“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 41 (PG-13): Baird Ogilvy Makes an Appeal, March 28, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #537)
[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, Gillian Anderson at Carlotta Quint Watson, and Jeremy Northam as Dr. Miles Houghton, 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: At John and Margaret’s Tuesday April 1st evening dinner with Fanny, and Cameron and Hannah, they also welcomed Cameron’s new medical practice partner Dr. Miles Houghton. Dr. Houghton has a sincere interest in getting to know Fanny better, and he invites her to a musical concert–which she is considering. Then later that evening, Cameron gives John and the five months pregnant Margaret his medical permission to love each other as husband and wife. Cameron then proceeds to follow his own medical advice with his dear wife, Hannah. Fanny is still trying to recover from her disappointment of breaking her informal engagement with Baird. It is just very difficult, because Fanny sincerely loves Baird–but she does not believe that Baird loves her, so she feelsthat she must move on with her life, somehow.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 41 (PG-13): Baird Ogilvy Makes an Appeal
On the morning of Wednesday, April 2nd, the happy married couples waking up at Thornton Manor have contented smiles on their faces as they cuddle a bit longer under the bed sheets with their respective beloveds. Hannah and Cameron tarry in their bed chamber–taking breakfast in bed, or at least sitting at the nearby sette before returning to bed. Cameron will visit his medical practice later, around nine o’clock this morning. Hannah plans to join Fanny at the Mill School and Nursery–especially to see little Lissa Dillard. And Margaret plans to continue resting in her bed chamber, knitting booties for her baby to wear when it is born. However, John must arise and he consumes a quick breakfast with Margaret in their bed chamber before heading to his office late for him, around half past seven o’clock.
The first hour or so of John’s work this morning at Marlborough Mills involves consulting with his friend and Mill overseer Nicholas Higgins about looms that need repair and then the proposed phased move in of more families to the growing Thornton Village housing experiment West of the Mill. With the Dillard family being the first family to be situated there and now 12 families in all have moved in. It is an ambitious undertaking, and there are still housing unit hubs (of 8 homes to each hub) to be built for another one hundred mill families. The Mill worker families in the Thornton Village will have access to fresh water and waster water sanitation drainage, a small plot of land to plant a community kitchen garden, and a formal school and church building. And one more thing, they will be tenants of John Thornton, but they will not be beholden to him. For John has devised–with the aid of former union organizer Nicholas Higgins–a form of tenant representation–to address housing repair needs, neighbor disputes, and such, as a community.
John Thornton finally walks into his Mill Office to attend to administrative matters at half past ten o’clock–including correspondence with clients. Sitting behind his massive walnut desk at Marlborough Mills, John [(2) right] rifles through the post that his office assistant organized for him. The post contains several expected signed contracts from new Mill clients, some bank drafts for payments of cotton fabric already shipped, and something unexpected.
John sees two personal letters, yet unopened as is his directive to his assistant for all personal correspondence that is inadvertently routed to his Mill Office and not his home, Thornton Manor. Holding each letter in one hand, John realizes that the envelopes were addressed by the same hand–but one envelope is addressed to him and one envelope is addressed to Fanny. Both return addresses are Baird Ogilvy, Esquire, London.
John leans back in his chair and sighs, wondering what fresh turmoil Baird’s letters will create. They have only just–well almost, but not quite–calmed Fanny down from her despair of losing Baird. John does not want to risk exposing Fanny to new recriminations about her unguarded speech from Baird if he tries to justify himself, rather than apologize for his ungentlemanly actions at the charity ball. In John’s mind, Fanny needs to look forward, not backward. And John thinks that with Dr. Houghton’s expressed interest in Fanny that she would be well taken care of and cared for by him, should that acquaintanceship prove to have a longer lasting affinity.
But John realizes that he cannot delay the inevitable and he opens the envelope addressed to him–setting Fanny’s envelope aside to possibly give to her later. It depends what Baird’s letter to him says as to whether or not John will forward Baird’s letter for Fanny to her. Baird’s letter to John is one folded page, with seemingly little writing on it. John unfolds the letter and reads the contents with astonishment. To say that Baird Ogilvy is a lawyer of uncommon ability to reason and argue is perhaps an understatement. For Baird has hit upon the one tactic that might win John’s grudging acceptance–appealing to John’s love and concern for his sister Fanny’s well being, and Baird being honest and humble. The latter trait is not very characteristic of the brash and confident Baird Ogilvy, heir to the Earldom of Airlie.
Baird Ogilvy’s [(3) right] letter to John Thornton, (John reads the letter silently to himself):
March 28, 1851
John Thornton, Master and Owner
I write to you as a fallen man whose pride has cost me dearly with the loss of my Fiona’s affections. My carelessness for her feelings are evidence of my unworthiness of her. Fiona has only ever been honest with me and I rebuked her for it. I was completely at fault for our argument. She is not to blame. I am the most wretched of men for having lost her love–as I thoughtlessly cast aside our shared future happiness.
I would do anything to try to deserve Fiona’s love for me again. But the companion letter I wrote apologizing to her fails to adequately express the full measure of my devotion to her. In my letter to Fiona, I requested an audience with Fiona to give her my apologies in person. Though I realize that Fiona might not forgive me, I cannot rest without seeking it.
I am tormented by the knowledge that I have injured Fiona’s exuberant heart and her tender soul. And I want to convey to her my continued, love, admiration, and esteem for her, even if she decides not to take me back. If Fiona can be happy again–even if that is without me–then I must be happy for her, though my own heart is breaking.
I will travel to Milton on Wednesday, April 2nd–planning to arrive on the early afternoon train from London. I will take lodging at the Milton Mayfair Hotel, and then seek my father’s counsel at his medical practice that same afternoon. I will send word of my arrival to you and await your and Fiona’s responses for my requests for an audience. And I will not return to London until I know that Fiona is well again. I have given my legal caseloads to others, informing them that I it is my intention to be gone a month or more until an important personal matter is resolved.
Yours sincerely, Baird
Baird Ogilvy, London
John considers Baird’s letter. Then he refolds it, places it back in its envelope, and slides it into his coat’s vest pocket. he also places the slightly thicker unopened letter that Baird sent to Fanny in his vest pocket. And realizing that Baird is due to arrive in Milton this very afternoon, John walks briskly out of his office toward Thornton Manor, toward home. John feels that he must prepare Fanny in case Baird follows through with his wish to try to see her.
After John shares Baird’s letter to him with his wife Margaret and mother Hannah, they discuss what to do about Baird’s letter. They all agree that Fanny should not be caught unawares about Baird’s presence in Milton. But they have a luncheon guest in Lissa Dillard who is delighted that her Nana Hannah is back. So after luncheon, when Hannah walks Lissa back to the Mill’s school and nursery, John and Margaret take Fanny aside in John’s study in Thornton Manor.
John: “Fanny Dear, now that we are alone. I must tell you that I have had a letter from Baird that only arrived this morning.”
Fanny: Fanny’s heart beats faster. “What did it say?” She asks timidly, hopefully.
John: “Basically, he apologizes for his behavior and he wishes to apologize to you in person.”
Fanny: “Is that all?” Fanny asks nervously.
John: “No. But I feel that you should read Baird’s letter to you that also arrived this morning. I have not opened it, nor do I know if its specific contents. Then, if you wish to read Baird’s letter to me, I will let you.”
Fanny looks at her brother and then to her sister-in-law, Margaret–both of them smile encouragingly at her. Then she tremblingly holds out her hand.
Fanny: “Please give me my letter, Johnny.”
John: Holding the letter out to her, he adds. “Fanny, whatever the contents of this letter–and your response to them–know that you have all of our love and support. We only want for your happiness. So whatever decision you make, we will respect.”
Fanny: Fanny nods. “Thank you.”
Fanny carefully uses John’s desk letter opener to slice open the envelope. The paper edges are crisp and stiff–the mark of fine stationery. Slowing Fanny pulls the letter out of the envelope and finds it to be rather lumpy. When Fanny unfolds the letter, a flattened pale pink rose pressed between the page sides is revealed.
Margaret: Margaret gasps at the romantic gesture. “Hhhhh!”
Fanny: “Oh!” Fanny is taken aback by this lovely gift, but she is still cautious to read what Baird has to say. Fanny places the rose back into the envelope for safe keeping as she begins to read Baird’s letter.
Baird’s letter to Fiona (read silently by Fanny):
March 28th, 1851
Miss Fiona Thornton, Milton
My Dearest Darling Fiona,
I was so wrong to speak and to act so pompously toward you as I did at the charity ball, and I seek your forgiveness. I am unworthy of your forgiveness, but I request it all the same.
You are the blessing of my life and I only ever seek your happiness. I fear that you will never see me as deserving your love again. But I must make amends to you–even if you no longer want me in your life.
I was intending to apologize to you at Angharad’s tea party for us last Friday–but instead, Angharad gave me your letter and your ring. Your letter to me returning your ring, devastated me, and I realized that I waited too long to talk to you about want happened between us at the charity ball.
I was completely at fault, you are not to blame. I have no justification for my actions, for if I were to explain to you my feelings about our lost English titles, you would think of me even worse than you do now.
So let me declare it–even if it is only for the last time because you cannot forgive me. I love you my darling, Fiona. I love you with my heart that beats only for you. I love you with my mind that finds you endlessly fascinating. I love you with my body that I would worship you with. And I love you with my soul that is forever bound to your soul for eternity.
I beg to speak to you in person and to give you my apologies in person. And I will travel to Milton on Wednesday, the 2nd of April to await your response. I have also written to your brother, seeking his permission to speak with you. I will wait as long as it takes until you will see me.
If you will love me again, my joy will be complete. But if you cannot forgive me, please know that I only ever want your happiness–even if you do not feel that I am worthy to share that happiness with you.
Your devoted, loving, and humbled servant, Baird
Baird Ogilvy, London
Fanny sits speechless and still after reading Baird’s letter–a single tear falls from her left eye. She feels as if the air in her brother’s study has been removed and nothing has been transferred to fill the emptiness. Then Fanny exhales and quickly breathes in again–her not realizing that she had been holding her breath. Then Fanny turns to her brother John.
Fanny: “May I read Baird’s letter to you, Johnny?” She requests with great composure.
John: “Of course.” He smiles benignly, encouragingly. John knows well the viccisitudes of love–him being besotted with his wife Margaret long before he marshalled the courage to invite her on a picnic.
John retrieves his letter from Baird from his other vest pocket and hands it to her. Fanny [(4) right] nods and opens the letter and reads it silently. She folds Baird’s letter to her brother and hands it back to him. There is a silence in the room that is deafening. Finally, Margaret cannot stand it.
Margaret: “Fanny? What are you going to do?”
Fanny stands, holding Baird’s letter and pressed rose in her hands. Fanny looks searchingly at John and Margaret.
John: “Fanny. What do you want me to tell Baird, should he come today as his letter says he intends to do?”
Fanny: “I do not know, Johnny.” She shakes her head in disbelief–and in fear of not knowing if she can trust Baird again.
Fanny feels that Baird’s censure made her doubt her own self worth–when she had always possessed a healthy dose of self confidence. She does not like this wounded feeling–for though cuts and scrapes soon mend, injuries to the heart take longer to heal. The pain of heartbreak is an ache that does not diminish nor resolve easily for Fanny–Baird being her first and her only love. Fanny has only managed to live with her pain the last few days because she has focused upon others–namely Margaret’s health scare. But at night, when Fanny is alone in her room–before sleep fitfully claims her–there is nothing to distract her, nothing to give her hope for a happy future. It is in the dark of night that Fanny’s own self recriminations place the blame for her current bereft state squarely upon her own shoulders. And she feels despair.
John and Margaret share a concerned look between them for Fanny’s almost eerily calm demeanor after reading Baird’s letters. Fanny looks strong–her flawless posture and controlled emotions are measures of her lady like poise. And yet, Fanny’s composure is a mask that hides the delicate and fragile woman within, a woman whose dreams of love and happiness were shattered last week. Then as if in a trance, Fanny turns and walks out into the hallway, up the stairs, and into her bed chamber. Fanny lies down upon her bed and reads Baird’s letter silently to herself again. And then she weeps.
To be continued with Chapter 42
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 41 References, March 28, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #537)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitage as 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 sitting at his mill office desk is portrayed by Richard Armitage in the 2004 BBC drama North & South, epi4, pix 216 found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-216.jpg
3) Baird Ogilvy image (aspect, sized, drkn) is Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice found at fanpop.com http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/25000000/Mr-Bingley-pride-and-prejudice-men-25086484-200-200.jpg
4) Fanny is Jo Joyner in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South epi1 (11h04m01s166) Jan1214 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-brt