“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 64 (PG-13): A Promise, June 10, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #580)
[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, Jeremy Northam as Dr. Miles Houghton, Gerard Butler as Lord Jamie Ogilvy, and Juliette Lewis as Lady Thistle Ogilvy, 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. As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions (D), 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: Margaret Thornton had her baby, a daughter. But the birth had been a harrowing experience for she and her baby–and for John and the rest of the family.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 64 (PG-13): A Promise
It had been a frightening, excruciatingly painful, and wearying labor and delivery for Margaret Thornton as she agonizingly brought forth their first child, their yet to be named daughter in the late afternoon this Saturday, June 21, 1851. The birth was an hour ago and Margaret has been cleaned up and made comfortable. Now as Hannah and Fiona and Angharad encouragingly fuss over Margaret’s first nursing of her newborn baby girl [(2) right]–with Angharad being a recent expert with her still six month old baby daughter and second child Amanda–John speaks with his stepfather and his wife Margaret’s physician, Cameron, in the Airlie Castle bed chamber hallway. John’s face is ashen and somber.
John: “Cameron, I had no idea that childbirth is such an ordeal! Margaret was in agony, and we could do little to help her. Is it always this painful for the mother?” John rubs his hands down the sides of his face as a self comforting measure. But he still feels sick to his stomach for what his wife had to endure to bring their child into this world.
Cameron: “Aye! Marrrgarrret had a difficult birrrth–morrre so than usual.” Cameron adds almost apologetically. He has attended many childbirths. And but for the incidence of three of the mothers having cesearean operations and dying, all of the mothers had had less pain and difficulty than Margaret. “Though some women are morrre delicate in giving birrrth, Margaret is young and strrrong and she should be able to bearrr more childrrren in the future–afterrr she has a rrrecovery perrriod of two yearrrs.”
John: “No! Absolutely not!” John shakes his head vehemently. “Margaret will never suffer through another child birth again!” He says with firm resolve.
John: “Of course I do! But not if it means Margaret has to go through this again? Hhhhhh! I could not live with myself to cause her such torment again. And she almost died! I cannot lose her when we have only just found each other.” John is still quite shaken up and his usual calm and placid demeanor–his famously unruffled exterior–is no where in evidence in him now.
Cameron: “Give it time, Laddie. Make no hasty decisions. Focus upon the joy of yourrr baby gerrril.” Cameron’s mature experiences have taught him that many a caring husband is torn between the pull of legacy and wanting to see to the comfort of his wife.
John: “I will try.”
Cameron: “And while ye arrre enjoying yourrr new baby gerrril, ye might do one morrre thing.” Cameron teases with a twinkle in his eyes.
John: “Oh?” John looks up quizzically.
Cameron: “The lassie needs a name.” Cameron jovially slaps John on his upper back.
John: “Oh? Right.”John grins sheepishly as he nods his head.
When John rejoins Margaret after she finishes nursing their baby daughter, he finds her lying back upon her pillow dozing in exhaustion [(4) right]. Her eyes are half closed, and she still looks very pale and weak. John nods at Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh and his sister Fiona Thornton Ogilvy sitting on the sette. Then he goes to his mother sitting by Margaret’s bedside, rocking their baby–her grandchild– in her arms.
John: Smiling at his mother, John requests. “Mother, might you give the baby to me and then excuse Margaret and I for a while? We need some time alone together as a new family.”
Hannah smiles and stands up. Then she transfers the small pink bundle wrapped in a blanket from her arms to her sons’s arms.
Hannah: “Of course.” John sits down on the chair and Hannah ruffles her hand through his hair [(5) right]–as she would do when he was a boy, or even now that he is a grown man–and John smiles as he gazes upon his baby daughter’s sleeping countenance. Then Hannah kisses her son’s forehead and gazes at him meaningfully as she gently touches her granddaughter’s head. “Ladies, let us give John and Margaret some privacy with their new baby.” She whispers and motions to Fiona and Angharad.
John nods and smiles his thanks to them. Then he reaches out his hand to his sister.
John: “Fanny.” John whispers his childhood name that he coined for her–for she will always be his little sister Fanny. Fiona smiles shyly and walks to him and they clasp hands. “Thank you! Hhhhh!” John says with hushed emotion. He wants to say so much more to Fanny for saving his daughter’s and his wife’s lives.
But Fiona understands what he wants to say to her and she leans in and kisses his forehead as she whispers back with tears in her eyes as she smiles at her older brother who has done so much for her.
Fiona: “You are welcome, Johnny. Congratulations. My new baby neice is beautiful!”
Brother and sister smile at each other briefly in shared understanding. Then Fiona, Angharad, and Hannah depart John’s and Margaret’s guest bed chamber–leaving the dozing Margaret and John alone with their baby daughter.
John stands up from the chair and walks around to the other side of the bed from where Margaret is lying. He gently lays the baby on the bed and then he removes his boots. Then John picks up the baby again and slides onto the bed sitting up next to Margaret’s left. The movement on the bed causes Margaret to stir–because she is still in great pain from her ordeal.
Margaret: “Unnhhh!” Margaret grimaces in great discomfort. To his credit, Cameron had still been wary about giving Margaret laudanum for the pain when she is still so weak–for fear that the medicine would further weaken her. But that means that Margaret has no pain relief but for some cold compresses.
John: “I am sorry, Margaret My Love.” John whispers. Then he reaches for the glass of sugar water on his nightstand and holds it over Margaret with the hand that is not holding their baby. “Might you try to sip more sugar water before you doze off again? It will help you get well.”
Margaret: “I’ll try.” She says weakly. It is taking every ounce of her willpower not to dissolve into a mass of tears–for the joy of their baby daughter being born, in relief for the birth being over, and for the great pain she still suffers from the birth. Margaret takes a few sips.
John: “That’s it.” John soothes encouragingly. Then he takes the glass back and sets it down on the night stand. Turning back to Margaret, he asks as he holds the baby toward her. “Do you want to hold her again?”
Margaret: “Hhhh! I do. Hhhh! But I …” Margaret shakes her head feebly. She has no energy left to even hold her baby. And a small tear falls from the corner of her eye and down her cheek.
John: Sensing his wife’s dilemma, he offers. “We will hold her together, My Love.”
Transferring the baby to his left arm–her small sleeping form smaller than his long forearm–John brings his right arm behind Margaret’s head and shoulders, cradling her against him. Then John moves his left arm holding their baby girl and positions the baby into Margaret’s limp arms, with his left arm supporting Margaret’s arms.
Margaret: “She seems so tiny.” Margaret notices wonderingly.
John: “She is very dainty. And yet, Cameron thinks that she is at least seven and a half pounds–big for a baby, and why you had so much trouble birthing her.”
Margaret: “Yes.” Margaret nods absentmindedly. The pain of it all is still too vivid in her mind since it was only an hour ago that she gave birth. “I’m sorry she isn’t a son.” Margaret sadly looks up at John.
John: “Don’t be. I’m not. It’s wonderful to have a daughter! And you wanted a little girl. Didn’t you, Margaret?”
Margaret: “I did. I do.” Margaret closes her mouth, not voicing her thoughts. But John can guess what is troubling her.
John: “Margaret, I did not realize that childbirth was such a torment for women. And Cameron says that you had an especially difficult delivery.” Margaret nods imperceptibly. She wonders if he will give her a pep talk. But he surprises her. “My love. I am overjoyed to be the father of a daughter. But I cannot put you through the torment of childbirth ever again.”
Margaret: “But what about having a son to carry on your name?” She wonders uncertainly if her husband will change his mind one day and want her to give him another child. For Margaret is terrified at the prospect of giving birth again.
John: John smiles lovingly at his beloved wife, Margaret. “Cameron would tell us to focus on the baby we have now. And I agree with him. if we want future children, we can always adopt. There are many children who need loving homes.”
Sadly John’s assertion about the poor and children born into poverty being the most in need of help is all too true. The English Poor Laws [(6)] were enacted to create a system of aid, but they also strove to prevent many from getting any help. And they only served to exploit the workers in many cases. A child adopted and taken away from a path of such servitude would be a very lucky child.
Margaret: “We shall see.” She says stoically. Even her own frail mother gave birth to two children, Margaret thinks.
John: “No!” John says more forcefully than he intends.
And their baby daughter squirms and vocalizes before going back to sleep.
Baby: “Hrha. Eeeah. Hhhh.” Her little mouth is partially open. And John thinks that she is her mother’s daughter.
John: John whispers in Margaret’s ear. “No, My Love. Never again will I put you through the pain and trauma of childbirth. Never!” John says with great finality and Margaret weakly nods her head in relief.
And John’s promise to Margaret to not make her endure the pain of childbirth again, causes Margaret to feel an overwhelming sense of relief as she weeps for the pain she has suffered and is suffering. And she weeps because she will not have to go through this again. John just holds her,whispering words of comfort, kissing her cheeks and eyes, while cradling his wife in his arms. Margaret clings to her husband John. She had so not wanted to disappoint him by not giving him a son–now or later. And now she knows that he will not be disappointed. Margaret’s crying goes on for several minutes, and John lets her have her cry out. He joins her with tears of his own in relief that she will get well and that neither she nor the baby died.
Eventually, a calm settles over Margaret. And John kisses Margaret’s left temple and then he gently rests his forehead there.
Margaret: Looking up into her husband’s eyes adoringly, Margaret sighs. “Thank you!” A weight of worry has been lifted from her shoulders.
John: “Thank you! Now rest my love. And when you awaken, we should think about a name for our daughter.”
Margaret: “Her name?” Margaret utters drowsily as sleep claims her.
John smiles as he gazes upon his sleeping wife and then at his sleeping daughter. He is content for now that they are both safe and well–with Margaret starting to slowly recover from giving birth. Margaret is the great blessing of John’s life. And Margaret’s return to health and full vigor is John’s goal. And he vows that he will show his wife only tenderness and kindness and understanding. And John vows that he will not change his mind about Margaret never having to endure a life threatening child birth again. It is a promise that he will lovingly keep.
To be continued with Chapter 65
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 64 References, June 10, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #580)
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) Image representing Margaret nursing her baby was found at Today.com at http://www.today.com/parents/exclusive-breast-feeding-may-just-be-too-hard-study-says-445276; with the image link being http://media1.s-nbcnews.com/j/streams%5C2012/March/120314%5C191360-120314-breastfeeding-vmed.blocks_desktop_medium.jpg
3) Image representing Dr. Cameron Ogilvy is that of Graham McTavish attending the 2012 London premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey found at http://i2.cdnds.net/12/50/618×829/movies-the-hobbit-uk-premiere-10.jpg
4) Margaret Hale image (crop to oval, blue background; paler face) is Daniela Denby-Ashe in the BBC’s 2004 miniseries North & South found at http://northandsouth2004.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/NS2004-EP1-0066.jpg as part of an N&S fan fiction ch 2 by Loyal Wynyard found at http://northandsouth2004.com/?p=911
5) John Thornton smiling as his mother Hannah tousles his hair is Richard Armitage in the 2004 BBC drama North & South and was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-072.jpg
6) For more, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Poor_Laws English Poor Laws of the 1830’s were ineffectual attempts to created a system of social aid. “In 1846, the Andover workhouse scandal, where conditions in the Andover Union Workhouse were found to be inhumane and dangerous, prompted a government review and the abolition of the Poor Law Commission which was replaced with a Poor Law Board which meant that a Committee of Parliament was to administer the Poor Law, with a cabinet minister as head. Despite this another scandal occurred over inhumane treatment of paupers in the Huddersfield workhouse. “ For more, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Poor_Laws