“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 5: Propriety Be Damned, November 11, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #469)

“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”,  Ch. 5:  Propriety Be Damned, November 11, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace  (Post #469)

aaN&SJohnThorntonLoveLessonsFanFicOct1413GratianaLovelace-256x388Rev(An original fan fiction copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace;   All rights reserved;

Based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, North & South and its
2004 BBC adaptation; 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,  Daniela Denby-Ashe for Margaret Hale, Lesley Manville for Mrs. Maria Hale,  Tim Piggott-Smith for Mr. Richard Hale, Sinead Cusack for Mrs. Hannah Thornton, Jo Joyner for Fanny Thornton, and Brendan Coyle for Nicholas Higgins, etc]   [(1) story logo image]

Author’s Mature Content Note:  “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” is a story with mature themes of love and relationships set within a period drama of the 1850’s and beyond.  As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality–as well as other dramatic emotions–and I will rate those chapters accordingly.  If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter.  This is my disclaimer.

Author’s Recap of the Previous Chapter:  John and Margaret returned from their lovely picnic.  While Margaret went upstairs to see if her mother wanted to join them for tea, Mr. Hale spoke with John in the parlor.  Mr. Hale was able to ascertain that John wishes to court his daughter Margaret, but learned no more about their picnic outing today.  The same cannot be said for Mrs. Hale–who not only recognized her daughter Margaret’s changed and more positive attitude toward Mr. Thornton, she was able to elicit from Margaret a tacit, though silent, admission that Mr. Thornton had kissed her.  Mrs. Hale is livid that such liberties were taken with her daughter by Mr. Thornton and she intends to make her displeasure known–tea party niceties or not.

“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 5: Propriety Be Damned

Having walked up the stairs to see what is keeping his wife and daughter, Mr. Hale knocks softly on the closed door of his wife’s bed chamber.MrHale-isTimPiggott-Smith-inNorth&Southepins1-042Oct2713ranet-hi-res-mask-clr

Mr. Hale:  “Maria, Dear?  May I enter?” Mr. Hale asks cheerfully as he peeks in the room [(2) right].  For upon learning that his good friend and Milton manufacturer, John Thornton, wishes to court his daughter Margaret has put Mr. Hale in a happy mood.

Both Mrs. Hale and Margaret turn to the door.  Mrs. Hale’s revelation that Margaret let herself be kissed troubles her mind.

Mrs. Hale: “Please come in, Richard.”  She intones firmly.

Margaret fidgets nervously, her head still down–waiting for his censure, too.

Mr. Hale:  Upon opening the door, he sees his wife and daughter in strangely opposite attitudes–angry and embarrassed, respectively. “Is something the matter?”  He asks, quickly stepping into the room and closing the door.

Mrs. Hale: “Well Margaret?  Will you tell him?  Or shall I?”Margaret-isDanielaDenby-Ashe-inNorth&South-13h44m45s223Mar2813GratianaLovelaceCap-crop-hi-res-clr-flip

Margaret: “Mother please.  You’re making what was beautiful and wondrous seem ugly and crass.”  Margaret pleads [(3) right] woefully looking up her Mother.

Mrs. Hale:  “That is how society views it, Margaret.  A lady must never let herself be compromised–as you have done.”  Mrs. Hale finishes with an indignant flourish that wounds Margaret greatly. For all of Mrs. Hale’s delicate fragility, she is tempered steel when it comes to protecting her daughter’s reputation and her good name.

Mr. Hale:   In total confusion upon seeing his wife’s anger, he asks. “What is wrong?”

Mrs.  Hale:  Since Margaret is  not forthcoming with her father, Mrs. Hale reveals the matter. “ Margaret let Mr. Thornton kiss her.”

Mr. Hale: Astonished–but not in a bad way–Mr. Hale turns to his daughter.  “You did?”  He looks at her tenderly.

Margaret:  Looking up into her father’s kind eyes, she says meekly, in a whispered voice that could only be heard because they are standing so closely together–though Mrs. Hale is sitting.  “Yes.”

Mr. Hale: He smiles.  “Well, that explains it.”  Margaret looks up at him quizzically.

Mrs. Hale:  “Explains what, Richard?  Margaret allowed a man who is not her MrsHale-isLesleyManville-inNorth&SouthApr0212-crop-hi-reshusband–nor who is even her betrothed–to kiss her!   She has been compromised.  And were this to ever be known, society would censure her for her brazen actions.”  Mrs. Hale glares at her daughter.  “And you are a minister’s daughter.”  Mrs. Hale huffs [(4) right].  Then she slowly lifts her fine linen handkerchief to her mouth and she affects a stifled a sob.

Margaret: “Mother, please.  I am sorry.  I know it was wrong, now.  But at the time, it did not seem so.”  Tears are brimming in Margaret’s eyes.

Mr. Hale:  Wanting to broker a peace between mother and daughter, he suggests. “Maria, Though I did not know that he had kissed her, Mr. Thornton told me himself, just now, that he wants to do the right thing by Margaret–and he asks to court her.  So John’s intentions are clear and honorable toward Margaret.”

Margaret quickly looks up at her father, wondering if courting her is truly what Mr. Thornton wants.  Or if John merely thinks it is expected of him since he kissed her.

Mrs. Hale: “But Richard!”  Mrs. Hale sighs in exasperation.

Mr. Hale: “No buts, Maria.”  Then he leans down and kisses his wife’s forehead.   “And you and I kissed before we were engaged.  Or does your memory not go back that far, My Dear?”   He smiles impishly.

Now Mrs. Hale flushes crimson to have her long ago private actions laid bare before her daughter.  And the Hales’ daughter, Margaret, looks upon her parents with astonishment.

Mrs. Hale:  She sputters.  “But Richard, you and I had already been courting. There was a kind of understanding between us already in place. That is not the case with Margaret and Mr. Thornton.”  She whines petulantly.

Mr. Hale:  “Not yet.”  He raises his eyebrow in bemusement.  Then he looks at his daughter Margaret. “Margaret Dear, do not keep our guest waiting in the parlor. Please join Mr. Thornton and tell him that your mother and I will join you in a little while.”  He intends to give the hopeful couple a bit of space and privacy.

Margaret:  Drying her eyes, she says. “Thank you, Father.”  Then she turns to her mother.  “Mother, I will remember what you said and act more like a lady should.”  Margaret nods at her parents, then she leaves her mother’s bed chamber.

Mrs. Hale:  “Richard! What are you about?”  She asks in astonishment.

Mr. Hale: “Our daughter’s happiness, My Dear.”  He smiles, then he kisses his wife on her lips.

***

Upon leaving her parents in her mother’s bed chamber, Margaret first steps into her own bed chamber to survey her face and to insure that her teary eyes have cleared.  She also elects to change her dress to one that is more austere–with a higher neck, as she remembers the grape falling into her bodice when Mr. Thornton tossed it at her while on their picnic.

Despite her father admitting that he and Margaret’s mother kissed before they were engaged, Margaret feels that she has behaved in an unladylike way with Mr. Thornton. And she resolves to temper her behavior with him in the future.  If, indeed, there are to be future  interactions between her and Mr. Thornton–since she now feels that her acceptance of his invitation for a picnic next Sunday was over hasty and should be rescinded.

Margaret’s  confidence about her feelings for Mr. Thornton has eroded with her mother’s censure.   Because if her mother feels that Margaret has done wrong, then Margaret wonders if Mr. Thornton also feels that she has behaved in an unladylike manner.

Then Margaret slowly walks down the stairs to join Mr. Thornton in the parlor while her parents delay themselves upstairs. Margaret is mortified at her mother’s strong objections and at her father’s supposition that an engagement between she and Mr. Thornton will imminently follow.  She particularly worries that Mr. Thornton only said he wishes to court her to assuage her father’s concerns.

***

John Thornton stands at the Hale’s parlor window–not focusing upon the lacy sheer surrounded by once darkly elegant but now faded drapes that the Hales had brought from their former vicarage home in Helstone–the drapes are older still as but an echo of Mrs. Hale’s lavish childhood home before she married Mr. Hale.  John is both determined to seek Miss Hale’s acceptance of his addresses and he is nervous as hell.  The strictures of his starched collar encasing his neck and further confined by his burgundy silk cravat serve to remind him that theirs is a restrained society of moral codes of conduct–with society disallowing of more attitudes and behaviors than it approves.

But yet, John cannot believe that his tender feelings for Margaret are wrong when he feels such a lifting of his burdens when he thinks upon her lovely countenance and charming ways.  His life has been tasked for so long with family and business responsibilities thrust upon him when his father committed suicide after being swindled, that John has scarcely had time to acknowledge that he is a man with feelings and wants and desires.  And above all, John realizes that he desires Margaret Hale.

Though up until now, the thought of romantic love overwhelming one’s sense of control John-atthewindow-North&South-epi2-241Nov0913ranet-hi-res-clr-crop-clr-crop2has only been an abstract concept for John.  For John’s own sense of self control has been truant ever since he met his lovely Margaret.  If only she would allow herself to be, his Margaret. The parlor door clicks open and John turns and looks up hesitantly [(5) right] to see the focus of his untutored heart’s ardent affections enter the room, Margaret.

Margaret sees Mr. Thornton framed within the parlor window. He seems to have an unreadable expression upon his face–part surprise, part determination, part uncertainty–her not being attuned to his thoughts after only one pleasant afternoon picnic with him.  But that pleasantness led to her folly of allowing him to kiss her–and worse, for her to kiss him back.  With great trepidation, Margaret walks a few steps into the parlor, not knowing what to do, nor what to say to Mr. Thornton–nor even where to stand.  Mr. Thornton slowly walks toward Margaret–stopping just before reaching her, though the  hem of her wide skirt cannot help but brush the tops of his shoes causing a rustling of lace fabric against leather.

John shuts the door behind Margaret. His slightly reaching around her–but not touching her–causing him to strain even his long arm’s reach.  They are each of them tense–tense with the need to be proper, tense with the uncertainty of what lies ahead for the, and tense with longing.

John:  “Miss Hale.”  His voice is deeply resonant and strong, but still with an imperceptible tremble owing to the affect her presence has upon him.

John bows his head deferentially to Margaret.  Then he gazes down upon her slightly bowed head.  She can not look up at him for fear of her own reaction to him standing so close.  He notices the wispy curls framing her forehead and he achingly wants to set an errant curl aright.  But he dares not.  John knows that he cannot take liberties with her again before …  Well, not at all. John knows that he must be a gentleman in all ways that he conducts himself with Margaret if he is to have any hope of winning her heart and winning her hand in marriage.

Margaret notices Mr. Thornton’s formality and seeming stiffness of attitude toward her and she blanches. Perhaps her father is wrong. Perhaps John regrets his earlier rash behavior in kissing her, she frets–and she feels mortified for having allowed him to kiss her, and for her kissing him back.   But her good manners win out and she nearly whispers as she nods acknowledging his greeting.

Margaret:  “Mr. Thornton.”

Then Margaret gracefully moves to stand at the same window that John had been standing John&Margaret-are-RichardArmitage&DanielaDenby-Ashe-inN&S-epi2-275Nov0913ranet-crop-clr-hi-resat–to put physical distance between herself and Mr. Thornton [(6) right].  John falters in his purpose.  Margaret seeming to withdraw from him–emotionally and physically–is not encouraging to John. And he wonders now if he has been too hasty in thinking she might have tender feelings for him. Or at least, he wonders if she might allow him to court her in the hope that he might awaken such feelings for him in her.  But then  John worries if Southern ladies, such as Margaret, like to flirt with men and tease them. Though, he does not truly think that of Margaret.  But as a businessman, he has learned to weigh each side of a matter–so now he applies that critical thinking to his hopes for love.  But John finds that thinking about his love for Margaret has only one outcome that his heart will allow.

Margaret realizes that neither of them have spoken for a few moments. The silence is an uncomfortable gulf between them–in stark contrast from when they had returned to her home in such sympathetic spirits.  Margaret turns to look at Mr. Thornton, at John.  He smiles at her.  She smiles back at him. Then he hesitantly gestures to the sette, encouraging her to sit down. Margaret has a quick intake of breath, a whispered gasp. For the sette can comfortably seat three people–and there are two people in the room. She guesses that he means to sit with her on the sette–perhaps even to hold hands, … or more.  She pales and also warms at the thought.  John patiently, shyly smiles at Margaret.  Margaret rouses herself from her musings and gracefully walks forward and descends onto the sette, sitting at one end if it.

John: “May I?”   John asks hopefully as he gestures to the place on the sette next to hers.  She bows her head in polite acquiescence, belying her heart racing at the thought of sitting so near to him.  Then tenderly taking Margaret’s small hand in his large hand–really touching just her fingers, for he feels that to do more might make her think that he is too possessive–John begins.  “Miss Hale, Margaret, I hope that I am not speaking out of turn.  But your …” He searches for the appropriate and non-offensive word or phrase to describe her kissing him back. She looks up at him with shy curiosity for what he is about to say.  “… your generosity of spirit at the close of our picnic today …” He hints. “… emboldens me to speak and to tell you of my heart’s  wishes.”

Margaret stiffens, uncertain what to do.  When Henry Lennox attempted to ask her to marry him last Summer, she felt no compunction in refusing him.  However, with Mr. Thornton, her heart and her mind are at war with each other.   So she decides to say nothing and attempts a placid expression upon her face as she looks up at him.  Perhaps he will not rush in with a marriage proposal.  For she does not feel that she can respond at this time in the way that he might wish. Their more than acquaintanceship with each other is so new–barely four hours old.

John:  Taking Margaret’s silence as tacit acceptance, John proceeds. “Miss Hale, I believe that first I must apologize to you for my forward actions earlier.”  Margaret looks up at him sharply, only to find his head bowed.  John not daring to look Margaret in her eyes for fear of seeing her reproach for his actions in kissing her–as he studies her middle knuckle that his thumb is stroking.  A knuckle is not usually caressed by a suitor, but Margaret finds his gentle touch pleasing.   “I fear that my manners as a suitor must appear gruff to you, Miss Hale.” by which he means his kissing of her earlier.” But you may be assured that for all my lack of delicacy, I am no less earnest in my sincerity with regard to my feelings for you.”

Of course, as of yet, John has yet to explicate precisely what his feelings are.  And Margaret may not speak about her feelings until he speaks about his.  But she can prompt him.

Margaret:  “Father said that he and Mother will join us … in a little while.”

Though not conveying her feelings, the indication of a timeframe for their privacy indicates to John that they will have some time for private conversation–though it will not be long.  And he should get to his point.

John: “Miss Hale … Margaret …  Hhhhh!”  Then he decides that Mr. Hale’s encouragement for frankness will be his guideline. “Almost from the first moment that I met you, I have not been able to put you out of my thoughts.  And as I have come to know you upon my visits to your father for my lessons–and now with our picnic today…” His voice deepens into almost a growl that unnerves her.  “… I find that I have a growing love for you that desires only your kind acceptance of me in response.  I would say more, but I do not wish to overwhelm you.”  He looks up at her hopefully.

There is silence.  John mentioned his desires and Margaret’s eyes widen. Her mother had warned her about these Northern men and their lustful ways.  Margaret feels that her own parents have a loving marriage–much more so than was the case for  her now widowed Aunt Shaw.  But she has seen only tenderness exchanged by her parents–never desire.  And her recently married cousin Edith has been away on her honeymoon on the continent–unreachable for her questions about proper feelings between one’s self and one’s intended or one’s husband.  So, Margaret is not certain that desire is an altogether gentlemanly feeling for Mr. Thornton to have with regard to her.  Nor does she acknowledge desire’s companion ache within herself for Mr. Thornton.

Margaret:  Margaret states primly, but hopefully without rancor nor accusation for the part that he played in eliciting her behavior earlier.  “Mr. Thornton, I want to assure you that it was out of character for me to behave as I did on our picnic earlier.  My mother says that I should not have allowed you to kiss me.”  Nor should Margaret have kissed him back, but she cannot voice that.  Because her secret heart of hearts is glad of both.

John: Alarmed, Mr. Thornton straightens up.  “You told your mother that I kissed you?”  He blanches in mortification.  What must Mrs. Hale think of him, John wonders?

Margaret: “No!   Not in so many words.  But she … guessed.”  Margaret blushes a middling shade between a bashful pink and a wanton crimson.

John: Wondering if Mrs. Hale can read minds–or if that her intuition about her daughter is merely a faculty all mothers have–John asks Margaret boldly.  “And may I ask, your opinion of our kissing?  Not society’s rules about the rightness of our doing it, but the way it made you feel?”

Her breathing coming quickly, Margaret does not know how to answer him.   She has never been asked so direct a question and she finds it warmly unsettling. On the one hand, she is a lady and wants to be considered as such.  On the other hand–and he is still stroking her knuckle with his thumb that is quite distracting her–she had enjoyed kissing him.  Margaret thinks that she is a wanton woman for admitting that reality to herself, but there is no way that she will admit that to him.

Margaret:   She decides to dissemble.  “I cannot say.”

John: “Can not or will not?”  He presses his questioning and leans a little toward her. He wants to know if he has any chance with Margaret or if he should not get his hopes up.

Margaret:  She leans back from him a bit and purses her mouth.  “I am a lady, sir.  I will not be your lustful plaything. I …”

John:  He interrupts her with his obvious disdain for her insult to him.  “Miss Hale, I know John-isRichardArmtiage-inNorth&South-epi1-101Nov1013ranet-crop-brt-hi-res-crop2nothing of lust!  Your censure is beneath both of our dignities.”  Seeing her pale at his vehemence, John softens and gazes upon her with love and heartfelt tenderness [(7)  right].  “Margaret, I have never kissed anyone but you.   Nor have I wanted to kiss anyone before you. Your beauty and grace and poise and kindness and convictions inspire me to ever greater admiration of you and to reflect upon my own views.   I have never loved before you–nor will I love after you.    I love you with all of my heart and I wish to make you my wife and for us to build a life together.   I will do whatever is in my power to make you happy.  You will never want for anything as my wife.  Pray guide me to say and do that which you will find pleasing, for I am in earnest in wishing to be your husband.”  He gushes endearingly.

Margaret’s mouth drops open slightly in shock at John’s honesty [(8) right].  John’s Margaret-isDanielaDenby-Ashe-inNorth&South-Epi417h49m20s188_Nov1013GratianaLovelaceCap-crop2admission that she was his first kiss–as he was hers–and that he wishes to marry her astonishes her, and pleases her.   Margaret thinks upon his offer of marriage. She had never aspired to his love, but she realizes that she also feels an admiration for all that he has honorably accomplished in his young life.  And more, that he is the handsomest man she has ever known–strong, yet tender, too.  And Margaret knows in her heart that their marriage will make them both happy.

John studies Margaret’s rosy lips–open and inviting.   And he cannot help but wish to claim her lips once  more.  But he does not want to frighten her, so fine a lady is she in his eyes.  Seeing John’s gaze directed at her lips, Margaret realizes to her slight embarrassment the view that her unladylike gaping mouth presents, and she slowly closes her lips together with a small smile curling at the corners.   Then their eyes lock in an intense gaze of loving and lustful yearnings–their bodies warming with the nearness of each other, not even the sound of their rapidly beating hearts penetrate their focused thoughts of each other.

John slowly lowers his face to Margaret’s face.  But he does not kiss her lips.  John feels that it is for her to kiss him, if Margaret feels any tenderness for him.   John waits, his lips mere inches from Margaret’s lips. They can feel each others’ breaths, still scented with the grapes that they consumed earlier–and the memory of their unfettered playfulness with tossing the grapes.   Margaret closes her eyes, expecting John to kiss her again.  She waits an agonizing few moments.  And when he does not kiss her, she opens her eyes and looks upon his strong angled face and sees his closed eyes.  He cannot find her lips with his eyes closed, she reasons.  He still gently rubs his thumbs lightly over her fingers, sending tingles up her arms.   But Margaret cannot kiss him first.  Can she, she wonders?

Margaret:  Still with her eyes open, gazing upon and admiring John’s handsome face up close, she asks him shyly. “John?”

John:  “Hmmm?” His mouth curls up slightly, but his lips do not part.  His eyes stay closed.

Margaret:  She cannot ask him for a kiss. Can she?   Imperceptibly, she leans a bit closer toward him.  “Did you wish …”  As soon as she says the word wish, Margaret’s lips puff out and ever so slightly brush John’s lips–whose warm touch silences her.

John does not move, him not wanting to frighten Margaret.  Her embarrassment of their kissing earlier seems to indicate–to him–her shy reticence about such intimate behavior between them.  Although, his willpower in not kissing her back is being sorely tested with her lips gently touching his.  They stay in this precious attitude of almost kissing for a few moments more.

John:  “Marry me, my Darling Margaret.”  He sighs as his lips touch hers–their mouths pressing a little closer together.

Margaret: “Hmmmm.”  She sighs, leaning closer to him as their lips now firmly press together and begin to move against each other.

John’s hands still gently hold Margaret’s hands in his hands.  Then she lifts her hands from his–which startles him, only for him to realize that her hands move to his shoulders and neck as she strokes the hair at the back of his head.  John feels that there can be no misinterpretation of Margaret’s interest in him. And his hands slide around her waist and hips and he pulls her closer to him as they sit side by side on the sette.  John has never held a woman in his arms before–nor could he have known how perfectly his love Margaret would fit within his embrace.  Yet John knows that he wants to experience a further closeness with Margaret that only their wedding vows will allow.

John:  “Soon, My Darling?”  John kisses her sweetly and tenderly [(9) right].  John-isRichardArmitage-andMargaret-isDanielaDenby-Ashe-inNorth&South-Epi4-17h54m34s7_Nov1013GratianaLovelaceCap-hi-res-brt2-cropFor now that Margaret has awakened John’s loving heart, he wishes to share it with her completely.  Their attitude of sweetly kissing lovers blissfully suspends time for them–forgetting that others will soon join them.

And Margaret could not have known that when her father uprooted her family to move to Milton that she would find her heart’s true love and soul mate here.  Margaret shyly leans back from their kissing and smiles wonderingly up at John.  John smiles besottedly back at Margaret.  She gives him a slight nod.  Then John leans in and he reverently kisses her forehead. For Margaret is a beautiful gift of love that he did not know if he would ever have–let alone, so fine and rare a lady such as she.

Then they sit tenderly but chastely embracing each other–John lightly kissing Margaret’s forehead as he slowly and reverently strokes her upper back, delighting in the soft fabric over her softly curving shoulders. Margaret feels John’s strength and his tenderness nestled within his strong arms. They do not speak, they do not need to.

***

Mr. Hale assists his wife in walking down the stairs to join their daughter and his friend John Thornton in the parlor.

Mrs. Hale:  She whispers.  “Richard!  The parlor door is shut!   That is not proper.”  She pouts.

Mr. Hale:  “Maria, I doubt very much that John is ravishing our Margaret at this very moment.”  Though, the old vicar’s eyebrow is slightly raised.

Well, not quite ravishing.   And when Mr. and Mrs. Hale reach the parlor door, they hear no voices.  Mrs. Hale quickly reaches for the door handle to open it.   But Mr. Hale stays her hand.  She looks at him quizzically.  Then he knocks upon the parlor door.

Inside the Hale’s parlor, John and Margaret instantly drop their embracing arms and move slightly apart on the sette.   Though John retains a gentle clasp of Margaret’s hand as they both turn their brightened eyes and flushed faces toward the parlor door.

Margaret’s parents enter.  Mr. Hale, smiles understandingly at them.  Mrs. Hale  has a slightly disapproving look on her face until she sees the serene countenance of her daughter–her surmising that nothing untoward could have happened or Margaret would not look so serene–although Margaret appears a little flushed.  John stands out of politeness. And Margaret stands also.

John: “Mr. Hale, Mrs. Hale. Thank you again for inviting me to take tea with you.”  He smiles warmly at them.

Mrs. Hale:  “Of course.”  She nods  politely.  “Margaret, please ask Dixon to bring our tea.”

There being no bell chords to call for their one and only servant, Margaret nods and leaves the room.  Now John is left alone with Margaret’s parents.  Mr. Hale looks at John with an expectant smile as he helps his wife take a seat on the sette, then he joins her there.  That leaves two side by side chairs for John and Margaret to occupy when she returns.  Not quite as congenial as the sette, John thinks.

There is a lull in the conversation.  John does not know whether to broach his marriage proposal to the Hales or wait to discuss first with Margaret how to tell her parents that they are engaged.  He decides the latter.  Though Margaret has tacitly accepted him, she could still change her mind.  So he wants to tread lightly–giving Margaret plenty of time to adjust to the idea of their being married.  Frankly, John will have to adjust to that idea as well.  For John believes that if he is gangly and awkward as a suitor, he is certain to have more faults as a husband–let alone as an inexperienced lover.  John blanches at the thought.

At 33 years, John is past the age when most men might have been able to claim their being chaste.  But then John was removed from school at a tender age and had the responsibility of working to support his mother and sister.  He was not able to continue in school, let alone attend university–a time of life when one’s friends tended to become men through meeting willing women of the theatre and such.  John blushes for having such carnal thoughts as Margaret reenters the room with Dixon carrying the tea tray behind her.

Dixon sets the tea try on the coffee table in front of Miss Margaret and leaves the room scowling as usual at Mr. Thornton.

Margaret:  “Shall I pour, Mother?”  She smiles.  Her mother nods.

Then Margaret hands tea cups and saucers to everyone–and passes out plates of biscuits to them also.  John bites into a biscuit only to have the crumbles fall upon his cravat and vest.    He tries to brush the crumbs off– but he only succeeds in making more of a mess.

John:  “Margaret, you will find that I do better with cakes, than with biscuits.”  He smiles sheepishly at Margaret, not realizing that he slipped and addressed her familiarly..

Margaret:  “I will remember that.  And you will want to tell me all of your favorite foods, John.”  She thinks ahead to when she will be planning their meals in their home.  Their home.  She shivers at the thought of it.

Mrs. Hale:  Perking up to join the conversation, she offers. “Yes, Mr. Thornton.  Margaret indicated that you have invited her to a picnic, on Sunday next.  And she is to bring the dessert?”

John:  “Yes, Mrs. Hale.  I am delighted that Margaret has accepted my invitation.” John turns from smiling politely at Mrs. Hale to smiling warmly at Margaret.

Of course, Margaret catches the double meaning in John’s words and she smiles up at John.

Mr. Hale notices the secretive glances between his daughter and her suitor.

Mr. Hale: “Margaret? John?  Do you have something to tell us?” Mr. Hale asks with a twinkle in his eyes.

Knowing that John had already spoken to her father earlier when they arrived and received permission to court her–which is one step away from being engaged–she nods her head at John to encourage him to make their engagement announcement.

Clasping Margaret’s hand in his, John and Margaret share a small smile. Then they face her expectant parents.

John:  “We do.  I am proud to say that Margaret has made me the happiest of men by agreeing to become my wife.”  Margaret beams up at John and he lifts her hand to his lips for a kiss.

Mrs. Hale: Surprised, but happy–given that her daughter had earlier admitted kissing the man–Mrs. Hale puts on a delighted face as she holds out her arms to her daughter.  “My dears!”  Margaret goes to her Mother and accepts her loving embrace.

Mr. Hale:  Shaking John’s hand and patting his shoulder, Mr. Hale says warmly.  “John, my warmest felicitations.”

John:  “Thank you, Sir.”  John sighs in relief.

Mr. Hale:  “You will take care of our girl?”  Mr. Hale asks, his eyes misting with tears–but he already knows answer.

John:  Margaret returns to John’s side as they hold hands again.  “Let me assure you both, John-isRichardArmitage-andMargaret-isDanielaDenby-Ashe-inNorth&South-Epi4-17h54m34s7_Nov1013GratianaLovelaceCap-hi-res-brt2-cropthat Margaret’s happiness will be my life’s overriding endeavor.”  Margaret gazes lovingly up at John with complete faith in him.  Then John leans down and kisses Margaret sweetly on her lips [(9) again right] –to her parents slightly raised eyebrows.  Propriety be damned.

Of course, the welcoming reception that the happy couple received in the Hale home has yet to be sought in the Thornton home.

To be continued with Chapter 6

Ch. 5 References, November 11, 2013

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  richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg ;  For more information about the wonderful 2004 BBC miniseries North & South, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_&_South_%28TV_serial%29

2) Mr. Richard Hale is portrayed by Tim Piggott-Smith in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South  found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-042.jpg

3) Margaret (crop) is Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South 13h44m45s223 Mar28 13 Gratiana Lovelace Cap

4) Mrs. Maria Hale is portrayed by Lesley Manville in the BBC’s 2004 mini-series North& South April 02, 2012; the image may be found at http://s1.hubimg.com/u/2249784_f260.jpg

5) John Thornton (portrayed by Richard Armitage) at the Hale’s parlor window seeing Margaret enter the room  in North & South was found at  richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-241.jpg

6) John and Margaret image is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby Ashe in North & South epi 2-275 found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-275.jpg

7) John Thornton (portrayed by Richard Armitage) in North & South  was found at  richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-101.jpg

8) Margaret image is Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South Epi4 _17h49m20s188_Nov1013 Gratiana Lovelace Cap

9) John kissing Margaret image is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South  richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-372.jpg

Link to Previous Ch. 4:
 https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/ns-john-thornton-love-lessons-ch-4-pg-13-a-question-of-propriety-november-2-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-465/

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About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
This entry was posted in "N&S: John Thornton Love Lessons", Creative Writing, Fan Fiction, Love and Relationships, North & South, Richard Armitage, Romance and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 5: Propriety Be Damned, November 11, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #469)

  1. dennib68 says:

    Yay! They’re engaged! Love it!

    Like

  2. Pingback: “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 6: The Thorntons’ Engagement Responses, November 19, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #473) | Something About Love (A)

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