John Thornton’s Unfold Dream
As John walked into the office the next morning, Nicholas handed him a cup of coffee. He gave John a look, asking with his eyes –– what happened last night?
John hung his coat on the peg and set his top hat on a side table. Taking the coffee from Nicholas, he walked to his desk and sat. “I guess you’re waiting to hear about last night.” John looked at the floor wondering how to explain last night’s events.
Nicholas started first. “You know, John. I am beginning to think you are fortuneteller. Maybe you need to leave the mills to me and find work traveling the towns, reading people’s minds.” Nicholas could not get it all out in a serious manner and started laughing before he had finished. “I am sorry. I do not know what I am in for this morning and thought to lighten the mood. Yes, I do want to hear what you care to tell me about your planned talk with your lady.”
John slid down in his chair, propped his feet on the desk and clasped his hands behind his head. John began. “First, I need to tell you about my first dream since last we talked, which included Winona.” John held nothing back, including his fear of being set in a trap and his own prevention of it.
“I am proud of you, friend. You are not letting yourself be boxed into a corner. Of all that you have told me, the most striking is the second dream. Moreover, it is not what it was about but that you had one. That is unusual,” Nicholas strongly suggested.
“Nicholas, what are you going on about? A second dream? What is unusual about that? I am tortuously stressed over life-changing personal matters that are weighing heavily on mind right now.”
“Yes, all you say is true,” Nicholas conceded. “I think you have some super sensitive ability which may be telling you more than you know.”
John sat up giving Nicholas his entire attention. “What is this babble you are spouting? I can see nothing beyond coincidence in having two dreams about the most important decision in my life right now. What is on the docks for today,” John said, dismissing Nicholas thoughts, but knew he would hear about them, regardless.
Nicholas stood and walked over to John, then sat on his desk corner. He folded his arms and struck the You Will Listen pose, exhaling a sigh.
“All right, Nicholas, say it so we can get on with the work of the day.”
“John, do not humor me. I think you have a serious . . . how should I put this . . . a serious gift.”
John jumped out of his chair. “A serious gift? What in bloody hell does that mean? Are you daft, man?” John was puzzled over Nicholas’s sudden loss of logical thinking, his irritation growing.
“John, sit your ass down in the chair and let me explain, without the snide remarks, if you do not mind.”
“All right, I will listen but do not try my patience on this,” John said, making a point to look and be attentive. He could never get anything past Nicholas.
“Find your pencil as you will need something to fiddle with it as I tell you a tale about a good friend of mine.”
“I hope it is about someone other than me,” John chided. “I am sorry. That was uncalled for. Go ahead.”
Nicholas strolled over to his desk and rolled his own desk chair in front of John’s desk.
“Once upon a time, my best friend had this fierce head injury.” Nicholas saw John pull open his drawer for his pencil. At least he was going to listen. “As this friend miraculously began to recover, he picked up some small, unknown to him, habits. I became aware of them and I have watched for them every since.”
“Excuse me, but I have to ask if you are talking about me. I know no such habit that has formed.”
“Yes, I am talking about you.”
“In what form do these habits manifest themselves?” John challenged Nicholas and suddenly was finding interest in this tale.
“If you insist. The one that happens most often, of which you never seem to be aware, is that you turn toward someone before they even call your name. In your head, you have heard them call you but they really have not. There was your ‘coming home’ dinner which Cook prepared and you wondered where the trifle was. That was supposed to be a surprise for you, but you knew it should have been there and did not see it, so you asked why it wasn’t on the table.” Nicholas could see half disbelief in John’s eyes as he twirled his pencil. A frown settled on John.
“Do you remember the few series of dreams you had about your horse. I think you had four of them. The last dream you may remember resulted in an injury to Plato’s eye from a snapped harness leather. That is when I knew you had birthed this gift if that is what we can call it. There are a few other inconsequential examples I have not mentioned. John, I think you see into the future. I am sure of it. To test it, we will see what happens with Miss Winona, since your dream last night showed the parting of your ways with her,” Higgins stopped talking allowing this immense revelation to settle.
“And how do you know so much about this so-called gift?” John asked.
“I know this because it runs in my Scottish ancestry. Its tales have been passed down in the family for generations, with one person actually displaying the gift every other decade or so. I will tell you all I know. We have perceived it as a gift. I think science has different thoughts on it. You should talk with Doctor Donaldson and see what he has ever learned about the art.
“Nicholas, this is very hard to take in and it tops all the rest on my mind. However, I will deal with it. Point it out to me as it happens.
“Do you ever have these visions when you are sure you are awake?”
“I do think one of the visions I had about my horse was in the middle of the day, but I could have been dwelling on the reason for the dreams. I honestly can’t remember.”
“John, do not be surprised if that happens. Since I have been aware of this and waiting for you to bring it up, I have noticed it is becoming stronger. You are likely to have more of them. Whether they will be a warning to you as it may have been with Plato and now Miss Winona, I cannot say. Both of those have been actions that were and are associated with you. A day may come when your foresight can save someone’s life, at least that has happened in the tales passed down to me. There never seemed to be any harm that came from the visions to the visionary, you, in this case. They were either pleasant dreams or dreams designed for warnings where you could possibly prevent it. Now that I feel confident that you have a least a partial gift, we will delve into the knowledge we can find. I have only heard the folktales from my family.”
“I am not sure I am going to be comfortable with such a gift as you say. What if I do see a warning and fail to react, will the resulting incident be my fault? How will I know what to believe and what not to believe?” John asked, starting to rub his brow as this enormous weight seemingly pressing in on him. It is a responsibility that he did not want.
“John, let us not get carried away. The visions still seem to pertain to you, something you can control or of which you can be aware. We will take it one-step at a time. From what my ancestors have said, once the issue or incident has passed so does the vision. I still think you need to talk with Donaldson about it.”
After her parents passed away months earlier, her graduation and her brother’s return to Her Majesty’s Navy, Margaret eagerly made it to London at the behest of her aunt.
Although still heavily saddened by the loss of both parents, Margaret was uplifted with the thought her life was finally her own and it had begun. No more schools. With her small inheritance, she was free to do as she pleased, even settle in her own place but she wanted to know London first. Edith was eager to show her around and take her to parties and balls in the upper echelons of society. Edith was excited, too, as she could now attend more invitations, no longer having to attend alone. Lately, however, a fine military gentleman was asking Edith out. His name was Captain Lennox.
* * *
Several months had gone by when Margaret received a note from Mr. Bell asking to visit. She was glad to accept Mr. Bell’s invitation for a walk in a lovely floral park with its historical fountains spewing forth delicate and intricate sprays of water. The water droplets sparkled like falling diamonds when the sun caught them. Huge oak trees dotted the large park along with winding flowered paths that wandered away from the main walk. White iron filigree benches were everywhere along with a copious assortment of small follies, pavilions, and domed shaped structures with awnings, which enabled visitors to escape the sun or rain. It was a very large park with a boating lake down at the farthest end.
Mr. Bell extended his arm to Margaret as they left the coach for the garden’s footpath.” So, Miss Hale, how are you finding life in London?”
“Well . . . you understand that I am fairly new here and have only been to a very few gatherings. I am not settled in my thoughts of these groups that seem to run together. My aunt wanted to have me “come out” this season but after accepting several invitations where I have begun to understand what will be my role in a “coming out” ball, I cannot say that I am comfortable as of yet. I begged with Aunt Shaw not to plan an “outing” for me. From what I hear, it is the dream of every debutante, socialite, every woman reaching 18 or completing finishing school. To me it seems like a parade to show off the individual lady, allowing her to meet many men with her eye toward marriage. I guess in polite society that is how people meet one another. To everyone, other than me, it is expected behavior. I would feel like I was being served on a platter to the congregation being the center of it all. I am not interested in marriage yet. I want to be on my own for a while more. It could be the events of the loss of my parents that prohibit me from enjoying myself to the fullest, but I doubt that thinking.”
“Miss Hale, you seem to have captured the entire concept of the London season. Aside from the Coming Out invitations, what have you thought of the other general dances and balls?” asked Mr. Bell.
“I enjoy the men there, mostly . . . but not all. They want to dance and I love to dance. When I am not dancing I am not at ease being cloistered in some lady’s group gossiping. Mr. Bell, that is all they do. They talk about each other when one is not around. I can find no interest in the rumors, the gossip, and unfaithfulness of both husbands and wives. The sanctity of the marriage vows and the bed hold no place, as most marriages are planned out of convenience, therefore never enticing the husband or the wife to be faithful. Either the wife lives a stoic, unhappy and lonely life or she joins in the husband’s debauchery but in a more clandestine fashion. London is a city of handsome, wealthy, and even titled men to choose from if I desired, but it would be a rare man among them that might find absolution in his wedding vows. He is tasked in his life to produce a son and heir above all else, it does not matter if he loves the mother of his children. I think it is scandalous. I will marry for love but I am not sure that is possible with what I have seen so far. There have been no serious men that seek my favors but I have met many gentlemen. I guess they all start out as gentlemen as we start out as ladies. As you can see, I am not settled.”
“Miss Hale, you sound very wise. In addition, I must congratulate my best friend, your father, for bringing you up with such astute insights and the will to go after what will make you happy and not conform for companionship or to be noticed. Yes, you have discovered London’s harsher side of life among the riches.”
“Mr. Bell, I hear the word ‘ton’ used a lot. What does that mean?” Margaret asked.
“Miss Hale, The Ton is all that we have been talking about. It refers to the British higher society. It comes from the French and means something akin to everything that is fashionable. Before you get too disillusioned with London people, you should know there are many out there that feel as you. You should allow yourself one or two seasons to pick your way through the masses of cravats and lacey dresses. There are a few jewels among them. Take me for example.” Mr. Bell paused there expecting a laugh from Miss Hale, which she finally obliged after a moment.
“Miss Hale, you frightened me there for an instant. I was afraid you thought me serious.”
“Mr. Bell, to tell you the truth, I wanted to laugh straight away but then thought it would be rude. I do not know your humor yet.”
“Well, we shall remedy that, Miss Hale. It has been a lovely day for a stroll and I would very much like to show you the real culture that is London’s history. We could visit the churches, the museums, and art galleries along with an afternoon tea. What say you to that?” Mr. Bell asked as he stopped and walked around to face her, while leaning on his cane, waiting for his answer.
Margaret looked up into that very handsome mature face watching his smile broaden with anticipation. Later, she would wonder exactly what type of smile that was. “That sounds very agreeable, Mr. Bell. Thank you. Do you have a favorite shop for books? I should like to find some reading for myself.” Margaret asked.
Mr. Bell returned to Margaret’s side taking her arm in his and encouraged her to begin strolling again.” Yes, I love to read myself. We shall save that conversation for another day but I do have several good places to buy books. You are very much like your father without the pious slant, of course. No wonder we have a lot in common, as he was my truest friend.”
During the quiet moments of their stroll, Mr. Bell was having a hard time believing in his good fortune at having Miss Hale on his arm. He had admired her when first seeing her at the funeral and had kept her in his thoughts for many months waiting for the next time he could be in her company. Here he was being accepted as at least a friend and knew that he could spend more time with her in the future. He was sure it would never lead to where an older dying man wished but he could dream. Miss Hale would make his last few months very pleasant, possibly more pleasant than any other time in his life.