“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 19: Some Return Home to Milton, Some Stay in London Part I, January 15, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace Post #501)
[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, Holliday Grainger for Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh, Simon Woods for Baird Ogilvy, and Emma Ashton as Mrs. Dillard, 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: While Mrs. Thornton began tending the Dillard family children in Milton on December 30th and set a wedding date with Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, her children were engaged in meeting and making new friends in London. John, Margaret, and Fanny became acquainted with Dr. Ogilvy’s son Baird Ogilvy and daughter Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh through a pleasant afternoon tea at the MacIntosh home. And a new side of Fanny began emerging as she played with the children. Though Fanny had never been to London before, she is taking to it like a duck to water. In fact, John and Margaret feel that Fanny is enjoying London so much, it will be difficult for them to pry her away to return home to Milton after their visit concludes next week. Howver, they have no idea that their assumption about Fanny’s recalcitrance will be tested so quickly.
Ch. 19: Some Return Home to Milton, Some Stay in London Part I (end of first week in January)
John and Margaret Thornton had enjoyed a lovely and festive family New Year’s Eve celebration ushering in 1851 at the Shaw-Lennox home in London–but for missing Mrs. Thornton who was not with them. She spent her New Years’ Eve quietly with Dr. Ogilvy. Then John receives his mother’s letter about the injured child at the mill on the morning of Thursday, January 2nd. John feels that he must attend to these matters personally. So John and Margaret quickly pack and make plans to take the afternoon train to Milton to be home in time for dinner–cutting short their London visit a week earlier than expected.
However, Fanny begs to stay in London. And a begging Fanny is not a pretty sight: woeful wailing in high pitched shrills; attempts to cry on cue that go awry into muffled hiccuping; and then when that doesn’t work, Fanny drops into a melancholic stony silence. John has seen it all before and thinks that his sister Fanny would be a hit on the London stage. However, Margaret is less resistant to Fanny’s entreaties to remain behind in London. And with Mrs. Shaw and Edith Shaw Lennox’s pleading Fanny’s case, John is outnumbered four hoop skirts to none, and he relents. But then, Margaret thinks amusingly, doesn’t John always give in to Fanny? For all of John’s protestations to the contrary, he is a loving and beneficent older brother to his little sister Fanny. Besides, Margaret reasons, then her parents, the Hales, will have Fanny to travel back to Milton with them. She has noted her father’s amusement with Fanny’s conversations. And Mr. Hale is not the only person who finds Fanny amusing. A certain red headed young Scotsman seems quite taken with Fanny. Hmmmm.
On the train ride home to Milton a rather blustery and snowy January 2nd afternoon, John and Margaret are the sole occupants of a first class compartment. So they may marvel at his mother’s seemingly new found social conscience without being indiscreet. And John is eager to discuss his Mother’s proposed new mill worker initiatives directly with her. He thinks some of her ideas are simply good business practice–such as the the worker’s canteen serving a breakfast option so that the workers are fed a good meal at a fair price so they have strength and vigor for their mill responsibilities.
But while chatting with Margaret on the train, John mentally calculates the cost of feeding the four dozen or so mill children for free for a year and he blanches. Marlborough Mills has survived the strike, but John does not have the resources and deeper pockets of some of his mill competitors such as Watson who pays his addresses to Fanny. However, Margaret–the champion of the poor as John teasingly calls her–says that the cost of feeding the children amounts to what is his allocation to her for the cost of a new ball gown. So Margaret vows that she will happily do without a new ball gown this year and use her old ball gown instead–with some new ornamentation on it. John smiles at his wife’s compassion and gives in. Though, the logistics will still have to be worked out.
As John and Margaret enter Thornton Manor Thursday evening after finally arriving at Milton–a snow drift over a large section of rail had delayed their journey by a half hour while it was cleared–they find that there is relative calm in their home without Fanny’s energetic presence. They are welcomed warmly by Hannah Thornton who has missed them greatly–despite her having a houseful of children each day, and a suitor in Dr. Cameron Ogilvy at her elbow. John explains that Fanny elected to stay with the Hales at the Shaw-Lennox home in London for the rest of their planned stay and then some. Then they also peek in and briefly meet little Lissa Dillard who is still convalescing in her bed chamber. While John and Margaret bathe and then dress for a delayed dinner, Hannah reads Lissa a bed time story after her dinner. Then Hannah tucks her in for the night and she walks downstairs to the parlor to greet her dinner guest, Dr. Cameron Ogilvy.
With his back to the parlor door, Dr. Cameron Ogilvy stands by the fireplace in the Thornton Manor parlor in his modern black dress coat, low collar and streamlined cravat looking the picture of masculine elegance [(2) right]. The warmth from the hearth cheers him as he waits to have what he still thinks will be a private evening with his lady love Hannah–the Thornton maid who let him into the manor this evening not having informed him of John and Margaret’s return. Cameron is a besotted man with his love for Hannah Thornton. And the single beautiful red rose he holds in his hand to give to her is but one symbol of his love.
Cameron delightedly hears the latch on the parlor door click open and the quiet rustle of a full skirt as he turns to see his lady love, Hannah, gracefully enter the room. He walks forward to greet her.
Cameron: “Ach! Ye are a vision of beauty and grrrace, Hannah me Dearrr.” He smiles at her warmly. Then he kisses her offered hand–Hannah has abandoned clasping a handkerchief to prevent such contact. “This is for you, me Dearrr.” He hands her the rose.
Hannah: Hannah brings the rose to her nose and sniffs its subtle fragrance and smiles. “Lovely. Thank you, Cameron. And you look very handsome yourself. I am delighted to see you this evening.”
For Hannah has come to enjoy having tea with Cameron most days and dinner with him nearly every evening. Hannah has not felt lonely with John and Margaret’s absence with Cameron at her side and her tending of Little Lissa.
Cameron: “And I you.” The sound of Cameron’s voice deepens into a mix of smouldering desire and plush velvet purring into Hannah’s ear. And she feels his breath on her exposed neck and she trembles.
Cameron leans in to kiss Hannah on her lips, but she places her index finger upon his lips to stay his effort. His soft moustache and beard hairs tickle her finger, even as he mischievously kisses her profferred digit. Hannah blushes and retracts her hand–but she still smiles warmly at him [(3) right]. Their eyes lock as Cameron caresses her cheek with his index finger–slowly drawing it from her ear lobe to her chin. And for an instant, Hannah thinks that Cameron might be going to try kissing her again. And she is absolutely correct
Hannah: Then Hannah says sotto voce since the parlor door is still open. “Cameron, we are not alone tonight. John and Margaret returned from London an hour ago. So they are freshening up from their journey and they will join us for dinner shortly.”
Cameron: Realization dawns upon his countenance. “Ah! So, I gatherrr that I must behave at table, and rrrefrrrain frrrom kissing you between courrrses.” His eyes twinkle with mirth.
Hannah: “Yes, you must.” She blushes a delicate pink. “You may only kiss me when we are alone–and then, rarely.” She purses her lips primly, trying to stifle a small smile threatening to curl at the corners her lips. For Cameron’s courting of Hannah is softening her perspective toward him.
Cameron: “Alone, me Dearrr?” Cameron takes that requirement as a challenge as he looks about the empty parlor. “Might I suggest that we arrre alone now?” His eye brow rises in merriment and desire.
Hannah: She blushes a deeper shade of crimson. “Yes, but John and Margaret are expected soon. And the parlor door is open.” She gestures to the offending portal standing half way open.
Cameron: With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, Cameron parries. “I can rrremedy that.” Cameron strides over to the parlor door and shuts it–shutting out the view to and from the foyer.
John and Margaret standing at the top of the stair landing look at each other in confusion for seeing the parlor door being closed on the floor below. But they begin their descent down the stairs.
Cameron strides back to Hannah in the center of the parlor and he takes her in his arms.
Hannah: “Oh Cameron.” She sighs. “I forget that you take me literally sometimes.”
Cameron: “I do. Now then, Madam. We arrre alone.” His voice deepens huskily and he leans in and kisses her tenderly on her plumrose colored lips.
Hannah responds to her betrothed’s kisses, but she still primly keeps her hands resting lightly upon his shoulders–rather than her placing her arms around his neck. And though Cameron appreciates Hannah’s lovely gown, its wide hoops make close embracing almost impossible to achieve. Almost. For as a strapping six foot 2 inch tall man, Cameron towers over the five foot six inch Hannah–and her offending hoop skirt–quite easily as they kiss on their lips.
And then, the intoxicating allure of Hannah’s faint rosewater perfume behind her ears draws Cameron’s kisses to her cheek and then to her neck. Like a moth to a flame, Cameron delightedly nibbles and pecks the creamy soft skin of her neck–before moving his kisses to her exposed ivory shoulder. Hannah’s complexion is so translucent and ethereal, that Cameron is quite swept away in his loving attentions to her this night.
Hannah: “Hhhhh!” Hannah sighs with feeling the tender affections that Cameron bestows upon her. She feels cherished and adored by Cameron–new experiences for her. Unbidden, her hand strokes his beard.
Cameron: “Hhhhggg!” Cameron’s vocalization is somewhere between a growl and a purr.
Both Cameron and Hannah are becoming quite enraptured by their loving affections for each other–forgetting all else. It is taking all of Cameron’s willpower to restrain his ardor for his lady love, Hannah. She is a lady and he is a gentleman–and they are not yet wed. So he must show her all proper respect and his affections dare not reveal his full adoration of her.
John and Margaret arrive at the bottom of the stairs and walk to the now closed parlor door. John reaches for the door knob. Margaret stays his hand and John looks at her and the door perplexed [(4) right]. Then Margaret smiles at him and knocks on the parlor door.
Margaret: “May we join you?” She asks through the closed door.
Cameron: “Ach! Childrrren have such horrrid timing.” Cameron shakes his head in amusement as he releases Hannah from their kisses and their embrace.
Hannah smiles and touches her hair and smoothes her skirt. Hannah gently lays her rose from Cameron in the center of the lace covering of a nearby table with a smile to Cameron. Then she adopts a placid exterior and replies to her daughter-in-law through the closed parlor door.
Hannah: “Come in.”
John rolls his eyes at Margaret and smiles. Being the son of a woman being courted is a new experience for John–him seeing his mother in a whole new light. Then John turns the door knob and they walk into the parlor. With his wife Margaret on his arm, John walks over to his mother standing near Dr. Ogilvy.
John: “Mother.” He leans down and kisses her cheek. “You are looking exceedingly well this evening.”
Hannah: “Thank you John. As do you and Margaret.” She and Margaret kiss cheeks.”
John: “Cameron! I didn’t realize that you would be joining us for dinner tonight. We hope we haven’t delayed your meal too long with our late arrival from London.” The two men shake hands cordially.
Cameron: “Not at all.” Cameron masks his disappointment at being interrupted just now. Then Cameron lifts Hannah’s hand and puts it around his offered forearm. Hannah does not protest. “In fact, Laddie, we have somewhat of an announcement to make.” He smiles broadly.
Hannah: Hannah’s eyes widen and she blushes. Leaning in to him, she suggests in a hushed tone. “Cameron, perhaps we should wait to say anything.”
John: “I’m intrigued, Cameron. Mother told me of her hoped for mill worker reforms in her letter. Is there something afoot to do with the mill clinic now?” He smiles broadly.
Margaret: Margaret smiles at her husband who is not seeing the obvious romantic electricity between Cameron and his mother, Hannah. “John Dearest, somehow, I don’t think the mill clinic is what Dr. Ogilvy is referring to.” She smiles pleasantly at her husband and then her mother-in-law. “Might news of a more personal nature be forthcoming?” Margaret asks delicately.
Cameron: “Hannah, me Dearrr?” He turns to Hannah and smiles. Though Cameron is a patient man, his and Hannah’s interactions have been increasingly tender and sympathetic to the point that he feels emboldened to proclaim their wedding date.
Hannah: “Well, John and Margaret, Dr. Ogilvy … Cameron and I are engaged to be married.” She states primly.
John: “Mother!” John looks surprised, but pleasantly so. “That’s wonderful!” He kisses her cheek again. “I’m happy for you both!” John vigorously shakes Cameron’s hand. Margaret kisses her mother-in-law’s cheeks again.
Margaret: “Felictations!” Hannah nods her thanks.
Cameron: “Thank ye.” He smiles broadly.
John: “So Cameron, with you being an Earl and marrying my mother, what does that make me?” He asks impishly.
Cameron: With a mock stonefaced look, Cameron replies in a flat monotonous tone of voice. “De trrrop, when a doorrr is closed.” Then Cameron drops his bland look and bursts into laughter. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
John: John startles then bursts out laughing, too. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Margaret giggles and Hannah stifles a laugh with a prim smile.
Margaret: “Ha ha ha!”
John: “Let’s all go in to dinner and toast your engagement announcement with our wines.” He ushers everyone to the parlor room door.
Cameron leads Hannah on his arm, out of the parlor first. Then John and Margaret follow.
Cameron: Cameron looks over his shoulder and adds. “Thank ye. And by the way, we will be getting marrried in Marrrch in the Highlands and ye arrre all invited.”
Margaret nods and keeps walking. But John halts his forward movement in astonishment–which has the effect of pulling Margaret back to him, her hoop skirt joltingly swishing forward and then back again.
Margaret: “John.” She whispers trying to rouse him from his stupor. “Close your mouth, Dearest. We knew this was coming.”
John: “This March? Two months from now?” His voice strangles in surprise. For his mother is to be a bride–and all that that status entails, just now begins to dawn on him. And John sees anew the intimate and sympathetic interactions between his mother and Cameron. For John’s mother is merely eighteen years older than he at fifty years of age. And John hopes to still be enjoying love and passion with his wife Margaret for as long as they live. So he cannot begrudge his mother her chance at happiness. It just takes a little getting used to for John–in thinking of his mother as also a woman in love.
Hannah: Hannah looks back at her son in some amusement. “Well, February is a short month. So it is more like seven weeks.”
Margaret tugs at her stationary husband’s arm and he moves toward the dining room again.
Margaret: “Mother, that is wonderful.” She gushes.
John: “Yes it is.” He says sincerely.
Margaret: Please let us know if we can help in any way. And we look forward to hearing about your proposed mill worker reforms and about the Dillard family and little Lissa.”
Hannah: “Thank you. Lissa is so dear. She reminds me of Fanny when she was little.” She sighs.
John: “Speaking of Fanny, we met Cameron’s children in London and had tea at the MacIntosh’s.” John says as they walk into the dining room and take their seats.
Cameron: “Is that so?” He asks interestedly, for he had urged his children to meet the Thornton’s and the Hales–especially for his son Baird Ogilvy to meet Fanny Thornton.
Margaret: “And Fanny seems to have charmed everyone–Aunt Shaw, Edith, Angharad, your granddaughter Amanda and grandson Andrew, and well, …”
Cameron: “And?” He asks hopefully.
John: “… your son Baird. He asked if he could write to Fanny.” Cameron beams.
Hannah: “Really? I wonder what Mr. Watson will think about that?”
John tilts his head in acknowledgement of the possible diplomacy required of him in extracting Fanny from Watson’s informal courting–if she turns her attentions to Baird Ogilvy. But that is just what an older brother is for, he smiles to himself–helping smooth over difficult situations.
The two couples proceed to have a lovely family dinner.
And in the following week, the worker’s canteen breakfast initiative begins–with mill children eating free at breakfast and at lunch. Little Lissa is healing nicely and Hannah enjoys the Dillard children’s company for a second week. And Margaret sets about to transform an unused mill building into a day nursery for mill working mothers with the mill families and John’s help. However, the larger issue of worker living conditions will take some time to sort out and develop a workable plan as John consults with a city planning engineer and architects–though he does not have the capital funds needed to begin building affordable and clean housing for his mill workers yet. And all of this Marlborough Mills reform activity does not go unnoticed by the other mill owners–especially Watson.
And Fanny? Her extended stay in London will prove to be quite a turning point for her.
To be continued with Chapter 20
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 19 References, January 15, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #501)
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
2) Image representing Dr. Cameron Ogilvy is that of Graham McTavish attending the 2012 London premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey found at http://i2.cdnds.net/12/50/618×829/movies-the-hobbit-uk-premiere-10.jpg
3) Hannah Thornton image is Sinead Cusack in North & South epi 2, Dec1913 (crop-drkn) found at http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m628/lena_catta/English/kinopoiskru-North-_26_2338_3B-South-1668820.jpg
4) Cropped and masked image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, Promo pix 17 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-17.html; composited with Composite image of Margaret Hale’s head (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the North & South music soundtrack dvd cover found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-12.html; and a pink Victorian dress found at http://fripperiesandfobs.tumblr.com/post/12025132525/dress-ca-late-1830s-from-the-centre-de; photo manip done by Gratiana Lovelace, 3/25/12.
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