John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream
Kindle arrived back at his apartment, finding Gilbert sitting down to their late breakfast as was customary with their late nights.
“Where have you been Cousin?” asked an energetic Gilbert who appeared to Kindle to be in rare form for the hour. Many a morning had Kindle and Gilbert sat across from each other, reluctant to speak because neither was usually very sociable until noon. Gilbert was certainly different this morning.
“What has you so full of yourself this early?” asked Kindle. “Myself, I am up early because I wanted to escort Miss Hale to her train, but found I was too late. Some other gentleman from Milton, of all places, was taking her in his coach. From their manner, I am assuming they are new acquaintances. But enough of me, you seem like you have swallowed the proverbial canary?”
“Oh, I am having a grand time trying to imagine what you will say to Lady Carter when you two next meet. Eve was unavailable last night, so I popped over to court. I was immediately set upon by Lady Carter demanding to know why you have not been attending any of the ton’s parties. Ever since that woman got a whiff that you might be wife hunting, she must have put plans into motion to snare you. I am surprised she hasn’t landed on our doorstep looking for you,” Gilbert continued to laugh. “She did allude to something someone saw. She was told you were with another lady at the park.”
“Oh, dear God.” Kindle replied, shaking his head. “With Miss Hale, so firmly entrenched in my thoughts lately, Lady Carter has been absent from my mind. She has been a pest all season, like a bee buzzing around my head. She can be incessant sometimes.”
“I should warn you, Kindle,” Gilbert said, “I think she is about to impale you with her stinger. Moreover, you know you are dealing with a Queen bee, or so she sees herself. Every since her husband was knighted and she became a Lady, she became magnified in her own mind. It’s a shame he died as young as he was. I never did hear how he died.” Gilbert could not help finding a little humor in all of this as he had been placed in a similar position once. There was a serious, almost sinister, side to Lady Carter, if rumors were to be, believed. “Do you think she’s seeking title?” Gilbert went on.
“I think that is all it can be. She has plenty of money and I doubt she actually thinks she is in love with me. What else could it be? By the way, what other noble gentlemen are in or near a position of becoming wed? Do you know? Am I the only one out there this season? I have never paid attention to any detail such as that, but I am suspecting the ladies do, for this has been a difficult season for me.”
“Cousin, cousin, cousin, what little you see. There are other nobles out there, but none that hold anything other than a knighthood. Being a Baron, you are the pièce de résistance this season. It is a good thing the rumor of your seeking a wife only started a month ago. You could have had a very difficult or very enjoyable, long season,” Gilbert said with a wink.
“Stop doing that, will you? I have had a decade in sins of the flesh, like you. It seems we both are looking past that now, for something to complete our lives. In our hearts, I think we both know whom we want by our side, but we want our wife to have passion and that, dear cousin, is still an unknown. However, I do not seek that out with just anyone, now. I do not know if God plays a cruel joke on us or not. The thing we have thought we needed in our life to make it worth living is now taking second place in our hearts, minds, and bodies. These are strange waters that we navigate; the way is uncharted, and our anchors are weighed,” Kindle laughed at this last comment, trying to lighten the subject.
Gilbert broke into a big laugh. “No wonder you speak at the House of Lords so eloquently. That was nicely put, and I might add, precisely, hits the mark. I shall stop teasing you for I fear you have well and truly convinced me that you are falling in love. What about your honey bee?” Gilbert asked. “She’s got a side to her that is rumored to be dark.”
“How is it that you know this? What have you heard?”
“It’s been many months ago that a rumor circulating wondered wherever did a nobleman go that she was known to be interested in. People kiddingly said that she held him in her basement until he promised to marry her. Now, mind you, that was a rumor, but the gentleman did actually vanish. I also heard tell that a fine gentleman of means but not titled, courted her for some months and then turned away from her. No one ever knew what caused him to turn away. It was swift and decisive on his part, leaving her a laughing stock of the ton. It was said that he left the country eventually. One wondered if she wanted rid of her embarrassment and forced him out or he left on his own accord or maybe lies rotting somewhere. It just left an air of mystery for some time. Where have you been? I know you have bedded her and nothing of this has reached your ears?”
Kindle shook his head “No. I pay little attention to gossip, but now I think I am glad that you do.”
“I wasn’t worried for you at all until last night, when I saw the determination in her eyes, to find you.”
“You really think I am in danger . . . from Lady Carter? Surely, you are mad – but I cannot take that chance. I will go and see her and find out just what she is expecting of me. There has never been any intimation of anything more than a pleasurable night in each other’s company. Nothing more. To be safe though, write my homestead and have them send another guard.”
* * *
Megan Pinson (nee Winston) was scurrying around the house cooking and waiting patiently with little success for the arrival of her best friend. Daniel, Megan’s husband, had been wonderful in supporting the visit by his wife’s friend. He had done a little painting on the outside of the house where chips of paint had fallen. He had repaired and painted the spare bedroom and made several small improvements around the house using the little time they had since they knew she was coming. A lot of his pittance of a savings went into the house, but it did not matter as long as Megan was so happy. Daniel was not so sure his guest, however, would like being reminded that the facilities were outside or under the bed, but Margaret understood Megan’s circumstances. Love had conquered Megan. Even with his low paying job, she still accepted him because she loved him. She willingly left a fine home and family to come live in a poor neighborhood with him. He loved her more than he could say.
“Megan, I am about done all I can do. Do you need any help in the kitchen?” Daniel asked as he walked over to her standing by the stove. As Megan stirred the stew, Daniel swept his arms around her waist and kissed her neck as he lifted her in the air for a moment. Megan breaking out with a big smile, left the wooden spoon in the pot, and turned so his kisses would find her mouth.
“Husband, you must not wife me too much right now. You know I have things to do . . . and no . . . I do not mean that, before you say it,” Megan laughed. “I need my wits and you are lovingly and cleverly diverting them. I can hear it now. Margaret, excuse our mess in the house, but my husband was making love to me and you were never a thought.”
Daniel backed off, laughing. “All right . . . if I mustn’t. I am glad for you to see your friend but I am also glad that it is only for a day or two. I want to hear you howl to the moon. When is she due to arrive at the station?”
“It should be around 4:30 this afternoon. When do you pick up the buggy that Bart is lending us for two days?” asked Megan.
“I guess I will go around to his place about 2:00, and return here. We will leave for the station around 4:00.”
* * *
“Surely, you jest, John,” Margaret said with a stunned look on her face. We have never had any connection in our lives that I remember. Do you know of anything?”
“I do not,” said John, stoically.
“Aren’t the people in your vision supposed to mean something to you, like a friend or family member that is in danger?” Margaret asked, starting to feel helpless coming to the end of the little knowledge she had heard.
“I did get a bit of research in and what you say seems to be the most common happening.”
“Would I be too impertinent to ask about your visions where I was concerned?”
John noticed how frightened she was becoming. It was overwhelming her as it had done to him. However, he knew what his multiple visions of her meant – that she was his mate – and he was happy about that. He did not think he would go that far in telling her what the folklore said.
John took the next hour and explained every dream in the detail he could remember. He told her how he was keeping a diary on his visions and watching their progression in the likelihood there was some pattern. He told her how he had seen her with Kindle and with Mr. Bell at some churches, museums and a bookstore. He knew not the why of his visions as there was no impending danger. John explained, if she were real, that she must be in London, from some of the paintings on the wall behind her, he saw in the museum vision.
“Miss Hale . . . Margaret . . . my trip to the bookstore was specifically and only for research. When I noticed you and Mr. Bell, I was stunned, quite honestly. I wondered what it meant to walk into my own vision. I have found no answers, but no one has gone up in a puff of smoke yet, so I guess it’s safe,” he laughed.
Seeing his smile, Margaret relaxed, hardly believing his accurate visions. The one thing she did know is that she unquestionably never wanted to leave his side. She laughingly wondered if he was a spell-caster. She realized her feelings for him were astoundingly impossible, as she had only known him an hour, if that. His voice, the way he looked at her with those luscious eyes, his total presence was undoing her, and there was no real reason for it. Love, lust – whatever it was, just did not work that way or so she thought. She had felt it in the bookstore, too. Apparently, from their earlier encounter with the satchel overhead, he was experiencing the same feelings.
“John, did you happen to have any vision of me last night?”
“No. I could not sleep. I got up and read some of the research I have purchased.”
“Did you find anything in the books to explain these visions of me?”
John hesitated and stared straight at her. “Margaret, I have merely skimmed a couple pages in a few books. I have become more fascinated with the folklore books than the scientific or medical ones. Folklore being what it is, passed down hearsay, has a rather interesting way of looking at what is transpiring between you and me right now. Please do not ask me to reveal it. It is rather embarrassing but someday I will tell you.”
Margaret could physically feel what had him embarrassed. She had never felt such longing to be in someone’s arms the way she felt right now. It was not many more hours that they had together so she decided to start resolving what she could immediately. She hoped she would not alienate him or cause him to cringe under her directness. With so little time, she had to be direct and take a chance.
“John would you come sit by me. I want to say some things to you and I am afraid I can’t look into your eyes and still say them.”
He crossed the small aisle and sat next to her, almost touching knees. “Margaret, I know we do not know each other at all, but I must tell you that you can say anything to me and I will not be hurt or shy away.”
“That, Mr. Thornton, I hope to believe.”
John, towering over her, watching her hands twist together in her lap, was forming a wrinkled brow wondering what she meant by that statement.
“I am afraid I do not understand,” he said.
“As you said and I fully agree, I know no other way than to be honest and with the little time left to us, it will be blunt. I should be demure and coy about what I would never ever say any other time, but there is something coming into my life that is extraordinary. If you and I are to find any way through this vision or gift or whatever it is, we must be completely honest. I am sure you have been honest with what you have told me but I feel you have not told it all. You are going to be very surprised to know what I have been feeling and thinking. I would wager right now that you think that I think you are a bit peculiar. And I have to say you are, but what is happening to me is very peculiar and I can feel it and I know it’s coming from me, through you.”
John turned in his seat to face her. Where was she going with her preface, he wondered.
Margaret, feeling his eyes on her wanted to squirm in her seat a bit but knew the squirming would get far worse the further she got into her story. “First, let us agree to be very honest, no matter how upsetting, shocking, disgusting, or exalting the words may be. Is that agreeable?”
“If that is what you want then I agree. I can tell you now, what you might ask or hear from me would not be what a gentleman would say to a lady of such short acquaintance and it shall go against all the behavior I have ever known,” John said reluctantly.
“Then it is agreed. I will tell you, that the things I will say would certainly not be heard from a lady. I only do this because we are under some very strange circumstances. I will hold nothing against you and hope you have no ill feelings towards me by the time we reach Milton.”
John could hardly contain the feeling that he was going to be crushed under an avalanche. Above all, he was going to face this gift square on and that may be a good thing.
“No matter what comes from that pretty mouth of yours, I will not have any ill-feelings, I swear. Proceed.” John said.
Margaret smiled at his compliment, now assured that the truth would be spoken even under their one hour knowledge of the other. Nothing would be withheld or considered sacred.
“I must ask you, John. Are you a witch, can you create spells?”
John laughed, “No, I am not a witch and I cannot create spells.”
Margaret was almost hoping for a positive answer. It would at least explain what was happening in and around her, but no such luck.
“To your knowledge, John, do you know of any other gift whether acknowledged or even hinted at that would be in addition to your sighted gift?”
“I know of no such gift and research tells me that the strength in my visions, which may grow, is of a moderate nature. It is neither weak nor strong. I told you that this started after a head injury – very late in life compared to most people with this gift. I cannot say that my gift is identical to others that were born with it. I know no other that I can speak to about it, only these books that are up on the shelf in my satchel.” What was she getting at? He wondered. She seemed to have some unknown experience or knowledge of something of which she had not spoken.
“All right, John. Please face away from me and prepare to be startled at what I am about to say.”