“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 82 (PG-13): Wooing, September 14, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #635)
[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, 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, Juliette Lewis as Lady Thistle Ogilvy, and Helena Bonham Carter as Brigid Gordon, 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: During Audrey Grace Thornton’s fourth birthday party weekend, Nicholas Higgins had his first courting opportunity with Nanny Brigid Gordon in the form of lawn bowling with John and Margaret after luncheon. However, it has been over twenty years since Nicholas courted a lady–his late wife Sharon, God rest her soul. And Nicholas will need some help to woo the lady of his choice now–Brigid Gordon. But with John Thornton’s wooing skills tempered by his now wife Margaret’s help during their courtship five years ago–the grape incident almost derailed John and Margaret at the start, but for Margaret’s sense of humor–Nicholas Higgins may need more than John Thornton’s advice to woo and wed the feisty Brigid Gordon.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 82 (PG-13): Wooing
The week passed not quickly enough for Nicholas Higgins, despite being consumed with Marlborough Mills finishing a large cotton fabric order and sending it off on the Saturday morning train of June 28th. Nicholas looks forward to seeing Mrs. Gordon again this coming Sunday afternoon on the morrow, though he has not planned an activity yet–more than taking a stroll about the Thornton Manor garden. But Nicholas will soon discover that John and Margaret have taken each other into their confidences and joined forces in matchmaking for their friend Nicholas Higgins and their Nanny Brigid Gordon.
To that end–matchmaking–Margaret has arranged to take the children to meet her husband John, their father, at the Thornton Village Park for a family picnic and feeding the ducks Saturday afternoon. And afterward, they plan to tour the latest of the recently completed housing hubs of eight homes in the last of their mill worker housing development project. These homes will be filled by other tenants who had been previously sharing a home in Thornton Village while awaiting their home being built–rather than them continuing to live in the squalor of the Princeton District.
John had invited Nicholas to join them for the picnic since he lives in Thornton Village. So each man dashes from the Mill to his respective home to freshen up before John Thornton and his family collect Nicholas Higgins at his Thornton Village cottage. The open Thornton carriage stops in front of the small two story three bedroom stone overseer’s cottage that is Nicholas Higgin’s home. There is green grass and a flower garden in front–Nicholas’ daughter Mary’s doing–and a plot of land behind for a kitchen garden and such. Nanny Brigid holding her son Arthur and carrying the baby necessities for he and baby Douglas in a bag, smiles approvingly at the cottage.
John: “Audrey Grace, Come with me and we will collect Mr. Higgins.” John smiles and Margaret nods knowingly while cradling their baby son Douglas in her arms and with their younger daughter Caty snuggled into her side sucking her thumb.
So, John alights from the carriage and lifts Audrey Grace out.
Audrey Grace: “I love picnics, Papa! Sitting on the ground to eat is so much fun!” Audrey Grace says gleefully.
John: “Yes.” John agrees, but hopes that they can find a tree for him to lean against for support of his tall frame. “And be sure to sit on the blanket so that you don’t get grass stains on your play dress.” Audrey Grace nods.
John knocks at Nicholas Higgins front door. And inside, Nicholas bounds up from a nearby chair and opens it for him.
Nicholas: “Mast … John!” Nicholas catches himself and shakes John hands warmly. “Please come in for a moment while I collect my food contributions for our picnic.”
John: “You don’t have to bring anything.” John smiles indulgently.
Nicholas: “But I want to.” Nicholas smiles and walks back to his small kitchen and dining area beyond the sitting room. Nicholas is no charity case. A man has his pride. Nicholas makes a good wage at Thornton’s Marlborough Mills and he can afford to contribute to their picnic with some bread and seasonal fruit, etc. Fruit. Hmmm.
John motions back to Margaret sitting in the carriage that he and Audrey Grace are going inside of the cottage as they walk inside–which Margaret takes to mean that John wants her to follow him. So she and Nanny Brigid and the children exit the carriage and walk toward and then into Nicholas Higgins cottage.
Nanny Brigid looks around the sparsely furnished cottage’s sitting room, liking what she sees. There is a sette facing the fireplace hearth, with two large chairs on either side of the mantel. The sitting room has a slightly masculine feel to in it–in the sense that it is not cozy yet and needs a bit of color in the window hangings and perhaps some fresh flowers on the sofa table to give it the homey touch of a woman’s influence.
Being so wrapped up in her appraisal of Nicholas’ sitting room, Brigid does not realize that Nicholas has turned around from packing up his picnic basket to see that she and Margaret and the children are all standing in his home. Nicholas is frozen, wondering whether Mrs. Gordon thinks that his home is suitable for a family–were she to grant him the boon of becoming his wife.
Margaret: Breaking the awkward silence, Margaret warmly suggests. “Nicholas, your home looks lovely. Might we have a tour?” Nicholas knows that Margaret has been here several times, the tour is obviously for Nanny Brigid’s benefit.
John: “Ha ha ha! Margaret, I don’t know if we should surprise Nicholas seeking a tour without any warning.” John offers sympathetically. Margaret pouts. She is only hoping to give Brigid more reasons to like Nicholas.
Nicholas: “Nay, it is alright. With the children gone to live with Mary and I am all alone, it is not so difficult to keep the place tidy.” Nicholas smiles sheepishly, then he sneaks a glance at Nanny Brigid Gordon.
But he has said the wrong thing, as her cool facial expression reveals.
Nanny Brigid: “Childrrren often have play toys orrr clothes strrrewn about, but they can also be taught to pick up afterrr themselves.” She challenges–wondering if Mr. Higgins does not want more children brought into his life. She has her baby son Arthur, and any man whom she considers to marry must welcome him wholeheartedly.
Nicholas: “I beg your pardon.” Nicholas back peddles, realizing that he has given offense. “Children’s messes are a delightful reminder of their joyful presence in our lives.” Nicholas smiles broadly at Nanny Gordon. “Let me give you a tour.” Margaret smiles. “The down stairs you see here, except for a pantry and cold storage larder off of the kitchen.” He points to the right of the wood stove along the back wall.
Everyone nods approvingly as they walk back to the open kitchen area.
Catriona: Tugging on her Mama Margaret’s dress, little Caty looks up at her Mama’s face. “Potty?”
Brigid: “I’ll help her, Mrs.” Then Brigid looks at Nicholas Higgins. “And is there an indoor convenience, or is it outside?” She asks curiously.
John: “Oh no! All of the cottages have a small bathing chamber.” John states pridefully for the modern means of sanitation that Thornton Village provides its resident–but having clean water distribution and waste water removal. “And Thornton Village has never had an outbreak of disease since its founding.
Nicholas: “Aye! The bathing chamber is to the left of the stove–if you would care to take Caty.”
Brigid shifts her nine month old baby son Arthur in her arms and takes Caty’s hand with her free hand.
Brigid: “Come Caty.” She smiles at the two year old toddler.
Nicholas: Reaching out his arms, Nicholas offers. “Here, let me help you. I will hold baby Arthur while you help Caty.”
Margaret’s eyebrows rise and she smiles–thinking that Nicholas is making a good impression. John also shrugs his encouragement to Nicholas.
Brigid: Becoming instantly tense, Brigid replies. “I do na know if he will take to you. Only Mrs. has held him.” Brigid refers to Margaret.
Margaret: “Oh Nicholas has held many a child and baby in arms before. But if you prefer, I will let him hold baby Douglas and I will hold Arthur.”
Margaret makes this shift in babies so that Brigid can see all is well. Now Margaret holds baby Arthur who playfully swats at her cheek. Nicholas smiles down at baby Douglas, rocking him in his arms.
Nicholas: “You have a fine son, John.”
John: “Thank you, we think so.” John beams and places his arms around Margaret’s shoulders.
Audrey Grace: “How can you tell? Baby Douglas is so little. And he doesn’t do much but sleep and eat and stink up his diapers.” She wrinkles up her cute little button nose.
The adults all laugh: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Margaret: “Just as you did when you were little.” Margaret remarks wryly.
Caty: “Potty?” She tugs on Nanny Brigid’s hand holding hers.
Brigid: Jolted out of her reverie of observing Nicholas Higgins holding baby Douglas, Brigid refocuses and returns her attention to the matter at hand. “The wee one and I will be back in a moment.”
John takes baby Douglas into his arms now as Nicholas reluctantly relinquishes the baby.
Brigid: “Verrry well.” Brigid [(2) right] nods and holds her breath as her son goes to Nicholas–and without Arthur fussing. Brigid nods and takes Caty into the bathing chamber, but not before hearing her son cooing in Nicholas Higgins’ arms.
Arthur: “Ha ha ha!” Baby Arthur laughs at the friendly big man with a large grin holding him and making faces at him.
Nicholas: “Lord! He’s a big lad. You’ll be a strong one when you grow up, Arthur!”
Brigid and Caty are back in no time from the bathing chamber–with Nicholas then giving them a tour of the upstairs of his hime, while still carrying baby Arthur in his arms. Brigid likes what she sees. Oh the cottage is alright–it needs a woman’s touch. But she likes how her son seems quite taken with Nicholas Higgins.
They all go on to have a pleasant picnic in the park with grapes no where in evidence–only apples. John and Margaret Thornton and their children sit and eat on one blanket under the large oak tree giving them much needed shade from the bright sun. While some ten yards away and behind a bush, Nicholas Higgins and Brigid Gordon and her baby son Arthur sit on another blanket under another large tree shading them. The distance allows each couple to have some privacy while still enjoying their picnic together.
Removing the cloth covering the picnic basket that Nicholas had packed, Brigid is surprised at what she finds–baked chicken legs and thighs, bread, cheese, apples, and a small 4 ounce jug of milk.
Brigid: “Arrre ye fond of milk, Mr. Higgins?” She asks with a smile as she sets baby Arthur sitting up on the blanket.
Nicholas: “Nay. But I thought your little one, might like it. It has been a while since I have been around one so small. And I forgot what they eat.” Nicholas shrugs his shoulders while admitting this failing.
Brigid: “I thank ye. He will. Though he has some teeth, he is still not eating much solid food. I mash cooked vegetables and fruit for him.” She smiles while taking a small covered jar out of her own picnic basket and opens it. Then she holds the jar out to Nicholas.
Nicholas: Nicholas leans over and takes a whiff of the baby food concoction. “Hmmm. Smells good–like stew.”
Brigid: “Just so, this has mashed carrots in beef brrroth.” Baby Arthur waves his arms to get his Mama’s attention. Arthur is hungry and she begins to slowly spoon fee him–with the baby managing to keep most of the food in his mouth and swallowing it.
Nicholas: “I’d say the little fellow is hungry.”
Nicholas unplugs the milk jug and offers it to baby Arthur, him carefully holding onto the jug so that the baby doesn’t pour it all over himself. Brigid watches Nicholas carefully and smiles as he dabs a napkin at the baby’s chin to catch the milk gurgling over his lips. Baby Arthur at nine months old is still learning how to drink fluids that do not come from his mother’s breast. And Brigid thinks that Nicholas will do as a father for her baby boy Arthur. They begin to eat their own picnic meals as baby Arthur takes a nap in his Mama’s lap.
With the gentle breeze, Nicholas [(3) right] notices small wisps of Brigid’s hair become untucked from her upswept hair and frame her face in soft tendril curls. She has a pert little face, heart shaped and comely. Nicholas likes her womanly figure as well. But it has been so long since he and his late wife had lain together as husband and wife–more than ten years now–let alone when he had dated twenty years ago, that Nicholas is uncertain how to proceed in courting Brigid Gordon.
And with Brigid seeming so reserved and ladylike, Nicholas is uncertain if she will welcome any romantic attentions on his part–even if to only kiss her hand. He knows that he would like to kiss her on her lips as he watches her eat–her mouth moving as she delicately chews her chicken. He is itching to find out how soft the lips on her rosebud mouth might be. But being in a public park, and in broad daylight, is also a deterrent for Nicholas’ amorous thoughts.
However, the plucky Brigid senses Nicholas’ reserve, but she also wishes to settle the matter of what it might be like to kiss him. For though Brigid does not currently feel a grand passion for Nicholas as she did for the father of her son–her being swept off her feet by the dashing young soldier whose muscled virility and handsomeness quite overwhelmed her–Brigid is not averse to developing a fondness for the man who might become her husband. And pleasant affections between the two of them would be received agreeably by her–once they are married. So Brigid breaks through Nicholas’ mesmerized silence.
Brigid: “Mr. Higgins?”
Nicholas: Startled, Nicholas flinches. “Is my late father here? For I am just Nicholas, if you please, Mrs. Gordon?” He smiles at her teasingly.
Brigid: She nods her head. “Verrry well, Nicholas. You werrre deep in thought just now. Might I ask what so entranced you?”
Nicholas: Nicholas’s face blushes. “Well, I …” He stops, too embarrassed to admit where his thoughts had wandered.
Brigid: Feeling playful, she asks most enticingly. “Shall I guess?”
Nicholas: His breath catching in his throat, Nicholas croaks with a wavering tone in his voice. “Alright.”
Brigid sets down her plate, wipes the corners of her mouth with her napkin, and sets it aside. Nicholas’ eyes widen. He also sets down his plate and brushes the napkin across his mouth.
Brigid: “Well, if we arrre to get to know each otherrr–with marriage being our intended outcome?” Nicholas nods his head without speaking. “Then perrrhaps we should see if we might develop …” Nicholas leans toward her. “… tenderrr feelings forrr each otherrr.”
Nicholas: “Though I am no gentleman with a fine manner or grace, I am not a brute. My late wife Sharon and I had a tender feeling for each other.”
Brigid: “Ye werrre a love match?”
Nicholas; “We were. Just sixteen we were when we wed as childhood sweethearts–we could not wait any longer.” He smiles sheepishly. “We quickly had two daughters–my Mary who is now married was the younger. Our oldest daughter Bessie died from a lung ailment several years ago–but she was a great friend of Miss Margaret’s until the end.” He states proudly.
Brigid: “I am sorry for your loss. But ye did na think to remarry to secure a mother for your daughters?”
Nicholas: “I couldn’t.” Nicholas shakes his head mournfully. “Right after when Sharon died, I couldn’t imagine loving anyone ever again. So I was both mother and father to my girls. And we had plenty of other mothers living nearby who could help me with my girls’ womanly issues.”
Brigid: “I see.” She nods acknowledging the difficult time that Nicholas had had in those early years after his wife died.
Nicholas: “And then as my girls grew up, my work with the union became my mistress. I did not have time to think about myself and my wishes.” Or manly needs he thinks, but does not state due to propriety. “But when I took in the six orphaned Boucher children a few years ago, having young ones around again reminded me of the days when Sharon and I had our two little daughters growing up. And I slowly came to feel an ache to share my life again with someone.”
Brigid: “And now, you wish to sharrre yourrr life with me?” She smiles shyly at him.
Nicholas slowly reaches out his hand and gently clasps her hand in his. She does not pull away, but allows him to continue holding her hand. Nicholas’ thumb slowly rubs the back of her hand as he smiles caringly at her.
Nicholas: “I do. And how do you feel? Your being so recently widowed yourself, do you feel ready to … love again?”
Brigid’s breath catches in her throat. She cannot reveal her non-widow status to him, because it would also reveal her non-married status–and that her son was born out of wed lock. She will not be taken advantage of again, her son’s future depends upon her cautious actions now.
Brigid: “I wish Arrrthurrr to grrrow up with a fatherrr. So I must marrry.” She states simply, but with a small smile to him.
Nicholas: Nicholas thinks about her statement, that she wants a father for her son. “You seem to be a puzzle to me Mrs. Gordon.” He looks at her quizzically as he unclasps his hand from her hand.
Brigid: “Oh?” She asks with slight dread as she retracts her hand to her lap–her not wanting to leave it looking forlorn at being unclasped.
Nicholas: “One moment, you seem bold and forthright. But just now, you seem very shy.” Then a thought occurs to him as he leans back from her. “Or is it that you have decided already that you do not wish me to court you afterall? Is there someone else?” Nicholas feels a bit jealous, though he realizes that he has no right to.
Brigid: “Therrre is no one else.” Brigid shakes her head no. Nicholas gazes at her pointedly about the other matter. She continues “Mrrr. Hig …” Nicholas raises his left eyebrow. “Nicholas, I am agreeable to consider marrying you at a future time.” She smiles pleasantly.
Now Nicholas feels emboldened by her not outright rejecting him. Maybe there is a chance for the two of them.
Nicholas: “I would like to kiss your cheek. May I?” Nicholas’ eyes twinkle in hopeful longing.
Lowering her eyes demurely, Brigid’s breathing deepens. She is not certain if it is proper for a man to kiss her cheek so early in their courtship. Afterall, she has let him hold her hand. Yet she also is still thinking about possibly feeling what being kissed by him might be like. If she cannot have a grand passion–such as what everyone can see is shared by John and Margaret Thornton in their tender and caring gazes at one another–Brigid would like to at least know a caring tenderness and feel a sense of security.
Brigid: Surprising herself, taking a leap of faith that this man will not use her and cast her aside, Brigid relents. “You may.” However, she keeps her eyes gazing down toward her hands clasping and unclasping together.
Nicholas leans over toward Brigid. But her ladylike posture has her sitting upright.
Nicholas: Whispering, Nicholas requests. “Brigid, might you please lean a little toward me so that I may reach you to kiss your cheek?” Nicholas does not want to move his whole body toward her lest she feel he is being too forward in his demeanor.
Silently, Brigid complies and leans toward him slightly. Their eyes lock and the merriment in Nicholas’ eyes and grin are very apparent. However, Brigid looks quite uncertain–as if she is being kissed for the first time. Nicholas leans further toward her and Brigid can feel his breath on her face.
Brigid: “Hhh!” She gasps in nervousness, wondering if he will take more liberties and kiss her on her lips.
Brigid has not been kissed on her lips by a man–her kissing her baby son does not count–since before Arthur was born and his father refused to acknowledge the coming baby as his child. The man had even hinted that if Brigid had lain with him and they were unmarried, that she had probably lain with other men. Brigid was so hurt by his accusations that she resolved to never again put herself in a position to be compromised by a man.
Nicholas: Whispering still, Nicholas leans in to kiss Brigid and he cannot help gushing. “You are so beautiful and sweet.”
Brigid closes her eyes, smiling with his kind compliment. Nicholas bestows his kiss below her cheekbone, half way to her mouth, in the soft hollow of her cheek. He finds her skin soft and supple as his lips linger there. He would like nothing better than to kiss her jaw and then her lips, before proceeding to bestow soft kisses upon her creamy neck. Brigid does not move away from him. She finds Nicholas’ lips upon her cheek pleasing for a few moments more, before he pulls back–as he knows that he must as an honorable man. Brigid opens her eyes and smiles shyly at Nicholas. He smiles shyly back at her.
Nicholas Higgins and Brigid Gordon are reaching a turning point in their acquaintanceship.
To be continued with Chapter 83
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 82 References, September 14, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #635)
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 the Scottish Brigid Gordon is that of actress Helena Bonham Carter found at http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/500/34779527/Helena+Bonham+Carter+helena.jpg
3) Image of Nicholas Higgins is that of Brendan Coyle in his role of John Bates in Downton Abbey and was found at : http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m23/mrbateslegal/DA1/bates-and-anna_zpsef78673f.jpg