“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 15 (PG-13): After Christmas Visit to London Part 2 (John & Margaret), January 03, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #495)
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 Pigott-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: After marveling at the almost walking baby Sholto and receiving a tour of Margaret’s Aunt Shaw’s large and elegant home in London–with Fanny oohing and aahing at all of its lovely features–the newly arrived from Milton weary travelers need to refresh themselves and change for dinner. But first, they need to find out which bed chambers they are to occupy. And determining where they sleep–and with whom–will be disconcerting for John and Margaret.
Ch. 15 (PG-13)– After Christmas Visit to London Part 2 (John & Margaret),
Aunt Shaw proudly leads her guests to their bed chambers in the late afternoon after finishing their tour of her home, so that they may all get settled in and change into formal wear for tonight’s extended family dinner.
Aunt Shaw: “My Dears, since our guest numbers are so great–Aunt Shaw means with the unexpected but welcome addition of Fanny Thornton, and her not having time to have another guest bed chamber prepared properly–I fear that the one of the married couples will have to share this large bed chamber.” She gestures to the guest suite’s door.
John smiles warmly at Margaret–anticipating having some lovely alone time with her soon–and she bows her head to hide her blushing face. She is embarrassed about being a wife and staying in someone else’s home–especially staying in her very proper Aunt Shaw’s home. Margaret is being very skittish with John, not even taking his arm. And John realizes–to his growing chagrin–that Margaret is a bit circumspect about their being married and sleeping together under her Aunt’s roof, as in Margaret being reticent about their expressing their love with each other during their intended two week stay.
John: “Well …” John is about to speak, but is thwarted by Margaret’s father.
Mr. Hale: “That is not a problem for an old married couple such as Maria and I.”
Aunt Shaw: “Excellent!”
Aunt Shaw is glad to have the bed chambers settled quickly. However, John’s face mirrors his disappointment.
Mr. Hale: “We don’t mind being crammed in together. Do we my dear?” He smiles broadly–thinking that he has neatly solved the guest bedroom arrangement dilemma.
Mrs. Hale smiles agreeably, but she thinks that her husband has quite forgotten what it is to be a bridegroom–as John is. And of course, were she and Mr. Hale to share a room, then it would be much more inconvenient with regard to her ladies maid Dixon helping her dress and such.
Edith: Coming to her mother’s hostessing defense, Edith remarks. “Well, Uncle Richard, the guest bed chamber suite is quiet spacious and has its own sitting area.”
Edith gestures and everyone follows her into the large guest bed chamber. Margaret’s head is still lowered. After being married for two months, Margaret knows that John would prefer that they share a bed chamber, as they do in their home at Thornton Manor. But Margaret is too embarrassed to ask her Aunt Shaw to put them in this lovely bed chamber suite with the fire blazing and a large four poster bed with soft satin covered down coverlets. When they were girls, Margaret and Edith would sneak into this bed chamber and pretend that they were sleeping beauties [(2)] waiting to be awakened by their princes. Such were the fanciful dreams of Margaret and Edith as young girls.
John stifles his urge to suggest a change of sleeping venue with his in-laws and cousin-in-laws present–him not wanting to provide an explanation for his wishes. And John begins to contemplate their two weeks stay in London without lying in comfort with Margaret–even if they do not make love? He finds the notion of him being separated from his wife unworkable and best and inhospitable at worst.
However Edith’s husband provides the needed solution as he addresses his mother-in-law, Mrs. Shaw.
Maxwell: “Mother? I believe that Margaret and John will need to be placed in this guest bed chamber suite together–for John is taller than I am and this bed is the only one that I believe might a accommodate him.” Maxwell Lennox gives John an understanding look as his cousin-in-law and as a young married man himself.
John: Grasping onto his cousin-in-law’s lifeline of marital cohabitation with both hands, John agrees. “Ah! Yes, Mrs. Shaw. My height has always been a nuisance when traveling in trying to find suitable accommodations.” He sighs lamentably–with a sheepish grin on his face that he hopes dissembles from his real purpose in wanting to share a bed chamber with his wife.
Mrs.Shaw: “Oh? Maxwell, how would you know if this bed is long enough for John? I don’t recall you having slept in this room before.” She looks at her son-in-law quizzically.
Now it is Mrs. Shaw’s daughter Edith’s head that is bowed in embarrassment. For what reason can she provide her mother with for her having slept with her husband in a bed chamber that is not their own? It is a delicate matter that will require finesse–and not a little amount of slight prevarication.
Maxwell: Realizing his predicament, Maxwell flusters. “Well … um … you see …”
But John intervenes with a logical–if not probable–scenario. Afterall, they are cousins-in-law–and they should stick together.
John: “I imagine that when the fireplace flues are cleaned thoroughly at regular intervals, that the attendant coal dust released precipitates one removing from one’s own bed chamber to another for a short span of time.” He remarks with great authority.
Fanny: “Fireplaces are such dirty, filthy things.” Fanny wrinkles up her nose disdainfully.
John: “That provide much needed warmth–especially in the Winter months as now.” He intones. And now the topic of conversation veers into a whole new direction.
Fanny: “I have asked John to put in a gas fireplace in my bed chamber. Since the gas light burns cleanly, maybe it would work in the fireplace. But he won’t hear of it.” [(3a) gas light]
Everyone laughs at Fanny’s suggestion about using gas for heat [(3b) gas heat].
Mrs. Shaw: “Oh I don’t think using gas for heating would work, my dear. The house could blow up!” She shakes her head worriedly.
John: “Mostly because Fanny would forget to turn off the gas–as she does now for the gas light in her room.” He raises an amused eyebrow.
Fanny: Fanny pouts a bit. “Well, it is just simpler for me to let the candle clock to burn down the last hour, then I don’t have to remember to blow it out.” [(4)]
Mr. Hale: “Shall we return to the issue at hand? Bed chambers?”
Happily, everyone has now forgotten how Maxwell Lennox suspects that this guest bed chamber suite’s bed will be long enough for the very tall John Thornton.
Then one final, clarifying argument is given.
Mrs. Hale: “Richard, I really do not want to move my things from my current bed chamber, that I had napped in earlier today. I already had Dixon put everything away for me.” Mrs. Hale looks at her husband sweetly, and then she looks apologetically at her sister, Mrs. Shaw.
Aunt Shaw: “Very well, Maria. Margaret, you and John will have to share this bed chamber. My apologies.” She winces apologetically at her niece. For Aunt Shaw’s marriage to her late husband was not a love match–they always had separate bed chambers.
Margaret: Margaret smiles sweetly and reassuringly at her Aunt Shaw. “It will be fine, Aunt. John and I will find this lovely bed chamber suite warm and cozy.”
Margaret smiles up at her husband. His countenance is the picture of husbandly relief. And at this moment, John is wishing everyone away so he can kiss his lovely wife thoroughly before dinner–and he does, after they leave to head to their own bed chambers to change for dinner.
With the bed chambers sorted out and luggage distributed accordingly, everyone changes into formal dinner attire and they have a lovely evening together as extended family. The men converse after dinner in the dining room as men do over brandy and cigars–with the temperate John eschewing both–before rejoining the ladies in the parlor. However, John cannot return to his and Margaret’s bed chamber fast enough after the evening’s end–so that they might further enjoy their privacy as husband and wife. John [(5) right] gazes longingly at his beautiful wife Margaret. She is the epitome of every womanly grace in his eyes.
Margaret too has begun to tire of the all too gay chatter of Fanny. Being on the brink of exploring London seems to have completely enthralled Fanny. It is only about a quarter hour after the gentlemen have rejoined the ladies after dinner. But both John and Margaret have had enough socializing for one evening.
Margaret [(6) right] smiles happily at her handsome and loving husband. Then with a twinkle in her eye, Margaret yawns with great femininity–neither her mouth too open, nor her sighing too pronounced. And her yawn is Margaret’s signal to John that she is ready to retire for the evening–though they don’t actually fall asleep until much later. Everyone else decides to slowly move toward their bed chambers as well a few minutes after John and Margaret depart the parlor.
Escorting his wife upstairs, John lightly places his right hand at the small of Margaret’s back. At the top of the stairs, he leans down and whispers huskily into her ear.
John: “You look so beautiful tonight, My Love.”
Margaret: “Thank you, John. You look very handsome, too.” She replies primly.
Though no one is about in the bed chamber hallway, she knows from the experience of living her her Aunt’s home for many years, how the servants can just pop out when you least expect it. So Margaret is acting more reserved than she does in their own bed chamber hallway at Thornton Manor. And just as John tries to lean in to nuzzle Margaret’s ear, Margaret’s and Edith’s French ladies maid from their girlhood–now Edith’s ladies maid alone–enters the hallway.
Ladies Maid Amee: “Bon soir, Mademoiselle Margaret.” She curtsies to John and Margaret.
The maid’s lilting French accent makes apparent to John that the maid is truly French born, and not merely speaking in French as an affectation.
Margaret: “Bon soir, Amee.” They kiss cheeks. “This is my husband, Mr. John Thornton. John, this was Edith’s and my ladies maid, Amee.”
John: “Miss.” He nods his head curtly, hoping that they don’t become embroiled in another conversation about when Margaret lived in London. John wants to go to bed–with his wife, now.
Ladies Maid Amee; “Excusez moi, s’il vous plait. I forgot your marriage.” She apologizes. “Might I assist you in retiring?” She asks helpfully.
John pouts at Margaret.
Margaret: Seeing John’s look, Margaret stifles a laugh. “No thank you, Amee. My husband will help me.” John smiles brightly.
Ladies Maid Amee: “Bien sur. Bonne nuit!” She curtsies in farewell and leaves with a small knowing smile on her face.
Margaret: “Merci. Bonne nuit.”
John then quickly ushers his wife into their bedchamber and locks the door. They can hear other Shaw and Lennox and Hale and Thornton extended family guests walking to their own bed chambers, but John and Margaret care not.
John: “Margaret!” He sighs. “Have I told you how enticing you sound when you speak French?” He purrs as he stalks toward her with a panther’s fluidity of movement. But with no tail to flick in emphasis, John raises an eyebrow.
Margaret: Margaret raises her own eyebrow saucily, knowing her husband’s mood–and matching it. “Is that so, Sir?”
John: Pulling her into his arms, he growls in a low whisper at her ear. “It is.” Then he kisses her creamy neck. “I fear that I am not at all tired yet, my Love.”
John cradles her face in his hands and they kiss each other tenderly, then adoringly, then passionately. John begins to pull off his coat and vest while still kissing Margaret–and she helps him. Then he unbuttons her gown bodice with lightening speed and removes it to a nearby chair.
Margaret: “Ha ha ha!” Margaret giggles at John’s eagerness.
They have been married two months and still their loving eagerness is as if they were only just married yesterday as their passions only increase with time. Margaret tries to remove John’s cravat, but the knot is only tightened in their haste.
John: John throws back his head in laughter at this difficulty. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Get me some scissors and I’ll cut it off.”
Just then, they hear a knock on their bed chamber door.
Aunt Shaw: Speaking through the closed and locked bed chamber door, Aunt Shaw asks. “Is everything alright? Do you need anything?”
Margaret: Embarrassed that they were overheard, Margaret replies in a trembling voice. “No Aunt. We are fine, thank you. Good night.” Margaret makes a wincing face at John.
Aunt Shaw: “Well, alright. Goodnight.” Then she moves down the hallway to her bed chamber.
Margaret grabs Johns hand and she pulls John to the opposite side of the bed chamber and into their private bathing room and she whispers.
Margaret: “John! Aunt Shaw heard us.”
John: “We weren’t saying anything unusual.” He counters obtusely.
Margaret: “Not just then. But we can’t …” She rolls her arms around to indicate their lovemaking. “Or they will hear us.” Margaret shakes her head in mortification. Though Margaret wants her husband John now–just as much as he wants her–she also doesn’t want her family to have confirmation that she is a wife, in every sense of that word.
John’s eyes widen in realization of his wife’s concern for total privacy within the sanctuary of their guest bed chamber suite. However John not wanting to let their loving moment slip away–and envisioning their two week London visit stretching before him as a desert without his wife’s comfort–John negotiates the situation with Margaret.
John: “We can be quiet.” John pleads to and looks at her hopefully–like a little boy who wants his treat. Margaret looks at her husband John doubtfully–given their past lovemaking experiences. “Hhhh!” He sighs in real frustration as he runs his hand through his hair and absentmindedly looks around the room. Then he spots the potential for his salvation and he grabs an extra bath towel off the shelf and clasps her hand in his hand. “Come with me.”
Margaret looks at John curiously, but she follows him back into their bed chamber. John holds up his finger, indicating he has a solution–or he hopes that he has a solution. Then John measures the towel against the door width–him finding that only the towel’s length is wide enough for the large door. Then John drops to his knees and flattens out the towel, he rolls the towel up until it looks like a slim sausage, and he tucks the rolled towel into the crack between the bottom of the door and the floor. He motions for Margaret to join him at the door. She kneels down. John looks at her for a few moments. Finally Margaret’s curiosity gets the better of her and she asks.
Margaret: “John, what are we doing?”
John: “Listening for people in the hallway.”
Margaret: “But I don’t hear anything.”
John: “Precisely! We can’t hear them. And they can’t hear us.” He growls smoulderingly as they smile at each other in their loving lust.
Margaret: “Oh!” She sighs with a growing smile of understanding.
John leans forward and embraces his wife Margaret even as he kisses her with aching tenderness [(7) right] for several minutes while they are still kneeling before their closed and locked bed chamber door. Then they remember that they have a lovely four poster bed just ten feet away. And John and Margaret stand, undress, and move to the bed order to enjoy its comfort as they make love–while still trying to temper vocalizing their enthusiasm, to be as quiet as they can–before falling asleep contentedly and happily in each others’ loving arms.
To be continued with Chapter 16
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 15 References, January 3, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #495)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitageas John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the 2004 BBC period drama North & South, was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg ; For more information about this wonderful 2004 BBC miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s story North & South, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_&_South_%28TV_serial%29
4) Information about candle clocks and their timekeeping is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle_clock
5) John Thornton is Richard Armitage in BBC’s 2004 drama North & South, epi2 found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-116.jpg
6) Margaret Thornton is Daniela-Denby-Ashe in the BBC 2004 drama North&South (17h07m17s182) Dec2213GratianaLovelaceCap-drop-sized-brt
7) John Thornton is portrayed by Richard Armitage and Margaret Hale is portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-340.jpg