“North & South: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 33 (PG): Ankles and Feet, Heads and Hearts, February 28, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #522)
[I will illustrate my story using my dream cast from the 2004 BBC production of “North & South” and other actors for additional characters: 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, John Light as Henry Lennox, Tim Faraday as Watson, and Gillian Anderson at Carlotta Quint Watson, etc] [(1) story logo]
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 from the previous chapter: Baird escapes almost having a kerfuffle at his father’s and new stepmother’s wedding ball with regard to an old flame he managed to keep away from his intended, Fiona/Fanny Thornton. John and Margaret rejoice in her wanting to nap again with John due to her pregnancy sickness abating. And Hannah and Cameron become lovers on the fourth night of their friendship marriage.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 33 (PG): Ankles and Feet, Heads and Hearts
Hannah and Cameron have still not returned to Milton from their wedding trip touring Scotland three weeks later. But the younger couples in their extended Thornton-Ogilvy family have romances and lives of their own to tend to. Baird Ogilvy has taken to visiting Milton nearly every weekend since formally beginning his courting of Fanny Thornton two months ago–before his father married her mother last month. The travel is wearying to him, but well worth the sacrifice to see his love, Fiona. And Fanny quite likes the freedom to do as she pleases during the week and then for her to have a suitor to do things with from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. Fanny is still a bit of a dilettante, but becoming less so as her and Baird’s relationship progresses.
Having Baird as a suitor also gives Fanny an excuse to visit the Shaw-Lennox’s in London again. With her mother gone to Scotland on her wedding trip, John married and her sister-in-law Margaret being rather a no nonsense person and her being four months pregnant, Fanny does not get her way as often as she would like–nor is she pampered as much, because Margaret receives all of Fanny’s brother John’s pampering. And John has put Fanny on notice and on a budget. But Fanny and her wishes for finery will not be dissuaded.
It is just such a familial Saturday March 22nd morning around 11 o’clock, that John [(2) right] finds himself sitting in his study going over some business plans when a small furry object catches his eye as it saunters past his door on its way to the parlor. John is uncertain if he saw, what it thinks he saw. And if he saw it, how did it get into Thornton Manor? So John jumps up to follow the furball as it slips into the parlor.
John strides into his parlor at Thornton Manor to find three ladies sitting on the sette admiring their ankles while a giggling eleven month old baby Clementina Watson sits on a blanket on the carpet in front of them clutching her kitty [(3) right] as the ladies wave their unshod but still hosieryed feet and ankles at her and she and the kitty try to playfully catch their feet.
John: “Oh! I beg your pardon, ladies!”
John blanches for seeing the hosieryed feet and ankles of Mrs. Carlotta Watson and his sister Fanny in addition to his own wife’s ankles. And he tries to back out of the room. The only reason he came in unannounced was due to the cat he followed in here. He hopes the cat will not be staying–were John to have a pet preference, it would be canine.
And John has never seen such a sight as the ladies present to him now, when his mother was in residence. But then the ladies before him are much younger in years and in outlook. The three ladies blush crimson and put their feet down on the carpet and lower their skirts.
Fanny: “John!” Fanny [(4) right] jumps up and runs to her brother as Margaret and Carlotta exchange amused and knowing looks. “Is Baird here? Did you fetch him from the station?”
John: “Not yet. Baird sent a note that he will hire a carriage from the station, since I had mill business to conduct this morning.”
John frowns because none of the three ladies are yet putting on their shoes. And though their feet do have hose over them, John has only ever seen his wife Margaret’s hosiery clad feet. And he feels a tad uncomfortable. He would have thought that at least Margaret would don her shoes–to set the good example for Fanny.
Margaret: “You’re early, John.” Margaret [(5) right] smiles embarrassedly to her husband as she covers one foot with the other. John crosses the room and leans down and kisses her temple
John: He decides to make a joke of the awkward situation. “Or late, judging from the wanton display of hosiery clad feet in the parlor–not to mention a wayward cat. Ha ha ha!”
The three ladies giggle: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Clementina: “My kitty.” She thrusts the animal toward him and John backs away with a polite smile.
Margaret: “Oh John! Carlotta and I were simply bemoaning the state of our ankles.” Margaret lifts her leg and presents her foot and ankle to him.
John thinks that thankfully, Mrs. Watson does not do the same. Mrs. Watson sits next to Margaret with a small smile as she lifts her daughter Clementina onto her lap. The kitty trots off toward John’s mother’s favorite velvet wing chair and promptly hops up on it and curls up with its tail swishing back and forth. John doesn’t plan on informing his mother about the cat–and he hopes that Margaret won’t either.
Fanny: Cutting through her brother’s cat distraction, Fanny waves her hand in front of his eyes. “Johnny! Who do you think is also with child!” John’s head jerks back and he looks at Fanny, stricken with her choice of phrasing. “Oh Johnny!” Fanny sighs and rolls her eyes at him.
Margaret and Carlotta: Both ladies giggle. “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Their pregnancies seem to have given them more girlish demeanors than usual.
Fanny: “Johnny.” Fanny whines. “I mean, in addition to Margaret being with child–someone in the room who is also married.” Fanny hints broadly.
Carlotta: “Yes, Mr. Thornton, I was explaining to Margaret that my ankles became as swollen as sausages when I was with child with Clementina.” She interjects helpfully.
Clementina: Clementina claps her hands together. “Sauges!” Little Clementina mimics gleefully.
Margaret smiles at little Clementina and gently squeezes her hand. Clementina smiles, then she crawls to the space on the sette next to her mother, where Fanny had been sitting earlier–patting her lap, wanting her kitty to come to her. But kitty likes its velvet chair and does not budge.
Then the three ladies turn to Look at John and wait patiently for John’s understanding to bubble to the surface. John Looks at his wife Margaret’s loose fitting uncorsetted dress, and then he looks at Mrs. Carlotta Watson’s loose fitting uncorsetted dress.
John: “Ohhh.” John says deeply as understanding finally dawns upon him. “Mrs. Watson, am I given to understand that you and your husband are expecting a child together?” Images spring to John’s mind that he wishes he could refuse admittance. But he is a married man now–and he knows all.
Carlotta: “Yes, Mr.Thornton, we are–in about seven months time.” Carlotta blushes, for that would be an accurate assessment from the date of their marriage, two months ago. However, she was secretly two months pregnant with their child before the marriage. So Carlotta and Margaret are about the same at four months along–though only Dr. Ogilvy knows that.
John: He nods his head respectfully. “My felicitations to you both, Mrs. Watson.” However the both part sticks in John’s craw given his history with the underhanded Watson. But it is the proper form for John to congratulate both the mother and the father.
Carlotta: “Thank you, Mr. Thornton. We are pleased.” Carlotta smiles pleasantly. She has been doing more of that–smiling–since she and Mr. Watson were married, and her and her children’s present and future were made secure.
Carlotta pats Margaret’s hand reassuringly as she smiles warmly at her [(6) right].
John: “But Margaret, you are not alone. I am here–as is Fanny, most weeks.” John refers to Fanny’s rather more frequent London jaunts to visit the Shaws and see Baird.
Fanny: “Well Baird is escorting me to London tomorrow afternoon for a two week long stay with the Shaw-Lennox’s. So it will be pleasant for Margaret to have some company in Carlotta and little Clementina now and again.”
John looks back and forth between his wife and his sister.
John: “Again? You’re going to London again, Fanny?” John teases her, then winks at Margaret before becoming stony faced again. “I have not heard of this scheme before now. You just returned?” John looks at his sister with a studiedly aghast shocked expression upon his face. With Margaret as his wife, John has become accustomed to having his world turned upside down. And he rather delights in mocking his formerly stodgy self.
Margaret: “Now John, that was two weeks ago when Fanny was in London, after we returned from Mother and Cameron’s wedding.” She chides him with a wink–playing along with him. “And besides, Carlotta will be here–and she has already had one baby and she can tell me what to expect.” Margaret looks at Carlotta hopefully.
Carlotta: “It will be my pleasure. Though every baby is different and I do not remember my ankles being this swollen the last time.” She sighs.
Margaret: “And all of a sudden, my clothes do not fit–let alone my corset. I have a round little bump where my tummy had been flat.” Margaret rubs her tummy–and Carlotta absentmindedly rubs her own tummy in acknowledgement, her forgetting that John is in the room.
Fanny: “Really?” Fanny gazes down at her own flat and corseted torso, sliding her hands down the smooth fabric, wondering how big she might get when she and Baird have children after they are married.
However much of a good sport John has been with the ladies antics this morning, he will only go so far. And John thinking that the picture of three scandalously unshod ladies has now been usurped by the three ladies remarking upon and caressing their stomachs, has John in almost ashen faced in renewed embarrassment [(7) right]. Baby steps with Margaret lightening John’s demeanor. John kneels down at Margaret’s feet and solicitously offers.
John: “Margaret dear, let me help you put on your shoes before Mr. Ogilvy arrives.” Then as John does this, he turns to his sister who has sat down on the othter side of Mrs. Watson. “Fanny, you should put your shoes back on as well.”
Fanny: “What about Carlotta? Are you going to order her to put her shoes on, too?”
Carlotta: “No need. I should be going anyway. Clarence and I have luncheon plans, and I must put Clementina down for her nap before we go. Thank you for a lovely visit, Margaret and Fanny.” They smile and nod and her. Then Carlotta adds wincingly. “But I will need help putting my shoes back on.” She winces sheepishly.
John: Flustered, he begs off as he stands up and steps back. “I … I can not assist you, Mrs. Watson, without touching your feet and ankles–and respectfully, that, I can not do.” He turns crimson. For no man should ever gaze upon, let alone touch, another man’s wife’s feet and ankles–nor anything else upon her person.
Fanny: Kneeling down in front of Carlotta, Fanny offers sweetly as she smiles at Carlotta. “I will help you, Carlotta.”
Carlotta: “Thank you, Fanny.” Carlotta smiles gratefully as Fanny helps her with donning her shoes.
Then Fanny turns to her brother and makes a face while sticking her tongue out at him. And Margaret has to cover her mouth with her hand to stifle a giggle for her husband John’s priggishness.
After Mrs. Watson and little Clementina are safely on their way home, it is now half past 11 o’clock Saturday morning–and Baird Ogilvy has still not arrived. Looking forlornly out the window for his carriage, Fanny turns back to John and Margaret sitting together on the parlor sette holding hands and kissing tenderly [(8) right]. Margaret finds that she and John sweetly kissing always calms him down.
Fanny: Fanny smiles and shakes her head at her brother and sister-in-law kissing in the parlor–with her present. Her brother Johnny would never have done that before Margaret. But then, John had no one to kiss with before Margaret. Then Fanny says sotto voce to herself. “Where can Baird be? Don’t English trains run on time?”
John: Having heard his sister’s whine, John lifts his head up from kissing his wife and suggests. “Fanny. Baird is only a little past his time. There might have been carriage traffic in town that delayed him.”
Margaret: “Or maybe he is laboring here mightily with a gift for you, Fanny.” She jests.
Fanny: “Oh!” She smiles eagerly. Fanny likes presents.
John: “Margaret, Please don’t encourage Fanny. Baird will have a difficult enough time as it is reigning in her expenses when they are married.”
Fanny: “But I’m not married yet, and your so called allowance of five pounds a week that I am to keep to is positively inhuman.” She wails dramatically.
Fanny: “Baird!” Fanny jumps up and down and runs into his arms and kisses him excitedly–all mention of allowances forgotten.
Baird: “Fiona! I have missed ye!” Baird kisses Fanny back and smiles at her as he swings her around in his arms. “Ha ha ha ha ha!
John: “KKKHHH!” John coughs loudly to get their attention as he stands up from the sette. He assists Margaret in also standing. Then John holds out his hand to Baird. “It is good to see you again, Baird.”
Baird: “John!” He releases Fanny and shakes John’s hand. “It is good to see you.”
Margaret: “And how did you arrive without our knowing?” She asks quizzically.
Baird: “All of the passengerrr carrriages werrre engaged. So I hitched a rrride with the grrrocerrr and came in the serrrvants’ entrrrance. Ha ha ha!”
Fanny: “Really, Baird.” Fanny shakes her head chastisingly for him arriving at Thornton Manor as if he were a farm boy hopping onto an obliging cart. While Margaret smiles in amusement.
John: “Ha ha ha haha! Any news from our wayward parents?” John smiles wondering about the newly weds–his mother Hannah and Baird’s father Cameron.
Baird: “Fatherrr and Mama arrre still on their wedding trrrip, but they ask us to continue with the Ogilvy-Thornton Woolen Mills equipment purchases.”
John: “Good. And are the renovations to the old mill and refurbishing the steam engine progressing?”
Baird; “Yes, and I have brrrought with me severrral loom machinerrry bids for you to rrreview.”
John: “Excellent!” He nods.
Fanny: “Baird, you just arrived. Do you and John have to talk business now?” She whines as she leans her head onto Baird’s shoulder.
Baird: “Now Miss Fiona, John and I have been charrrged with the verrry grreat task of seeing to this project in Fatherrr’s stead–while he is on his wedding trrrip.”
Margaret: Leaning in to John, she chimes in. “But Fanny has a good point, John. Let Baird get settled into his room and refresh himself. Then we will all sit down to luncheon. And then afterward, Fanny and Baird can go into Milton and take tea together. There will be time enough after dinner this evening for you men to discuss business.”
John: “You won’t mind it?” He asks his wife solicitously.
Margaret: “Not in the least.” She smiles coyly. For when Fanny and Baird are in Milton this afternoon, she will have her husband John all to herself.
John and Baird do have a productive working meeting about the mill project after dinner–distributing the various tasks between them to shepherd it further along. And delightedly when they rejoin the ladies, Baird learns how Margaret’s mill workers’ children’s school and nursery project that Fanny is helping her with it is proceeding, as well as that John’s Marlborough Mills planned housing areas is coming along nicely. Finally, the very pregnant Margaret begs to be excused and she and John retire to bed around 11 o’clock in the evening on Saturday night.
Baird and Fanny sit on the Thornton Manor parlor’s sette gazing at the fire. They are alone. And since everyone–including servants–have now gone to bed, their concession to propriety is to have the parlor door open as they share some private time together. Fanny is wearing a pink silk gown with limited ornamentation–because the lovely gown is actually one of Margaret’s gowns that she loaned to Fanny for tonight.
Baird: “Ye look so lovely tonight, Fiona. I have na seen you in this gown beforrre. Is it new?”
Baird asks mildly curiously, trying to calculate their household budget straining for such fripperies when they are wed. Though Baird is heir to the Earldom of Airlie–and he does have a handsome monthly stipend that he could draw upon–he prefers to live more frugally using his salary from his law practice. Though, his twice monthly train travel costs to Milton are straining his budget.
Fanny: “Thank you.” She smiles. “I borrowed this gown from Margaret, since she can not fit into it any more, and I ran out of gowns that you haven’t seen me in before.” She smiles sheepishly.
Baird: “Well, you look lovely in it.” He pauses. “And ye need not drrress in new gowns everrrytime I see you. It is you and not your clothing that I love.”
Fanny: “I know. But you’re a Lord, Baird–Laird, Baird.” She teases. “And you will be the Earl and I your Countess. And as such, I will be expected to keep up appearances with my attire and my manner.” Fanny lifts her dainty nose into the air quite pleased with the prospect of becoming a countess one day [(10) right].
She smiles at him impishly. And he rolls his eyes and kisses the tip of her nose.
Baird: “I do na set much storrre by me titles–with airrrs and fancy drrress.”
Fanny: “Spoken like someone who has lived around nobility all of his life–and who takes it for granted.” She purses her lips teasingly.
Baird: “Aye, that I have lived around it. But it is only in Scotland wherrre our titles arrre rrrecgonized–not herrre, in England. So I do not take it for granted.”
Fanny: “What is the fun in having a title, if you can’t use it in England?” She pouts. “I will like being called Lady Fiona when we are married. It sounds so pretty.” She sighs wistfully.
Baird: He smiles lovingly at her slightly naïve view of the world. “But with titles and position come responsibilities, Fiona. When I am the Earl of Airlie, I will have a community’s welfare to consider–as does me father, now. That is why the Ogilvy-Thornton Woolen Mills project is so important–to provide the people of Angus, Scotland with much needed work and to aid the local economy–both now and into the future.”
Fanny: “Yes, yes.” She nods her head as she rolls her eyes. “It is good that the people who need to work will have work.”
Baird: He raises his eyebrow at her statement. “And who are the people who need to work compared to those who don’t need to work?” He looks at her slightly askance.
Fanny: “Oh now, don’t be fussy, Baird. You know what I mean.” He looks at her pointedly, waiting for her answer. “You know. Servants, laborers–people without money. They need to work.”
Baird: “And where do ye think that your money that ye live on comes from?” He asks her directly.
Fanny: “Well, Johnny gives me my money. And he gets his from Marlborough Mills.”
Baird: “And John works at his mill.” He tries to guide her to understanding.
Fanny: “No, silly.” She plays with his cravat. “John owns the mill. Other people work for him.”
Baird: “So you do not think that your brother works? What about me, Fiona? Do I work?” For Baird is an attorney and has worked very hard to rise to the level he has amongst his peers.
Fanny: “John is a gentleman–as are you, Lord Baird Ogilvy. Oh, I do not see why we must talk of boring things like business when you could be kissing me.” She pouts–her lips pursing together proving to be too irresistible for him.
Baird: “Hmmm. Ye make a fairrr point, my Love.” Baird smiles as he begins to gently kiss Fanny on her lips as they hold hands, but do not embrace–for with the parlor door open, they could be interrupted at any time. And Baird would not so compromise his Fiona’s reputation by such desirous actions as embracing. If all goes well, they will be married within the next two months–precious little time to wait when they will have a lifetime of love together.
And yet, Baird still wishes that Fanny would better understand that the relationship between work and prosperity is not a fated outcome based on class distinctions alone–though their society’s rigid structures and rules often prevent people from elevating themselves beyond their current station in life. Three factors are key in advancement–education, connections, and opportunity. And that if the first two are present, then the third shall surely follow.
But Baird also knows that the problems of the lower working classes bettering themselves are more intractable than merely having a confluence of helpful factors. He does not take his own current comfortable career situation for granted–nor is he naïve enough to believe that he gained these accomplishments through only his own hard work. Others work hard, but they still do not succeed. Baird knows that but for the blessing of his birth into a wealthy and noble family, his life might have been very different. And Baird wonders if Fiona had to make her way in the world on her own, how would she fare?
Baird loves his Fiona–and she loves him. But can their different world views coalesce into a lifetime of happiness together.
To be continued with Chapter 34
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 33 References, February 28, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #522)
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) John Thornton is Richard Armitage in North & South epi4 (22h46m08s1) Dec2813 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-manip-sized-brt-clr
3) Image representing 11 month old Clementina Quint Watson with kitty is an MS Office Clip Art stock image.
4) Fanny Thornton is Jo Joyner in North & South epi1 (11h06m00s79) Jan1214 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-manip-sized-brt-manip-clr
5) Margaret is Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South epi1(14h52m44s152) Jan2714 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-Crop-sized-brt
6) Carlotta Watson faintly smiling image is of Gillian Anderson in Bleak House found at http://www.kultx.cz/wp-content/uploads/bleak_house_hdtv_laudanum_c_small.jpg
7) John Thornton (center) is portrayed by Richard Armitage in the 2004 BBC drama North & South and was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-029.jpg
8) 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/ns4-336.jpg
9) Baird Ogilvy image (aspect, drken,sized) is Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice found at madambaggio.blogspot.com at http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dJFEabizaEI/UKAkFwXlJtI/AAAAAAAAANI/G5pZUxqcZGY/s320/Hugo+Weasley+02.jpg
10) Fanny is Jo Joyner in North & South epi 2 (17h04m50s201) Dec2213 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-sized-clr
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