“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 72 (PG-13): 3.5 Years Later, Seeking a Son to Love, July 26, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #608)
[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: Later on the same day that her mother Hannah Lady Airlie gave birth to her and Cameron Lord Airlie’s son Lord Gavin Vicetor Ogilvyon Friday, November 28, 1851–Lady Fiona gave birth five weeks early to unexpected twins whom she and her husband Lord Baird named Lord William Charles Ogilvy and Lady Agnes Diana Ogilvy. Fiona was in a bit of a tizzy during the birthing process since she was not able to follow much of her birthing plan–being at Airlie Castle instead of at their home AirlieCottagein Scotland being chief among them. Except for using her specially made birthing chair. And her cousin the little five year old Lady Blythe aided in the birth by guiding the first baby out with her tiny hands. The extended Thornton-Ogilvy families were gathering for a lovely Christmas in Scotland–and indeed, it was.
N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 72 (PG-13): 3.5 Years Later, Seeking a Son to Love
For John and Margaret Thornton, the first four and a half years of their marriage has brought them much bliss. They found each other as loving soulmates and their love brought their now almost four year old daughter Audrey Grace into their lives. Both Marlborough Mills in Milton, England and its companion business venture of the Ogilvy-Thornton Scottish Mills in Angus, Scotland are thriving–as are the people who work in them, due to the worker employment, housing, education, and medical care reforms that John and his stepfather Dr. Cameron Ogilvy (Lord Airlie) have put into place.
The Spring of 1855 finds John and Margaret much contented–but for one aspect, they do not have a son. John swore after Margaret’s difficult and life threatening birthing of their daughter Audrey Grace three and a half years ago that he would not subject her to another childbirth. They will adopt if they want more children. And they do want more children to love and to nurture.
But two years ago when Cameron broached the topic of a new baby boy born in Scotland that John and Margaret might adopt–because the mother was so young at fifteen and still a child herself really–the adoption did not happen. John and Margaret had hesitated because their two year old daughter Audrey Grace was still quite a handful. And so the Scottish bairn up for adoption was placed in Lord Jamie and Lady Thistle Ogilvy’s home–the second son that Lord Jamie had always wanted, since his wife Lady Thistle had also developed a delicate constitution after their middle child’s Mairi’s stillborn birth and then their youngest Lady Blythe’s birth and her health issues now eight and a half years ago.
At the time two years ago, John and Margaret felt that waiting to adopt their future child was the right thing to do. What they had not admitted to each other was that they each harbored hopes that they might yet have another child together, who was of their blood. But though Margaret’s health is fully regained now after her birthing ordeal–and their lovemaking is tender and sensuous and careful not to occur during her most fertile times, with John also using protective caution to refrain from getting her pregnant–ultimately, neither of them can face the dangers that childbirth poses for Margaret. A motherless Audrey Grace is a future that neither of them wants to have happen.
So it is a beginning to warm up this Spring Tuesday morning in early April 1855 that Margaret sits in her favorite reading chair in the much freshened Thornton Manor Drawing Room. The room’s pastel sky blue walls above a tastefully muted painted mural design of rolling hills and forests behind the fireplace [(2) right]–with drapes and accent pillows in complementary shades and patterns–creating an elegant yet welcoming retreat in which to invite family and friends. Margaret reads a letter from her mother-in-law Hannah Thornton Ogilvy, Lady Airlie–who with her husband Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, Lord Airlie, and their now three year old son Lord Gavin live in Scotland most of the time. The planned monthly visits tapered off when the practical logistics of traveling frequently with baby Gavin presented an obstacle.
Margaret is both agitated and hopeful by what she reads before John returns home for lunch with her and little Audrey Grace.
As John jauntily walks into Thornton Manor–his domain, but also his refuge from the world–he spies his almost four year old Audrey Grace walking down the stairs from visiting the nursery with her part time nanny. Upon seeing her papa, Audrey Grace lets loose her nanny’s hand and races to her father.
Audrey Grace: “Papa! You’re home!” She cries out ebulliently as she gazes up adoringly [(3) right] at her tall and handsome Papa, John Thornton–her shiny auburn curls so like her mother’s hair when it is unfurled, with the silken strands held in place by a black velvet headband. Little Audrey Grace is so enamored with her Papa that she told her amused parents last week that she wants to marry her Papa when she grows up.
And for his part, John Thornton is completely besotted with his little daughter. The man who comes to court Audrey Grace for marriage in fifteen years time when she is eighteen will have the formidable challenging of having to prove himself worthy for her hand to the great John Thornton.
John: “My little one!” John delightedly lifts his daughter up into the air, twirling her about to her gleeful squeals.
Audrey Grace: “Papa! Ha ha ha! Papa! ”
John: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” His laughter booms so deeply and joyfully that he nearly rattles the front hall windows. Then John lowers his daughter into his arms and kisses her cheek as she clings to his lapels.
Audrey Grace: Audrey Grace cheerfully prattles away, gesticulating animatedly to her father’s amusement. “Oh Papa! I have been a good girl all morning. I practiced writing my my alphabet and my name with Miss Lynch.” Audrey Grace waves at her part time nanny, who nods and leaves her to her father’s care with an indulgent smile. “And I sewed with Mama.” Audrey Grace is too little to be trusted with needles yet, so she contents herself with rearranging the multicolored thread bobbins in her mother’s sewing basket tray. “And I tidied my room.” By which she means that her toys are off the floor–but still awaiting placement into the toy box. “And I counted to tenty.” Audrey Grace gushes with a final flourish–slightly mispronouncing the word twenty.
Audrey Grace: “Oh yes, Papa! May I?” Her eyes light up at his suggestion.
Audrey Grace is not allowed in the Mill buildings yet because she is so little and they are concerned for her safety around the machines. And appropriately, John has raised the minimum age limit for working children at his mill to twelve years of age from eight–him having obtained new machinery to catch the fluff such that little ones are not needed under the looms to do that when the weaving is in progress. The younger children of mill workers attend the Mill school–receiving their breakfast and lunch meals free. And with John’s Thornton village project thriving, the mill families have decent homes and access to sufficient food and stuffs that their wages pay for that they do not have to have their younger children working at the mill as they did in the past.
John tries to resume his composed and unruffled exterior in front of the Thornton Manor Butler still standing at attention in the hallway after admitting him to his home. But little Audrey Grace has his heart and he cannot help but smile.
John: “Audrey Grace, When you reach your Mama’s height, then we shall see. But I believe that I was promised luncheon. And I am hungry–quite ravenous.” Then he spells the word out, since it is a new word for her. “R-a-v-e-n … o-u-s.”
Audrey Grace: “Oh Papa! I will feed you–and the birdies!” She smiles looking around for them. For little Audrey Grace is still learning many words, but her Papa delights in teaching them to her.
John: “Ha ha ha! It is true that the word ravenous, begins with r-a-v-e-n–which is a bird. However the whole world ravenous does not mean birds.” He walks with Audrey Grace toward the small family dining room they use for breakfast and lunch.
Audrey Grace: “It does not?” She asks quizzically. Then she pouts to have misunderstood this new word, raven-ous. But at not quite four years old, she can be forgiven for not knowing every word.
John: “No. A raaaaaaven …” He draws the word out with its long vowel sound on the a that distinguishes it from the short vowel sound of the name for referring to hunger. “… is a bird. Alternatively, when someone, like your Papa, is ravenous, they are hungry.”
Audrey Grace: “Oh! Ravven-us.” She repeats the word in understanding as they walk into the small dining room and her Mama Margaret walks toward them. “Mama!” Audrey Grace waves at her Mama whom she had been with all morning–but for the nanny assisting her with a personal necessity just prior to her father returning home for luncheon today.
Margaret: “Audrey Grace! John! You’re home!” Margaret greets her husband John warmly with a kiss on his lips. Then she kisses their daughter whom the nanny had recently taken up stairs to wash up before luncheon. “And I see that you have found our cherub.”
John: “I did. And Audrey Grace greeted me warmly, much the same as you–but with one significant difference.” Now he pouts.
Margaret: “And what is that?” She asks her husband minxishly as she caresses her daughter’s cheek.
John: “She jumped into my arms!” He grins mischievously.
Audrey Grace: “Go ahead, Mama. You can jump into Papa’s arms, too.” Audrey Grace suggests encouragingly.
John and Margaret: “Ha ha ha ha haha!” Her parents laugh with great amusement.
Margaret: “Maybe later, Audrey Grace Dear.” She says to her daughter, then she looks at her husband’s wickedly raised eyebrow and blushes. “So! Is anyone hungry for luncheon?” Margaret poses cheerfully.
Audrey Grace: “I am ravven-us!” Impressed, Margaret looks at her daughter in surprise for her use of a new word.
John: “Well done, Audrey Grace. You are expanding your vocabularly mightily. I am also ravenous.” John adds with a smouldering look of desire for his beautiful twenty-seven year old wife Margaret, who prettily blushes.
Audrey Grace: “Let’s eat!” She claps her hands. And they do.
It is only after Audrey Grace is put down for her afternoon nap after luncheon that Margaret reveals to John that she has received a letter of great import.
Margaret: “John, We received a letter from Mama this morning.” Margaret looks down at the letter and then she looks hopefully up at John [(5) right]. “May I talk with you about it before you go back to the mill? I hope to send a reply this afternoon before you return home from the Mill this evening.” She asks hopefully. Margaret knows that she is blessed that John’s work is just next door and that he is able to get away mid day to share many lunches with her, despite his heavy workload. But today, she needs to impose upon his time for the sake of their family.
John: John takes out his pocket watch and scrunches up his nose pretending to consider her request. “I have a buyer coming at 2 o’clock. So I am yours for twenty minutes, Margaret My Love.” He smiles broadly at his beloved wife.
Margaret: She motions to the sette. “Let us sit.” Now Margaret is feeling both hopeful and worried what John will say to the news. They sit.
John: “Is something wrong? Is everyone well?”
Margaret: Rushing to assure him, she replies. “Everyone is well and good! And Fiona had another baby boy–early …” Margaret rolls her eyes. “ … whom they named Lord Duncan John Ogilvy, after you.” Margaret smiles poignantly at her husband.
John: “Oh! I am so honored.” John places his hand upon his heart and gazes at his wife with moist eyes for his sister’s and brother-in-law’s thoughtful gesture.
And in the back of their minds, John and Margaret would very much like to have a son of their own–and now his sister has two sons.
Margaret: Margaret nods. “It is lovely of Fiona and Baird to do that.” Margaret acutely feels the pull of wanting another child, to give John a son.
John: But John regroups and quips to lighten their mood. “Fanny seems to have a habit of giving birth early.” He chuckles as he shakes his bead bemusedly.
Margaret: “Yes.” She sighs longingly.
John marvels at Fanny/Fiona being transformed into a mother hen–a gaggle of children around her–for Duncan is their fourth child, after the twins and then their daughter, Lady Sarah one year ago. While John and Margaret still only have the one child, Audrey Grace. Then John notices Margaret’s fretful expression with her biting her lower lip.
John: “What is it?”
Margaret: “Mama writes that an older couple whose daughter died in childbirth wants to give their grandson in adoption. He is one month old.” Margaret tells him hopefully.
John: “The mother’s death is very sad.” John intones sorrowfully, grateful that that was not Margaret’s fate. And he is now resolved more than ever not to put her through childbirth again. “But does her husband not want to keep his child?” He asks, wondering if the baby is born in wedlock or not.
Margaret: “It seems that the father was in the British navy and had earlier died at sea after an accident.” Margaret blanches, for her brother Fred had been in the navy–until he mutineed and became exiled in Spain to escape prosecution and hanging. Though they correspond with Fred, Margaret and John have not traveled to Spain–out of fear of exposing her brother to agents of the British Crown. But Margaret refocuses and continues to tell John of the baby. “And the grandparents other children all have families and children of their own and they cannot take on an extra mouth to feed.” Margaret gazes at her beloved husband hopefully. “John, I feel that this child is the son we have been waiting for. I want to go to Scotland and bring him home with us.”
John: John rubs his chin. “If his mother died in childbirth, is the child healthy?” John does not want to bring a child into their home, only to have it wither and die–causing them further heartache.
Margaret: “Very healthy, according to Mama. And … and …” Margaret strokes John’s hair. “And he has a thick patch of black hair like you have.” She blurts out in hopes of tempting him further about the baby–that the baby might in some way resemble John.
John: “Well?” John hesitates. But Margaret does not want his hesitation this time.
Margaret: “John, please! We hesitated in adopting a baby boy two years ago. I do not want to hesitate again now. I do not feel that we will get another chance.” Margaret bites her lower lip again–a sure sign of her worry and distress.
John: “You are certain, then–that this is the child we should welcome into our home?” He asks her, pondering how he will feel about this little baby boy. John wonders if he can truly love this child and think of him as his son–when he is not his own flesh and blood?
Margaret: “I am.” She nods her head resolutely.
John: John nods in acquiescence. “Then write back to Mama and Cameron. We will take the Thursday train to see them and this baby. That is the earliest I can get away.” He offers.
Margaret leaps into her husband John’s arms and sits upon his lap, showering him with kisses.
Margaret: “Oh! Thank you, John. I feel that we will finally have our son that we have always wanted.” And she thinks, that you have always wanted.
John: “I’m sure you’re right.” John smiles warmly at his wife. But still, a nagging worry tugs at John’s heart–about whether he will be as good a parent to this child as it deserves.
Margaret: “Thank you, John Dearest.” She says warmly as she kisses her husband upon his lips with all the tenderness and longing that her heart feels for him [(6) right]. They will travel to Scotland to seek their son.
And uncharacteristically, Margaret has not been entirely forthcoming to John about the one month old baby boy they hope to adopt and the child’s family connections. For there is another aspect to this situation that Margaret is waiting for the right time to tell John about it. However, she will have to tell him when they reach Scotland–or he will soon find out on his own when they arrive at Airlie Castle.
To be continued with Chapter 73
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 72 References, July 26, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #608)
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) Painted mural on wallpaper is an MS Clip Art image.
3) Audrey Grace Thornton almost four year old image is Tete d’Etude l’Oiseau by William Adolphe Bouguereau found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/William-Adolphe_Bouguereau#mediaviewer/File:William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_%281825-1905%29_-_T%C3%AAte_d%27Etude_l%27Oiseau_%281867%29.jpg
4) John Thornton is portrayed by Richard Amitage in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-045.jpg
5) Margaret is Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South epi1(14h52m44s152) Jan2714 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-Crop-sized-brt
6) John kissing Margaret image is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South found at richardArmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-372.jpg