John Thornton, Look Back at Me – pt 6

Chapter 6

     Dreams, Hopes, Passion

 

By early spring, almost nine months had passed since that summer afternoon when John had met Margaret in London, a day forever burned into his mind like a glorious epiphany.  Coveting that time with her had become his sanctuary, his escape, where he would go to draw from the well of precious moments, to sustain him in his own life.

Determined not to draw attention to himself, John invited the company of other ladies, mostly to keep up appearances in his working sphere and to not be perceived as a “loner” or someone to be pitied.  He found little solace in their company and couldn’t help but compare them all to Margaret.  Even with his occasional carnal trysts, primarily outside of Milton, nothing much beyond cordiality inspired him to repeat associations with the ladies of his acquaintance.  Women flocked to John, but none could turn his head . . . save one.  He was wealthy, important, handsome and a gentleman, all of which attracted women to him.  Because of his steadfast love for Margaret, however, he found that to be more of a hindrance than a blessing.

One day Higgins was sitting in the office, feet propped up on a nearby chair, arms crossed, observing John as he leaned over his ledgers, talking to himself.  “So,” he began, somewhat mischievously, “according to my daughter, Mary, it seems you’re known as The Catch in Milton.

John, his head buried in business journals, suddenly realized what Higgins had said.  “I’m what?”  He asked, laughing, as he sat upright in his chair.  Clasping his hands on top of his head, smiling at the joke, he stared at a half-smirking Higgins.

Higgins couldn’t help but laugh.  “Mary has a friend who works as a lady’s maid, she won’t tell me who it is, but the maid overheard her mistress talking to another woman about you.  It seems you have an air of mystery about you, according to the single ladies around town.  Much more than you did years ago, I dare say.  You’re the big fish, apparently; the best catch for a husband.  I know you’ve been seeing more women lately, but what are you doing with them to be so talked about?”  Higgins was still laughing and kidding with him.

“Well, you must be in a good mood today because you rarely jest with me,” John said, relaxing back in his chair, ready to dismiss Higgins’ ramblings.

“Well, Master, I thought you’d think that when I told you, but I’m not jesting.  It’s all true.”  Higgins was trying to control his humor, but was having a hard time of it.  He thought John might find it complimentary, or at least cheerful, but when he realized Nicholas wasn’t kidding. John didn’t seem to find it quite as amusing.

“Heaven help me. That’s certainly something to which I do not aspire.  I have been implicitly careful as to leave no feelings of further expectations with anyone I’ve seen.”

“Maybe that’s why you are still “The Catch,” Higgins suggested, “no one has hooked you.  They must be wondering what bait to use next.”

“There is still only one lure to pull me in and she sits in London.”

In his heart, where Margaret lived vividly, John would still have preferred to remain a very private, obscure man.  Being with other women was a way to pass the lonely times and appease his male needs, whenever the offer presented itself to him.  As a gentleman, he never initiated such closeness, but it had often found its way into his path.  Never knowing if their amorous attentions were casual or serious, the male part of him participated, but his heart never engaged.  There had not once been any words of love, or future intentions, or disrespect . . . just the opportunity of the moment, nothing more.

By fall, John built  his second mill, spending much of his time modeling it in the Thornton tradition.  Prompted by the strength of consistently strong orders, he created an addtional shift on both sites.  Higgins ran both mills, while John trained Higgins’ replacements, one for each factory.  John had future plans for Higgins.  Like it or not, Nicholas was destined for more responsibility as John, and his accountant taught him the overall basics of the financial picture.  John knew Higgins had arrived at his own mirrored managerial style, when Higgins suggested a small relief staff to give workers regular breaks.  This would allow them to leave their looms for a short rest period, while not taking any machinery offline.  John embraced this suggestion and was proud of his overseer, whose idea was now being implemented by other owners.

Once or twice monthly, John fulfilled his magistrate responsibilities at the City Courthouse, presiding over small cases that didn’t have to go before a judge and jury.  These consisted mainly of infractions where the punishments were clearly set.  City growth was now threatening to increase John’s bench time in the court system.

One morning as John mounted the steps to the courthouse, he heard the excited sounds of raised voices and a woman crying, so he followed the voices down the inside stairs to the Chief’s office.  Arriving on the lower level of the police station, John inquired, “Chief Mason, what seems to be the problem?”

“Sir,” Chief Mason said, looking perplexed, “we have a kidnapping.  Our first, I think.”

“Can I be of any help?”  John asked

“Yes, sir.”  Mason replied, perhaps a little too quickly, “I would appreciate your insights.  Thank you, sir.”

“Let me have a moment, and I’ll clear my cases.  I’ll return directly.”  John said, as he left the room and headed back up to the entrance level floor toward his magistrate court.  Finding his clerk, he inquired about the cases scheduled for a hearing that day, and then instructed that they be rescheduled.  “We have a kidnapping case developing,” he said, “and I feel I can be of help there.  I’ll be in Chief Mason’s office, if you need me.”  Turning, he pushed through the swinging doors and headed back to the Chief’s office to lend what assistance he could.

When John returned, he noticed a familiar man and woman talking to Inspector Mason.  They were discussing a note that their daughter had received earlier in the week.  John realized these were the parents of the missing girl, and he, a new manufacturer to Milton.  The note said, I WANT TO KNOW YOU.  It was dismissed as someone who had taken a fancy to their twenty-year-old daughter, just home from finishing school.  After listening to their entire story, along with Mason’s thoughts, John suggested that Mason send for someone at the Metropolitan in London, who was familiar with kidnapping cases, and have him at the station by tomorrow.  John stayed several hours talking with the parents.  He arranged for a ransom, should it be required, as the father, a liquor baron owner was new in town and may not have had all his finances transferred into Milton’s banks.  John assisted in every detail, including the examination of the note itself, which seemed to bear an impression made by something written on the page before it.

“Mason, I think that’s all we can do for today,” he said.  There will probably be a ransom note coming.  Make sure the house is guarded.  I’ll leave it in your hands and check with you tomorrow, or find me if anything new comes up and I can be of help.”  John pulled on his great coat, collected his hat, and said good-bye to Mason and to the parents of the girl, expressing his sympathy for their current situation.  Suddenly, a thought struck John: They may be looking at a rapist, or worse, and not really a kidnapper.  Waiting until the family had left, he returned to discussing with Mason, the possibility of the second scenario.  The investigation into the case, no matter what was intended, would begin the same with what they knew thus far.

Arriving home in the early afternoon, John found Dixon, distressed and crying, at the top of the kitchen steps.  He walked over to her and asked what was wrong.  Guiding her to the couch in the sitting room, he sat beside her, waiting for her to speak.

“Master, I just got this short note from Miss Margaret’s cousin, Miss Edith.”  Wiping her tears on her apron, Dixon continued, “Miss Margaret . . .  she just lost her husband through a terrible fall from a balcony at his college.  She don’t say much more except that Miss Margaret is alright.  I think one of us should go to the funeral.  The problem is that it is tomorrow…”

Surprised, but with no hesitation in his voice, John said, “I will go.  I’ll leave almost at once and arrive there this evening.  Does the note say where the funeral or service will be held?”

“I don’t know about the funeral” Dixon said, still obviously distraught, “but the service is being held at the college chapel at 11:00 o’clock tomorrow morning.  You’ll go then?”  She seemed immensely relieved.  “Please tell her how sorry I am.  She’s had so much misery.”

John knew that all too well, as every heartbreak she had, had been his own.

“There is some quick business that I need to attend to, before I leave,” he said to Dixon.  There was a kidnapping in Milton, early this morning.  I’ll have to write a note to the Chief, telling him where I’ve gone, as he was expecting me to be at hand.  Will you please see that he gets it right away?  Get Branson to take it to the Chief.  I will leave for the station immediately after speaking with Higgins.”

“Yes, Master.  I will see to it, “said Dixon, wiping more tears away.  Once again her thoughts turned to Margaret.  “I wonder what she’ll do now.  She can’t stay at the college no more.  I guess she’ll move back in with her aunt or cousin.  Oh, how I know she will not like that!  I wonder if she’ll be wanting me again.”

All the time Dixon was talking, John was writing a brief note to Mason.  “Thank you, Dixon,” he said, grabbing his coat from the back of his chair and handing her the note.  “I’m leaving right away.”

John hurried to his room and packed shaving accessories, a fresh shirt, and a cravat.

Dixon had hardly turned around when she heard John close the front door downstairs.

Briskly opening the door to his office, John hollered, “Higgins!  Where is he…?  Oh, there you are.”  Higgins stepped out from a back room.  “Higgins, I have urgent news that requires my attention in London.  I’ve just heard about a funeral tomorrow that I wish to attend, so I’m leaving on the next train.”

“Calm down, Master.  You’re all nervous.  Whose funeral is it?”  Higgins asked.

“I believe his name is Booker Reed.”

“Booker Reed?”  Higgins questioned, frowning.  “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention that name.”

“Booker Reed was Margaret’s husband.”  John said, watching Higgins’ expression as he put two and two together.  “It seems he had an accidental fall from a balcony.  That’s all I know, except that the funeral is tomorrow morning at the college campus.  I don’t know where I will be staying, but it will be at a hotel someplace close to there.  I’ll travel back home tomorrow.”

Being the polite man whom he was, Nicholas didn’t mention the obvious: This could mean John may eventually find what he’s always sought.  “Miss Margaret’s husband?” he asked.  “How can this poor woman handle yet another death of someone close to her?  I feel for her,” he finished, sadly.

“She’s always been a strong woman,” John said, “but even I cannot tell how she will do after all this.  I want to go and give her our support.”

“Please, give her my condolences.”  Nicholas added, sincerely.  “Good luck, Master.”

With a final good-bye, John walked out the door and arrived at the station at ten minutes before the next train.  Milton had grown so large, there were now many trains coming and going through the city.  While standing on the platform, he suddenly saw a vision of Margaret in the arms of that other man.  Out of nowhere, a three year old memory surfaced…

 

I hope someday to know who that was.

 

A Constable arrived on the platform and walked over to speak with John.  “Good day, Mr. Thornton.  I’m Constable Wilson.  It’s a privilege to finally meet you, sir.”

“And a good day to you, Constable Wilson.”  John replied, “I assume you are the man whom the Chief is sending to London?”  He asked.

“I am, sir.  I volunteered for this assignment, hoping to gain more insight into criminology, and this seemed a good chance to learn.  I fear Milton is becoming a large enough city to be attracting every kind of crime as it continues to grow.”

John wanted to speak to that remark, but the train was pulling in.  “I see you have a book that you undoubtedly want to read, but if you would care to talk a little more, please join me in the same coach.”

“I would be honored, sir,” the constable replied.

The train came to a stop, and both men removed their tall hats and stepped into a comfortable coach fitted with upholstered bench seats, oak paneled walls and an overhead shelf for storage.  No one else entered the coach, so both men settled into their opposite seats, speaking very little until the hissing of steam and other loud metallic sounds decreased.

“Mr. Thornton, I’m glad that we are alone because I’d like to talk with you about this case.  I’ve only been on the force for two years and have never seen a kidnapping.  What has been your experience, and what likely outcome should we expect?”

“I have always lived in Milton, Constable Wilson, and I have never seen a case such as this in my adult life.  I’m sorry to say that I can’t give you any firsthand knowledge.  However, I have read many judgments handed down on these types of cases, which explain all that has happened.”  John proceeded to speak about some of the cases that he remembered more clearly.  They talked for hours about the current case, including the possibility that it wasn’t a kidnapping at all, but something conceivably more dire.

“Thank you Mr. Thornton,” Constable Wilson said when they were finished.  “This gives me some knowledge of what the Chief is up against.”  He paused briefly, as he picked up his book.  “What they say about you is true,” he said.

John was looking out the window, and the statement quickly brought his head around.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” he asked, with interest.

The Constable explained, “You’re said to be a kind and intellectually just man.  Few would have taken the time, like you’ve done, to talk with me and acquaint me with your experience in law and justice.”

“Thank you,” Constable Wilson, “that is very kind of you to say.  I’m not certain those words make up my character, but thank you anyway.”  As he didn’t care for compliments, John let the subject drop right there.  To be respected was enough for him.  He never wanted to draw attention because of his actions; these came naturally to him.  He felt he was no better or worse than the next man, and he never ceased to be amazed as to why honors should be heaped upon him.  Nothing, except for the advances he made  in worker relations, set him apart from the others; at least, this was the way he saw himself.

They both fell silent, the Constable picking up his book, while John watched the scenery drift by as he thought about the ‘morrow.  Unintentionally, he drifted off to sleep…  Margaret in his arms . . . standing on a veranda in London…

He was startled into wakefulness by the pitch of the trains whistle announcing its arrival.  John opened his eyes to steam spewing past his window and felt the engineer braking the train.  Yawning, he pulled out his pocket watch; it was close to their arrival time.  “I apologize for dozing off.  That was rude company on my part.  Are we here?”

“Yes,” Wilson said, “we are in London, but we have several more stops before ours.”

Seeking to fill some time, and because the Constable was an interesting young man, John continued their conversation about the law.  “With your interest in criminology and your eagerness to learn more, I think you’ll go far in your career.  Do you have aspirations of becoming a Chief some day?” he inquired.

“Right now, now my aim is to become a detective.  They are a new and growing specialty within law enforcement.  I am sure we will see a detective division in the Metropolitan and in Milton someday.  Milton is poised on the brink of becoming a very large city.  I want to be prepared to grow with the force and be part of its anticipated expansion.”

John was consistently impressed with this young man’s vision.  He felt he was looking at himself ten years ago.  “Wilson,” he said, “I hope all that comes your way, as you are certainly preparing to take a leadership role in your career.  If you don’t mind, I’d like to look in on you from time to time to see how your plans are proceeding.  I wish you the best.  I’d also like to go with you to the Met and meet the detective.”

“Thank you, Mr. Thornton.” He replied, more pleased than ever that he had had the good fortune to meet him.  “I think this is our stop.  Yes, it is.”

An hour later, John left the Metropolitan feeling that both the kidnapping situation, and Constable Wilson, were in capable hands.  He had wished the detective and Constable Wilson luck before leaving, and told them he would see them late tomorrow evening.

John hailed a hansom cab, and asked the driver to take him to a nice hotel with a dining hall near the college.

Twenty minutes later, he arrived at a very elegant, ivy-covered  stone hotel.  He proceeded to the dining room which; he noted, still held the style of a hundred years previous.  As he sat waiting for his meal, he gazed around the room, with its wealth of Chippendale furnishings (the royalty of antique furniture).  An hour later, having finished his superbly cooked dinner, he left the ornately accented banquet hall and headed to the registration desk.  He requested the registrar to awaken him by 9:00 a.m. and have a bath ready by 9:30. He then handed his bag to the porter and followed him up the wide winding staircase.

John entered his handsomely appointed guestroom, disrobed to his undergarment, brushed the dust from his clothes, and hung them in the wardrobe.  Checking the view from his window, he discovered a nice scene of all the lit gas lamps across London.  He opened the window for some cool air.  It was past 10:00 in the evening, but sleep did not come for many hours.

Instead, his . . . hopes, dreams, and passion . . . long buried themselves, were seeking to rebuild their home that once was John’s heart.

The dream that Margaret would re-enter his life was interrupted by a knocking at the door, rousting John out of his heavy sleep.  “Yes?”

The porter exclaimed, “9:00 a.m., sir.”

“Thank you,” John replied, throwing off the covers.  Rubbing his hands over his face, trying to wipe away the cobwebs, he sat on the edge of his bed and thought nervously about the day ahead.  He knew he had to find a way to speak with her.  There was so much in his heart that he would want to say, but knew this was not the day to express any of his love that awaited her.  Somehow, he would need to convey only words of support and let her lead the conversation where she was comfortable.  John wondered how he could prevent his mannerisms from drifting, unintentionally, into a happy environment, while around her.

There had been a few times in John’s life when he felt like he was standing on a cliff, and realized that what he did in the next few minutes or hours could determine all that came after in his life.  This was just such a day.

Feeling like his stallion, Plato, rearing up in his stall, shaking off his restraints, pawing at his gate that confined him, John knew he had to keep his own eagerness harnessed.  He cursed himself for his lack of consideration for the deceased.  He knew since the day she had backed away from him, almost a year ago, that this funeral was going to take all the control he could muster.  Although he didn’t anticipate any emotion from Margaret regarding himself, he felt this was the first day of the rest of his life.  There was no doubt in his mind:  She would be his one day, sharing his dreams, his hopes, and his passion.

John took his time shaving, bathing, dressing, and dreaming.  He closed out his account and left his bag with the registration desk until after the funeral.  By 10:00 o’clock, he returned to the stately dining hall for a breakfast of poached egg, toast, and tea.  He thought about the coming hours and wondered how Margaret would suffer the day.  Wishing he could protect her from the harsh reality of her loss, he steeled himself to see her saddened, knowing how much it would upset him.

Finally, the time arrived and John walked down to the chapel.

Reserve and Reticence – Part Twelve

Twelve – An Unexpected Approach

 

It was yet another night when Beth and Henrietta were keeping watch next to Stephen’s bed, unable to find rest and sleep. Henrietta lay stretched out on the sofa, covered by a blanket against the chilly dawn of May. She had finally given up the fight against exhaustion and dozed off. Beth sat in her chair beside Stephen’s bed and held his hand in hers. That hand was yet again hot and damp because her husband was drenched and shivering with high fever.

With a sigh of utter wretchedness, Beth reached for the leather bag, filled with ice, and gently tamped Stephen’s face with it.

“There, my love,” she whispered. “Do not worry, my darling, everything will be alright.”

Would it? Did Stephen even hear her? Did he know she was there, tending him?

“Stephen? Can you hear me? Stephen, it is me, Beth …”

He did not even stir. In fact, if Beth would not have noticed the faint but rapid exhaling of his breath, she would have thought her husband deceased.

“Oh, my dearest … please, get better … I cannot bear to lose you …”

And then the tears came and uncontrollably rolled down her face. All the pent-up misery was released at last, and she let her head down onto Stephen’s chest, sobbing frantically. It was so unjust! They had not even had one carefree week of marriage! In sheer frustration, Beth pounced her fist on the mattress.

 

~~~~

 

“Beth, you must not despair. He is going to live. You must believe that, you simply must. That is what I am trying to do because the thought of losing him cannot exist in my heart.”

The warmth of Henrietta’s arm, more than the tone of her voice, was what rose Beth out of her deep despair. That tone had been meant comforting, but Henrietta had failed to put comfort into it. Instead, her carefully masked sorrow had shown through.

Beth raised her eyes to those of her mother-in-law and saw Henrietta for the lonely elderly woman she was. The baroness had no longer any real purpose in life, since the day Stephen became the next baron. As if she had read Beth’s mind, Henrietta began to speak.

“You see, Beth, I was completely at peace with my son becoming the next baron after my husband died. It is the natural order of things that a female member of the English nobility withdraws from her duties as the lady of the house, especially when there is a young wife in attendance. I liked Florence from the start. She was a ray of sunshine in mine and Stephen’s life, lively and beautiful, witty and intelligent. She was also endearingly sweet to me. I always thought a daughter-in-law to just tolerate her husband’s widowed mother and handle her as some tedious but unavoidable person, who came with the marriage. Instead, Florence was a warm and lovable woman, who included me in her life. I was looking forward to a quiet life in the dowager house, when her sudden death disrupted Stephen’s life. Despite my own grief, I had to be strong in order to help Stephen overcome his misery. He was utterly devastated by Florence’s death, Beth. There were days when I feared he would buckle under the weight of his sorrow.”

In an impulse, Beth took Henrietta’s hands in hers.

“My lady … there is so little I know about Stephen’s life, and it frightens me. I hope you will share some of these stories with me in the future.”

Henrietta smiled and sat down on the bed.

“Beth, I have done you so very wrong and I apologize. I had not seen your great love for Stephen, I thought you were eager to bring harm to our house and later, that you were a mere fortune hunter who would cause Stephen sorrow and misery. I deeply regret my actions, my dear. Can you forgive me?”

Beth embraced the older woman warmly.

“Yes, my lady, all is forgiven. I am so very grateful for your support during Stephen’s illness. Pray God that we will not …”

Stephen unexpectedly gasped, startling both women. Beth rose and put her finger against her husband’s throat to feel for a pulse. It was still there but it felt weak and shallow.

“Stephen?! Is he …”, whispered Henrietta.

“No, no! Do not upset yourself, he still lives.”

Henrietta’s breath came out in relief.

“Then, my dear, You ought to go to bed and sleep. I will stay with him.”

However, as it was obvious that Henrietta too was at the end of her tether, Beth coaxed her to retire to her own rooms and have a proper night’s rest.

“Stephen won’t wake soon,” she said, matter-of-factly, “and I shall be sleeping on this cot, as I did so for this whole past week. I have grown accustomed to it, I fear.”

As soon as the dowager left, Beth tried feeding some weak tea to her husband, who swallowed it instinctively without waking up. She felt his brow and found it rather cool, much more cooler in fact,than it had been for a week. Earlier that day, Dr Forrester told her that Stephen was on a turning point – either his fever abated, in which case he would survive and, possibly, grow better, or he would enter another fever spell, which would deal the fatal blow to his weakened body. The coming night would be decisive, one way or the other.

With a sigh, Beth sat down in the chair beside the bed and folded her hands in prayer. It was all that was left for her to do, she realised. Only the Good Lord would have the power to save Stephen now, so she would plead his life with the Maker of all things. All night long, if necessary.

Stephen seemed to be asleep rather than lethargic, his pale, somewhat emaciated face relaxed and smooth, except for the blisters which were finally beginning to subside. His breathing, though still shallow, had become less rattling. Oh, how she loved him …

 

~~~~

 

During the long hours of the night, Beth relived all aspects of her relationship with her husband. How she admired him, when she had still been a child, and she saw him in the village with his father. He had been a thin, clumsy boy in his early teens, at that time, his movements woodenly and exaggerated. Yet, he already had that handsome face with the sparkling blue eyes, filled with joy and gentleness. She had been secretly in love with him, admiring him from afar, hoping for a sign that he noticed her. Of course, he had not. He was the young heir of Brixton Abbey, the future baron.

Her dreams of love and hope had been savagely destroyed the day of the accident, that killed her relatives. From then on, she had only room for revenge in her thoughts and heart.

All those long years of exile in France had only strengthened the need for revenge, especially when she was forced to bury her father in a godforsaken little graveyard in Provence, rather than next to her mother and brother in Woolworth.

Yet, when she set her eyes on Stephen, in those first days as a governess to Lily and Oliver, Beth had instantly known she had never stopped loving him, even when her mind battled with her heart and told her to keep him at bay. To no avail, for she never stood a chance, once she gazed into those lovely blue eyes of him.

And now, after they had joined their hearts and lives, she stood on the brink of losing him …

 

Coming to Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in May

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in May

Stills by Dimension Films, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and A24.
Scary Movie 2, Don’t Think Twice, The Wizard of Oz, and Moonlight are just a few of the great movies coming to streaming in May.

Photo illustration by Slate. Stills by Dimension Films, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and A24.

Every month, tons of new movies and TV shows become available to stream for free for subscribers to Netflix Instant, Hulu, HBO NOW, and Amazon Prime. With so many different streaming services, it can be hard to keep track of them all—especially if you belong to more than one service. Below, we present to you the ultimate streaming guide. We’ll let you decide which service has the best new titles. (All titles arrive May 1 unless otherwise specified.)

Netflix

theplacebeyondthepines
The Place Beyond the Pines.

Focus Features

Good Watch

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
Doctor Strange
(2016) (May 30)
Don’t Think Twice
(2016)
I Am Jane Doe (2017) (May 26)
Inglourious Basterds (2009) (May 22)
Lovesong (2016) (May 15)
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) (May 16)

Family Watch

Happy Feet (2006)

Binge Watch

The Fosters Season 4 (May 11)
Riverdale Season 1 (May 18)
Sherlock
Season 4 (May 15)
Switched at Birth Season 5 (May 11)

If You’re Bored

American Experience: The Big Burn (2014)
American Experience: The Boys of ’36 (2017)
Blood on the Mountain (2016)
Chaahat (1996)
Chocolat (2000)
Decanted (2016)
Drifter (2017)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Love (2015)
Losing Sight of Shore (2017)
Malibu’s Most Wanted (2003)
Nerdland (2016)
Raja Hindustani (1996)
Richard Pryor: Icon (2014)
Under Arrest Season 5
Bodyguards: Secret Lives from the Watchtower (2016) (May 2)
Hija De La Laguna (2015) (May 2)
Two Lovers and a Bear (2016) (May 2)
Cold War 2 (2016) (May 6)
When the Bough Breaks (2017) (May 6)
LoveTrue (2016) (May 7)
Stake Land II (2016) (May 7)
The Host (2013) (May 7)
Beyond the Gates (2016) (May 8)
Hunter Gatherer (2016) (May 8)
Queen of the South Season 1 (May 9)
All We Had (2016) (May 9)
El apóstata (2015) (May 10)
The Adventure Club (2016) (May 10)
Command and Control (2016) (May 15)
Cave (2016) (May 15)
The Intent (2016) (May 15)
The Break-Up (2006) (May 16)
Royal Pains Season 8 (May 18)
What’s With Wheat (2017) (May 21)
They Call Us Monsters (2017) (May 22)
Dig Two Graves (2014) (May 23)
Southpaw (2015) (May 24)
Believe (2016) (May 26)
Bunk’d Season 2 (May 28)
Forever Pure (2016) (May 29)
A New High (2015) (May 29)
Masterminds (2016) (May 30)

New Original Programming and Exclusive Premieres

In the Shadow of Iris
Maria Bamford: Old Baby
(May 2)
Chelsea Season 2 premiere (May 5)
Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie (May 5)
Kazoops! Season 3 (May 5)
Sense8 Season 2 (May 5)
Simplemente Manu NNa (May 5)
Spirit: Riding Free Season 1 (May 5)
The Last Kingdom Season 2 (May 5)
The Mars Generation (May 5)
Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery (May 9)
All Hail King Julien: Exiled Season 1 (May 12)
Anne With an E Season 1 (May 12)
Get Me Roger Stone (May 12)
Master of None Season 2 (May 12)
Mindhorn (May 12)
Sahara (May 12)
Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive (May 16)
BLAME! (May 19)
Laerte-se (May 19)
The Keepers Season 1 (May 19)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 (May 19)
Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King (May 23)
Bloodline Season 3 (May 26)
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (May 26)
War Machine (May 26)
F is for Family Season 2 (May 30)
House of Cards Season 5 (May 30)
Sarah Silverman A Speck of Dust (May 30)

HBO

zlnjj1ytrxemcks1dp11vnauzqhxuh1o_h264_3800_webthumb_640x360_640x360_513020995795
Good Will Hunting.

Miramax

Good Watch

The Beguiled (1971)
The Bourne Ultimatum
(2007)
Good Will Hunting
(1997)
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Quick Change (1990)
Scream 2 (1997)

Watch Out for Geese

Sully (2016) (May 6)

If You’re Bored

15 Minutes (2001)
Aliens in the Attic (2009)
Appaloosa (2008)
Babylon A.D. (2008)
Caught in the Crossfire (2010)
Dying Young (1991)
The Eiger Sanction (1975)
Frank Miller’s Sin City (2005)
Inventing the Abbotts (1997)
Joe Kidd (1972)
Macarthur (1977)
The Man with Two Brains (1983)
Nothing But Trouble (1991)
Notorious (2009)
On Deadly Ground (1994)
Scream 3 (2000)
The Sweetest Thing (2002)
Tender Mercies (1983)
Legend (2015) (May 3)
Jason Bourne (2016) (May 13)
Storks (2016) (May 27)

New Original Programming

Warning: This Drug May Kill You
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide (May 6)
Mommy Dead and Dearest (May 15)
Animals Season 2 finale (May 19)
Juanes Concert Film (May 19)
The Wizard of Lies (May 20)

“Estrenos en Español”

2500KM (2016)
El Corredor (aka The Runner) (2009)
Entonces Nosotros (aka About Us) (2016) (May 12)
La Luz Incidente (aka Incident Light) (2015) (May 26)

Amazon

jackie_brownpam_grier
Jackie Brown.

Miramax

Must Watch

A Fistful of Dollars (1967) (May 4)
Gone With the Wind
(1939)
Jackie Brown (1997) (May 7)
Manchester by the Sea (2016) (May 5)
Moonlight
(2016) (May 21)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Good Watch

Chuck & Buck (2000)
Naked Gun from the Files of Police Squad (1988)
No Way Out (1987)
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000) (May 21)
Winter’s Bone (2010)

Binge Watch

Boardwalk Empire Season 5 (May 21)

Nostalgia Watch

A Christmas Story (1983)
The Bad News Bears (1976)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Bond Watch

A View to a Kill (1985)
Dr. No (1963)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
From Russia with Love (1964)
Goldeneye (1995)
License to Kill (1989)
Moonraker (1979)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Thunderball (1965)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Sucker Watch

Sucker Punch (2008)

If You’re Bored

Aamhi Jaato Amuchya Gava (1968)
Anolkhi (1973)
Arrowhead (1952)
Asha Jaoar Majhe (2014)
Bad Influence (1990)
Bait Shop (2008)
Bala Gau Kashi Angai (1977)
Cabin Fever (2003)
Cabin Fever 2 (2009)
Catacombs (2007)
Cecil B. Demented (2000)
Daagdi Chaawl (2015)
Dark Blue (2003)
Devta (1978)
Fatal Instinct (1993)
Jyotibacha Navas (1975)
Khichdi (2010)
Law of the Lawless (1964)
Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Maximum Security (1990)
Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear (1988)
Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2 (2015)
Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994)
Nick of Time (1995)
Pride (2014)
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
School Ties (1992)
Siddharth (2013)
Small Soldiers (1998)
Star Kid (1998)
Teenkahon (2014)
The Doors (1991)
WellieWishers Season 1
Vikings Season 4B (May 2)
Denial (2016) (May 3)
Youth in Oregon (2016) (May 4)
The Ardennes (2015) (May 6)
A Hologram for the King (2016) (May 12)
Me Before You (2016) (May 19)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) (May 20)
Seasons (2015) (May 24)
Tomake Chai (2017) (May 24)
Poldark Season 2 (May 27)
The Duel (2016) (May 28)

Amazon Original Series

I Love Dick Season 1 (May 12)
Dino Dana Season 1 (May 26)

Hulu

wintersbone2010bluray720pmkv_snapshot_000912_20101129_234850
Winter’s Bone.

Roadside Attractions

Must Watch

A Fistful of Dollars (1967) (May 4)

Good Watch

Barbershop (2002)
Big Fish (2003)
Chuck & Buck (2000)
Clue (1985)
Coming to America (1988)
Gladiator (2000)
He Got Game (1998) (May 15)
Naked Gun from the Files of Police Squad (1988)
No Way Out (1987)
Winter’s Bone (2010)
What About Bob? (1991) (May 5)

Nostalgia Watch

The Bad News Bears (1976)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
(1987)

Bond Watch

A View to a Kill (1985)
Dr. No (1963)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
From Russia with Love (1964)
Goldeneye (1995)
License to Kill (1989)
Moonraker (1979)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Thunderball (1965)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

If You’re Bored

Line of Duty Season 4
South Park en Español Season 20
48 Hrs. (1982)
Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
Arrowhead (1952)
Bad Influence (1990)
Bait Shop (2008)
Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)
Beauty Shop (2005)
Cabin Fever (2003)
Cabin Fever 2 (2009)
Catacombs (2007)
Cecil B. Demented (2000)
Dark Blue (2003)
The Doors (1991)
Fatal Instinct (1993)
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995)
Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997)
Law of the Lawless (1964)
Life is Beautiful (1997)
Maximum Security (1990)
Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear (1988)
Naked Gun 22½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994)
Nick of Time (1995)
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
School Ties (1992)
Small Soldiers (1998)
Star Kid (1998)
Sucker Punch (2008)
Vikings Season 4B (May 2)
Bodyguards: Secret Lives of the Watchtower Men (2016) (May 2)
Outsiders Season 2 (May 3)
Flubber (1997) (May 5)
The Recruit (2003) (May 5)
The Red Pill (2016) (May 6)
All We Had (2016) (May 9)
A Hologram for the King (2016) (May 12)
Extraterrestrial (2014) (May 12)
Me Before You (2016) (May 13)
The Next Step Seasons 3-4 (May 15)
Underground Season 2 (May 18)
The Last Ship Season 3 (May 19)
Before I Disappear (2014) (May 19)
Bakery in Brooklyn (2016) (May 20)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) (May 20)
Firestorm (2013) (May 21)
American Muscle (2014) (May 28)
A Perfect Man (2013) (May 28)
The Duel (2016) (May 28)
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll Season 2 (May 30)

TV Premieres

Downward Dog series premiere (May 18)

Original Programming

Batman & Bill (May 6)
Becoming Bond (May 20)
Casual Season 3 premiere (May 23)

Will – Releases UK on July 10

Laurie Davidson in ‘Will’

TNT has finally revealed the airing date for their fun new series WILL which mixes historical setting and story with modern music. The ten episode series, starring Laurie Davidson as young William Shakespeare, will start airing July 10! Shekhar Kapur directs with the cast also including Olivia DeJonge, Ewen Bremner, Colm Meaney, Mattias Inwood, William Houston, Lukas Rolfe, Max Bennett!
WILL tells the wild story of young William Shakespeare’s arrival onto the punk rock theatre scene in 16th century London, the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side shows. It’s a contemporary version of Shakespeare’s life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.

 

 

 

Graduated LAMDA 2016

 

 

John Thornton, Look Back at Me – pt 5

Chapter 5 

     The Ruby and the Diamond

 

Upstairs, Margaret collapsed across her old bed, crying.  She felt ashamed and mystified by her sudden emotion for John and her own response to him.  She was lost in his embrace until his rigid passion for her became all too apparent, but she knew he had little control over that.  Unexpected elation, brought on by his desire for her, momentarily swept her away.  For Margaret, passion had quickly disappeared from her marriage to Brook, and she martyred the guilt of her naivety.  She had endured mortifying feelings of inadequacy as a woman but today John did not see her as the failure, she saw herself to be, thus dispelling some of the disappointment in her own femininity.  His sensual reaction restored  a small part of her womanly self-confidence.

She loved her husband . . . so what prodded  her in seeking refuge in John’s arms?  Nausea had swept over her when she realized their correspondence had been intentionally intercepted, and her possible destiny had been manipulated out of her own hands.

John, almost a stranger for the past two years, had demonstrated his devotion and his passion, neither of which could be found in her new marriage.  Why isn’t my own husband showing me this regard?

How she had wanted to remain in his arms, to feel loved, but eventually she struggled against her newly found sensuality and stepped back.  How she despised herself.  As she retreated into the house, she saw John, eyes downcast, drop his arms to his sides.  In a fleeting moment, she saw him cross from exhilaration into utter rejection.  How, she despised herself.

Dixon came into the room, rousing her from her dismal reflections.

“Are you alright Miss Margaret?  I hope those tears are from happiness and not sadness.”

Sitting up, Margaret said, “Dixon, I’m fine.  I just got a little melancholy, no more.  Is Mr. Thornton still downstairs?”

“No, he left.  He told me to tell you two words.”  He said, “Tell Miss Margaret ‘MAYBE SOMEDAY’.  It don’t make much sense to me, but I guess you’d know what he meant.”

“Thank you, Dixon.”  Margaret said, feeling the impact of John’s parting words.

He loves me still and carries hope for us even though I am married.  What more harm did I just cause to us both?

Thirty minutes later, John stood on the platform waiting for his train.  As there were fewer passengers leaving London than arriving, he soon found himself alone in the coach, stowing his hat and cases over the top.  Finally, he settled by a window as the train pulled away.

“Maybe someday . . .” He was leaving a door of hope open for both of them, for even with her marriage, he could not close his.  John had no other choice, now; he would never give up.  When he had first learned of her marriage, two months ago, he had lost all hope that she had ever cared for him.  But it was different, now.  Even though she had married for convenience, and even with another man making love to her, John felt Margaret was reaching out for him through her silence.  He could be imagining it because he wanted it to be that way, but he didn’t think so.  John was prepared to live a life waiting for her.  Twenty-four hours ago, he had nothing . . . nothing but grief and sorrow.  After today, he had a small piece of her heart; he was sure of it.

When John arrived home, he was surprised to find his mother still awake, for it was past the time she usually retired.  He walked over to her sitting on the couch.  John noticed she was wringing her hands when he bent and kissed her on the cheek.

“How was your health, while I was away, Mother?”  He asked as he straightened himself and began removing his waistcoat and cravat.  He sat down in his chair by the fire, clasped his hands across his lap, and stretched his long legs out before him.

Hannah looked over at her son.  “My health is fine, but I’ve been sitting here all weekend,” she said, “feeling sorry for my outburst about the possibility of you wanting to see Miss Hale.  Your letter to Dixon made me realize that I’m forcing you to hide things from me and do things behind my back because you fear my reaction.”

“Mother, I do not fear your reaction for myself.  I am capable of taking responsibility for my own decisions, but I don’t like upsetting you.  You and I have always been of a different opinion when it came to Miss Hale, and I try to keep that part of my life from you, so you won’t worry.  I’m sorry, but there it is.”

“No, John, I will change.  I’ve done a lot of thinking while you were away, and I’m completely resigned to the fact that Miss Hale is your real love and always will be.  I need to be part of that with you.  If she is so deeply embedded into your heart, then she shall be in mine, too.  If I could do anything to change the past for you, I would.  Whoever you love will be important to me because she’ll bring you happiness, which then will be my happiness.”

John’s eyes narrowed speculatively, “Mother. This is quite a change.  It sounds to me that you’re more ill than I previously thought.”  He tried to keep the alarm out of his voice.

“Oh, John . . . it’s not that.  I know I’m getting older, as it should be, and maybe my time is becoming shorter.  That isn’t it.  It was the letter from Dixon and your reaction to it that opened my eyes to all of my past negative comments.  It’s not like she had to make me happy, she had to make you happy.  Originally, I didn’t think she did a very good job, but you handled her rejection, and still you loved her.”

John rose and went over to the couch.  Kneeling down beside his mother, he spoke earnestly, “Your words mean a lot to me.  Thank you, Mother.  However, now that she is married, I fear all your newly found sentiments for Margaret will never see the light of day.”  He could feel himself on the edge of tears.  He couldn’t share with her that he would live in hope, waiting.  His mother had just made a heartfelt concession, but she would never understand that.  Hannah, not knowing what to say to comfort him, looked lovingly at her son.  Reaching out, she drew him close to her.

 

Hannah grew weaker over the next six months, worrying John.  He was powerless to help her and began spending more time with her, even though she objected.

One afternoon, Dixon came bursting through the mill’s office door.  “The master, where’s the master?”  She hollered for anyone to hear.

Higgins came out of a back room and said, “Dixon, what is it?”

“It’s the Missus.  I must find the master right now.”

“I’ll take you to him; he’s in the carding room.  Follow me,” Higgins said as he grabbed her by the arm and hurried her down the warehouse path to the mill room door.  “Wait here, I’ll get him for you.  I’ll be right back.”

Higgins slid the door open for only a second and Dixon could see the room full of cotton fluff, cascading down on the master, as he walked his platform, overseeing his workers.  In less than a minute, the door opened again and both men came to a halt in front of her.  “Oh Master,” she said anxiously, “it’s the Missus.  She had a lay down a while ago. I just checked on her and she seems very pale and is asking for you, Master.  I’m afraid she might be . . . be . . .” Dixon couldn’t finish her words.

John rounded on Higgins.  “Take care of things here,” he said quickly.  “Send someone for the doctor and fetch my sister.”  With that, he began running across the yard toward his home.  When he reached the main hall, he took the stairs three at a time and ran into his Mother’s room.  She seemed very comfortable laying there with a peaceful look on her face.  John rushed to her side, breathless, and knelt by the bed, holding one hand behind her head while his other hand held hers.  “Mother.  Please hold on.  I’ve sent for the doctor.  Can I do anything for you?”

“Nothing.  Calm down, John,” Hannah whispered softly.

A surreal darkness began to descend upon him, as John sensed he only had moments left with her.

 

Mother, please don’t leave me.

 

He looked at the translucent skin on her hands and his eyes traveled upwards to her face.  She was looking into his eyes.  With tears seeping from the corners, he said, “Mother, I love you.”

Just then Dixon appeared at the door.  John, sensing they were being watched, said, “Leave us, Dixon.  Send Fanny in when she gets here and close the door, please.”

As the door closed behind her, Hannah said, “You know, John, Dixon has been a wonderful companion to me, Jane has always been a great help and you know how I love Cook.  I know I protested at the beginning about Dixon but I really grew to rely on her. She has been a great comfort for me.  You will see them right, won’t you?”  Hannah’s voice was so tender; it barely hovered above a whisper.

“You know I will.  Mother, please, don’t give up,” he pleaded.

“John,” she said, “let us not waste words now.  I have much to say and little time.”  John caressed her hand firmly, as Hannah continued.  “You John, you are the one I worry about.  Losing Margaret was your greatest tragedy from which you have never recovered.  And I don’t think you ever will.  I’m so sorry I didn’t do more to ingratiate her into our lives.  I was a jealous mother, who didn’t want to let go of her son.  But I see what this has done to you, and I am sorrier than you will ever know.  I plan on making amends when I pass beyond the limits of this world.”

“Mother, please . . .”

“John, let me finish.  In my jewelry case, I have an heirloom, a ruby heart pendant on a gold chain.  It was passed down to me by grandfather when I was a little girl.  I want Margaret to have it.  It will be up to you how to present it to her, but I want to give it to her, I want to say, “I’m sorry” to the woman you love.  I’ve loved you all of my life, John.  No mother on this earth could be as proud of her son as I am of you.  You took our early hardships and used them to mold John Thornton; to the man, you are today.  You’re not only a successful business man, but I know you are becoming known, far and wide and will be in the history books someday.  You are financially set for your future, but you are not emotionally settled.  I will ask God to help.  He owes my son a favor.  Watch for a sign from me; you cannot mistake it.  Your life will change for the better.”

John opened his mouth to speak and found he had no voice.  Struggling, he began to speak his final words to her.  “Mother, I, have also loved you every day of my life.  You have made me what I am today, not I.  Your love and strength, your guidance, your endurance and your courage, have been my moral compass all my life.  At times, I’ve considered you my conscience and asked myself, ‘what would mother do in this situation?’.”

Pausing to wipe his tears that were falling onto his mother’s shoulder, John continued.

“I will miss you more than I can say, for you have been my constant companion in life, as well as my friend.  I shall be lost without you.”

Hannah patted his hand with hers, trying her best to assuage him.

“John, you are a strong, intelligent and a loving man . . . and you will get through this.  You shall never forget me, and that brings me peace and the only closure, I seek.  Please tell Fanny, I love her, too.  Smiling weakly at him, Hannah whispered, “John . . . you were always the life in me.  You made me so proud of you every single day of your life.  I love you, son . . .”   And with those words, John heard her final rush of air and watched her slowly slip, peacefully away from him.

Grieving for her with his tears, John closed her eyes and lifted her to him, burying his face to her bosom.  As he rocked her slowly and wept at her breast, like a child, he murmured, “This is where I first met you and this is where we will part.  I love you, Mother.  Thank you for bringing me into this world and for loving me.”

He was still holding and rocking her when the door opened, and the doctor entered.  Walking towards the bed, Dr. Donaldson stopped in mid stride, as he quickly assessed the situation.  Not wanting to intrude on John’s final good-bye, he quietly backed out of the room.

Fanny arrived at John’s side minutes later, and found him still holding their mother in his arms.  She leaned over her kneeling brother and softly placed her hands on his shoulders, encouraging him to let go.  John gently laid his mother down on her pillow, looking into her face, as he stroked her cheek and kissed her forehead, for the last time.  He rose to embrace Fanny.  She cried on his shoulder for a moment, then looking up into his glassy eyes, kissed him on the cheek, and finally knelt down beside her mother.  No words were spoken as John left the room.

Walking out into the hall, John closed the door behind him and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to dab his eyes.  As he entered the parlor, Higgins walked over to him, clamping his hand on John’s shoulder.  “I’m so sorry for the loss of your Mother,” he said.  They stood in silent communion like two brothers, each knowing the pain of great loss.  Regaining his composure, John straightened himself, wiped his eyes again, and shook Higgins’s hand with both of his, saying, “I know you are.  Thank you, Nicholas.”

Dr. Donaldson, waiting with Higgins in the parlor, stood.  Speaking quietly, he said, “My condolences, too, John.  I’ll take care of everything from here.  Take some time for yourself and see me tomorrow about arrangements.”

“Thank you,” John said, then slowly proceeded to his own room, and quietly closed his door.

John spent the evening secluded in his room.

When morning came, he went into his mother’s room and stood, perfectly still, and slowly glanced around.  He saw the impression of her head, still on her pillow.  His heart was heavy as he gazed at her few, worldly possessions.  Walking over to her vanity, he recognized the familiar broach she often wore, her favorite silver hair barrettes, and her black velvet jewelry slip case.  Looking inside, he saw the heirloom ring that hadn’t been worn in many years: A large diamond, shining brightly in a platinum filigree setting.  The ring had belonged to his grandmother, who had died before he was born.  He slipped the ring into his pocket, thinking, maybe someday . . . yes… maybe someday . . . it would be used in a wedding.  He found the ruby heart pendant and tucked it away in his handkerchief, wondering how he would give it to Margaret.  There were other pieces of jewelry John had not seen, but he wanted Fanny to come look through her things.  As he sat at her small writing desk, he sifted through her personal papers finding little of much consequence, only a few trade articles about him that she cut  and saved.  He went to her bed and sat, where she had just lain only a day before, and picked up her pillow.  Holding it to his face, and smelling her familiar perfume, he mourned into it.  Finally, he lay back, holding the pillow to his chest, as he gazed toward the ceiling wondering what his life would be like without her.  This house was going to feel so empty.  Every night she waited  for him to come home.  He had never previously experienced anything quite like this.  His father’s suicide was fraught with embarrassment, police investigations, and every sort of confusion regarding his business, but losing his mother was much sadder.  It made him think of Margaret and how she could have endured going through such a loss, three times within one year.  John thought he could empathize with her misery when she lost her parents, but he hadn’t known the half of it.  How did Higgins ever cope with losing a grown child?  He rose from the bed, placed her pillow back as it had been and walked to the door, casting his eyes back, one last time.  Closing the door, he headed off to see how Dixon and Cook were coping.

He found them consoling each other in the warm kitchen.  John looked at their sad faces and gestured for them to come to him.  Putting one arm around each of them, he said, “We’ll get through this.”  Just then Jane came through the door, already weeping, and John motioned her over to be included in the group.

Moments later, standing back from the three women John said to them, “Ladies, we will all make it through this difficult time.  Mother was a strong woman and so must you be.”

“Mr. Thornton.  . . ,” but John interrupted Dixon.

“Let me quickly get through with what I have to say, while I’m able.  Dixon, as I’ve said before, you will become head housekeeper, starting now.  Cook, your position remains unchanged, unless Dixon or Jane needs to help you from time to time.  Jane, your duties will also be divided with Dixon’s.  I’ll be making arrangements today, but we should expect a house full of guests in a few days.  Please start planning for that.  We will need small sandwiches, cakes, and tea.  I’ll take care of the liquors.  Dixon, I’ll ask Fanny to come by, look over Mother’s effects, and take what she wants.  I will then look myself.  Dixon, Jane, and Cook, at that point I would like you to look through the remainder, and see if there is a keepsake you might like of hers.  Afterwards, Dixon, you will be responsible to distribute any remaining items, where you see fit.  Please set aside any jewelry, monies, or papers for me.”

Looking directly at them, John could see by their faces that all was understood, so he continued.

“On the day of the funeral, I would like the food prepared ahead of time;  that way you will be able to attend, if you so desire.  I know my mother relied on all of you to do good work, and you never disappointed her.  She liked all of you very much, and said as much in her final words to me.”  Stifled sobs escaped from the women.

“Finally, before I leave . . . I know her loss to you is great, and you know her loss to me is even greater.  We share the sorrow of each other’s loss, so please do not tell me how sorry you are; I already know it.  Right now, it is written all over your faces.  I’m doing my best to cope, and talking about the sadness will not help me recover.  Do not pity me, and do not pamper me, as that will only reinforce what I know I’ve lost.  On behalf of my mother and myself, I thank you all for what you’ve done for this family.”  John paused briefly before continuing.

“I will not have breakfast today, but I will return around noon for a sandwich.  If any well-wishers stop by today, you may, or may not, choose to talk with them.  Tell them I’m not seeing anyone just now, and ask them to leave their card.  Get through the day as best you can, and we’ll end our workday early this evening.  Dixon, make some plans with Mr. Granger tonight.  I would like to be alone in the house for awhile.  Good day.”  John turned, and headed towards the back door.  He had said all that had to be said, but he didn’t have the control to let it flow out like normal conversation.  He left swiftly, before his emotions could engulf him.

It was still too early in the day to see about the church service and other arrangements, so John went to the carriage house.  He decided to go for a ride out into the country, and instead of hitching one of the horses to a small buggy, he saddled Arkwright.  He needed to get away from the impending crush of condolences and steel himself against the days to come.  The day beckoned brightly to him, as he rode several miles out of town until he found a hill that afforded a nice view of the city.  Tethering his horse to a nearby tree, John sat on a fallen log.  With the billows of smoke down-wind, he had a clear vista of the city where his life had begun.  He thought about his mother and how far he had come because of her, all she had taught him, and just how much she meant to him.  He smiled over the happy times, but was saddened to think of all the things he wished he had said to her.  It pleased him to know she finally came to accept Margaret as the woman he would always love.  He shed tears as memories  assailed him.  An hour later, he headed homeward, thinking about the rest of his day.

Back at the house, Dixon gathered herself together and wrote a brief letter to Miss Margaret about the Missus.  She knew the Master would not bother Margaret with his sorrow, but was certain she would want to hear about it.

Three days later, John was taken aback at the hundreds of people who attended his mother’s service and burial.  She had had fewer friends in her later years, but they were all in attendance.  John was quite self-conscious and humbled by the compliment which was paid to him, through the attendance of so many of his business acquaintances from all over the land.  He hoped that very few condolences would be openly expressed, as this would cause him great discomfort.  He wanted to just get through the day.

The service was beautiful, and even though it was fall, the church was ringed with soft flowers.  John could not bring himself to give a eulogy, so the pastor read from the notes which John provided  for him.  Fanny and her husband, Mr. Watson, sat beside him during the short service.  Higgins had previously selected the pallbearers, and included himself as one.  As the mourners exited the church, John greeted nearly everyone before they walked to the cemetery.  Having already expressed their condolences, many left after the burial.  John was relieved to see that most of those remaining were business associates, and they wouldn’t dwell on sympathetic words, since they had already expressed them.

Dixon, Cook, and Jane left  immediately to prepare for the unexpected, larger group.  John had a carriage waiting for them.

When everyone arrived back at his home, John, offered drinks, mostly brandies, which were accepted heartily.  His driver, Branson, filled in as the bartender  for the afternoon.  The talk got lively and there was polite laughter around the room.  Whenever it was appropriate, John joined in; he could feel the heavy curtain of sadness starting to lift.  He remembered his Mother once telling him that laughter at a funeral, even by the family, was not disrespectful; it was healing.  How he wished he could tell them how grateful he was – he knew they were rallying him back into the world, pulling him from his emotional slide – but men never said those words to other men.  In place of any sentimentality, a simple “thank you” was proffered, as they drifted home.

The last of the guests left around 6:00 pm, and the house was finally quiet.  John summoned his staff and they hurried to his side.  “Thank you, ladies, for what you did today:  You served this family with dignity and respect.  The food, as always, was good, and your service to the guests was flawless.  If all the food has been attended to, I want you, Jane and Cook, to go home.  Dixon, why don’t you get out of the house for a while, and visit Mr. Granger.  Please, give him my thanks for his attendance today.  Tomorrow, we start a new life in this house.  Now . . . please go and rest yourselves.”  John walked over to the bar and poured himself a Scotch, as soon as the ladies left.  Turning to where his mother sat most evenings, he raised his glass in remembrance, offering to fetch her drink, as he had always done.  She wasn’t there, but John felt as though he could see her spirit smiling back at him.  He toasted her a final farewell.

Shaking off that emotional setback, he thought about how his staff had made him proud.  John knew they had worked their hearts out so that everything would reflect on their respect for his mother.  He wanted for them to leave for their sake as well as his own; John needed just once to be totally alone, and get past the impact of the solitude.  He wanted to finally collapse into his emotions and feel the loss of the women he loved.   He had to plunge to the bottom of his existence, and try to find a footing from which to push off, and surface into the rest of his life, wherever it may lead.

The following day, John received a note from Margaret.

Dear John,

I only received word of your Mother’s passing yesterday.  I am so terribly sorry.  I wish there had been sufficient time to attend and be there for support.  I know I have been gone from Milton quite a long time now, but I still feel connected there, especially to you, since I know the pain, you are bearing.  Please accept my sincerest  condolences.  If ever I can do anything or just listen, write to me.  Many times, John, I have wondered how you were, especially after our meeting on the veranda in London.  How often that day comes to mind.  I wish I could tell you what it meant, but I cannot.  Dixon has been keeping me up to date with your great strides in the mill.  I always knew you would find a way.

My most heartfelt regards,
Margaret

These were the only words he had heard from her since that day.  He did not expect any.  A strange, almost mystical, revelation enveloped him as he read her letter; one woman lost to him was writing about the other woman lost to him.  It felt vaporous; both had disappeared from his life.  John folded the note and put it in his coat pocket over his heart.  He was comforted by the thought that her penned hand now rested there, as once did her real hand, not long ago. .

 

She thinks of that day often, as do I. 

 

John smiled, thinking back on what his Mother had said about “working on his behalf” when she reached the other side.  He had never believed in such things, although his heart wanted to accept the possibility.

 But maybe someday…  John would come to understand that a mother’s love knew no bounds.