to his all consuming business dealings in cotton fabric production and he always feels awkward around her. He notices how the neckline of her dress exposes some small but enticingly creamy expanse of her shoulders and her neck is revealed by her exquisitely coiled hair upon her head.
Margaret: Ignoring his seeming stupor on her door step, she graciously invites him into her home. “Mr. Thornton, it is lovely to see you again. Do come in.” She gracefully ushers him into the small foyer and closes the door behind him. “Father asked me to convey his regrets for your lessons today should you come. He has taken Mother out for a carriage ride.” She exclaims gleefully
Mr. Thornton is uncertain why a carriage ride by two long married persons should elicit such delight by their daughter, except Mrs. Hale’s frail health. Then a light dawns upon him, that the Hale’s departure from their home leaves he and Miss. Hale unchaperoned.
Margaret: “No. They will be back soon enough, should you care to wait.” Then it dawns on her what he is inferring regarding the present predicament of being alone together. “Oh!” Now it is Margaret who is caught off guard as she blushes and averts her eyes downward [(3) right].
Her modesty is so very appealing to John. However, John turns away from Margaret, not trusting himself to refrain from betraying his feelings. His pulse is racing, his breathing shallow and quick, and his skin seems strangely warm–as if he were catching a fever. And yet, he is most uncertain what those feelings might be–him never having felt them before. John feels a special fondness for Miss Hale that causes him to be on edge–but what edge that might be, he is not certain of.
Margaret observes that Mr. Thornton is in distress of some kind and she wishes to put him at his ease.
Margaret: “Mr. Thornton, let us go into the parlor and I will ring for Dixon to bring us some tea and cake. “My parents will be home in a little while and then you and Father may resume your lessons.”
John nods, too speechless to comment. But he follows her into the parlor where he takes the chair she points to. After the maid brings the tea service and departs, John watches Margaret pour their tea. And it is when she offers him his cup and saucer that their fingers touch ever so briefly and their eyes flash one to the other. Margaret has not let go of the saucer–nor has John. Their fingers continue to touch, then he moves his index finger to reach out and touch the back of her hand. It is a gesture at once familiar and seductive. She gazes at him with questioning eyes. Her hands have only been touched by a male not of her family when she was dancing at balls–and then, her hands were gloved, as were her dancing partner’s hands. The frission of delight she feels in touching his slightly rough skin [(4) right] is matched by his intense feelings of the forbidden in touching her soft hands.
Then it becomes clear to John, what he must do as he takes the cup and saucer from her hand and then clasps her hand in his and brings it to his lips for a kiss.
John: “Margaret? May I call upon you tomorrow? I thought that we might take a carriage ride after church?” He asks boldly, but fearful of rejection, too.
Margaret: She gazes into his eyes to discern his purpose in asking her to accompany him. And she sees only respect and admiration in his eyes. She smiles. “Yes. I will join you, John.” She tests out his name upon her lips.
At that moment, the parlor door opens and Mr. & Mrs. Hale return from their brief outing and join them for tea. Her parents notice the occasional glances between the two young people as they chat.
To be continued with Chapter 2
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South, 2004 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg
2) Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South, 2004 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-114.jpg
3) Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South, 2004 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-198.jpg
4) RichardArmitage as John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South, 2004 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-096.jpg