Northmen: A Viking Saga – Oct 23. 2014

Northmen - A Viking Saga 2014 Poster


A gang of Viking marauders under the command of their young leader, Asbjörn, bear down on the coast of Britain, intent on pillaging Lindisfarne of its gold. But, caught in a vicious storm, their longboat is dashed to pieces on the rocks off Scotland. Trapped deep within enemy territory, the shipwrecked men’s only chance of survival is to reach the safety of the Viking stronghold Danelagh.

With only the enigmatic Conall, a monk who preaches with his sword to help them, they cut a bloody swath through anyone who gets in their way. But the journey becomes a race for their lives when the King of Scotland sends his most feared mercenaries, the Wolf Pack, after them. Traversing an unfamiliar and hostile land, they are pursued relentlessly. However the hunters become the hunted when the Vikings, eager for battle, set deadly traps and mercilessly decimate their pursuers one by one…

Time Line:


Top Cast:

Tom Hopper (Black Sails) as Asbjörn
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) as Conall
Ken Duken (Inglourious Basterds) as Thorald
Charlie Murphy as Inghean
Ed Skrein as Hjorr
Anatole Taubman as Bovarr
Leo Gregory as Jorund
James Norton as Bjorn
Darrell D’Silva as Gunnar
Johan Hegg (Singer of Amon Amarth) as Valli
Danny Keogh as King Dunchaid









  • Switzerland Oct 9, 2014 (German speaking region)
  • Germany Oct 23, 2014
  • Romania Nov 14, 2014


Northmen – A Viking Saga
Directed by Claudio Fäh
Produced by Ralph S. Dietrich
Karin G. Dietrich
Daniel Höltschi
Frank Kaminski
Ulrich Stiehm
Rolf Wappenschmitt
Marco Del Bianco
Giselher Venzke
Bertha Spieker
Screenplay by Matthias Bauer
Bastian Zach
Starring Tom Hopper
Ryan Kwanten
Ken Duken
Charlie Murphy
Ed Skrein
Anatole Taubman
Leo Gregory
James Norton
Darrell D’Silva
Johan Hegg
Danny Keogh
Music by Marcus Trumpp
Cinematography Lorenzo Senatore
Edited by Adam Recht ACE
Elite Film Produktion AG
Jumping Horse Film GmbH
Two Oceans Production PTY Ltd.
Distributed by The Salt Company[1]
Entertainment One
Elite Film AG
Ascot Elite Filmverleih GmbH
Release date(s) October 9th, 2014
Running time 95 minutes
Country Switzerland/Germany/South Africa
Language English


Northmen Poster 2 Northmen Soundtrack Northmen banner Northmen 07 Northmen 06 Northmen 05 northmen 04 northmen 03 Northmen 01 Northmen 02


Far From the Madding Crowd (BBC 2015)

Release May 01, 2015  (UK & US)
Far From the Madding Crowd image

Far From the Madding Crowd Synopsis

Time Period: 1869

Based on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her wilful spirit; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love – as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.


far_from_the_madding_crowd_carey_mulligan_tom_sturridge_1 far_from_the_madding_crowd_carey_mulligan_1

  • Denmark Apr 23, 2015
  • Netherlands Apr 30, 2015
  • United Kingdom May 1, 2015
  • United States May 1, 2015
  • Germany Jul 9, 2015
  • Austria Jul 10, 2015


‘Downton Abbey’ reveals first look at well-dressed toddlers


Image Credit:

Downton Abbey has never shied away from the occasional time jump, but when the Masterpiece series returns for a fifth season in 2015, viewers will definitely notice the effect of time on at least two members of the Crawley family.

The PBS drama’s official Instagram unveiled the first look at two toddler actors who will play the mildly grown-up versions of Sybbie and George, last season’s VIBs (very important babies). The kids in question are, of course, the daughter of Tom Branson and his late wife Sybil and the son of Lady Mary and her late husband Matthew.

Fifi Hart will play Miss Sybbie Branson:

Wheels’ Season 4 & ‘Longmire’ Season 3

EXCLUSIVE: TCM UK Picks Up ‘Hell On Wheels’ Season 4 & ‘Longmire’ Season 3

TCM UK’s entire line up of first run US scripted imports is staying intact.

The Turned owned broadcast has picked up the first run UK broadcast rights to the fourth season of the AMC western drama Hell On Wheels and the third season of A&E’s Longmire, TVWise has learned exclusively.

TCM UK acquired the new season of Hell On Wheels, which just recently started airing state-side on AMC, from Endemol Worldwide Distribution; and the third season of Longmire from Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. Both distributors also have second window agreements for the shows in the UK with free-to-air broadcasters ITV4 (Hell On Wheels) and Channel 5 (Longmire).

Thanks to these new deals with Endemol and WBITD, TCM UK’s entire line up of first run shows will be staying put. The channel, whose primary focus is on films, moved into first run US dramas with the acquisition of Hell On Wheels in 2011, before adding Longmire in 2013. The fourth season of Hell On Wheels will premiere on TCM UK next January, while Longmire will follow later in the Spring.

Both Hell On Wheels and Longmire have been strong performers for TCM UK since their initial launches. The third season of Hell On Wheels averaged 93K viewers, down very slightly on the season two average of 97K viewers; while the second season of Longmire averaged an audience of just under 85K viewers, up considerably on the season one average of 60K viewers.

John Thornton Meets Miss Hale, Mill Owner * Chapter 32 (end)

John Thornton Meets Miss Hale Mill Owner 250x375
Download for electronic reader in pdf format
$3.00  Loyal Wynyard Books  


Chapter Thirty Two


The crowd talked amongst themselves about this extraordinary woman they were meeting tonight. John patiently waited while all the speakers made their way to the side stage. Margaret was astounded at the line of people waiting to talk about her.

At the podium, she said, “Mr. Thornton, this must be some type of jest. Surely, all these people do not have something to say about me.”

“Miss Hale, I am sorry to say, but they do. Now sit.”

Head hanging in wonder, Margaret twirled on her heel and walked back to her chair.

John motioned the first person up to the podium.

“Hello. My name is Thane Bradley. I am the senior overseer at Lady Mills and have been with the mill for many years. I could write a book about my Mistress, who has dismissed me from her favors, which she never knew were there. Fortunately, my feelings for my Mistress were never realized but I am taking it pretty well. I mean, look who my competition was.” (great laughter by the Masters – John blushed again) The Lady Mill’s team was quite surprised by that statement and made it known with cat calls from the team. “I wanted to tell everyone here about Miss Hale’s apparel. Shortly after Miss Hale started walking the mill with her uncle, her frock caught in a machine and it tore the garment. I believe she thought that was a misstep on her part, but several weeks later it happened again. The second time, I was with her as her entire frock was whirled off her body. It was funny to watch her come to realize that she was standing in front of us all only in her undergarments. Her stunned face made us laugh but the best part was that she just stood there trying to understand if it had really happened. I managed to stop my staring and laughing and pulled my shirt off to cover her. I could have reacted with greater haste . . . but I didn’t. (laughter) So, today Miss Hale wears what she calls her ‘working blacks’ which consist of ladies horse riding trousers, a ladies blouse, and black sweater vest. She has purchased a boy’s frock coat. She covets the pockets in the coat and makes great use of them. (laughter) I will also warn anyone who takes her out to dine to have plenty of food because she will eat off your plate, too. (laughter) On her first arrival in Milton, she found me in the dining room and immediately confiscated my remaining portion of chicken and potatoes. (laughter). Thank you, all. We’re proud to be in Milton and part of this great industry.” Thane left the stage to the applause.

John was enjoying Margaret’s reaction to what was being said about her. He sat facing her and the podium, with his profile to the audience and Watson behind him. He knew Randall was coming on stage now, and thought he might have to add something to the story.

“Hello. My name is Randall Flannery. A lot of you know me. I am a Milton born man and carpenter by trade.” He looked over at Miss Hale and laughed to himself, but no one missed that and the audience was anxious to hear what he would have to say. “I was ‘ired by the then unknown mill name or mill owner, to bring in my crew and construct some separation walls and to make them as sound proof as I could. I met with Miss ‘ale’s crew chief or overseer, named Mark, and we discussed all that the mill needed done. It was a couple days later that it dawned on me that ‘e kept calling someone ‘is Mistress. Now, mistress ‘as always meant something else to me, so I wondered why Mark kept talking about ‘is mistress. (laughter) So’s, I finally asks ‘im about ‘is woman and come to find out she was ‘is boss. I asks if she was the owner, and was told yes. So’s, I asks who was the Master and Mark says, our Mistress’. I says, what you are saying is that, your Mistress is your Master, and ‘e said yes. I was really confused by then, but it didn’t bother who paid me. I asks if she was young and single, and was told yes, again. Now, mistress, young, and single ‘ad me very interested and my interest was really struck when I saw her come into the building that day.” (laughter)

Margaret was short of laying her head straight down on the table, especially as she heard John laughing so much.

“So, Miss ‘ale introduces ‘erself and says she is the Mistress of the mill and then proceeded to grill me over the fire, like I was a rabbit turning on a spit. (much laughter). I thinks, well she is a cotton mill owner, what can she know about carpentry. I soon found out. I climbed down off the ladder to take a closer look at the mistress single young woman. I am trying to turn on my charm for this lady and the first thing she asks me was what size nails I was using. I ‘ave to say that surprised me. Then she went on with another bunch of carpentry questions, like what grade wood and sheath thickness and even asks me about the material going in between the walls to make it quiet. I never saw ‘er much after that day and I cannot say I am sorry. All I can say is ‘Good Luck, Mr. Thornton.’“ Randall left the stage, and John could hardly get to the podium fast enough for his little addition because he was doubled over in laughing.

“I was there that day with Randall and Mark and witnessed the expression on Randall’s and his men faces go from ungentlemanly leering to complete attention to her. I told Miss Hale, I was ready to salute her myself.” (laughter spread the room)

Next on the stage was Dr. Edison, who John introduced as his brain surgeon. The doctor received a standing ovation. Margaret rose herself and clapped handily for the man. She strolled over to the podium and asked, “Are you here to talk about me or John?”

He smiled. “Both, in a way.”

“You’re not going to tell them about . . . you know?”

“What, what?” the audience rang out from around the room.

The crowd started encouraging the doctor.

“I am afraid I have to, Miss Hale. I was asked to come and tell this group something I knew about you and here I am.”

Margaret walked back to her seat and put her head down on the table, shaking it back and forth, saying over and over, “No, oh no, please, not that.”

The crowd was in an uproar over what was coming but even John didn’t have any idea. He could hardly wait, watching her reaction.

The doctor began, “I hardly know where to begin. John Thornton is very lucky to be alive and I am not sure he would be here today if it wasn’t for the effort of Miss Hale. Hours and hours and hours on end, she would keep him company by talking to him, not letting him decline further into his dark abyss. John had one of the severest head injuries I have ever seen. Quite frankly, until Miss Hale showed up, we were about to think it better if he never recovered because we feared if he did come back from his coma, he would forever have a child-like mind. But Miss Hale told me that love conquers all and now I believe her.” The audience didn’t miss John leaning over and kissing the top of her hair. (whistles)

The audience saw Margaret’s embarrassed red face.

Dr. Edison continued. “I cannot leave without telling you the funniest scene I have ever witnessed. I am going to apologize to the young ladies in here first and if you do not understand what I am going to say, ask your brothers, or fathers or husbands. He paused. The room mumbled and John sat up straight now worried about what his woman had done. Margaret kept her forehead to the tabletop. “Miss Hale was ever vigilant. She would talk with John well through the night and on many occasions we would find her seated in her chair next to him, sleeping, but with her head slumped onto John’s bedside.”

“Oh God,” the crowd heard Margaret groan. (laughter)

“By his third week, John was showing some signs of his body improving, and struggling to find its old self. It was very encouraging and I think That is why Margaret stayed so long because there was improvement and she could not stop her efforts for fear he would slide backwards. One morning, the nurse and I walked in to see John but found Margaret sleeping with her head beside John’s almost paralyzed body.” He paused. “All except one part of him was paralyzed. And I would say that most men know this morning condition and that it is very common to wake up to. (hearty male laughter)

“Oh God, here it comes.” Margaret groaned again, not being able to look at the audience. (the laughter didn’t want to die down)

“Now, being medical professionals, we know this is a common site for us all the time at one time or another but apparently not ever for Miss Hale. We called to her as we were laughing, and she mumbled something about why were we being so jolly this early in the morning. Then she opened her eyes. She had to lift her head to see us over the morning tent.”

John, now, had turned his back to the audience and placed his head in his hands which were resting on his knees. He was so red in the face and he could not believe what was being said about his own anatomy.

“Now, Miss Hale finally noticing this obstruction to her vision, almost impaled herself on the back of the chair as she flung herself away so quickly she almost fell over the chair backwards. Now, if that isn’t enough . . .”

“Oh God, that, too?” Margaret continued to groan.

“Miss Hale immediately came over to us, looking at John and swearing she had nothing to do with that. She said something like, ‘I didn’t do that, I have not even peeked, yet.” That ladies and gentlemen is your newest history making mill owner. Good night.” Dr. Edison left the stage to a loud round of applause and the laughter kept rolling.

Neither John nor Margaret could face the audience yet. Finally, Watson came to the podium and invited the next guest on stage.

Nigel walked to the podium still laughing at the previous speaker’s words. “Mistress, your innocence astounds me but I could never make fun of you and keep my job.” (audience laughter)

Margaret raised her head to see her driver. John finally sat back to the table looking sideways, shielding his profile and red face from the audience with his hand. He was slightly embarrassed for himself, but was totally amused at that story about Margaret.

“Hello. My name is Nigel and I have been recently hired by Miss Hale to be her coachman. She had rented the coach service for a week when she arrived and I happened to have been assigned to be her driver that week. We got along well and she offered me a job since her other coachman could not move to Milton. I loved the street job but I can tell you, I love working for her more. There is never a daily or dull routine. We are all off kilter with her as has been said here tonight. I am here to tell a small tale that Miss Hale knows nothing about but knows I have needed to tell her the story, because it was about her. I told her I would tell her when Mr. Thornton recovered, but by then she had forgotten.”

“You just think so,” announced Margaret. (laughter)

“In order to maintain my job, I will just say that one night Miss Hale had a secret mission to perform, wanting no one to know who she was. I carried her to the destination where she was to perform this covert act, but before she entered the building, she asked that I keep an eye on her because she was afraid of the men in there. She entered, accompanied by another woman into a very classy after dinner club. I followed, although, she didn’t know that. During the course of the evening and her information gathering, she was asked to dance by several men. One, I noticed, was a gentleman but did not act as one. He may even be in this room tonight. I could tell she was afraid of him, so I returned to my coach and donned a fake beard and a top hat. I rushed back to the bar and watched over her. I eventually asked her to dance to shield her from the leach.”

“That was you?” Margaret asked, totally surprised.

“Yes, that was me. You asked me my name that night and I told you Simmington, which it is, but you never asked me my full name when you hired me, so you never knew. I danced once more with Miss Hale, again rescuing her from the clutches of that man. Then as I saw she was getting ready to leave, I returned to the coach and removed my disguise and she was none the wiser. I have many more talents when you need them, Mistress. Thank you, That is all I have to say.”

Margaret returned to the podium, and put her hands around his neck, giving him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you, Nigel.” Before going back to her seat she noticed Beth, a worker of hers, was coming up the steps. Beth walked up to her and whispered in ear for almost a full minute. Margaret paused a moment and then nodded affirmatively. She returned to her seat.

“Hello, my name is Beth and I ‘ave been a spinner for a little over a year. What I am about to say it nothing funny but to me shows the concern that Miss ‘ale ‘as for ‘er workers. I am trying to be very brave but I think with all the Masters and overseer men ‘ere, it is a good time to say this. The Mistress called me to ‘er office about nine months into my employment, and I was scared. I didn’t know what I ‘ad done wrong but I was shaking anyway. She immediately put me at ease, telling me nothing was wrong and this conversation would be just between the two of us. She proceeded to tell me that she feels she ‘as good management in place and sees their results but does not know ‘ow they treat their female workers. I can tell you this is a problem that young women come up against a lot and worry about. She asked if any of ‘er men were putting undue pressure on me in any capacity, or playing favorites or in any way making us uncomfortable with our bosses. I was glad to tell ‘er there was no such issues at our mill and no rumors among the women. I think this is a concern because she is a woman but I think it should be a concern by every Master. Thank you, Mistress for caring ‘bout us and all of you for listening.” As Beth left the stage there was a very large applause from all in the room, which made her feel good about what she had done.

John rested his hand on Margaret’s shoulder, being proud of how she was tackling an important issue, one he had feared was happening in some mills. He was glad she raised the subject and he would follow up and told her so.

Next came Nicholas. “I am sure you all know me, even the Lady Mills folks. While Thornton and Miss Hale were comfortably resting in nice hospital beds and having meals served to them, I was getting to know Mistress Hale’s great gang back there,” Nicholas said pointing to the rear of the meeting room. “And before any rumors start getting around, Marlborough Mills has a hardworking and knowledgeable crew at our two mills. If not, I could not have left them as often as I did to assist Lady Mills, while John was sleeping away those weeks and months. I have known Miss Hale since the day she arrived in Milton when she tried to pass herself off as a man at one of our Chamber meetings. I believe she came to her first meeting not expecting to be allowed in because no one would believe a woman mill Master . . . er . . . Mistress as we see before us now. I must admit it was a funny night, and I was so sure she was neither a man nor a Master, but eventually I discovered I had only been half right that night. I was also a part of the secret mission she had which involved debunking a potential unsavory situation. Being unknown in Milton, Miss Hale became aware of a potentially slanderous situation and exposed the culprit for who this person was and the scheme being hatched. Again, she was intelligent in her thinking, conniving in her solution and saved the day. I think she needs to find a place in our police department as a consultant. To be fair to our city protectors, they knew none of what was going on. But I think my best moment with Miss Hale was when we were both visiting John in the hospital. For those that do not know it Miss Hale was also hospitalized for total exhaustion, but she was always at John’s side. Because of her determination to be with him as much as possible, and her weakening situation, Dr. Donaldson eventually admitted her as a patient and put her in the room next to John, knowing she would be there anyway. I happened to visit her just after the incident with the doctor and the nurse and her initiation into the male anatomy and its habits. I had asked her if there was anything new about John overnight. She hesitantly but delicately told me of her new experience. I told her some men called it a flag raising and that if it happened again that she should salute. (The room was now beside itself in laughter) All she could respond was she hoped John would wake up soon and teach her these things, so she would not be so surprised by the actions of men. (more laughter) As a personal note, I have never seen John Thornton smile as much as he has lately. I am very sure that these two people are made for each other. They are perfectly matched in their work ethics, their interests and their intelligence. I think there will be a tug of war for dominance in their marriage and I wish them well. Good night.” Higgins left the stage.

Two nurses approached the podium and Margaret put her head down again which now worried John. The crowd reacted when Margaret laid her head on the table. They were just short of rubbing their hands with glee, anticipating the next speakers and their story.

“Hello. I am Bonnie and this is MacKenzie. We are both assigned to Dr. Edison. When I first met Miss Hale, she was knelt down on the floor in John’s room throwing up in the bin. I had to call a doctor for her. She had just seen John for the first time and became not only nauseated but felt faint, so she smartly knelt down to the bin to empty her stomach, knowing that she would not have too far to fall if she fainted –– very astute thinking. We cleaned her up and brought her over to see John and point out all the problems that she was seeing. He was black and blue from head to toe and That is all she could see, but which wasn’t any of his real issues. The very first words out of her mouth that day, seeing him for the first time and speaking in hushed tones, she told us, ‘ I love him, you know’. Later she told me she had only known him about two weeks but it could even be counted in hours. (applause) I was quite taken aback when meeting Miss Hale and she told me of a vision, an epiphany she called it, that she just had walking that very long corridor to Mr. Thornton’s room. His room was at the end of the hall and she told me how she had just seen him rise from his bed. She called him her Phoenix –– rising from the ash. At that point in Mr. Thornton’s miraculous recovery, it was doubtful he had ever rise. But she believed it and took it to heart and never once worried he would not return. She never feared for him. As she put it, she was waiting for his return while others hoped for his return. As the weeks went on and all of us seeing her positive attitude and her struggle to make it happen, we eventually all fell in behind her thinking. She had us convinced, with every small advancement that Mr. Thornton made. Due to her strong will, we have now dedicated that long corridor to her vision and call it, John Thornton’s Epiphany Hall. (everyone clapped at this heartwarming story).

Margaret had lifted her head halfway through Bonnie’s narrative, feeling more confident in her story.

“Hello, I am MacKenzie, named after the family clan, and usually the night shift nurse. I have had many conversations with Miss Hale. We were talking one night about his ability to hear and feel.”

“Oh no . . . not that!” Came a further groan from Margaret with her head going to the tabletop. The crowd loved seeing her doing that because something juicy was about to follow. John could feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up. “What did she do this time?” he wondered.

“One night we had a good talk. It was the night before the first flag rising morning. Although she had been doing this without telling anyone, she wanted to show me Mr. Thornton’s reaction when she rubbed her hand across his chest. She showed me how he inhaled deeply every time she did that. She asked me what that meant. I told her I thought it was a normal and pleasant reaction to the sensation she was delivering – really nothing of consequence, just the body trying to return to normal. Miss Hale started fidgeting, wanting to ask what might happen if she did that elsewhere on his body without spelling it out, but I understood her meaning. I told her I would ask the doctor and then she wondered if she would have the nerve to touch him there if the doctor thought it might be useful into bringing him around – but how far around, we weren’t sure.” (laughter)

John put his head in his hands on the table. “Here we go again,” he thought, but inwardly laughing to himself over his fascinating, soon-to-be wife.

“That next morning, when she ran to us at the flag raising, telling us vehemently that ‘she didn’t do that’ pointing at Mr. Thornton. She was telling me, in a few words, that she didn’t do anything like she had asked about the previous night. The doctor, being aware of her question told her he didn’t see any harm in what she was asking to do but I do not think we ever knew the outcome of that. Miss Hale, did you ever try your experiment?” MacKenzie asked.

Still laying her head down, she answered, “Not while he was in the hospital,” was mumbled from the tabletop. (bellows of laughter –– the crowd was shocked into all out laughter)

After these testaments, John could have slid onto the floor. There seemed to be nothing sacred about their love life but he could not help finding Margaret all too amusing and very bold, even at the sake of his and her own pride. Margaret certainly was making a big hit with everyone. Everyone was choked with laughter by now and John could not get much redder, and there was nowhere to hide. He had initiated this idea of people talking about her and now he was paying for it. He could not love her more. She was a trooper, who was making it through the humiliation with not so much as a ‘huff’.

The audience watched as John’s reddened face leaned over and whispered something into Margaret’s ears. “I told you I never peeked,” she said loudly to John. The audience, by then, were in tears. John had no idea his question to her would have been voiced out loud for all to hear.

Mark was next to the last person to take the stage. “Hello. My name is Mark Bauer. I am an overseer at Lady Mills and have proudly suffered the slings and arrows hurled upon us by our previous community. I must say, it’s wonderful to be in a mill town. (applause) I just wanted to show you how our Mistress treats us and her confidence in us. At the beginning of the challenge month, she gave each member of management a gold pin.” Mark said, holding his up for all to see. “It reads #1 Mill, Lady Mills, and the bottom line says Management Team. She wears one herself, except the bottom line says Mill Mistress. She is always been a boss who knows that her manpower is her company’s strength and not just her own leadership. Thanks.” (applause)

John looked over to see if Margaret was wearing her pin, and she was; he just hadn’t noticed it.

The final person to come to the stage was Grayson, who wore his tuxedo uniform replete with its long tails.

“Hello. I am known only as Grayson. I have been part of Miss Hale’s family since before she was born. I know this lady to be a fine, upstanding, honest, caring person, and to me she is the salt of the earth. Tonight has been interesting, listening to the other speakers. Indeed, I am finding she has matured . . . ahem . . . when I wasn’t looking.” Grayson paused for the laughter to abate. “She probably thinks that I, of all people, will not tell you anything about her, but I do have one little story that pertains to Milton. Mr. Thornton was accompanying us on a return trip to Helstone, to look over Miss Hale’s huge endeavor of moving her mill. As we were riding on the train, Miss Hale sat next to Mr. Thornton, who was seated in the corner. I was across the aisle reading a newspaper. My Mistress was busy going over some of her paperwork, while Mr. Thornton looked over her shoulder. I could see from my advantage that her eyes were starting to close. Eventually, she started to tip forward and appeared to head for the coach floor. Mr. Thornton reacted quickly, catching her shoulders and drew her back against the seat. It was but moments later that the entire process was repeated and, once again, Mr. Thornton caught her but this time he slightly turned her way and held her against his chest so she would not fall again. Eventually, I took a long stroll down the train aisle to give them some privacy because I know my Mistress well enough to know that she was faking. I do not think Mr. Thornton was aware of it until after I left the coach.” Grayson turned to Margaret and John, “Am I correct?”

Margaret blushed and shook her head yes. (laughter)

Grayson continued. “Finally, I want to thank Miss Hale for granting me a wish, one I have forever wanted fulfilled. Although still her butler I have missed being a gentleman’s gentleman, and I thank her for finally providing me with a fine gentleman to work for. That is all I will say about Miss Hale, but I must inform Mr. Thornton that he will have to ask me for her hand.” Grayson walked off stage to a rousing applause.

John walked to the podium, watching Grayson leave. “Grayson, as you leave, please know I only wear black with a white shirt. And I do not like frilly cravats. (laughter) I am not sure what you can do with me, but I am willing. There will be a lot of lint to contend with. (laughter)

“I’d like to ask Mr. Latimer to make his way back to the stage, while I finish with my own little story for Margaret. First though, fearing she might not do well in the contest, I have a small private gift to give her.”

Margaret stood, wondering what John was doing giving her a private gift in front of everyone. John handed her a small box and she slowly opened it. There, nestled between the velvet coverings was a small hand-crafted gold slingshot broach. She quickly covered her face with her hands and cried. She kept looking at it and then looked at John; forgetting the audience was there. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, which brought another blush to both. She said no words to him and sat down. John knew she was overwhelmed with the meaning of the gift because for once, she was speechless.

“I am sorry about that, but I was hoping for that little kiss.” (laughter) John paused for a moment and let the room quiet. “Margaret, since tonight I am finding out about your little secrets while I was unconscious, I have a confession myself. Idid peek!” (much laughter)

“You what? When?” came Margaret’s puzzled voice. (laughter)

“I think I had only known you two days, if that. You had arrived on the train from Milton, unconscious, deathly ill and was taken to Dr. Donaldson’s surgery. You had a high fever, fatigue, and pneumonia. I offered to assist Dr. Donaldson overnight to take your temperature, while he caught a few hours sleep. He showed me the process of taking your temperature under your arm. You were lying between two canvas ice sheets, which were used to lower your high fever. As I started the routine the doctor had shown me, I took the thermometer in one hand and pulled back the ice sheets with the other. I didn’t expect to find you naked. Being the gentleman I am, I had you covered back up in no more than five minutes. (roaring laugher) Of course, I am kidding, it was immediate . . . almost,” John said, beaming with pride at his lovely woman.

Not only did the audience find this astounding woman to be real, but they were seeing a different Thornton. Gone, was the quiet, humble, private man he had always been. It was pleasant for all his friends to finally see him happy. John was a man of few words, stern to the point of fearsome, but tonight he was a man in love.

“Miss Hale, I must say you have been incredibly brave and good natured about all of this. You’ve allowed everyone to know you as I have come to know you. Thank you for that.” He turned to see that Mr. Latimer had arrived.

Margaret rose and walked to the podium. “Mr. Thornton, all I want to know is, did you bring the ring?” (applause)

Surprising Margaret, John stood and pulled a beautiful large diamond ring from a box, which he took from his pocket. The crowd applauded and Margaret again was speechless. She threw her hands to her cheeks, making a large “O” with her lips.

Mr. Latimer approached the podium and said, “Well, let us see what this night will ultimately bring. Here are the top three winners.” Mr. Latimer slowly opened the envelope. “John, you being the president of this chamber, I must say that Marlborough Mills did an outstanding job at 11%, but you were not in the top three, I am sorry. All right, in third place with 11.5% is Humphry’s Mills.” (applause) Mr. Latimer paused for a moment. “In second place with a huge 12.75% is Bailey’s Mill.” (applause)

John felt sorry for Margaret and was ready to hold her through her disappointment. So he thought.

“Our first place winner with an unprecedented 17% increase is . . .” Latimer paused until the room quieted, “Please cue the priest . . . Lady Mills!”

The audience went wild and the Lady Mill’s workers were about to bring down the house. The Masters smiled and looked from one member to another as they tried to acknowledge just what they had on their hands with Margaret Hale. She had bested the best.

Margaret was jumping up and down, her hands over her head in a victory pose. She ran off the stage to the back to be surrounded by her joyous workers. They lifted her on their shoulders and carried her back to the stage, all in a big group.

No one though showed greater happiness than John Thornton. He realized within moments he would be married to the most wonderful, spirited woman that God put on this earth, and just for him. He helped her regain her balance as she was hoisted back on stage then lifted her around the waist, and turned her around and around as they both smiled. As he slowed down which allowed her to slide down to find her footing, he found her mouth. He embraced her and said, “It appears, yes, you have won the challenge and wager. But I am the real winner.” John walked to the front of the stage and called for Grayson to come back.

The crowd grew quiet, wondering if a marriage would actually take place tonight.

Grayson walked slowly to the stage podium where John and Margaret stood embraced.

When he arrived, John turned towards him and beckoned him a little closer to the podium. “Grayson, since you are Miss Margaret’s only family, by her very words, I do hereby ask for your blessing and offer myself and all that I own to your charge, Margaret Hale, in a lifetime of marriage. I will protect and provide for her and most of all, love her, for the rest of our lives.”

The crowd was hushed enough to hear a pin drop.

“Mr. Thornton, Sir . . . and M’lady, I do indeed give my blessing. I am quite certain that my Mistress has found the very man worth her, and I heartily accept you as my gentleman.”

John shook Grayson’s hand with exuberance, hardly believing the moment was here.

With Grayson’s blessing, John produced the ring he had owned since his and Margaret’s wager. Unexpectedly, Margaret produced a gold pebbled ring for John. Margaret had found the perfect pebble on Marlborough Mills property and had it crafted into a thick gold band ring. He saw it and leaned down to kiss her. “God, how I love you,” John said, as his eyes started to glisten. “You cannot know how I will cherish this ring as it will always remind me of our first night together.”

The minister stepped forward, as the room rang out in cheers from everyone.




The Open House




The End





Dearest, loveliest Meg – Part Nineteen



Chapter Nineteen

We were completely out of breath, Douglas and I, by the time we managed to pull the massive stone block aside. It showed a small entrance to a dug-out passage, shored-up by wooden planking which did not seem at all sturdy.

“By Jove!” Douglas wheezed, “It seemed much larger when I was ten!”

I do not know how but I found some breath and laughed weakly.

Soon we were crawling through a pipe that was so low and narrow we were forced to go single file. Douglas went first and I followed.

“Mind you stay close to me, Miss Dashwood,” he said. “This torch is not going to last much longer and we do not want to lose each other. Here, hold this.” He removed his belt, trusted one end into my hand and took the other himself.

The going was difficult as the passageway floor was bumpy and littered with cave-in debris. At least the passage was straight. Soon our progress came to an end when we reached a solid wall of earth where the tunnel roof and walls had collapsed.

“Damnation!” Douglas hissed and tried to sit up but could not because the ceiling was barely three feet high. He only managed to lay on his side and I noticed his face was grey under the torch light. He was covered in streaks of dirt and perspiration and undoubtedly  I  looked the same. I realised we were both too exhausted to continue our laborious journey. Although I was aching to touch him and have him touch me, I did not dare to move toward him; I was no longer sure of Douglas’ feelings for me, after he was forced into signing those dreadfully final estate documents. However, my mind was in such turmoil about the recent revelations about Wilkinson that I could not stay silent.

“Mr Spencer, would you please consent in telling me what has transpired this past week? I … we have been seriously concerned about you when we learnt that you had disappeared.”

“I might as well tell you, Miss Dashwood, since I know all too well you will not stop harassing me about it! It must have certainly occurred to you that my cousin is not, to say the least, an agreeable man. We never got along well but the difference in our ages could have been the cause for that, since Phineas was already a grown man of twenty-two by the time I was born. Although I cannot recall having done him any wrong, he always showed an aversion to my person and has forever treated me with contempt. Yet never had I imagined that he hated me so much that he wants me dead all these years .”

“Oh, no, you are mistaken!” I said vehemently. “It does not signify whether you are dead or alive, Mr Spencer. All he wants is your property, your title and your money! Surely you must see this clearly now your premature return to England is what urged him into action. He never expected you to turn up before your thirtieth birthday, the day on which he would become the legal owner of your father’s wealth, unless you married. He has been plotting to kill you since that moment and nearly succeeded when he shot you on the moors.”

“Yes,” Douglas replied, raking a hand through his hair and mussing it even more. “I think that is sufficiently clear, although I fail to see why he had to go to such lengths to accomplish his goal. He would have gotten his wish soon enough, since I had no prospects of marrying before August 22nd.”

“There are a number of unexplained parameters in this case, Mr Spencer. Col. Brandon, who suspects financial difficulties are at the base of them, has gone to Liverpool to sort them out. We might be able to find prove of Wilkinson’s premeditation to your downfall and death.”

“Ah … well, my dear Miss Dashwood, if we do not succeed in getting out of here, that would be of no use, would it?”

He rose onto his knees but wavered and shook his head to dispel some dizziness.

“We should go back,” I urged. “You do not look well at all, Mr Spencer.”

“No, confound it! We will dug ourselves out of this rat hole or die trying!”


With that, he started digging with the help of a piece of wood he picked up from the floor. I followed his example by shoving the earth he had removed behind me. We managed to proceed for about ten feet when it happened – the ceiling came crashing down on my head and dirt filled my mouth and nose.

Strangely enough, I felt no fear at all. It was like a warm blanket covering me on a cold winter night, except that there was no air to breathe. I would soon be gasping for air so I abandoned myself to the warm darkness of death in which I had fallen.


Suddenly I felt a forceful slapping on my  back which caused me to cough hard.

“Excellent! Keep coughing and do not forget to breathe!” I heard a voice say and found myself lying on my side, draped over Douglas’ arm while he was trying to make me spit out the dirt I had swallowed. I threw up violently and then gasped for air, wheezing like an old woman and feeling nauseated. After a few moments, just as I began feeling better, I realised Douglas was caressing my neck and shoulders with gentle, soothing strokes.

“There, there, my darling … better now?”

“Yes,” I croaked, “how did I get here? I thought I was buried for good.”

Since I was much shorter than Douglas, I managed to sit and was able to lean my back against the passage wall. Only then I saw we were still buried, more or less, for we were in a kind of cubbyhole between two barriers of earth. Fortunately our makeshift torch was still burning.

“You were still clutching my belt,” Douglas replied, “so I was able to pull you out. Are you well, Meggie?”

“Ah, we are back on first name terms, I see. That is a true relief, since I have been living under the impression that we were no longer friends because of your return to formality.”



“Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”


The situation was ridiculously hopeless. I was half lying, half sitting, against the wall. Douglas lay propped up on his elbow, his head half a foot from mine. For the first in a long time, I looked Douglas in the face, but was at a loss for words. He tried to flash me a smile but it was a shaky one at best.

“Well, Meg, that is what you wanted, is it not? You needed me to say it aloud so I graciously obliged.”

“And here, here of all places, you are actually asking me to leg-shackle you? Me half choked and you half starved?”

His arm went up and he drew me to him, hard and swift. His mouth was equally hard and so demanding I was aroused in two seconds. I pressed against his iron chest; my body crushed against his – I was lost! Suddenly I remembered I wore no corset under my breeches and shirt, just a thin chemise, which caused our bodies to touch more intimately. Douglas must have noticed it too for his hands stroked me in various places. A devastating desire for him threatened to overwhelm me. When, finally, we had to come apart to draw breath, we were in a black, stifling darkness because the torch had gone out.

“My God, my loveliest Meggie! Will you give me an answer before we both perish here? I love you, for God’s sake, as I always have since the first moment I set eyes on you.”

“If you can free us from this hell, Douglas Spencer, I will be your wife. You have my answer. Now let us get digging again before the air runs out in this confined space.”


With desperate tenacity we tried to dig through one side of the cubbyhole. I could feel my hands bleeding from the effort but in the darkness could not see them. In my recollection this was the worst experience that had ever happened to me in my whole life and the whole time I was terrified the ceiling would collapse and bury us both alive. The only way to bring this off with success was to shut our mind off from the horrible consequences and keep shoving and passing the earth from the front to the back of this impossibly small space we crawled into. We were forced into coughing and wheezing from the lack of oxygen, while we performed in deep suffocating darkness.

I was becoming dizzy and light-headed and so worn out that I was working like an automaton, no longer capable of doing anything except shoving the earth behind me as Douglas passed it to me. Then with a jolt, the wall of earth collapsed and cool, fresh air rushed into what could have been our temporary grave. Douglas burst through the hole and dragged me with him. Gasping for air, I lay on top of him and did nothing more than just gulp in that wonderful, clean night air.

After a while I became aware of Douglas’ hands caressing my derrière, chuckling as he did so. “You know, Miss Dashwood, I find the image of you in breeches and coat a very thrilling one. To my delight, I found out you are not wearing your corset. It is a most wonderful feeling, your body beneath those breeches.” His wonderful smile had returned, causing my heart to stutter. I brushed the hair from his dirty face and kissed him, an act which seemed to please him very much, judging by the reaction of his body.

“Why have you tortured me for so long, Douglas Spencer? Why did it take you almost to the point of death before you fully accepted me?”

With a sigh, Douglas sat up and embraced me while I was still sitting on his lap.

“My dear heart, in that dreadful moment when I realised I could lose you forever, only one thing seemed to be the right one to do. I had to have you in my life, forever, for as long as we both shall live.”

“So if I had been buried alive sooner, you would have asked me sooner?”

I started to laugh but stopped when I saw his earnest face.

“No, my love, you are mistaken. I have said it many times already but I will say it many times again until you realise it – I have loved you since the moment I saw you. I ultimately resigned myself to have you for my wife when Dobson’s blade was on your throat. That was when I gave in, Margaret, when I was on the verge of losing you.”

He took my face between his hands and, in the light of the full moon, his eyes shone dark and deep.

“My darling Meggie, here I am, with no fortune or property. I have no idea how we are going to make a living but I promise you I will find a solution.”

We will find a solution together, Douglas. We will be together and that signifies it all.” Tears welled up in my eyes and I had no desire to stop their flow.


Lost in our kiss, we did not immediately hear the voices until they were upon us. Douglas, whose hearing was keener than mine, suddenly pulled me down beside him.  An angry, all too well-known voice rang nearby.

“Search, you stupid oaf! They must be here somewhere! I must find them and kill them!”

It was Wilkinson and his accomplice! I could see them clearly now, firearm in hand, only twenty yards away. For some reason, they must have gone back to the crypt. Douglas’ voice was a breathless whisper in my ear.

“Hide yourself in the passage, my love. I will try and distract them and then you must go for help.”

“Douglas, no …”

“Please, my darling, do as I ask. Run from here as quick as you can. I could not bear to have you killed, my love. Promise me you will run?”

“Very well, I promise.”


Douglas waited until I had backward crawled into the hole so that I would be able to come out swiftly when the time was right. He then began stealing to the left in the opposite direction of our attackers, on hand and feet and keeping low to the ground. I watched him disappear into the thick undergrowth and my heart inexorably sank. To my right I could now see Wilkinson, shoving tree branches aside, but where was Dobson? Slowly it dawned on me that I might have a good chance of luring Wilkinson away from Douglas if I could make him believe that we were still in the passage. I had to do it! I could not bear that Douglas might be caught again and most certainly killed.

When Wilkinson was almost upon me, I rose from the hole, screamed, and threw myself back into the tunnel’s gaping darkness.


Peaky Blinders’ Season 2

TV Trailer: ‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 2

Category : News, UK News
Peaky BlindersBBC Two has released the first trailer for the second season of Peaky Blinders.The drama series, created by Steven Knight, is set in Birmingham in 1919 and follows the extended Shelby criminal family whose many brothers, sisters, cousins and uncles make up the fiercest gang of post-war Birmingham: the ‘Peaky Blinders.Peaky Blinders is produced by Caryn Mandabach Productions & Tiger Aspect Productions and stars Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Annabelle Wallis, Iddo Goldberg and Charlie Creed-Miles. Tom Hardy (Inception) is joining the cast for the new season, which premieres this Autumn.


Starz Splitting ‘Outlander’ Season

The anticipated adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novels will launch the first eight episodes beginning Aug. 9.

Outlander Still Caitriona Balfe Sam Heughan - H 2014




Starz is taking a split-season approach for anticipated time-travel drama Outlander.

Outlander,adapted from Diana Gabaldon‘s best-selling novels and executive produced by Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore,will air the first eight of the 16-episode freshman season when it begins, Aug. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT through Sept. 27, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The cabler will hold the remaining eight episodes for an early 2015 launch.

Starz also will offer an early preview of the first episode, “Sassenach,” one week ahead of the official premiere, on Aug. 2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, in an effort to increase sampling. It will also be available on select cable, satellite and telco affiliates in the U.S. , reaching about 82 million households and online via specific websites, including the Outlander site, Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as Starz’s YouTube channel and the Starz Play app.

“We’ve heard from fans the world over who are anxiously awaiting to see how we’ve brought Claire and Jamie to life in what may possibly be the most highly anticipated series in Starz history,” said Chris Albrecht, Starz CEO, ahead of Friday’s summer press tour presentation. “Our Outlander sampling strategy serves the dual purpose of giving early access to the series premiere for those fans thirsting to watch it as soon as possible, as well as providing a vehicle that introduces the Starz experience to prospective new subscribers who are eager to learn all about this great new series.”

STORY Starz’s ‘Outlander’ Gets First Poster, Premiere Date

In February, Moore discussed the possibility of a split-season model for Outlander‘s rollout, something broadcast and cable networks have increasingly relied upon, much like AMC’s treatment of The Walking Dead and the final seasons of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, as well as ABC’s drama strategy to name just a few.

“I know I don’t want to do it like Galactica, where fans kept getting confused about when we were on. It felt like we were broadcast randomly at times. They would split the season and then we’d be on a different night; there was no rhyme or reason to it. I don’t know that I have a preference between eight-and-eight or 16,” Moore told THR at the time.

Outlander revolves around Jamie (Sam Heughan), who ignites a passionate affair with Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743 and thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. Claire is pulled between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

For Starz, Outlander — often described as an expansive Game of Thrones-esque saga targeting females — comes at an opportune time as the network seeks to find a tentpole series. It’s part of a scripted portfolio that includes dramas Da Vinci’s Demons, Black Sails, Power and the upcoming Flesh and Bone, as well as forthcoming comedy Survivor’s Remorse.


John Thornton Meets Miss Hale, Mill Owner * Chapter 31

John Thornton Meets Miss Hale Mill Owner 250x375
Download for electronic reader in pdf format
$3.00  Loyal Wynyard Books  

     Chapter Thirty One


The next morning, Lady Mills proudly unfurled their banner, proclaiming them to be Milton’s Finest Team. All through the morning carriages slowed as mill owners gaped out of their coach windows at the spirit Lady Mills displayed.

And so went the challenge month of September. For Lady Mills, there were no hitches, no down time, and happy workers showing their best to her.


Calendars were finally flipped to October and the challenge came to an exhaustive ending. Many of banker Latimer’s accountants were on hand the morning of October first. He could not be at each mill, but he had spent the last week calculating where each Master should be by the month’s end. Where he had sensed some unfair play could enter, he had men at that mill’s door at first light. He was happy to find no questioning bookkeeping practices with the exception of one Master. These were good Men, he knew. By mid October, he was ready with his findings.

At the Chambers October meetings the winners would be announced and Lady Mills would be introduced. Everyone had been patiently waiting to hear about Miss Margaret Hale, Mill Mistress.


*     *     *


Mr. Latimer approached the podium and waited for the room to quiet down, while shuffling his notes on the slanted presentation top. “I have quite enjoyed this past month with being involved in the Sales Increase Contest that our newest mill owner, Miss Hale had challenged. I was glad to be asked to be your judge and be able to look into your financial books. (laughter came from the audience) As all challengers know, we inspected the ledgers, receipts, and shipping logs, insuring that the sales that left a building on September 1st were considered the beginning of the month and start of the contest. We began with forty-six challengers and ended with forty-two owner participants who felt like they could improve over the average mill increase. John Thornton has advised me that the trade papers are reporting an average increase of 5% in September apparently it’s that time of year for heavier fabrics. I will tell you now that thirty-five mills in the contest bested 5%. The four Masters that withdrew were because three dropped out of their own accord, no reason given, and the fourth Master, I felt, held some August orders for September, so I disqualified him. I have the envelope here which states the top three mills, and I understand that will be opened toward the end of this meeting, if That is what we’re calling this occasion tonight. All mills will have their increase numbers posted out on your message board shortly after the meeting. I believe your Chamber President is going to take over from me and introduce you to Milton’s biggest phenomena. I will be back later for the winner announcement.”

There was applause as Mr. Latimer left the stage and John approached the podium from his second seated place at the head of the table of the executive Masters of the Chamber, all sitting on stage. The chair closest to the podium was empty, waiting on Miss Hale.

“Good evening everyone,” John opened. “Let us have a fine welcome to Lady Mills who is with us tonight.” (much applause, hoots, hollers and whistles) John continued once the Masters and the Lady Mills workers quieted. “We have a slightly different format tonight in letting the workers attend this meeting. Would the workers from Lady Mills, in the back, please stand and be recognized. (applause) I am sure that none of the challengers here tonight know that it was these workers who offered the challenge and not the owner. (more applause and hoots from the Lady Mills people). Tonight I want to introduce you to this personally vibrant lady and an unprecedented professional woman, Miss Margaret Hale. Miss Hale, would you please join us on stage?”

To the cheers and hollers of her proud workers and the Masters, Margaret strolled from the back of the room, through the aisles, up to the front stage. She wore her ‘working blacks’, as she was asked to do. John walked to the steps on the right and handed her up.

“Miss Hale, would you take the seat of honor this evening,” John said, directing her to the first chair next to the podium.

John turned back to the audience. “I am not sure which is the bigger event tonight, the contest winner or Mistress Hale’s introduction.”

Margaret rose from her chair and stepped to the podium and announced, “Mr. Thornton, they are but one in the same.” The crowd broke out in laughter, a little taken aback by this woman, but Margaret had broken the ice and her people cheered her.

“So, you keep telling me, Miss Hale,” John smiled. (crowd laughs again)

“Apparently, later, we will explain Miss Hale’s wardrobe, which I believe she calls her ‘working blacks’, which has been a much circulated question among us all.”

John paused, ready to begin his presentation. The crowd quieted.

“We not only live in but have created a new age here in Milton. We are by far the largest industrial city in the world and are very proud of our accomplishments, and our place in history. We have worked hard over many years, honing the policies and practices that have made the machine age work and work well.”

John paused and looked around the room.

“Milton’s Mills are about to add a new chapter in our glorious history. It is not only Milton that writes this chapter, but the industry itself. I am proud to introduce our new chapter and history maker, Miss Margaret Hale of Lady Mills.”

Applause broke out, and everyone came to their feet and the Lady Mills workers went wild, cheering loudly. Their enthusiasm for their Mistress knew no bounds this evening. John signaled for her to stand, which she did, along with the clapping Masters on stage and the applause became even louder, in her honor. She nodded and mouthed the words ‘thank you’. She started to blush and John could only remember seeing her do that at intimate times. John removed a handkerchief from his pocket and gave it to her. She smiled, accepting it, then sat down, too embarrassed for these accolades to continue.

John waited for the applause to abate, but there were still hoots from her people. They really loved her.

“Before Miss Hale tells us about her mill experience and then we get into the more personal side of this unique woman, I have a few words about her achievements.”

Again, John paused, adding a bit of drama.

“I have done some research unbeknownst to Miss Hale, who seems to take her exclusive status as common practice. To her, she seems only interested in treating her people fair (more hoots from her people – which the attendees were really enjoying), producing a fine product, and doing her best.” Turning to Margaret, John said, “Miss Hale, let me enlighten you a bit on your legendary achievement. You are famous; I bet you didn’t even know that. (more hoots and applause from Lady Mills people).”

Margaret nodded in the negative, indicating she had never given her place that much thought.

“You’ve been hidden away in the small town of Helstone, never discovered, but your anonymity is over now. Miss Hale, you are the first woman Master in the Machine Age and this Industry!” John paused for the huge standing applause. Finally, he continued.

“There are several other women that I found of merit. By that I mean actively leading their business, as opposed to just owning it. These three ladies are from America, one being a cotton plantation owner and the other two being cattle ranchers. None of these women direct the work of over 50 workers, whereas you direct over 350 workers, a larger work force than many Masters here tonight. (loud applause)

“A few months after you set up shop here and word circulated about you, I started receiving invitations for you to speak at a few ‘Working Women Organization’ groups, and also from the normal industry magnates who are very interested in you. (applause) I must admit it will be nice to share the spotlight. (laughter) You have taken a giant step into the machine age, and you are rapidly rising as a symbol for women everywhere, to strive and lead. (applause) I do have more accolades I could bestow on you, but by that look on your face, I think we will move on.”

John paused as he reached for a box under the podium. “Miss Hale, would you please come to the podium. Before you speak Miss Hale, the Masters of Commerce in Milton would like to make you one of the boys, since you are entering our world by presenting you this.”

John handed the box to Margaret.

Margaret looked out over the audience. “Mr. Thornton, I thank you very much for those gracious words. I bet you thought I would be speechless but that has never happened to me in my life. (laughter) All right, what could this Chamber have found to give the new thorn in their side as a gift?” (loud laughter) John took the box back and held it, encouraging Margaret to open the lid. Margaret frowned as John finally lifted the box lid. She was afraid to unwrap the paper around it. John was laughing. Margaret started to pull the gift out when she realized it was a pink cravat. She doubled over with laughter, trying to hold up the cravat and show the audience. “Oh, my gosh,” she happily exclaimed. “So this is the secret to get into the Men’s club. Here, I thought it was some strange handshake.” Everyone laughed and applauded her comical attitude.

John took the cravat, and stood behind Margaret and tied it on her. He then faced her to him to complete a nicely knotted look.

Turning to her people, she asked, “How do I look, team?”

Lady Mills broke out in loud applauses, hoots, hollers and cheers. The other Masters found it highly amusing and applauded. “Do not I have the happiest workers?” Margaret smiled while throwing her workers a kiss from the stage. Needless to say, the clamor continued.

John played his waiting game again. “I am sure each Master here tonight wishes they had your team back there. They need a round applause just for them.” The audience felt the same and obliged John with applause for the Lady Mill’s workers.

“Miss Hale will speak in just a minute, but I have one final thing I would like to say before she begins her own story. Miss Hale is a single woman, but has graciously accepted my proposal of marriage. So gentlemen, hands off. (more applause and laughter) All Lady Mills people stood and applauded that announcement.

Margaret, still at the podium, playing with her cravat, spoke up, saying “If I have this right, the proposal acceptance was only if I won the contest.”

“Miss Margaret, I believe the words were soon after the contest if you did not win.” John corrected.

“If you say so.” Margaret looked at the audience, somewhat embarrassed,   “Mr. Thornton was constantly asking me what we did to plan for the challenge; I am afraid he didn’t have a lot of faith in my leadership and confidence in my people. He thinks we’re too new and worried that we were putting our reputation on the line too early, so I asked him to make a side wager. His wager was if Marlborough Mills bested Lady Mills, than I would marry him soon after the challenge. Now, my wager was that I would marry him tonight if we won. (hoots and hollers from the entire audience) Can you believe he was disappointed in that, having so little confidence in our team and my leadership.” Turning to John, she said, “John, let me give you a hint. Having little confidence in the woman you would like to marry is not a smart move.” (laughter, even from John) “He asked if I had prepared my people to lose, being so new here. I told him that I had not done that, but I felt very assured that we would do well, even if we didn’t win. But doing well, didn’t fit into the wagers anywhere. Well, we shall see later, but I can assure you we will be in the top five, even if we are bested by Marlborough Mills.”

John returned to the podium, asking, “Miss Hale, will you please sit down? (laughter) Masters, you have just been introduced to a lady who was born with no airs and certainly no graces. She is down to earth and loves life. She is my ‘spice of life’, but I can see that anything goes with her tonight, which is entirely in character. She throws everyone around her off balance.”

“John, does that include our romantic interludes?” Margaret interjected with one raised eye brow and a pixie smile.

A roar of laughter and the anticipation of a fun evening had the audience on the edge of their seats. John Thornton blushed for the first time in his life. He grinned as he tried to cover his embarrassment, then leaned over to Margaret and spoke something in her ear.

“Mr. Thornton, I think you have taken up enough time, it’s my turn, thank you.”

John, being summarily dismissed, walked to his seat which was next to Margaret’s now empty chair.

“First,” she began, “as I look out over this audience of Masters, I see that my mill is here, and I see my household staff, and my management team but what scares me the most is that my butler, Grayson, is here. If you only knew him . . .  (laughter)

“I will give you a brief history of myself.” Margaret proceeded to tell the audience about her joining her uncle’s mill at the age of eight, working there for 13 years, before she was bequeathed it four years ago by him. She told of their hardships in Helstone and her decision to relocate to Milton due to the mill’s growth. She mentioned a little about the cotton dying as her niche in the industry. “I think That is enough about my beginnings. Margaret turned to look off stage and announced, “Lads?” Four young big men carried out her signed Milton’s Finest Team banner and unfurled it, tacking it to the wall behind her. Applause from her people was extremely loud.

“Before I get to our banner, I see you have a welcoming banner for me. Thank you for this immense honor of allowing me into the inner sanctum of The Masters.” Margaret made quote marks in the air with her fingers. She looked over her shoulder at the paper banner that said, Welcome Lady Margaret of Lady Mills.

“I was asked to wear these clothes tonight so they could be explained. Maybe that sign should read, Welcome Laddie Margaret of Lady Mills. (laughter) Mr. Thornton, you continually harassed me to tell you what I was doing to prepare for this challenge. I was never sure if you wanted to see that you didn’t miss anything yourself, or were truly worried that I knew what I was doing. I doubt I will ever know the truth.”

John spoke loudly from his chair, “I did not harass you and I was truly concerned. After all, you will be a Thornton some day and I want to save face.” He could hardly stop laughing at what he was saying. He felt it was time to get even a bit. “Go on, please.”

Margaret tried not to laugh at his comment. Starring at him, she made a big “O” with her mouth as in complete surprise, which she was. That wasn’t like John to tease her or anyone. She loved him for his playful attitude tonight. Turning back to the audience, “As you can you see, somewhere along our path to loving each other, we found we could be friends, too.”

Margaret pulled a piece of paper from her inside pocket. As she did that she said, “I have always wanted to do this.”

John asked in all candor, “What is it that you always wanted to do?”

“This,” she said, putting the paper back into the inside pocket and then removing it again. “I have always envied a man’s inside pockets. You men just do not know how good you have it. I also envy back trouser pockets. (laughter) I think more women would be in positions of leadership today if they only had pockets.” (roars of laugher)

The whole assembly was thoroughly enjoying Miss Margaret Hale, and finding she was so completely different from any woman or lady, that they had ever seen. However, her crew knew her to be what she was . . . an exceptional person regardless of gender.

“All right, Thornton,” she emphasized his last name. “I have my list of plans. I will let you see them, unless the other Masters want to be bored with what we did to prepare.” She started to hand John her list.

The Masters applauded and wanted to hear what this woman had done in preparation. How did she really operate?

“Miss Hale, it would seem the Masters would like to hear your preparations,” John said.

“Well, in that case,” she said, “here goes:

“We had meetings with all people on all shifts every week and they knew what numbers we were currently running and what we were likely to be up against. You could ask anyone of them right now and they could tell you ­–– what we were up against and tell you week by week what increases we were having.

All worker leave of absences were taken before September.

All machines serviced.

The top five iron parts, most likely to fail from use or breakage, were ordered in abundant supplies.

Retrained all management, including myself, and a secondary team to repair the iron.

More people were hired and trained to replace any sick or injured people, give breaks to the workers so no machines were down, but mostly were there for adding a 3rd shift or a Sunday shift if the orders overwhelmed us.

Added people to the shipping and receiving area so all orders flowed out almost the day the order was received. In and out in one day was our goal.

Meals were provided for all shifts, as usual, but there was plenty of free coffee and tea on their break times.

Unless the newly hired people were needed for an added shift, they replaced the workers for a break every two hours instead of four.

Pointing to her banner behind her, we encouraged team spirit, participation, and ownership of this challenge. That was hardly needed, because they always have team spirit. We had no arguments between any workers to resolve. Everyone helped each other.

We cross trained people.

All management had two meetings daily. Everyone one of us was aware of any issues going on in the buildings at all times. We stressed communication until there was no tomorrow.

We built a roster of volunteers to work overnight or Sunday and could implement that in a moment’s time.

All management had second and third areas of responsibilities. For instance, Thane, my second in command, oversaw all the accounting that was being put in the ledger, he was in charge of training and all people movements if needed.

I will not go into the other managers, but that, Masters, were our plans.”

The crowd came to their feet, applauding loudly being hugely impressed with her plans and moderately embarrassed at what they themselves had not done. Even her own people had not realized all that had gone on behind the scene. If it was possible, their admiration for her had just raised another remarkable notch higher.

John walked to the podium. “Miss Hale, those preparations were indeed very impressive. I do not think you left anything out and I must admit you have probably embarrassed many of us here in what we overlooked. I know I am. (laughter)

“And now, Miss Hale, knowing that you are a good sort, we decided to let some of your people tell us about you, since you would probably be reluctant yourself.”

“All right, Mr. Thornton, bring ‘em on, but remember, I have a right to rebuttal,” Margaret stated as she put her hands on her hips and strolled to her chair, which caused more laughter all around.

“You shall indeed, Miss Hale.” John remarked, laughing at seeing her walk back to her seat.


~ Remembering Times Forgotten through Period Drama ~