“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 84 (PG-13, D): Brigid’s Past Threatens to Claim Her Future, September 23, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #639)
[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, Helena Bonham Carter as Brigid Gordon, and Steven Waddington as Major Reginald Monckton, 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 and John congratulated the happily engaged couple of Nicholas Higgins and Brigid Gordon that Saturday, August 30, 1855. However, the rain prevented Margaret and Brigid going in to town to begin wedding clothing shopping. So that excursion will be delayed until the following week. But Nicholas and Brigid at least convey their intention to marry to the parson on Sunday and the first of three wedding banns are read in church to everyone’s delight. Nicholas and Brigid are a very happy pair contemplating their wedding to take place in the coming weeks at the conclusion of her serving as wet nurse to baby Douglas Thornton. But just as the rain deluged Nicholas’ and Brigid’s engagement proposal, a development will arise to cloud their hoped for happiness.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 84 (PG-13, D): Brigid’s Past Threatens to Claim Her Future
After the first week of Nicholas Higgins’ and Brigid Gordon’s engagement, the second of three wedding banns [(2)] are announced in Sunday church as is custom–they will be wed the following Sunday, September 14th, 1855. Two week engagements seem to be prevalent amongst John and Margaret Thornton’s extended family and friends–and was the case for John and Margaret.
The first week of Nicholas Higgins’ and Nanny Brigid Gordon’s engagement is a whirlwind of wedding clothes fittings and a small trousseau collection for Brigid courtesy of John and Margaret. However, Nicholas buys a new dark blue suit from his own pocket. Though Nicholas is gracious about John and Margaret Thornton gifting his intended bride Brigid with some wedding allowances in lieu of her parents doing so, he will not accept such largesse for himself. A man has his pride.
Nicholas earns a generous salary as Senior Overseer of Marlborough Mills for Master John Thornton. He saves a good deal of his salary in the bank and under his mattress, and there is plenty saved for Nicholas to support his hoped for growing family of his intended wife Brigid and her now eleven month old baby son Arthur.
Sunday afternoon of September 7th, Brigid and Nicholas are preparing a bedchamber for baby Arthur in Nicholas’ home. Nicholas had earlier painted the walls a muted blue shade. And today, they are installing new to them gently used baby/toddler furniture of a crib for now and small bed for later, a night stand, a dresser cabinet for Arthur’s clothes, and a rocking chair for sleepless nights when Arthur might need cajoling to sleep. Nicholas’ married daughter Mary is down stairs with the younger Boucher children she parents. Mary is acting as chaperone for the engaged couple.
Nicholas and Brigid are a happy and excited engaged couple as they work on making his Overseer’s cottage home more amenable to Brigid and her eleven month old baby son Arthur. And with room redecorating, of course, there are the inevitable rearrangements of said furniture requests by the future Mrs. Nicholas Higgins. It is the afternoon after their second wedding banns were read out in church this morning and they have only one week to go until their wedding.
Brigid stands in the connecting doorway from the master bedchamber to what will become baby Arthur’s bed chamber. Actually, this would have been the lady of the house’s bed chamber. But not being wealthy, they do not aspire to the pretentions of the wealthy–in the matter of separate bedrooms.
Nicholas: “How about this arrangement now?” Nicholas smiles hopefully [(3) right] after moving the crib and dresser cabinet each three times. He is wearing a warm navy blue sweater in which he feels even warmer now with all of his exertions.
Brigid hesitates–a sure sign to Nicholas that she doesn’t like something. And he is right.
Brigid: “Well. Do ye think it wise to place the crrrib in frrront of the window? What if we want to open it for the brrreeze, or forrr frrresh airrr? Arrrthurrr,might be tempted to climb out. Then he would fall and hurrrt himself–or worrrse.” She clasps Arthur in her loving arms more closely, protectively–and she kisses his chubby cheek.
Nicholas smiles at the little boy patting his Mama’s face. Maybe one day, Arthur will call him Papa. But all in good time. First things first, furniture placement. Nicholas walks over to his soon to be new family. Nicholas caresses the back of Arthur’s curly blond head and he kisses Brigid on her cheek.
Nicholas: “We can’t have that.” He holds his arms out for Arthur, who then does the same to him. Arthur likes the big smiling man enormously. And Brigid lets Nicholas pull her baby son into his arms, watching them with a poignant smile on her face–her son will have a father come Sunday. “Little fellow, how would you like your room arranged?”
Brigid: “Ha ha ha!” Brigid giggles in amusement. “Nicholas, Arrrthur is just a baby.” She smiles and rolls her eyes at Nicholas’ teasing.
Nicholas: “Still, he will be walking soon. So if you are worried about him and the window, I say we place all of the furniture well away from it on the opposite wall.”
Brigid: “Alright. Ye best get on with it. Let me have him back.”
Nicholas: Nicholas turns with baby Arthur in his arms and says with a mischievous smile. “No! I want a real kiss from you Lass, and then I will give you Arthur to hold again.”
Brigid: “But Nicholas, we shouldn’t. Not until we are married.” She blushes and looks down demurely.
Nicholas: “You kissed me when I proposed and we became engaged.” He counters cheekily.
Brigid: Blushing, she protests shyly. “That was a special occasion.” She begins to breathe quickly in nervousness.
Nicholas: “And is not preparing our son’s bed chamber for him a special occasion?” Now Nicholas’ grin becomes more desirous, his voice deeper.
Brigid likes that Nicholas refers to her son Arthur as being his son, too.
Brigid: “But, Marrry and the childrrren are downstairrrs.” Brigid pouts primly. She will not have herself compromised again. There will be no intimacies beyond hand holding–or something similarly chaste–until they are married.
Nicholas: Nicholas senses Brigid’s concern and he relents as he replies softly to her. “Yes. They are chaperoning us. And none can say that anything untoward is going on between us.” Nicholas leans over and softly kisses Brigid’s temple with her eyes still averted downward. “It is alright, my Sweet Brigid.” Then he hands baby Arthur to her. “I was only teasing, Lass. Pay me no mind. We will be wed on Sunday. I can wait … to kiss you until then.” Nicholas’ eyes gaze smoulderingly at the petite and lovely Brigid. He hopes to give her more children once they are wed.
Brigid: “Thank you.” She says in a small trembling voice, with her cheeks blushing a delicate shade of pink as Nicholas gently caresses her cheek briefly with his index finger, guiding her to look up at him so that she can see the sincerity in his eyes.
Brigid does see the kind sincerity in Nicholas’ eyes. And Brigid is becoming more and more fond of Nicholas Higgins, precisely because he does not try to overwhelm her with requests of a romantic nature. When she says no, he accepts that. Brigid thinks that Nicholas is kind, loving, friendly, even tempered, family oriented, and above all, honorable. She will be proud to be his wife. And in time, she is certain that she will grow to love him–maybe she already does love him a little bit. In marrying Nicholas, Brigid will find a safe and nurturing haven for she and her baby son at last.
Nicholas and Brigid then spend another quarter hour finalizing the furniture placement in baby Arthur’s bed chamber to everyone’s satisfaction.
So this second week of Nicholas and Brigid’s engagement leading up to their marriage this weekend, Brigid has her wedding dress and trousseau fittings on Tuesday afternoon with grateful joy. Brigid’s modest trousseau funded by the Thorntons includes two lovely day dresses for entertaining at home, a dressier evening dress for occasions at the Thornton home or at a musical concert in Milton, two traveling/visiting dresses that she might also wear to church, and assorted undergarments and shoes, gloves, and stockings.
In fact, Nanny Brigid is wearing one of her new visiting or traveling dresses this Tuesday, September 9th, 1855 afternoon that is similar to her brown dress in style, but with a more conservative bodice neckline and in an Autumnal sage green color that suits her [(4) right]. Margaret is also dressed in Autumnal colors of plum with rust accents.
However, this afternoon will prove to be a particularly unsettling experience that Margaret Thornton and Nanny Brigid Gordon do not suspect as they continue shopping in Milton after her dress fittings and they stop to peruse the selection of baby clothes for Brigid’s baby Arthur and Margaret’s baby Douglas at the Wee Ones Shoppe of children’s ready made clothes without their children in tow. The clothes are made by local seamstresses in Milton as piecework–women who stay at home to take care of their own children, but who want, and perhaps need, to earn a bit of money on the side to support their families. Brigid and Margaret finger the lovely and reasonably priced clothes as they make their selections.
Looking out the shop window and noticing the press of people on the street increasing, Margaret asks the shop’s mature grey haired proprietor, Mrs Beaton about it.
Margaret: “My! There are so many people about today. One would think that it is a holiday. I wonder what is the cause?”
Brigid: “Aye! I have na seen such a thrrrong of people on the strrreets of Milton before–except when the Mills let out of worrrk. Ha ha ha!”
Margaret: “Ha ha ha!”
Brigid smiles quite broadly since the sea of humanity that are the millworkers are well known to her since she will be living among them when she and Nicholas are wed–albeit in the larger and substantial Overseer’s cottage in Thornton Village. So upon her visits to what will be her new home with Arthur, Nicholas has proudly introduced her to his neighbors among the Marlborough Mill Employees.
Mrs. Beaton: “Oh my dears! Do you not know? Have you not heard?” Margaret and Brigid shake their heads no. They have been so caught up with wedding planning and clothes, etc., that they have not paid attention to local news. Mrs. Beaton gestures to the window just as some soldiers in red coats march by in formation. “It is the Northern England Militia passing through town. Everyone is agog to see them! They are to stay the week for rest, training, and a social ball hosted on Saturday by their General whose wife was from these parts, before the Militia pushes further south.” Mrs. Beaton speaks breathlessly as she fans herself. There was a time in her youth when many a man in a red coat caught her eye as a young woman. But that was long before she met her late husband, Mr. Beaton, and became his helpmate in life.
Upon hearing Mrs. Beaton’s report and noticing the soldiers through the window, Brigid’s smile freezes on her face. It cannot be, she thinks. Why now? Just when her life is soon to settle into a calm and safe position with her marrying Nicholas Higgins this coming Sunday.
Margaret: And Margaret notices her pallor. “Brigid? Do you feel unwell? Would you like to forgo our shopping for the boys today?”
Sensing her losing a sale, Mrs. Beaton speaks ups.
Mrs. Beaton: “You poor dears have been on your feet all afternoon. Let me offer you some tea in my office sitting room at the back. There you might rest and refresh yourselves before continuing with your needed purchases for your sons.”
Wordlessly, Mrs. Beaton gestures to her other counter clerk to attend to the shop’s other patrons as she ushers the two Marlborough Mill ladies to the back of her shop. Margaret and Brigid are pleased to find a charmingly small sitting room with a small sette and wing chair opposite a desk in one corner. Brigid rather unceremoniously plops onto the sette before she faints, while still clutching a toddler’s shirt she had been looking at in her hand.
Margaret: Speaking for both of them, Margaret smiles at the proprietor. “This is a lovely and welcome respite. Thank you Mrs. Beaton.”
Mrs. Beaton: “Of course, my dears.” Mrs. Beaton is a motherly soul, as well as being in business. Reaching her hand to Nanny Brigid, she asks. “Would you like me to set that shirt aside for your son, Mrs. Gordon?”
Brigid: Brigid looks up at Mrs. Beaton and then down at the small boy’s shirt in her hands. Handing it to Mrs. Beaton, Brigid nods. “Yes, please. Though I have na made me final choice yet.”
Mrs. Beaton: “That is fine.” Then she hears the bell above the door tinkling and a man’s deep voice. “I must go for a few moments to set the kettle on and help out front. I will be back to you in a few moments with your tea.” She leaves to put the kettle on the small warming stove she has in the back storeroom.
A dashing English officer in full red regimentals enters the Wee Ones Shoppe door and startles at the tinkling bell above his head as he ducks under the door frame. He is Major Reginald Reggie Monckton [(5) right] assigned to the Northern England Militia now, but who had been posted in Scotland for many years. He scours the store, not seeing whom he is looking for when he had seen her enter it not ten minutes prior as his garrison marched past the shop. The Major had doubled back toward the shoppe. He impatiently raps his knuckles on the counter to get the attention of the young clerk helping another customer.
Major Reginald: “I say, miss. Might you tell me if you have seen a pretty petite brown haired lady enter the store just now?”
The shop girl looks up at the handsome major with a shy smile. Her current lady customer also turns to stare at him, forgetting her annoyance at her transaction being interrupted. They are both captivated by his tallness, his muscular handsomeness, and the expensiveness of his regimental uniform. The man is accustomed to having this effect on women and smiles benignly at them with a hint of ennui.
Shop Girl: Jolting herself out of her stupor, the shop girl replies. “Begging your pardon, Sir, but most ladies who come in here seem to have brown hair–or perhaps, red.” She offers helpfully. She is just a fill in shop girl–not a regular shop helper. So she does not know all of the customers who come to call–such as Mrs. Margaret Thornton’s children’s nanny, Mrs. Brigid Gordon.
Major Reginald: “Seem to?” He latches onto her phrasing.
Shop Girl: “Yes sir. Yellow hair like yours is not often seen in these parts.” She gushes admiringly.
Major Reginald: “Yes, well, I am from Scarborough.” His voice resonates deeply in the confines of the shoppe/ Major Reginald’s ancestral home is on the East coast of England and his forebears are purported to be of Viking heritage [(6)]–hence the blond hair. “What about the two ladies I saw entering moments ago?”
Just then, the shop’s proprietress Mrs. Beaton returns to the shop floor after putting the kettle on for Mrs. Thornton’s and her nanny’s tea in her sitting room office.
Mrs. Beaton: “May I be of service? I am the proprietress of this shop.” She states proudly to the too handsome for his own good officer standing in front of her. Thankfully, her having had a loving husband means that her heart is no longer subject to the whims of a young girl’s fancy like the Adonis before her.
Mrs. Beaton shoos away her mooney eyed shop girl to attend to her other customer and she draws the major to a quiet corner of the shop near the baby toys.
Major Reginald: “Hhhh!” The Major sighs, then fingers a small stuffed fabric bear. He had a stuffed bear when he was a child. “Yes. Thank you, madam. I am Major Reginald Monckton. And I seek to ascertain if a Miss Brigid Gordon was recently inhabiting the premises.” He looks around, but does not see Brigid.
Mrs. Beaton: “Hmmm. A Miss Gordon?” She asks in a puzzling tone. For Mrs. Brigid Gordon is awaiting tea with Mrs. Margaret Thornton in her sitting room.
Major Reginald: “Yes. Well, perhaps she is married by now and her last name altered, but her first name is Brigid.” He emphasizes.
Mrs. Beaton: Sensing that something is amiss, she smiles benignly. “I’m sorry, but I can not help you.” Which means that she will not help him. Mrs. Thornton is a very good customer of hers–very good. And Mrs. Beaton will not do anything to jeopardize that–including revealing that the person the major likely seeks is in her back office sitting room.
But the major is no fool. He knows that he saw what he saw. And what looked like his former conquest Brigid Gordon–though more stylishly dressed–walk into this shop. He will not be deterred.
Major Reginald: “Well, if something comes to mind, …” He raises an inquisitive eyebrow. “… my name again is Major Reginald Monckton. I am billeted with the other officers at the Milton Arms Hotel until next Monday.”
Mrs. Beaton: “Of course.” Then not wanting to miss a potential sale as she sees him continuing to touch the stuffed bear, she gestures to it. “May I interest you in something for a young child?”
Major Reginald: He stares at her and replies brusquely. “I have no children–that I know of.” He adds hastily, thinking about the child on the way Brigid had claimed was his after they had enjoyed only one tryst.
Mrs. Beaton: “Perhaps for a relative’s child, then?” She smiles sweetly.
Major Reginald hesitates. Then he snatches the stuffed bear off of the display and Mrs. Beaton makes her sale–wrapping the bear in brown paper and tying it with string. Major Reginald feels that he is being overly impulsive–not only for dashing into this shop thinking that he had seen Brigid, but for also buying the stuffed bear. As the Major leaves the shop, Mrs. Beaton returns to the back room to check on the tea.
While Mrs. Beaton had left them alone to return to the shop–and then them over hearing what the Major and Mrs. Beaton are saying–Margaret and Brigid chat.
Margaret: “My! The Major is a handsome and dashing fellow.” Margaret smiles impishly after peeking through the curtain and looking to the front of the shop. For her husband John is the only man who will ever have her heart.
Brigid: “He can be.” Brigid nods and replies tonelessly. This is Brigid’s worst nightmare coming true–of Reggie reinserting himself back into her life–that is, after he disavowed her and their coming child nineteen months ago, her now eleven month old son Arthur.
Margaret: “Do you know that man, Brigid?”
Brigid: “Aye, Mrs. Reggie was posted in my village in Scotland for several months a few years ago.” But Brigid does not state more.
Margaret: Margaret probes a bit further. “Was he a friend of your husband’s?”
Brigid: “No.” Brigid replies in barely a whisper. She does not want to lie to Maragaret, but she does not know if she can risk telling the truth.
Then they hear Major Reginald state that he is looking for an unmarried lady named Brigid Gordon. Margaret’s eyes widen and she turns to Brigid and whispers.
Margaret: “Could there be more than one Brigid Gordon? A relative of yours, perhaps?” Margaret asks charitably.
Brigid: “No, Mrs. I am she.” Then she blurts out in a hushed tone. “He was so handsome and charrrming then. I was a tradesman’s daughter with no dowry to tempt him. But Rrreggie swept me off me feet and we eloped to Gretna Green–or I thought we were eloping. But, though he lay with me as me husband, no marriage took place and I returned home to me father fearful of the consequences. And then when I discovered I was with child, Rrreggie said that I lied when I told him the baby was his. He is Arrrthurrr’s fatherrr, but he abandoned me, us, when I became prrregnant by him–and afterrr only one time. And me father packed me off to me distant cousins in Angus, Scotland to give me and Arthur a new start, and you know the rest. I became a widow to protect my son.” She states sotto voce.
Margaret: “Oh!” Margaret sighs as she gazes at Brigid with compassionate concern. In her father’s parish in Helstone, there had been many an impressionable young woman taken advantage of by unscrupulous men. And Margaret never thought it fair that the woman was always made to suffer the consequences, while the men did not.
Brigid: Misreading her employer’s quiet response as censure, Brigid straightens her posture with as much dignity as she can muster. “Mrs. Thornton, I thank ye for yourrr kindness toward me baby Arrrthurrr and I. I am sorrry to have put you in this awkwarrrd position. I have saved some money and Arrrthurr and I will returrrn to Scotland tomororrrow.” Though she does not know what they will do after that.
Margaret: “But you are getting married to Nicholas on Sunday.” Margaret caringly touches Brigid’s arm.
Brigid: Brigid remarks sorrowfully. “Nay! He will na want to marrry a fallen woman with a bastarrrd child. I rrrelease him frrrom his prrromise.”
Margaret: “You will do no such thing! If Nicholas is the man I think he is, he will still want to marry you.”
Brigid: “But Mrs., the scandal? If Rrreggie asks arrround, people will starrrt to talk. You will na escape theirrr viscious gossip, neitherrr–harborrring a woman such as I, brrrought low and dishonorrred by a man.”
Margaret: “Brigid, all is not lost. I will ask John to talk to this Reggie person, man to man–get him to see the sense of the need for his discretion.”
Brigid looks at Margaret Thornton curiously–wondering if there might be a chance that she won’t be found out by the gossps of Milton.
At that moment, Mrs. Beaton returns with their tea. And Margaret and Brigid politely stay the minimum amount of time necessary–and perfunctorily buying a few items, including a small fabric ball for each son–before quickly returning to Marlborough Mills to seek out John and Nicholas for their help. There are many what ifs in Brigid’s mind that will only be quelled once she has spoken to her intended Nicholas Higgins and shared with him her truth. And Nicholas’ response will determine Brigid’s and her baby son Arthur’s future.
To be continued with Chapter 85
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 84 References, September 23, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #639)
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) General information about the banns of marriage was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banns_of_marriage
3) Higgins image is Brendan Coyle found at http://www.anothertongue.com/img/db/blog-large/brendan-coyle-terry-starling.jpg
4) 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
5) Image representing Major Reginald Monckton is Steven Waddington portraying Major Duncan Heyward in The Last of the Mohicans film in 1992 (set in the 1760’s) was found at http://hesaidshesaidmovies.tripod.com/img/posters/lastofthemohicans5.jpg ; for more about The Last of the Mohicans film, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104691/?ref_=nm_knf_t2
6) For more information about Scarborough in North East England, and its Viking invasions, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarborough,_North_Yorkshire