“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 88 (PG-13): My Family, My Heart, October 10, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #647)
[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: As John Thornton was bonding with his then five year old son Douglas on Christmas morn 1860 through an extended family sledding adventure at Airlie Castle Estates, the unthinkable happened. John’s and Douglas’ careened out of control, heading for the Melgund River at the base of the hill. They were stopped by Lord Jamie Ogilvy using his body to block their path. But Jamie was flipped and landed hard on his back. And he has sustained injuries that will take him a while to recover from. John and Margaret also have an upcoming health concern–Margaret’s delivery of their fourth child, her second pregnancy after Audrey Grace’s difficult birth nine years ago.
“N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 88 (PG-13): My Family, My Heart
Lord Jamie Ogilvy’s recuperation from being flipped and landing hard onto his back in the snow with his Christmas Day 1860 sledding accident at Airlie Castle is slow as the new year begins and Jamie and his family remain at Airlie Castle for a few weeks during his early recovery period. But once Dr. Cameron Ogilvy Lord Airlie releases Jamie from his daily care to return to his own manor in late January 1861 to return home to continue his convalescence–with Cameron visiting and checking up on him every few days–Lord Jamie and his daughter Lady Blythe bond over their leg weakness issues, and their matching father and daughter walking sticks.
Not inconsequently, Lady Blythe also gets to practice her burgeoning nursing skills by tending to her father. Father and daughter are exercising in a repurposed section of Lord Jamie and Lady Thistle’s master bedchamber this morning–the sitting area made way for an exercise area. And though Lord Jamie is not yet allowed to resume his husbandly attentions to his lovely wife Lady Thistle, they lie tenderly and lovingly in each other’s arms as they slumber each night–even this small intimacy they were required to forgo until Cameron was certain Jamie’s back was not fractured, however slightly. The Ogilvy Manor footmen help transfer Lord Jamie from his bed to a wing chair, then they depart to give him his privacy for his exercises.
Blythe: “Stand up from yourrr chairrr as I showed ye, Papa. Use yourrr arrrms to push up.” The fourteen year old Lady Blythe demonstrates again for her father in a chair that she has positioned opposite him.
Jamie: He struggles to stand, but sits back down again in the chair. “Ach! Blythe! I neverrr knew how difficult a time ye must have had when ye werrre a wee child and ye were doing yourrr own leg excerrrcises.” “I fearrr I may neverrr walk again.” He whines dejectedly.
Blythe: Lady Blythe nods and looks at her father encouragingly with a knowing smile [(2) right]. “Tis true, it was na easy, Papa.” Then she turns philosophical. “But then, ye ken that the things we need to do the most are rrrarrely easy. Would me having Mama join us in herrr nightgown give ye inspirrration?” Lady Blythe smiles impishly at her father as she tries to make his physical exercise session fun.
Jamie: “Ha ha ha! Possibly!” Lord Jamie shakes his head blushingly. He and his wife Lady Thistle are a loving couple–and by extension, serve as an example of warm and tender spousal affection that their children aspire to having themselves one day in their own future marriages. Then Jamie makes one more valiant effort to stand, and he is almost there. But the only thing holding him up are his arms pressing down on his chair. His legs are still very weak.
Blythe: “Ye arrrre standing, Papa!” Blythe claps her hands together excitedly.
Jamie: “Hhhh!” Jamie plops himself down into his chair again, exhausted from the effort. “I have to be able to stand beforrre I can walk.” He frets.
Going to her father and kneeling at his feet, she massages his lower legs.
Blythe: “Now Papa, we just need to warrrm up yourrr muscles, then ye can trrry again.” Blythe spends several minutes massaging her father’s legs as they talk. “How do they feel now with me rrrubbing on them?”
Jamie: “Hhhh! Betterrr. Ye have a gift for nurrrrsing, Blythe.” He sighs gratefully.
Blythe: “Thank ye, Papa!” Blythe smiles joyfully at his praise. “Have ye and mama thought any morrre about me wish to enrrroll in the London Nurrrses College when I turn fifteen soon? Cousin Angharrad invited me to stay with them in London durrring the Summerrr season. The College has a short Summerrr terrrm for new students that I would like to attend. But I must make my application now and wait to see if I am accepted.”
Jamie: “Yourrr Mama and I have discussed it.” He replies cagily. “But with Hamish beginning his univerrrsity studies in the Fall, your Mama wants him to enjoy attending his first London Season this Summerrr to meet the ladies whom he might wish to get to know betterrr in the coming yearrrs–with an eye to courrrtship.”
Blythe: “Why not simply betrrrothe Hamish to ourrr distant cousin Audrrrey Grrrace Thorrrnton and be done with it?” She asks cheekily. “Though Hamish initially liked me best frrriend Lissa, she has formed an attachment with another boy while Hamish was away at school.”
Jamie: “Oh? I did na think that Audrrrey Grace liked Hamish. I thought she liked … Oh, I see. Ye want to keep Andrrrew MacIntosh all to yourrrself?”
Blythe: “I do not! Andrrrew is just me frrriend. And we arrre cousins!” Lady Blythe blushes a charming shade of pink.
Jamie: “Ye and he arrre too distant as cousins to cause any alarrrm, Blythe. If ye like Andrrrew well enough to court him, yourrr Mama and I will not object–when the time comes. He is a fine boy, and he seems to dote on you, from what I can tell the past few weeks.”
Walking into Lord Jamie’s bedchamber with a tonic that his cousin Lady Thistle prepared for her husband, Andrew MacIntosh asks.
Andrew: “What do ye na object to cousin Jamie?” Andrew smiles warmly.
Blythe: “Drrrew!” She looks up at Andrew with a start.
Andrew: “Good morrrning Lord Jamie, Lady Blythe. Your Mama bade me brrrring this tonic to yourrr fatherrr.” He holds out the steaming cup of something.
Jamie: “Good morrrning, Andrew.” Jamie’s mouth curls into a smile as he looks from his daughter to their cousin–Cameron Lord Airlie’s grandson Andrew MacIntosh by his daughter Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh. “We werrre discussing Blythe’s hope to starrrt with a London Nurrrses College courrrse this Summerrr.”
Blythe: “Hhhh!” Blythe sighs in relief that her father did not embarrass her about Andrew as she continues to massage her father’s lower legs.
Jamie: Taking the offered mug from Andrew, Jamie sips the liquid and feels a little buzz. “Hmmm. Not unpleasant. What is in it?”
Andrew: “Lady Thistle did na say.” Andrew shrugs his shoulders. “Do you know the recipe, Blythe?” Andrew turns to Blythe and smiles.
Blythe: “I believe it contains some brewed tree bark, tea … and a drop orrr two of whiskey.” She smiles at her father, then she takes the mug from his hands and sets it on a nearby table.
Jamie: “I was still drrrinking that.” Jamie pouts as his arms reach out cutely forlornly to grasp thin air where the whiskey laden medical brew had just been snatched away from him. Lady Thistle has rationed her husband’s whiskey intake since his accident. Never much of a drinking man anyway, Lord Jamie still misses what he cannot have–such as his wife’s comfort until he is well
Blythe: “Ye have had enough drrrink to help forrrtify ye for the moment, Papa. Now Drrrew, might you please help Papa to stand up forrr me?”
Andrew: “Oh! Of … of course, Lady Blythe.” Andrew is so smitten with and shy around his distant cousin but close relation Lady Blythe that he tends to use formal forms of address with her. But he really thinks of her as his Blythe. And Andrew smiles at her cordially.
Andrew and Blythe stand on either side of her father Lord Jamie as he pushes up to stand and they steady him–with the strapping Andrew doing most of the work. Jamie hesitantly puts some weight onto his legs and they do not buckle.
Blythe: “Ye did it, Papa!”
Jamie: “I’m standing.” Lord Jamie says in a hushed whisper.
Andrew: “You’ll be walking soon, Lord Jamie!” Andrew smiles warmly at him and then at Lady Blythe. “Ye are a wonderful nurse, Lady Blythe.”
Blythe: “Thank you, Drrrew.” She blushes further.
Andrew carefully helps Lord Jamie to sit again and Lady Blythe caringly massages her Papa’s lower legs some more as well as doing other sitting exercises with him. Lord Jamie Ogilvy will eventually walk again. However, Lord Jamie’s injuries will not likely allow him to compete in this year’s Highland Games when the Spring comes–with Cameron urging him not to strain his back any further.
Andrew MacIntosh makes several weekend visits from school to Scotland to see his extended family–staying with his Uncle Lord Baird and Aunt Lady Fiona. Andrew’s real reason in coming so frequently is to also support Lady Blythe, with whom he has formed at attachment. Yet however much Lady Blythe is growing fonder of her distant cousin Andrew MacIntosh, she is very focused on helping her father get well again.
It is now the end of February 1861–deep into the waning days of Winter storms in the North of England. So Margaret stays at home for the last month of her pregnancy as she begins her confinement. She spends her time now sewing baby clothes, visiting with Carlotta Watson or Brigid Higgins when they come to call, and corresponding with their far flung family in Scotland and in London. John comes home to Thornton Manor to eat lunch as he does most work days now–John is nervous about the coming child’s birth because Margaret had such a difficult time giving birth to their daughter Audrey Grace nine years ago. When he walks into the small cozy and warm sitting room that Margaret is fond of, she waves a letter at him.
Margaret: “I have news from Lady Thistle!” Margaret smiles cheerfully.
John: “Oh?” John tries to sound blasé, but he is eager to hear whether Jamie has been able to resume his formerly vigorous life and activities, or if he is still convalescing. John still blames himself for the sledding accident, though Lord Jamie and Lady Thistle both have tried to dissuade him of that notion. If the situation had been reversed, and John had tried to stop Jamie’s sled from going into the river, he woul have been the one flipped onto his back, instead of Jamie.
Margaret: “Lord Jamie has made astounding progress! And you will never guess.” She teases him gleefully.
John: “Is he walking unassisted?” John asks hopefully.
Margaret: “No, not yet. He and Lady Blythe have matching walking sticks now.” It is just that Lord Jamie’s walking stick is longer and sturdier. “But no one can doubt Lord Jamie’s recovery now–least of all, Lady Thistle.” Margaret looks as if she will burst with the news.
John: “I don’t understand.” John replies quizzically.
Margaret: “Lady Thistle is pregnant again!” Margaret gushes.
John: “Oh, that is nice.” John remarks politely. Margaret stares at her husband for a minute or two–as if trying to telepathically convey the underlying implication of the pregnancy. “Oh!” John startles as he looks from his wife Margaret’s face to her own pregnant belly–caused by him, well, them together. “Ohhh!” John smiles broadly in relief–thinking that if Jamie is well enough to sire a new child, then he is well on his way to being fully recovered.
Margaret: “Lady Thistle says that Lord Jamie is beyond excited and completely content with sitting out this year’s Highland Games as a competitor with the promise of holding another baby of theirs in his arms by next Christmas.” Margaret almost prances about the Sitting Room in delight–despite the girth of her eight months pregnant condition slowing her down.
John: “How many children do they have now?” John asks quizzically [(3) right].
Margaret: “Five or six. I’ve lost count.” Margaret impishly shrugs her shoulders. The only baby she has been focused on is the one whom she will deliver next month.
John: “Well, I will be happy with our four children when you have our new baby.”
Margaret: Margaret flinches. “Oh no!” Then she looks down and sees a puddle off water at her feet.
John: “Margaret?” John looks at his wife with growing alarm.
Margaret: “John! The baby is coming now!” Margaret cries fearfully.
John: John rushes to Margaret’s side and helps her sit down and pulls the bell chord for a servant. “Margaret! We must send for the doctor. Then I will take you upstairs.”
Margaret; “But John, it is too soon! I was very careful in my counting this time around.” She gazes up at him worriedly.
John: “There there, Margaret. We’ll let Dr. Houghton be the judge of that.”
John has a servant fetch Dr. Miles Houghton to Thornton Manor, even as John carries Margaret upstairs and a maid helps her change into her night gown and she gets into bed to wait for the doctor with John by her side, holding her hand. Margaret is not looking forward to the pain that she knows will come when she gives birth. The pain of giving birth to Audrey Grace nearly ten years ago is but a distant memory, but one that is seared upon her brain. She hopes this birth will be easier–and that the baby will be alright since it is coming a month early.
Thirty minutes later, Dr. Miles Houghton arrives at Thornton Manor ready to assess Margaret Thornton’s readiness to give birth. But upon his arrival, Dr. Miles finds Margaret pushing–with John nervously supporting her back as she leans forward in their bed. Seeing Dr. Miles, John exclaims.
John: “Thank god you’re here! All of a sudden Margaret felt she had to push and I was afraid that you wouldn’t arrive in time.”
Dr. Miles: Cleansing his hands in a nearby bowl for that purpose. He examines her womb. “You should have called me sooner, the baby’s head is crowning!”
John: “What does that mean? Margaret only felt a pain and then her water broke thirty minutes ago.”
Margaret: Lying back after the urge to push leaves her, she sighs. “The baby is coming too soon, Dr. Miles. Will it be alright?” Margaret asks worriedly.
Dr. Miles: “I can see the baby’s head already. So he or she wants to come out now. We will help them do that. Now let’s get you perched over the side of the bed and let gravity help you a little bit.”
Dr. Miles and John do that. Then Dr. Miles sits at Margaret’s feet with a towel over his crossed legs and a towel in his hands as he gets ready to catch the baby.
Margaret: “AAaaaaaaah!” Margaret screams in searing pain.
John: “Oh Margaret!” He kisses her perspiring forehead and firmly supports her back.
Dr. Miles: “The head is out! One more big push, Mrs. Thornton and then we will have the shoulders. The baby should come quickly after that.”
Margaret: “Oh! Here it comes! Aaaaaaaaaahh!” She screams loud enough to rattle the windows.
Margaret’s birthing cry even wakes the children up from their naps and they come running to their parents bedchamber. But their Nanny holds them back from entering the room’s closed door. Inside, John lays Margaret back down intheir bed whilst Dr. Miles tends to the baby.
Baby: “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!” Baby Thornton’s healthy cry makes both John and Margaret smile in relief. As of yet, they do not know if the baby is a boy or a girl.
Then Dr. Miles hands the now cleaned and swaddled baby to John so he can tend to Margaret.
Dr. Miles: “You have a fine son, Mr. and Mrs. Thornton.” Dr. Miles smiles. Though he had little to do with the proceedings.
John: “I have a son.” John says in hushed reverence. And he and Margaret exchange a loving gaze.
Margaret: “We have a second son.” She reminds him. For though their eldest boy Douglas Thornton was adopted as a baby, he is very much their son.
Then Dr. Miles tends to Margaret medically for a few moments. Finally, a maid standing nearby helps give Mrs. Thornton a sponge bath and into a fresh nightgown while the men turn their backs. And another maid puts fresh linens on the bed. Once Margaret is settled back into bed, John hands her their new baby boy and then tenderly kisses her on the lips.
Margaret: “Is the baby alright, Dr.Miles? He is a little small, but he looks perfect!” Margaret smiles hopefully [(4) right].
Dr. Miles: “That is my assessment as well, Mrs. Thornton. He should gain weight rather quickly. So he won’t be small for long.” Then Dr. Miles shakes John’s hand. “Congratulations, Mr. Thornton!”
John: “Thank you, Dr. Miles! May we let our children in to see the baby now?” John motions to one of the maids to open the door as he sits down next to Margaret on their bed, placing his arm around her.
Margaret: “Wait!” The maid halts. Margaret turns to face her husband. “John, we haven’t named him yet!” She realizes.
John: “Well, I still like the first name that we had chosen for a boy, James Richard Thornton. He will be our Jamie–named after Lord Jamie. And Richard for your late father, Margaret.”
Margaret: With tears brimming in her eyes, Margaret nods. “I like it, too. Thank you for giving him to me, John.”
John: Kissing her forehead, John smiles. “Thank you for giving him to me.”
John nods and waves his hand to the maid, who opens the door and their children come running inside to see the new addition to their family. Almost ten year old Audrey Grace, the eldest, reaches her Mama’s bed side first.
Audrey: “What is it, Mama? Am I a brother or a sister?” She misspeaks in her excitement.
John and Margaret: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Catriona: Seven year old Caty corrects her. “You are a sister, Audrey Grace, as am I. We just need to know what it is.” She cutely points to the baby. Audrey Grace rolls her eyes. She knows what she meant–even if she didn’t say it correctly.
Five year old Douglas nods in agreement, as he looks hopefully, shyly at his father, John. John motions for Douglas to join him on his side of the bed and John cuddles his eldest son close.
John: “Douglas, Audrey Grace, Caty, you have a little brother.”
Children: “Ooooh!” They coo.
Margaret: “And he is named after our brave cousin Lord Jamie Ogilvy and named after my father, your grandfather Richard Hale who died before you could know him.” Margaret tears up.
John: Taking his new baby son into his arms and Margaret leans over his arm, her protectively touching the baby, John shares. “His name is James Richard Thornton.”
The children gather round as they clamber up on the bed and they wonderingly get to touch their new baby brother’s hands and feet. Baby Jamie moves his shoulders and yawns, then he moves his lips–Margaret will feed him in a few minutes after the children leave the room.
Seeing the smiling faces of their children sitting around them and their newborn son, John and Margaret smile at each other and kiss sweetly. Their lives are happy and content–bearing full measures of love and family. These are joys which John had always hoped for, but only received when his Margaret came into his life. And then they were blessed again with his mother’s and then sister’s marriages to Ogilvy men–expanding their family beyond the borders of nations and locations. John and Margaret and their children, and their nieces and nephews, cousins, and in-laws–and the people their families who work for them in their mills–have bright futures ahead of them. But most of all, John and Margaret Thornton have the love of family, which is at the heart of all true happiness–and their greatest blessing. Or as John often thinks, my family, my heart.
To be continued with Chapter 89 End/Epilogue
Author’s Note, 10/09/14:
I am finally bringing my North & South fan fic story “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” (N&S: JTLL) to a close this weekend with posts on Friday (Ch. 88) and Sunday (Ch. 89 End/Epilogue)–one day before the anniversary of date that I began telling the tale one year ago. The chapters are written but for some word smith tweaking.
My N&S: JTLL story is about 580 pages single spaced in MS Word, and contains over thirty characters–over half of them new ones. As of this post, my story has garnered over 52, 579 reads and 474 votes for the 87 chapters posted thus far–my blog version of the story adds several thousand more reads as well.
I am truly overwhelmed with the positive response my N&S fan fic story has received. One of my commenters on Wattpad claimed recently that my N&S: JTLL story was “epic”. Well, my N&S: JTLL fan fic is a big multi-generational tale–that started out as a ficlet I wrote, that I then kept expanding upon. Ha! And I have loved every minute of telling John’s and Margaret’s and their extended family’s tale.
The warm response to my N&S: JTLL fan fic is also a testament to the enduring love that people have for Elizabeth Gaskell’s tale of two very different people in John Thornton and Margaret Hale, meeting and falling in love–and for Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in the 2004 BBC version of it.
So thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has taken this North & South journey with me! Hugs! Cheers! And Love! Grati ;->
P.S. And just to keep you on edge of your seats, the Ch. 89 End/Epilogue on Sunday will have something of a surprise in store for readers. But, no spoilers. Ha!
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 88 References, October 10, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #647)
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) Blythe Ogilvy image is a Portrait of a Young Girl by Paul Emile Chabas found at http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/89623/portraitofayounggirl
3) John Thornton (portrayed by Richard Armitage) was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-032.jpg
4) Manip of Margaret holding baby James Richard is a composite of two images: a flipped and cropped head shot of Margaret Hale at the Masters’ Dinner (image cropped, brightened and more red added) in the 2004 BBC Production of North & South Episode 2 (pix 213) was found at http://www.richardarmitageonline.com/north-and-south/north-south-pictures-episode2.html ; and an image of a mother holding her twins was found at http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/royalty-free/RF4473506/mother-holding-her-newborn-twins