“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 10 (PG-13, S): Recovery and Romance, December 22, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #486)
[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, Brendan Coyle for Nicholas Higgins, and Graham McTavish as Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, 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 (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions, including some violence (V)–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–and Mrs. Thornton and Fanny–had a harrowing ordeal with reired millworker Stevens kidnapping Mrs. Thornton Fanny and trying to burn the mill down. But the fortuitous arrival of the strikers intending to do violence and Margaret and John’s quick thinking–not to mention John’s aim with a pistol in wounding Stevens–averted a tragedy. But Fanny has lapsed into a catatonic withdrawal of sorts–a waking faint as Mrs. Thornton put it. And the doctor is summoned–with John and Margaret embracing each other caringly as they wait.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 10 (PG-13, S): Recovery and Romance
Mrs. Thornton sits with her back to the parlor door as she clasps her still daughter Fanny’s hand. But she does not get any response from Fanny–who only blinks now and again, and stares silently beyond her mother. In a quarter hour, the doctor arrives–him having heard of the trouble at the mill and hastened to their aid, being intercepted by the Thornton’s maid Sarah who related to the doctor the injuries he could expect as they made their way to Marlborough Mills. The doctor sees the great wooden gates of Marlborough Mills lying flat on the ground, with only Williams standing guard against further mischief makers. The good doctor notices the charred wooden dock torn away from a building to the right of Thornton Manor–and the black soot covering the carding building and on Thornton Manor, that but needs a gentle rain to wash away the remnants of a disaster averted.
The doctor hurries up the steps and into Thornton Manor and its parlor without worrying about the ceremony of knocking nor being announced. The doctor instantly goes to Mrs. Thornton and her daughter Fanny lying on the sette first, ignoring the affianced couple who are still embracing each other–John sitting with his arms around Margaret’s waist, his head nestled in her neck and her chin lying on the top of his head, they are oblivious to the doctor’s presence anyway.
The Scottish born Dr. Cameron Ogilvy has a crooked nose that matches his first name–and he is one who stubbornly wears traditional Scottish suits and tam hats rather than English suits or top hats, though he does wear trousers rather than kilts [(2) right]. A man in his late fifties, tall and muscular, with a balding head but a full gray beard and dancing eyes, he is a widower with a grown son and daughter. He now lives alone but for his dog Rufus, his housekeeper, and her husband who serves as his butler and valet. Dr. Ogilvy lives for his patients. And the Thornton family is dear to his heart in more ways than one.
Mrs. Thornton: “Dr. Ogilvy, Thank you for coming.” She holds out her hand with a linen handkerchief tucked within it, motioning for the doctor to come into the room. The handkerchief in her hand is Mrs. Thornton’s way to avoid the new social custom of hand shaking that she finds overly familiar. “It is Fanny. She will not respond to me.” She frets worriedly. And Mrs. Thornton is not taken to fretting.
Dr. Ogilvy: Kneeling by Fanny’s side as she lies on the sette, the doctor opens up his bag and takes out his stethoscope and listens to Fanny’s heart. “Herrr hearrrrt beats good and strrrrong.” He nods while trilling his r’s. Then he tests her pupillary reactions. And though Fanny does not follow his finger left and right or up and down, she flinches when his finger almost touches her eye. Then he lifts up Fanny’s arm and gently taps her elbow with a rubber mallet and her arm jerks. He repeats that test with her knee to the same result. “Herrrr rrrrreflexes are worrrrrking fine.” Then he feels her forehead and cheeks. “She is verrrrry cold. Mrs. Thorrrnton, we must warrrrm this wee gerrril (girl) up to maintain prrrroper cirrrrculation, to prrrrrevent her condition frrrrom deterrriorating.” He animatedly punctuates his words with his Scottish accent trilling his r’s and he looks soberly at Mrs. Thornton as he stands up.
Mrs. Thornton: “Deteriorating?” Mrs. Thornton’s breath hitches in alarm as she steadies herself for what he might say next [(3) right].
Dr. Ogilvy: “Miss Thorrrrnton is in shock frrrrom herrr orrrrdeal. She must rrrrest and sleep. I will give herrrr some laudanum and sit by herrrr side overrrnight to keep watch.”
Mrs. Thornton: “I appreciate your concern, Doctor Ogilvy. But am I not sufficient to watch over and nurse my own child?” She asks a tad imperiously–getting her own back, as well.
Dr. Ogilvy: “Of courrrrse ye arrre, Mrs. Thorrrrnton, my dearrr. But cases such as herrrrs arrre delicate. And we have to watch herrrr carrrrefully.” He looks wistfully at the still form of Fanny Thornton, then he clasps Fanny’s hand in his. “Little Fanny, you werrrre the firrrrst bairrrn I tended when you had the scarrrlet feverrrr when I came to Milton twenty yearrrrs ago now. You have much living to do yet. So we will see to your rrrrest tonight.” Then he gets a twinkle in his eye as he looks up at Mrs. Thornton. “Not to worrrry! She’ll be rrrright as rrrrrain soon enough–and begging forrrr new drrrrresses and rrrribbons to make herrrr feel betterrrr–if I rrrrecall the lassie’s temperrrrrament.” He adds winkingly. For who in Milton has not heard of Miss Fanny Thornton’s impeccable taste–with the expenditures related to such taste and refinement.
Dr. Ogilvy winks at Mrs. Thornton–who stares at him coolly. She finds Dr. Ogilvy to be an excellent doctor, but a tad familiar for her tastes–and his Scottish attire does not help in her estimation of him, his trousers being entirely too form fitting and indecorus in her mind. Conversely, Dr. Ogilvy appreciates the merely fifty year old Hannah Thornton’s face and form as being quite bonnie despite the motherly concern showing on her face at the moment. Dr. Ogilvy has been widowed these past five years–and Mrs. Thornton has been widowed for sixteen years. That is enough mourning put together to last a lifetime in his view–and life is for the living. Dr. Ogilvy smiles respectfully at Mrs. Thornton and bows his head. She imperceptibly nods her head at the good doctor.
Mrs. Thornton: “And my son and his fiancé Miss Hale also received glancing blows from rocks thrown at them.” She walks over to John and Margaret who are still embracing each other. She gently touches their shoulders and they look up at her. “My dears, let Dr. Ogilvy attend to you now that he has seen to Fanny. The footmen will help carry Fanny upstairs to her bedroom where she may rest.”
John and Margaret nod their agreement. Frankly, they are a bit stunned by Mrs. Thornton’s solicitude–and her lack of admonishing them to behave more decorously by not embracing. However, while Mrs. Thornton does have a slightly raised eyebrow about their embracing, she is glad that her son has such a sensible and caring girl for his intended. Though such a warm thought has yet to escape her lips, Mrs. Thornton smiles benignly at John and Margaret as she escorts the footmen carrying Fanny up to her room.
Dr. Ogilvy: Clapping his hands together, he motions to Margaret to sit. “Miss Hale, if you please.” She sits and he examines her ear scratches. “Ah, you have but a few scrrrratches marrrrring your lovely earrrr. But they will heal and naught diminish its beauty.” Margaret smiles and nods at the compliments.
However, John bristles at the doctor referring to Margaret’s ear as lovely. For if anyone is going to praise his fiance’s ears, by god it will be John himself.
John: “We were both hit with rocks. Happily, their aim was poor.” John states austerely while still holding Margaret’s linen handkerchief to his forehead.
Margaret: “Doctor, you should really look at John’s forehead. It bled so.” She bites her lower lip in worry as she stands up again.
Dr. Ogilvy: Turning his attention to John, he examines the cut. “Ach! Ye have a lacerrrrration, laddie!” He trills his r’s mightily again. “Ye will need a stitch orrrr two. But firrrrrst, we must flush out the wound with waterrrrr.”
Margaret: She moves to the parlor door. “I will ask a maid to bring us some water and a basin.” She smiles encouragingly at John, then leaves to attend to that.
Both men watch Margaret leave. And John notices a lingering attention to this on the part of Dr. Ogilvy–and John does not like it, not one jot.
Dr. Ogilvy: “Ye arrrre a blessed man, laddie.” Dr. Ogilvy sighs.
John: “And what are you insinuating by that remark?” John fumes. Then he winces, because any movement of John’s facial muscles tug at his scalp wound.
Dr. Ogilvy: Dr. Ogilvy looks at Mr. Thornton uncomprehendingly. “Only what I said. Me own bairrrrns prrrrrefer to live in London. So it has been some time since I had a family arrrrround me.”
John: “Oh.” John shrugs, retreating in his annoyance at the doctor.
Margaret returns quickly to the parlor with a servant carrying the water and basin for cleaning John’s wound, but she then leaves to check on Fanny and Mrs. Thornton.
Dr. Ogilvy: As Dr. Ogilvy cleans John’s forehead wound, he asks cagily. “May I ask you something, Laddie? It perrrrtains to something of a request in its naturrre.”
John: “Possibly, Dr. Ogilvy. But I do not engage in hypothetical scenarios.”
Dr. Ogilvy: “I was merrrrely wonderrrring … well, that is, if you would not object …” He begins tentatively as he threads his needle to stitch John’s wound closed.
John: “Out with it, man!” John’s impatience has come to the forefront again.
Dr. Ogilvy: “I wish your perrrrrrmission to courrrrrt …”
John: “Out of the question!” John interrupts him and knocks away his hand from starting to stitch the wound on his head. “You are more than twice my sister’s age!”
Dr. Ogilvy: “Ye did na let me finish. Miss Fanny is a bonnie wee Lass. But my admirrration tends in a morrrre maturrrre dirrrrrrection.” John looks at him quizzically. “Your motherrr is a fine figurrrre of a woman–strrrrong, yet ladylike.” John looks at the good doctor as if he is speaking another language. “I would like to invite herrr to dinnerrr, and then to a concerrrrt some evening, … if you do not object.” Dr. Ogilvy begins his first of two stitches in John’s head.
John: John winces in slight pain as he thinks for a moment–him never having thought to ever have this quite odd and rather perplexing conversation. “I do not object. However, my mother makes her own decisions about her engagements.”
Dr. Ogilvy: “That is all that I ask–to be able to put me case to Mrs. Thorrrrnton, for herrrr to considerrr me. Therrrre, you’rrre all done.” Dr. Ogilvy finishes stitching up the wound and John stands up. “Do ya think, your Motherrrr will say yes?” Dr. Ogilvy asks hopefully.
John: “I do not know. Good luck with that.” Then John adds as a mischievous afterthought. “And God help you man, if she says yes.”
Dr.Ogilvy smiles cheekily at John. Then John goes to find Margaret, shaking his head in astonishment at this turn of events.
Meanwhile, Margaret and Mrs. Thornton have seen to changing the still unresponsive Fanny into a nightdress, then covering the blankets around her. Mrs. Thornton places Fanny’s favorite stuffed bear from childhood in her arms and Fanny curls her arms tightly around it. Though twenty years old, Fanny is still a young woman and quite childish in many ways. Mrs. Thornton motions to Margaret and they walk over to the fireplace to talk.
Margaret: Wanting to comfort Mrs. Thornton, she offers. “Fanny’s coloring is improving already. A good night’s sleep will do wonders for her.”
Mrs. Thornton: “Yes, I believe it will.” Then changing from the topic of her daughter, Mrs. Thornton looks at her potential daughter-in-law with shrewd but kind eyes. Then she softly suggests. “Perhaps you should return to your parents’ home this evening, Margaret my dear.”
Margaert: “Oh no! I cannot leave John!” Margaret pleads. Then Margaret also adds. “And I wish to be of aid and comfort to you and Fanny.”
Mrs. Thornton: “I appreciate that. However, you and John staying under the same roof as an unmarried couple any longer might expose you to gossip.”
Margaret: Margaret purses her mouth in displeasure. “Haven’t John and I experienced enough troubles today that we shouldn’t have to worry about gossip, as well?” Margaret stamps her foot lightly for effect.
Mrs. Thornton: “I agree with you.” Mrs. Thornton says sanguinely–to Margaret’s chagrin. “But there will always be gossip mongers to watch out for.”
Margaret: “Like Fanny?” Margaret says this before she could think better of it. But she stands her ground.
Mrs. Thornton: “What do you imply?”
Margaret: “Only that Fanny’s loose talk alerted the strikers and Stevens that we were trying to complete the Thompson order. But for her, today could have been avoided.” Margaret pointedly stares at Mrs. Thornton.
Mrs. Thornton: “Miss Hale! You go too far!” Mrs. Thornton’s voice rises in indignation.
However the stridency and increasing volume of Margaret’s and Mrs. Thornton’s voices cause alarm and John and the doctor burst into Fanny’s room.
John: “What is going on here?” John asks sternly looking between his mother and his fiancé.
Mrs. Thornton: “Miss Hale accuses Fanny of loose talk that caused the striker’s to riot today.”
Dr. Ogilvy tilts his head knowingly and looks at the floor. He had heard some grumblings by his mill worker patients, with a mention of Miss Fanny to attest to the verity of their statements.
John: John looks questioningly at his fiancé. “Is this true?”
Margaret: “I was told so by my father who had overheard the striker’s talking.” Then Margaret looks pointedly at Mrs. Thornton. “That is why I rushed back to Marlborough Mills–to warn John of the danger.”
Margaret purses her lips defiantly. Mrs. Thornton glowers. John looks back and forth between them. Dr. Ogilvy rolls his eyes, then takes command of the situation..
Dr. Ogilvy: “Enough! Ye have all had a trrrying day. Now is not the time to vent your frrrustrrrations upon each otherrr.” Then he turns to John and Margaret. “You two get to bed after dinner.” At first they looked shocked–as does Mrs. Thornton. “I did na mean togetherrrr.” He trills his r’s and rolls his eyes. “Mrs. Thorrrnton and I will take turrrns watching over Miss Fanny.”
Mrs. Thornton: “But Miss Hale should return home.” She pouts.
John: “No!” John startles and fumes. He is not letting Margaret go now, not ever.
Dr. Ogilvy: Seeing John’s pleading look, Dr. Ogilvy intervenes. “Nay, Mrs. Thorrrnton! If Miss Hale’s earrr scrrratch is morrre than that, herrr symptoms will show it–and I want to be available to tend to herrr. Since I am herrre at Thorrrnton Manor, so shall she be. Now! Would it be too much to ask for a meal to be sent to Miss Thorrrnton’s room for Mrs. Thorrrnton and I? I’m famished! And perhaps some soup and tea to tempt Miss Fanny with? And the betrrrothal couple should take some nourrrishment downstairrrs wherrre they can be calm and quiet together as they rrrest from today’s orrrdeal.”
With crisis averted, the four adults set about their tasks–Mrs. Thornton and Dr. Ogilvy sitting vigil at Fanny’s bedside, and John and Margaret leaving to have dinner together.
John and Margaret ate their Saturday evening meal in companionable silence in the small family dining room at the back of Thornton Manor–holding hands and stealing kisses throughout since they were alone. Then they sit on the small parlor’s sette to discuss their wedding plans. However, after arranging to be married next Saturday–a concession to allow Fanny to recover so she can be a bridesmaid, otherwise they would wed on the morrow–Margaret drifts into slumber [(4) right] from the strain of the day finally catching up with her.
John sits for several minutes in awe of the great gift of Margaret Hale bringing love and happiness to his life– listening to her hushed breathing and committing its lilting patterns to his memory. He also notes that she sleeps with the barest of parting of her lips–that he can see only because his eyes are mere inches from her lips. John marvels at this woman who has agreed to be his wife. To John, Margaret Hale is an uncomparable beauty–an accomplished lady of refinement, poise, and grace. And she has chosen him as her life’s partner. Whatever other good fortune might come John’s way in years to come, it will pale in comparison to the gift of Margaret Hale to his life. She is his and he is hers. And John feels contentment flowing through his veins as he nestles his cheek close to hers for several minutes longer [(5) right].
At half past ten o’clock, there is a discreet double knock on the closed parlor door. John sits up from the still sleeping Margaret and smiles at her, while still gently holding her small hand within his large hand.
John: So as not to awaken Margaret, John whispers to the seeker on the other side of the closed door. “Enter.”
Maid Sarah: Maid Sarah enters the parlor and she curtsies. Seeing the sleeping Miss Hale, she whispers. “Beggin’ your pardon, Mr. Thornton Sir, but it is my time to extinguish the fires.”
John: “Of course.” He nods with a whisper. “Miss Hale and I will retire for the night.”
John stands up from the sette. Then wishing to leave Margaret at her rest, John does not waken her. John turns toward Margaret’s sleeping form on the sette and he gently scoops her up into his arms–cradling her in his arms as he carries her out of the parlor and up the stairs to her bed chamber. Maid Sarah’s mouth is slightly open in astonishment, but then she closes it and smiles for the cherished way the master treats his intended.
As John gently lays Margaret upon her bed, her eyelids sleepily flutter open as she awakens and she sees John looming over her.
Margaret: “Hhhh! I want to fall asleep every night with your face as the last thing I see.” She smiles sleepily and caresses his stubbled face.
John: “And I you, My Darling. Get some sleep, My Love. We are both exhausted.” He kisses her on her forehead and leaves her bed chamber.
Margaret prepares herself for bed.
After John had departed Margaret’s bed chamber, he found his mother is in the hallway–after her having gone to her own room to refresh herself.
Mrs. Thornton: “John?” She looks at him quizzically, waiting for an explanation as to why he is coming out of his fiance’s bed chamber at so late an hour.
John: “Margaret fell asleep after dinner.” John smiles sheepishly by way of explanation to his mother’s seeking eyes. “How is Fanny?” He asks with concern.
Mrs. Thornton: “She has finally closed her eyes and is sleeping, poor thing.” She shakes her head in fatigue. For it has been a trying day for the strong willed Hannah Thornton as well.
Remembering Dr. Ogilvy’s request of him–to court his mother–John inquires obliquely.
John: “And what of Dr. Ogilvy?”
Mrs. Thornton: Mrs. Thornton not having received from Dr. Ogilvy anything other than commentary about her daughter Fanny’s medical condition, Mrs. Thornton smiles benignly at her son, John. “He feels encouraged.” John blinks, wondering to what his mother refers–regarding herself or Fanny? “Fanny’s coloring is improving, and we were able to get her to sip some tea.”
John: “Ah! Hopefully by the morning, Fanny will be herself again.” Then he kisses his mother on her cheek to signal the end of their conversation. “Goodnight, Mother. I am so tired that I will probably fall asleep tonight with barely removing my shoes.” He grins tiredly.
Mrs. Thornton: Placing her hand on her son’s cheek, she intones in a caring motherly way. “You rest. And we will see what the morning brings.” She turns and walks back into Fanny’s bedchamber.
John: “Indeed.” He smiles, thinking about his mother and the pending invitation to her from Dr. Ogilvy.
John quickly enters his bed chamber, removes his clothes and puts on his sleeping pants. Then he washes his face and such before sliding into bed and gratefully closing his eyes as his head sinks into his pillow. Though he and Margaret had a lovely interlude of scandalous bed chamber boundary breaching last night, John doubts that either of them is awake enough for a good night kiss tonight. He soon dozes off.
In Margaret’s bed chamber, she plaits her long auburn hair over one shoulder. She is now wearing her own nightgown of plain cotton gathered underneath her breasts in the supportive empire waisted style–with modest lace around the scooped neck of her nightgown, and a small pink ribbon in the middle. Though she had enjoyed the soft feel of her borrowed silk nightgown from Fanny, Margaret’s own simple cotton nightgown is more to her tastes. She softly smiles to herself, thinking that maybe that is why she loves John so–he makes cotton fabric. She stifles a giggle at her impishness.
But Margaret’s girlish musings cause her to think about John and their clandestine meeting last evening. And though Margaret is very tired–as her sleepy droopy eyes attest to–she still wants her goodnight kiss. So Margaret pulls a soft cashmere shawl over her shoulders and pads barefoot across the soft floor rug to the connecting door to her and John’s bed chambers. She smiles, then she softly unlocks then opens the door. Seeing John already asleep and lying in the middle of his bed, she wonders if it is prudent to waken him–he needs his rest. But she decides that she can possibly kiss him and not awaken him, then return to her bed chamber to sleep.
So once again, Margaret crawls under the desk in John’s bed chamber and then stands up walking toward him. She looks down upon his sleeping countenance–his broadly muscled shoulders peeking out of the bed coverings. When they are married, this will be the sight she falls asleep to each night, and that she awakens with each morning.
Margaret: “Hhhh!” She sighs softly, then whispers. “I love you, John Thornton.” Then Margaret leans over his bed–putting her hands on its surface to steady herself–and she places a petal soft kiss on Johns lips. John softly kisses her back.
John: “And I love you, Margaret Hale.” John smiles and opens his eyes to the vision of loveliness who is his Margaret. His hand stroking her shawl covered shoulder.
John and Margaret gaze upon each other with love and longing for several moments, as if suspended in time. They will be married soon–in one week, a mere seven days. But tonight, they cannot part from each other–no matter how improper it is for them not to part.
Margaret sees his love for her in her beloved John’s eyes and she trembles to feel so cherished. John’s smouldering gaze never waivers upon his Margaret’s sweet and gentle beauty. He wants to hold her in his arms. And he gets his wish. Shyly, Margaret removes her shawl and places it on a bedside chair. John smiles with a slightly raised eye brow. Then Margaret lifts up the bed coverings and slides into bed next to John, nestling against his chest. John is startled at first with her boldness and he stills his reaction to her soft form lying against his–with only their cotton nightclothes separating their bodies. But then John’s arms instantly come around Margaret, embracing her tenderly as she snuggles against him. Every fiber of John’s being is focused on this moment–of the feel of her soft curves conforming in a perfect fit with his hard sinews as they lie together. Both of their breaths deepen as their desires engulf them–and they surrender to their mutual passions.
Margaret: “My Love.” She sighs.
And then, they kiss [(6) right].
To be continued with Chapter 11
JT Love Lessons, Ch. 10 References, December 22, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #486)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitageas 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) Dr. Cameron Ogilvy image is Graham McTavish in the role of Dougal MacKenzie in the Starz tv series Outlander found at http://www.starz.com/PublishingImages/Originals/Outlander/Cast/Season%201/Outlander_Cast_Dougal_420x560_v2.jpg
3) Hannah Thornton is Sinead Cusack in North & South epi 2, pix074, Dec1913 (crop-brt-) found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-074.jpg
4) Margaret Hale image (crop to oval) is Daniela Denby-Ashe in the BBC’s 2004 miniseries North & South found at http://northandsouth2004.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/NS2004-EP1-0066.jpg as part of an N&S fan fiction ch 2 by Loyal Wynyard found at http://northandsouth2004.com/?p=911
5) John Thornton image (crop to oval, clr) is a 2013 Richard Armitage portrait by Sarah Dunn for the TotalFilmArticleDec0313mrpuddingstontumblrcom-RAFranceFB-croptooval-hi-res
6) John kissing Margaret image is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-372.jpg