Catherine Morland, who comes from the comfortable family of a village clergyman, is invited to Bath for the season by her wealthy friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen. In Bath she meets Isabella Thorpe, a sophisticated young woman whose brother John is a friend of Catherine’s brother, James Morland. Isabella encourages Catherine’s interest in romantic fantasies and “horrid” fictions. After Isabella becomes engaged to James Morland, she tries to promote a romance between Catherine and her irresponsible brother, John Thorpe, but Catherine is more interested in a young clergyman she has met, Henry Tilney, the son of General Tilney of Northanger Abbey. Under the illusion (fostered by John Thorpe) that Catherine is wealthy, General Tilney invites her to stay at Northanger Abbey. There Catherine’s imagination runs wild: she becomes convinced that Northanger Abbey is like the setting of a gothic novel and that General Tilney had murdered his late wife. She is humiliated when General Tilney returns suddenly from London and orders her to leave the abbey. This action is based on another false report from John Thorpe, who claims that Catherine is totally without wealth and has deceived the general.
Northanger Abbey was written in the later 1790s but not published until 1817. Begun as a satire on the improbable plots and characters of the typical gothic novel, such as Mrs. Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Northanger Abbey developed into a treatment of Jane Austen’s favorite theme, the initiation of a young woman into the complexities of adult social life.
Wednesday broke the dawn with a light dusting of snow covering the sooty streets and buildings. To John, there didn’t appear to be any issues with the mills at this stage but he checked in with Nicholas, nevertheless.
“Good morning, John,” Nicholas said as he came through the office door brushing the white coating from his hat and coat. “I have been at the other mill and unless this continues or gets heavier I think we’re all right today. How did Miss Hale do yesterday?”
John discussed the previous day’s outing and what lay in wait for the current day. “I will be having breakfast with her men this morning, very shortly in fact. Then I will escort Miss Hale and Grayson to a second manor house. From there I am not quite sure. Do you need me for anything today?”
“No, nothing. I have very little to do myself today. Yesterday that man Carlton and I found a small bed-sit, which he says is all he is interested in for now. I believe he will stay at the hotel with the others until they leave Friday morning. How about his boss, Mark? Does he need to be looking?” Higgins asked, finally sitting down in his desk chair.
“Actually, I have not heard about any of his plans. I do not believe that was a priority on their list this week. I need to start documenting what they are doing and how successful or not that it’s being implemented. I believe Mark has a wife and she will be up here at some point to look at homes, plus he will still be pulling a lot of work at the same time. I can see some of the difficulties that lie ahead for them. He not only has his new responsibilities here, but surely What is happening in Helstone, must be on his mind. Well, in any event, I must leave now. I will most likely see you after second shift. Oh, do we have an overseer meeting tomorrow?” John queried.
“Yes, That is still scheduled for 10:00 a.m. unless you want it moved.”
“No, That is fine. I am afraid my days are running together.” John smiled.
“I see . . . going well, is it?” Higgins had to ask with a smarmy grin on his face.
“I do not know how it’s going. I feel like I have lost my footing. I am a total wreck, worried about making a mistake.” John said rubbing his brow again, walking towards the coat pegs. I was fine two days ago, actually laughing and I even teased her, which was received rather well, but now . . . it’s like my life has been stolen.” He said, looking deep in thought while slipping on his great coat.
“John, it is quite apparent that your heart has been stolen. You’ve never been through this before. I recognize the signs. She is the one you’ve been subconsciously waiting for her to enter your life.” Nicholas said in all seriousness. “It’s about time you admit that you’re falling in love. I wish you well, my friend.”
“Thank you, Higgins,” John said. He opened the door and left for his carriage knowing these symptoms ran deeper than the greatest lust he had ever experienced.
Meeting the Lady Mill’s group for breakfast was similar to the day before. Carlton thanked Mr. Thornton for the assistance Higgins gave him, helping him find suitable accommodations for the near future. Mark spoke to the progress of the wall framing and remarked on whether Miss M would want the mill painted. Grayson spoke of how his previous afternoon had been spent, walking the shops near his hotel, and was planning on the theater this evening unless he was required. He asked John if he knew where a library might be located and was given that future useful information. John was reminded that tomorrow was their final day in Milton before leaving on Friday. He must find the answer to his leaving with them as he had mentioned several days ago. When the meal and conversation had ended, Mark insisted that Lady Mills would pay for this breakfast. John thanked them and they all left in his carriage for Donaldson’s surgery.
Entering, the nurse came to speak with them. “Miss Hale has had a fine night, but she is still sleeping. Dr. Donaldson has been called out but from what he says, she and he talked well into the night. Would you care to wait or return later?”
Mark said, “I will think we will go on ahead if you do not mind Mr. Thornton.”
“That is up to you. I do not mind. I will take you to the mill and have a look around before returning here. Grayson, I would assume you would wish to wait?” John asked, walking towards the surgery door.
“Quite right, sir. I will wait for my Mistress.”
“Then I shall see you forthwith.”
The three men left for the carriage while John realized that Mark and Carlton had shown Grayson the proper respect for his station this morning. There was no snickering.
“I would like you to explain something to you men, if you do not mind my intrusion.” John asked.
“Please, go ahead,” Mark, replied.
“It was quite apparent yesterday that you do not understand what a butler is or does or the respect that he deserves. I can understand that. I don’ think we even have a butler in Milton. As you are in a supervisory capacity, producing a product; Grayson is in a supervisory position performing a service. He is the head staff member in any household. It has taken a lifetime to get to his position. He is in a singular place to know everything about the house members — all of them. Butlers are shown respect by royalty should they visit. A butler is known for his organization, people skills, management skills, his uncanny art of anticipating his master’s or mistress’s move before they know it themselves. They wake early and work late. They have few days off. They are enormously proud of their work and their worth. If I had a life scale of jobs from the unemployed man to our sovereign, his station would well be above yours and maybe mine. Now, Mr. President from Spain is coming with his entourage to your home for a week. The butler knows to tell the washing women to not starch his collars, he likes his socks pressed and never serve him mutton. That is the knowledge that they must know. He will know the same facts about everyone attending with the President. They have their Master’s complete confidence that they will always perform correctly, answer honestly, and have the highest form of discretion. I did see today, that you gave him his proper respect. I just knew you didn’t know much about butlers and wanted you to be more aware of them and their responsibilities.
John doubted that he had ever been disrespectful to anyone except Miss Rose Hawthorn. Immediately he wished he hadn’t thought of her. That letter was still waiting for him. He could not bring himself to read anything that might change this elevated mood he had been in all week.
Margaret woke, dressed for the morning, and had a bit of food while Grayson kept her company. Being asked, he regaled his Mistress with his previous day and his plans for this evening.
“Did Mr. Thornton meet all of you for breakfast this morning?”
“Yes, M’lady. He asked that we all meet every morning in the hotel dining hall. I believe Mr. Mark was successful in paying the bill this time.”
“Grayson?” Margaret asked with some trepidation.
“I do not want you to jump to an answer or any conclusions, and I know you won’t, therefore I am asking your opinion.”
“You will always have my honest opinion, Madam.”
“Mr. Thornton has suggested or asked, I should say, since he is the President of the Commerce Chamber here that he be allowed to follow us through this entire move. He wants to document what could lie ahead for others moving here: the timelines, the drawbacks, the prioritizing, the man power needed, and the financial decisions and their timing. Well, you know what I mean. I know I am going to agree to that but my question to you is . . . would it be proper for us to provide lodging for Mr. Thornton during this monumental undertaking? I just cannot see him staying in our beautiful upscale Helstone hotel,” Margaret said with a bit of sarcasm.
“M’lady, you are not a woman alone in your home. You have a complete staff. I think you and Mr. Thornton could have very informative conversations in the evenings. I believe you have missed that in your life. If only as a friend, I think the gentleman would bring some life into your life just as an equal. You lost that when your uncle died,” Grayson spoke honestly with her as she knew he would.
“So, I will take that as a ‘Yes’, shall I?”
“Yes, M’lady, on the ‘Yes’.”
“So Grayson says, so shall it be,” Margaret laughed. “You never know, Grayson, I might get carried away with a tall handsome man in the house,” she said jesting.
“Nothing would please me more, M’lady,” Grayson said with his famous aloof face.
Margaret knew that face was intended. He would not let her know if he was joking or perhaps held some hope that she would. She had never learned to read that expression, definitely a butler’s top priority.
Little did either know that John had been outside the door, about to knock, when he had overheard his name being spoken, forestalling his announcement of being there. He quietly tiptoed backwards so he could make heavier footsteps when he approached. As he silently moved, he backed into a waiting room chair and sat. His heart was about to beat out of his chest. He knew if he walked into her room now, his words would strangle him. He decided to wait for some semblance of composure in himself.
Dr. Donaldson came through the door. “Good morning, John. How is Miss Hale looking to you today?”
“Good morning to you, as well. I have yet to see Miss Hale. How do you find her condition?”
“I think she has passed all the hurdles except the exhaustion and fatigue. That woman cannot stay in her bed. She feels much better than she is. I am a bit afraid what she will do after she is out of my sight,” said Donaldson.
“I am working on that myself. I am hoping to journey with them and document this entire move, for future Chamber reference. I am discerning problems that I would not have thought, had I not been this close. If they will permit me to travel with them I can be of some help there I hope. I do not know the lady very well but possibly I can insist she take it a little easier and allow me to help. If anything, I have become friends with Grayson and I think he may carry some weight in his words to her. I will do what I can, Doctor.” John replied.
“I know you will, John. You’ve got your hands full with that one,” Donaldson said in a manner, indicating Margaret was more than just a passing acquaintance.
Am I that obvious?
John made himself known with his heavy booted steps towards Margaret’s door. He knocked.
“Come in, John.”
“How are you feeling Margaret?” he asked as Grayson rose to give him the seat.
“I am fine, fed, and ready for an outing. I made a deal with the doctor, since I didn’t go out in the afternoon yesterday that I am allowed one and half hours today and a bit more tomorrow. I have to ready myself for the journey home. Shall we proceed?” Margaret said in a happy tone in her voice.
John didn’t say anything but nonchalantly held his hat pointing to the door, encouraging her to go ahead of him.
He was reminded of the coach seating intrigue that came to mind yesterday. This time Grayson sat next to his Mistress, thankfully giving John little choice where to sit.
“Miss Hale, may I ask a question about yourself?”
“By all means, John, I can always refuse to answer,” she said lightheartedly.
“Excuse my ignorance, but I have noted that Grayson calls you M’lady. Do you descend from the nobility?”
Grayson straightened in his seat, crossed his legs, and clasped his hands on his knee, while staring out the window.
Grayson’s attention to formality was not missed by John or Margaret. “No, there is no nobility in my lineage and I am very grateful that there isn’t. I see those people and think they do not have a life. Grayson is very mannerly in calling me Miss, M’lady, Madam, Mistress, and probably a few other names under his breath on my idiotic days. But he is always right and never criticizes me.”
“Ahem . . .” Grayson said, clearing his throat. “Madam, I am in close proximity to you and can hear you speak.”
Looking at John, Margaret said, “That is Grayson’s way of telling me it isn’t polite to speak about someone in the same room where they could overhear you.”
“Several weeks ago I asked him in all seriousness if he thought I might be desirable to a man. Before he gave me his real answer, he told me he was too old for me.” Margaret laughed and John joined in. Grayson remained statue-like, gladly enduring the impalement of his Mistress’s arrows of humor, at his expense.
John loved the familiarity between her and Grayson. But mostly he wondered, on all of God’s green earth how could she have doubts of her being desirable? Once again, it came back to him how her life must have been, reaching such a plateau in her career; apparently held her personal life as hostage.
I want to be the man that removes all doubts.
The coach rolled up in front of the second choice residence and before exiting, Margaret could already tell she liked the first one better. “Grayson, does this house have some attraction that you like better than the first one?”
“No, Miss. It has slightly more room in the back than in the front. The house, itself, is much like the other.”
“If you were buying, which of these two houses would you care to live in and manage?” Margaret asked in all earnest.
“M’lady, that is not for me to decide.”
“Grayson, I am handing this decision to you. Decide!” Margaret said as John was taken aback at her insistence that her butler decide where they should live.
“If I must, M’lady, but I do not feel this responsibility should fall to me.”
“All right, let me put it his way. Which one do you like better?”
“Madam, I prefer the one that we saw yesterday. I think it lends itself to our usage slightly more than this one.” Grayson said with much apprehension.
“I have not seen inside this one but just looking at it from the outside, I prefer the other as well. We’re done here. Let us go to the mill.”
Once again, John marveled at this “take charge” woman. Why should he not have expected it? He knew That is what kept him off balance – learning all about her and how she stood out from any other woman he had ever known, including his own mother.
Pulling through the gate of her new mill, Margaret strode right into the mill area where the work was being preformed. John never had a chance to assist her; she took off. Once in the door Grayson was trying to catch up as he pondered the gigantic size of the operation she wasn’t afraid to manage.
While walking the wall framing and looking how they were connecting it to the ceiling, she said in a loud voice, “How do you do? I am Margaret Hale, Mistress of this mill,” she said like a major barking orders. Randall, the head carpenter immediately climbed down his ladder, while Mark and Carlton were hurrying to her side. “Good morning, lads.” Margaret said as her usual greeting. Another carpenter arrived. Grayson has settled on the house we are to buy and having some time left over, I thought I would inspect our tender beginnings. I plan to spend Thursday afternoon here taking notes. Do we have some type of chair and table that I can use?”
“You can use the canteen, Miss M.”
“Could you bring a table and chair in this room for me by Thursday?”
“Yes, ma’am. I will get it done” said Carlton.
Margaret was introduced to the carpenters and John didn’t care for the way they were looking her over. She seemed to shirk off their lusting looks and proceeded to astound them with her knowledge. She asked them about the grade of wood, their wall bracing technique, the size nails. She talked with them about the padding to go between the bracing to help in noise reduction for the dyers and its cost. Her big finale came when she told them how she expected it to be done to design and timing of the project. All in all, Margaret walked away feeling they understood her, leaving all men in a state of shock, even Mark and Carlton who knew of their Mistress’s prowess. Grayson looked to John as if someone had hit him over the head with a hammer. Stunned himself, John could not help but admire this woman extremely and see the effect she had on all the men. The lustful lookers sure pulled different faces now. He chuckled to himself and Margaret heard it.
“You find something amusing, Mr. Thornton? Have you found errors in my logic?”
John, turning red for being caught out, fumbled for the words, “Quite the opposite, Miss Hale.”
“I value your input highly. Please, if you see something that I am forgetting or have misunderstood tell me at once.”
“Miss Hale, I am astounded at your knowledge. I should be the one asking you.” John said in all seriousness for the other men to hear. He wanted them to give her the due respect.
“You may return to work, lads.” Margaret said. “It was nice to meet you and your crew, Randall.”
“My pleasure,” he returned.
John walked a few meters away from the gathered group and encouraged Margaret to where he was standing. “I am sorry, Margaret, besides watching you in action and being quite taken with your commands, I was really laughing at your carpenters. No doubt that you are used to this but they were looking at you in a very ungentlemanly fashion, but the looks on their faces was priceless by the time you were done. I was ready to salute you, myself,” he laughed. Margaret joined in with her own giggles that didn’t want to stop. She tried to speak to that comment, but burst out laughing before she could get the next word out. John was just about doubled over with laughter. They both felt the moment drawing each other closer as only the two could share.
“I am sorry, John,” Margaret said still laughing. “My lads know me and will tell you that I am really a softy but I wanted to get the upper hand with the carpenters so they know who they’re dealing with.”
“You certainly did that!” John smiled. “You still have time. Would you like to come by my office, my home, or my mill?” John asked, finding a little more confidence after their shared moment.
The grey streaks of dawn were just beginning to show on the eastern sky, when I closed the door of Barton Cottage behind me. Soon the morning sun would grace the Devonshire downs with a rim of gold, but for now, the world was still a pearly grey, and everything was quiet. The air of this early June morning was so pure and exhilarating that, to me, it tasted like chilled white wine.
I climbed the grassy slope on which the cottage sat, paused at the hill’s top, and looked down on the small, neat house of dark, grey granite. Nothing moved behind the windows yet, so I could indulge in an activity that would have sent my mother into an uproar, should she ever find me out. I broke into a healthy, uncontrolled jaunt down the hill’s other side. I ran until I had no breath left, then rolled in the hillside’s soft grass, panting and laughing. Oh, it was so good to be out of the cottage with its stuffy rooms, and away from Mother with her constant complaints – always weeping and whining about one thing or everything.
My name is Margaret Dashwood and I am the youngest of three sisters. Elinor and Marianne, both married to the man they loved, were as different as could be, the former a tall, graceful young woman with heavy brown hair and grey eyes, the latter also tall but much more elegant, with a mass of golden curls and a pair of cornflower blue eyes. They were also each other’s opposite in character and disposition, Elinor being the sensible, responsible eldest of the two, quiet and discrete, and Marianne, who was mostly led by her emotions, cheerful and loud.
Compared to my sisters, I was not really beautiful but some people thought me attractive with my fair, curly hair and my pale blue eyes. As for myself, I hated my snub little nose and the sprinkle of freckles on it, though some found it cute. I would have liked to be taller since I was barely 5’5 which, according to Mother, was a scant too short to be considered beautiful. Elinor and Marianne were both over 5’8 so I guess Mother was right. However, there was nothing I could do about my height so I accepted my lack of inches with good humour.
I had turned twenty-one the month before and – to members of the circle of Society our family moved in – I was still relatively young, even if one was endowed with enough prospects, such as beauty, a fortune or a title, to be offered to a possible suitor. However, when one is blessed with a rather inconspicuously pleasant prettiness, without any financial prospects and absolutely no bonds to the nobility, at twenty-one I was what people called ‘on the shelf’.
I am content with remaining unmarried. Eight years ago, Marianne left to marry Colonel Christopher Brandon and shortly thereafter Elinor had done the same to be united with Edward Ferrars. Someone had to stay and look after dear Mama, endearingly shallow and confused as she was, or she would end entangling herself in disastrous situations. Mama had never managed to reconcile herself with our dire financial circumstances after my half-brother John had left us with a yearly income of barely 500 pounds. She was still most hurt by him turning us out of our beloved Norland Park, Papa’s estate, where all three of us grew up.
So I, level-headed, intelligent Margaret, had to play the part of nursemaid, coping with Mama’s eternal harebrained and silly ways. I did not mind because they gave me the opportunity of doing exactly what I wanted without anyone asking questions.
My childhood had been rather uneventful. First I had a nanny, later a governess until I was thirteen and our father died, leaving us practically nothing to live on. So my governess, Miss Pewter, had to go and, short time later, we had moved away from Norland Park into Devonshire and the estate of Sir John Middleton of Barton Park, a distant cousin of Mama’s, who kindly offered us the use of a cottage on his grounds. I grew up with nothing more than books for company, though Sir John and his mother-in-law, Mrs Jennings were always happy to receive us regularly at Barton Hall for quiet country dinner evenings. Thus, I became a solitary, earnest girl, always engrossed in books and with not much knowledge of what the world was like beyond the beautiful downs of Devonshire, a process that was even increased after my sisters married and left me alone with Mama.
I was quite reconciled with the certainty that I would never be what Mama wanted me to be, a distinguished, wealthy woman, married to a rich and preferably titled gentleman. There were none in the vicinity of Barton Park, except Sir John and he was a widower of some sixty years without children. In Torquay, a rapidly growing country town, some twenty miles southwest of Barton Park, there lived several rich manufacturers and tradesmen with sons in search of a wife, but I was no match for them, being free-spirited and outspoken as I was. I could never have thrived in that confined, narrow-minded world and the young men I encountered soon became aware of that. So far, none of them had ever tried to deepen the acquaintance they made with me during the balls I too rarely attended.
In short, I was undisciplined, but free and I did not care as long as nothing more was asked of me than looking after Mama.
After having recovered my breath, I did what I liked the most. Adopting a sturdy pace, I began walking the moors towards my own favourite spot, a small circle of standing stones. There were many of them to be found in Devonshire and this one was without the grandeur of Stonehenge and much smaller. There were only eight standing stones in the small circle, each about seven feet high. Between them there were benches lying that were some fifteen inches high. The circle had a diameter of approximately twenty yards so the whole was rather tight and cosy.
Just when I reached my sheltered spot behind one of the large stones of the circle, the sun rose above the horizon in a blaze of bright orange. Magnificent! I lowered myself down, rested my back in the hollow of a boulder and sighed with pleasure. The light would provide an adequate help for my sketching and I started rummaging through my bag for my sketchbook and pencils.
For the good part of an hour I was happily and most satisfactory engrossed in my drawing.
I was just thinking of breakfasting on the food I had with me, when I suddenly saw a horse running towards me. A riderless horse, yet saddled and bridled. Coming at me at a swift canter, it abruptly stopped a few yards away from me, startled and with huge eyes full of fear.
Colonel Brandon, Marianne’s husband had allowed me the use of his stables at his estate of Delaford and over the years I had become a fairly good horsewoman. Therefore, I was not afraid, but rose and stepped towards the horse, my hands stretched out before me and whistling softly. The huge black stallion approached and sniffed one of my hands when I addressed it in soft, murmuring tones.
“Hey, my beauty, hush now, where do you come from?”
The stallion blew into my hands, snorted and allowed me to stroke his neck. After a bit of caressing and crooning, I made an attempt to mount him. He allowed me do it with just a hint of panic, which was easily soothed as soon as I was in the saddle. I gave him free hand and he started trotting lightly to the west. That is when I saw he was limping a bit, but it did not seem to bother him much. I chuckled when I thought of what Mother would have to say about me sitting astride a horse, in a man’s saddle, with my skirts hitched up high.
My steed continued westwards over the wide stretch of grassland for a few minutes and I was beginning to enjoy the ride when he suddenly stopped, trusting his head upwards.
“What is it, boy?” I stroked the animal’s neck and he moved forward again. Then, I saw what the stallion had wanted to show me and froze with shock. The body of a man, lying face down on the boggy grass.
Sinead O’Connor Only You
(Love Theme from“The Young Victoria”)
Has opened up a world I’ve never known
A place I never dreamed I would go
Feels like only yesterday
I had locked my heart away
Sure I’d always be alone
Only you know how
To hear me through the silence
You reach a part of me that no one else can see
Forever true there’s only me and only you
Only me and you
In your faith I trust
With you beside me I am standing strong
You took my life and made it beautiful
So you dared to let me shine
Even walk a step behind
Willingly you give yourself to me
Knowing who I was born to be
Only you know how
To hear me through the silence
You reach a part of me that no one else can see
Forever true there’s only me and only you
Only me and you
Only you know how
To hear me through the silence
You reach a part of me that no one else can see
Forever true there’s only me and only you
Only me and you
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
BBC America Sets Premiere Date For ‘The Musketeers’, Boards Second Season
The network also confirmed that they would co-produce the second season of the period drama, which was ordered by BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore and the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson back in February 2014. With the pick up, The Musketeers becomes the second British series, originally commissioned by BBC One, to have been renewed on both sides of the Atlantic in recent months, with the other one being Atlantis
The Musketeers is a new adaptation of the legendary tale of the three musketeers. The series is set on the streets of seventeenth century Paris where law and order is more an idea than reality and follows the three Musketeers: Athos, Aramis and Porthos who are far more than King Louis XIII’s personal bodyguards. They stand resolutely for social justice, for honour, for valour, for love and for the thrill of it. The drama series is being produced by BBC Drama Productions in association with BBC Worldwide & BBC America and stars Luke Pasqualino (Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome), Tom Burke (Great Expectations), Santiago Cabrera (Merlin) and Howard Charles.
Dominating the 17th century! Jamie Dornan attempts to overthrow the monarchy as rebel Abe in Channel 4′s historical drama New Worlds
Jamie Dornan will attempt to overthrow the Stuarts’ rule in an historical new drama which begins on Channel 4 on Tuesday.
Set in 1680s England, the actor will star as rebel Abe Goffe in New Worlds, who is a ‘young idealistic renegade determined to end the monarchy’s tyrannical rule’, the 31-year-old said of his character.
weekly episodes – Free download for active forum members
A victim from World War II’s “Death Railway” sets out to find those responsible for his torture. A true story.
Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman
- Canada Sep 6, 2013 (Toronto International Film Festival)
- Spain Sep 24, 2013 (Donostia-San Sebastián International Film Festival)
- Switzerland Sep 29, 2013 (Zurich Film Festival)
- Japan Oct 19, 2013 (Tokyo International Film Festival)
- Canada Dec 13, 2013
- Spain Dec 13, 2013
- Australia Dec 26, 2013
- United Kingdom Jan 10, 2014
- Ireland Jan 10, 2014
- New Zealand Jan 23, 2014
- Israel Mar 6, 2014
- Czech Republic Mar 13, 2014
- Portugal Mar 13, 2014
- Singapore Mar 13, 2014
- Slovakia Mar 13, 2014
- Finland Mar 28, 2014
- India Apr 4, 2014
- Poland Apr 4, 2014
- United States Apr 11, 2014
- Japan Apr 19, 2014
- Netherlands May 1, 2014
- Lithuania Jul 18, 2014
John slowly opened the folded note, not wishing to read anything from Miss Hawthorn. Casting his mind back, he had taken her out for dinner one evening having been introduced to her after her stage performance. It was a mixed company social occasion which he had been invited to attend as Rose Bud’s companion. John thought she was a beautiful woman and far from the usual ladies one found in Milton. She was different and interesting, a trait he had been longing for. John had subsequently asked her out one afternoon for a ride in the country after she had told him how she only saw life through hotel windows for most of her life. During the ride, John became considerably uncomfortable at her advancements towards him which were far less than ladylike. He had to keep her at bay during the ride because even the lowest propriety would never dictate having sex in a moving coach as she was expecting. “Rose, please, you are embarrassing yourself and me,” John remembered hearing himself say while fending off her grabbing arms. “Not here,” he followed. Looking back he had thought that was the last time he had see her; she wasn’t at all the type of woman he wanted to see again. Eventually, Rose settled down. She frowned as he explained as gently as he could that he was not interested in pursuing their relationship further. She accepted this but changed her attitude three days later.
Late one evening John answered a knock at his door. Rose rushed in and climbed the stairs to the parlor. Once in the room she turned to face him; while her tongue licked the rim of her lips. “John,” she said, “I am lonely and I remember what you said a few days ago. You said, ‘Not here’. Well, that was the coach, and this is your home and you are alone. I want to be with you just one time and then I will leave you alone forever.”
“Rose, what are you . . . a collector of men? Do you have a book somewhere with names and dates and performance notes?” John didn’t think he could be more harsh or rude, but she wasn’t going to be dissuaded.
“Take me, please . . . just this once,” she pleaded. “There are no worries of becoming with child, I swear.” After a long time of her pleading, and begging and touching, he acquiesced, for no other reason than to get her out of his home.
She understood there would be no further encounters. It was a small battle won. Although he struggled to let go of his control, looking at her beauty and that long auburn hair, John allowed himself to be seduced. As she saw the frown disappear from his face she pressed against him and started to unbutton his shirt. Regretfully, John let the gentleman drain out of him. They were naked within minutes, lying on the carpet with their fire adding to the heat in the room. Rose’s passion would not be denied; she wanted to set the pace. She rolled over, effectively putting John on his back as she straddled him. Disappointed that he did not feel as ready as he thought he should, she took care of that with a few strokes and licks. John moaned and arched his back to her touch. “You’d better hurry up,” John said, his passion rising. She sat up and gently slid down on his rigid manhood, taking it fully. As she began her rocking and rising motion, she brought John’s hands to her breasts. She threw her head back enjoying this handsome piece of masculinity. Seconds later she heard his moans and the pleasure of his release. She hadn’t met hers yet so she continued her movements. He could feel her inner sheath constricting around him. Her continued passionate maneuvers brought him to arousal once more. He was still inside her when he rolled, placing himself on top. She encouraged him to bring her to fulfillment. Looking down at her heavily painted face he almost didn’t have the desire to go on. He had never felt this disgusted before. He felt dirty, cheap, and used. There was no one to blame but himself. Sex in the past was always a pleasant release for John. There were no commitments and no love involved. He had embarrassed himself to himself. He closed his eyes. He tried thinking other thoughts so his body could complete its mission. Finally, Rose responded actively while he wished it to be over, he thrust deeply into her. He heard a soft cry. It was over. He rolled off her not completing his own climax. He threw his arm across his eyes – his body had betrayed him. He wondered why men were created too weak to stave the sensation of a woman’s flesh. He thought it must be nature’s way of giving women their only weapon or God’s assurance of the continuation of the species.
John quietly said, “I know I deserve a low score for that performance but leave it at that and we won’t see each other again. Even after this sexual encounter, I still have no feelings for you and I do not wish to have them. Yes, I was seduced by your pleading and touching but that will never happen again. I didn’t like what I became these past moments.”
It was the last time John had heard from Miss Rose Bud until he held her note. He shivered at the thought of even reading what she had to say; he was tempted not to read it at all. And That is exactly what he didn’t do. He didn’t read it. Pulling out his desk drawer, he tucked it under some other papers and proceeded to read the rest of his posts before going home to his dark house.
* * *
Tuesday morning found John, Mark, Carlton, and Grayson meeting for breakfast at the hotel dining hall. “Good morning, gentlemen,” John began. “Thank you for joining me this morning. Unless you have objections, I’d like this to be where we meet daily while your Mistress recovers from her illness. Are we agreed?”
Everyone seemed to like that idea, even Grayson, who John knew was totally out of his element this week, but who was cheerful none-the-less. “Mark, how did the day go yesterday?” John asked.
“Better than Carlton and I expected for the first day. A lot was accomplished I think.”
“What exactly was accomplished,” John asked in his Master capacity.
“All negotiations with the carpenters are settled to both our satisfactions,” Mark replied. “The vat room was chalked out and our dye boxes were detailed in full. They thought that odd but continued regardless. We’re going to build 450 boxes which allows for growth. There will still be plenty of room to build more if it should ever go that far. The wood account was set up, thanks to you, and our first load was delivered late yesterday afternoon. Carlton and I walked each room. We have pages of notes. Would you like to see them, Mr. Thornton?”
“No, not at this time.” John answered. “Your Mistress should see them first and then perhaps I can be of some use after decisions have been made.” John turned to Grayson. “Grayson, how was your day yesterday? I know the Mistress shooed you out, to use her words; I hope your time was productive.”
“Sir, I met with two property agents yesterday and explained exactly the necessities we needed and what we could hope for,” said the almost jubilant butler. “I believe I have two manors for the Mistress to see. The manors should suit us most admirably. I will speak with my M’lady this morning and ask for further instructions. Thank you for your kind interest, sir.”
Mark and Carlton looked at each other almost wanting to laugh at Grayson and his ways. They’d never met a gentleman’s gentleman.
“Dear lads,” Grayson said with a full stoic face. “If you must laugh at me, please be on with it.” Grayson turned towards John again and gave him a slight wink.
It was all John could do to hold it in. Seeing the sullen faces of Mark and Carlton was too much. He could not keep the smile off of his face . . . so he upped the ante. “Well said, Grayson, my man.”
A lot of things happened with that statement. Mark and Carlton were embarrassed and tried to apologize. Grayson was not angry with them but thought they could use a gentlemanly lesson. John and Grayson bonded without so much as looking at each other. John thought someday he might like to have a butler like Grayson. Grayson thought he would welcome Mr. Thornton as his gentleman, subject to the approval of his Mistress, of course.
“Sirs, there is no need to apologize to me. I am a butler. I serve your Mistress, not you.” John knew that Grayson was laying it on thick.
Mark and Carlton shrank from the embarrassment that hung over them.
Everyone ate in silence during that time.
“Grayson,” John said, breaking the silence, “I have my partner standing by to assist you in looking for residences . . . for your Mistress and Carlton, here. He will be available after the noon meal. I will drive all of you to the surgery and the mill today. Grayson, you and I will talk with Miss Hale about your findings yesterday to see what she wants you to do next. If she wants you to continue with my partner then I will make sure that you, Carlton and Nicholas Higgins, will have the afternoon to look around.” John looked over at Carlton, “That will make no difference to you Carlton, just be ready early this afternoon.”
Grayson, once again, turned to John, “Thank you, Mr. Thornton.”
“Well, gentlemen, should we be on our way?” John asked, rising. “What is it that you have, Grayson?”
“These are clothes for M’lady. I know my mistress well, you will see, and she will find a way to be out of her recovery room for a period of time today. Mark my words, sir. And thank you for a lovely breakfast.”
“You are most welcome. I am going to hold you to that statement about Miss Hale being dressed today, sir,” John replied with a smile.
Ten minutes later the carriage pulled up to the surgery and all four men alit as Branson held the door. Mark leaned over to Carlton and said, “I could get used to this.” Carlton lightly punched him in the arm. “Mark, shut up. You’ve already gotten us into hot water with Grayson.”
John and Grayson waited in an outer room while Carlton and Mark went to see Miss M. She was pleased to hear of all the accomplishments. She told them she felt wonderful, slightly weak but fine. They talked a bit about the day ahead of them. Mark told her that Grayson and Mr. Thornton were waiting in the other room, so they said their goodbyes and get wells.
“Grayson, I will take Mark and Carlton to the mill while you talk with Miss Hale, unless you would like to see the mill?” John said in a questioning manner.
“I thank you, sir, but I would prefer to see my Mistress. Please, go and do what you think is best. I will be here and most likely have an answer as to what the rest of my day will hold.”
John bundled the two young men off to the mill while Grayson went in search of Margaret’s room.
“Good morning, M’lady,” Grayson said in a cheerful voice, after finding her room.
“Grayson! I am glad to see you. Tell me about your day yesterday,” Margaret implored. “Do sit down.” She pointed to a chair in the corner. “Did you see any place we would like?”
“Miss, I do not know if I have been successful because I believe there are a lot of excellent choices for M’lady. I surveyed several sites yesterday and two would be very much to your liking. I believe a lot of the earlier Mill Masters have moved out of the mill area or town proper, opting for larger grounds. I am sure you wanted no such lavish lawns, is that correct?”
Margaret nodded her head, “Yes, I wish only something small like I have in Helstone. I wonder if I could convince the doctor to let me out for an hour to quickly walk through them.”
“Shall we ask him?” Grayson asked.
“Yes, let us do. Could you find him and ask him to see me when he has a moment?”
Grayson disappeared and Margaret took the opportunity to look in her clothing satchel that Grayson had brought. She knew — he knew — that she had want out for a while.
“You wanted to see me, Miss Hale?” Dr. Donaldson inquired, while drying his hands with a cloth.
Margaret answered quickly. “I am hoping you will say ‘yes’ before I might start insisting but I would like to take a short drive with Mr. Thornton and Grayson to walk through a residence that Grayson feels might suit my staff and me. I promise to take no more than an hour. I will come back here, stay rested and possibly go out again to a second residence after an afternoon nap. That is, if agreeable with Mr. Thornton. He does not know this yet but I suspect, by my clothing being here, that Grayson has told him to expect it.”
“I do understand your urgency in this matter but I am totally concerned for your health,” the doctor warned. “I will permit one sojourn this morning. I will evaluate you on your return and make the other decision when the time comes – not before. Can you work with that?”
“Doctor, we have an accord. Thank you. I cannot ask for more than that,” Margaret said smiling.
With that settled the doctor left Margaret to dress. Grayson pulled her satchel over onto her bed so she could pull out what she wanted. “M’lady, may I be so bold as to make a request?”
“Yes, of course, Grayson. You can always ask and I will either agree or tell you why I do not agree. We can still negotiate if you do not think I understand your point. So . . . go ahead, what is this you request?”
“M’lady, I would like to request Mr. Thornton as my Gentleman.”
Margaret looked up, smiled at him then let out a full laugh. “Is that your way of giving permission for me to marry John?” Margaret let out another loud chuckle and threw her hands over her face. “Grayson you are just too funny today.” Her stomach was starting to ache from laughter at his unexpected, and to her, humorous request. Then John came through her door.
Grayson politely excused himself from the room. John found a chair, sat and said, “Margaret, you look radiant. Apparently, I have missed something amusing. Would you allow me to know what it was that I missed?” John’s face was lit.
Margaret laughed harder because John wanted to know what was said. John’s question put her in an awkward position however. “I see the rat just squiggled out of his trap,” she said as she saw Grayson’s back disappear out of the room. Still laughing, Margaret said, “Someday I hope to tell you what has transpired here; I think you will find much humor in it but I cannot say it now. But, it does have to do with you.”
“Me?” John looked down and said, “I appear to have on the same pair of boots and I do not think I have my trousers on backwards or inside out so I am at a loss. Tell me, will others laugh at me today?”
Margaret, still not recovered from the giggles, became winded. “Mr. Thornton, I have to stop this here for I am tiring from the laughter. I have permission for you to escort Grayson and me out to walk through a residence but only for an hour. Grayson requested something of me that had to do with you. I am embarrassed to say that he was quite forward in his request but That is all you’re getting out of me now. He is one of a kind!”
“I must admit, I was privileged to see him in action this morning. Either he can explain that or I will discover it at a later time.” John kidded with her.
“Now . . . hmm . . . that makes two things we have to talk about.” Margaret said smiling and looking up into his face. “The Grayson thing and the horse thing.”
John, again, felt that urge to pull her to him. To fight this ungentlemanly act, he rose from his chair and walked towards the door. “Margaret, I will be in the waiting room so you can dress. I will get the information from Grayson and we will go to the property agent to acquire the keys needed. Perhaps, I will do that now so you can take your time dressing. It won’t count toward your one hour. I shall see you in roughly a quarter hour.”
John held Margaret firmly but gently by the waist and elbow, steadying her on their walk to the coach. Donaldson, watching from a window, knew his patient was in good hands. John put both hands around her waist and lifted her into the coach not allowing her the effort of the step-up. She brought her hands to the tops of his shoulders as he lifted her and their eyes locked as he placed her inside. Neither Grayson nor Branson missed the poignant moment. Inwardly, both men were ecstatic for their Master and Mistress. This was first time that Branson had seen the woman that was changing his guv. He thought her lovely. Grayson wanted her to have a full life and now it seemed like it might happen with Mr. Thornton. Grayson insisted that John enter next but John overruled him, allowing Grayson to take the seat next to his Mistress or across from her. John was thinking ahead and thought it comical how such a small thing as a short-drive seating arrangement in a coach could be so full of intrigue. Grayson sat across from his Mistress leaving him to make the final decision. John shook his head and smiled to himself. It was like a chess game. He sat next to Margaret fearing that looking at her would cause his own manly embarrassment. A few minutes into the ride, John knew it didn’t make any difference where he sat, he was uncomfortable and had no way to adjust himself. Her scent floated across John and out the coach window. He wanted to grab it and put it in his pocket to take home.
“So . . . Grayson, what was it that you showed Mr. Thornton about yourself this morning at breakfast?” Margaret asked, endeavoring to outsmart John.
“I am sorry, M’lady. To what are you referring?” Grayson asked with his natural stoic expression.
“Never mind.” Margaret said in mild retort. “I think I know when I am being corralled. You know you are not permitted to take sides, Grayson.”
“Please pardon me, M’lady, for being at a loss on this occasion as to your meaning.” Grayson responded.
John let his gaze wander out the window hoping Margaret would not see his triumphant smile. Margaret comprehended now that John and Grayson had become friends. She was warmed to the thought that the two had grown close so quickly. Were these two to become a matched set, determined to tease her all the time? She thought of this and smiled inwardly. Grayson was turning traitor. She could feel it happening and welcomed the fun it would bring.
The carriage made a wide turn and headed down a lane lined with tall oak trees. The lane was slightly longer than the one in Helstone but more beautiful with the great oaks standing at even heights like a line of soldiers guarding the queen as she passed.
“I know this house, Margaret,” John remarked. “It has a quiet elegance to it. It’s much finer than my own. I have a nice home but nothing of this size. The previous Master did move further out. He has a passion for breeding and training horses and wanted large pastures for his hobby.”
Margaret was impressed that the dirt lane turned into gravel. The U-shaped drive circled in front of the columned porch. She could picture Grayson standing there, waiting for her with an umbrella, as he so often did. The home was a three story Georgian style with a left wing on the back for servant’s quarters. The back right side held large stables with tack rooms and two coach houses. The paddock area was brick lined. The rear of the stables had a white fenced in area for the horses to roam and eat. There appeared to be little lawn in the back as most of it was in the front of the house. Margaret loved what she was seeing so far.
“Grayson, it’s lovely.”
Grayson exited the coach first and proceeded to the front door to unlock the double wide white doors which had hammered brass fittings. John stepped out and lifted Margaret out, setting her gently on her feet while they stared into each other’s eyes once again. John noticed that she looked at his mouth before turning away and starting for the door. He supported her by the waist and elbow as they walked to the front stairs. He lifted her up the six marble entry steps.
It took them almost the entire hour to look through each room, cabinet, closet, and out buildings. Margaret adored the small estate. It was everything she wanted. On the second floor John and Margaret found themselves alone as Grayson made his excuse to check the kitchen area again. A tingle ran down Margaret’s spine as she anticipated a special moment was near. John stayed very close and was most attentive while they roamed the house but now they were alone.
“You appear to find favor with this residence,” John remarked.
“Yes, I am quite taken with it. I hope the next one does not change my mind because this place appears perfect,” she responded. She wondered if John would make an initial move to advance his position with her.
John cast his gaze out onto the balcony. He told himself this was the perfect opportunity to approach Margaret but somehow it felt different with her. He didn’t want to rush the moment; she was too special to him and he wanted all occasions with her to be perfect. “I feel awkward being around this woman whom I really care about,” he thought to himself. “I must tread lightly on sensitive topics. I do not understand this. I started out so mesmerized and gay in her presence and now . . . now . . . it’s like I have got something to lose if I misspeak. Apparently, my heart is ahead of my head,” John felt an internal warning.
“John?. . . John. Are you ready to leave? Is there something of interest out that window?” Margaret queried.
He turned, “I am sorry, I was far off in my mind with something very much of interest.” John smiled with slight embarrassment for having to be prompted back into conversation.
“Oh, do you wish to share it with me?” Margaret asked with a beauteous smile. This further weakened his gentlemanly control.
“Someday, perhaps, I hope.” That was all that John could respond.
Grayson entered the room. “M’lady, I believe your hour is up.”
“Yes, Margaret, you should return to the surgery.” John added. “You’ve been on your feet a long time and your face is flushed. We must return now.”
They made their way slowly and carefully down the staircase and out to the coach.
Thinking how she fancied all she had seen in the small estate, she started to question Grayson on the difference between the two he had selected. That conversation went on for nearly the entire ride back while John sat, occasionally retreating into the mystery of his own lack of self confidence around her.
“Margaret, would you like Nicholas Higgins to escort Grayson around Milton this afternoon? He will be helping Carlton locate something to his preference and purse.”
“I thank you, John, but I do not believe he will need to look any further on my account. Unless the second residence is more to my liking I am quite happy with what I have seen thus far. I still must discuss with Grayson what the staff needed or hoped to have but the house seems to have everything we need. I would very much appreciate for Carlton to get settled first, in any event.”
John escorted Margaret into the surgery. She stopped just before entering her room and said to John, “Thank you very much for your carriage and your company today. I must admit to tiredness and think I will forgo the second house this afternoon. I would appreciate hearing from you tomorrow and if you are not busy we could go see the second home.
“Indeed we shall, Margaret. I will leave you to your rest and be sure that you get one. Good day to you,” John said, turning to leave.
Margaret gently placed her gloved hand on his arm as he was about to walk away. He stopped at her touch and turned back. Margaret looked up into that strong face with the square jaw, chiseled nose, and stared at those piercing pale blue eyes that seemed to be looking into her soul. “I enjoyed my day with you, John,” she said, almost in a whisper. She stepped into her room and closed the door behind her. She settled her back against the door and remembered how close they were in the small hallway. John’s masculine scent was something she would remember and summon at her pleasure.
John, briefly overwhelmed, said good day to Grayson and walked to his coach. As the carriage rolled along he rubbed his brow wondering about her last comment.
I have enjoyed my day with you . . .