“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 37 (PG): Fanny Arrives Home in Milton Seeking Consolation, March 14, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #529)
[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: Fanny Thornton abruptly left London to return home to Milton by train as she ended her association with Baird Ogilvy via her courteous note and the return of his mother’s cameo ring. It broke Fanny’s heart to do so, but with Baird’s anger toward her sometimes single minded focus upon herself and her needs, his embarrassment with her admittedly frank words with the Duke of Wellington at the charity ball, and Baird’s absence from her life for two days, Fanny felt that she had no choice and that she had lost him already.
Ch. 37 (PG): Fanny Arrives Home in Milton Seeking Consolation
So on this last Friday in March, the 28th–and after a several hours morning train ride from London to Milton in a drizzling rain and cloudy skies with no conversation from her begrudging chaperone, the Hale’s maid Dixon returning from a visit with family–Fanny Thornton returns home to Thornton Manor a chastened young woman after ending her relationship with Baird Ogilvy. They arrive in Milton about half past twelve noon. Fanny hires a carriage–since no one at Marlborough Mills is expecting her–and she drops off Dixon at the Hale’s home in Crampton. Fanny asks Dixon to give the Hales her kind regards, but she does not stop in to pay a visit. Fanny wants to get home as soon as possible so she can seek consolation from her sister-in-law Margaret, and also from her brother, John. And like the little girl still somewhere deep inside her, the still not quite twenty-one year old Fanny wants the comfort of being in her own home again–where all is familiar and comforting.
However Fanny arrives home to find Thornton Manor empty–no one to talk to or to console her about Baird. Her brother John Thornton is at work at his mill office, of course. And the manor staff inform Miss Fanny that Mrs. Margaret Thornton has been at the Mill’s day school and nursery all morning, and that her plans were to eat lunch with the children. Since there is no luncheon at the manor–and she is not hungry anyway–Fanny changes out of her traveling attire and into a simple sparingly ornamented purple day dress without a hoop skirt and she walks across the bustling mill yard to the Mill school in a little building behind the main building, where her brother, John’s Mill offices are located.
As soon as Fanny enters the school room where the children and their teachers and minders are just finishing eating their mill provided hot lunches courtesy of the then Hannah Thornton’s suggestion, Little Lissa Dillard jumps up and rushes to her. Margaret looks up at Fanny quizzically for her being home a week before she is expected.
Lissa: “Miss Fanny! Miss Fanny!” Lissa tightly hugs Fanny’s legs, then Fanny bends down and hugs her back. “Did you bring Nana Hannah with you?” Lissa asks excitedly [(2) right], her softly curled hair falling into her eyes as Fanny stands up. Lissa has missed her honorary grandmother, Hannah Thornton, these past several weeks when Hannah went to Scotland for her wedding and then her wedding trip.
Fanny: Caressing Lissa’s face after she tucks her hair behind her ears, Fanny is still depressed about Baird. But Fanny rallies herself for Lissa’s sake and smiles. “No Lissa, sweetheart. Mother is still on her wedding trip. But she is expected home this coming week on Wednesday, April 2nd.”
Lissa: “Good! I miss her!”
Fanny takes Lissa’s hand and walks over to where Margaret is sitting with the other 3 and 4 year olds, helping them eat their beef stew and bread. Margaret is slowly, tiredly, cutting up more bread for them.Lissa sits back down at her place on the bench and returns to eating her beef stew.
Fanny: “Hello, Margaret.” Fanny sighs wanly as she sits down on the bench next to her sister-in-law.
Maragret: “Fanny! We did not expect you back until next week.” Margaret caringly looks at Fanny’s red eyes–obviously from crying–and she touches her arm.
Fanny: Fanny nods. “London was…” Fanny looks around at the children riveted to her. Her pain is private, and humiliating. So she does not want to talk about it in front of the children. Then Fanny says quietly. “We’ll talk later, Margaret.” Margaret nods knowingly. However Fanny notices that the five months pregnant Margaret looks tired with her pale face and slow movements in cutting up the bread for children. “Margaret? Do you feel well? You look rather pale.”
Margaret: “I’m just tired, Fanny. No need to fuss.” Margaret smiles warmly but tiredly to Fanny [(3) right].
But Fanny has a sense of foreboding–she always does about people’s health–and she feels that there is a very great need to fuss.
Fanny: “Margaret, you should go home and rest–perhaps even see the doctor.” Fanny urges caringly.
Margaret: “I don’t think…” She says weakly
Fanny: “No arguments, Margaret.” Fanny takes control of the situation. Then she sees Lissa’s six year old sister Leana Dillard nearby feeding her baby brother Timmy and beckons to her. Leana stands up and walks over to her with one year old Timmy in her arms, straddling her left hip. “Leana, Mrs. Thornton needs to rest. Please go to the mill and ask Mr.Thornton to come and escort his wife home. I’ll take Timmy and finish feeding him.” Fanny reaches out her arms and Leana hands her brother over to her. Fanny puts Timmy on her hip–the way she saw Leana holding him–and she sits down where Leana had been sitting. Then Fanny spoon feeds Timmy small bites and Fanny [(4) right] keeps a careful eye on Margaret’s well being as Leana goes to fetch John Thornton.
Margaret is too tired to argue with Fanny and continues slowly cutting the bread for the children.
Margaret: Margarent smiles amusedly, but says tiredly and in a loving sisterly way. “Fanny, you’re not back five minutes and you’re ordering me around.”
However given Fanny’s recent history with Baird’s criticisms of her, this comment stings Fanny–because it sounds like another criticism of her.
Fanny: Fanny softens and apologizes. “I’m sorry, Margaret. I do not mean to be over bearing. I am simply concerned for the state of your and your baby’s health.”
Margaret nods and passes out the bread that she just cut for the children. Everyone eats. In a few minutes more, a concerned John Thornton rushes to his wife’s side, kneeling down next to her. Leanna Dillard trails into the mill school after him.
John: Kissing his wife’s forehead, he notices her seeming fatigue. “Margaret, you are trying to do too much. You should rest.”
John [(5) right] looks up and is startled to see his sister Fanny sitting at another bench.
John: “Fanny! What are you doing home?” He asks her quizzically–though he phrases his question unintentionally ungraciously.
Fanny: “It is good to see you, too, Johnny.” Fanny replies to her brother sarcastically as she stands up and hands Timmy Dillard to his sister Leana. “We’ll talk later. Right now, I think you should see Margaret home to rest and send for the doctor.”
Margaret: “But my second helper for the nursery little ones was sick and unable to work today. I can’t leave the nursery helper all alone to care for them.” She worries.
John: “Margaret, you must think of yourself and the baby.”
Fanny: “Yes, you must. I will stay and help tend the little ones.”
Both John’s and Margaret’s eyes widen at Fanny’s proposal to take care of the children in Margaret’s stead.
Margaret: “You?” Margaret asks with a shocked expression of incredulity upon her face.
Fanny: “Yes, me.” Fanny says stoically at Margaret’s disbelief–another cricitism, Fanny feels and she responds a bit defensively. “I watched the Lennox children for a whole afternoon one day in London. I know what they need. Besides, they will be lying down for their naps soon. So there won’t be much to do.”
Margaret: “But …” But John cuts her off before she can say anything.
John: “Thank you, Fanny. I’m sure it will ease Margaret’s mind to know that you are helping out with the children.” He stands up. “Now come along my dear. Let me help you walk home.”
John helps Margaret stand. But she is a bit wobbly on her legs and feeling faint. Both John and Fanny are alarmed and exchange a nervous glance between them.
Margaret: “Oh! I guess that I’m more tired than I thought.” Margaret sighs while placing her hand to her cheek as John steadies her.
John: “Right! That does it! You’re going home in style, my Love.” John tries to sound cheerful to hide his concern for his wife’s well being.
But Fanny knows her brother Johnny is worried about his wife because he is never purposely cheerful around her–or at least not since she was a little girl–and pregnancy and childbirth put women’s lives at risk, even in the modern age of 1851.
And with no further arguments from Margaret, John sweeps his wife Margaret off her feet and lifts her into his arms. The children are oblivious to Margaret’s delicate condition since her full and loose dress still hides her small but growing baby bump, and they think that Mr. Thornton is being romantic. So the children start clapping.
Fanny: “Now you do as Johnny and the doctor say, Margaret.” Fanny admonishes her warmly. Then she sits back down as John carries Margaret from the school to their home at Thornton Manor. As they exit the school, they hear Fanny say to the children. “Children, Let us finish eating our lovely stew, then I will read you a story and you can all take naps.”
Fanny smiles warmly at the little ones at the 3 to 4 year old table. With Fanny having something and someone else to focus upon, she is distracted from the sadness that she feels about she and Baird parting.
During the walk to Thornton Manor carrying Margaret, John stops a mill worker had asks him to go and fetch the new Dr. Miles Houghton to come to Thornton Manor to see Mrs. Thornton. The old and frail Dr. Donaldson no longer makes house calls. Then after settling Margaret into bed after helping her into her night gown, Dr. Houghton arrives and examines Margaret. He finds that her heart rate is elevated and her ankles swollen. Edema might be stressing her heart. So the doctor suggests that she completely rest for the next few days with her feet elevated–no school or nursery tending, nor using stairs without someone by her side, or John carrying her. John would have Margaret stay in bed if it were up to him, but he knows that she would be bored to tears. So Margaret agrees to stay in their master bed chamber suite–that includes Margaret’s bed chamber sitting room–and sew and knit baby clothes, and read, and such.
After the school lets out around 4 o ‘clock Friday afternoon, Fanny returns to Thornton manor and takes tea with Margaret in her bed chamber with Margaret still lying in bed after napping. Fanny reveals what transpired between she and Baird in London–and that an understanding no longer exists between them. Fanny has a heart to heart talk with Margaret and she cries her eyes out about Baird. Margaret tries to console Fanny as best as she can. Then Margaret tells Fanny about the importance of loving and being loved and finding the right person to spend your life with–whether or not that is Baird Ogilvy for Fanny. Fanny tells Margaret that she still loves Baird, but that she despairs that it is too late for she and Baird–and she resolves never to marry.
Later that evening, Fanny has a light supper with John and Margaret after John carries Margaret downstairs to the dining room. Since it is just the three of them, they are not formally dressed–Margaret is still in her nightgown and robe–and they sit together at one end of the dining table, with John at its head and his wife and sister sitting on either side of him.
John: “Fanny, I am so glad that you returned today and helped Margaret get some much needed rest.” He smiles warmly at her and he gently squeezes her hand.
Margaret: “Yes, thank you, Fanny.” Margaret says graciously and looks at Fanny sympathetically.
Fanny: “You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.” She says shyly. Up to now, Fanny has been disinterestedly pushing the food around on her plate, not eating. Fanny’s depression about her break up with Baird has returned now that her thoughts are not distracted by the needs of others.
Before dinner, Margaret had informed John about Fanny and Baird’s falling out. And John is none too pleased with Baird, but he keeps himself in check for Fanny’s sake. John realizes that he must concentrate on Fanny’s feelings and well being, not his own annoyance with Baird.
John: John speaks caringly to Fanny in a soft deep voice. “Fanny Dear, I’m sorry that you and Baird aren’t on friendly terms at the moment. I know that you are feeling sad about it. But I am proud of the way you have conducted yourself–with poise and grace. Mother will be proud of you as well.” John gives his sister an encouraging smile.
Fanny: “Thank you, Johnny.” Fanny says in a barely audible whisper with teary her eyes downcast and her hands clasped in her lap. Then she can no longer keep it in and her tears fall. “Hmmh. hmmh. hmmh.”
John pushes his chair back from the table and holds his arms out to Fanny.
John: “Come here little sister.” He pats his lap and Fanny stands up and rushes to him quickly and sits upon her brother’s lap–as she used to do when she was a little girl–crying into his neck as he rocks her back and forth in his arms , like he used to comfort her when she was a little girl. “Shh. Shhh. There now, Fanny. Tell me all about it.” He says soothingly. Margaret looks on carryingly and takes Fanny’s hand in hers.
Fanny: Fanny speaks through anguished sobs. “Hmmh. Baird and I are so different. Hmmh. He is all proper and good, and I am just a social climbing silly girl. Hmmh.”
John and Margaret exchange horrified glances with each other.
John: “Did Baird say that!?!” John demands of Fanny with undisguised fury.
Fanny: “No! No! But I overheard some people at the charity ball talking about me while we had some refreshments.”
Margaret: “Fanny Dear, maybe they were talking about someone else.” Margaret suggests hopefully.
Fanny: “No. They used my name. Why are people so mean? Hmmh. Hmmh. Hmmh.” Fanny sobs some more. Of course, the irony of Fanny’s previous gossiping and sometimes malicious chatter is lost on her at the moment.
John: “Fanny, Dear. I don’t know why people behave so abominably. But if it is any consolation, I believe such mean spirited people are small minded and will surely have their comeuppance one day–at the day of judgement, if not before.”
Fanny: Her brother’s words sink in to Fanny. “Johnny, I used to be like them.” Fanny says starkly as she looks back and forth between her brother and sister-in-law who wear uncomfortable expressions on their faces.
John: “Hhhhh!” John sighs. He had not intended to make an analogy to his sister’s past behavior. But she drew the connection herself. “Fanny, I didn’t mean …”
Fanny: “It’s alright Johnny. I know what I was like.” Fanny interrupts him stoically as she dries her tears. “Maybe losing Baird is my comeuppance. I don’t deserve Baird. I am full of faults. He will find someone better than me to be his wife and his countess.”
John: Looking stricken, John says firmly as her protective older brother. “Fanny, there is no one better than you–except for my Margaret.”
Fanny: “But, Johnny, Baird doesn’t love me anymore. And if Baird doesn’t love me, who will? No one will want to love me. Hmmh. Hmmh.” She weeps pitifully in her brother’s arms.
Margaret: “Ohhh! Fanny, If you and Baird can’t work things out, then you will meet a man one day who will love you for you.” Margaret squeezes Fanny’s hand encouragingly.
Fanny: “But I thought that Baird loved me for me. He said that he liked my outspokenness. It even made him laugh. But it seems that was only when we were in private or around family. When we were around other people, he criticized everything I said or did.”
Then Fanny relates the Duke of Wellington incident to her brother John–not leaving out the most incriminating bit where Fanny admonished the general, whom she didn’t know at the time was the Duke, to watch where his sword went or that he should leave it at home. John can understand why Baird might have wanted Fanny to be more circumspect about her thoughts and words with the Duke. But Fanny is too fragile at the moment for him to make that suggestion outright.
John: “Fanny, why do you suppose Baird behaved so rudely to you?” John places himself squarely on Fanny’s side by declaring Baird rude.
Fanny: “I don’t know. And then his face turned red and he seemed very angry when I wanted him to tell the announcer that he was Lord Baird Ogilvy, but he wouldn’t. And then when we were dancing later, he said he was going to refuse the Earl title and let little Andrew MacIntosh have it. I told him that he shouldn’t give up his birthright. But he became angry with me again.”
Margaret: “Oh! That seems rather drastic–to give up his birthright to be the Earl. Do you think he was serious, Fanny?”
Fanny: “No, Margaret. But he wanted me to think he was serious. I can discern that now. But I still think that Baird should be grateful to have the title when others do not have a title.” Fanny has calmed down a bit.
John: “And what others are we talking about?” John asks with a knowingly raised eyebrow and a small smile curling at the corner of his lips.
Fanny: “Well, … me. I don’t have a title. But I would be Lady Fiona Ogilvy were Baird and I to marry, and eventually his countess.”
Margaret: “Hmm. And yet, when Baird asked you if you would still love him if he didn’t have his title, you didn’t really reply to him.”
Fanny: “I did.” She replies defensively. Then Fanny looks at John and Margaret quizzically. “At least, I think, I did.” Fanny’s eyes widen. “But Baird can’t think that I only like him because he has a title. Could he?”
John: “Perhaps, that is at the crux of your misunderstanding with Baird, Fanny. Hmmm?” John has deftly guided Fanny to see another perspective of her quarrel with Baird, while still being supportive of her.
Fanny: “But Johnny, Baird left me alone in the middle of the dance floor–with everyone watching and knowing that he was angry with me. I felt so ashamed and humiliated.” She whines a bit. “And then Baird didn’t come to see me the next day to apologize, nor even send me a note.” Fanny sighs forlornly.
John: “Baird is stubborn, I will grant you that.” John smiles. “But as I think Margaret will agree, we Thorntons are also quite a stubborn lot. Hmmm?” John smiles at Fanny cajolingly.
Fanny: Fanny becomes quiet again and nods. “I don’t know, Johnny. Maybe two stubborn people, such as Baird and I are not a good match together. A marriage needs someone willing to apologize.”
Fanny pouts and doesn’t see the shared look of amusement that passes between John and Margaret.
John: “Among other things.” John says blushingly.
Fanny: Fanny continues quietly. “I visited Baird’s sister, Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh, before I left London this morning. And I left her with a letter for Baird and the lovely cameo ring that he gave me–for her to give to Baird. I released him from his promise to me.” Fanny informs them softly as she tears up again. “If he does not write me back, then I will know that he truly wishes to be free of me. Oh Johnny! I love Baird so much! What am I going to do if he doesn’t want me?” Fanny wails and sobs into her brother, John’s, neck with renewed despair.
All John can do is to rock his baby sister in his arms and whisper soothing words to her as Margaret looks on caringly.
John and Margaret eventually calm Fanny down and they resume their meal. But Fanny goes straight to bed afterward, leaving John and Margaret to discuss the situation in the privacy of their own bed chamber as they lie cuddled together this night.
John: “Are you feeling better after resting today, Margaret My Love?” John kisses her forehead.
Margaret: “I am, John. Thank you for taking such good care of me–of us.” She rubs her nightgown covered tummy and smiles up at her husband. Then she leans toward him and kisses him on his lips.
John: John gently places his hand on his wife’s tummy and tenderly kisses her back. “My pleasure.”
But then John winces at his own wording as Margaret’s hand lazily strokes his few chest hairs–and he tries not to get aroused. Then John thinks that he will have to curb his desires for now–until Margaret is better. He will not allow his needs to jeopardize his wife and future child. He just hopes that his desires will not have to wait until after their baby is born. But if abstinence is required, he resolves to endure it.
Margaret: Noticing that her husband’s thoughts seem to be far away, she asks him. “Is something troubling you, John Dear?” She wonders if maybe the doctor told him more about her health than he said to her.
John: “Nothing for you to concern yourself with–a mill matter.” He fibs. “You need to sleep and rest, Margaret.” Then John and Margaret kiss tenderly [(6) right], as they do every night before they fall asleep.
John reaches over and snuffs out the candle on the bed side table. Then Margaret snuggles in closer to her husband as he pulls the bed sheets and blanket over her shoulders and his chest. Margaret smiles in contentment as she closes her eyes and drifts off to sleep. But sleep does not claim John right away as he reverently watches and listens to his wife’s soft shallow breathing. Margaret’s love is a gift that John never thought that he would have. And he cherishes her more than words can say. And she belongs to him as he belongs to her.
When she is lying on her side, cuddling next to him–as she is now–John hears her make adorable little sighing noises in her sleep, sounding youthful and girlish. And with a knowing smile, John wonders what her dreams are filled with–their future baby and other children to love and to nurture, perhaps. John smiles and closes his eyes, wishing his dreams to begin–of the coming years when he and Margaret with take their little ones on a picnic.
John also hopes that Fanny and Baird will resolve their differences. Or if not, that Fanny will be able to move on with her life and find a man to love who will bring joy to her life–as he has found in Margaret.
To be continued with Chapter 38
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 37 References, March 14, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #529)
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 Lissa Dillard is an MS Office Clip Art,Jan0514 Gratiana Lovelace manip
3) Composite image of Margaret Hale’s head (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) from the North & South music soundtrack dvd cover found at 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. (with dress skirt revision to look like a small baby bump 3/14/14 and cropped)
4) Fanny was portrayed by Jo Joyner in the 2004 BBC drama North & South (22h45m45s28) Dec2813 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-sized-plain dress manip-mask
5) 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 richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/slides/NandSPromo-17.html;
6) 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