“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 54 (PG-13): Where There is a “Mill”, There is a Way, May 05, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #559)
[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: Fiona and Baird’s loving wedding night and the next day precluded them joining their family for Sunday breakfast, or even church. However, the focus quickly shifted to the two youngest members of the wedding party–Flower Girls five year old Lady Blythe Ogilvy and four year old Lissa Dillard. They have become instant friends and soulmates during the few days they have known each other. And their realization that they must part when Blythe and her family returns to Scotland on the morrow, Monday afternoon, sent the two girls into such a tizzy of crying distress that overwhelmingly concerned their parents–and especially John and Margaret.
Ch. 54 (PG-13): Where There is a “Mill”, There is a Way
After a fitful family Sunday luncheon of upset little girls in the persons of five year old Lady Blythe Ogilvy and four year old Lissa Dillard, hosted by Hannah and Cameron at the Milton Mayfair Hotel–where Fiona and Baird still did not show up even though they were upstairs in their wedding suite, their presence was expressly requested, and required, at the final Sunday evening family dinner of the extended Thornton and Ogilvy families at John and Margaret’s home, Thornton Manor. There will be after dinner business discussions lead by John and Cameron among the men about the Thornton-Ogilvy Angus, Scotland Scottish Mills project–including Baird Ogilvy, Jamie Ogilvy, and Alistair MacIntosh.
Again, John and Margaret hosting the family gathering is intended to make it easier on Margaret with her not having to leave home in the evening. And extra cook helpers and serving staff were shared by Hannah and Cameron. As they await dinner–with Hannah and Cameron engaging the children in play–the young adult parents and soon to be parents talk about the little girls situation.
The little girls in question–Blythe and Lissa–are sitting on a chair together by the fireplace, hugging each other and rocking back and forth as a self comforting mechanism. Lissa also clings to her favorite dolly Betsy that she has with her. But the prospect of their parting when Blythe and her family returns to Scotland is no comfort. It is both a tender and a poignantly distressing scene. To try to ease the girls’ parting, Lissa Dillard is invited for an overnight stay with Blythe in their Milton Mayfair Hotel suite of rooms for their last night together as new best friends.
Thistle: Thistle shakes her head mournfully. “Jamie, I have neverrr seen Blythe so despondent as she is now at the prrrospect of parrrrting from little Lissa Dillarrrd. I do na know what to do.” She throws up her hands in consternation. “She will na eat, norrr even take her afterrrrnoon nap. I fearrr for Blythe’s overrrall health, as well as herrr emotional spirrrits–and also, those of Lissa.” Thistle is beside herself with worry.
Jamie: Embracing his wife soothingly. “I wish that we could let them stay togetherrr. Lissa is Blythe’s firrrst and only frrriend.” He shakes his head sorrowfully. “But we must returrrn home to tend to ourrr estates.”
Thistle nods her head in agreement with her husband. But her heart is still hopeful for a solution.
Angharad: Baird’s sister Angharad MacIntosh [(2) right] offers helpfully. “Jamie and Thistle. We arrre staying for a few days longerrr, beforrre rrreturrring to London. Might you leave Blythe with us, to let her accustom herrrself to parrrting from Lissa? Then Blythe can trrravel to Scotland with Papa and Mama next week.” For Cameron and Hannah are planning to make a quick trip home to Scotland.
The young couples look at Jamie and Thistle hopefully.
Thistle: “Thank you. I wish we could. But Blythe’s health needs rrrequirrre constant vigilance–beyond her legs.” She pauses. “We have na said beforrre, but Blythe also has a delicate hearrrt. And all of this upset is na doing herrr any good.” The ever strong Thistle tears up.
John: “I’m so sorry, Thistle and Jamie. We did not know.” John gazes at Blythe’s bereft parents caringly.
Margaret: “Blythe seems so healthy otherwise–with her rosie cheeks and such.” Margaret bites her lip with worry about her own babe to be born in a little more than two months time. Will he or she also be born with health problems?
Fiona: “If only Lissa Dillard could go home to Scotland with Blythe for a visit.” She frets and nestles into her new husband Baird’s side.
Actually, it is as if Fiona and Baird are literally joined at the hip, because they have not relinquished their embrace of each other since they arrived at Thornton Manor this evening. Fiona and Baird receive a few raised eyebrows about their closely intimate body contact. But tactfully, no one mentions it. They were all newly married once as well.
Margaret: “The Dillards would never agree to be parted from their daughter for so great a distance as between Milton, England and Angus, Scotland.” Margaret shakes her head ruefully.
Angharad: “And Lissa is not a toy to be bandied about and shuffled around without thought to herrr futurrre.” They all know this, but it is good of her to mention it.
Baird: “Still, if a way could be found ….” Baird’s voice trails off. He has no ideas.
Having kept his own counsel and not even made his suggestion to Margaret–for fear that it would only get everyone’s hopes up to have them dashed–John puts forth an idea in hushed tones so that the little girls do not overhear them.
John: “I have a suggestion that will only work if Mr. and Mrs. Dillard agree to it.”
Alistair: “Of course, as Lissa’s parents, they would have to agree to any arrangement.” Alistair squeezes his wife Angharad’s hand.
Margaret: “What is it, John?” She asks hopefully.
John: “Hhhh! You understand that I have consulted with no one about this–and it might not be possible.”
Jamie: “If therrre is even a glimmerrr of an idea, we would enterrrtain it, John.”
Baird: “What is it? Out with it, John.” Baird asks impatiently. The quicker they get their family evening over with, the sooner he and his new wife Fiona can return to their wedding suite. Afterall, Baird and Fiona are still on their honeymoon today–before returning to London to start their new life together in a few days.
Everyone nods their heads.
John: “Well, we have been approaching the issue as if it only involved Lissa–whereas her parents and siblings are also involved.”
Margaret: “John, if you do not tell us your idea this instant, I will burst!” Margaret pleads [(3) right]. And Margaret means this literally since as a pregnant lady, she must visit her bathroom quite frequently.
John: Then without ceremony, John blurts out–but still in hushed tones so the little girls do not hear. “I could offer Mr. Dillard one of the Thornton-Ogilvy Scottish Mill Assistant Overseer positions–and they would move their whole family to Angus, Scotland!” John winces, not knowing how practical a notion this is–elevating a man who is only the Marlborough Mills Weaving Foreman and Under Overseer to be on the management team of this new Mill venture.
The young couples look at John dumbstruck at this novel idea. The men are weighing the practicality of bestowing such a responsible position on Mr. Dillard. Jamie and Thistle Ogilvy look hopeful. Then Baird tempers that hope.
Baird: “But John, would not a more experienced man be better to put in charge of the new mill?”
Jamie nods his head in defeat.
John: “I have thought of that. My Senior Overseer at Marlborough Mills is Williams. I propose to put him in charge initially at the new Mill in Scotland, with the understanding that when he elects to retire in five years, that Mr. Dillard will be his replacement. Until then, Mr. Dillard would be Under Overseer and Weaving Foreman at the new Scottish Mill–positions that he holds now at Marlborough Mills. This will allow Mr. Dillard enough time to mature into the position of Overseer. Nicholas Higgins will remain at Marlborough Mills as the new Senior Overseer and I will promote another employee to be his Second and a third person to be the new Weaving Foreman.”
John waits for a response. Everyone looks at each other. The clock ticks away the seconds–an unfortunate reminder for Margaret, who has an urgency.
Margaret: Not being able to wait any longer, Margaret pronounces the verdict that is on everyone’s minds. “I think it is a fine plan, John! You men can flesh out the business details after dinner, then meet with Higgins and Williams and Dillard tomorrow morning– before Jamie and Thistle and their family leave for home on the early afternoon train.”
Jamie and Thistle: “Thank you, John.” Their hopeful smiles reflect their grateful thanks for a potential solution to Blythe’s and Lissa’s distress. They embrace each other in relief.
Other couples: “Good idea!” “It could work.” “Why didn’t I think of that?” etc.
John: “Thank you, everyone. But until everything is settled, we should not say anything to the children–let alone, Blythe and Lissa. We don’t want to give them false hope. This plan all hinges on the Dillards being willing to relocate to Scotland.”
Margaret: “I am certain that you will make an appealing offer to the Dillards, John. Now! If my guests will excuse me for a few moments, John, please escort me upstairs.” Margaret asks plaintively. She has to pee.
Early Monday morning, John hurries to his office at Marlborough Mills to have his usual first of the week meeting with his Overseer Williams and Assistant Overseer Higgins. But today’s meeting will be a bit different–with the fates of two mills and two little girls at stake, and occurring before the larger meeting with the new Thornton-Ogilvy Scottish Mills Board meeting with Cameron, Baird, Jaime, and Alistair.
Today is especially important because John hopes to settle the management of the new Scottish Mill and Mr. Dillard’s participation in that–to facilitate Lissa Dillard and Blythe Ogilvy not having to part. The gravity of what John plans to propose weighs heavily on his mind as he sits gathering his thoughts at his desk [(4) right]. Did he come to the decision about the new Scottish Mill’s management staff because it is the right path for the new mill? Or because little Lady Blythe needs her companion and friend Lissa at her side?
After a few minutes, Williams and Higgins enter John’s office. John sits behind his desk with Williams and Higgins sitting in front of his desk.
John: “Gentleman, we are in the process of deciding the management of the new Scottish Mills and have come to several decisions–that affect both of you and Marlborough Mills.”
Williams and Higgins look at each other. They assume that one of them will be offered the management of the new mill. But they say nothing, waiting to hear their fates. There is a knock at the door and Lissa’s father Mr. Dillard pokes his head in.
Mr. Dillard: “You asked to see me, Mr. Thornton, Sir?” Mr. Dillard looks about warily, now noticing that Williams and Higgins are also present.
John: “Please come in and join us, Mr.Dillard.” John smiles and motions for Dillard to take a third chair–to the left of Williams.Then John walks from around his desk and sits leaning against the front off it–unintentionally towering above his three employees sitting before him.
Higgins: “You mentioned the new mill in Scotland?”
John: “Yes.” He pauses. “We need a skilled and experienced Overseer at each Mill. Happily in both you Williams and you Higgins, we have that.” Then John turns to look at Mr. Dillard. “But one scenario that the new Thornton-Ogilvy Scottish Mills Board and I are mulling over also involves you Mr. Dillard.”
Dillard: Dillard’s eyes go wide. “Me?” He stares incredulously at the Master of Marlborough Mills, John Thornton.
Higgins: “It does?” Higgins now wonders if Thornton is planning to ship both he and Williams off to Scotland and put Dillard in charge at Marlborough Mills?
Williams eyebrow raises, then his eyes narrow. But he says nothing. Williams has not risen from the ranks of fluff catchers to carders to loom weavers to foreman and now the past ten years to Overseer without having some shrewdness of understanding and having some discretion of thought.
John: “Kkkhh!” John clears his throat before he begins.
Just then, there are three loud raps that rattle the frosted glass in John’s office door. Cameron opens the door and peeks inside.
Cameron: “Have ye told them yet?” He asks cheerfully.
John: “No, but come in.”
John motions for him to enter. But John’s Stepfather Dr. Cameron Ogilvy is not alone as in walks Sir Alistair MacIntosh, Lord Jamie Ogilvy, and even Lord Baird Ogilvy–who left his new wife Fiona in their marriage bed contented but eager for him again. What had been John’s spacious office is now crowded with eight broad and tall men in it.
Baird: Looking around the crowded office, Baird states the obvious. “John? I suggest that we rrremove ourrrselves to the larger meeting rrroom.”
John: “Yes, please go on ahead. We will be right there.” The Scots file out of John’s office. “As I was saying, gentleman. For the management of the new Mill in Scotland, I would like Williams to be Overseer–with Dillard as Under Overseer and Weaving Foreman, as he is now here.” Williams looks pleased, Higgins does not, Dillard looks confused. “I will then promote Higgins to Marlborough Mills Overseer and he and I will need to determine who will be his second as Under Overseer and the new Weaving Foreman.” Higgins looks slightly mollified. “I know that for Williams and Dillard, that this will mean quite an adjustment with moving your families to Scotland. But I will assist in making those arrangements amenable to you to lessen the burden. Increased salaries, housing allotments, and such will be tendered to all three of you.”
Williams and Higgins are the first to stand up and shake Master John Thornton’s hand.
Williams: “Thank you, Mr. Thornton. I will not let you down.”
John: “I know you won’t, Williams. Congratulations!”Then John turns to Higgins. “Congratulations to you as well, Higgins!”
Higgins: “Thank yo.” Nicholas is still a bit uncertain about the situation–not having heard any of the details yet. But he has learned to trust John Thornton’s honesty.
Williams and Higgins nod to Mr. Thornton, then head to the board room for the planning meeting. Mr. Dillard stays seated, too thunderstruck to move or to speak.
John: “You must have questions about the new mill in Scotland. Come, let us join the others for the meeting.” John motions toward the door.
Dillard: Dillard finds his voice as he stands. “I thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Thornton, Sir.” He winces. “But I cannot accept it without asking if my wife will agree to the move to Scotland.”
John: “Of course. Please go see her at once, then join us in the meeting. Please tell her that your new position comes with a small cottage–bigger than the one you have now–with a plot of land. Of course, your salary will be bigger as well, owing to the burden of getting a new mill up and running being more taxing than working in an existing mill. And if your wife chooses, she may also direct a Mill Worker’s Clothing Project in Scotland for similar compensation as she receives now.” Dillard looks at him quizzically. John explains. “For a similar salary.”
Mr. Dillard nods and turns toward the door. Then he stops before opening the door and he turns back to John Thornton. Dillard’s pride must be assuaged.
John: “Is there something else?” John asks with trepidation.
Dillard: “I hope you won’t think me impertinent, sir.” Impertinent being one of the weekly words Dillard learned in the adults literacy evening class. “But does your offering me this job have anything to do with my Lissa and Lord Ogilvy’s Lady Blythe being upset at having to part today?” A man has his pride. And Dillard also thinks that the rich can’t change people’s lives at a whim.
John’s eyebrows’ raise. He had not expected to be asked the question so directly–let alone, by Dillard.
John: John’s eyes narrow. Then he decides to be honest. “In part. And what I tell you now should not be repeated to anyone–or I will rescind my offer.” Dillard nods. “Williams is the Senior Overseer at Marlborough Mills–thus the natural choice to lead the starting of the new mill in Scotland. But he is also nearing the age in a few years time when he will begin to consider retiring. So I need to have someone in place in Scotland to take over when that occurs. But I can’t send Higgins because he is needed here. You are the next in line as Under Overseer and Weaving Foreman–you are the logical person to apprentice with Williams in Scotland and to eventually take over as Overseer when Williams steps down.”
Dillard: Mr. Dillard considers the sense of that statement. “And what about Lissa?”
John: “Proposing that you uproot your family is a lot to ask of anyone. But given that at least your daughter Lissa has a friend in Scotland–in Lady Blythe Ogilvy–that might help your family’s transition to a new home in Scotland. Lord Jamie Ogilvy and Lord Baird Ogilvy will serve as co-Masters of the new Ogilvy-Thornton Scottish Mills. And I think that you will find Lord Jamie a most agreeable Master.”
Dillard: “I thought it was to be called the Thornton-Ogilvy Scottish Mills?”
John: “Yes! Well! The Scottish Mills’ name change to reflect its presence in Scotland–and it being primarily lead by the Scottish side of our family–is but one of the items that we will discuss today. But! Go to your wife and lay my proposal before her. Then come back within the hour with your answer.” John urges.
Of course only giving Mr. Dillard an hour to make such a life changing decision as moving to another country might be seen as high handed by some. It is just that John hopes to have a swift resolution.
Dillard: “I will.” He nods and the two men shake hands.
Dillard leaves and John heads into the board room.
Cameron: “Well? You were delayed in joining us for quite some time.” Cameron and the other Thornton-Ogilvy family men look at john expectantly.
John: “Mr. Dillard is going to discuss the offer with his wife. Then he will return and give us his answer.”
Williams and Higgins exchange quizzical looks. Them not having an inkling why lords and doctors and masters should be interested in whether a mill worker will accept a job in Scotland. But then, Williams and Higgins have not seen the distress of little Lady Blythe and little Lissa Dillard at their upcoming parting
Then the men continue their Scottish Mills planning discussions, anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Dillard’s response.
It is one o’clock on Monday afternoon and Lord Jamie and Lady Thistle Ogilvy and their children nine year old son Viscount Hamish and five year old Lady Blythe are waiting on the Milton Train Station platform for their trunks to be loaded as they say their final good byes to their cousins in the persons of Dr. Cameron Ogilvy and his extended family
John and Margaret, Hannah and Cameron, and Baird and Fiona are there to see them off. Baird’s sister Angharad has a fussy baby Amanda to contend with, so she stays at her Papa’s home above his medical practice. And her husband Alistair and their son Andrew keep them company.
The Ogilvy adults in Jamie and Thistle try to put a good face on their leave taking, but it is always hard to part from those whom you love. Little Blythe looks around for her friend Lissa to see her off, but does not see her. And Blythe leans into her Mama’s skirt and whimpers.
Blythe: “Hmm. Hmmm.” Little Blythe’s tears begin to fall again.
Hamish: Her brother Hamish tenderly pats her shoulder. “Therrre, therrre, Blythe. I will help ye wrrrite to Lissa.”
Thistle: “Now Blythe, ye and Lissa said yourrr farrrewells this morrrning.”
Blythe: “I know, Mama. But I will miss her so.”
The adults wince, knowing that this parting is difficult for Blythe. The issue of the Dillards had not been completely settled this morning–since Mrs. Dillard asked for more time to decide if she and her husband would move their family to Scotland. Of course, John had to be reasonable and grant them several days to think about it. Then Margaret spots a child pulling on her mother’s arm, dragging her toward them.
Margaret: “John!” She whispers. “Look!”
John Thornton turns his head to see Lissa Dillard pulling on her mother’s arm.
Lissa: “Blyyyythe!” Lissa sings out her little friend’s name as she waves at her.
Blythe: Turning to see her friend Lissa, Blythe smiles happily as she waves back at Lissa. “Lissa! Lissa!” The two little girls hug. “Are you coming with me?”
The adults sigh collectively in nervousness: “Hhhhh!”
John looks curiously at Mrs. Dillard.
Mrs. Dillard: “Lissa Dear, Perhaps, your father should tell Mr. Thornton first.”
John: “Is Mr. Dillard here?” John looks around.
Lissa: “No!” Lissa chirps. “He went to work at the Mill.”
John: “Oh.” John says dejectedly.
Jamie: “It is nice forrr ye to see us off, Mrs. Dillarrrd. Thank ye.” Lord Jamie bows his head to her in thanks, as does his wife, Lady Thistle.
Mrs. Dillard: She bows her head to them. “Thank you, Lord Ogilvy. We look forward to seeing you soon.” Mrs. Dillard uses a common leave taking phrase–but one with special import for the Ogilvy’s and Dillards this day.
John: John blinks. “Excuse me, Mrs. Dillard, but does this mean …?” But John is interrupted by a tiny exuberant voice.
Lissa: “We’re moving to Scotland!” Lissa jumps up and down with glee. “Blythe and I can be friends forever!”
Blythe: “Lissa!” The two little girls hug as if they will never let each other go–and in their hearts now, they don’t have to let go.
Thistle: “This is so wonderful! Thank you!” Lady Thistle Ogilvy impulsively hugs Mrs. Dillard. Then Margaret Thornton, Hannah Ogilvy, and Fiona Ogilvy also hug Mrs. Dillard one at a time.
Hamish: Seeing the fabric bag in Mrs. Dillard’s hand, Blythe’s brother Hamish asks. “Are ye coming with us now?”
Blythe: “Oh yes! Lissa, will you take the trrrain rrride to Scotland with us?”
Lissa: “No, I can’t come with you now.” Lissa says sorrowfully and Blythe pouts. “We have to pack before we can move.” She states practically–as it was explained to her by her mother.
Fiona: “But it is nice that you came to see your friend Blythe off on her trip.” Fiona caresses Lissa’s cheek.
Lissa: “Miss Fanny?” Lissa not knowing of Fanny’s name change to Fiona, she crooks her finger and Fiona Ogilvy leans down and Lissa whispers into her ear. Fiona nods and stands up again with a knowing smile. Then Lissa turns to her mother. “Mama, please give her to me.”
Mrs. Dillard opens her bag and takes out Lissa’s prized possession, her favorite and only dolly, Betsy [(6) right]–made lovingly by hand years ago by Hannah Thornton for her daughter Fanny–and Lissa holds out her dolly Betsy to Blythe.
Blythe: “Oh!” Blythe’s eyes widen at seeing the dolly.
Lissa: “Blythe, I can’t go home with you today, but my dolly Betsy can. She will keep you company until we move in two weeks. Then you can give her back to me.” Lissa hands her dolly Betsy to Blythe.
Blythe: “Are you surrre? Won’t you miss herrr, Lissa? Betsy is yourrr favorrrite dolly.” Blythe cradles Betsy carefully in her arms as she rocks the dolly back and forth.
Lissa: “Yes. I will miss Betsy. But you are my favorite friend, Blythe. So Betsy will keep you company until you see me again.”
The two little girls embrace for several moments again and kiss each others’ cheeks. When they part, both Blythe and Lissa have jubilantly hopeful smiles on their faces. And the Ogilvy-Thornton adult couples have tears in their eyes for such a poignant parting.
Sometimes the best thing can also be the right thing–with Mr. Dillard accepting the job offer and moving his family to Scotland. And sometimes, little girls’ wishes do come true. For Blythe and Lissa, theirs is a friendship of perfect love and acceptance–differences of leg length and social station are of no importance to them.
To be continued with Chapter 55
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 54 References, May 05, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #559)
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
3) Margaret (crop) is Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South and pink flowers Apr0212wiki was found at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/eb/Margaret_Hale00.jpg/220px-Margaret_Hale00.jpg
4) John Thornton was portrayed by Richard Armitage in the 2004 BBC period Drama North & South, epi4 (22h46m08s1) Dec2813 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-manip-sized-brt-clr
5) Blythe Ogilvy and Lissa Dillard images are a composite of:
a) Blythe image is Portrait of a Young Girl by Paul Emile Chabas found at http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/89623/portraitofayounggirl ;
b) Image representing Lissa Dillard is an MS Office Clip Art stock child photo,Jan0514 Gratiana Lovelace
6) The charming fabric doll image representing Lissa’s Betsy doll was found at http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OFIXe4pTE_U/TXOPpLU-LGI/AAAAAAAAAh8/0WKNc5Il2nM/s1600/DSCF1843.JPG at http://bois-fleurie.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-fabric-doll.html