“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 57 (PG-13): You Are So Beautiful, to Me! May 17, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #567)
[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 Ogilvy, Jo Joyner for Fiona/Fanny Thornton Ogilvy, 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: When Hannah and Cameron travelled home to Angus, Scotland the week after Fiona and Baird wed, Lissa Dillard traveled with them–having a joyous reunion with little Lady Blythe Ogilvy. After an extended family picnic with some lawn games–including a strange game called golf–Cameron whisked Hannah to a private retreat in the woods on his estate. There they loved each other tenderly–and Hannah revealed to her awestruck husband Cameron that she is pregnant with their child.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 57 (PG-13):
You Are So Beautiful, to Me
It has now been three weeks since Fiona and Baird wed April 26th and then traveled to London–living a week or so with Baird’s sister Angharad and her family while their townhouse was being refurbished, and so Fiona could learn some of the finer points of home management from Angharad. Fiona and Baird had to delay a formal wedding trip since his firm’s legal case to free their unjustly convicted client is in the appeals phase. So Fiona spends her days developing a routine in her new home that will keep her occupied until her husband comes home each night and they make love–sometimes even before dinner.
John’s and Margaret’s lives have also settled into a quiet domesticity with the now seven months pregnant Margaret continuing to sew or knit baby clothes and receive calls–since she does not go out much in public herself during her confinement, unless it is to visit her mother and father. And this Friday, May 16th, Margaret hosts her also pregnant friend Carlotta Watson and her toddler daughter Clementina, and Fiona’s former friend–and Margaret’s previous competition for her husband John’s attention–Ann Lattimer.
The two pregnant ladies are sitting side by side on the sette, with Ann sitting in a nearby chair. They are rubbing Carlotta’s home made lotion upon their hands–marveling at its soothing properties. Margaret dips her index finger into the jar and claims a dollop of the milky creamy substance [(2) right].
Margaret: “I am quite taken with your skin ointment, Carlotta!” Margaret smiles cheerfully for the first time in a long while as she slowly rubs the cream in circles on the back of her hand. “It is so soothing, and the delicate fragrance is most pleasing.” Then Margaret pointedly turns to Ann, waiting for her to compliment Carlotta.
Ann: Realizing belatedly that she is expected to make some comment about the salve, she offers begrudgingly. “It is unusually unique. What do you call this?”
Carlotta: “Thank you, Ann. I call it a creamy lotion. You may each keep one of the jars that I brought with me today. When you would like more, simply return the jar to me and I will refill it for you.” Carlotta smiles as she senses a potential business venture from her hobby of making her own cosmetic treatments.
Margaret: “Carlotta’s Cream.” Margaret ponders. “This cream will do wonders for my skin.”
Carlotta: “Oh but Margaret! Your complexion has quite surpassed mine with my second pregnancy.”
Margaret: “Thank you, Carlotta.” Margaret beams. “But your skin is quite translucent.” Margaret returns the compliment and Carlotta smiles.
Carlotta: “Ann, don’t you agree that Margaret looks lovely?”
If there is one thing Carlotta Watson knows, it is that heavily pregnant ladies need constant affirmations of their attractiveness and their husband’s desire for them–especially first time pregnant ladies, like Margaret Thornton.
Ann: “Oh yes, Margaret. Your skin is smoother than I have ever seen it.” Leave it to the catty Ann to be able to insult and compliment at the same time. For who uses smoother as praise?
Margaret: “Thank you, Ann.” Margaret gives the obligatory response. But she knows that Ann is insincere. “And how is Dr. Miles, Ann? Are you still courting?”
Despite an initial hiccup–of Ann’s seeming meanspiritedness–Dr. Miles Houghton, Milton’s, newest medical practitioner has indeed begun courting the Banker Lattimer’s daughter, Ann.
Ann: “Oh, he is well, I believe.” She says blasely. Her facial expression is placid–as befits a lady of good breeding. But her quiet demeanor belies an undercurrent of unrealized dreams.
Ann is allowing Dr. Miles to court her since there is no one else in Milton whom Ann deems suitable as a prospective husband. And Ann is still smarting that she did not have enough time to entrance John Thornton, Milton’s most eligible and most handsome bachelor–before he married Margaret Hale seven months ago.
John quickly finishes up work at his Marlborough Mill office and heads home for some relaxing quiet time with Margaret. He is especially enthused because Cameron has written back to John with advice about how to treat Margaret’s increasingly more depressed feelings. And John carries with him two parcels that he has taken special care in obtaining for his wife Margaret.
However, John not realizing that his wife’s tea party guests are still in attendance, John bursts into their front drawing room with a bouquet of flowers in his hand for her.
John: “Margaret, My Love! I have brought you some lovely flowers to cheer you.” He smiles broadly as he enters the room.
Then John notices that there are three women in the room as three pairs of eyes swivel to meet his gaze–and he freezes, feeling sheepishly lovestruck in front of the other two ladies who are not his wife. And John strives to appear unperturbed at being found out to be a loving and besotted husband [(3) right].
Margaret: “John!” She smiles excitedly. Flowers are a favorite of Margaret’s–and John has not given them to her in some time.
John leans down and kisses Margaret’s cheek as he hands her the bouquet.
John: “I am sorry for interrupting, Ladies. But I found that my stomach required some sustenance as the dinner hour approaches.” John sneaks a small iced cake from the serving tray and pops it into his mouth and chews appreciatively.
Carlotta: “Actually, Mr. Thornton, your timing is perfect. I must be away to home to see to my daughter’s dinner and bath before her bed time.” Carlotta smiles sweetly and lays her arm upon her daughter Clementina’s shoulders. And John helps her stand.
John: “Mrs. Watson. It is good of you to visit us.”
For John has come to appreciate the kind nature of Carlotta Watson and the calming influence that she has over Margaret. And as long as John does not have to interact with her husband Clarence Watson, that is fine by him. John is still smarting from Watson’s attempt to take over Marlborough Mills, and Watson’s attempted black mailing of John’s sister Fiona to marry Watson.
Ann Lattimer has said nothing as she stands and turns to fully face John Thornton. But her gaze of unremitting admiration of Margaret’s husband is apparent to all–save the object of her desire, John Thornton. Margaret especially keenly notices Ann’s unladylike stare at her husband–and she is a little piqued by it, perhaps even jealous. Ann Lattimer is not pregnant and therefore slender and able to wear the latest flattering fashions. Whereas Margaret feels so rotund that she worries that nothing in her wardrobe will fit her soon.
John: “Ah! Miss Lattimer, always a pleasure.” John gently takes her hand and softly squeezes her fingers in a small handshake that ladies prefer.
Ann: “Thank you Mr. Thornton. I can say the same at seeing you.” Ann’s voice and person are unabashedly flirting with John Thornton.
Carlotta: Seeing Margaret wince, Carlotta intervenes. “Ann, I will deposit you at home with my carriage. Let us be off.” Then Carlotta turns to the still seated Margaret and gives her a hug. “Thank you so much for having us to tea, Margaret.”
Margaret: “Thank you both for coming.” Margaret hugs Carlotta back, and then she merely nods at Ann. Ann nods back.
After Carlotta and her daughter Clementina usher Ann Lattimer out of the drawing room–and John escorts them down the front steps to their waiting carriage–he returns to his wife, Margaret, in the drawing room. John finds Margaret sitting contemplatively again–looking at her fingers splayed out in front of her, and sighing. Chubby as sausages, she thinks. She can’t even wear her wedding ring at this point–a sad point for her. For Margaret is proud to be John’s wife and the golden ring symbolizes the eternal bond of love that they share.
John: Walking to his wife, John helps her to a standing position. “You seem tired, My Love. Shall I help you upstairs to rest before dinner.”
Margaret: “Thank you.” She nods. Then she bites her lower lip as he guides her into the hallway and up the stairs to their bedchamber.
John: “What is wrong?” John asks cajolingly.
Margaret: “It is just that …” She stops. “I have no right to complain. Never mind.”
John: “I will not never mind. Something is troubling you, and I insist that you unburden yourself to me.”
Margaret: “It is silly, really. I wash myself each day thoroughly. But I have not been able to take a bath because I can’t get in and out of the bath tub anymore.” Margaret pouts.
John: “Ah! I wish you had told me sooner. I will be delighted to assist you in and out of your bath, Margaret My Love.” John smiles broadly.
Now, Margaret is in a quandary. If John helps her with her bath, then he will see her naked–as a nearly seven months pregnant lady. And she feels shy and unattractive in her present state. Not the least of which is because she and John have not made love for weeks with all of the wedding commotion–and with Margaret then feeling physically unwell. Though Margaret believes their lack of romance is due to her growing size. She is correct–in part. John has been concerned for her comfort–not wanting to hurt her or the baby during their lovemaking.
Margaret: “Will you promise to give me my privacy and not look at me naked?” Margaret asks in a small hesitant voice.
Taken aback by her request–and not entirely knowing where it comes from–John acquiesces.
John: “Of course, My Love. I will do as you request.” John smiles lovingly at his wife, Margaret, as he gently caresses her cheek.
So John and Margaret ready her hot bubbly rose scented bath water with pump water warmed in buckets hanging over the fireplace hearth in the bathing chamber. Then John dutifully closes his eyes as Margaret disrobes and he lifts her into the tub. To be sure, Margaret has gained some weight during her pregnancy. But she is still lightweight to the strong John Thornton. And he relishes feeling the soft bare skin of her torso against his hands–her womanly curves blooming because of her pregnancy. As he gently lowers her into the bubbly water, the sleeves of his shirt dip under the water.
Margaret: “Oh John, you’re getting yourself all wet.” She immerses her breasts completely underwater, just before John opens his eyes.
John: “It is no matter. I longed to be out of this shirt anyway.”
And John unbuttons, then removes his shirt–and then his undershirt, to stand bare chested before her. Margaret cannot help but caress his strong muscular form with her eyes. John sees the appreciative and longing gaze of desire in his wife’s eyes–matched by his own desire for her. Then Margaret shyly covers her arms in front of her breasts still under water–denying him a peek.
Margaret: “I’ll be fine, John. I’ll call you when I am ready to get out of the tub.”
John: “Very well.” John says huskily. “I’ll just slip into the guest room’s bathing chamber and also have a bath.”
So John and Margaret bathe separately, but in adjoining bathing chambers. John also shaves. John finishes first and returns to Margaret to see if she needs assistance. He knocks on their bathing room door.
Margaret: “Who is it?” She looks over her shoulder to see John walking into the room as she finishes shampooing her hair. It has been more than a week since she washed her hair and doing so makes her feel refreshed and feminine.
John strides into her bath, clearly wearing only the long bath towel robe that they had made. Margaret sees his tufts of chest hair and his muscular calf muscles and smiles.
John: “It’s just me again, My Love. I will make you some warm water to rinse with.”
John mixes a half bucket of heated water, with a half bucket of cool water from the pump tap to make nicely warm rinse water. Then he douses her hair with it–half a bucket at a time. Finally, John mixes another warm bucket of water for her to rinse all over with. And then he helps her stand up and he lifts her out of the tub–while gentlemanly keeping his eyes closed as she requested. And though Margaret is glad that John is fulfilling her request not to look at her naked, she is a tad perturbed that he hasn’t tried to look. However, with John being taller, his half lidded eyes appear fully closed when they are not. He smiles as she shyly reaches for her own towel robe and dons it.
Margaret: “O dear!” Margaret exclaims disappointedly as she tries to make her robe fit around her pregnant belly. Then she begins to cry as she wails. “Nothing fits me anymore!”
John’s eyes instantly fly open in recognizing her distress and he pulls her into his arms for a loving embrace.
John: “Shhhh! Shhhh! There, there, Margaret, My Love. It will be alright.”
Margaret: “No it won’t! Will I have to stay in my bed naked all day until this baby comes–because nothing fits me?” She wails.
John: Tempering his sensual response to her proposition, John intones huskily. “Anything that keeps you naked in my bed has to be a good thing.”
Margaret: “Oh you!” She swats at his upper arm–not a little annoyed because John has not made love with her in several weeks.
John: “I have a short term solution for you.” John quickly disrobes and stands in front of her naked. Margaret gazes at her husband appreciatively–wanting to kiss and caress every part of him. Then he removes her towels and wraps his robe around her–overpowering her. Then he chuckles. “Ha ha ha! Margaret, My Love, you are quite dwarfed in my robe–due to your being a tiny person.”
Margaret: “John, There is nothing tiny about me.” She shakes her head ruefully and lowers her eyes forlornly [(4) right].
John: John crooks his finger under her chin and raises her face to look up at him. “But you are so beautiful, to me, My Darling–especially now that you are bearing our child.” John leans down and kisses her tenderly for several moments. Then mindful of the draft John feels with his own naked state, he wraps a bath towel around his abdomen and guides her back into the sitting room area of their bed chamber.
Margaret: “John, I must comb out the tangles in my hair or it will dry in a twisted heap!” She frets.
John: “Allow me.” John smiles and guides her to the sette that he has now placed directly on end, perpendicular to the fireplace hearth.
John gently takes the comb from her hand and carefully runs it through her hair–starting at the bottom and working his way up until her auburn tresses are tangle free. But they are still wet. He hands her back the comb.
Margaret. “Thank you, John.” She smiles. “But I fear that it will take hours for my long hair to dry.”
John: He grins. “Perhaps not.” John guides her to lie down upon the sette, letting her hair flow over the armrest and hang facing the fire crackling in the fireplace hearth. Her hair will be dry in 15 minutes.
Margaret: “Might you give me some of Carlotta’s creamy lotion to rub on my hands? She said it has the best effect right after one’s bath when our pores are open. Though I will have to wait to put in on my feet, until I can see my feet again. Ha ha ha!” She chuckles bemusedly, her spirits coming back to her.
John: John holds out the cream lotion jar to her in his upturned palm. When she reaches for it, John pulls away. “I think that I will do you one better.” He smiles mischievously. She looks at him curiously
John allows her a dollop of creamy lotion and she rubs her hands together. Then John sets to work on her feet.
Margaret: “Oh!” She exclaims when she realizes what he is doing. “John, you needn’t worry about that.”
John: “But I want to.” John smiles as he tenderly caresses and massages her feet with the creamy lotion. “You have lovely feet, Margaret. Your small toes are particularly adorable.” After John finishes, he returns the creamy lotion jar to their bathing chamber and washes his hands.
John returns to their bed chamber finding Margaret dozing contentedly–her hair almost dry. He reaches into his vest pocket hanging on a clothes hanger and removes the small round item from it. Then he pads over to the sette and slides the gold ring upon her finger.
John: “With this ring, I thee wed.” John smiles as she wakes up.
Margaret: “John!” Margaret’s eyes fly open and she brings her left hand up to her face to see the new gold wedding band upon her finger. “Is this my ring? Did you have it resized for me?” She asks hopefully as she holds it against her cheek.
John: “Yes, this is your ring now, but it is new. I had it made for you to wear when you are with child–as you are now.” He smiles broadly.
Margaret: “Oh? Are you planning to get me with child again after this baby?” She asks impishly–for she wants many children with her loving husband John.
John: “As many times as humanly possible.” He smoulderingly nods as he focuses upon their blissful union that begat this child.
Then John has one last surprise. First he checks her hair–and finding it almost dry, he guides her to sit up, then to stand up. Margaret looks at him quizzically.
Margaret: “John?” She looks up at him questioningly, trustingly.
John: “You have asked me to close my eyes several times this night. Now, it is your turn.” John leans in and sweetly kisses Margaret on her lips.
Margaret bashfully closes her eyes. John walks behind her and he lifts the towel robe off of her small frame.
Margaret: “John! No peeking.” She looks at him over her shoulder as she covers her breasts with her arms.
John: “I am behind you my love.” But he is peeking–mostly definitely. “Turn around and close your eyes.” He smiles and she does so. John opens the parcel he brought home with him and takes out the silky fabric. “Now raise your arms above your head.” She complies. Then John slides an ivory colored silk nightgown over Margaret’s head.
Margaret: “Oh!” Margaret opens her eyes to see the beautiful nightgown that she feels caressing her body. “Thank you John. This is lovely! And it is roomy and comfortable.” Margaret fingers the adjustable the fit of the bodice by gathering a pink ribbon underneath her breasts.
John: “I am glad that you find favor with it. I wanted to give you something beautiful–to grace your beauty.” John raises her hand to his lips and kisses her fingers tenderly.
Margaret: “Is that all?” She asks eagerly. Margaret is feeling giddy like a child–eager to see what her next present is.
John does have one more present–for the both of them. He guides her back to their bed, then lifts her into his arms and lays her on their bed sheets. Then he slides into bed with her and cradles her in his arms.
John: “Margaret Darling, I want to make love with you so much, I can’t think straight sometimes. You are so beautiful. You’re everything I hoped for, you’re every thing I need.” [(5)].
Margaret looks up into her husband’s eyes and smiles–seeing the truth in his eyes and she smiles.
Margaret: Looking up into her husband’s eyes, Margaret’s eyes shine with love for him–as his eyes shine with love for her. “I want you, too.” She whispers.
John: “We will be gentle and slow. And if you feel any discomfort, we will stop.” She nods.
John and Margaret kiss each other desirously. John’s eager hands skim her womanly curves encased in her silky nightgown. Margaret also explores her husband’s muscles–quivering at each others’ loving touch. When John can wait no longer, he slides Margaret’s nightgown bodice off of her shoulders–barely a quarter hour after he placed it upon her shoulders. Margaret unfastens the towel around John’s abdomen. John peppers her with light kisses everywhere–lingering at her breasts to adore her as she trembles and sighs.
John is careful, very careful, not wanting to do anything that will jeopardise their baby. And though they must be a little creative in their lovemaking, afterward they fall contentedly asleep in each others’ loving arms–their bodies, arms, and legs still intertwined [(6) right].
P.S. Dear Readers,
And here is that lovely North & South video with Joe Cocker poignantly singing “You Are So Beautiful, to Me” [(5) ]:
To be continued with Chapter 58
N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 57 References, May 17, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #567)
“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) Information about cold cream or lotion is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_cream ; an image of cold cream in a glass jar was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cold_Cream-2.jpg : and lanolin, another greasy unguent, is made from wool wearing animals per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanolin
3) Cropped and masked image of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, Promo pix 18 was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/NandSPromo/album/NandSPromo-18.jpg
4) Margaret Thornton (cropped) is portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South as found at ri
5) North & South –John Thornton – You’re so Beautiful (Joe Cocker)” in a video by maraiad72 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3awTUu8evzM ; song lyrics for “You are so beautiful to me”:
“You are so beautiful
You are so beautiful
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful