“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 86 (PG-13): Five Years Later: The Trials of Fathering Daughters Begin, October 04, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #643)
[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: With the Northern England Militia coming to Milton in September 1855, the military major father of Brigid’s child seeking to find her forces Brigid to reveal her shame and her troubles to Margaret–and reluctantly to her betrothed Nicholas. However, Nicholas surprises Brigid with his acceptance of her having been swept off her feet once–which begat her son Arthur–and they marry sooner than they planned and honeymoon in Scotland. Thus escaping further notice by the errant Major, Nicholas and Brigid shyly and sweetly begin their lives as husband and wife and parents to baby Arthur. The Thorntons interceded when Brigid and Nicholas needed them to. But in the future, John Thornton will come to know even better the trials and tribulations of family and fatherhood.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 86 (PG-13): Five years later: The Trials of Fathering Daughters Begin
Five years later, they have all gathered for a Thornton-Ogilvy-MacIntosh family Christmas in Scotland, in December 1860. With the MacIntoshes and Thorntons staying at Airlie Castle with Hannah Lady Airlie, Cameron Lord Airlie and their son, the now ten year old Baird Gavin Ogilvy. Of course, children love castles–so many places to explore, histories to be revealed, and secrets to be guarded.
This Saturday, December 20th, 1860–the day after they arrived–John and Margaret Thornton are still sleeping in their guest stateroom at Airlie Castle. John especially tries to remain asleep–just a little longer as he burrows himself into his pillow [(2) right]. However, their children will have other ideas. One by one during the night, the Thornton children crept from their shared adjoining bed chamber nursery and into their parents’ large bed. John and Margaret had fallen asleep cuddling in each others’ loving arms. And now nine year old Audrey Grace and seven year old Catriona are snuggled up under the blanket behind their Mama Margaret.
However, it is the intrepid five year old Douglas–some might say he possesses his father John’s stubborn streak–who not only snuggles up to his warm Papa’s back, but in the early morning hours of Saturday he throws his arm around John’s neck and latches his little hand onto his Papa’s ear ridge, ear lobe, and poking his finger into the ear canal.
Douglas: “Mmmmm!” Douglas murmurs contentedly in the comfort of being anchored to his father by touch. Douglas having a strong hold on his Papa’s chin, nose, or ear are the only things his little hands can grab onto.
However John is dreaming that he is in a life or death wrestling match with the Lilliputian peoples from Gulliver’s Travels [(3)] –a favorite book of his and Margaret’s to read to their children. It is the strangest dream John has ever had–and he awakens to his son grabbing and squeezing his ear in his sleep.
John: “Owwwwww!” John bellows, startling and waking up everyone in the bed.
Douglas: “Ach!” Douglas has heard his grandfather Cameron say ach so often, that the exclamation has become resident amongst his own burgeoning vocabulary.
Catriona: “Waaa! Waaa!” Caty cries out in fear at the loud rumbling noise of her Papa’s wail.
Margaret having long since learned to ignore her husband’s sleeping noises–snoring or otherwise–Margaret instantly awakens to hearing her youngest daughter’s cry. Margaret turns around in bed and envelopes both of her daughters in her soothing embrace.
Margaret: “Caty, my little Sweetheart! What is wrong?”
Catriona: “There was a big bear in my dreams!” She shivers in fright and whimpers with a few tears as her Mama holds her.
Audrey Grace: Ever the older sister, Audrey Grace rolls her eyes,but says soothingly to her little sister. “No, Caty. There was no bear. Papa was just loud waking up. See?” Audrey Grace points to their father.
Everyone looks at John–the girls peering over their Mama Margaret’s night clad torso and Douglas peering over his Papa’s head.
Margaret: “Oh John!” She admonishes him for waking the sleeping children.
John: “It’s not my fault, Margaret. Douglas yanked on my ear, and the pain of it woke me up!” John replies in his own defense–and he rubs his now perfectly fine and non hurting left ear for effect. At forty three years old, John moves a little less quickly, is a bit more set in his ways–and Margaret finds, that he can be the biggest baby of the family.
Douglas: “I didn’t mean to, Papa.” Douglas pouts as tears form in his little eyes and his lower lip trembles. He adores his Papa and he doesn’t want to disappointment him.
Margaret: “Really, John.” She shakes her head bemusedly. “Little Douglas couldn’t have hurt you that much.” She caresses Douglas’ cheek. “Afterall, Douglas is only a child.” Margaret’s underlying, but unvoiced, implication is that John is the adult–and he should act like one.
Caty: “Oooh! Did the bear pull on your ear, Papa?” Little Catriona asks fearfully. In her mind, the bear in her dream is in everyone else’s dreams, too.
John: “No Caty, sweetheart. It was Douglas who pulled on my ear.” John tosses an exasperated look at his son over his shoulder.
Douglas: “I’m sorry, Papa.” Then he bursts into tears. Little ones still half asleep do not react well to melodrama.
Margaret: “John?” Margaret pleadingly gazes upon her husband to fix this or their day will be ruined by sulking children.
John: “Everything is alright, children. Papa was just startled.” John smiles broadly so the children know that he isn’t angry with them.
And continuing to tend to damage control before an all out Thornton children meltdown occurs, John lays down on his back and pulls his son Douglas over his night shirt covered chest to be in the middle of he and Margaret in their bed. But then the girls want to be in the middle, too. So they carefully creep around their Mama’s legs and join their brother Douglas in the middle. They do not climb over her for a very simple reason–they must be delicate with her now.
Margaret: “Ohhh!” Margaret grabs her swelling tummy and rubs it. “Baby, please don’t kick Mama so hard.”
Three little pairs of hands gently feel their Mama’s tummy–waiting for another kick from the baby.
John: Blanching, John adds his hand to her belly and asks caringly. “Are you alright, Margaret My Love?” John searches her face for his answer.
Margaret: “Whewww! I think so, John Dear. I’m just a little winded.”
John: “Do you want me to fetch Cameron to look at you?”
Margaret: “Nooooo.” She rolls her eyes. “I’m fine.” She smiles.
The now thirty four year old Margaret Thornton is eminently pleased with herself for being six months pregnant–despite the harrowing time she had in giving birth to Audrey Grace nine years ago. Margaret has sailed along without morning sickness nor any complications like swelling feet and hands or overall bloating this time around. And she looks forward to holding a baby in her arms again soon. Lady Thistle Ogilvy had another child after her pregnancy complications. And Brigid Higgins just gave birth to her third child–her second daughter with Nicholas. And Fiona/Fanny and Baird don’t seem to be ready to stop with five children. So Margaret feels that she will also do well with her pregnancy. Only time will tell if her optimism is accurate.
The ever cautious and worried John tries not to spoil his wife’s baby joy with the terror he feels with her being pregnant again. After Audrey Grace’s difficult birth nine years ago, he swore to prevent her from getting pregnant from their loving couplings so that she would not be put through the agonies and dangers of childbirth ever again. John could not bear the thought of losing his precious Margaret–nor of their children being motherless. Their two middle children–blood siblings Caty and Douglas–were adopted by John & Margaret to complete their family. And all was going well in their pregnancy prevention until a fateful night over the Easter Holiday last Spring when John’s and Margaret’s passions were so intense–since their children were sleeping over with their Nana Hannah and Grandpa Cameron who were visiting Milton–that they forgot to use a sheath and Margaret’s pregnant state is the result.
And if John were to admit it to himself, he feels a bit embarrassed by the good natured ribbing he receives from the other Milton mill owners about him fathering another child, at his age, of being forty three years old. John was older by ten years than many of them were when he and Margaret married. So naturally, he is older with younger children than they all had. And John is a doting, hands-on father. John is not content to be the strict disciplinarian expected of many fathers of their time–and which was the case with his own late father. Instead, John strives to emulate the benevolent father example of Margaret’s deceased father Mr. Richard Hale, and the outdoorsy live life to the fullest example of his jovial Father-in-law Cameron Lord Airlie.
And John is a sapling as a father compared to his Father-in-law. Cameron is nearly seventy years old now with his nine year old son and John’s half brother Gavin–Gavin and Audrey Grace being born the same year. So if anyone wants to wag their finger at John for his studly fecundity, John feels they should be so lucky–as Cameron often tells him that he is.
It is now a few days later on Christmas Eve 1860 and all of the extended Ogilvy-MacIntosh-Thornton families are gathered for light after dinner desserts of biscuits and punch and the opening of one present each in Hannah Lady Airlie’s larger Drawing Room at the Castle. With seven Baird and Fiona and children family, the six Jamie and Thistle and children family with guest, the five and counting John and Margaret and children family, and the still happily four Angharad and Alistair and children family–not to mention the three Hannah and Cameron and Gavin family–they have fully nineteen people to dine and entertain this night. But they are delighted everyone could make it since the snow was starting to fall more heavily.
The older children–fourteen year olds Lady Blythe and Master Andrew MacIntosh, and her best friend the thirteen year old Miss Lissa Dillard and Lady Blythe’s now eighteen year old brother Viscount Hamish–sit off to one end of the Drawing Room on two settes facing each other around a small fireplace. They are just starting to spread their wings as young adults. Well, perhaps, the eighteen year old Hamish has already spread his wings–a few times, in that he kissed one of his Eton school mate’s older sisters. Or rather, she kissed him.
Blythe: “Oh, Lissa! I am so glad that ye decided to spend the night with me and me Parrrents. I do na think we could get ye home with the snow tonight.”
Lissa: “I know. Mama wasn’t pleased about the snow. We almost did na attend Mass earrrlier.” She blanches.
Hamish: His voice having deepened, Viscount Hamish leans over toward the five years younger and sweet Lissa and smiles cordially at her. “Now that would have been a pity, Miss Lissa. With me fatherrr viewing ye as almost anotherrr daughterrr, we could na miss spending some parrrt of Chrrristmas with ye.”
Viscount Hamish Ogilvy–son of Lord Jamie and Lady Thistle Ogilvy and brother to Lady Blythe and their two younger adopted siblings and their Mama’s latest and hopefully last baby–is smitten with the blossoming Lissa. He began to notice her as more than merely his sister’s friend last year when Lissa had a growth spurt that give her a bit more height and the beginnings of womanly curves. His own sister Blythe has also blossomed–her having caught the attention of their distant cousin Master Andrew MacIntosh–their great great grandfathers were Ogilvy brothers. And with Hamish and Andrew both being at Eton these past several years, they have struck up a brotherly friendship–and they have shared with each other that they each like a certain lady.
Andrew: “Lady Blythe? Might I be so bold as to rrrefill your punch cup forrr you?” He reaches out his arm toward her in hoped for sympathy [(4) image right].
Blythe: Lady Blythe smiles cordially at Andrew, then she turns her head to best friend Lissa seated next to her and they both giggle at Andrew behaving so formally. “Ha ha ha ha ha! Drrrrew?” She has affectionately nicknamed him. “I do na think ye need to be bold, Drew–merrrely steady as ye rrreturrrn the cup to me filled with punch.” Lady Blythe is definitely her mother’s daughter for feistiness and forthrightness.
Andrew stands and bows, he carefully takes the punch cup from Lady Blythe’s finger, and he walks to the other side of the drawing room in search of the punch bowl.
Lissa sits quietly and demurely upon the Airlie Castle Drawing Room love seat sette with her best friend Lady Blythe. Lissa wearing best dark blue velvet dress illustrating her family’s rise in prosperity the last few years as her father assumed more responsibility at the Ogilvy-Thornton Angus Scotland Mills–and him being named to be Senior Overseer of the Mill two years ago. Lissa has been educated these past nine years with Lady Blythe when the Dillard family moved to Scotland with the creation of the Mill–in both the school room in sharing Lady Blythe’ governess and in the Drawing Room for etiquette and lady lessons. But Lady Blythe and Miss Lissa are still quite young at fourteen and thirteen, respectively– and they are not focusing on romantic attachments as of yet. But that does not stop them from having a little fun with Hamish.
Lissa: Assuming a studied air of flirtatious petulance, Lissa cutely bats her eyes at Viscount Hamish. “Well Hamish, I suppose that my lacking any punch has escaped yourrr notice?” She bats her eyelashes at him–as she has seen Lady Blythe’s Aunt Davina do on occasion.
Hamish: Clutching his hand to his chest in mock wounded pride, Hamish apologizes. “Oh! Miss Lissa! I am deeply rrregrrretful for the overrrsight.” He reaches out his hand to take her punch cup and brushes his finger along her inside wrist. She thinks that it tingles like a tickle and she smiles up at him adoringly. “Let me rectify your punchlessness for you.” He finishes with a flourish and heads to the punch table.
Now alone, the two young girls get to particulars. Lady Blythe elbows her friend Lissa.
Blythe: “Ye be laying it on a bit thick, Lissa. Hamish alrrready thinks that he is God’s gift to a kilt. Do na encourrrage his overrrweaning prrride–or he will be even morrre insufferrrable to live with on his school brrreaks!” Lady Blythe huffs in the usual way of sisterly annoyance.
Lissa: Lissa rolls her eyes. “Oh, Blythe! I am just having a wee bit o fun with Hamish–as he is with me. But what about you and Andrrrew? Have ye kissed under the mistletoe yet?”
Blythe: Lady Blythe looks at her friend as if she grew a nose in the middle of her forehead. “Kissed what?”
Lissa: “Each otherrr, of courrrse!” Lissa tilts her head to the side and waits for a response.
Blythe: “Bu … bu … but!” Blythe sputters. “Drrrew is me cousin!”
Lissa: “Only technically.” Lissa shakes her head and smiles impishly. “Besides, his last name is differrrent. So no one would know anyway.”
Meanwhile, across the drawing room, Audrey Grace Thornton is trying to refill her punch cup. But the ladle is too long and she can’t seem to empty the contents into her cup without spilling a few drops on the fine white linen table cloth of the dessert refreshments buffet.
Andrew: “Herrre, Audrey Grace. Let me help you.” He smiles warmly at his little cousin-in-law–emphasis on the little, with her being only 9 years old to his fourteen years old. He hands her the now filled punch cup.
Audrey Grace: “Thank you, Andrew.” She sighs and looks at the handsome teenager whom she has a crush on.
John and Margaret walk over to the refreshments table to refill their punch cups and notice their daughter Audrey Grace watching Andrew depart.
Margaret: “Do you like the punch, Audrey Grace Sweetheart?”
Audrey Grace: “Uh huh.” She stares moonily off toward Andrew rejoining the older children’s conversation grouping.
Margaret smiles and returns to sit on the sette with her Mother-in-law. They are having a discussion regarding cotton baby clothes for her new baby to be.
John: “Audrey Grace? Have you opened your Christmas Even gift yet?” He asks gently.
Audrey Grace: “Oh no! Sorry.” She grins sheepishly. Then she has an idea and the nine year old Audrey Grace asks sweetly. “Papa? When am I permitted to kiss a boy?”
John Thornton coughs on his own punch–unintentionally spitting some of it out–and he wipes off his mouth with his napkin as he jerks his head around with such force to gaze incredulously at his daughter, that one wonders how his head can remain attached to his neck.
John: “What did you say?” John sputters.
Audrey Grace: “I want to kiss Andrew MacIntosh.” She smiles. “He is handsome, like you Papa.” She adds. Earlier as a young child of four, Audrey Grace had wanted to marry her handsome Papa when she grew up. But as she became older, Audrey Grace realized the impracticality of that notion–for he was already married to her Mama Margaret. And Audrey Grace would not want to see her Mama lonely without her Papa. So Audrey Grace decided to look elsewhere for somebody to love. And Andrew MacIntosh became the increasing object of her nine year old affections.
John: “Hhhh!” John sighs deeply as he desperately looks around for his wife Margaret and finding her engrossed in a conversation with his mother Hannah, Lady Airlie and he cannot obtain Margaret’s attention.
Audrey Grace: “Would tonight be a good time? Or should I wait until Christmas–like it being my present to him?”
John’s face reflects the parental panic that he is feeling–with his cheeks turning crimson and his eyes squinting in disbelief. He thought that they would have at least five more years until they would have to even consider the topic of Audrey Grace liking a boy–hopefully, when she would be around fourteen years old. And then, Audrey Grace will not be launched onto society until four years after that in her eighteenth year. Audrey Grace waits patiently for her Father’s response. She has learned over time not to press her Papa–he detests ultimatums.
John: “Audrey Grace? Andrew MacIntosh is fourteen years old. He is much too old for you to think about.”
Audrey Grace: “But he is only five years older than I am. And you are nine years older than Mama. Mama said so.” Audrey Grace adds for emphasis.
Grasping for a lifeline to try to dissuade his daughter from beginning romantic thoughts at her tender age, John pursues a different approach.
John: “Alright then. Why do you want to kiss Andrew MacIntosh?” John’s eyes narrow and he winces, waiting for his daughter’s response.
Audrey Grace: She thinks for a moment. “I don’t know. I just think that I would like to.” She sheepishly shrugs her shoulders.
John: “Well, kisses should be reserved for the one you love–your future husband.” John clarifies.
Audrey Grace: “Oh!” Audrey Grace sighs dejectedly. She says no more to her Papa–her planning to seek her Mama Margaret’s wise counsel. For in matters of the heart in the Thornton family, women know best.
Having returned from getting Lady Blythe more punch, Andrew finds her standing at the corner window gazing out upon the wintery snow covered garden area [(5) right] as she leans on her holiday ribbon festooned walking stick.
Andrew: “Herre Ye arrre.” He hands her her now filled punch cup.
Blythe: “Thank ye!” She takes a sip of her punch, then sets her cup down onto a nearby table and she returns to gazing out upon the snowy scene.
Andrew: “A penny?” He asks huskily as he leans down close to her ear–and he kisses it.
Blythe: Shooing his face away gently with her hand, Blythe laughs. “That tickles! Drew, ye know that it is not properrr for a lady to allow a man to kiss herrr before they are marrrried.” She states a tad accusatorially. The ball is in his court.
Andrew: “But Blythe, how then arrre people to deterrrmine if they have feelings for each otherrr?”
Blythe: “Well …” Lady Blythe touches the tip of her finger to her pert little chin. “We could talk.”
Andrew: “Alrrright. But canna we kiss, too?” Andrew asks earnestly. He so wants to kiss Lady Blythe.
Blythe: Blythe raises her hand not resting on her walking stick to him. “Take me hand. It will have to do for now.”
Andrew does take Lady Blythe’s hand and kisses it with a growing smile. Lady Blythe demurely lowers her eyes from his gaze–her lashes fluttering against her cheeks.
Sometime later in the evening of December 24, 1860 John and Margaret are snuggling in bed–sans their children. Margaret can sense that her husband is troubled by something. But with his usual taciturn self, John is not initially forthcoming.
Margaret: “Tell me what is on your mind, John–before I drift off to sleep. Hhhhh!” She yawns broadly. Being six months pregnant means that Margaret tires more easily.
John: “Audrey Grace asked me when she can kiss a boy–specifically, Andrew MacIntosh.” John groans.
Margaret: “She did?” John nods. “Well, I believe Andrew is pursuing Lady Blythe at the moment.” Margaret intones sleepily.
Margaret: Shifting in his embrace to find a more comfortable position, Margaret sighs before drifting off to sleep. “They do–as do Angharad and Alistair. Time will tell.” Her eyelids to heavy to remain open, Margaret falls fast asleep [(6) right].
John nestles behind Margaret, sheltering her within his loving arms–with one hand on her swollen belly. John has two problems looming on the horizon–Margaret to be giving birth in a few months time and Audrey Grace’s hopes for Andrew to like her as more than just an extended family member–John tries to find solace in sleep.
To be continued with Chapter 87
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 86 References, October 04, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #643)
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) John image is of Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks 8, epi5, pix. 33 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode5/slides/ep5_033.JPG
3) “Gulliver’s Travels is a fanciful travel book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulliver%27s_Travels
4) A charming Victorian era card depicting loving children was found at
5) Image serving as a Airlie Castle Drawing Room Window looking out upon wintery snow scene was found at http://static.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_107/1166553132z7Ta55.jpg
6) Margaret and John image is a composite of two images:
a) Margaret Hale image (crop to oval) 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 ; and
b) John Thornton image (crop to oval, clr) is a 2013 Richard Armitage portrait by Sarah Dunn for TotalFilmArticleDec0313mrpuddingstontumblrcom-RAFranceFB-croptooval-hi-res