Dearest, loveliest Meg – Part Fifteen



Chapter Fifteen


“Please, Miss Dashwood, I can’t let yer do that! Ye said the colonel was lookin’ into the guv’nor’s family. ‘E might find the solution and I’m thinkin’ we ought to wait for ‘im to come back! Ye can’t go runnin’ off to that Wilkinson bloke on yer own!”

“Jack, I can and I will! I must learn what Wilkinson is hiding and if he has done harm to Douglas. Are you coming with me or not? I will go alone, if I must! Now come along, I have to find Johnny the groom.”

Muttering under his breath, Jack followed me to the Delaford stables and went to wake Johnny. The boy appeared soon thereafter his wake-up, yawning and complaining of his being waken in the middle of the night.

“Johnny, listen to me. You are my friend, are you not?”

The boy nodded but was still sulking in aversion.

“I need your help, Johnny. Jack and I are going to Watcombe Manor now, while it is still dark. We fear that Jack’s employer, Mr Spencer, has come to some mishap at that place and we want to investigate. If we are not back by morning, say ten o’clock, you must go to Mrs Ferrars, my eldest sister, or to Colonel Brandon, if he is back. Tell them where we have gone. The colonel will know what to do as will Mrs Ferrars. Do you understand all this?”

“Yes, miss. I’ll do as you ask, miss but I don’t like it. I don’t like it a bit!”

“Johnny, please, just do as I ask. All will go well since Jack is with me. Now, can I count on you?”

“Yes, miss, you can.”

“Good,” I replied, “Oh, and Johnny, can you lend me a pair of breeches and a coat?”

Johnny’s jaw – and that of Jack – dropped in sheer consternation.


As we sped over the dark roads of Devonshire, my thoughts kept circling around the latest events in the case. Of course, I was fully aware that I was rash in my behaviour by going after Wilkinson on my own, all the more, that I was acting without the slightest hint of a plan as to how I was to do this. I could not just knock on the front door and ask to see Mr Wilkinson in the middle of the night and without a convincing story. Moreover, how would I find out if he really was the one behind all this and how would I be able to prove it? Yet, there was but one thing I could do in my present state of anxiety for Douglas – I had to find out for myself.


It would be impossible to enter the Watcombe estate by the front gate which would surely be closed for the night. The fence and wall were at least twelve feet high and therefore insurmountable. Yet I had fled the estate on foot, through the woods, without encountering any walls the night I ended up on the terrace of Douglas’ house. Jack and I first went to the country house where they had stayed. It was also better to leave the horses there and proceed on foot, which we did.

“Jack, let us make a deal. If we were to be caught, and one of us has a chance to run away, then do so. Do not look back, even if I am the one that is caught. I will do the same. Go straight to Delaford immediately and come back with help. Promise me, Jack.”

“Miss, please, what is it that yer afraid of? D’ ye think the guv’nor ‘s being held there? I don’t ‘ave a good feelin’ about this. We can stop right ‘ere, Miss, and leave it all to the Colonel.”

“No, Jack, I cannot. I must know about Douglas and I need you to help me discovering if he is held there.”

By now we were almost out of the Watcombe Home Wood and approached the back of house. The beautiful rose garden was closest to the terrace so we crept through it and crouched behind one of the fragrant rose hedges to observe the house. The distance to it was approximately fifteen feet and we could clearly see what was happening in the elegant room with the French windows; it was the same room I found so exquisite when I first visited.

Although it was long past two in the morning, the lights in that room were ablaze and Phineas Wilkinson was pacing the floor like a caged animal. Another man was with him, a giant of a man with a rough, forbidding face and a body as powerful as a bull’s – all muscles and weight. He appeared to be a common man, for his clothes were of drab homespun brown and he was holding his cap in his hands, a gesture of deference. Wilkinson was furiously arguing with this man, throwing up his arms in agitation and stomping his feet on the floor in his rage. We could not hear their conversation but we saw the other man pleading and debating with Wilkinson who became even more outraged by what the man was telling him.

“What’s goin’ on in there?” Jack whispered.

I shook my head but did not take my eyes from the scene.

“I can sneak around the ‘ouse and see if I can get in, somewhere, Miss. We ‘ave to get in and go look for the guv’nor.”

“Yes, I know but not yet. I do not think that he would be kept in the house if he was a captive since that would be far too dangerous. The servants would gossip about it and Wilkinson will not risk that. Besides, Jack, we do not even know for certain that Douglas is even here.”

“Aye, yer dead right, Miss, we could be making fools of ourselves an’ then where ‘d we be?”

All of a sudden the French window doors were thrown open and the two men came striding over the terrace, straight in our direction, which made Jack and me duck deeper behind the hedge. They passed us, Wilkinson still muttering under his breath, and headed for the Home Wood.

“What now, Miss? I daren’t follow them ‘cause that big bloke seems pretty strong to me! ‘E could break me like a twig wi’ those shovels for ‘ands of ‘is!”

“We must see where they are going, Jack! Come with me!”


There were obvious signs of poor grooming all over the gardens; weeds grew and paths were not kept. The same could be said for the Home Wood where the undergrowth was thick and lush. That was in our favour since we could hide ourselves well while we crept after the two men.

They led us to what looked like a grassy mound at the edge of the wood but was in fact an icehouse. Only the stout wrought iron door indicated that there was a room beneath the small, man-made hill. Wilkinson opened the door with his set of keys and he and his companion disappeared inside. Even from a twenty foot distance, Jack and I could understand each word they said, or rather shouted, inside. It was not only Wilkinson’s voice we heard but also that of an extremely angry Douglas!

“For the love of God, Phineas, will you not listen to reason?” he yelled. “We can make a financial arrangement between us. I am prepared to let you have all the money and take the estate off your hands. Let me run it for your benefit. I do not even need to have the title since I do not care about it! Keeping me here is pointless, Phineas!”

Wilkinson’s joyless laughter sounded hollow.

“It is your own fault, Douglas. You should have stayed overseas instead of returning to good old England trying to rob me of my rightful inheritance. No, cousin, this is the best way to ensure that you are in no position to thwart me. I am keeping you here until your birthday and then you will sign over the estate and the money to me. Maybe then I will let you go free.”

“Hell and damnation! If I ever get my hands on you …”

Douglas broke off when the sound of a blow whipped through the still night air.

“There! He really is a nuisance, this cousin of mine. He never learns. Check him, Dobson! I do not want him dead, at least not yet.”


With the blood pounding in my ears, I found myself trembling with fear. Had Jack not kept a hold of me I would have burst through the iron door and … and do what? Tears of powerless rage were rolling down my face but there was nothing I could do.

When the two men emerged from the icehouse, my mind was already searching for a way to get Douglas out of there. Jack must have guessed what I had in mind because he clapped his hand over my mouth and held me even harder so that I could no longer move. Who would have thought this slender youth to be so strong? I tried to struggle free but to no avail. It must be his fear that gave Jack extra strength.

“For God’s sake, miss, keep quiet!” he adamantly whispered into my ear. “Yer not helping the guv’nor by being caught!”

He was right, of course. As the two men walked back to the house, I put up a conciliatory hand and Jack released me.

“We must try and get him out of there, Jack!”

“Well, miss, we can’t! ‘Ow yer gone break down that door, I ask ye? Come on, we’re ou’ o’ ‘ere!”

“No, no, you go, Jack. I want to keep watch. Wilkinson might move him to some other place and then we would never find him. I will be careful, I promise.”

‘Alright, miss, but don’t do anything stupid. We won’t ‘ave you a prisoner too, you know!”

A voice froze my blood. “Too late, my young friend! Dobson, grab the boy!”

Wilkinson quickly had me in a stronghold and I screamed as loudly as I could. Dobson reached for Jack but he had clearly underestimated the former London street urchin. Jack kicked him in a delicate place between the legs and bolted. Within seconds the darkness had swallowed him up.

“Confound it, Dobson!” Wilkinson’s voice boomed.

Dobson lay writhing and moaning, his hands between his legs; Wilkinson fumed and swore. His hold on me slackened a little and I took the opportunity I was presented. I bit his hand as hard as I could, deeply sinking my teeth into the soft flesh of the palm until I tasted blood. A hard blow on my temple ended this and darkness engulfed me.



Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes

The actor has tweeted a picture of himself in costume as an aged version of the sleuth in a film adaptation of Mitch Cullen’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind

Holmes … Ian McKellen as Sherlock

Ian McKellen has tweeted the first photograph of himself starring as a nonagenarian Sherlock Holmes in the Bill Condon mystery Mr Holmes.

The new film, which will hit cinemas next year, centres on an aged Holmes who becomes obsessed with one final case. It is based not on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original 19th century stories about the famous English sleuth, but the 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin.

Tweeted McKellen, 75: “Over 70 actors have previously played Sherlock Holmes. Now he’s 93 years old and it’s my turn.”

A Slight Trick of the Mind features Holmes as an elderly man unable to walk without a cane and with a failing memory. He lives with a housekeeper and her son, and makes an effort to talk with the son about his life before he forgets it entirely. Laura Linney will co-star in the film version, for which principal photography began last week on location in the United Kingdom.

Condon is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Gods and Monsters, which he also directed, and the Golden Globe-winning director of period musical Dreamgirls. He also wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winning musical Chicago and directed sex drama Kinsey. Condon’s most recent film is last year’s Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate.

A Room With a View

Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman, makes her first visit to Florence, Italy in the early 1900′s. There, she meets a quiet yet eccentric young man named George Emerson. Upon her return to England, Lucy must decide whether to follow through with her marriage to her stotic fiance, Cecil, or follow her heart and her growing attraction to George.

Based on a novel by E.M. Forster 

Helena Bonham Carter
Julian Sands
Maggie Smith
Judi Dench
Daniel Day Lewis
Rupert Graves
Rosemary Leach

Another version of this novel was made in 2007,

written by Andrew Davies and aired on ITV

IMDB link for 2007 film

IMDB link for 1985 film

Courtesy Enchanted Serenity

Who was Jennie Wade


Jennie Wade was a civilian

Jennie Wade was a civilian

Hometown: Gettysburg, PA

Age: 20

Category: Jennie was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg

Status: killed

Before Gettysburg: Born May 21, 1843, Jennie Wade and her brother lived in their family home in Gettysburg, where she worked as a seamstress with her mother. To make ends meet, they also took care of a 6-year-old boy named Isaac.

July 1, 1863: On the morning of July 1, fighting at Gettysburg erupted and the family fled to the nearby home of Jennie’s sister, Georgia McClellan and her newborn son, on Baltimore Street. Jennie spent most of the rest of the day distributing bread to Union soldiers and filling their canteens with water. It was hazardous work and would soon become even more so. The Union retreat to Cemetery Hill soon placed Jennie and the rest of the household in the direct path of danger.

July 2, 1863: By late afternoon on July 2, Jennie’s bread supply dwindled and it became apparent that more would be needed the next day or the energy level of the troops would diminish drastically. Jennie and her mother prepared more that evening, leaving the yeast to rise until the morning of the third day of battle.

July 3, 1863: At about 7 a.m. on the morning of the July 3, Confederate sharpshooters began firing through the north windows of their house. At 8 a.m., amidst the pings and ricochets of bullets flying through the house, Jennie set about preparing biscuits. At about 8:30 a.m., while Jennie stood in the kitchen kneading dough, she was struck in the back by a Confederate bullet that had traveled through a wooden door, killing her instantly.

Sadly, Jennie’s tragic story does not end there. Jennie was engaged to a Union soldier from Gettysburg named Corporal Johnston “Jack” Skelly who, unknown to her, had been mortally wounded two weeks earlier in the Battle of Winchester. Private Wesley Culp, a Gettysburg native fighting for the Confederacy, who had gone to school with both Skelly and Jennie, came across Skelly at a field hospital where the wounded soldier gave him a note to pass on to his fiance, Jennie.

Unfortunately, the note never made it back to Jennie. On the same day she was killed, Culp, still carrying the message, died during fighting on his family farm at Culp’s Hill. Skelly lost his battle to live on July 12, just nine days after Jennie Wade and Wesley Culp were killed. Today Jack Skelly and Jennie Wade lie in rest close to each other in the Evergreen Cemetery at Gettysburg, together again.

After Gettysburg: Known as Gin or Ginnie to friends, her name was incorrectly reported in a newspaper as Jennie and she has been referred to as Jennie ever since. After her death, Jennie was buried in her sister’s yard for about six months, then disinterred and moved to a nearby cemetery adjoining the German Reformed Church, until her third and final resting place in November 1865, in the Evergreen Cemetery. The Jennie Wade Monument was erected in 1900 and is one of the most popular and most visited gravesites in the cemetery. An executive order was issued to allow a flag to fly 24 hours a day at her gravesite. The only other woman in the United States that this executive order applies to is the gravesite of Betsy Ross, at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Actor Factor – John Lynch

John Lynch



An actor whose sad eyes and brooding presence often get him cast as moody, tragic figures, John Lynch first lent his haunted charm to the title role of Pat O’Connor’s Cal (1984). Cast as a young IRA recruit who falls in love with the widow (Helen Mirren) of a man he has killed, Lynch earned wide praise for his sensitive, complex performance, and more than held his own opposite the more seasoned Mirren.

Born in Corrinshego, Newry, Northern Ireland, on December 26, 1961, Lynch was raised as the eldest of five children (his sister, Susan Lynch, also went into acting). He got his first break during his second year at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, when he was picked to star in Cal. Following his work on the film, Lynch dropped out of the movies for almost a decade, preferring to work on the stage in England and Ireland. When he resurfaced in front of the cameras in the mid-’90s, he began working steadily, appearing in films ranging from Agneiszka Holland’s celebrated 1993 adaptation of The Secret Garden, to Jim Sheridan’s acclaimed political drama In the Name of the Father (1993), to John Sayles’ similarly feted family fantasy The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), which also featured Lynch’s sister, Susan.

In addition to In the Name of the Father, Lynch did starring work in subsequent dramas that focused on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Among them were Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s Nothing Personal (1995), in which the actor portrayed an apolitical but conflicted Catholic; and Terry George’s Some Mother’s Son (1996), an account of the 1981 Belfast prisoner’s hunger strike that, in addition to casting Lynch as IRA prisoner and strike leader Bobby Sands, reunited him with Cal co-star Mirren. In 1998, he appeared in the little-seen This Is the Sea, a romantic drama about the relationship between a Protestant woman and a Catholic man living in post-1994 cease-fire Northern Ireland.

Lynch has also worked in films that have taken him out of the geographical and topical boundaries of Northern Ireland. Peter Howitt’s Sliding Doors (1998) saw him play Gwyneth Paltrow’s hapless, two-timing boyfriend, while Best (2000), which Lynch co-wrote with his wife, Mary McGuckian, who also directed, cast him as the title figure of real-life football legend George Best. And, like many actors hailing from that section of the world, Lynch has also put in time in various period dramas, including the 1996 TV adaptation of Moll Flanders. ~

Courtesy Rovi

Here is a clip of John Lynch in “The Secret Garden”

I have been watching Bleak House once again and wondered how many films he was in with the same hair style . . . long.  LOL

Here are a few and they way I always think of the man.

John Lynch - Black Death
John Lynch – Black Death
John Lynch - Bleak House
John Lynch – Bleak House
John Lynch - In The Name of the Father
John Lynch – The Name of the Father






John Lynch - Merlin
John Lynch – (in) Merlin
John Lynch - Sliding Doors
John Lynch – Sliding Doors
John Lynch - The Secret Garden
John Lynch – The Secret Garden
John Lynch in Moll Flanders
John Lynch in Moll Flanders



John Thornton Meets Miss Hale, Mill Owner * Chapter 27

John Thornton Meets Miss Hale Mill Owner 250x375
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Chapter Twenty Seven


Arriving home about two hours after she had departed, Grayson met her at the door as always while Nigel reined the coach for the stables. Margaret’s face was bursting with smiles; she could not help herself, until she saw Grayson in the light of the parlor. He handed her another port, replacing the one he had removed from under her nose at dinner. Margaret thought he looked like a cherub. He was ecstatic and struggling to keep his stoic composure for which he was so famous. Margaret knew that he smelled victory for his gentleman.


“Yes, M’lady.”

“You have a very smug look about you tonight.”

“Smug, M’lady?”

“Yes, smug. You know . . . self-satisfied. That smug.”

“If M’lady says so.”

“Do you smell victory?” Margaret asked.

“Yes, M’lady.”

“Mr. Thornton said that he was going to ask me to marry him, when I have accomplished what I want to do.”

“I am well pleased, M’lady.”

“That is it? Well pleased? My greatest happiness is on the horizon and all you can say is that you are ‘well pleased’?”

Margaret threw up her hands, downed her port and headed to her room. She could not wait to be in the tranquility of her bed and return to the memory of her new found sensuality. She undressed, slipped on her thin nightshift and went to her mirror. “Certainly, I have changed. I am a woman now, or almost. Why cannot I stop smiling?” Margaret stared at herself for a long time. Aside from the unbreakable smile, she looked the same but knew a woman had matured within her being this night. Margaret flung herself into bed, ready to dream about her ecstasy with John. She hardly remembered what happened after he had lifted her buttocks and pulled her snuggly against his hard ridge. She remembered being swept away by his closeness, his intimacy and then his fever which ignited her, turning her into pliable dough. Her bones melted as the flame raged in the folds of her womanhood. Once the passion unfurled she was hopelessly lost in him; whatever he wanted, whatever he did to her, she could not get enough of him. Margaret remembered with embarrassment how she had clamped her legs around his waist. It seemed to have been a good thing to do. John responded to her needs from that moment and took her to a place she had never been to. Even though it felt more sexual than sensual, the look in his eyes and the feeling in her heart, said it was love. John was an experienced sexually mature man but even he was surprised at what transpired. Margaret laughed at his looking forward to experimenting. An overwhelming feeling settled on her that she was desirous and she wasn’t going to be an old cold maid. She drifted to sleep with dreams of what was to come.


John had a difficult few hours finding sleep. He didn’t think he knew himself now. Or was it he had to learn how to handle love. In the moment of uncontrolled passion, John had to sate himself with just the touching of her body to his. The fear of losing her was great and he needed to quell his anxiety. He found himself going from an animal to a man overcome by the wholly unexpected response he was receiving from his lady love. John smiled thinking, “She may be a lady, but she is tortuously a woman in all aspects.” All he could think about before falling asleep was how he had to gain his strength back. He wanted strength to love her like he needed to love her.


*     *     *


With Higgins on one side, Margaret on the other, and John with his cane in hand, made their way to the back of the hospital. The word had circulated that John Thornton was being released this day and every newspaperman and trade publication journalist was outside, waiting for interviews or just some statement from the man, himself. Branson was waiting outside the hospital’s front entrance, intending to keep the journalists decoyed into expecting him there. Margaret had Nigel waiting out the back door with her coach. John had finally told Margaret that her horses, wagons, and coaches needed to travel over land to get to Milton. She could train load the horses but the wagons and coaches would be left behind . . . so That is what she had done. It took her caravan of horses and wheels almost four days to make the entire trip. She did not want them to rush.

Arriving at John’s Marlborough Mills home, Nicholas took most of John’s weight on his shoulder to help him up his front steps, and ultimately up the high stairs. The mill workers that saw John exit the coach had to come over to say welcome back, and other greetings. They were truly glad to see him alive and well and home. John’s hair had a long way to grow before being back to his normal length. It was easily seen by those close the terrible scars that ran down his head like two white snaking rivers where the hair follicles were still too short to cover over the jagged lines. There were gasps among some of the workers but John still smiled and waved to them as best he could.

Nicholas turned to his friend and said, “John, you know we’re going to have to plan a meeting with our people soon, at each of the mills. They’ve been very worried about you.”

“As soon as I am able, Nicholas, I want to do just that. I am extremely tired of all this bed rest. I will take a few days to get around the house and then I will spend a week in the office before I start back in fine fettle. I am feeling very well, except I tire on this leg and have an occasional headache. I know how Margaret felt when she arrived here and had to stay in bed but would not.”

“Did I hear my name?” Margaret asked, coming into the parlor behind them, carrying John’s coat over her arm and Nigel carrying his bag. “In here, Nigel . . . I think. This looks like his bed chamber. I thought I was going to live here awhile but it didn’t work out that way.” Margaret marveled at the austereness of the room. It was clean of course, but devoid of any type of ornamentation. She smiled, sensing he was much as herself. Buy only what you need and use. Figurines and the like were of no interest to Margaret, even though she had inherited a rather large collection of various objects d’art. She loved the wall hangings but the dust catchers she could do without. There could be a fortune in those little china treasures but she would never know it. To her, it gave the appearance of ‘putting on airs’. In fact, she had carefully walked her new home and had many of them packed away on the fourth floor.

Jane and Cook appeared at the top of the steps and cheerfully welcomed their master home. Once John had regained most of his memory, he told Nicholas to keep them on, pay them, allow them to come in a few days a week, until the last couple days before he returned. Cook had prepared his favorite meal today.

John ambled over to the couch and sat down with his leg propped up on the length of it. “Ah . . . ‘tis great to be home. Thank you Nigel for bringing my bags. I hear you and Branson have become good friends. Branson says that you know all about the mischief that is going on in this city. You must have had a very interesting job. Are you sure you want to be domesticated in a service position?” John asked, smiling.

“Quite so, Master Thornton. Mistress Hale is such a handful to work for. She keeps everything interesting, but you never know from one moment to the next what she is going to need you to do. Being her driver is not as traditional as I thought it would be. I am finding it very much to my liking. That entire house staff have great attitudes and Grayson is wickedly funny to work under. We scheme all the time.” Nigel finished in a lowered voice.

“Has he taught you properly how to take care of a top hat?” John asked.

“Yes, he has, Mr. Thornton. How did you know that?”

“I have absolutely no idea, but it just came to me. I guess he appears that sort of man in his own right, very proper. I do not know of any homes with butlers in Milton, as yet.”

“What is that you’re saying Nigel?” Margaret asked, returning to the room from sorting John’s bag of clothes.

“I was just telling Master Thornton how nice it is to work for you and Grayson. Life is never dull. Miss, if there is nothing further, I will be at the coach.”

“Nigel, I will be here a while. Either visit with Branson or come back in an hour or so for further directions.”

“Very good, Miss.” Nigel tipped his cap and left, going down the backstairs toward the Thornton stable.

Nicholas Higgins walked to the bar. “I think a small celebration is in order, do not you?” he asked, raising a brandy bottle to Margaret and John.

“I have been waiting for a celebration,” said John.

Margaret finding a seat said, “Yes, me, too.”

“Thank you, Nicholas,” John said. “I will have a scotch and Margaret will have a peach brandy, I will bet.”

“Is there any peach brandy?” Margaret asked, surprised that John should suggest something they had never discussed.

“There should be, Nicholas,” John offered.

Nicholas did the honors, handing them around and then poured himself a different brandy. Peach just wasn’t to his liking.

They all sat and toasted the miracle in the room. John had beaten the odds that he would be sitting there today. The doctors had well documented his every stat, reaction, and outside influence – Margaret being most of that chapter.

“Margaret, I am so sorry that I have missed documenting your tremendous burden in this brave act of moving a working mill. I know being asked to remain in the hospital still longer after the cast was removed, forced my missing your final push into Milton. Where are you now with everything?” Although he was very interested, John wanted her there for as long as he could hold her talking, afraid she had soon leave.

“All the iron is in the buildings and most is running. There is a clean-up and refurbishing at the old building before placing it in the hands of a Property Agent. We have got a ways to go in Lady Mills, as we’re still hiring and training but that is working more smoothly than I anticipated. Several of the looms must have slid in their crates and need minor repairs. Orders are now being filled since Thane has figured out the national shipping procedures from here. We’re still holding onto the international orders, waiting for your help. I think we will be running full bore by the end of the month. Oh, and by the way, I have had a clerical fellow do all the documentation of the move, to the best of his ability, not being a mill man. With the increase in workers, I am going to have to gather some accounting people soon, I see, and maybe he will stay on. I would like to have one smooth month under my belt, and then I would like to challenge all other Masters to a little wager.”

“Thank you for the documentation. It will be most appreciated by those that would like some information. Are you serious about a challenge?” John could not help but gawk at the sincerity on her face and the realization that she meant what she said. “Do not you think you need more time?”

“I could surely use it, but I want to find my own ground here and make a stand. I may not win but I think I will not embarrass myself. I’d like to quell any of the rumors that have started. There are many doubts which my staff are hearing out there amongst the mill workers. My people want to prove themselves so they can hold their heads up high. Do you think this is foolish?” Margaret questioned John with the wisdom of it.

“What type of challenge are you thinking about? Surely, it cannot be about volume output.” John made it clear.

“No, I am going for the big one. The one we all gauge our business on. Whoever has increased their ‘percent to sales’ over last year, same month. What is the percentage of improvement over a year ago.” She stated.

“Will you include your new international sales figures in that?”

“Why should I not? We have had the orders in hand for months. It’s just that I hope we can start filling them next month. I am already feeling a second shift coming on. Would not many of the Masters have expanded their business in some way, over the last year?”

“Yes, I am sure of it. I can see no unfairness there,” Nicholas said.

“Nor, I,” John spoke up adding his insight. “I know that will keep a lot of masters out of the challenge as their increases are probably modest, but everyone will enjoy the contest, regardless. We will make it clear that the sales can be counted when the goods are shipped. We will not count orders in hand or worry about when the payment is made.”

John looked at her with a proud smile, saying, “Miss Margaret Hale of Lady Mills, we have an accord. I will work to set the contest up three months from now. At the culmination of the challenge, we will have a Milton Mills party meeting, where I will also introduce you to everyone as well as declaring a winner. It would probably be wise for Mr. Latimer to track the figures, since he is a banker and not a Mill Master. I am anxious to speak with the other masters, just to hear what the word around the mills is about you.”

Nicholas laughed lightly and said, “There is a lot of head scratching and plenty of doubts floating around out there. They’re all stymied by a woman to start with. They do not know exactly how to understand it. There is no dissension anywhere, though, which is the good news. And she is had no trouble hiring.” Turning from John to Margaret, Nicholas added, “I can see where you will eventually weed out some of your early hires, unless they’ve changed their lazy habits because of your management.”

“Yes, we are documenting those workers, almost daily. If someone is slow because they are confused, we will train further, but a few of these people are lay-abouts and most likely drunks come nightfall. Aside from the long days and hard work, I have enjoyed the feeling of working among my peers. I feel I could travel to any mill and speak to any master about any problem I was having, if I wished. The two of you do not know how good it’s been for you to have others of which to ask your questions. I know we’re the ‘all knowing heads’ of the factory, but what do we do when we cannot facilitate the proper answer? I have had no one. Being in Milton is like being in a library with information and experience all around you. Most of all, though, I love seeing the coaches slow as they pass Lady Mills. They must think they’re going to see something different at my mill. Right now, the Masters must look upon me as a spoiled child, wanting to act like a grown up. Wait until the challenge. I will show them a serious contender in the business,” Margaret said smiling, but pounding her fist lightly on the side table for emphasis.

“Margaret, I can hardly wait to visit your mill. How about your home? You have sold it, have you not?” John asked, sipping his scotch.

“It sold almost as the last pieces of furniture were packed but I never told you it was sold. How did you know that?” Margaret asked, wondering where John got his information, but continued. “There were several offers of interest and I was fortunate to be able to pick my buyer and feel like it will be well taken care of. It was sad driving away that last day, watching it grow smaller in my vision. I know Grayson felt it even more than I. That has been my home for longer than I have actually owned it. I know my uncle would be proud of me, though. Another very nice delight is that there is interest in the Helstone Mills buildings. Well, I guess I should say there have been some inquiries. From what I understand there is a coach builder that is wishing to locate to Helstone. He will need a large place to store and display his coaches, plus, of course, the building of them. But through all this, the most important thing to me is that you are home and recovering nicely.”

Nicholas rose and walked to the bar to set down his empty glass. “I think I will take that as a hint and get back to work. John, just send Jane if you need anything. If you want papers or reports to look over, just let me know. How will you make out this evening with no one here?”

As John was about to dismiss needing anyone, Margaret spoke up. “I think I will be here, Nicholas. I know John wasn’t expecting that as you can tell by that wicked smile he is now wearing. I want to feel good that he can get around at night. He should not need anything from below stairs during the dark hours but we will experiment a couple nights anyway. Since he is still totally incapacitated for a while longer, I think my virtue is safe.”

John laughed, saying, “I wish I could be as sure as you are. Could it be my chaperone needs a chaperone?”

“Mr. Thornton, that sounds rather almighty of you. Could it be you’re the one needing a chaperone?”

“Is that a promise?” John said chuckling out loud.

“Now, I know I am leaving.” Nicholas smiled at both as he walked to the door. “John, I will see you in the morning if not before. I hope you have a good night’s sleep — finally. I know that hospital bed was too short for you. All right then, until tomorrow.”

“Good bye, Nicholas and thank you for everything. I have had many hours to reflect on what I have put on you these last seven weeks and how you managed to work with Miss Rose Bud.”

“John,” Nicholas said, pointing to Margaret, “there is your solution. She attacked the Rose Bud nightmare and resolved it all within 48 hours. That was her main reason for coming to Milton. She had no idea what had happened to you when she arrived but she was determined to see if Miss Rose was being an underhanded scheming woman. She can explain it to you. Good night, again.” With that Nicholas disappeared down the steps.

John waited to hear the front door close and then crooked his finger at Margaret, indicating for her to come to him.

Although both feeling anxious for the privacy, Margaret was not about to let him get away with such a playful hand gesture and a curving finger wagged in her direction. “And just what is that? Do you have hand therapy, too? Certainly, that is not directed towards me, like I am a pet waiting for his master’s signal.” She could not help but laugh, so she turned her back on him. “I think I will go downstairs and talk to cook. I should not be long.”

John could just feel the wonderful need to dominate, albeit moderately, in their budding relationship. He was a man not used to being deprived of the leadership role in anything he did, but he knew all too well that she had never taken directions from anyone either. Eventually, she would walk all over him and he would love every step she took.


It was several hours later when John was awakened by a gentle shoulder nudging from Margaret. “John, wake up. Your feast is waiting. I must say your cook has really outdone herself.”

John slowly opened his eyes, happy again to see that he was at home resting on his own couch. “I am sorry, Margaret. I must have dozed off. How long have I slept?”

“I think it’s nearly three hours, now. You had a rather exhausting early afternoon getting home and up those steps. Can you sit up, or do you need some help?”

“I could use a little help to sit up.” As Margaret put her arm under his neck to help him, he pulled her to him for a very firm kiss. Margaret molded into him, but knew the table was being set for dinner and Cook and Jane were up and down the stairs. She pulled away from John explaining her reasoning. He smiled at her.

“I tend to think you were jesting with me when you said you needed help,” Margaret said with seductive banter.

“Maybe help isn’t what I really needed but I needed that.” With the aid of his cane, John rose to a standing position with little difficulty. “I will be fine when I can gain some strength back in these legs and get this knee bent. Maybe you would like to give me some therapy this evening and force my knee to bend. That is where my greatest challenge lies, from what a doctor told me.”

“Of course, I will help you. Once you’ve changed into your nightwear later, we will get started on that. Can you sit at the dining table with your problem knee?”

“I have only tried that a couple of times at the hospital. It certainly does not bend like it should, but I can sit. What I have not accomplished is getting a sock and boot on that foot, yet. I cannot reach it.” John was swiftly struck with head pain and grimaced as he was making his way to the table.

“What is it, John, your leg?”

“No, it’s my head. The doctor said I will have bouts of headaches for another half year. I am to expect them to slowly ease as time goes on, but since I woke from the coma, they nearly stop me in my tracks. I have passed through the dizzy stage, at least. That was one of the reasons for an additional week in the hospital. Somewhere in my bags are some powders to take but I think I will try to work through this one. The food looks wonderful. I shall enjoy this second only to you.” John thought about the sumptuous meal before him, and this equally sumptuous lady dining with him. He felt he was in heaven.

John found a comfortable position in his dining chair, leaving his leg sticking straight out, under the table. As the cook set the final tureen on the table, John layered her with praise and expressions of ‘thank you’ many times over as he cast his eyes from one festive dish to another. There was enough food on the table to feed six people. They were small portions but a huge variety to choose from; he didn’t know where to start. “Thank you again, Cook, but I see you forgot to bring the trifle dessert. You have significantly outdone yourself. Please, you and Jane partake of all that will be left over,” John said reaching for the meat platter of beef and lamb. Margaret assisted in the items he could not reach. “A king could not dine better,” John said to Margaret and Cook.

“Master,” asked Cook, “the trifle was supposed to be a surprise,” she said, casting a weary glance at Margaret.

Margaret caught that look from Cook, and said, “I didn’t say a word, honestly. John, how did you know about the trifle?”

“I do not really know, but all my favorites are here with the exception of that. Surely, it has to be somewhere in this feast,” John said as he eyed the banquet spread out before him.

That was the third time that John had spoken about something he should not have known about. Margaret watched as he struggled to remain the gentlemen with proper eating etiquette and told him to stop holding back. “Dig in with his fingers if you want to.” Margaret told him. She watched as he smiled as he ate and then grimaced from the ache.

An hour later, with licked fingers and bellies about to burst, Margaret served them each a port to top off the banquet as they took to their seating in the parlor. “Outstanding,” John muttered.

“How long has Cook been with your home?”

“I do not really know, probably over ten years . . . ever since the mill first started showing a profit. So . . . tell me about you and my thorn, Miss Hawthorn. If it wasn’t for you, things could have been horribly different.”

“John you cannot know how different it would have been had you married her and discovered her scam. I know the gentlemen that you are and you would have been taken in by that awful woman. Someday, you must tell me how that all came about. I do not know you well enough but I just cannot see you being involved with her.”

“Margaret, I may tell you all if you ask, but I will say it was the lowest point in my life. All I can say is that, against my own better judgment, I was weak of the flesh and could not fight off the forced seduction. I literally nauseated myself and begged for it to be over just to get her out of my house and my life. I am sure my abrupt and rude attitude throughout the performance was what may have prompted her evenge against me. I think it very strange, but several days out of my coma, after you walked away, those words that you told me about how you unmasked her scheme came back to me. Even though I didn’t understand what you said while I was under, your words returned to me, with great relief. All I can think is that it was the last thing on my mind before the accident and it was one of the first things I thought about when I became fairly stable with my memories. Now, enough talk. Please come over and sit by me. I have been waiting almost two months for this time alone with you.”

Margaret smiled at John’s request and walked towards him. John was lying on the couch, with both legs stretched out as he had had to sit in his hospital bed. As Margaret approached, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her down on his lap. He wrapped her to his chest feeling her warmth and then pulled back to kiss her passionately. Margaret held him tightly around the neck as she accepted his warm moist tongue into her mouth. For many minutes, they could not get enough of one another. Passions were rising and John knew he would not be at his best, and slowed the fervor. He gently set Margaret away from him, still on his lap. Beaming, he said, “Margaret, I want to talk to you about your visit to me in the hospital.”

Margaret’s cheeks flushed red, more so than the fever John had ignited, moments ago.



The Crucible Banner Small

A Dream Come True

A Dream  Come True …

Watching Richard Armitage on stage

The Crucible – London’s Old Vic – July 2nd 2014

JohnProctorArthur Miller’s masterpiece about the fear of the unknown, and what it can do to a small, close-knit community lasts three and a half hours, yet never does it bore or lose intensity. Quite the contrary, I was swept into the intrigue, the action and the characters from the very first second.

The actors, all and every single one of them, are excellent. Yaël Farber’s direction is superb and gives a refreshingly new view, with vicious violence overwhelming Salem’s community. Against that fearsome backdrop, we are witness to the battered, but still heartbreakingly touching romance in the Proctors’ marriage. The action is enhanced by the exquisite lighting (Tim Lutkin), the enthralling background music (Richard Hammarton), and by the sparse, dusty stage design (Soutra Gilmour).

Due to the very original stage set-up of the Round, with the audience surrounding the players, we get a sense of participating in the action. A special boon to this is that the actors have to move and turn around frequently, to give every spectator a chance to watch their facial expressions. A very important detail, of course. Faces are what creates a bond between us, spectators, and the players.

Now, Richard Armitage … ah, how to find the right words to express what I felt when I saw him on stage? When I saw him display that incredible talent of his in portraying the proud, honest farmer, John Proctor.

It was a repetition of what he did as John Thornton; unraveling an image of a strong man, peeling of layers, until only the core remains. Thornton starts as a strong mill owner without pity for his workers and ends as a kind, compassionate master, and a passionate lover. In The Crucible, we see him do that all over again. At the beginning, Proctor shows himself a strong, hardworking family man with a deep interest in the community, and an aversion of hypocrisy.



Gradually, the uneducated villagers’ fear , the subtle, cruel manipulation of Proctor’s former lover, Abigail (Samantha Colley), and the community leaders’ weakness chip away all layers of humanity in Proctor. What remains is a broken man, who is conscious of his adultery, and what it brought on his wife and family.



The scenes between Proctor and his ailing wife, Elizabeth (Anna Madeley) are so touching that tears are inevitable. The couple realizes that they are both to blame for Proctor’s succumbing to Abigail’s seduction, he for his weakness to resist a pretty, lively young woman, and Elizabeth for refusing her husband his marital rights. A husband who truly loves her, but who has for one stupid moment forgotten his marriage vows.

Here are some clips from the play.


Elizabeth urging John to go and testify about Abigail’s manipulation.



John and Elizabeth discussing his adultery.



John’s powerlessness in proving he has never stopped loving Elizabeth.







When madness overwhelms Salem, Proctor fails to bring back reason, making him one of the many victims. Nothing can sway the madness back to sanity, and Proctor hangs.

This role is a difficult one, due to the physically exhausting action. There are not many still moments, because everybody moves and turns, faints, falls or is been thrown to the floor. Congratulations to Imogen Knight for her stage choreography. The actors’ voices must be in shreds, since there is a lot of yelling and screaming because of the collective fear and madness. For Richard Armitage in particular, it will be a challenge to keep his voice – yes, that beautiful baritone voice – intact.

This was a truly enriching experience, and I loved every moment of it. Richard Armitage is not only an amazing actor, but also a very nice and considerate man. After the performance, he asked a security guy to tell the waiting line at the stage door that he would not come out. That he wanted to prepare for the evening performance – mine was a matinee, by the way. We were all spared a long, tiring wait. Thank you for that, Richard … you are a true gentleman.

If you can make it to London this summer, go see The Crucible. It’s worth every penny!



Dearest, loveliest Meg – Part Fourteen



Chapter Fourteen


Colonel Brandon, with whom I shared my suspicion of Wilkinson, departed for Liverpool the next day; he was determined to inquire more about the Wilkinson family. The previous evening we informed my mother and sisters of what we had learnt so far. Mother had been weeping softly into her lace handkerchief the whole time and, afterwards, she followed me into my room.

“Margaret, Margaret, what am I to do with you, have you no sense at all, girl? No shame? It seems you have thrown yourself at this … this despicable person and now you have dragged the colonel into this. And he is needed at our Marianne’s side in her last and difficult days, too! It is not to be suffered!”

I was very tired and did not want to argue with her. My legs were actually shaking when I sank onto a chair.

“Mother, I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I love Douglas with all my heart and I want to be his wife more than anything I have ever wanted. Right this moment I do not know where he is and it frightens me to the point of panic. I beg you to leave me alone, please? I need to think, to gather my thoughts.” I was not entirely sure if I was angry with Mother or myself.

The door opened again and Elinor entered. She gently took Mother’s arm and spoke.

“Mama, our little one needs comforting, not scolding. Whatever will occur within the following days will be hard on Meg because she loves Mr Spencer. If she fails to become his wife, she will be very distressed. We must be prepared to stand by her with all the love we can give her.”

“Thank you, Elinor,” I replied but my voice was distant and unsteady.

Mother seemed to reconsider her attitude for she nodded, planted a peck on my cheek and left the room. Elinor did not. She sat down in the chair next to mine and took my hand.

“Poor little one, you have gone through quite a hard time, have you not? Do not yet despair, Meggie. Things can change over the few hours to come.”

“Oh, Elinor, you have not heard the worst of it! Mother is right; I completely disgraced myself in front of Douglas. I threw myself at him, proposed marriage to him and he refused me! It sounded like the perfect way to end his troubles and mine but he did not want to hear about it.”

“Darling Meg, surely you can see why? He wants to protect you from gossip and shame. You know what Society will do if you marry him after so short an acquaintance. They will accuse him of having done the same atrocity to you as to Christina Finney. They will say he married you because you might be pregnant. Your marriage will be a stained one and you and Douglas will be shunned.”

“I do not care what they think! I just want to be with Douglas!”

I knew I pleaded a hopeless cause but did not care.

“Meg, you might not care but Douglas does! He loves you, Meggie, surely you must acknowledge that! He is avoiding you at all costs lest he succumbs when he is close to you. That is maybe why he has gone into hiding.”

Elinor was speaking the truth, of course. Yet the truth never at all comforts a person in distress.


When Colonel Brandon had not returned by the end of the day, I began pacing up and down the parlour like a caged lion. He warned us that his investigation might take more than one day but I had hoped against all odds he would have been back by now.

“Margaret,” Mother urged, “stop upsetting us all with your endless pacing. Marianne is getting nervous enough as it is with her baby due in a few weeks. Sit down!”

Her voice rose to the pitch of irritation I knew all too well but she was right about Marianne. My frail younger sister had the pale face of a ghost and her big blue eyes widened with worry.

“I am so sorry, Marianne, please, forgive me. Maybe it is best that I retire early as I am in no fit state to be pleasant company.”

I left for my bed chamber and readied myself for yet another sleepless night but when I was about to climb the stairs, a voice hissed at me from the direction of the servants’ quarter and I turned to see Jack Twinkler. He beckoned me to follow him through the green baize door into a now deserted kitchen. I remembered he was staying at Delaford as well since the colonel had asked him to. He had been helping in the stables just to make himself useful.

“What is it, Jack? Have you any news for me? Have you heard from Douglas?”

“No, miss, but there are things I reckon yer ought to know.”

We sat down on the bench at the big table like two conspirators.

“Miss, I make it my business to look after the master’s things even when ‘e’s not here to see for ‘isself! So I went to the ‘ouse in Torquay an’ ev’rythin was okay. I also went to the country ‘ouse which was also okay ‘xcept for one thing – I found Dragon in the garden, munchin’ away at the lawn!”

“Dragon? Douglas’ horse? Was Douglas there, too? Was he alright?”

“No, no, that’s just it, miss! ‘E wasn’t! Only the ‘orse an’ that’s not right, not right at all! Dragon was still wearin’ ‘is saddle and reins and ‘e was sweaty all over, like ‘e’d been galloping for a long time. ‘E was also ravenous with hunger and thirst. ‘Ad a ‘ell of a job cleanin’, dryin’ and feedin’ ‘im, and I brought ‘im back wi’ me to Delaford, I did.”

Jack drummed the table top with his forefinger and continued, “I tell ye, miss, this ain’t right! Somethin’ ‘s ‘appened to the guv’nor, somethin’ really bad! That ‘orse ‘d never leave ‘is side for the world! Either the guv’nor is lying somewhere wounded or either the ‘orse was left somewhere on ‘is own. After all, the guv’nor is gone missin for a week and the state that ‘orse was in might well confirm that!”

“Jack,” I urged, “what did Douglas say he was planning to do when he left the house? Where was he going to?”

“’E did say nothin’, miss, even when I begged ‘im to! So today, after I’d cared for Dragon, I searched through the papers on the guv’nor’s desk. Found not that much but ‘ere, I think you ought to see this!”

He handed me a small, slim notebook with a black leather cover. I took it from him, realizing I had underestimated this clever youth.

“Jack, I am impressed and also humbled. I did not know you could read!”

“Yeah, the guv’nor ‘as been teaching me from the first days he took me in and says I’m really good at it. I’ve been doin’ some work for ‘im these last few weeks, that’s why I knew what I was looking for.”

With trembling hands I started leafing through the notebook and soon, a lot of pieces began to fall into places. Douglas had been investigating the finances of the Wilkinson businesses in Liverpool. The notebook contained the results of his findings. Profit or loss figures were neatly listed in a strong, large handwriting. Wilkinson’s cotton manufactory had been suffering severe losses over the past year. Douglas had also added several newspaper clippings, even one from London which announced the mill’s bankruptcy. It seemed Douglas had been preparing a file against his cousin Phineas Wilkinson, proving his distrust.

I returned the notebook to Jack and laid out my plan to him. Poor Jack’s honest face turned pale with apprehension when I finished.

The 39 Steps

The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel by the British author (and future Governor General of Canada) John Buchan, first published in 1915. It is the first of five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an all-action hero with a stiff upper lip and a miraculous habit of getting himself out of sticky situations.

First made into a film in 1935 by
Alfred Hitchcock,
this 2008 tv film features:
Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion)
Lydia Leonard (Casualty 1907)
Eddie Marsans (Little Dorrit)
Patrick Malahide (Middlemarch)
David Haig (My Boy Jack)
Patrick Kennedy (Bleak House)
Alex Jennings (Cranford)

The screenplay does differ from the book.
They added the character of Victoria Sinclair and renamed or omitted other characters.

>>PBS Masterpiece link


~ Remembering Times Forgotten through Period Drama ~