“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 45 (PG): Chopin Nocturnes Interlude, April 07, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #544)
[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, 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: As Fanny is still resting from her breathing attack on Wednesay, April 2, Baird is allowed to see her briefly before he leaves for the night. Fanny is very weak, but she tells Baird calmly and resolutely that she is uncertain of her feelings for him–even though he unequivocally expresses his love for her. She informs him that she wishes to get to know Dr. Miles Houghton who will take her to a musical concert of Chopin’s Nocturne’s Friday evening–with Fanny determined to be well enough to go. Baird is disheartened, thinking that he is losing Fanny, but she invites him to Sunday Brunch–which raises his spirits. Baird vows to respect his Fiona’s wishes, even though his own heart is breaking.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 45 (PG): Chopin Nocturnes Interlude
Baird had taken rooms at the Milton Mayfair Hotel Wednesday evening–and he did, indeed, feel lonely without his family about him. Somehow in his rooms in London–with its familiar bustle and exterior road noises–he had not felt this lonely. But then, in London, he had the hope and expectation of seeing and loving his beloved Fiona when he had made amends to her–despite his cloddish behavior to her at the Charity Ball. But now, knowing that the distress he had caused Fiona not only caused her emotional pain, but that it physically caused her to have a breathing attack that could have killed her due to the strain she is under, Baird chastises himself for his selfishness. He has only been thinking of himself–his wants, his wishes, his desires. And he resolves to be a calm and comforting presence in his Fiona’s life from now on–even if her heart is lost to him irrevocably.
So very early on Thursday morning, Baird rises early, bathes and shaves, downs a quick breakfast of toast and eggs in his room, stops by a flower shop just receiving their six o’clock delivery of flowers from the overnight train, then he walks to Marlborough Mills and Thornton Manor. Upon having the front door opened by a startled maid unaccustomed to well bred gentleman calling upon the manor at half past six o’clock in the morning. Baird thrusts his offering for his Fiona into the girl’s hands and bids her to give it to her mistress, Fanny. The maid curtsies, then Baird leaves.
Though many in Milton Society might still be in their bed even at seven o’clock in the morning, Baird finds that his father’s practice is bustling with patients from the lower classes attempting to be seen before they must head to work. Baird patiently waits his turn to see his father, Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, who as yet does not know that his son has arrived to speak to him. Baird notices a young working class couple with a baby–he guesses their status by virtue of their worn and threadbare clothing–in distress about something that seems unrelated to their visit to their doctor, his father. Baird’s innate curiousity gets the better of him as he covertly eavesdrops on their conversation while he seemingly peruses the morning newspaper.
Sophie: Rocking the baby in her arms to soothe it, she coos. “Shhhh, little one. The doctor will make you well. Oh but Tom, what will we do if we are turned out of our flat?”
Tom Booker: Embracing his wife, Tom tries to console her. “Sophie, the landlord’s agent says we owe an extra week’s rent or he will evict us tomorrow. I don’t know how we will pay him if we don’t sell our wedding rings.”
Sophie Booker: Cradling her feverish baby son in her arms, trying to comfort him while they wait their turn with the doctor, she responds to her husband with whispered distress. “But our wedding rings belonged to my parents, and to my grandparents before them. I do not want to part with them. How can he make us pay extra, Tom? We always pay on time, not like some others.”
Tom Booker: “He is the landlord’s agent. He said he has someone who will pay twice what we pay for our one room flat. He wants us out if we can’t pay. I’m sorry about the rings. But I can’t think of anything else to do.”
Tom looks at his wife pleadingly as he reluctantly removes the wedding ring from her finger and places it on his pinky finger for safe keeping until he can take it to the jeweler’s. Tom knows that he will not be able to obtain the value of the rings from the jeweler–though an heirloom set, the rings hold more sentimental value than cash value. Sophie’s wedding ring is a slim gold band with flowers etched at intervals around it. And along with the companion man’swedding ring on her husband’s finger, the ring set has been in her family for over 100 years–from a time when their family were comfortable farming tenants, before they were pushed off their land.
Baird is seething for what is being done to this young couple. It is obviously an unscrupulous land agent trying to gouge the landlord’s tenants and keep the money for himself. Baird closes his newspaper roughly and sets it on the table next to him.
Baird: “I beg yourrr parrrdon for my intrrrusion, but I could not help overhearrring about yourrr situation.” Baird stares pointedly [(2) right] at the young couple.
Tom and Sophie Booker stare at the well dressed man and they instantly worry that they have given him offense.
Tom: Pride still evident in him as he straightens up sitting in the reception room chair, Tom replies. “We apologize for speaking too loudly, Sir. We are waiting to see Dr. Ogilvy about our baby Matthew’s fever and cough. We are sorry to have disturbed you.” Tom nods at Baird respectfully.
Baird shakes his head at this man mistaking his intent–and he wonders if that happens with others misinterpreting his intent, such as with Fiona?
Baird: “Ye have na injurrred me. I am Dr. Ogilvy’s son, Bairrrd Ogilvy. How do you do.”
Baird stands and thrusts out his hand in greeting. Tom looks at Baird warily, but he also stands and extends his hand and shakes Baird’s hand.
Tom: “How do you do. We are Tom and Sohpie Booker. This is our baby son Matthew. Your father is a great man.” He adds sincerely.
Baird: “Thank ye kindly, Sir. Of courrrse, I think verrry highly of him meself.” Baird smiles. “Madam.” Baird bows to Mrs. Booker. She nods her head slowly. “May I join ye?” Baird points to a chair adjacent to their chairs.
The Bookers are quite shocked to have a gentleman like Baird Ogilvy speaking to them with a level of courtesy they are unaccustomed to.
Tom: “Please.” Tom gestures to the nearby chair. And Baird sits.
Baird: “Thank ye. Ye may tell me to mind me own business, but I am an attorrrney in London and I have had experrrience with landlorrrd and tenant disputes. What I overrrhearrrd you describe the land Agent is trying to do to you sounds like frrraud to me.”
Tom: His eyes widen. “We cannot afford to have any trouble. We need a roof over our heads.”
Baird: “But the Land Agent is prrrobably pocketing the extrrra money that he is trrrying to get out of you–and prrrobably otherrr tenants. Tom, who is your Landlorrrd?”
Tom looks at his wife, worried that their troubles will become worse if he tells. But she nods at him encouragingly.
Sophie: “Tom, this is Dr. Ogilvy’s son. He wouldn’t hurt us.”
Baird smiles cordially at the couple to assure them of her statement.
Tom: “Our Landlord is Mr. Lattimer, the banker.” Tom says with some pride for having one of Milton’s finest citizens as their Landlord. And yet, Tom and his family live in one of the poorest areas of the poverty stricken Princeton District, the former neighborhood of the Dillard Family who moved to Thornton Village next to Marlborough Mills not too long ago.
Baird: “Ah! I have met him beforrre on one of me visits to Milton. He seems like a decent man. I am cerrrtain that he would want to be made awarrre of his Land Agent not collecting his rrrents prrroperrly–let alone, stealing frrrom him.”
Tom: “I don’t know.” Tom looks warily at Baird.
Baird: “I know that ye arrre worried about the rrreperrrcussions of rrreporrrting this to Mrrr. Lattimerrr.”
Sophie: “Reper …?” She is unfamiliar with the word.
Tom: Turning to his wife, Tom says softly. “Sophie Dear, repercussions means what happens after we talk to Mr. Lattimer.” She nods.
Baird: “Just so.” Impressed, Baird asks in some astonishment. “Mr. Booker, have ye had some schooling?”
Tom: “My mother taught me to read and write. She had been a governess to a fine house before she married my father and moved to our family farm.” He says wistfully, remembering his former bucolic and carefree existence growing up as a farm boy in the countryside. “But that was long ago, before we were forced from our farm and had to move to the city to find work.” His life has not been an easy one, as others have taken advantage of their family.
Baird: “Well afterrr yourrr son is trrreated by me Fatherr, Mr. Bookerrr, I suggest that you and I make haste to Mr. Lattimerrr and consult with him at once about the best courrrse of action with rrregarrrd to your tenancy and rrrent. I will act as your attorrrney, without charrrge in the matterrr–considerrring I have most forrrwarrrdly inserrrted myself into yourrr business and you did na seek out me serrrvices.”
Tom and Sophie exchange hopeful looks. Then Dr. Ogilvy’s medical assistant calls the Booker family into to see Dr. Ogilvy about their baby son Mathew’s illness. Baird waits patiently in the reception room for their return–him now having a purpose to his day other than ruminating about his faltering relationship with Fiona, by helping the Booker Family.
Across Milton, Hannah Thornton Ogilvy kisses her daughter Fanny’s cheek before heading to the Mill School and Nursery around seven o’clock Thursday morning to tend to the little ones in Margaret’s and Fanny’s place. Hannah feels a bit tired–unused to early hours again after the luxury of sleeping in during her month long wedding trip with Cameron–and that their hours of actual sleep are fewer than when she slept alone, due to her husband’s romantic attentions. She smiles inwardly to herself as she walks into the school room. However Hannah enjoys being with the children, especially little Lissa Dillard, and she is also looking forward to when she will hold her own grandchild in her arms in four months time.
Fanny had a good night’s rest and she hopes that after her stepfather Cameron examines her again at lunch time, that he will release her to tend to the little ones this afternoon. Sarah enters with Fanny’s breakfast tray of tea, toast and eggs, and a single pink rose and its small card with a note on the back. Fanny sits up more fully in her bed to eat her meal.
Fanny: “Oh?” She picks up the single pink rose and sniffs its lovely scent and smiles [(3) right].
Maid Sarah: “It was Mr. Baird Ogilvy. He brought you the rose and his card in an envelope.” Maid Sarah points to the small envelope.
Fanny: Fanny smiles shyly. “Thank you, Sarah. Might you please come back in a half hour and assist me with my bath?”
Maid Sarah: “Yes, Miss Fanny.” Maid Sarah smiles and curtsies, then leaves to attend to other her duties. Sarah feels that Miss Fanny has been ever so much easier to tend to since she started keeping company with the doctor’s son several months ago.
Fanny lifts up the small envelope and pulls out Baird’s visiting card [(4)]. The card itself is of a pleasing paper quality and thickness, and size–3 inches wide by 1.5 inches tall–not too big and not too small. On one side, the card simply states his name, Baird Ogilvy, Esq. On the other side of the card, there is a brief hand written note in small, neatly printed handwriting to get it all in.
Baird’s note to Fanny that she reads silently to herself:
I hope that you slept well and find yourself feeling better today. I saw this lovely pink rose and thought instantly of you, My Darling. I will try to make myself useful today while you are resting. But I will not be surprised if I find myself paying you a call at tea time–if you would be so kind to receive me, if only to satisfy myself that your cheeks have returned to the delicate pink blush of this rose.
With much love and affection, Baird
Baird had purposely refrained from mentioning the distress and difficulties which precipitated his Fiona’s collapse.
Fanny lifts up her rose again and sniffs its fragrance. Fanny’s spirits are brightened by Baird’s thoughtful gesture. And she looks forward to seeing him again later in the day as she tucks into her breakfast with surprising zeal. Fanny is of the opinion that ladies should always eat like birds–except when they do not have an audience and they may enjoy their food as they wish.
Margaret relishes no longer being confined to bed rest–nor even to bed chamber rest. But she plans to keep to the manor today, per Dr. Miles Houghton’s orders after he visited her early this morning around ten o’clock. And Dr. Houghton was distressed to learn from Dr. Ogilvy in passing that Miss Fanny had a breathing attack yesterday. He would not have thought Miss Fanny to have that delicate a constitution–nor her to be that emotional, since he heard that her distress was caused by being upset. Hmmm. And Miles is uncertain if Miss Fanny will be well enough to attend the musical concert with him Friday night.
John finds that he has business to attend to in Milton regarding one of his tenants near the Hale home at Crampton, so he pops in at Thornton Manor first and he literally scoops Margaret up into his arms and carries her to their waiting open gig carriage. They will visit Margaret’s parents briefly to ascertain the state of Mrs. Hale’s health and to reassure them of Margaret’s improving health after informing them last week of Margaret’s fainting spell due to her being five months pregnant.
Margaret is uncertain about going at first–her not wanting to do anything to jeopardize their baby she is carrying. But John assuages her concerns when he relates that he cleared their outing with Dr. Houghton when Miles relayed his report to John after examining Margaret this morning–as long as John carries her rather than her walking up and down the front steps of either home. John and Margaret have a lovely and brief visit with the Hales, but they are concerned with the declining health of the now completely bed ridden Maria Hale.
Already pale and fragile when they moved to Milton last year, Margaret’s mother Maria Hale is but a shadow of her former self–when she was the sparkling society belle Miss Beresford before she wed Mr. Hale some thirty years ago for love. That decision to eschew the many offers from wealthy suitors, who did not suit her, has been tested in recent times with their nearly penurious state when her husband gave up his comfortable living [(5) right] as the Vicar of Helstone Parish in the South. Leaving their fine home, many friends, and respected circumstances behind them has been difficult for Maria Hale–and has contributed to her failing health.
And Margaret feels as if her mother is desperately trying to hold on to see her grandchild in four months time–which is Margaret’s hope as well. John understands his wife’s concerns and shares them–for he has already lost one parent himself, when his father died sixteen years ago. John and Margaret will give their child and their future children all of their love and attention, but it cannot replace the love and guidance from a beloved grandparent.
Baird Ogilvy’s meeting with the banker Mr. Lattimer on behalf of his father’s patient’s father Tom Booker’s rent and tenancy issues proved rather more successful and easily accomplished than Baird had thought might be possible. Mr. Booker’s obvious dignity and well spoken manner impressed Mr. Lattimer–as did the neatly hand written account that Mr. Booker wrote in Mr. Lattimer’s presence for use in the criminal case against Mr. Lattimer’s land agent.
So not only did Mr. Lattimer assure Mr. Booker that his rent would not increase, but after confronting his land agent with the charges of malfeasance of funds, Mr. Lattimer sacked him and made Mr. Booker his land agent instead–with a healthy raise and a larger flat at no charge as part of his compensation. It turns out that Mr. Lattimer had already begun to have suspicions about his former land agent–and Mr. Booker’s testimony with Baird Ogilvy’s backing confirmed his fears. And Mr. Lattimer feels that someone such as Mr. Booker–who had lived among his tenants, but who had some learning due to his mother’s influence–might be the better person to represent his interests to his tenants.
With a happy Tom Booker sent off with one of Mr. Lattimer’s clerks to collect his wife and move into new housing–then to purchase a modest ready made suit of clothes as befitted his new status as Lattimer’s Land Agent, then return on the morrow for instructions from Mr. Lattimer about the tenants and his duties–Baird Ogilvy was quite pleasantly disposed to join Mr. Lattimer for a late lunch at Mr. Lattimer’s club in Milton. There the two men–Gerald Lattimer and Baird Ogilvy–proceed to become better acquainted.
Baird: “That was a delicious meal, Mr. Lattimer. Thank ye for hosting me.” Baird smiles appreciatively to the banker Lattimer as they sip their teas after their meal.
Lattimer: “I am pleased that you enjoyed it. It is but a small recompense for the service you rendered me today in uncovering the fraudulent dealings of my former land agent. I am in your debt, Sir.” He says a bit effusively.
Baird: “Nay! I was happy to do me father’s patient’s father a good turn. And it happily worked out to your benefit as well.”
Lattimer: “But you must let me do you a good turn, Mr. Ogilvy.”
Baird: “I would say that this fine meal sufficiently rrrewarrrds me for me efforrrts, Mr. Lattimer.”
Lattimer: “You are too humble, Sir. Let me invite you to my home to dine this evening.” He is thinking about his unmarried daughter Ann who might like this young gentleman.
Baird: “That is a lovely invitation, but I do not know what arrrangements me Fatherrr has made for ourrr family gatherrrings durrring my stay.”
Lattimer: “Of course. Well then, how about an after dinner engagement? There is a musical concert of Chopin’s Nocturne’s in Milton on Friday night that we plan to attend. We would welcome you sharing our box with us.” Mr. Lattimer smiles, hoping his enticement for a special evening engagement will be accepted by the young and eligible Baird Ogilvy.
Baird: “I don’t know.” Baird hesitates. Baird would like to go to the concert purely because he knows that Fiona will be there. And though he does not wish to openly spy upon Fiona, Baird would still like to watch out for her with that man, Dr. Miles Houghton.
Lattimer: “It would be just a small group–my wife and I, oh and our daughter Ann.” Mr. Lattimer raises his eyebrows hopefully. At one time, he had hoped that John Thornton would look Ann’s way–but the two young people had never progressed past polite exchanges.
The wheels are turning in Baird’s mind. Fiona had mentioned Ann Lattimer to Baird a time or two as being her friend. And he wonders if Fiona would be jealous were she to see him with Ann? He knows it is slightly underhanded of him–because he has no interest in pursuing Miss Lattimer. But then, the banker Lattimer is the one trying to push his daughter into Baird’s path. Baird thinks that he is only being polite in accepting the kind invitation. The fool.
Baird: “I accept your kind invitation with pleasure.” Baird smiles cordially.
Lattimer: “Good, good.” Lattimer slides his palms together back and forth with unveiled glee. It is not often that a worthy suitor for his daughter comes to Milton. “Our carriage will collect you at half past seven o’clock on Friday evening. The concert is at eight and we will have a late light supper afterward that we also invite you to.”
Baird: “You are most kind.” Baird bows his head.
And though Fanny had hoped to spend the whole afternoon of Thursday at the school, since it was only one day since her breathing collapse, Fanny found that she became too tired after an hour and returned home to rest in her bed chamber. Her mother Hannah then returned to the school for the rest of the afternoon.
That same afternoon, Baird does indeed call at Thornton Manor at a late tea time at five o’clock Thursday–after the Mill School and Nursery day is done–attending with his father Cameron. As Hannah pours tea, Baird looks around the room for Fanny, wondering where she might be–and if she will be joining them.
Hannah: “Baird, Fanny is resting in her room yet today. She had tried to be with the children a bit this afternoon, but came home to rest after only an hour. I finished the school day with the children.”
Cameron: “Let me go up and see how she is doing. Then if she feels up to having some tea with us, I can always carry her down here.”
Hannah: “Thank you, Cameron.” She smiles sweetly at him. “Maid Sarah will take you to Fanny.”
Of course, Cameron knows which room is Fanny’s because he has attended her there. But propriety insists that a lady be chaperoned at all times when she is with a man–even if that man is her doctor.
After Baird watches his father leaves to attend Fiona/Fanny, Baird is beginning to think that he had accepted the Lattimer invitation for naught. Because if Fiona does not attend the musical concert so she can see him with Ann Lattimer and be jealous, what point is there to him going?
Baird: “Thank ye for the tea. How is Fiona? I have na seen her since last evening.”
Hannah: “She is feeling better, Baird. But she is weakened and must get her strength back.” Hannah smiles. “However, her spirits were considerably brightened by your thoughtful gift this morning of the lovely rose and your kind note.”
Baird: “I am glad that they were well received.” He smiles. Baird thinks maybe he should not try to make Fiona jealous and just be straight forward with her. She is always honest with him.
Cameron: “Here we arrre.” Cameron smiles while gently carrying the small and slender Fanny in his arms. “Fanny insisted that she must join us for tea.”
Hannah: “Ah! Fanny dear.” She smiles warmly at her daughter and husband as he sets Fanny down and she sits on the sette.
Baird: Baird stands and bows. “Miss … Fiona.” He hesitates upon which name to address her, but she will always be his Fiona. “You are looking well.”
Fanny: “Thank you, Baird.” Then she turns to Cameron. “Thank you for helping me join you all, … Cameron.” Fanny likes the older father figure that her mother’s new husband represents. He is a calm and stable influence in their lives–like a father which she has never really had. And she would not object to calling him Father, that is, if he and her Mother did not object.
They all go on to have a lovely tea, talking of the weather and such–nothing controversial. Cameron also proudly reveals Baird’s help to the Booker family today. Baird lowers his head humbly when he sees clear admiration for him in both Hannah’s and Fiona’s eyes.
And Baird is now completely regretting accepting the banker Lattimer’s invitation to the music concert. But Baird is caught. Etiquette will not allow him to back out of the engagement without a good reason–and he has none, but the realization of his stupidity in thinking to making Fiona jealous with Ann Lattimer. And Baird is not certain how Fiona will react to seeing him at the concert–him not wanting to distress her given the fragile state of her health.
Baird delivers another rose and note to Thornton Manor on Friday morning for Fanny to receive with her breakfast tray. Baird hopes to mitigate any unpleasantness in their meeting at the concert tonight, should she attend with that man, Dr. Miles Houghton.
Baird’s slightly longer note on stationery to Fanny that she reads silently while brushing the pale pink rose against her cheek:
I was glad to see you join us for tea yesterday since you were feeling better. You looked very lovely. I confess that I would wish to see you every day, if you would permit me. I have truly never experienced before the love and tenderness that I feel for you and that I feel with you. Though I know that my hopes and wishes await your answering them in harmonious accord, I find myself humbled as I learn what patience really means. I hope that my struggling with patience amuses you. For you always like to gently puncture my tendency toward over confidence.
I should tell you that Mr. Lattimer kindly invited me to join he and his family for the musical concert this evening as his thanks for my uncovering his unscrupulous land agent. I hesitated accepting, not knowing if you would want me at the concert since you will be attending with Dr. Houghton. But Mr. Lattimer is a persuasive man and he insisted that I say yes. Since Miss Lattimer is a friend of yours, I will suggest to her that we visit your box at intermission. If you do not wish to see her or myself, I will understand. Simply ask Father to let me know.
In any case, I hope that you will enjoy the concert. Chopin’s nocturnes are favorites of mine. And ye have not heard them in all their glory until ye have heard them played on the bagpipes. That is a little Scottish humor thrown in for good measure.
With much love and affection, Baird
Fanny smiles. For she guesses rightly that the real reason Baird accepted the Lattimer’s invitation is to see her tonight. So Fanny relates to her stepfather, Cameron–for him to relate to his son Baird–her agreement to see her friend Ann and Baird during intermission at the musical concert this evening.
The first half of the Chopin Nocturnes concert with a guest artist pianist is filled with lovely stirring music [(6)]. Though Dr. Houghton had intended to purchase tickets on the main floor, John suggested that Fanny would be more comfortable in the Thornton box. And John and Margaret also join them.
As it happens, the Lattimer and Thornton boxes are almost directly opposite each other in the modestly sized opera house. Sitting to Ann Lattimer’s right, as she sits facing the stage, Baird cannot pretend to be interested in the music. He only has eyes for his Fiona as she sits poised and elegant in the box across from him–with her obviously transfixed by the lovely music. The fact that that man, Dr. Houghton is with Fanny as her escort does not faze Baird.
Dr. Miles: Reading from their printed program about each nocturne, Miles whispers to Fanny. “One wonders why Chopin wrote so many nocturnes. Were there not other forms of songs that he could compose?”
Fanny: Looking at her escort critically, because she is a lover of all things musical, Fanny’s nose scrunches up in displeasure. “Of course Chopin composed music in other styles. But this evening is dedicated to his nocturnes. I should have thought that was clear from the program title–Chopin Nocturnes.” Fanny underlines the word on his program cover with her gloved index finger.
Miles nods in agreement, though wondering about her seeming particularity for Chopin.
Then Fanny sits back to become immersed in the music again–forgetting her seemingly non-musically inclined escort, Dr. Miles.
Baird had noticed the exchange between Fiona and that man–including Fiona’s nose wrinkled in displeasure. And Baird smiles to himself.
Then at intermission, Baird escorts Ann Lattimer from the refreshments area to the Thornton box–as he told Fiona he would, and received her acceptance through his Father. Baird thinks that Ann Lattimer is a lady like young woman–though almost as tall as him, and rather bland since he has yet to hear her express any opinions about anything. It is only when they reach the Thornton box that Ann seems to change her demeanor. John and Margaret had stepped out for refreshments.
Ann: Rushing toward Fanny and gently embracing her, Ann bites her lower lip. “Oh what a time you have had, Fanny. Hhhhh! I heard from Matilda who heard it from Fern who heard it from Pauline.” The gossip mill in Milton is on full tilt. “They said that you had nearly died! And I thought that you had left your breathing attacks behind you in childhood.”
To anyone not familiar with Ann Lattimer, her comment would seem innocuous. To Fanny, she notes the censure in Ann’s voice and manner–with Ann somehow trying to convey that Fanny is generally unhealthy.
Fanny: “Yes, well. It is over now and I am recuperating. Afterall, I am here this evening. So I am not on death’s door.” Fanny petulantly looks at her friend, Ann.
Baird: “Ha!” Baird covers his mouth to stifle futher laughter. He has missed Fanny’s frank way of speaking. His eyes twinkle as he and Fiona share a knowing glance. Then Baird just stands back and watches the unfolding exchange before him with amusement.
Ann: “Well! Of course not!” Ann sounds a bit miffed, but in that aloof, I’m a lady, kind of way.
Dr. Miles: Leaning forward into the conversation, Dr. Miles asks politely. “Might I be introduced?”
Fanny: “Oh! Of course. Dr. Miles Houghton, my good friend Miss Ann Lattimer, the banker’s daughter. Ann, Dr. Houghton is Dr. Ogilvy’s new medical practice partner.”
Ann smiles benignly, giving nothing away about her thoughts. But then Baird wonders if she has any thoughts that are not strictly codified in the rules of society. He would be very surprised as she mentally ponders whether or not a doctor earns a substantial living and could afford a wife like her.
Dr. Miles: Dr. Miles takes Ann’s hand in his and kisses it. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Lattimer. You are only the second young lady that I have met in Milton–my practice taking so much of my time since I arrived three months ago.”
Ann: “The warmer weather will bring some assemblies and balls where you may meet others. You do dance, Dr. Houghton?” Ann likes that Dr. Houghton is tall–well, taller than she is.
Dr. Miles: “I do. And please call me Miles, Miss Lattimer.”
Baird thinks that Dr. Miles seems to want every pretty lady in Milton to be on a first name basis with him. If Baird didn’t know better, he might think that Dr. Houghton is bent on seeking a wife, poste haste. And Baird would be correct.
As Dr. Miles and Ann Lattimer continue to chat about nothing in particular, Baird moves closer to Fiona standing off to the side and asks mischievously.
Baird: “What do you think of those two together? As a couple?” He asks naughtily.
Fanny: “Ann and Miles?” Baird nods. “Dull and Duller.” She whispers back to him.
Baird: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Baird rocks his head back in laughter at their private joke. It seems that Baird agrees with Fanny and she smiles blushingly.
But of course, the ungentlemanly loudness of Baird’s laughter causes both Dr. Miles Houghton and Ann Lattimer to look at him perplexed, for his being so … energetic in public.
John and Margaret reenter their box, just as a lone violinist plays incidental music indicating that intermission is almost over.
John: “Baird!” John and Baird shake hands vigorously.
Baird: “John! Margaret, it is lovely to see you again.” Baird bows to her.
Margaret: “And you, Baird. Good evening, Ann.” Margaret smiles cordially at Ann Lattimer.
Ann: “Mrs. Thornton.” Ann nods politely, if not respectfully–for Ann had wanted John Thornton as her husband prize. So Ann returns her arm to possessively hook around Baird’s arm. “We should return to my family’s box. Good evening everyone.” Baird nods, but winces at Ann’s oddly clingy behavior. He hardly knows the woman, except to say that he does not want to get to know the woman
Dr. Houghton smiles warmly at Ann Lattimer, even as he places Fanny Thornton’s arm upon his own. Afterall, he is escorting Fanny tonight and has every right to claim her as his own.
Farewells are made and Baird and Ann return to the Lattimer box for the other half of the Chopin Nocturnes concert. And though Baird would dearly prefer to return to his hotel afterward, he is obligated to join the Lattimers for a light supper. He presumes it is his penance for thinking however briefly about trying to make Fiona jealous of him with Ann. Baird wonders now how he could have ever entertained such a notion. Fiona is ten times the lady–and a much more interesting person–than Ann Lattimer could ever be to Baird.
And yet, Baird wonders why Fiona continues to accept the attentions of that man, Dr. Houghton, when she seemed to dislike him so–fodder for the future. However, events will conspire this week to still keep Baird apart from his Fiona–something neither of them will like one bit.
To be continued with Chapter 46
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 45 References, April 07, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #543)
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) Baird Ogilvy image (masked background, sized) is Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice found at http://image.hotdog.hu/user/Angelinna/magazin/Pride-and-Prejudice-2005-pride-and-prejudice-2005-32212524-264-400.jpg
3) Fanny Thornton is Jo Joyner in North & South epi1 (11h06m00s79) Jan1214 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-manip-sized-brt-manip
4) Information about visiting cards—their use and dimensions– were found in Emily Post 1873 – 1960 , Etiquette 1922, Ch. X Cards and visits: “A gentleman’s card is long and narrow, from 2 7/8 to 3 1/4 inches long, and from 1 1/4 to 1 5/8 inches high. All visiting cards are engraved on white unglazed bristol board, which may be of medium thickness or thin, as one fancies.” The rest of the text may be found at http://www.bartleby.com/95/10.html
5) Image of Mr. and Mrs. Hale (as portrayed by Tim Pigott-Smith and Lesley Manville) was found at http://www.panhistoria.com/Stacks/Novels/Character_Homes/homedirs/19705images/mrandmrshale.jpg
6) “Li Yundi – Chopin Nocturnes” is a video by Frederic Chopin found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BZ3IEQQf4s ; for more information about Chopin’s Nocturnes, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocturnes_%28Chopin%29